Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz  16:41  

It’s like baseball, right? It’s like you’re a Hall of Famer, if you’re batting 300, will, you got out seven on the 10 times in that situation,

John Capuano  16:49  

Right. And if you can get on base 10% of the time here, you’re buying a yacht, basically.

Jeremy Weisz  16:57  

And so that should be the tagline on your website.

John Capuano  17:01  

From that data that we capture, we will create rules based systems, which I know this might be controversial, but will likely attach cookies to opt in people. And it really I believe, as a consumer, I like when I get served information that I want, and make the experience better. And so we tried to respectfully do that. One of the things that we learned when we did that, and we really didn’t want to be spamming people and giving them too much content. But what we learned was the more thoughtful content that we would give them, their engagement actually rose, the opening rates and click through rates dramatically increased as we gave them more content, because they liked what they were getting. And it became user friendly.

Part of that process also allowed us to score the engagement of people in this office that falls under email marketing. So we have a 90 day rolling scoring average algorithm that can tell us when people have the highest intent to set an appointment, and then we send out different information to them. And that allows us to really increase the likelihood of closing business for our clients, because there’s nothing behind the curtain anymore at that point. And then that’s the number three. And the fourth thing that we do, and we didn’t realize this was going to be part of our business is practice management.

We assumed that everybody really was going to spend the time and attention on and have the care and running their business. But the reality is businesses big and small. Sometimes it’s a luxury to create those infrastructures that are necessary to really grow. And as a matter of survival, we looked at practice management as a way for us to not get fired, and not squander those leads as they were coming in. For the initial people that are saying, gee, 90 these people sucked. It’s like, well, wait a minute, let’s look at those 10 people, and what are our internal systems in place and sales methodologies that we might be better at executing the sales process?

Jeremy Weisz  19:34  

Yeah, because also if the call or email isn’t handled properly, you did your job, but that could fall through the cracks and then it’s a wasted opportunity. Yep. What are some big mistakes you’ve seen firms make with them from the practice management side? Um, because this probably applies to a lot of companies, I imagine.

John Capuano  19:56  

Yeah. Not understanding how much time it takes to be successful, um, being too busy to stop down and scale is like running a franchise. And McDonald’s would never have had a franchise if they didn’t figure out how a Big Mac is the same process in Indianapolis as it is in New York City as it is in Los Angeles. And that’s no easy feat. And I think, you know, by the nature of some business owners and founders, they inherently are Maverick key, and wonderful rainmakers, that’s not always the same thing that’s required to build and scale a business. And so you know, I think a lot of times, they need help with just those foundational things.

And that’s where we come in having a lack of process and implementing those. And it’s too easy to like, I just want to move on to the next. How am I going to make my next, you know, five revenue growth happen. But then such a big part of what we do is around digital transformation. And just like I’m sure, you know, when cavemen were around, when the first person rubbed two sticks together and made fire. Like if somebody asked me today to rub two sticks together to make fire, I’d freeze to death. And I’d be like, this does not work. It’s survival of the fittest.

You’d be done, right? Yeah. And so and I’m sure that there were the naysayers at that point there that exist. stunningly, today, in our world, where people are about digital, it’s just too much of a hassle. I’d rather do it this way, rather than to embrace the world that we live in. And you know, we were talking a little bit earlier about, you know, us being a digital company, we are largely a digital company. But we’re no more of a digital company than virtually any other business in the world. Because as long as we all have our world on our cell phone, we’re all in the digital business.

Jeremy Weisz  22:21  

So John, we talked about, you know, helping financial advisors and institutions. And it seems like you’ve been really disciplined and focused. And just that, and I love to hear your thoughts on niching. Have you ever? Because I’m sure there’s other companies that have come to you throughout the years say, Hey, can you help us? I know, you’ve helped these other people. Talk about the discipline of niching. For you and your company?

John Capuano  22:51  

It’s a great question. And somebody I have never heard of before. But there’s riches in niches. Have you ever heard that expression? Okay, well, I just learned it. And now I use it all the time. But there are, when we were in the broadcast business, when Greg and I were talking about forming this business. At that moment in time, you know, we had dozens, if not hundreds of different type types of business that would run through our stations, and we would try and mark and it was almost like skimming a stone on a pond where you do this, and you’d run to another one and run to another. And we said, Gee, wouldn’t it be wonderful? If we could invest all of our intellectual property in just one business? How much better could we do?

And so and then we look, and then it was didn’t take long for us to know that this business was the one and I think, for us anyway, we looked at, frankly, the profit margins in this versus if we were selling Hallmark Cards, to close business, it’s a lot more I’m not saying that’s not a good business to be in, but you have to sell a lot more Hallmark cards than you do when you gather assets, moving them to financial institutions to turn a profit. So we have conversations all the time with our advisors and institutions about sorry about that about niches for them niches within niches. And, you know, we look at there’s a lot of niches that aren’t being served.

