Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz  15:23 

Talk about, you know, we I want to go back to your roots a little bit. And, you know, with you started off back at Sprint we were talking about, and then you transition to a Mark Cuban company. What did you do there?

Todd Porch  15:44 

I left Sprint, in I want to say it was probably 98, late 98, and went to work for Mark and [email protected]. And I led the operations team there for a number of years prior to the purchase of by Yahoo. And then I spent 14 years at Yahoo. So you really saw the internet from its inception, from a streaming audio and video perspective, through maturity. In the kind of the mid-teens, I left there.

Jeremy Weisz  16:29 

Backup for that? What was it like running operations there? What did you learn from Todd and mark at the company?

Todd Porch  16:39 

Well, let’s just say the dichotomy between working for a big blue chip telephone company in the early 90s, or for a half a dozen years and the 90s, through really the inception of kind of web one dot O, we worked in a warehouse in Deep Ellum, Texas, and we were doing streaming events before streaming was a thing. And we literally, there were events where we knew that our servers were going to be max capacity. And we were buying orange extension cords and fans from every Walmart and Target in the Dallas metro area, to literally try to cool off our servers. I mean, there was no raised floors back then. There were racks of servers sitting on carpet. I mean, it truly was a startup environment. And I you know, that’s how I cut my teeth in the space. And, you know, Mark, everything you see about Mark even today, as a professional sports owner as an entrepreneur as an investment example. That’s exactly the way that he was back then. Mark is wicked smart. He is very authentic. He has high expectations. And he’s a driver, and the broadcast was successful?

Jeremy Weisz  18:30 

What was the interview process like?

Todd Porch  18:33 

Drooling? What they do? Yeah, I think I had how many out of though north of six or eight interviews with a host of folks, you know, within the company, both Todd Maher Kevin Parker, who’s kind of leading, you know, the CEO of the company. Yeah. And the our legal. I mean, that was not a time where folks from big enterprise companies were making their way into, into the startups. Frankly, they were pretty averse to enterprise, kind of the enterprise bureaucratic approach, coming in and slowing them down. But there is also a fine line and operationalizing and driving scale in both from a technical from an organizational from a developmental perspective. You have to have that rigor in that discipline. And so they were hungry for that, but very cautious to allow that bureaucracy to kind of sip its way in and slow down the growth of the business.

Jeremy Weisz  19:49 

You said it perfectly because I see on both sides, I can see someone like you. I don’t know if that’s super appealing. You just came from a corporate right and now You’re going to Walmart and buying these extension cords and standing ethically, that’s not going to happen at Sprint. But on the reverse side, they’re protective. Like, I don’t know, if we want someone from a corporate environment, or they’re going to fit into this culture, what attracted you to want to work at a place that’s more like a startup environment?

Todd Porch  20:19 

That’s a great question. I can actually remember very vividly sitting at my parents kitchen table. My father was in the utility business. So pretty conservative approach to business for his entire career. And I remember him, me sitting at the kitchen table saying I was gonna go work for an internet company. And we look, this is 98, right? Like, internet is still pretty fresh at that point. And my dad rolled his glasses down to the end of his nose, and he looked across the kitchen table and said, son, we don’t even know if the internet is here to stay. And that’s really how executives, tier one enterprise executives, regardless of industry, like they knew it was knocking on the door, but they didn’t know how pervasive it would be how sustainable it would be.

Jeremy Weisz  21:20 

And that’s just executives, business owners, or general.

