This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Peter Kozodoy. Peter was a 2017 SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year nominee and is a partner and the Chief Strategy Officer at GEM Advertising – and Inc 5000 award winner. The company helps B to C companies make their sales and marketing departments more efficient and effective.
But, Peter is also the author of the forthcoming book, Honest to Greatness, an INC, Forbes, and Huffington Post contributor, and consultant with a very specific focus - helping entrepreneurs build multimillion-dollar businesses by using the power of brutal honesty.
And that is what I want to explore with him and you in this episode.
Peter came out of college in 2008 during the economic collapse. He was a figure skater all through growing up and had planned to work in the industry. When that didn’t work out, he started a business with his business partner shooting television spots for local TV for a $800 a spot – mostly for car dealers.
They started getting requests from ad agencies for work and found that they could do the same things the agencies did, and as they thought, better. So, the pivoted and became a full-service communications agency. They had no full-service experience, but they found a way and made a way. Now GEM is a leading agency in the marketplace.
At the 7-min mark, Peter talks about how he became obsessed with radical, brutal honesty and what that means to him…
- It came through asking a lot of questions as to why some companies are successful and others aren’t when they employ the same strategies
- He also asked a lot of questions of himself and what he truly wanted or wanted to be in his life.
- He realized that he wasn’t being honest with himself
He developed a framework for honesty that calls the “Hourglass of Honesty” that has 3 levels:
- Honest about what is happening in the world and how society is changing
- Honest about and with others (who are you surrounding yourself with)
- Honest with yourself
Talk to us about Honest to Greatness and the shifts coming in business that we have to prepare for and be honest about..
- Fundamentally, the question executives have to ask are they being honest about where they truly are and what their organization needs to do or shift to succeed.
- Secondly, are people being honest about having the right people around them and on their teams.
- At the 14-min mark, Peter gives a great example of Quicken Loans and their “isms” (google them)
What is the best way for a leader to get radically honest with themselves and their organization?
- Recognize that change, major change, is inevitable
- Beware of getting comfortable
- “Comfort is the enemy of innovation”
- The signs of what we need to do are all around us (Blockbuster could have bought Netflix)
- Ask about what you don’t know. Always be absorbing information and learning.
At the 21-min mark, Peter tells us about the different cultures discussed in the book – the Inverse Triangle and Flawed Diamond.
- The traditional business was a triangle with leadership at the top and holding the information
- Now, we all have the information and the frontline people in an organization have far more information that matters that the execs do.
- An honest corporate structure in today’s world is a flipped triangle with the wide part at the top.
- Your customers and frontline people have all the information that is needed to help adapt, innovate, and succeed.
- The Flawed Diamond is a way understanding how information can clearly and easily get through and reflect back out in the form of taking the information and acting on it. A flawed diamond would have an issue taking in the information and reflecting it back out and you don’t want that in your business.
At the 26-min mark, Peter talks about “the Executive Mirror” and “Heart and Soul” and why they are so important.
The Executive Mirror is about the change executives have had to make in that they now need to have the skill to taking the information and reflect it back out across the organization vs. just setting the agenda from the top. They don’t have to chart a course from scratch anymore because all of the information they need is at their fingertips.
What is the most important concept about advertising that business owners must understand in today’s world?
- One of the most effective strategies is integrated advertising/marketing
- Think of Coca Cola and all the ways it markets across all of the different mediums
- You want all of the different customer touchpoints to work together like a rising tide.
- You are best off to be everywhere with your message all at once than to piecemeal or be small about your advertising.
With all the changes happening, especially in social media, with regard to privacy – what do you see happening and that business owners need to look for when it comes to advertising on these mediums?
- It’s not going to change very much, if at all
- Most people don’t care about their information being out there
- But, with blockchain and addressable media, the future of advertising is more control of people in which they can choose who they allow to advertise to them and maybe even be compensated for it.
What is the most thing you’ve learned about entrepreneurship on your journey so far? “Our companies only grow as fast as we do…”
What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself?
- That he is human
- It is extremely freeing to know you don’t have to be superhuman.
- The successful and failure of your doing is directly related to the beliefs you put into your mind.
Best advice for an entrepreneur starting out today?
- Start with what you really want – not what others tell you to do or what society thinks you should do.
- Then go work with people that can help you and teach you to do it.
Best Quote: “Comfort is the enemy of innovation..."
Peter's Misfit 3:
- Be honest about who you are and who you want to be. Don’t start with why. Start with who you are.
- Be honest about what it is going to take to get where you want to go.
- Never settle. You only get one life, so do it all.