We think business to business is a really big niche. When you look at how many people own businesses. We don’t see a lot of people on a retail level communicating to business owners to be like, you haven’t, you have a different lifestyle than 90% of the people in the world. And there’s still plenty of business owners. People need to hear as a business owner something very specific about how you can help them and especially Today, and that just happens to be one. But like, at the end of the day in the riches in niches there, we’re so bombarded with messages and information on it, you need something specific to break through to you otherwise, nothing’s going to sink in at all.

Jeremy Weisz  25:17  

Yeah, you feel like they’re talking to me, this is for me. I want to talk about attracting talent and keeping talent. You mentioned Kirby. Right. So I love to hear how you’ve attracted. I mean, you know, with great companies, there’s great people behind them. How do you attract talent and keep talent? Because he mentioned, we got Kirby, and he’s still with us today. So what are some of the things that you do to attract talent, and then keep talent,

John Capuano  25:46  

First of all, it’s the thing that we’re proud of, you know, there’s, there’s little over 30 people on our staff today, and the tenure of them has been really great. And there’s nothing more important than that. And I’ll say it’s self less as it is selfish, because the more you understand that, the more they’re going to stick around and want to be a part of something. And so when people walk in the door, they will say that, you know, my job is to make this part of your life as great as it possibly can be. And I’m here to serve you. And whether you want to be the CEO of our company one day, or if you want to just have the job that you have and leave every day at 5: 30, it doesn’t make any difference to me at all. Just so long as we have an understanding, and I’m here to help you do that very well, and make this fun, and for you and help fulfill that obligation.

And so if you decide that you want to be here and leave work behind at 530, um, we manage people’s career path that way, because we want them to stick around. And if somebody wants to continue to grow, that’s awesome. And then we spend more time with them doing, you know, dip, like helping coaching them to get to that point. And it’s a really, really big part of our culture. And everyone understands that. We’re all in it together, regardless of what your personal or career path is, we’re all here to help one another. And it starts by being good people and caring about one another. And I know that sounds really, really corny, and you have to walk that walk every day, and you have to remind yourself and everyone around you that there’s nothing more important than that.

Because, you know, I think of you know, I’ve, we have kids that are 30. Now they’re twins. And when they started their careers, I thought about how, you know, I would want their employers to treat them, and what kind of environment I would want, and then AWS for them. And also, you know, do I want, you know, maybe the best thing for them isn’t working 60 hours a week, maybe that’s not the kind of life they want. It’s just about serving them as an employer, so you can have a good understanding that way. And that’s worked pretty well.

Jeremy Weisz  28:18  

John, I know with you know, niching, getting the services down the people the process. I want to talk about acquisition for a second. And how did you know that makes it very attractive to acquire all these pieces? How did the acquisition come about?

John Capuano  28:40  

Um, well, we announced about 30 days ago that we were acquired by the simplicity group, which we’re super excited about. And as Greg has always said, We’ve never had a for sale sign on our backs. And we didn’t. And, you know, I think that a problem today is people get enamored with the notion of, I’m going to, how soon can I sell my business? And when can I ring that bell, versus keeping your nose to the grindstone and good things are gonna happen if they’re supposed to happen, and it forces you to build value.

And if it ends up getting sold, it ends up getting sold. And so we were approached and about a year ago, and culturally, and intellectually, they were, we couldn’t possibly have been more compatible. They were what we saw was missing in the financial world. They’re still run very Mom and Pop ish in the distribution platforms. We saw an opportunity for it to become more institutionalized. and share resources at a more frankly, sophisticated level. And they absolutely were. Are those people able to do that? And after lots of conversations, we decided to join forces and we couldn’t be more excited about it. How did they discover you?

Jeremy Weisz  30:25  

Because you did have a for sale sign, you didn’t put it out there. Um,

John Capuano  30:29  

I think we were a well known commodity in the industry. So that was good. And, and just the, I guess, the stars on it was I started to personally get more aggressive about my social media presence and the CEO, Bruce Donaldson reached out to me on LinkedIn. And then the next thing you know, Greg, and I met with Bruce and gang, and we just had very, or I guess, organic conversations and philosophical conversations, which led to serious opportunities and aspirational conversations. And here we are,

Jeremy Weisz  31:18  

I love to speak about the integration process, right, because you have two separate companies. And, you know, throughout the years of interviewing people, people always really talk about and seem to stick out by focusing on how important the integration processes are.

