[Podcast] Brand Discovery Workshops & Innovation with Jose Cabeller

[Podcast] Brand Discovery Workshops & Innovation with Jose Cabeller

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Jose Caballer is a designer, strategist & creative entrepreneur. He currently teaches organizations how to create a culture for rapid innovation – focused on alignment, experimentation & feedback. Jose previously worked at RazorFish during the dot com era, and ran a digital agency for 11 years, working with clients such as Jamie Oliver, Disney and Nike. Today he combines his 20 years of design and business experience to train thousands of professionals on webinars and in workshops worldwide.

What some people may not know, is that Jose co-founded The Skool with Chris Do, which is now called TheFutur and this is where we came across Jose. Jose released CORE which is a Design Strategy Framework and consequently is one of the TheFutur’s most popular products. Today we’re going to discuss CORE, brand strategy & innovation and how these tools can be used to help businesses achieve their goals. Plus, we’ll get a sneak peek into Jose’s latest project, The System.

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Transcript (Auto Generated)

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding, the only podcast dedicated to helping designers and entrepreneurs grow brands. Here are your hosts, Jacob Cass and Matt Davies.

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding. Today we have Jose Cabeller, and he is a designer, strategist, and creative entrepreneur. He currently teaches organizations how to create culture for rapid innovation, focused on alignment, experimentation, and feedback.

Jose previously worked at RazorFish during the dot-com era and ran a digital agency for 11 years, working with clients such as Jamie Oliver, Disney, and Nike. Today he combines his 20 years of design and business experience to train thousands of professionals on webinars and in workshops worldwide. What some people may not know is that Jose co-founded the Skool with Chris Do, which is now called TheFutur, and this is where we came across Jose.

Jose released CORE, which is a design strategy framework and consequently is one of the future’s most popular products. Today we’re going to discuss CORE, brand strategy, innovation, and how these tools can be used to help businesses achieve their goals. Plus we’ll get a sneak peek into Jose’s latest project, The System.

So Jose, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me guys. I’m really happy to be here.

So I think a lot, yeah, thanks man. Now I think a lot of our listeners would be interested in your backstory because of your affiliation with TheFutur and Chris. Would you mind giving our listeners just a quick backstory?

Sure. I happened to have gone to Art Center College of Design, a design school here in California, in Pasadena, with Chris a little bit ahead of him. He was ahead of me about by a year.

So we knew each other from school. We knew each other when we graduated. We knew of each other since you hear about your classmates and who’s up and who’s doing cool stuff.

And I had an agent, like you said, RazorFish, then I had my own agency. And at 39, I was like, I can’t possibly be doing this into my 50s and 60s and be running a studio. I thought there had to be more.

And that was more of a question of both professionally and also spiritually, there had to be more to life than this. And there was a lot, I had a lot of success with my agency, really scaled it really fast, collaborated really well with the people that I needed in order to do that. But 2008 was super hard and it was a challenge to kind of maintain and right size like the business itself.

But I had an interesting opportunity since I had a big team and I had trained them in all these different things. And I was very focused on facilitating and client management. But once you don’t have a big team, I laid off like most, out of 40 people, I kind of pared down to five.

I then had to run like lead project management, lead like strategy. And it was really cool because it was a really cool opportunity to do the things that I trained my team and myself in, but on actual projects. And one other interesting thing that I did was a friend from the past who was in the motion graphics industry was getting back into the industry and wanted to work in the digital space.

And I brought him in to help me run my agency and I watched him. Like what mistakes did he make? What did he do well?

What did he struggle with? So I was able to see the contrast between somebody coming from a production business in the design industry to a strategically driven business. So when I left my business specifically to start school, I knew it would be a long journey and I was very much up for it.

And I consulted on the side to make ends meet. I ended up not selling my agency, which would have kept me there for another three, four years anyway, if I did. So I was pretty free at that point, other than some other financial obligations that I took care of with consulting.

And with Chris, one of the things that was interesting was in order to build an online kind of product and school, you needed to have some sort of validation. So I asked an advisor, her name is Linda Weinman. She had a company called linda.com.

And she asked, she gave me the best advice that I could have gotten, which is I wrote a bunch of books. She said, I wrote a bunch of books before it became what you know now. And people knew me as an expert.

Your clients know you, but nobody else knows you. And I’m like, that’s a good point. So I started doing a show on YouTube called This Week in Web Design from somebody that I knew in the industry.

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Coincidentally, I had been on this show. And he asked, hey, does anybody else wanna have shows on our network? And I’m like, I’ll do one called This Week in Web Design.

And that’s really where the audience started to get built. Because he already had 2 million people, followers, and he already had other shows on the network. You know, a lot of the early people for the school came from This Week in Startups.

Could you just let us know what the school is, just so we have some, the context?

The school was all the things that I struggled with design-wise with my agency, which my agency focused on software, basically for startups, you know, you needed a brand and you needed an application, we would do it for you. And then when I left that, I said, okay, I’m gonna teach how we did it at the group. Because even then it was still ahead of its time, meaning we were using Agile, we were using brand driven design with a framework behind it, and we were using customer experience or user experience.

So brand driven, user experience, Agile execution was kind of like the formula that we used, and the school basically taught that. And the first curriculum was somewhat broad, and then it got really focused on the core, which were those three exercises to define the brand, the user, and the goals. And that became the foundation of the school.

That became the most, it got traction from there.

So I’m going to jump in here, Jose. Lovely to have you on the show. You’ve just used a number of words there.

And although Jacob and I are a little familiar with that, it’s still probably be helpful to again, sort of dig into some definitions there. So you mentioned like Agile. First of all, let’s start with that.

How do you define Agile, Agile execution? What’s your definition of that?

Yeah, so Agile is a software development methodology and it was created to deal with the issue of, trying to control or manage deliverables and execution on software projects, specifically as a pertain from like the, what do we need to build to what do we end up building? Because it was difficult. It was difficult also for the developers because the deadlines and the executives running teams or projects, especially in kind of startups are like, we’re launching on this date and then everybody had to rally to do that.

And it’s still a problem or a challenge, let’s say in the software industry. In video game industry, they have a very specific name for it. I think they call it the death march, I’m not sure.

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Which is to release or to launch and a lot of cyberpunk 2077 released to a lot of fanfare and then had a bunch of problems with it. That’s the issue that Agile tries to solve. And it does it by having the team plan the work, not executives.

And it does it by having a very collaborative and prioritization based way of doing it. Like where you remove the task, like the object, like we need to design this page with exactly these features on it. It removes that and it says the requirement is the objective.

Like what do you need to accomplish? We need you to be able to sign up. So then you have to choose, you know, okay, how short can you make the sign up?

Can you do it? Sign in with Google. Can you like, how can you simplify that?

And you don’t, the objective and the outcome or the objective and the execution are separate, which is a crazy concept for designers because you basically are given a requirement and you have to design that. But when you’re building something and designing it, IE software, and it has to work, you need to be flexible in how that, you know, is done. And for agencies, the issue became, if you were being asked to do something by a client, you can’t predict exactly how much time it’s gonna take to build it.

And when you scope something out and we’re very kind as creatives, we’re like, oh, we could totally do it for that much money, of course. And then you’re stuck on a project for months where you’re already losing money, and you’re personally not happy about that, and then you’re screwed. So, our biggest innovation was agile-based pricing.

