Welcome to the Blood, Sweat and CPMs Podcast presented by Freestar.

Our host, Jeff Kudishevich is here to add levity and provide helpful pointers for anyone navigating the world of Ad Tech. Each episode, Jeff will interview thought leaders across the industry to get their perspective on what matters most to them, often times bringing in guest experts from the Freestar team. Follow along on our Blog for show notes and associated links to each episode. Enjoy!

Episode 8

Kerel Cooper & Erik Requidan (Minority Report Podcast) on Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace | Thoughts on AdTech, the State of Hiring, and BS in the Industry.

In this episode, Jeff and Andy give their two cents on how they feel about AdTech, the state of hiring, and calling out the “BS” in our industry. Later in the episode, Jeff and our producer, Paulo Bautista speak with Minority Report Podcast co-hosts, Kerel Cooper and Erik Requidan about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and actionable steps for companies to start making positive changes.

Listen to the episode on Spotify, now!

About Our Guests

Kerel is the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at LiveIntent. He currently leads the marketing team and works closely with sales, product, engineering, and customer success to create awareness and generate leads for key products and features. Kerel has 20 years of digital media experience building and leading Advertising Operations, Account Management, Partnerships & Product Marketing Teams.

Erik is the Founder and CEO of Media Tradecraft, a full service ad management and adtech firm and Principal at Tradecraft Advisory. Erik works directly with Publishers, brands, agencies, dsps, exchanges and ad technologies. He is widely regarded as one of the top programmatic experts in the country. He’s a frequent contributor to publications like Beet.TV, The Drum, AdAge, AdExchanger and Digiday, and collaborates with industry groups and associations like the IAB MIXX, AAF DC and AdExchanger Programmatic IO workshops.

Find Kerel on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kerelcooper/
Find Erik on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erikrequidan/

Check out the Minority Report Podcast on Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2EUXt8B

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Diversity and inclusion and belonging can be something that’s off in the corner in an organization, right. It has to be a part of the fabric of who you are as a company.


If you can help others to expose them to leadership roles and situations, you know, you’re already creating building blocks.


Welcome, welcome, welcome.


Thank you, everyone, for stopping by and giving us a listen. This is the Freestar Presents Blood, Sweat and CPMs podcast. My name is Jeff Kudishevich and I am your host.


And I’m Andy Forwark your co-host, guiding through this wild world of ADTECH, The Wild World.


Hi, Andy. Well, we have a special show today, as we usually do. We have our guests from the Minority Report podcast, Erik and Kerel, looking forward to that chat. And then we’re also going to talk about some of the top Reddit As op’s threads of the week. Really excited for that. Before we get into that, one thing I wanted to mention, we say it at the end of the show. Maybe that’s a little ambitious to think people get to the very end of the show.


But just a reminder, if you like what we do, if you appreciate the podcast, please rate us on whatever you’re listening to, but only if you like what we do. Right. And we don’t want bad reviews. We don’t want people who don’t like the show. Is that right? Yeah, no. We’re going to delete all the bad reviews, right.


Yeah. If we had that option. But anyhow, just just kidding. But if you, if you like what we do, if you like what you’re hearing, please give us a five star review. Andy, one thing I wanted to bring up, you and I are both people who joke about getting older and up there in age and and typically not understanding about every other word that our younger staff typically talks about. One of the terms that came up recently, I know the word right.


We both know the word tea. And we we both kind of saw it and went, what, iced tea, hot tea and felt very out of touch very quickly. Apparently, this word has transitioned from just a tasty beverage to something that equates to gossiping or hey, I’ve got something to tell you. I don’t even know.


Is it let’s talk tea or I guess I guess I still don’t really know what the phrase is. Andy how. What do you think when you first heard this one? Well, I saw it spelled out as all capital letters. So like anything in ADTECH, I thought, oh, well, that must be a new acronym that I just haven’t learned yet.


CPM, RPM, TEA. OK, so Andy, I think we kind of know what the tea term means. The Tea term.


