Perspectives is a podcast series by Future of Marketing, which uncovers routines, inspiration, and insights by brand leaders shaping the future of marketing around the globe.
Christian Brown is a Founding Member and CMO of Glewee. In his words, he shares:
- The story behind Glewee
- The difference between UGC Creators and Authentic UGC
- What licensing and intellectual property means for the future
Tell me a little bit about what you do. You are the founding team member and CMO of Glewee. What does that look like?
It depends on the day and the time because, in the startup space, there are about 1 million things we have to do in a 24-hour span, whether it’s put out fires, engage new users, or work with a variety of team members or executives – it’s this, that, and everything else.
The days break down essentially into like different bulks – part of our day is spent solely on marketing and building out the entirety of our sales flow, funnels, and all that. So, we’re building teams and also working with users doing different collaborations, not only within our platform but also with potential users. And managing what’s going on, coming up with new initiatives to gain more users and publicity.
Every part of every day – from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed – is busy with endless amounts of things.
I like how you said that it’s a lot of putting fires out. I think that’s marketing in general. What is your favorite part about your role?
I would say flexibility, but that’s a loose word. My favorite part is being able to see horizons far away.
For example, we started [Glewee] with sticky notes. This happened back in Los Angeles years ago; one of my best friends – still in Duke, founder, CEO – and I [understood] that there’s a lot going on in the creator space.
We worked with a plethora of large creators, smaller creators, etc. This is pre-TikTok, so in the Instagram era. We identified a lot of the pain points, we worked on that, and we workshopped it. Time went on; school went online for COVID and [realized], “well, now we have a lot of free time. Let’s build that.”
It was “super horizon.” We know we had pain points that we wanted to solve – build technology around that, come up with the flows, come up with the processes, iOS, web, Android, and a variety of things. Then, we started to get to a point where we’re releasing our beta, releasing on iOS, on Android, and we’re starting to gain a little bit of traction and [thought], “Okay, here’s where we are now. Here’s what we want to do.” Literally, tomorrow and next week because those are super important. Then, there’s next month. And typically in marketing, it’s like, “what are we gonna do Q3 of next year?”
There’s so much growth that happens between now and like… one quarter away, two quarters away. It seems so far.
So for me, and for us as a team, we look at like, “what are we gonna do next year, a year after that? And beyond there. And where’s the space gonna be?” So it’s kind of like playing trends and playing in with what’s organically growing in social and then, building future functionality that relates to that in a correlative way.
It’s very important to see the vision, not just what’s happening tomorrow or the week after, but you need to really look years ahead. Where do you typically get your resources from? How do you keep up with all of this?
This plays back on the thesis of Glewee. It’s that not only myself, but our whole core team and all of our friends, grew up on social media. Like we always say, “even beyond high school, social was our school.” And then throughout college, it’s like, yeah, you can learn the curriculum and that it’s quintessential, in my opinion, to have a lot of that information, data, and intel – but beyond that, you need to apply it.
For me, I wasn’t going into Excel and applying what I was doing in accounting class and all that. It was more like, okay, how do I learn marketing, advertising, PR? And how do I bring that back to social? Because that’s where I always felt I’m most native. If you’re a professional soccer player, you’re “native” on the field. And for us living and working in this space, [we’re] native.
I go on social – Instagram and TikTok – every morning; when I wake up, within 30 seconds of having my first cognitive thought: Twitter explore feed. What can I talk about in the next 30 minutes? What can I learn right now laying in bed? I don’t do the newspaper. I do not watch the news. I’m just solely consuming content on social. And my digital media literacy will come in and be like, “Okay, I think that’s beneficial to this, so I can take this little snack-size bit of information and I can actually make it benefit what I’m gonna do today or tomorrow or next quarter or next year.”
What’s the story behind Glewee?
We’re going to go back to using my last answer on social. I think that’s really important here.
For many years, my friend group and different groups that I have been a part of are built in a variety of different places. The sole thesis for the groups was social.