We would do the discovery phase, you know, and the discovery phase is basically, what do you need? And how do we accomplish it? That’s the discovery phase, and the client pays for it.

Common thing done by consultancies when they’re doing large-scale projects, not to get burned. So, at the end of the discovery phase, we did a planning session where the client was in the room, the developer was in the room, the designer was in the room, the marketing personnel was in the room, everyone’s in the room. We planned out everything on the project ad nauseam.

This is a full day, 100%, a whole day. And at the end, we had all these index cards with every kind of major component of the project. Like, think of it as a sitemap, like category, and then everything underneath it was what needed to happen, right, to develop that.

From the point of view of marketing, from the point of view of development, from the point of view of design, each team member or lead under those categories had to outline exactly how they were gonna do that and put how many hours they estimated. Effort first, like how complex is this? And then how many hours would that be?

And then we added it up, like with a calculator, the whole thing, and like it’s 2,300 hours at our blended rate of at the time $150 an hour, it’s $200,000 and the client’s like, what? But you were in the room when we planned it, okay, now let’s prioritize, what can we cut out and would still deliver what you need for your business, but not everything you want. Because what the client is doing is they’re trying to buy everything they can at that instance, because they know that they don’t have any more budget in the future or they didn’t plan for it, or they also know that they’re just trying to get, let me see if we can get all this done for that much money.

They’re doing one of the two things. Either they’re consciously trying to get you to do more money for the budget, because you’re really nice and you’re designers or creative people, or they’re trying to, or they just don’t know, right? So, benefit of the doubt, when they knew based on that estimate, they would be freaked out.

But then when we cut all the way down to their budget, we now knew how to do the other stuff, and we understood that we could probably still do a little bit more than their budget, and we always gave them a little bit more. So at the end, the client was like, we got what we needed and a little bit more. 100% transparency.

And there are agencies today that I know, that I have advised over the years, that actually work like that, and they made it into a large business model. I hope that was too long of an answer for, like…

No, no, that’s cool. Is there a lot of test and learn? Did you build test and learn into that kind of design thinking methodology as well into that Agile system?

Yeah, there’s so much learning in that and adjustments. The retrospective tool that Agile has, which is basically at the end of every sprint, let’s say a two-week sprint, what worked, what didn’t, what could have been better? And we’re like, this didn’t work, this didn’t work.

Okay, let’s try it again. Okay, great. And then coming from user experience, and being that most of the projects we were doing with software, we had a customer acceptance at the end scheduled as a task or as a phase of the project, and we had to put the software out in front of customers.

Both for, does it function like QA, that’s quality assurance, and then there’s also, is it accomplishing the business objective? Number one mistake all businesses make is they launch too much product ahead of validation or testing. I’ve done the opposite, which I’ve launched too little product, and just got in traction with by cutting back, cutting back, cutting back, cutting back before I move forward.

And then that’s a good thing. That’s also a bad thing. And I won’t go into that, but it’s, I’ll tell you more about that when I talk about the system and what I’m doing now.

So just to really quickly just kind of catch up on a couple of the other points you made about brand-driven delivery and user experience. Do you want to just quickly touch on those two as well? And then we’ll keep going.

Yeah, look, one of the things that we discovered at RazorFish when I was there early, I mean, I was one of the 13th employee around there and grew the beginning of the dot-com boom when it came to delivering services and building products for all types of companies, from Time Warner to museums like the Smithsonian. The early projects were really interesting, very amazing. But what we really understood and learned and became very quickly apparent over the years is that every time you launch something new online, including startups, but also older companies, branding or the brand became a huge thing because now you had a software experience coming from a brand.

It was a startup, it doesn’t even have a logo. You need to develop a logo, you need to develop a brand language, you need to develop all these things. The question then becomes, what is branding?

In the 20th century, it’s been identity and the definition by Marty Neumann and the brand gap, which is my favorite definition and the one that TheFutur uses because that’s what, at the beginning, we introduced. I introduced Chris to Marty, meaning not personally, even though I had met Marty Neumann, but to the book. It says basically how people feel.

It’s how people feel about your brand, about your product, around your idea. So it’s like this everything. I call it essence, the spirit, the mojo, all these different words.

But controlling that is either intuitive and it’s people who know how to do it because they’re really good at it naturally, like the founder of RazorFish was very good at doing that naturally. And then there is people that need to get help to do it. So creating a brand online has a lot to do with the totality of the experience, not just like the logo and like, does the software work?

Is it smooth? Does it have the right, you think of Netflix, or think of like, now Disney Plus, you use both interfaces and Disney Plus, you know what, it works. A little clunky compared to Netflix, but it delivers the Mandalorian and it delivers the content for you.

But where branding kind of crosses over into customer experience, or what the big consultancies and the industry calls CX, customer experience, there are so many terms all the time, they’re ridiculous. But all you need to know about user and customer experience is that it’s ultimately about the ability for a customer to have an experience that’s seamless, effortless, smooth, fluid, and more importantly, resonates, is exactly what you need. So when you’re doing software, you have to develop user profiles, customer profiles, and you have to develop what they need, and you have to develop empathy maps, which are this thing of like, what’s our lifestyle look like?

And like all this stuff, just to really get to know the customer. In marketing and in the 20th century, we’ve begun to feel that a lot of what marketing uses to get that level of kind of like manipulation of the customer is very manipulative. So for me, brand driven customer experience with our objectives or goals kind of worked out, has an extra layer.

Innovation occurs when there’s an authenticity or where there is a reality of what you’re creating that is so in tune with the site guys, with the people and with your own heart, that you’re able to kind of push through. And what I mean by that is, some of the most innovative companies you hear about now that they’re big or public or famous, like let’s say Airbnb, really started with super passionate people, like really driving the mechanics of it over and over again until it kind of got some traction. There’s never a real, we discount like the, not the gravity, but the weight that it takes to launch something off the ground and make it impactful for the world.

Whether it be a brand or whether it be an idea or a movement, you can really see the impact of customer experience versus brand as it changed to identity in the future’s transition in the system, in the school transitioning to the future. So the company I started called the Skool, I started at the beginning with my own kind of spirit in it. And then as I started collaborating with Chris and I learned his style and what he, his attributes, it started becoming more sans-serif-y and futura.

And then eventually one of the reasons why that acerbic blue that he uses is there is because one of the brand attributes, when we did our own personal Chris is Jose is brand attributes, one of his attributes was acerbic, which is neither good or bad. It’s just like, and that blue is an acerbic blue. And he used it for the future.

And it was very counter to my magenta, which was my personality, which was more, you know, magenta or rican and much more feminine. So you saw it then transition to Chris, but the users were still the same. There was still that initial set of freelancer transitioning through agency, a small agency, you know, those were still the users.

So that’s customer, brand driven customer experience. You know, objectives obviously are business goals. That’s it.

I mean, that’s, that’s what you have to be able to do to create anything. And then there’s all the execution and all the like, you know, details of like doing a business, which is a lot.

So, it’s quite the backstory. That’s how you created Core, right? So, can you define what Core is, the process for, for people that haven’t come across it, what is Core?

So, discovery framework, but what does that actually mean? And what does it look like inside of this program?

Inside of a business, all right. So, let’s talk about just reality, right? Without me describing Core as a concept, there’s a lot of different strategies getting from A to B.