Do you do you feel cool enough to use this or or are we just too out of touch. I think I have to go with we’re just too out of touch Jeff. We had we had our maybe definitions of this and it was just gossip. Like we call it gossip. Yes. I don’t know why it has to be time, but, you know, this is the world we live in where we all especially it’s especially you and you hear tee time and you’re thinking, what, nine, fifteen, ten, fifteen?


What am I going to get to? To the links. Right. That’s your time.


That is definitely true. Yeah. So for for anybody who’s listening, who uses Tea in the gossip way now you know how we’re going to use it for it. Either we’re going to leave it as the warm beverage or iced tea or we’re going to talk about, about golf I guess. Andy, I’m ready to jump in and go through some reddit ad ops threads. Maybe we’ll even talk a little tea.


All right. That sounds good. Let’s see. We see how the tea tastes is that that part of the tea, No we’re reading the tea leaves. There it is. Oh, OK.


So we don’t actually get enjoy tea while we talk about the tea. Oh, but maybe that’s our next podcast idea at Tea Time with Andy and Jeff.


All right, Andy. Now the moment of truth, our time to break down the top rated ad ops threads of the week, in case you don’t know, which I would imagine most don’t. I actually started the ad ops, sub reddit in 2012 and it’s now somehow become one of the leading ad ops communities in the industry. What do you think, Andy? Yeah, it’s a great community. Happy to be a part of it. I’m excited for this segment to just run down all the different threads that we see over the weeks and give our opinions on it.


Awesome man. All right. So the first thread is called question about header bidding platforms, optimization time, ellipses and churn. So the user here is talking about folks that look like Freestar sortable. The question they’re talking about here that I’d like to touch on is timing. How much time should publishers realistically give for these these people to live up to their sales pitch to increase monetization? What’s realistic in terms of percent gain in the first couple of weeks and why. When we sort of deal with this topic, we give?


I would probably say like a canned response, one to three weeks is fairly typical for ramp up time. That’s just jet generic speak, though, right? It’s going to vary based on the size publisher, the amount of volume, the amount of partners that are going to be live on a site that’s fairly in line with what we typically say.


Right, Andy?


Yeah, I mean, it’s every client’s going to have a little little bit different scenario, kind of based on like you said, the volume is like a huge thing. Right. So if you’re a site that has a lot of volume, your ramp up, time is probably going to be quicker than a site that doesn’t have as much traffic. Let’s say you got two weeks of time for the ramp up. That’s also going to include, you know, maybe we didn’t get approvals from every bidder SSP out there in that first day that you went live.


So we’re always going to be trying to add networks as we get approvals come in.


The other thing we wanted to briefly touch on is, at least from our perspective, we’re not just looking at revenue performance. We’re also looking at other factors, site performance, viewability changes, anything like that, just to make sure that whatever that Partners KPIs are, we’re hitting those. And I’m sure these other vendors who are called out in the thread are probably looking at those same things. Generally speaking, though, if you’re not seeing gains in those first few weeks, if there’s not something that you already know is is deficient.


So Andy touched on not getting enough demand approvals. We might be in a situation where we have all the demand approvals we wanted, but based on ad quality concerns or UX concerns, maybe we’re intentionally running with a fairly light, limited stack and that might be by design. And as long as both sides understand that, that’s the design going into it, knowing that there’s a KPI that we need to hit, maybe outside of revenue exclusively, then I think we’re in a good place.


If you’re doing that in a silo, that’s that’s probably when you’re you’re going to run into issues where there’s going to be expectations that are that are not in line with what’s actually going on. The next thread is more of a meta thread. Are you happy in Ad tech? The users just sort of asking generically, just wondering. I always hear about rumblings from people and I’m sure this question comes up in in every profession. I kind of like the some of the comments here about I’d say happy is a stretch, but I’m content.


Do I love that my job exists solely to push consumerism? Not really. I’ve been doing this for a long time. And you’ve been doing this for a long time as well. For me, happy is relative to how my life is going to Work foesn’t define Jeff. I work because I need the things that I need. Ad tech in particular, I think it’s fine if it gets a fine industry, as good or bad as as any other.