I grew up in Massachusetts and in a small town 20 minutes north of Boston. A lot of my friends were from all over the place – but… I thought, wow. I only have around a thousand people in my school. That’s the maximum amount of people I can be friends with. I always wanted so much more than that.
We’d look at social back when Tumblr was really big. Then, the beginning phase of Instagram and Facebook, and [figured], okay, social is the way. So I would take that and utilize the small interactions I had with different users on social, whether it’s Instagram, Tumblr, or any of them, and I would start to build friendships on it and say, here’s what I like. Here’s what you like. And so with that, I would take everything I liked, which is photography, web design, graphic, design, clothes, fashion – and I decided to portray that on social. Everything that I knew how to do, I would create how-to manuals and all that fun stuff. I would put it online on different blogs. It was like a magnet for friends who liked what I liked. And that allowed me to grow a following on Instagram…
[My friends and I] would run around the city, taking photos, and posting them on Instagram. And that was – at the end of high school – “our passion.” And so in that same era, a lot of [Instagram] friends from LA came over to New York and I [couldn’t believe] I got to actually hang out with people from California. You always think Hollywood and all that jazz. It seems so far away. And then [you quickly realize] everyone’s just people and everyone has common similarities… and it’s that we all use social media.
So I started going out to Los Angeles a bunch at that same time, I moved to Chicago for school, started going to London, working on different brand deal initiatives with people that were growing in the space there because there was a lot of correlation between the London kids, New York kids fashion, all that.
During this time, a few of my friends really exploded online. From the 500K mark to 2 million, 3 million, and 4 million followers. So, there’s an array of kids who were all our age who were just generating massive amounts of income [online].
[At this point], I’m thinking my college rent is so much money. And my friends are thinking, what are we gonna do to get millions and more impressions? Everything that we knew, marketing, advertising, we delivered over in that realm because there was a business opportunity there.
I met my best friend, Dylan, because he was living and working in a big house with a bunch of creators in that same group, and he and I just meshed on the business side of things – this person is gonna get $50,000 for this post. And so and so is gonna get this.
On the flip side of that, we had a bunch of friends with [tons] of followers that enabled us to monetize. And [now we’re thinking], what’s the differentiation factor here? Some people had a business mind who wanted to monetize – and other people just didn’t. That was the big pain point: creators have the followers and they can’t monetize; they don’t know how to continue to grow followers at a rapid rate; collaborating with other creators is hard; payments are hard; actually doing contracts. A lot of people are like, what’s DocuSign? [Because they’re not native to these types of platforms]. They’re native strictly on social.
So, we identified all the pain points. I was 21 at the time and COVID had just begun. We [had] an immense amount of time and decided to build on this. Dylan came to me and said, “we need to solve this with technology.” And there were a bunch of apps that we liked that inspired a lot of this. Things that we use every day – how do we take that, conceptualize it, package it into something that we would want to use as creators, and then give it out to the masses? Just like me and our whole friend group used to do with the tutorials at the very beginning.
Let’s build something for ourselves and our internal group. And then, let’s just give it to the world.
Let’s put on our marketing hat for a second. What is something interesting that you’ve learned over the last couple of months?
A bunch of things. One that I really like is that you can talk to everybody and no one’s gonna listen to you – but if you identify your ICP, who your end user is of a piece of marketing material, and you utilize the right vehicle to get there and the right positioning and the right targeting, and then you actually start to create content that is for them then, you’ll only talk to people who want to listen.
Creating content in any form, whether it’s video form, social form, written blog form, or anything – at the end of the day, people want to learn and they want to be better at what they’re doing (as do we). They want to be better individuals in the marketing space, so creating content [about things] that they might not know in a native way, and has statistics to back it – actual sources, proof, truth, all of that – and giving it to them in a packaged up engaging way. That’s where we really strive to value ourselves and create marketing material that someone is gonna actually look at and say, I learned a lot from that. I’m gonna use this in my job to my benefit, my team’s benefit, and my organization’s benefit.
And if anyone talks about it – like on social media – maybe that individual, that end user of the marketing material, now has something to chime in on the conversation.