How do you get from A to B? Traditionally, design agencies, small individual freelance might not have the sophistication or the, even internal teams might not have the sophistication to do that strategic work, especially if you started the business and you got it off the ground naturally without a lot of that, right? So, you could be a small business or you can be a startup or you can even be a medium-sized business and have just grown without specifically doing brand strategy or customer experience and doing all those things very intuitively.

That’s usually the case when as a small agency, you come into a client that is small, but considerable. And we can talk about it in terms of size and scale. At the under a million dollars in revenue for a small business, they’re just wanting the mechanical stuff.

Like, we need a website, we need this, we need that, and they don’t want to hear your BS about strategy. And like even for, so when I worked at RazorFish, we did these large multi-million dollar engagements and the discovery phase was driven by client partners and people who were doing the strategy, which is like a deck with like, this is what we’re going to do, here’s your brand and all this kind of stuff. And they all did it differently.

They did it based on where they came from. You came from a center, you did like a center, you came from Inner Brand, you did like their templates. Everybody just steals templates from each other.

So we were in a meeting in London to define the RazorFish process. And that exercise is in core, the brand attributes exercise was one of the exercises that we put into it. And it was shown, the woman was I think from Inner Brand, I don’t remember, one of the big brand agencies.

And she showed us how to do it. And I’m like, oh, this is super cool. So I did it immediately when I flew back to the project I was doing in Silicon Valley, which was for Disney, it was Disney’s Go network.

That was the first time I did that brand attributes exercise. And then user experience, it was a user profiles is deliverable every project ad, because we build software. So those two exercises that are part of core are fundamental to doing any project, right?

And when I left RazorFish, I was teaching at Art Center, a class called Web Projects, which was those two exercises, plus like, you know, you prototyped, you had a choice of either doing a nonprofit or a for-profit company, and I gave you options, and then you did a project, and you did a real project, and you presented it, and I guided you through it. And I showed all the deliverables of how we did it in a project. So when I let the person, his name is Seth Epstein, run the group for a while, that’s one of the things that I had to teach him, specifically the customer, the user experience part, plus a bunch of other stuff.

When I started doing the school, those were the fundamentals that we were teaching in all our workshops. Chris was very curious about what I was doing, so we met, and we made the decision to just, for me to be a resident entrepreneur at Blind, at his agency. And one of the clients that he had was a web project, and we did those exercises.

Plus, the third one, which is your business goals, and there’s only three things that a business can do. Revenue, how do you get more, how do you grow revenue, or how do you sustain revenue, how do you create revenue? Awareness, which is all the marketing activities, lead gen, all the terms that we have technical for that.

What are all those activities? Social, like funnels, et cetera. And then efficiency, which is just platform stuff, how do you deliver stuff?

If you do fulfillment, if you have a physical product, how you’re doing your fulfillment, if you’re CRM, like to manage your customers, email marketing, all those platforms and all the whole stack, the hard software stack that you have to use to run a business today, all were under efficiency. Now, so those three exercises and core specifically were designed very specifically for solving one problem, which was startup CEOs did not want to pay a lot of money to do discovery. I’m paying you $150,000, $200,000 to build my MVP, meaning minimal viable product.

I don’t want any fluffiness. I don’t want any like month long engagement. I’m serious.

I just had a CEO just straight up. Don’t give me your agency crap because that’s what he would get. I actually tested this.

I was advising a startup and we gave an R&P request for a proposal to three agencies, a small agency, medium agency, and one of the big agencies. And I reviewed all the proposals. Same project, $1.6 million, $350,000, $35,000.

Same scope, same project. Came back with that range of pricing and just to keep it, to summarize, core basically is like, if you remember, shrinking things, those things you put in the oven and they get smaller, it’s taking what consultancies do to do discovery, to figure out like what to do for a client, you know, how to shrink it into a day and a half, the input part and then output it. The reason why it’s so amazing has nothing to do with anything other than it cuts the time by bringing everybody into the room and leveraging the facilitated kind of collective intelligence.

It’s not easy. So one of the things that we’ve had to deal with, with designers and agencies and people in general is like the confidence to jump in and actually with the entire team of like a company or a client to deal with interfacing with all of them at the same time. The traditional LMO is the CEO has a project manager or a CMO or a VP or a director of who hires the agency and manages you and you’re just getting like, instruction from that.

But that causes all sorts of problems as you’re getting telephone game and you don’t know what CEO thinks, et cetera. I’m like, nope, nip it in the bud, bring all the stakeholders in the room, do that session in the beginning. And then that allows for clarity and that allows for direction.

CEO doesn’t have to worry anymore. He already said what he wanted or what he thought was priority and what he thought the brand was. And when you present to him and you go, hey, you said your brand represents innovation.

The attributes of your voice and your personality is wise and funny. So hey, look, our copy is wise and funny. And our colors are X, Y, Z.

Now you’re anchoring your entire delivery to what he said or she said. And now you don’t have all of what I call the whiplash from like, oh, we’re going in this direction. Oh, we’re going in this direction.

Oh, we’re going in this direction. And it just accelerates and keeps clients really happy. So when people say core is magic, it’s because literally it solves a lot of problems and it is kind of magical.

And it’s not the traditional way that you would do strategy. You would do it, make people fill out forms, you’d do interviews, you’d do all this stuff. And it just takes forever.

So how do you bridge the gap between the customer and the client in terms of what the customer needs or wants versus what the client is asking for?

Well, that’s a really great question. And then the question there becomes how much intimacy do you have and what services do you offer to your customers as a service provider that allow you to touch their customers? And do you have the comfort level to do that?

Because if you get comfortable enough to facilitate your customers, then you need to get comfortable enough to facilitate your customer’s customers, right? The end user or the end customer. So I’ll give you an example.

I recently did a rebrand as part of this epic three year journey of testing core and testing everything that I’ve learned to make the system with a very amazing company in the Bay Area called EO Products. And they have two products. Everyone, that’s one brand and it’s same kind of products, but under different brands and the other brand is EO.

And they’re a wellness company. So they make soaps, hand creams, and it’s called personal care, the category. But they’re best known for their hand sanitizer and for their soap.

And they’re best known because it’s super, super natural and super like it smells really great and essential oils and they don’t have a lot of things and family owned company and Marin. It’s like, you know, it’s an awesome kind of like company. But they were struggling with being in big box retail because they had grown in naturals like whole foods, et cetera, sprouts.

And then now in jumping into Target and into Whole Foods here in the US, they were having a lot of resistance because they had competition, like really big competition. And then the design and the product itself was far more sophisticated than where they were at and how they had grown in naturals. So now they needed to make that jump.

So part of the rebrand wasn’t even just doing core, which we did, and defining their brand attributes, defining their customers, and defining their priorities and goals and figuring it out. It was a lot of other things, like consolidating their different teams, marketing, creative, digital, social, all of the team e-commerce. Instead of having all these disparate teams, my job was kind of bring them all together and kumbaya my lord and like operate them as one versus that.

And that’s not the part of the story that I’m gonna tell. The part of the story is I’ve never done a rebrand for a naturals brand. I’m like, what the hell?

So I hired an agency in New York, Brooklyn-based agency called Content BK, which was someone that I knew well, who was my student at Art Center. And also I had hired in New York, creative director, who came from Johnson & Johnson. Perfect.