I think the other part to this truly does come down to the company you’re working at and the culture that is there and is being built there myself. Obviously, I look at culture maybe in a different lens than than other folks, because not only am I looking at my own personal happiness, but I’m also looking at the happiness of the company at large. So having an inclusive culture, getting buy in from different levels, not just having management make decisions, having things like mental health be important, seeing when good ideas happen.


They don’t need to go through twenty rounds of approvals before they get worked on. We wouldn’t be here without the people that helped build this business. We could be doing anything right. And I would still be happy here because of the people here, the type of qualities we we attach ourselves to, the type of quality people we bring in and work with. So that’s that’s sort of my my vantage point around the are you happy and atec Andy, you’ve been you’ve been at Freestar longer than I have, but you’ve certainly worked at other places before to love to get your two cents on this as well.


Yeah, I think the culture is huge. I’ve been at Freestar four years. I was at She knows, which is now she media for five and a half years. So I’ve had long tenures at the last two jobs that I’ve had. Everyone I worked with that she knows was so great. And with Freestar, I kind of had to adopt this work from home culture, not immediately, but as the company grew and we started hiring, we were hiring people in New York and L.A. and all over the United States.


And we’ve done a really good job of building that culture around all these people that work in different places. And you don’t have an office culture. So I really think about that, like, are you happy in Ad tech? Well, yeah, I work in ADTECH, but I’m I’m happy at the place that I work at. And so kind of to your point, Jeff, if I wasn’t doing ADTECH, if my job was laying concrete in one hundred and ten degree weather, no matter where you are in your career or what you do, I think there’s always going to be things that are bad about the job or make you not like that part of the job.


If you can find what you love at your company, I think that’s, you know, that’s what you need to to kind of live on and base your your happiness. And if you’re not happy at your current place, look at those things. Look at the other elements that are out there that aren’t just like, oh, here’s the job and this is what I know how to do. What are the other parts of that job that go into making your day good or bad or whatever?


All right, Andy, our next thread is entitled Has Hiring Picked Back Up? So the user says, I had three near offers that got halted during covid. Do you feel hiring has picked back up, wary of putting the time and effort in? First off, I’d like to just say I particularly feel we’ve been very fortunate our our business has has been doing well during these times. We’ve we’ve been able to grow and continue bring on more clients. I did some quick finger toe math, and I think I counted something like 15 ish hires we’ve made since the start of of covid.


I’ve seen a lot of LinkedIn posts, Andy I think you’ve probably seen a lot of these two right, where it sort of says, hey, if you’ve been affected by covid, reach out. I know who’s hiring or I have roles here. Right. You’ve seen some of that, too.


Yeah, a lot of a lot of support on LinkedIn. I think for people looking. I’ve noticed a lot of people on LinkedIn will also change their profile picture to put like a. I can’t remember exactly what it says, I think it’s just open for work. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Yeah, I know you’re talking about. Yeah, you see that? And we in ADTECH, I mean, we’ve seen the companies that have it becomes news in our industry.


So, you know. Who some of those are that are are furloughing and and so with with that, there’s plenty of ad tech companies out there. So get your resume out there, start looking. And there are companies that can hire and we’re one of them, too.


So I think to that point, to write it sort of does depend on the segment of the industry and probably your geo too make know if you’re not in the States, maybe your country’s in a in a better place, maybe it’s in a worse place. So I think that probably depends a lot as well. I’d say the other aspect to to really consider is a lot of companies are sort of doing away with the you need to be in New York, you need to be in L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, et cetera, et cetera.


These sort of satellite cities we certainly did did away with that over a year and a half ago. So we’ve been able to capitalize on a lot of really great talent who doesn’t live in one of those big metro cities. But that might be an opportunity to even if you are in New York, you don’t necessarily have to limit your your net to New York. Right. If if you see something where, hey, they’re they’re just hiring remote people and don’t care where in the world you are.


Right. The next thread is calling B.S. in ad tech, which just effectively links to an ad exchanger article, the article’s kind of premises, sniff out the B.S. Make sure you’re not falling for sales pitches that use certain buzz words that don’t get substantiated by actual facts. The two points that the author makes near the end are the two that I really liked that I wanted to touch on. So the first one, he says, quote, Ask people to talk in plain English.