What is something you feel people in marketing or social media need to stop doing?
I’ve seen great immense success in LinkedIn. And I think that everybody wants to share what they’re doing best in a very pompous way.
I spend a lot of time scrolling through and it’s this weird difference. On Instagram or TikTok, it’s a lot more of Gen Z in my feeds and they’re posting about what they’re doing in life in very qualitative ways. Like, oh, I’m doing this beautiful, fun thing. I’m having so much fun.
And then I get into the marketing space and I’m listening to CMOs, founders, co-founders, marketing managers, and everyone’s just saying, here’s what we’re doing, here are the stats, here’s what we did. And a lot of times they’re not giving any help.
They’re just like, here’s what we’re doing. We did this on TikTok. Then we did this on TikTok and people post the two screenshots next to each other and it’s like, okay, that’s cool. Congratulations. I’m ecstatic that you’ve hit your first million on TikTok videos, but it’d be really nice if instead of boasting about it, you identified what you actually did to get there so that others in this space can learn from that and test in like a step-by-step method.
So I think that people should be very conscious when posting about their successes and “here’s what we’re doing at our company” – and incorporate a little more engagement into that for others in this space.
What is something that you feel marketers need to start doing?
People need to step out of their shells, and that’s a very high-level response. Although, the real part of that needs to begin with initiative.
We speak to so many companies – I hear the same pitch all the time. We want to be on TikTok. We want to do this. We want to do that. We have aspirations to do this. And I get to the point where I’ll ask, What have you done so far? What are the footsteps you’ve taken?
They’re like, oh, nothing. It looks too scary.
Well, yes, that world exists. That horizon is there. TikTok engagement funnel is going to expedite brand awareness and explode it across your organization if done correctly; though, I think people need to understand the value of initiation or going after something.
And something we always say is like, let’s just do it. Let’s try it. If we really put our minds at something and it doesn’t work, we need to identify what didn’t work, but we need to try so that we don’t sit there in three months and be like, oh man, we still didn’t do that. Just because we didn’t try.
So I think that getting out of a comfort zone and out of a traditional sense and exploring new avenues, like social media, TikTok, Instagram Reels – going out and actually trying. Kind of like if you were to be blindfolded and throw a bunch of darts at a board, one of them’s gonna stick. Maybe you write the word niche on it. Well, find your niche. Let it hit a bullseye, throw a bunch of darts at the board, and then whichever starts to stick for your organization – identify how you can replicate that and do more of it.
Why do you think user-generated content is so valuable for brands? We’re seeing average people turn into creators. Why is that so important?
I used to say for the longest time, that nothing will be Instagram.
I would say Instagram’s the best. It’s the pinnacle of social. There’s nothing that could come out. And obviously, if we thought of it, we would’ve made our own short-form video app, but TikTok was like, watch this.
At first, I got to watch that run of TikTok coming in and taking over, and all of the creators were forced into the TikTok hole – because you need to stay in the conversation. Therefore, you need to be on TikTok. But what I never thought was that something could be the average creator – something could trump the influencer space in monetization or a creative sense because it was always… Get a lot of followers, engage your audience, understand your creator, your niche, and keep going with that.
And then, over the past six months, we’ve seen explosive growth in “UGC creators.” These are creators, the user-generated content individuals who solely focus on creating engaging content. I was watching that with a magnifying glass very closely. How is “UGC Creator” here? How are those hashtags being spoken about and what creators are coming into that space?
What qualities do they all share? What are the statistics behind it? What’s the average follower of a UGC creator that works with a brand compared to a big creator? And I was so interested to see that UGC creators have created their own community internally on social, where they focus outside of the normal light of the influencer.
I think user-generated content is the new horizon of advertising for products that are meant to be advertised on social. And what I mean by that is that any brand, whether it’s a service or a product, whether you’re eCommerce, whether you have an app that is like ours, that people need to talk about… well, how are you gonna create content around that to put on social?