The first thing we did was like a lunch and learn to show the internal process that the creative studio at Johnson & Johnson used to develop products to the team. And everybody’s like, that’s cool. They got to see how one of the big players does it.

And part of how all big players do it, or even how anybody needs to do it, is to do customer focus groups. There’s qualitative research and quantitative research. Qualitative is like, hey, how do you like this customer?

And they’re like, oh, I like it. And they talk about it. Quantitative is just more data, like this one better, this one better, this one better.

And there’s different ways of doing that. But what we did was we planned, and this is not the first time I obviously had done that. I had done it a lot for software.

And they had a team internally that can manage some of this, or actually their team internally can manage a lot of the work. And with the agency, me, their internal team, we designed a focus group. It’s one day, having three groups of 10 come into the office.

We had Logitech cameras. We recorded it all on Zoom. We actually broadcast them all live to the design studio downstairs.

And people could actually watch. The questions and how we designed the focus group, it was basically all of the different design directions, plus the competitors. And with really, really, really well-designed.

The Content BK team and the internal team, Rose was leading that, did a really great job. So at the end, we had video footage of the customers telling us exactly what their thoughts were on the design and on the brand. But we showed the founders, and they’re like, yeah.

And the founders were asking for it. They were like, we need to validate everything we do with our customers. And part of it even, look, if you’re gonna design anything for anybody, you have to understand it.

You know, it’s not about the visuals. It’s not about, it’s about the whole thing. Like we spent like the first, we landed in the Bay Area to do that project because we came in at the same time from New York and from LA.

What do you think the first thing we did other than go to Starbucks was?

Tell us.

We go to Target. Their problem is that they’re dealing with how they, they’re having challenges getting traction in Target and in Whole Foods and big, big box retail. We spent freaking an hour and a half like going through Target, looking at all their stuff.

Like we just went shopping for like a week at everywhere. We went to small boutiques, we went there, but also we weren’t just looking at like Target. We went to Sephora, we went to, what does a small naturals place look like?

All of that kind of, and taking pictures, pictures, pictures, which later made it into our decks. You have to dive deep. I call it method design.

Meaning like, you know, method acting, like you really become the character. You really got to become the consumer of the product. All our Airbnb’s actually had the product in Marin County, totally coincidental.

So we were like, all right. We were testing both what the lifestyle was of the person that bought it. You know, fairly affluent in that area.

You know, they have access to sprouts and whole foods. Some buy it at Target, but not many. Oh, the biggest thing is, talk to the damn customers right there in the store.

This lady sitting there trying to choose a hand soap. And we’re like, yeah, what did you choose? Hi, you know, sorry to bother you.

I know this is weird, but I’m a designer and I’m working on this design project. We’re redesigning EO products. Oh my God, I love EO products.

Really? Why aren’t they here at Target? Oh no, they have everyone.

Did you know that that’s an EO product? And they’re like, oh, I didn’t know. Yeah, you’re about to buy another product and you didn’t know that everyone’s part of EO.

Oh, okay, good. What, tell me about, you know, EO? We got into a whole really amazing conversation and she knows the founders, like of the founders and same spiritual like paths and boom.

And we talked to so many people, everyone. We’re at a bar, like playing pool, like, oh, you see, or we might have the product on us, like a hand sanitizer. They’re like, oh, I love that, yeah, how do you know about it?

So we really had to, it’s more about the feeling, less about the quantitative data. We did get tons of data and we did do three. We did the focus group that we planned ourselves.

Then we did a quantitative, which was just all of the competitors plus the new designs, just data, not in the A, B, C, D. Then COVID happened, so we couldn’t do another one in person. And the company that did the final focus group did it remote, but with video.

So we got to watch people kind of, it was really well managed. I forgot the name of the company, but they did a really good job. And for a designer, for a person who has never done those things, it sounds scary, it’s a lot simpler than you think, it’s just asking questions, this person, this person.

You’ve been to an eye doctor, you get it. Writing the questions, how to write the questions, how not to lead the witness. All those things are part of an experience facilitator or an experience person doing that, which you can find at hire or just Google it and read a damn article on how to do usability testing.

You know?

Yeah, well, I was just gonna go back to the original sort of question and the tension that Jacob sort of threw into the conversation, which was around this idea of how much you just kind of go through a process and how much you get, you know, you go behind the scenes and you, you know, you do your own thing with the client to sort of deep dive, which is kind of, I think, where you went with that, because what you’ve got is you’ve got a framework with the core, which you talked about was great for sort of up to $1 million turnover companies, but then there’s more that can be done. So what’s your kind of conclusion on that? Do you think there’s therefore value?

It’s a good question because I did core, and then the mistake I made that I realized in hindsight was that I didn’t anchor it sufficiently throughout the engagement and that there weren’t additional tools to kind of go between core and the CMO. And I just paid attention to the CMO and I saw what she was doing and how she was doing it and what she required, like campaigns and arcs and like schedules and dates and I got to witness a lot of how those things were being done and those frameworks work. And there’s tons of them for that.

You know, the Fletcher method, there’s this, there’s funnel this and funnel that. There’s a million nowadays online. So, but what I really believe is that ultimately and what the system, what we’re building right now, the system without an E, don’t ask why everything is missing an E, is really about what are the fundamentals, like what are the core things that you have to do at the beginning and throughout the engagement to really get fidelity, which is what I mean by fidelity is that what there’s a connection with the customer and what you’re putting out, right?

Fidelity is, it ultimately produces traction, which means there’s sales, adoption, whatever it is that your objective is, because it doesn’t have to be just commercial objectives, but fidelity means that you’re accomplishing them because of what you are doing. So for me, the two big mistakes were one, not doing enough customer profiles and doing enough, bringing the customer into the shop, into the company, and then not doing the translation exercises, like customer stories, and not dedicating time to do that really wasn’t a good thing in the project. Like we tried to skip to, or I didn’t feel confident enough to like play too much in the marketing realm because that’s not my jam, my jam is software development for startups, that I didn’t really impose sufficiently there, and it did affect the kind of overall execution.

Then you get into leadership, then you get into like all these different issues. But for a company that whether it’s under a million dollars in turnover or up to a hundred million dollars in turnover except in all types of companies, that’s still not a corporate, that’s still not like a billion dollar company. Those companies are being serviced in slightly different ways.

For strategy and for design. In general, at the smaller scale, you really have to become very comfortable and adaptable and very comfortable with being a lot more intimate with your customer and with your client, like getting into the numbers, getting into like their business and what’s happening. That’s uncomfortable, I think, for a lot of design and agency people to really dig in.

And they don’t feel confident because I’m not a business person, I’ve never done that, but…

I think you’re right. That’s kind of part of this podcast. We’re trying to help people get more comfortable, get their hands dirty.

And I think it’s interesting how you’ve described that. For me personally, I’ve also felt that in my career. You come at things from your ilk of your breed of training, from a design or creative perspective, and you come at strategy initially just from that perspective, and you know you need it to do a good job from an execution perspective.

And as time goes on, you realize, well, hey, there’s huge value in this stuff for customers, for my clients. But then you realize that it comes adorning on you that you’ve only been attacking it from one angle. And in fact, to add huge value, there’s multiple angles involved.