If they can explain it in plain English themselves, then it’s probably not real. And then the second point here is, quote, Ask them to apply what they’re offering to your business challenges specifically and play out the execution of it. What’s what’s your take when you when you read this Andy.


Yes. So the plain English one, this is a this is one that I think you need to ask yourself too right. This person makes a good point that if you can’t if they can’t explain in plain English themselves, it’s probably not real. But also make sure that what you think is plain English is what you understand, too. So if they’re using terms that you’re unsure of, ask like ask the question, don’t be afraid. You’re trying to help your business get better to his point at the end, don’t fall victim to the B.S. It’s like, well, to just be up front about it.


Right. And that kind of goes along with the second point of asking what they’re offering to like to apply what they’re offering to your business challenges specifically. So I’ll use an example of let’s say I’m a publisher and I want to work with an ad tech company like Freestar. You got to know what your business is looking for. Like if you just want to get ads on your website and you’ve never done that before, Freestar can probably help you with that.


But are they the best solution? And so you need to actually get into the nitty gritty with that salesperson and talk to them specifically about what you’re trying to do. And that is just going to get you around any kind of B.S. conversation, if you want to call it that, or words that are buzzwords that are just throwing people off.


And the other thing to the second point, as far as make sure that they’re talking to your business challenges, I think we’ve all been there irrelevant of its business or personal life where you’re getting pitched something that doesn’t make sense to you. Hey, I’m renting. Don’t pitch me solar panels. I can’t say yes. I think that’s probably a really just ubiquitous term. Right. Make sure when people are talking to you, they actually care about what your problems you’re trying to solve and it matters to your business rather than just some generic sales pitch boilerplate, yada, yada, yada.


The last thread I wanted to touch on it says, please give me direction on my ads talking about how much they make per day from ad sense being anywhere from 60 to 80 dollars a day. But lately it’s only been paying out about twenty five dollars a day. They’re trying to figure out strategies for ad monetization. And I think we read this and we thought maybe the focus should be first on on the site itself. Right. You want to touch on some of that?


Yeah, I think they need to focus on trying to get more visitors, more traffic to the website. I think we have to look at the website itself and get an idea of where the ads are. Are there any improvements that can be done by moving the ads on the page? I’m not sure if ad sense gives you the visibility metrics that you would get from GAM, but that’s another here.


But anyway, that feels like possibly a little down the road, right? I think. To me, I would say, first and foremost, get your site to a place where you’re comfortable with it running and growing, it might still be a little new if you’re if you’re talking about twenty five to thirty K page views per day, it might still be a little bit on the newer side. There might still be more business strategy. Certainly 80 bucks a day is is also not nothing, but it’s still on the smaller end of the scale.


So a couple of the things I was thinking about when I saw that it’s a digital download site for Vector Graphics is, you know, I’ve certainly been on a ton of stock photo sites and we work with some sites in this kind of designed photo vertical as well. There are opportunities to monetize that. Right. So it could be the ad revenue is still on the lighter side, but maybe for a specific number of downloads per month that caps out as a free user.


You want more, you have to have a paid account, right? Three bucks a month, something like that. Maybe that’s an opportunity, right, to sort of supplement the ad revenue while the site is still building momentum and building an audience. So that’s that was one of the things that kind of came to mind, is figuring out like a paid service. The reality is right, Andy, for for header bidding or anything kind of more next level, let’s call it, you sort of need a certain level of impression volume to hit critical mass.


It will differ for sure, but probably saying something like 10 million impressions a month is probably not too unrealistic as a goal. And maybe this user isn’t quite there yet. Maybe they’re not that far away, but certainly approaching that kind of critical mass. And then I’d say, Andy, some of your ideas about looking at viewability, making some positional changes on ad units, maybe figuring out like the right balance between content and ad delivery, that sort of thing, maybe is a kind of a next step.


Yeah. And they also talk about, like, taking they’re letting the ads take care of themselves and worry about the content creation. Just to your point, Jeff, I think keep it as it is right now. And as you get more content and you get growth, you’re probably going to see that that twenty five dollars a day is going to go up. I don’t know when it changed from 40 to 60 a day to twenty five. But this is pandemic also where that was at the start of a new quarter or something like that.