If you have a lot of money in the marketing budget, you can hire the agency in-house or out of home. You can get the full film studio. You can get the green screen, you can get the actors, you can get people doing this, doing that. And it’s gonna take thousands and thousands of dollars over the course of months. And there’s post-production. There’s so much that goes into that in a content creation flow all for one piece of ad creative. And now going back to testing, what if it doesn’t work? What if three months after you shoot it, it’s not cool? Well, now the ball’s not even rolling.
And so UGC and working with creators to generate user-generated content that is engaging is the current most authentic form of digital advertising a brand can do – because they’re picking the right creators that actually resonate with their brand (from a moral, ethical, and purchasing behavior perspective) and getting a creator that actually is going to utilize your product or service in an honest way and benefits from that. Plus, giving them the power to create something engaging, and create content that others (like them) want to see.
If you can find someone in the UGC Creator community who knows how to do that, they’re already the end user. They’re creating content for the ICP, the purchasers of the product or service, and it cuts out all of what I said in the beginning. It cuts out the studio, it cuts out the three months, it cuts out the agency and the production in-house. All it is creating content that is just… true.
I have a Bubbly here. It’s my favorite brand of bubbly water. If I made a very cool little 15-second video about why I love Bubbly and maybe Bubbly wanted to pertain to 24-year-old males that have a job and work in tech (or whatever that may be), and I posted that to that audience… well, now, they’re using me as a vehicle and they’re using my voice and my true, authentic feel and my true affinity for the brand – and now they can just use that piece of content and target it to those like me. And they can test it because it took me, let’s call it three hours to film, edit, shop, submit for approval if it’s approved, or maybe five hours with feedback and stuff. But it’s about the three months that we said in the beginning that it takes to create a commercial… you’d save all that time. That’s the amount of time you [now] have to test. So you can work with the creator for 90 days, a new creator every day and get 90 pieces of user-generated content and test 90 verticals.
Or you can try to make one commercial and just see how it does.
Where do we draw the line between UGC creators – who are paid to create content – versus real, authentic user-generated content where people are posting about a brand without expectation?
Brands should consider where, when, and why you need each of these because each has different strategies, approaches, and results.
And different compensation, different exchange.
We looked into this and tested it. We have thousands of creators that come onto our platform in the U.S. and they set their rates. They want $300, $500, $600 to create a piece of content and post it for a brand. And so we worked with a bunch of creators on our platform to do that.
And then we’re like, well, we don’t really have the “UGC creators.” This was a few months ago. So we went back with the magnifying glass and identified all the leading UGC creators in the space and said, “we wanna talk to all of ’em. I don’t wanna just invite them on the platform and do the deal internally.”
We wanted to work with them through our platform, but I wanted to actually get to know them all, so we set up and spoke with 16 different UGC creators, male and female, ten female, six male – and I looked at the numbers and we got the rate cards. And this is the first time I was really shocked by licensing fees.
You would imagine that someone at CAA or like Justin Bieber’s manager or something wrote up these rate cards because these creators had sub 10K followers and yeah, they made great content. They wanted thousands and thousands of dollars to post it. And they wanted thousands of extra dollars in licensing fees.
And so I never really asked too much into it cuz we just wanted to learn, but I would always ask “how did we get to this number?” That’s just my number.
Wow. The confidence.
A lot of people would say that’s just my rate. So we got to watch and I would ask a lot of questions.
And these creators said, well, this brand paid me a thousand dollars just to make a piece of content so the next brand’s gonna pay me 1500. Where’s the break-even point? When does that bubble burst? When are there too many UGC creators “just like you” that want $50?
In six years, I’d like to go back to the same magnifying glass and do the quantitative experiment and see where a lot of them are at. But the UGC creators were typically, granted the sample size was small, charging substantially more to create the content and license it than let’s say your average influencer/creators that want to create content and post it to their followers and actually drive crazy brand awareness.
So it was very interesting to see the takeover. It was kind of like a UGC army coming in like, well, we’re the next creators? I’m like, okay. Let’s, watch.
I’m starting to see that creators are becoming a lot savvier when it comes to [compensation]; they know there is demand for good content.