And as soon as that penny drops, do you then have a choice? Do I just stay with my angle, or do I dive in and get uncomfortable in some of these other areas where perhaps I’ve not got as much training, and do I put myself out there, do I expose myself potentially to failure? And I think that then becomes the hallmark of whether you go full on in in strategy, or whether you just dip in.

And it sounds like you’re going full on in with all those comments you’ve just made from your perspective from that example.

And this is also me at 47, 10, 15 years after I had run an agency for 10 years before that worked at an agency. So I’m a really old agency guy. And I’m one of those, but I’ve been such a contrarian.

I just don’t want to keep on doing it. Like technically at 47, I should be an executive at an agency or a chief brand officer of a company like EO, and make $300,000 a year, have a nice house, have some kids and chill out. But I chose to be a freaking pirate.

I’m glad you chose to be a pirate. I love that.

And here, let’s just be blunt. I’m going to be super blunt and like cut to the chase. You’re called JUST Branding, which by the way, I love.

The system and where I landed after this journey is at a very controversial place, because I believe that we have so much power. Once we are sufficiently nosy and like in Spanish, they call it presentado, which means precocious or like, well, how’s your business working over here? Oh, let me see the factory.

That usually the designer might not feel like they’re worthy of it. In 2014, I wrote an article on a British Google called I’m Not a Graphic Designer. And that was the manifesto of my point of view that I want to be sitting with the C-level people.

I don’t want to be like over here in a room taking orders from somebody. Because think about it this way. The arc of history, the narrative of our planet, is currently being driven by certain things in a generation.

And one of them is capitalism, right? And as I’ve kind of been building my house and studio here in downtown LA my God, how many Amazon boxes and how many boxes and how much crap do you buy? I’ve been trying to buy used stuff, right?

But most of it isn’t. Most of it is coming from Amazon or from IKEA or from all these business models that are now pretty big. Design is a huge part of them, obviously.

And then the question is, okay, the momentum that those companies have from a revenue standpoint, COVID and a lot of different other factors kind of change things up. But how are we going to change the mindset of redesigning a business from end to end? Meaning not just like what the packaging looks like or what the website looks like, which is usually what we might get hired to do, but what is the product?

What are the sourced materials for it? How do you deliver it in an innovative business model in a way that has a lower footprint on the planet? Under the guise of commercialism and of building an idea and a brand, which by the way, I’m a capitalist, I get it.

You come up with some shit that has all these externalities, even as a small business, whether it be shipping or whether it be that. If it’s a digital product, kudos, you’re not creating a lot of waste, you might be creating some. But then we know and I believe, this is me being crazy, that the people that are doing this work, the designers that are empowered, designers, strategists, developers, marketing people, creative entrepreneurs that are being tasked to develop these new ideas.

What if we actually embed the possibility of having those things be more aligned with planet, more aligned with people, more aligned with purpose? That would be cool, right? Because then suddenly we would have an engine that would develop a new world and through capitalism and through integrated values, meaning not just like saying, well, I want to make a bunch of money.

We could possibly do that. So there is for me now, it’s not an ulterior motive. When you see the system come out, it’s actually going to be the top thing that we’re actually trying to bring about change by re-changing how work and how entrepreneurship happens and really thinking of it holistically instead of just thinking of it in its very kind of tactical dimensions, which is crazy, but you know what?

This is it, man. What do we have left? What do we have to lose is the other reason.

Jacob has a question to that. It’s like, what the hell do you mean by that?

Has he been trying to get in for the last time? Come on, Jacob.

But that triggered him, which is great.

Yeah, yeah. I want to go deeper into the system. Can we define what it is and how does it work?

How can other people use it? You keep showing us your tattoos.

I want to use that too, because that is the system.

That is the system. It’s a heart, a Venn diagram and a triangle.

This is Core, by the way. This is the alignment.

This is Brand.

You have User and you have Goals. Those three exercises are the foundation of Core. This is actually Agile, which is your objective.

What done means, which is really in OKR, is really your results. The objective, what the results are, and then what you need to do to get those done. You go into a corner and you go into a loop, doing those over and over again.

That’s really the three main modules. The only module that is out in public, it’s core, through the future. We’re in 2021 releasing the other additional modules.

The first module, though, is Circles Facilitation, which is the tattoo I have right there, which is how do you run a circle? A circle is a group of people. It’s really how do you facilitate your team, how do you facilitate a company, how do you facilitate…

It has agile principles in it, but it’s really about your confidence, mainly, and about what it takes to really do it in a way that’s inclusive, that is kind, that is heartfelt, that people aren’t feeling not included. The 20th century was really about triangular, wolfpack kind of business kind of practices. By the way, we’re really good at it.

Men are very good at falling in line under the alpha. We’re awesome. Women who succeeded in corporate actually have adapted very well.

There’s alpha women and they do the same. They fall in line and they work well under that paradigm. Now we’re moving into a 21st century, the period of the 21st century where we have to create a whole new world.

COVID is just the beginning of destruction of all the old kind of paradigms. Now going back to the system, the aligning of the essence of the business and of the customer experiences and the goals is one part. But what about the people?

So the hard part is really being able to align the values, your values, Jacob, your values, Matt, my values, Jose, we’re all slightly different, but we can do them separately and then do our purpose individually. We might have slightly different but similar purposes. And then what are our skills?

What are the things that we can actually do well and the things that we like to do versus the things that we are challenged to? Once you’re able to define that for a team, then you can create a shared set of values that become the brand and that become how you deliver your customer experience. And then the third part of the system is really how to deliver that in a way that is mindful of the people, but also mindful of being able to deliver what’s needed, not everything possible in agile and customer development, which startups use, by the way.

It’s a slightly different way of doing things than most businesses would do it. The system, again, is just heart-centered, aligned for the teams. If you think of this for the individuals, all the individuals are self-expressed and on their purpose.

The teams are aligned and they know exactly what the objectives are they need to do. And they have a framework for scaling, because once you train everyone to run in different teams, you’re going to have a bunch of teams running in similar ways. And that ultimately has nothing to do with the marketing funnel and the mechanics or the tactics.

That is more of a kind of a cultural framework for how you work and how you collaborate. And teaching it to us as creatives and as agencies, et cetera, the goal really from an objective standpoint is that we allow you to work better, work more human, have more joy in the work. Because to be honest, it can get really freaking brutal when you’re just not working from a place of love and a place of flow and a place of purpose.

If you’re just doing stuff to make money, to make a living in a Western world, where for the most part you’re not going to starve unless there’s some other circumstances. Yeah, man, why would I do that? I don’t want to live and work in that world.

I want to create a new one. So that’s what the system ultimately is. Think of it as a culture.

So how long would something like that take? How long would it take to go through all those steps and to implement it as well?

That’s a good question. That’s a very, very good question. For the middle section core, we have traditionally taken a couple of days, like two-day sessions.

Then you have the documentation of it from a brief standpoint, and you go into execution. Most projects are about a three-month length of project. To come into a team and do the values work and to do the purpose work, usually that will take a few weeks.

The challenge is that people don’t want to really take that time to do stuff that doesn’t seem mission-critical. Funny enough, for EO products, we proposed doing that later on in the engagement, and now we need to execute on the campaign. We just did execution stuff, and I just caught up with some of their executives recently.

They’re like, yeah, you should reach out again and try it again because I think we need it. Usually when teams… Your question is how long it takes.