Those are all things to take into consideration as well.


I think we’re good on the Reddit Ad ops threads and it sounded like we’re both super, super smart people.


Yeah, I don’t know if I have the the same attitude as Mr. Jeff over there.


And our special guests today are the co-hosts of the Minority Report podcast, Erik Requidan, and Kerel Cooper. Erik is the founder and CEO of Media Tradecraft, a full service ad management and ad tech firm and principal at Trade Craft Advisory, a programmatic advertising advisory group. Erik works directly with publishers, brands, agencies, DSPs, exchanges and ad technologies. On the other end, we have Kerel, who’s the senior vice president of global marketing at LiveIntent.


He currently leads the marketing team and works closely with sales, product engineering and customer service to create awareness and generate leads for key products and features. He’s got over twenty years of digital media experience, building and leading ad ops, account management partnership and product marketing teams. We are so happy to have them both on our show. All right. And now welcome to our special guest, Kerell Cooper and Eric Requidan from the Minority Report podcast. Welcome to the show, guys.


Thank you. Thanks for having us. How you doing? Thanks for having us.


Awesome. On this episode, we’re going to have our producer and usual back of the house follow. Paolo Bautista is going to be joining me for our questions here. He’s a big fan of your guys show. So we’re really excited to both be chatting with you guys today to kind of start things off. Obviously, a big congrats to you guys, both hitting two years on the podcast. I guess for me, I just kind of wanted to start with how did you guys get the idea to start the podcast in the first place?


So I will I’ll tell that story because I think Eric likes the way I tell the story. So a little over two years ago, I was leaving our office at LiveIntent and heading home and Eric called me on my phone. He said, hey, I got an idea I want to run by you. So sure, let’s talk about he said, I want to create a platform for people of color, women, LGBTQ community, you know, all the sort of underrepresented groups in our space and allow them to sort of tell their story.


And he asked me, like, so what do you think of that idea? I said, I think it’s an awesome idea. He’s like cool want to be my co-host. So, yeah, let’s do it. And, you know, after a few more conversations, it really turned into what we have today, which is Minority Report podcast, where, again, we highlight people of color, women, LGBTQ community. We’ve gone beyond marketing and advertising now, though.


So it’s it’s a media business and technology.


Yeah, I was I want to mention that I listened to one of the more recent episodes, and I believe it was somebody in more of an H.R. function around diversity and inclusion. So I really love to hear the sort of evolution that you guys were, where you started and sort of expanding from there as well.


Yeah. You know, what was interesting about that is we both decided that we were just going to go for it. We were just going to do it. And I remember our first episode that we did with Stephanie Lazar, who’s at News Corp. We sat down and we just hit the record button and we started talking as we did more and more episodes, more and more people really gravitated to it because there really wasn’t anything like it in the adtech and Martek space at the time and really appreciative of all the listeners we’ve had, really appreciative of all the guests that we’ve had.


I think at the time we’re doing this recording, we’ve done 40 episodes to date, continues to grow.


Yeah, I, I definitely feel that way when we get to 40 episodes on our podcast. But, you know, speaking of, you know, just jumping in and doing it, Eric, you know, kind of stepping away from the podcast a little bit you’re not only a podcast, you just founded your own company wide media trade craft. Can you talk us through that leap from being at Intermarket for a long time and then jumping to founding your own company?


Sure, yeah.


No. So, you know, six years, six and a half years, really almost approaching seven years was a great run. I love the crew. There was a tremendous time. I was part of four or five major movements in the industry continuously innovating. And it was just a tremendous amount of time together where we accomplished a lot of great things, realizing that innovating you know tomorrow and even today looks a little bit different and requiring sort of different skills and different tech.


And and that’s that’s really why I wanted to create my own company. In a services business. I love to develop deep relationships with partners, having the people, the collective sets of strategies and tactics to be able to help businesses today, there’s very few things that bring me more joy than helping independent businesses and even small business owners and ultimately helping to power the web.