Todd Porch  21:24 

Exactly. I mean, that and really, Jeremy, the reason why I left Sprint, I had an unbelievable career there. I learned a lot of who I am, from a professional perspective from the executives that I had an opportunity to work with there at Sprint, Margie Tippin, Patti manual, there’s a host of folks that via, today, 30 years later, I can say, there’s a lot of what I do today because of the exposure to those folks. And they taught me, but I didn’t want to be a Phone Guy for the rest of my life. And so that was really kind of in the back of my mind, a driver, I wanted to go for lack of a better analogy, I wanted to go to where the puck was, where it was going, not where it had been. And so going to work for broadcast was an opportunity that, you know, I just couldn’t pass up and I learned a ton there as well and got to watch a company be acquired participate in that. I got to learn what integration is at that point from an online perspective. I mean, Yahoo was the standard setter, right? There was no Google then there was no Facebook, then there was no eBay even then. So Yahoo really kind of wrote the book on what online businesses look like. And we all have our perspective of Yahoo today over the last 10 decade or so, and it’s had the hands that have, that it’s changed between, but boy, I’ll tell you, in the early 2000s, Yahoo was setting the pace. They were the standard by which other internet companies were measured. And that was a fun, fun place to be and to lead.

Jeremy Weisz  23:29 

Todd I want to hear more about what you learned from Yahoo. I mean, you were executive director of display advertising operations. But talk about the integration part, what did you learn from, when a company is acquired? What were some things that went well, what things  could have been better as far as the integration of that company into?

Todd Porch  23:54 

Yeah, I’ve had to, for whatever reason, Jeremy, I kind of gravitate towards and ended up being in this spot where, you know, integration is a big part of my job. That happened at Comcast, in a couple of my last assignments there. But, you know, really, what I learned initially is that it certainly isn’t as easy as it looks right. When you look linearly, and I’m sure that’s kind of everyone’s like, we yeah, sure. It’s not easy. We, like 90% of the acquisitions fail in, you know, across the business landscape, but it takes a lot of insight and understanding both from a technical perspective, from a customer perspective, from a culture perspective. And then I would say probably the most important part is the people because people will I think make or break integrations, integrations at scale become exponentially harder, because there are so many more people that it’s dependent upon. So having an individual that is leading that integration as their role, versus, having a day job and working on the integration on the side, or delegating that to a host of people. I think that what I learned initially at Yahoo, in the broadcast integration was either made or broken by the people. And I think we did a really good job. And there’s a fair amount of that infrastructure from a video perspective, at the current Yahoo, that was the foundation that was built off of, yes, it’s evolved over the last 25 years, certainly. But a lot of those foundational elements are still in place. And that goes to the leadership of broadcast at its at its core, they saw three steps ahead, and really built that company to grow with an industry before the industry was really even identified.

Jeremy Weisz  26:34 

What did you bring, I mentioned Yahoo, Executive Director display advertising operations, you were there for Yahoo for many years? What did you bring what you learned from Yahoo into the agency world?

Todd Porch  26:49 

Look, I’m an operator at heart. I’m a smarter, better, faster guy. How can we do it smarter? How can we do it better than our how can we differentiate? And how can we do it faster, because I think the world today is playing, especially in the enterprise space, and whether it’s, you know, enterprise agencies, or just get enterprise direct businesses, I think they’re playing with people that can say no. And that’s, frankly, been the most refreshing thing about being a strategist, as I can gather my leadership together at 10 o’clock this morning, we can make an informed intelligent decision, and we’re implementing it at noon. The likes of Yahoo, in my later days there, and certainly in my days at Comcast, what I just explained in a two hour timeframe can take months, quarters, because there are people that would stand in the way of it and block it. And that’s unfortunate, because that hinders those larger entities to be able to move very fast. I’ve got a punch list of just examples of areas that when I left to come to work for Strategus, that I believed could be differentiated upon just by the sheer fact of knowing what was available at the enterprise, but unavailable to be executed on. So I knew we could differentiate and move quickly and make material and meaningful differences for clients and agency and other agencies, because we can deliver solutions that were accountable and quick.

Jeremy Weisz  28:47 

Yeah, yeah. Because when you say we’re a small company, we’re talking, whatever, it is over $40 million, but you’re comparing it to billion dollar companies that you worked with Comcast sprint, Yahoo. I love to know what the growth because I mean, your company is probably more than tripled over several years with revenue and also huge growth in staff, what had to change and evolve within the company, to allow for that growth.