We’re designing them to be… We’re doing them for ourselves right now, actually, and it should be two half-day sessions to do your values, purpose and skills, and then to see which ones are shared so that you can then do the next session before. Then the third session is really flow.

It’s just how do you put the team into flow. That really… We install that on a project.

We don’t install it in training. If you have a project, let’s say we need to build a website for JUST Branding, all right, we’ll do the core for it, but before that, we’ll take a half day or an hour, two or three hours, and some async sessions to where you guys have to define your values, your purpose, and your skills. Then we look at it, and then a few days later, we do core, and that takes a day or two, and then we document it.

And then we say, okay, we’re kicking off, now that we’ve scoped out what the JUST Branding website is, we’re kicking that off in flow and agile, and that’ll take a month to do the first test, the first sprint. And then once we’re done with that, if the team feels like, you know what, we can do the next one ourselves, we just hand it over and we’ll come back in and check in. But that’s the consulting part.

We want to consult and install this in companies, including agencies. Our main targets are innovative startups, and the very specific… I just had this conversation this morning with the partners.

Innovative startups in blockchain, social and environmental issues, and health and wellness. And then B Corps, health and wellness, B Corps like EO products and social and environmental companies. We’re talking to a company now that does upcycle clothing online, which is super cool and something that’s really happening a lot in millennial culture.

Can I ask how you settled on those kind of industries?

We settled on them based on what we like to work on and what’s culturally attuned to what we’re doing. So like for an example, I did a lot of consulting for health and wellness companies over the last few years and on my own for, you know, just for my friends. And I realized, well, there’s a big space there.

Then the baseline is the bridge between the future, between the school, the future and the system is agencies, consultancies. So instead of freelancers and individual, like, you know, it’s like, okay, even if you’re one person and you have a collective or if you’re three people or four people and now you’re operating, you know, as a group, as a team, we want to work with you and help you. But instead of consulting for you, because you’re not going to be able to afford our prices, we actually created an accelerator program and the Circles program, which we prototyped a few months ago.

You saw some of the noise that I was making with my team. It was doing this thing called Circles. We were actually testing the Agile framework and how to facilitate Circles and how to have a whole cohort of people working on projects.

So now we’re launching that in January, at the beginning, at the middle of this month. Similar to how the future has the Pro Group, the difference between the Pro Group and what we’re doing is that the system has a curriculum that you have to go through. And the curriculum is the system that you individuals, as a person, have to define your values, your purpose, your skills.

Great. It’s in your profile now. So now we have this whole network of people that we can say, oh, you have the same values that I do.

Oh, I’m working on that. Oh, I’m working on social justice. Or I want to work in AI or I want to work in whatever, you know, whatever.

So there’s a bigger vision behind it. Like, what do you see? Like, where is this system going to go once you have all these people together?

It’s a great question. You know, ultimately, the vision that I saw when I was working at ConsenSys in the blockchain space was one where, you know, imagine that a new…

So, if we had to, as a human species, recreate all the functions that are required to survive in a capitalistic Western society, you know, shelter, food, you know, life, basically, all the businesses that are in transportation. Right now, the majority of them are functioning under efficiencies of scale that are really based around 20th century concepts like, you know, centralization and efficiency, right? So Amazon is not one big company making all this stuff for you.

You know, Amazon is like all these pirate ships, like floating all over, meaning I’m a vendor who sells this thing, you know, and I put it on Amazon and Amazon sells it, you know, I can sell it through Amazon, I’m fulfilling it through another provider, or, you know, some products end up being part of Amazon’s fulfillment, or worse, they actually copy your product and make it another Amazon. It’s horrible. All is fair in love and war, as they say in capitalism.

But those things are very central or not centralized, but they’re very like, you know, for me, I’m looking at it at a real, like basic level, like, if suddenly, you know, global cataclysm happened, and we had to have everything local, like, where you buy your dishers, where you buy your food, where you buy if you had to do it in a, in a distribution or in a supply chain that’s local, you’d be pretty freaked, pretty, you know, because we depend so much on this, like, international and global trade. But in order to really add the flow of history, we really have to design new models. And the only way to do that is by having people who know how to do it.

So, the system ultimately is empowering creative people that the secret desire or the secret intention is that if you’re able to then now consult for other companies, because now you are actually sufficiently confident to do more than just, hey, Mr. Yes or Mrs. The Client, I’m going to design your stuff where you think very much, just be an artist for money. You know, what the hell is the point of that? Like, great, you get satisfaction, you get to use the fact that you’re really good at thinking and ideas to help somebody else.

But man, you’re wasting your life’s purpose there because otherwise, you know, you’re just a servant. And now if you want to be a creator and like say, okay, I’ll help you if we can redesign your business model, if we can make it sustainable, if we can do something interesting, if, you know, we can actually build something new. And at the end, what might happen is that, like a lot of the people that I’ve known that are early students of, you know, Chris Do included, that is like, okay, you want to get out of the service industry and start your own company.

All right, now you have the experience and the skills to do that. Because consulting gives you a ton of experience. Like I’ve done so many different types of projects, right?

So many different types of clients that I can now I have ingrained knowledge on all of them. So if I want to start an online school or an online thing, I’ve already done a bunch of startups that had a bunch of similar parts to it. So my goal and my wish and my desire is that as creators, we start taking over and saying, hey, I’m going to create a new oat milk brand or I’m going to create a new way of creating furniture locally sourced by people and putting homeless people to work.

Whatever it is that you come up with, but that is solving the world’s problems instead of just being worried about making money because the system is currently as it is. So I know that sounds a little crazy that…

No, not really. I think the future belongs to the creatives and the designers. And I think we need more confidence in those areas because we need those innovators.

And I guess that segues nicely into probably the final topic that would be great to touch on with you, which is that concept of innovation. And where that comes from, because you talk about all this analysis and thinking about things from the customer’s perspective and making sure that the customer experience is spot on. When we come across something that isn’t spot on, where do you think that innovation spark comes from?

What are you training people in to come up with that new stuff, that new experience, that new product? And do you have anything to share with us on innovation and that in regards to brand?

Yeah, I can only speak to it from my own experience, but the first thing I’ll say is that you guys are a perfect example of that. People who are willing to move forward and do their thing, just not having any, not caring. The rebels, the big picture thinkers, the healers, the people who are like, you know what?

But Susan Griffith Black, the co-founder of EO Products with Brad Black, who’s the co-founder and the new CEO, Tom. But Susan specifically, I’ve learned so much from my clients who are powerful creators. Because ultimately, she’s the creator and just watching her interact with the world and with businesses, it was just, A, a privilege, B, a big school.

People like Chris Do, people like me, almost like this dogged world, devil may care, just do it, right? Nike does it best, right? Just do it.

Just Branding. Oh, I just got that. The ingredients for innovation, diversity and inclusion, is a primary one, that all the voices of the people and the ideas, if you look at Steve Jobs, his gift wasn’t just having president ideas of what the customer might need.

He was watching and sensing and looking at all the factors and mixing them together from his typography classes in college, where he took whatever he wanted to, like Xerox parts, like experiments and watching them through putting the right people in the right room and harnessing a pirate flag and saying, let’s do this and setting a bold goal. Most of the people that end up innovating, that we highlight, Elon Musk, et cetera, they’re master wizards at life, not just at their particular craft, because you have to figure it all out, right? For me personally, as it pertains to what I’ve seen that really creates innovation aside from like, okay, people who finance it or people who fund it, is people who are really passionate and have a purpose that’s higher than themselves.