You’re both husbands, fathers have very significant leadership roles in our industry. And have time for your own podcast. Do you guys just omit sleep, do you did you add like extra hours to your day? I’d love to get that potion if you can if you can share it with us. I’m an early riser and I don’t go to sleep till late at night or early in the morning. So I operate off of five hours sleep, to be honest with you.


And I don’t know if. I’m jealous. I don’t know. I mean, my heart beat my heart a bit and that’s what I was going to say. I don’t know if I’m weird like that, but if I get eight hours, that’s just no good for me. I’m just groggy and tired. Obviously, Eric will give his answer. I focus on things that I’m passionate about. And so when you’re passionate about something, it doesn’t seem like work, right?


Doesn’t seem like a chore. You’re doing what you want to be doing. Right. And I want to be running a marketing team at a B2B company. I want to be a good dad. I want to have a podcast where highlighting people of diverse backgrounds. So I’m doing the things that I’m passionate about, which makes it a little bit easier, if you will. I mean, yeah, I mean, every day, you know, I know Kerel and I, we wake up excited.


I mean, we wake up with a fire. We love to impact businesses, our families. You know, we start early. I mean, it’s not crazy for Kerel and I to have a few exchanges at six a.m. or then I think he might have been holding back from like five thirty. And I just kind of feel like, you know, there’s some limits here right now. But but, you know, it’s you know, our days are filled with satisfaction and curiosity and accomplishment and friendship and purpose and reflection and exploration, all those things.


And and I don’t know when that when when that stops, but it certainly isn’t right now.


Erik, I feel like I need you to talk to me every morning to kick off my day. We’re working we’re working on an app. It’s a baseball podcast that you guys talk about, that one that’s coming out in the fall, Carol. And I don’t know if. If there’s if there is a baseball season.


So, Carl, you know, you just mentioned you want your passion about having a platform, you know, to help with diversity and inclusion in the industry. And obviously, this is a very topical conversation right now. What are the biggest insights that you guys see in diversity and inclusion in adtech and what’s kind of the state of affairs, so to speak?


The one thing that’s been really great for me in doing this, this podcast with Erik, obviously we’ve interviewed a number of folks in our industry, a number of folks that we’ve known for a number of years in our industry. But what it’s given us the opportunity to do is to get to know people on a deeper level. Right. Because sometimes, you know, with the day to day of business and meetings and conferences, you really don’t get a chance to really dig deep with an individual and find out sort of who they are.


And so I think one of the biggest insights for me coming out of this, it’s it’s super important for people to be their true selves. Right? It’s super important for everyone to be able to show up to work and be their authentic self. And from that standpoint, it’s also super important that companies and their company culture allows for that, because the more you are yourself as an individual, the more productive you will also be as well, too.


So that that’s that would probably be the I mean, there’s a whole host of other things, but that’s the one that’s top of mind for me. The biggest one.


You really took a lot of the words right out of my mouth. I think some of the things to do with all the great conversations that we’ve had is that we’ve seen improvements, you know, and we’ve just seen how the industry sort of changed and evolved as it pertains to inclusion and diversity. A lot of the stuff that we cover. But there’s still a long way to go. And I think that’s, again, what, you know, sort of fuels us to keep having those discussions, learning more about people in and as Kerel says


I mean, there’s folks we’ve known for years and then, you know, something new comes out, you know, and having people tell their personal stories to inspiring others. It’s amazing to see because we see and we hear the feedback of folks who listen and they say, oh, man, I had no idea that someone who could be a CMO somewhere or could be an SVP somewhere or could be a director somewhere, had a same background as me or even looks like me or thinks like me or loves another person like me, you know what I mean?


And so, like, that’s something that I think has been really profound for us.


It’s almost like visualizing it realizes it.


Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Erik, one of the things that you you kind of mentioned about we still have a long way to go at Freestar. We’re having conversations about the things that we can be doing as an organization, actual tangible changes, not just a LinkedIn post. And I feel good about ourselves for ten minutes and. Go along business as usual, and I know that I’ve been speaking on leaders at other companies and and trying to figure out ways that


Not only we can feel good about, you know, opening our eyes, but actually doing things, not just saying that we’re that we’re that we’re allies, but actually tangible things from sort of from your guys work on the podcast or just being leaders in our space. Do you have some some kind of bigger keys that you think companies should be focusing on to to work towards more diverse, not just workforces, but also leadership teams. 