And another curve ball in there. How do we, both, as marketers, creators, and as technology innovators, how do we play on intellectual property?
That is going to be the next frontier of this because yeah, rights are one thing. Who owns the content. Where is the intellectual property? We’ve explored avenues of does it go on blockchain? Is that the technology that’s gonna back it and show it in full transparency to everyone? Maybe.
I mean, that’s what blockchain technology kind of does, but how are we going to proceed in this space where licensing exists? And now we’re gonna play with IPs. Do people own IPs in perpetuity? Does an IP expire? If so, how is that piece of content transferred to and from IP funnels to end user and purchaser user? I think that we’re gonna see like a very fun funnel of how that’s gonna work – in a more mainstream light – to creators that are gonna get into that tier of this.
My colleague was telling me that they are now looking into employee-generated content and what licensing and IP looks like for that – because your employees are creating content, but who does it really belong to?
What do you feel most marketers tend to struggle with?
Ooh, it’s kind of a hybrid of all the questions.
I feel like anyone’s gonna expect me to say social. And that’s just what I truly believe in. I think that marketers are scared and I feel like I’m a broken record here. They’re scared to step out of where they excel to go into places that they or their organization may lack. People are looking at, well, this has worked for our company. Therefore, we can only exist in this vertical.
Let’s say it’s an eCommerce company or a product, a clothing line of sorts. Some people are reluctant to make clothes that fit maybe a smaller size or a bigger size because that middle size works for them, and that’s what generates the most revenue. Why surely you can hire a few more people on your cut and sew team to make a smaller size? You can test it. We know you have access to the models. You can get the eCom ready to go, and you can just open up your doors to whole new streams because you’re now pertaining to people, not just a specific type.
People leave and come into new companies, and all they do is look at what works and they try to really push that and hammer it home. What they’re doing is they’re actually shutting themselves into the box. And I think the best way in the marketing space – if you wanna exist in the Gen Z realm – you have to open the box and want everybody in it. Take scissors and cut that box and lay it out on all six sides because now you have the full spin of everything.
Brands are just staying in the box. I think that those are the ones that just are too afraid or stuck in a corporate flow that they’re not allowed to change. And I think that a lot of Gen Z marketers and people in our space are reluctant to even work there – because they wanna market to everyone and they want the ability to build an inclusive brand for all. And I think that those are the ones that are not excelling in many spaces. Maybe they are financially though, for brand reputation, for the longevity of perception – I think that they’re gonna start to get faded out because there’s going to be a brand in the same product line and same vertical that’s going to step over them, and the tipping point’s going to happen. And that new brand, that’s super inclusive, they’re gonna.
What does the future of marketing look like in your eyes?
I think it’s fast. I think that marketing cycles are going to change.
Like I said, “six months from now, we’re gonna do this in a year and a half.” I think that people are gonna really ramp things up and people are gonna a lot faster. And I think that people say, work smarter, not harder, and work smarter, not faster. I think that people are gonna start to have to play fast.
If you wanna be a part of a trend, you have 72 hours. If your brand can’t jump on something in the next 72 hours that came out yesterday, the trend is shelved. It’s gone. So you need just like massive innovators, like at speed on your team that are actually in tune with what’s going on. And I think that the six-month cycle and buying out-of-home for next year, that is great.
But we’re gonna start to see as the future goes on, people need to work fast. There’s always something new that is so cool and so engaging that’s coming out. Not coming out in the market, but coming out online, something people are talking about. There are tens of thousands of creators right now, making content that pertains to a joke that was made yesterday, that in one week is going to be seen by 1.5 billion people on TikTok.
If your brand can jump in that within hours of the joke coming out – I’m not saying, just sit there and like try to study trends – but if you can batch that into an authentic message and play the game, I think that those that play quick and play smart together are gonna win.
And those that are just gonna sit around and wait for three quarters from now to put something out-of-home. I don’t know… is your message gonna stick or is it gonna be nine months old?