John Capuano  31:37  

We haven’t had a lot of experience with this in the broadcast business, because we lived through and Greg’s family was a big part of the consolidation, business and M&A in broadcast and I was on the other end, were working for broadcast entities who, like every other week, somebody else was owning our company. And we were swamped together with another group of who used to be competitors. And now we’re brothers and sisters. It’s exactly like bringing somebody up to a lawn beacon. It is the same thing as bringing one beacon into a large holding company, the same tenants apply communication and organization. Having one another’s backs and putting our hands in the middle and having a common goal.

Also, understanding that phrase I use a lot is if you want to grow a business, it’s like riding a bucking bronco. And sometimes, you’re gonna get tossed off the bronco. And I kind of liked that I liked the feeling of being on a bucking bronco. And we were able to create that culture here at Lone Beacon. And it freaks me out when I feel like the Bronco is just kind of like walking or stock stopping to eat hay. And so culturally, we’re used to that, and not afraid to make mistakes. And understand that progress doesn’t come without challenges. Culturally, you know, we’re all wired the same way. And so everybody’s, you know, you know, we sit across the table from one another and expect that, okay, it’s we’re riding the bucking bronco together, we need to communicate, and we need to plan well, and you know, and that’s pretty much the essence.

Jeremy Weisz  33:36  

On the flip side, John, like when you’ve been in radio, and you saw a lot of these integrations, and maybe they didn’t go as smoothly and maybe someone’s listening and they’re gonna be integrated, or they’re buying a company, they’re gonna have to do integration, what are what are some of the mistakes that you saw were made maybe with previous

John Capuano  33:55  

companies. People being selfish and trying covet, that’s number one, just trying to covet their ideas and their little theirs, their piece of the fiefdom versus looking at it, like we’re all in it together for the greater good, that’s super important. Communication is never more important than when change is happening. And let’s face it over the past few years, we’ve seen lots and lots of change. So, you know, I like to, I tell people to treat me like I’m a nervous fifth grader and that’s the way we should treat all of our clients like, assume that people are freaked out all the time about everything, and to allay any concerns that they might have.

So communication, super, super important. Right now part of the process, and then not trying to be perfect. Nobody gets A trophy for being the best organized. So I want to be really, really organized. But we, you know, like to figure out 75% of the path forward and understand and have everybody accept the fact that we’re gonna see Game Time changes as we go. Because it’s virtually impossible to figure out 100% of a plan, and then execute it because the world around us changes, competition changes, our staff changes, opportunities change, competition changes. So let’s accept the fact that we’re going to have the basic premise, and we’ll get 75% of the way there. And so we can all feel like resiliency is part of the process. I love it.

Jeremy Weisz  35:52  

I’m trying to picture you as a nervous fifth grader. That’s a great, great, great analogy.

John Capuano  36:01  

Well, that might give you a better idea.

Jeremy Weisz  36:05  

That’s great. There’s been challenges and hard conversations you’ve ever had with your business throughout the years. And at one point, you had to fire one of your biggest clients. Talk about what happened there.

John Capuano  36:21  

I feel like throughout my life and career, the more I thought about, and Greg is exactly the same way, when this sounds very trite, but as a door closes, it’s another one’s going to open and we need to find a way and there’s always a way around it. And there, there always is a way around it. So when we started off, we had a really, really big client, and all they wanted us to do was broadcast. And it monopolized our time. And we knew that we didn’t quit the radio business now to be doing infomercials for a bunch of financial companies. And that seemed like a step backward. And we needed the time to develop our digital presence.

And so at that point in time, we had just maybe built a, you know, we’re building a few websites, and we’re creating some social media stuff, but not a lot. And we had decided that it’s not the right relationship, and it’s going to ruin the growth and our aspirational goals. So we decided to say goodbye to that relationship, without any net. And it was truly a burning the boats scene where we, I’m not gonna say it wasn’t scary. But there was never a time really that we had doubt, there were plenty of times where we were really, really frustrated, and super intense. But we realize now that we were freed, and it was purely up to us to apply our marketing skills in what we knew about the real opportunity, and put the pieces of the puzzle together to build out a digital presence.

And we started to do it, like on a foundational level, and not tried ever to get too far ahead of our skis and build 10 digital platforms. But let’s just build one. And let’s do that really well. And let’s do the next one, and devote all of our time, money and attention to that. That’s a tough decision to make. Yeah, it was, and we have this conversation a lot with clients. And that clearly was an extreme one. But you know, everybody has heard the expression, you know, nothing can’t be solved without time. Everything can be solved with time and money. And that’s true. But it also requires a certain amount of will and tenacity and toughness, and belief. And we just from an intellectual standpoint believed so much in and everybody we would have a conversation with about what we’re trying to build or like, that’s a great idea. Why doesn’t anybody have that?