Over time and as we became leaders, you know, when you’re doing stuff day to day, you actually don’t think about it that way, right? So you don’t go in and think hey I’m this leader. And I’m doing these things, you know, and before we were that we were exposed. Right. We had exposure. We were included and in meetings we were participating. So something that I think that, you know, businesses can do so that it goes from feeling good or from sort of talking about it.


But actual, real, tangible action is that if you can help others to expose them to leadership roles and situations, you know, you’re already creating building blocks. You know, we forget about how hard it is to figure out how to run, you know, a real important conference call. Right. We forget how it is to go into the big, you know, meeting. You were airlifted into a city and then now you’ve got to go 50 floors up in the building and go meet with, like, big decision makers, you know?


So, you know, we forget about all of that. We learned through exposure. We learned through inclusion. We learned through people showing us those things. And, you know, it’s not that hard to do if you can just make it part of what you do all the time, you know, and it’s a very simple thing. You know, you want to learn how to tie your shoes. Sit down. I’ll show you. Right.


You want to learn how to make this meal, come in the kitchen, hang out and watch, you know, and and like, I think, you know, inclusion and participation. You know, the people get to watch, observe and learn. So grow. Yeah.


No, I agree a lot with what you said there, Erik. I mean, I think it starts by diversity and inclusion and belonging can’t be something that’s off in the corner in an organization. Right. It has to be a part of the fabric of who you are as a company. Right. And so, you know, what is what is your mission statement look like? What are your values look like? And just like you have goals and measure quarter to quarter and year to year.


Right. D&I should be a part of that as well, too. And the other thing I would also say is stop making excuses. Right. Companies, right. Like the one thing that drives me nuts is when people say, well, I want to hire more diverse staff, but I can’t find the people. It’s not that you can’t find the people the people are out there. It’s just that you need to change your hiring tactics. Right.


Like if you if you equate this to business for a second. Right. When when you’re launching a product or you have a new initiative and you put it out in the marketplace, if it’s not working right or you’re not growing adoption as fast as you would like, what’s the first thing you do? You pull back a little bit. You think about how you rolled it out and you figure out how to shift. Right. Should be the same thing with your hiring practices, right.


You can’t do the same things that you’ve been doing forever. If you want to make a change, look at what you’re doing and pivot. So that that would be my advice to anyone out there listening. I love that. And I think that, you know, you’re talking about making it part of the fabric of the company and not just a flash in the pan or just, hey, we’re feeling a certain way this month, this week, let’s do it.


But actually including that into your mission statement, into your the values of your company and having that just be kind of your business as usual includes that as part of business as usual.


Right. And then and then it and then it starts to trickle down into the organization. Right. Because then it not only impacts the types of of people you hire in your hiring practices, but it should also impact the customers. You choose to work with, the vendor partners you choose to work with. Right. Like it has to be really, again, if it’s part of the fabric of who you are is as a company, it is a part of everything you do holistically.




And, you know, it sounds it sounds a lot of that is like almost like mentorship. Right. And, you know, to a certain degree, part of what we’re talking about is how do we get more diverse talent into the door to work with us. I guess another question would be then, you know, what can the sub groups do to ensure that the employees they have who are diverse, you know, who are minorities, they do feel heard and they feel valued.


When we think about those roles. I mean, I think we we have to make decisions to include people that may look a little bit different than what the composition of typically, things look like now, including folks intentionally so, that you have a different set of voices and a different perspective when you’re literally a leadership group. You know, I’m fortunate. You know, I have women in leadership roles. You know, I have people of color in decision making roles, you know?


And so, like I think having experienced that firsthand, you know how you can really be successful in a lot of different ways. I don’t just mean making money. I mean running a good company, you know, having a place where people want to work and they’re satisfied. You know, all of that doesn’t just happen because of some mysterious reason. It’s because we have all of those things come together, you know, and I truly believe that that makes a difference.