So for me, again, if it were about money and surviving and making a living, I would go work a comfortable job at an agency, which I would pay, and I would have to figure out how to survive that. But continuing to push, seeing the tea leaves, when I started thinking about the school, which is now the future, if you’re reading the tea leaves, which is like magazines like Fast Company or at the time, books, like, you know, at the time, Holden of Mind, White Right-Brainers will own the future. I’m reading the book and I’m like, this is great, we’re going to own the future.

But we’re a bunch of flaky people, like, how the hell, we don’t know anything about business. We can’t own the future, we don’t know how to run it or how to like even like, so I’m like, okay, who’s going to teach? So the first name, the MVP name for the school was Evil Businessman.

And the reason why is like, who the hell says they want to be an evil businessman? No one does. So I called it that so that people would be like, what are you talking about, Willis?

Like, I don’t want to be an evil businessman, but I’m curious, what are you talking about? You kind of do, you know, you know. So I was just poking at people and being really like, you know, Stephen Colbert, he played a conservative, you know, on TV for many years.

His show, The Colbert Report, was him pretending to be a conservative pundit like Fox News. That’s ironic and satire, but it was funny as hell. And that’s how Americans now get their news, really, because the regular news are not even real.

So for me, basically, the school became, you know, about teaching creatives business, because that’s what I saw in the books, you know, this author said that we were going to own the future. And then you started looking at other things. You got to be really tuned in and sensing.

Now, there’s one thing that allows innovation to flourish, which is timing. A lot of people discount that idea of timing, you have to really be able to push things in the direction and the right timing. For me, the last thing I’ll say about it is watching other people who innovate, but also understanding from artists and from people who master a particular craft is the ability to really invest in yourself in terms of educating yourself, in terms of your personal development and health and wellness, in terms of your spiritual growth.

You can’t be untethered because if you are untethered, then you can’t manifest the things that you need to in the material realm. And then what does it matter that you had a great idea if it didn’t become a reality? So to make things real, to go from the idea into the real world, whether it be the school and now the future, whether it be the system and the stuff that I’m doing, which is scary.

It is scary. You’re doing this new thing. I’m like, all the demons are going, oh my God, you’re 47.

Go get a job, you idiot. You’re not 25, you’re not 29. What are you doing living in downtown with all these young people and all this energy?

You have to really develop yourself in order to be able to create what you believe in with others. And that’s why the system is so important. So focus on collaboration.

Because when you’re doing it with others, it’s easier, it’s more tuned, it’s you cut a much sharper and deeper kind of wedge into the momentum and the fabric of reality that you can’t do on your own. I mean, unless you’re an author or an artist, but if you ever look at those people’s careers, they’re not doing that shit by themselves. They have a lot of people around them.

And they’re really harnessing and kind of like this like, you know, gumbo of like different factors. And then you got to be able to handle all those at the same time. So, mindset and the ability for a creative person to be untethered from, you know, it’s like a, what’s the sound of one hand clapping?

You have to be untethered from the reality of it all so that you can produce a vision that’s greater and big and crazy. And then at the same time, grounded in the reality of execution in iteration cycles that are sufficiently sharp, it’s like a spiral. The best thing that shows the momentum of innovation is just a diagram of like a Fibonacci spiral like, you know, the one that designers use with the square because it starts like small, right?

And you have to move that and then all things go through that pattern. Once you feel and understand what it takes for that, for me, being a Taurus and being very materially grounded, great ideas, great vision, great blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But the only way I know how to make something become real is by testing it financially right away.

Like, within six months of the school idea coming into my head and me launching my first YouTube show, I started monetizing and seeing like testing monetization. You can’t just have an idea, you have to still pay the bills. And for me, it’s really the proof in the pudding, usually.

Can you scale your income and your revenue? Thanks.

Thanks It’s one measure of value, isn’t it? Or success, I guess. And it is the way that we as a society value, show we value something.

So it makes sense what you’ve just said. Nice. Awesome.

Well, wow, my mind’s been blown a few times. How about you, Jacob?

Yeah, absolutely.

You guys ask me questions because I can talk forever, so I apologize.

I can tell that. It’s been great. I love listening to everything you’ve said so far.

We are gonna end up, this is our longest episode to date, an hour and a half, so. Wow, that’s a really good one. Yeah, it flew by.

Thank you so much, Jose. Where can people find you?

Yeah, go to the Instagrams, and Jose Cabeller is my main Instagram. It’s also my Twitter. Follow me on Twitter.

And in the next several weeks, you’ll see we are the system on Instagram kind of launching, and we’re gonna continue that.

It’ll be out by the time this is out, so.

Yeah, we are is important. Like, if I leave you with anything, is that you are the system, that us as individuals creating new things, and innovating, and changing the things that we don’t like about the world, because we can, because we’re powerful, because we have the tools. If we can align those things to who we are, to our purpose, to our faith, to our commitment to the time that we have here on Earth, holy poop, man, we can do some crazy, amazing things.

Wow, mic drop moment, mic drop moment. We’ll leave it there. Thanks so much for coming on, Jose.

That’s me.

Was that you? I thought that was like Jose’s like chain play.

I didn’t bust out the reggae there at the end.

I accidentally, I don’t even know how that happened. I accidentally hit something on my keyboard as I was saying goodbye. And my Spotify kicked off with a bit of Bob Marley.

There you go.

Well, you should do that in the podcast. Like, the one that we’re gonna do, so we’re trying to figure out how to make our thing like into a thing that isn’t just a podcast. So, and it’s hard, but we’ve been practicing it, right?

Like, you know, having Keone in here cooking, me cooking. We’ll be pretty done with the cooking when we start the podcast, then we’ll be ready almost to serve. But then the guests, the people who are here, it’s really our crew because of COVID, the collaborators, right?

And some people are on Zoom. And the first episode is really talking about like that, about diversity and talking about how the different points of view and the different ideas, you know, are make the dish. Because Keone’s cooking something Jamaican, I’m cooking something Dominican, and the other person’s cooking something else.

And cooking as a metaphor. But you know, what you guys are doing and like how the remix continuously occurs from, you know, this influence and that influence and that influence and that influence, but then putting it forward and making it your own. It’s really powerful.

And it’s something that I think at a teaching innovation level, you know, and doing it in an entertaining way, like we’re gonna have music, you know, we’re gonna have, you know, it’s just gonna be conversations about how to build this.

Well, that was a complete accident. I wish it was deliberate and designed and baked in. So apologies, but thanks so much for coming on Jose.

We’ve really enjoyed it.

Appreciate it. I hope it was valuable that.

Absolutely, huge.

Jacob, what, if anything, did you take away from it outside from what you already knew?

Well, I loved your insights into alignment and how this was pretty much the whole, it was aligned pretty much through this whole conversation. It was about alignment and having everyone aligned, whether it be as a customer, the consumer, or innovation of teams. Like that’s the biggest thing that was the recurrent theme here.

And that’s really shined through. So I guess that’s come from all your work, from RazorFish to developing core and now the system. It’s just, that’s what I’ve taken out of it.

And there’s one other thing that stuck my mind is like becoming the consumer, like being the consumer. When you said that, I was like, yes, you just have to get inside their heads. And that’s when you get to make that connection.