Todd Porch  29:27 

I think there’s a host of things. Here’s what I would say. We talk a lot about the purpose of our business, which is to be mean to purpose extracted. The stated purpose of Strategus is to provide the best job that anyone’s ever had. That’s the underpinning, you know, on top of that sits our core values of respect and full engagement and development. And on top of that, you start to build an organizational Strategy. And the organizational strategy is underpinned by leadership and people. The leadership and people drive processes, your business process, and standardization and consistency allows it to scale. So, I’ve just kind of walked you through our kind of our strategy of how we have built over the last over the last two years since I’ve been here. And what it does is it by having a very stated and understood framework, with checks and balances at each step of the way. growth happens. And I meet with a meet with our entire company on Monday mornings and Friday mornings. In fact, I just got off our Friday call about an hour ago, on Monday mornings, we walk through our entire p&l, we work under the principle of open book management. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re a media planner, an account manager, an account executive, a finance person, a product leader, we go through the p&l top to bottom every day, or every Monday morning. We’re we have a big belief that if folks understand what is driving and running the business, then you will act like an owner in whatever capacity you’re serving the company in. That’s one example of how we continue to build, but stay very rooted in the foundations that we’ve stated are imperative to the company. I’m proud to talk about our net promoter score, you know how we measure our client satisfaction. But probably even more proud about how we measure employee satisfaction because I’m a big believer that if you take care of your people, your people will take care of our clients. So that’s a huge focus. My leadership team looks at every decision that we make, first through how it affects our employees, and then how that manifests itself into the client experience downstream.

Jeremy Weisz  32:43 

Yeah, I love it. It’s really a people-first approach to everything. And I think there’s a great book about this, I think it’s called a Great Game of Business.

Todd Porch  32:55 

So our meeting on our meetings on Monday morning or on GGOB meetings.

Jeremy Weisz  33:01 

So I think you can go I don’t know, you may know this, I think you can actually go or used to be able to go to one of their meetings, I forgot where it was, you know, I’m talking about in Springfield.

Todd Porch  33:13 

Missouri. So our team has gone to the GGOB meetings, we’ve been exposed to the process, we’ve talked to it. They’re the folks that were the founders of that of that program. And we use it, we use it very deliberately and intentionally. I would say that, you know, there’s their inner iterations of how that manifests itself in our business, but we’ve made it our own, but the great game of business foundation is what we base it off of.

Jeremy Weisz  33:50 

At what point did you or the company decide to go totally transparent with everything?

Todd Porch  33:59 

It predates me, our two founders, Dave Miles and Joel Cox had the foresight to do to land on that foundation and be very true and committed to it and have been for years and years. In fact, when I was approached to come to come to strategist to lead the business as the president that’s frankly one of the reasons why that was one of the differentiating factors that led to me moving from you know, frankly, a very great role an unbelievable role in a really, really what I would say leading business unit at Comcast called Effective which is their ad sales arm, James rook and Marcia and Jackson, the gentleman that lead that organization, we’re unbeliever of all to work for to work with. And it was a tough decision to leave Comcast. But one of the reasons why I did was because I loved the DNA that that Strategus had. around its transparency. It’s open book style. And, you know, in frankly, its authenticity and how they serve their employee base.

Jeremy Weisz  35:26 

What else had attracted you to the company? When I hear this, and I say this, because anyone out there, you’re trying to attract amazing talent with someone who has a tremendous background. I’m wondering what attracted you and other people could probably think about that how they can use to attract their own, if they want to bring in a CEO or president of their company.