This reminded me of the trend: “they’re a 10, but they don’t [reformat content for social media].” You have such a short window of time to respond to these trends.
Let’s talk about that real quick. A lot of people may listen and say, okay, well, you know, they’re not really teaching us how. For some people that aren’t super native to social that might be difficult, so let’s use your example, the “she’s a 10/ he’s a 10, but [insert something they do that would knock them down from like the perfect 10 down to whatever].
That started on Twitter because that is a meme that is written. And all written memes, they initiate on Twitter. It went on Twitter and then it had about a week of lifespan on Twitter, where everyone on Twitter was doing it and the brands weren’t really jumping in.
They did towards the end – Burger King, Wendy’s, Oreos, your original Twitter-engaged brands. They jumped in that first week. Then, it moved over to TikTok; people took the meme from Twitter (the written meme) and put it on TikTok.
And then, what they did is they just used the written meme and they used that as the caption and started to visually act out the meme.
From there, I saw it one week later on LinkedIn and by the time I got it on LinkedIn, I was like, of course, LinkedIn has it. Now it’s gone. It’s shelved when it hits LinkedIn.
Back in the day, Instagram and Twitter would compete [for memes] – a lot of times tweets would get reformatted on Instagram. Now TikTok came into that. Now, they start as tweets. Then, they reformat to short-form video content on TikTok. I always used to say, oh my gosh, if you know someone in my family, whether it’s my mother or my grandmother, if they see a meme on Facebook, it’s totally shelved. It completely churned through the wringer and now they got it.
And I think that there’s a middle ground in between that, which is now LinkedIn. And then I see all the corporate people making all the jokes and stuff, and I’m just like, “come on. This was two and a half weeks ago on Twitter.”
But it’s like, you have to play every single social in order to have full clarity of the field.
It’s hard to be a good marketer when you’re not aware of what’s going on across social platforms because they change so quickly, new features, new editing tools, you know, so be on social.
So what is a book podcast person event that has shaped your career and why?
Book: Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers. Definitely one of my favorite books of all time. Malcolm Gladwell spoke to the Microsoft team and how they were in the right place at the right time.
He spoke about the fact that they were at a university that had the ability to buy one of the first-ever computers and allow students to utilize it. Therefore, they were inspired by that to continue to build. This goes for a lot of what’s happening in technology right now.
Everyone in blockchain loves to be like, oh, we’re the beginning of blockchain. And yes, this is true. I 100% agree that all different pieces, whether it’s technology, new brands, new innovations happening in the blockchain space, it’s really cool because they get to test out the methods and they get to really define what happens in that industry from here on. I think the same thing goes for social because everything is so new right now. TikTok is only a couple of years old, but think about how it’s changed the lives of millions of people, whether you’re on the creator side or you’re on the content consumption side.
People don’t even watch TV anymore because you know, people just watch TikTok (not everybody, but there are some users that do so). And so I think that we’re in a unique space and time where there’s so much coming out that you can be the first to use something. You can be in the first tier, the first group because there are always new pieces of innovation coming out all the time.
And so for me, that’s like the representative of our team because we grew up in social. We love social. We’re passionate about it. Therefore, we’re going to build in that realm because it’s something that we love. I always think back to what Malcolm Gladwell said… the team was in the right place, at the right time.
As for events, we just did Cannes Lions. That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. We had been invited into their startup program. And so through friends that we met along the way, and I will say that on my very first day of college, my first day of advertising class. My professor sat me down and he says, okay, this year we’re gonna work and when Cannes Lions comes out in a couple of months and the awards are there, you guys are gonna study every single one of them. You’re gonna know exactly what person on what team did, what, who won and why.
And I was like, I don’t really know what you’re talking about, but it sounds pretty cool. And so that year we watched and we looked at it and we studied it. We did the same thing my junior year, we did the same thing senior year. And I used to know every single person that won everything. And I would look up to them. When I wanna go into advertising? What team do I want to be on? What agency do I wanna be a part of and why? And so senior year, when school went online for COVID, my last class ever was with the exact same professor for our senior capstone.