So that’s really what came to the surface for me. Okay.

Yeah, for me, I loved how you talked about moving up the chain from just making money to doing something a bit more purposeful and bigger than yourself. And yeah, I think that does happen in your career after a while. After a while, you just sit there and think, I’ve done this a bunch of times now.

I’m making money, is this it forever? You know, what else is there? You know, and it happened to me, it was interesting.

I had a client come to me at the start of COVID and I’ve talked to Jacob about this in the past and they were, they’re like a medical company and they make sanitizer. And this was before COVID kicked off. And I was a bit like, oh, that was it.

They make sanitization wipes. And I was a bit like, like you make wipes? Like what?

And as I got into the company, I did my discovery stuff and I met this, the CEO was so inspirational and then COVID hit and these guys, yeah, of course, financially they did really and are doing really, really well, but that’s allowed them to fuel and really kind of latch into the purpose work that I’d done with them. And now we’ve got some really exciting projects kicking off. And now I’m kind of like, the CEO is talking to me about more longer term plans and I’m kind of like, yeah, I want to stick around.

Like I don’t just want to float off and do some stuff. So I will do other stuff, but I’ll stick with this client because they’re doing cool stuff and we’re saving lives and why wouldn’t you want to be involved in something like that? So that really rang a bell with me.

I thought it was great.

It sounds like Jose, the EO, you just kind of fell into that and it seemed like it resonated on a deep level. It did.

And I took the project because of the same reason Matt’s talking about. I mean, I actually said no at the beginning and I’m like, no, I was about to launch the system. It was just last October, a year ago now, a bit over a year.

And I’m like, yeah, I’m focusing on this. And the client who brought me in, they knew me well. And I had actually reached out to him before August.

On my way to Burning Man, I kind of just send them an email and I’m like, hey, when I get back, I just want to chat and get your sage advice and what to do next, because I had left consensus. I’d been a hippie for six months in Venice or seven months. And my financial person was like, you need to get together and figure things out.

And then I’m like, yeah, you know, she’s right. And I send an email to five people in my network. And when I got back, I’m in October, just jamming away at a coffee shop in Venice and the client just sent me a freaking text.

Or no, actually, he just called. And I picked up and I’m like, hey, what’s up, man? And he told me about the opportunity.

And at the end, I said, you know what? Let me come up and let me visit. I wanna meet the founders because the company seemed interesting.

And I met the founders and just I’m like, oh man, these are people like my people. I would love to. So I took it because of my rapport with the founders.

And I told them I would do it as a consultant and I would do it for a limited amount, for X amount of time. So I stayed there for like nine months. What I’m finding though is that the things that I resisted as a young man, like I did a lot of projects in the green space and really interesting places.

I understood now that it was about seeking to work with and be aligned to things that are greater than yourself. That in itself will make your career grow because that gets you gravitas. People are saying like, Jacob and Matt, wow, they really care about what they’re doing.

And those people then, here’s the thing, those people are your referrals. So the more you find two in your referrals and you say no to things that aren’t aligned, and you say yes to things that are aligned, even though it might look stupid to say no to certain things, then the trajectory opens up to a much better kind of world for you.

What’s your thoughts on all the brands becoming, what purpose is being built into brands? And there’s a bit of stigma around, is it really, are consumers really attracted to that? Or is it authentic?

We didn’t even talk about my big thing, which is I don’t believe in branding anymore. I don’t believe in how we’re doing branding. It’s really ethical.

And to that question, is purpose baked in? Do people care about purpose? And what are the things that you’re doing?

And this and that, and I hear our green initiatives and part of our revenue goes to this company. We’re still a little bit away from a world where we’re not creating brands just for the sake of creating new, stupid shit to make us money. We’re still away from that.

But I personally don’t believe in a side of the realm of software, which now is having some weird implications, like the issues with Facebook and social media. So, yeah, be careful sometimes, and that even kind of goes sideways. I don’t really believe in, I’m looking at my Adidas, and there’s Adidas and there’s Nike, and I have to make a choice in a brand, and, oh, maybe Adidas has a great purpose, and they’re doing environmental research.

I think that authenticity really, if they were really authentic, they would just shut down. Yeah, every brand that doesn’t feel like, they would just shut down. And like say, we don’t need to produce this because we don’t need any more of this in the world.

How many shoe brands can we really, Skechers is at the edge of like, we just cop up and put up full of that in the world. I’m like, kill Skechers, please. Because I also hear the management team are.

So, you know, the question becomes really, what do you want to do with your life? Now that’s for us individually as people, and right now we’re just talking about making money doing branding for companies. But then you have to really kind of have that conversation with the founders.

Like, is this your legacy? Unless you don’t, you know, when you get to me, if you begin mixing in your idea, and hopefully with the system, I can teach you how to define those things for customers also in the form of a kit. And you can really get those things really pushed through in the new businesses that are being formed in the next 10, 20 years by both, you know, millennial and, you know, X and Y kind of entrepreneurs.

And if we can get those things kind of ingrained into the consciousness of people building these companies, nature will do the rest. I mean, all these other companies will go out of business no matter what, because the new companies that are coming forward are so much more connected. So there’s this like, okay, let’s kill these businesses.

Those businesses will die automatically. The Sears is dying, Polaroid pretty much died. It now became a different type of company, a research company and a licensing company.

I think that the real impetus and push to kill those companies is actually companies that are doing what they might provide as a service or a product in a way that’s far more integrated and it’s far more holistic. And that will push those companies out off the edge of the map.

So what’s the reason behind not believing in branding anymore?

Oh, I believe in integrated, well, I’m calling it integrated brand strategy where the holistic, the people, the values, the business model, all those things are kind of addressed. But there’s so many identities, so many logos and so many things kind of continue.

But isn’t that part of branding? Wouldn’t you call that a subset of it?

It is, I’m being an asshole by saying I don’t believe in it and then explaining that it’s really about creating.

You’re not a graphic designer. I’m not a graphic designer. Maybe another medium article.

Actually, you know what? That’s a very good point. I should just write, Anoumi.

Branding is dead, long live branding. What I wanna get people out of the mindset of is, and going back to method design or to really becoming the customer, which you took away, I wanna get people out of the mindset that it’s all the surface stuff, like the identity system and all those kinds of things. I wanna get people into the business model and into the, like, what is the company really doing?

Like, if you’re really not there, because obviously you don’t have to be there, there’s nothing wrong with just doing the other things as a provider, as a service provider, but I want more people in our industry and in our, I want you guys, I want more people to start going deeper and being influential beyond just the visual and just the packaging and just the surface and become influential in the decisions of what these businesses are doing from a business model standpoint.

It’s gonna take a long time.

Exactly. So, yeah, that’s my goal.

Awesome. Well, I’m not sure if we’re gonna keep this section. I think we could even keep this extra added on section.

We put it in, let’s put it in. It was awesome.

Oh wait, we’re in overtime. Oh, sorry, yeah. But that little section right there, that question was really fundamentally one of the real kind of secret, kind of like why I do what I do and let’s just continue to push.

Continue to push.

Yeah, we should have asked that at the start.

But I’m really honored. Thank you guys for having me. You guys, what you’re doing, your energy, putting this forward, the mug, just pushing it out.

You guys are masters.

Keep on doing it.

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