Todd Porch  35:52 

Look, I had the unbelievable opportunity to work for some marquee brands, especially at the point in time that I worked for them. Sprint was a leader from a tech from a telephony technology perspective when I was there, Yahoo was the standard for digital advertising and technology companies in the late 90s. And early 2000s, Comcast has done a spectacular job of re-inventing itself through a number of iterations under Brian and his leadership team at Comcast. Those brands, they are bellwethers, right, at least in my era of companies that you would give your left arm to have an opportunity to work with, let alone leave that. And I did, I had, you know, teams from 12 in the early days to over 1000 at points, that I came to work for a company with 21 people. And I did it Jeremy because I saw it as a bit of a blank canvas. And as a student of leadership, it provided me an opportunity to continue to iterate on what Dave and Joel had set as the foundation, but to bring it to scale. And we’re continuing to push the boundaries, we talk about what’s next a lot. We like to be disruptive in the space, we like to challenge the status quo, we know that there are in an unbelievable space in the digital marketing space as it steals share from the linear, kind of the linear ad space, we have to be innovative, and we have to deliver solutions that are differentiated and provide results that are very specific. For all of those reasons, I chose to leave Comcast and come build a culture at Strategus are continuing to culture that the framework had already been laid, but to do that, and grow it at scale.

Jeremy Weisz  38:34 

I know, you come in you’re actually you know, really experiences going coming into a company. That’s that startup like, and filling a role but the founders may not be as experienced bring on someone like you. What was your I don’t know if it’s changed, but originally what was your role? What were you set out to do compared to you know, originally with Strategus compared to now?

Todd Porch  39:01 

I mean, Dave and Joe would say, hey, you we hired Porch. Dave is a 40 year plus agency owner, he’s a Creative At Heart. He’s an unbelievable business. He has an unbelievable business mind but is not an operator, you know, that would be self-admitted. Joel is a very deep technology, understanding, ability to connect dots between opportunity technology and an advertiser need. He can connect the triangular dots between those things, but neither one of them had run and built a scale business and put the gear the controls in place and had put the disciplines in place outside of a small startup, right? So I have the opportunity to kind of sit between you got it on the screen here, Dave and Joel and Dan. And really bring a level of practicality to what is going to resonate with our clients and with our aid the agencies that we serve. So it’s a look I’m humbled and grateful to serve beside these folks. I operate very personally Greenleaf is a huge example for me in servant leadership and kind of how you build an organization to last and serving my leaders and serving our brand every day very intentionally is the backbone to what we bring to market? What is your day-to-day look like? What do you focus on my day to day, I’m an early riser, I tried to read a fair amount before my house starts to buzz I’ve got three daughters. So teenage daughter, one in college now two, in high school. So it’s a bit of a hurricane around my house after the sun comes up, so I do a bit of a fair amount of reading before the sun comes up. I play a very intentional dad role, kind of watching and pushing and prodding, and before the kids get out of the house, and then I go to the office, even in this day of remote work. My leadership team, for the most part, goes into the office every day. I don’t take that for granted. I’m a believer in remote work. In fact, 95% of our company is remote. We facilitate and enable that. And frankly, encourage it because I think we get a better angle on talent that way. But that’s a story for a different day. And then we’ve got standing meetings, I meet with each of my leaders. For an hour a piece once a week. I’ve been with the company twice a week and standing meetings on Monday and Friday. I meet with my leadership team collectively, on Wednesdays at noon. And then the rest of the time is spent talking to employees. I do skip level meetings, I spend time listening to what we call chorus calls. So our business development representatives that are talking to prospects. We listen to those calls together as a leadership team to ensure that we know how the company is being represented where the obstacles are, and that we’re very well aware collectively as a leadership team. I try to support and develop and grow my leaders. I teach a couple of classes, you mentioned that at the onset of our conversation at the University of the Daniels College of Business at DCU. That is important to me that allows me to stay in touch with. Yeah, typically I’ve got you know, 30 Executive MBA students that are aspiring to what’s next or to deepen their education. But that also keeps me grounded in what’s happening outside of my industry. They challenge me I always say I learned more from them than I teach them. But that’s a selfishly, that’s very fulfilling for me. I love the give back element to teaching. But selfishly I love what I learned from my students that are unbelievably founded professionals, typically 10 to 15 years into their career and said, raise their hand and say, I want to learn more. I want to be, I want to broaden my perspective. I want to be challenged. That’s a fun part of my life. So it’s kind of all of those things. Every day is different than the next. But I would say I am very deliberate about spending time with people.