Before we left, before we walked, he said to us, “school’s going online and it’s gonna be very unique for you, and you’re gonna graduate online,” and not to bum us out or anything, “but what I need you guys to do is continue to be great marketers and continue to be the best advertisers you can be.”
And like one of his closing words continue to watch Cannes Lions, watch it, be a part of it, that is the pinnacle of the industry. He really loved it and his team had won awards when he was in agency life, etc. And so that really resonated with me. So, fast forward two years, and I got that email that we had been accepted to be a part of their startup program and actually be a part of what was going on, so we went.
I gave him a call. I sent him a photo and we had like one of the most engaging weeks of our entire life with just an array of brands in the industry and so many different people and pieces of social that are being built from just every single aspect. It was very full circle for me. That was definitely an event that changed my career.
That’s an amazing teaching technique. Where do you get your inspiration?
It first starts with my immediate friends. I’m so inspired by the people directly around me. And this comes in many forms – most of my friends are not all in social, and they’re not all in marketing. They have a variety of different jobs across different sectors. So we’ll go out, we’ll hang out, and I’ll watch how they use their phone. And I’ll be like, tell me why you did that. What do you like on social and why what’s your For You page look like? How did your For You page get to this point? And why is it so different than mine?
Learning the social habits of others that are not exactly like you, that’s one way that I’m inspired to continue to get out of my box and break the boxes down because every single person is their own individual, and they use tools (like their phone) in many unique ways. And I’m so inspired by that.
And then it would go to our team. We are like one massive friend group and we brought a lot of our friends to come in and join and excel and we’ve seen great, tremendous growth and inspiration just from everyone. I log on every day; I chat with everybody every morning and it’s like… everyone’s ideas are amazing. I’m so happy. And so proud of you for this one. We execute them. We all feed on each other’s inspiration, so that’s a constant funnel, which is so fun.
I’d say the most inspirational person to ever exist in my world would be Virgil Abloh, who ended his career as the Head of Louis Vuitton; he created Off-white and the brand Pyrex. Having looked up to him and studying all he did… he was like a bulldozer, he just tore down walls. There was nothing in his realm of fashion and creativity and innovation. And he wasn’t even like an outspoken entrepreneur, but he just was an entrepreneur. He just was someone that just created. And so to watch him so closely and just be so inspired by like everything that they were doing and their team was doing, that was where I always looked up to.
And so all of his work is just like a direct source of inspiration for me and everything that he’s done over the duration of his career. And that’s a little more fashion and branding, but I think that all of his key theses are translatable across everything I do.
What’s on your For You page? I’m curious.
This is gonna sound really unique… it is pretty high level. I try to go for like the most generic stuff that’s hitting, so anything that has crazy numbers that follow trends is what I engage with the most.
And I try to curate the feed to show me what songs are doing the best right now. Maybe it’s dance techniques or what trends are coming out; anytime there’s something that I’m like, oh, this is about to catch on, I’ll dive into it. And I’ll like a bunch of them and comment on them so that it starts to feed me more. Then, I get to watch the trends grow like that.
A lot of it is like the songs that are doing the best right now. And then some of it is a little more like social media initiative based because I like to see, from a bird’s eye view, what TikTok creators are saying about the industry because they’re the ones referring the news to other industry creators.
I like to watch that – not engage – but I watch it from a bird’s eye view just to see that like other creators’ perception of the creator economy from those who are leading the discussion.
What advice do you have for marketers and creatives who look up to you?
Good one. You gotta start somewhere. And when you do start, it is going to suck. And there are going to be so many times you fall down and so many times that things may not work in your favor, or they may not take off right away, but you cannot be discouraged – because when you find an avenue that you love and are passionate about in an industry that actually fuels your enthusiasm, stick to it and keep on building. Just keep creating, and hone your craft.
Back to Malcolm Gladwell, he says you need to do something for 10,000 hours to be a master of it. I wanted to master Photoshop. I grew up knowing I needed to put 10,000 hours in. Guess what? I can make anything in Photoshop in my sleep because I put in so much time growing up and I loved it. And now I love the ability to create in that form.