Well, the reason why nobody had it, is it or did it was because it was hard. And it took us a really long time. In fact, when we did our first full year of data mining from email automation, which was for us a Herculean effort, we probably had five or six clients tied into our email and data platform. Were sending out hundreds of 1000s of emails, we had millions and millions of data points and after the first year, we did this big lead attribution study. And we’re trying to figure out a nugget that we might have learned. And we literally didn’t learn anything. And are like that sucked. And we realized that, alright, we’re not like, there’s definitely something in here, we just mean more data. And we’re not looking at it the right way. And so we traveled the United States and had conversations with lots of really smart data people way, way, way smarter than we are.

And we learned that it’s going to take a little bit of time, and how are we interpreting data? And what should we be expecting from that data? And it took about another year. And now we’re like four or five years into this, where we still didn’t necessarily have a trophy. And then all of a sudden, after that second year of lead attribution, we’re like, wow, we were able to find some amazing stuff. Now with proof of concept, it was like flipping a switch. And everybody that we talked to about it, suddenly, it wasn’t, nobody was taking a risk on us at that point. They’re like, this is very provable, a concept. But it took four years from the time we walked in the door. That’s dedication.

Jeremy Weisz 41:19

You know, a lot of times, you know, John. People, they’re what people think their biggest disadvantage can be a strength, and one of the things you help companies do is kind of create and boil down with their brand essences. And you had a firm with young 30s. And what was their dilemma?

John Capuano 41:49

If there are a few firms like this, where their thing was, we’re kind of young, we’re in a business where the the avatar for financial industry is somebody 60 with a million dollars to invest, because you want to catch people when they’re ready to retire when they’ve got all their 401k to move in there. So they’re a little bit older. And so they found themselves competing with people with gray hair. And they were questioning people like, God, you’re Are you experienced enough? Our point was to totally lean into that, and I looked at, like, at the time, my parents would look at young people, like, Gee, they’re so much smarter today than we ever were, isn’t that great?

Because they understand how to use technology and everything else is old school? And doesn’t that make sense to really, really lean into that? And, you know, there’s, there’s often lots of nuggets, when it comes to things like that, where people try and mask something that really could be their biggest benefit? And how is it in their own mind? How are they positioning it? And do they really believe it? And in this case, nine out of 10 times, that scenario makes sense. Because usually, and I remember, I’m still the same way, because I haven’t changed. But like, when I was younger, I would tell people, you know, I’m gonna work my ass off for you, I might not have the most experience, but I’m going to work harder than anybody else is going to work for you.

I’m gonna learn faster than anybody else. You’re not asking me to lift 500 pounds over my head, this is what you have are solvable problems. I’m going to get everybody I know around me to help solve this problem. And today how that relates to the people that we work with. They’re experts at technology, they’re going to work harder, they’re going to have more time to invest in those clients. And so it really becomes a huge benefit rather than a negative. I love it.

Jeremy Weisz  44:03  

John, I have one last question. Before I ask it, I want to just point people to Lone to learn more, and you can check out their story and I encourage everyone to actually go to their who we are pitch. They have some great things when you hover over them, you can see the different gifts. I love just the personality of your company just looking at that page. So the one that I did not predict was Casey Dean, I was not expecting that gift.

But the rest seem to be you know what, I expected it in some realm. But so we have to go to their who we are page and just hover over Casey Dean to see if that’s what you would expect on that one. But um, last question, Johnny is just your favorite, again, throughout your career and the company. You know, you’re learning from different people, different individuals, I love to hear any books, podcasts, resources that you’ve looked at that have helped you on your journey in business, or it can be life in general.

John Capuano  45:23  

I would say, one I, there are a couple, one I go back to is good to great. And, you know, the famous flywheel chapter is one, like it’s a staple. And, you know, I use it almost every day, because it’s, you just mean, it’s so important. And then also, like, going back to the example we used about leaning into what should be your strengths. I think that’s a good one, because I think people sometimes don’t look inward enough to recognize really what their strengths are that are broadcast against the template of the world and competitors. And then what do you do with that, so that’s really good.

I’m reading Rick Rubin’s book right now, which is really a business book, but it’s very ethereal, I would say. And I will also say, like, hippyish from a business standpoint, but it’s really about creativity. And I look at that, as this is gonna sound maybe crazy, but I look at what we do is a form of artistry, and creativity, and creative people when, and how can you bring your creativity to life? And how can you execute that creativity? And there are, there’s something to be said for creative problem solvers and creativity can manifest itself in so many different ways. And so I like his book, because it’s very much about gems about how to inspire creativity. And I think that is too overlooked in business. And in any way, it’s a great book to check out.

Jeremy Weisz  47:31  

John, I’m going to be the first one. Thank you everyone, check out and more episodes of the podcast and thank you so much. Thanks, everyone.

John Capuano  47:39  

Thanks, Jeremy.