Jeremy Weisz  45:07 

Yeah. Todd, I have one last question. And I know, before I asked it, I want to just encourage people check out, which you see on the screen to learn more. And I know before we hit record that we were talking about your role and some of the things you’re thinking about, and you’re thinking about a lot of things from industry to marketplace to managing to leading. And a lot of stretches it’s people first. And I know well, main focus for you is growing leaders and helping people. So I’d love to hear resources, it could be books, audiobooks, podcasts, actual books. What do you recommend? I don’t know, if you have a preferred reading less free here. I’d professor but what are some resources people should check out?

Todd Porch  45:59 

I do. The last book that I read, in fact, I met with my head of operations, in my head of account management this week, actually to have a conversation about a book called The Power of Moments. That’s top of mind. Power of Moments is a great one. And applicable, both from a professional perspective and a personal perspective, I would encourage you to do that if you dream if you went to my leadership team and said, hey, what’s the one book that Porch talks about? More than anything else? There’s a book by two HBS guys Rom Charan. And I can’t remember his other research partner, but Sharon writes about the book is called The Leadership Pipeline. And I think if, from a pure leadership perspective, I think this is a, I wouldn’t just shoulder it to us business, because I’ve seen it in Europe and in Asia, as well. But I think there’s a plague in current business today from a leadership perspective, because most enterprise businesses today, and most small businesses today, a lot of times, they’re hiring from inside, which I am a proponent of, by the way. When you move somebody, so the premise of the book is there’s nine passages of leadership, you start as an individual contributor, you end up as a CEO. And there’s nine passages that you go through in the midst of your career as you move up. And every one of those passages requires something different of the leader. The hitch is that as you pass through those leaders, especially as you move internally, up into up through the company, you are operating at a level below what you’ve been hired to do. So direct, that’s it right there. So directors are operating as VPs are operating as directors are operating as managers, managers are operating as supervisors. And I think that steals a lot from me that has cultural, foundational implications throughout the entire company, and it does not allow the company to or the leadership team or the culture to realize its true potential. Because you’re operating where you’re comfortable. I mean, it’s the whole player, good players don’t always make good coaches. But it’s easier to hire a good player as a coach than it is to go find a new coach. So that would be one of my favorites. Because I think that regardless of where you are in your career, it’s applicable, and it provides a bit of a roadmap for things to look out for. And if you can master the art of traversing those passages. I think it gives you a leg up opportunistically look Lencioni is a favorite of mine.  I love the Built To Last I love the there’s just Multipliers is a good one by Liz Wiseman, how do you how do you identify Multipliers in your team and in your company? You have people that give create the other one plus one equals five. Equations. Boy, I’m looking at my bookshelf Patti McCord is Powerful. You know She was the HR director at Netflix. I mean, there’s so many resources out there. Yeah, I guess my encouragement would be, whatever you’re reading, make it your own, take those principles and apply it practically to your team, wherever they are, but push them. And when I say push from my perspective, that’s learning how to ask good questions, not telling them what to do. I think the art of question asking is at the key of most successful leaders today, and that would be probably one of the things that I found on the most is with my leaders, focus on the most with my leaders is how do you how are you asking? What questions are you asking? And who are you asking them up?

Jeremy Weisz  50:54 

Todd, I want to be the first one to thank you. Thanks, everyone for listening, check out and more episodes of the podcast and thanks, Todd. Thanks, everyone.

Todd Porch  51:04 

Yeah Jeremy, I appreciate. This has been great.