Yeah, people can want stuff, right? Everyone wants things. Everyone wants to be great and everyone wants to be a creative, and they want to be in this space where their voice is heard and their designs are seen. But a lot of times I see that people just want something… they don’t want to do it. And so looking at that, from that lens… seeing the end goal, seeing those horizons far out, you can identify that you’re here and your thoughts and mentality may want to be here, but there are so many steps that go into this. It’s an endless staircase up until you get to that point that you’re gonna start to be like, oh, okay. I don’t know. I made it. Or like, cool. It’s worked. Let me keep going. But you need to do it; you need to gear up and get ready for the endless staircase and get ready to huff and puff because you’re gonna get knocked down. You’re gonna trip. You’re gonna fall. People aren’t gonna like it. But you have to stay true to what you love.
And if you do that and you hone your crafts around that and you start to innovate and create and work on teams that are also focused in similar ways, you’re gonna turn yourself into a creative that is going to go far – because it’s not gonna be like one person hates this, let me ditch it. It’s gonna be like 10,000 people like it and of course, a hundred people are gonna hate it, but you’re gonna feel that intrinsic value from those who resonate with your creativity or the pieces you’re making. And you just need to keep on going.
Too many people want the results but aren’t willing to put in put in the work. How do you wind down from a long day of work?
I don’t. It’s very unique. At work, in our space, we try to be so like uplifting and fun, especially with our team – my team is 95% Gen Z. There are like 12 people in the marketing department. And so we kind of run that like one big friend group and it’s like, we’re gonna lead.
And then other people are gonna just continue to do what works best for them.
In my work life and in my friend life, we just try to lead in the same way. I’m always thinking, how can we make this better? what did we just do? how did we mess up and how are we gonna do it better?
And I think that’s just part of being in a fast-paced environment, but I would say that almost every part of every day, my mind is geared to think about work or think about what we’re doing because to me it’s not daunting. I jump out of bed and I’m like, “let’s go.” I’m so excited to open the laptop to check how many people downloaded it last night, to look at the stats, and to talk to my friends on Slack. I get so excited. And then the minute work ends, I go right out to hang out with my friends to “extrovert” and go play Frisbee park or go do something.
We just have so much fun that I don’t feel like there’s a transition outside of work just because of where we’re at right now. And that’s what I sign up for because I love that.
It’s totally normal for an entrepreneur to go through those motions where you live and breathe your work, but it’s nice when that work is something you actually love and when you’re doing it with people you love.
What are you excited about or looking forward to?
I’m excited about what’s going on right now and what’s gonna happen in the next year.
BeReal is at a million new users a day. They’re coming in outta nowhere. I think that the industry (and people) want new forms of what we grew up loving, like Snapchat… BeReal is kind of just the new Snap. And then TikTok was kind of just the better Instagram.
I’m excited to see what technology and innovative platforms people are gonna make in this space that are going to catch. And I’m to meet the teams that built it, shake their hand, give ’em a high five and be like “you guys rock.” But furthermore, I think that what’s gonna come out in the next year is gonna set the stage for the next five years on social. And in technology in a Gen Z realm. So I’m really excited about that innovation and what’s happening behind the scenes in the building space and then in front of the curtain with how users react to it and how the masses want to.
I’m telling you every, this social media space just changes so fast. We don’t know how many new platforms there will be a year from now. So just buckle up.
Can I jump in real quick? I wanna ask a question. What are you excited about?
What am I excited about? I’m sweating right now. I’m not usually the one being interviewed…
Our Response: I’m excited about where the creator economy is going. We touched on it a little bit earlier – the Average Joe now has the ability to make money online.
I feel like a big challenge for these emerging creators is the monetization piece that we talked about a little bit earlier. Not everyone knows how to turn their creativity into a business, but I feel like as this space continues to grow, there will be more education around that. People will know what contracts they need, how much they should charge, etc.
I love that there are just new opportunities for people. I’m pumped for wherever we’re going next.