I don’t think I can even add to that. Erik, you said it perfectly.


We like to close out the episode each time asking our guests, you know, what advice do you guys have for someone like me who’s, you know, five years is kind of holding this. But at the same time, like you guys experience, I feel pretty junior. So what advice do you have for your call level up?


So you’re calling us OGs?


I’m calling you guys well, seasoned. There you go. I like that. But yeah.


What what advice do you guys have for somebody, you know, looking to level up in our industry? And the theme of this part of this episode, I guess also especially for people who are minorities, you know, what can they do to level themselves up?


So I will say two things. Two things always come top of mind for me. Don’t be afraid to learn something new. As a matter of fact, always be seeking out to learn something new because you never know where your career is going to take you. I’ve been in this space for 20 years. I started out as ad operations. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be leading a marketing team from ad operations so never, you know, always be looking to to to learn and grow.


And then, number two, you got to focus on your network. You have to build your network. Our space is relatively small. Everyone knows everyone. Networking is really the key to how you get that next position, how you get that next job, how you move up. It is it is truly all about your network.


So those would be my two pieces of advice. I’ll try not to use the same ones because they’re so good. The first is, you know, I feel like sort of I learned this, you know, with my family, surround yourself with the people you want to be with. So I’m fortunate every day. You know, in my company, I have the greatest business partners. I have the greatest people and team around me. And I’m surrounded by that.


And it makes everything awesome, you know, and that’s huge to surround yourself with the people you want to be with. It’s kind of like network, but a little bit different, you know, obviously network. Kerel just nailed it. I mean, we are so lucky that we have I mean, hands down some of the best networks in the entire industry between Kerel and myself. We’re fortunate, you know, and those stories have moved on. Now, they’re company leaders, they started years ago, you know, as in very different roles.


And that opens up a lot of doors and a lot of different ways. And that’s huge. And then third, I’d like to pass on a little bit of advice that the Kerel and I both got, which I thought was was tremendous. And from one of our guests, which is if you come from a background where you just weren’t privileged or had the deepest of degrees and education or you come from humble beginnings, it’s OK. Everybody starts off differently and everybody ends up somewhere differently.


And and I think understanding that you belong and that you should be there just as everyone else who may have learned that they deserve to be there. You belong. You belong there, too, you know. So if you can create the right mindset that you belong in that room, you belong at that. But that executive, you know, lunch you belong at in that boardroom and then you’ll you’ll go pretty far.


I’ve loved hearing from you guys. I think I’ve certainly learned a lot in this in this short conversation. And I truly, really do appreciate both you guys coming on and sharing your thoughts and hopefully helping other people in our industry help form their businesses the right way as well. I do appreciate it, guys.


Thanks for coming in. Yes, a lot of fun and thanks.


And keep doing the good work you’re doing. Thank you. Well, that was fantastic, obviously appreciate both Erik and Kerel’s time today was really great picking their brain. One of the things I wanted to just note is we’re also going to include links to the Minority Report podcast in the show notes. So please give give that a listen. So, again, really special thanks to to both guests today. Cheers to that.


A reminder for everybody that the links for the Reddit threads we discussed will be in the show notes if you want to check them out afterwards. Thank you again for everyone who made it this far, for the Freestar Blood, Sweat and CPMs podcast. If you do have a spare moment, please check us out on Google Play or iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts and leave us for review and subscribe to make sure that you get all of this high quality content directly into your ears.


For feedback or suggestions for guests, you can reach us at a podcast at Freestar.com Special thanks to Matt Heinlein for our music and to Caroline Romano and Paolo Battista for helping with editing and production and making sure that people know this podcast exists. Until next time. Don’t forget to add your macros. Later, alligator.


I’m trying not to say that, you know, you can’t say it and get rid of the you know, from your vocabulary, please.


All right. And keep that in I want to I want the world to know you, you want the world to know that and you know. Yeah.


Andy and Jeff’s hands have been slapped by Jeff saying, stop saying, you know, so often you can’t say a sentence about, say, you know, oh, my gosh, this is hilarious.

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