Duke of Digital

041 - How to Reduce Business Risks by Becoming a Skeptic with Cher Cusumano

February 10, 2020 Brian Meert
Duke of Digital
041 - How to Reduce Business Risks by Becoming a Skeptic with Cher Cusumano
Chapters
Duke of Digital
041 - How to Reduce Business Risks by Becoming a Skeptic with Cher Cusumano
Feb 10, 2020
Brian Meert
Show Notes Transcript

Learning when to say no is essential to grow your business. Raise those pinkies because in today’s episode we’ll discuss how to reduce business risks by becoming a skeptic.

Cher Cusumano
https://www.linkedin.com/in/chercusumano/
https://www.facebook.com/cher.cusumano


Brian Meert
https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianmeert

Duke of Digital
https://www.dukeofdigital.com/
https://www.instagram.com/dukeofdigital/

AdvertiseMint
https://www.advertisemint.com
https://business.facebook.com/advertisemint/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/advertisemint/
https://www.instagram.com/advertisemint

Speaker 1:

Learning when to say no is essential for your business. Raise your piggies because in today's episode we're discussing how to reduce business risk by becoming a skeptic

Speaker 2:

presented by advertisement. The juke of digital will guide you through the rapidly changing landscape of digital marketing, social media, and how to grow your business online. To submit a question for the show, text (323) 821-2044 or visit Duke of digital.com if you need an expert to fix your ads, the friendly team at advertisement is ready to help visit advertisement. That's M I N t.com or call (844) 236-4686 to grow your business. Here's your host, Brian [inaudible].

Speaker 1:

All right, so in the studio today we have share Cusumano. Hello. Thank you so much for being here today for having me. You're the vice president of digital marketing for Lear capital. Um, what I love is that you, in your resume, there's a rumor that your first job in marketing ever required a costume. It's true. Is that true now? Which I know I have some ideas of what that could be, which involve maybe a, a hot dog on a stick. That was my guys

Speaker 3:

warm. Um, yeah, I mean hot dogs are closely associated with the character that I played. I'm thinking I'm thinking Americana. No, I don't know what that is. Um, no, my, my costume was the statue of Liberty, so both like very American.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Okay. I love it. When I saw that I was like, Aw man, if she worked on hotdog is sick, that's Epic. Uh, cause that's something I always thought would be fun to do even though I think anyone would be like, please don't make me wear the uniform. I think anyone that sees it knows exactly what that company is. So. Okay. So you were a statue of Liberty. What's the story behind that?

Speaker 3:

So my first job in marketing was at New York, New York hotel and casino in Las Vegas. And I moved there to go to UNL V and get my masters. And my uh, advisor told me, if you want to work at a casino, just take the first job. They offer you in marketing, it doesn't matter what it is, just take it. So I took her advice to heart and when they said, Oh, we have an opening, but you have to wear like this huge crown with a battery that lights up and then you walk around in this big green dress. I was like, well, I guess this is what I have to do now. Was that good advice? It was six months later I was working in the marketing department in New York, New York. And then a year later, so six months after that, I was working in the corporate office at MGM Mirage.

Speaker 1:

In fact, I did see that, that you had uh, worked in the digital campaigns for both Las Vegas casinos and also Cirque de Solei shows. Is that cool man? It's so exciting. So there's two things there. One, a secret hidden wish of mine has always been to work for a casino. I think it would be the thing. There was a TV show early in the two thousands called Las Vegas. I'm with Josh, uh, Dunn, denim L he was married to Fergie. There was, uh, who else was there? James Cain was in it. Aw man, I loved it. I was like, this looks so cool. You're running around and catching bad guys. And I like not even the bags, but just being in a cool big casino. I always thought it'd be really fun. So I'm a little jealous now that you had that. It was an interesting, was it, I imagine we could probably do a whole podcast just on the stories that happened in Vegas, uh, that, that should very well probably be forgotten, but, and then Cirque de Solei, which is a fantastic brand to work for and they've expanded so much. So I probably attribute most of that to you.

Speaker 1:

But no, they've done an incredible job on growing their business, their brand. I imagine that had a lot of moving.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Um, so the hotels actually host the shows so that we work very closely with Cirque de Solei. Um, but I was really fortunate in working with them cause I've always been in direct response. But Cirque display is a very brand conscious brand. Um, so they're very protective of their brand. They have very strict brand standards and that was probably the most intense exposure I had to a brand like that, um, in my career. So I've, I've kept a lot of those lessons with me. Ah, I love it.

Speaker 1:

I love it. Um, other man, you, there was a lot of interesting, uh, little tidbits that I came across as I was doing my homework right now. Is this true that you share a hometown with the atomic bomb? Yes, I'm from Los Alamos, New Mexico, and that is where it was created. Okay. Like they built it like it went,

Speaker 3:

yeah, that's where the hat Manhattan project was hosted. So it's this like itty bitty town up on this Hill with like one road in and one road out and it's still like that today. There's empty

Speaker 1:

guard towers as you drive into town away. So you can go there now and kind of drive around. Absolutely. Like you weren't, you don't glow or, Oh, I love it. Um, Oh, the things, man, I noticed that you, you do a lot with, uh, jewelry design. You've got a fantastic kinda you, you, you're going to probably say like I just tinker a little bit, but that's what all people that have incredible designs are really good at something. And usually you say,

Speaker 3:

Oh that's, that's kind of you to say I'm very quantitative at work, so when I go home I need a creative outlet. So I'm sort of a serial hobbyist.

Speaker 1:

Nice. Okay. And you also do interior design, which I was checking out your Instagram page and I, I have spent way too much time on house. Uh, and it's amazing. I'm not critical about much stuff in life. Like I'm usually pretty easy going, but man, when I get into like houses, it's like that was horrible. I would never do that. That one is amazing. Yes. And that one a seven out of 10. But it's weird when it comes to do a kind of interior design and decorating. Like I, maybe it's just as you get older you start to get more, you know, what you like, but the, the ones that had looked incredible. Oh, thank you. It was something that I just sort of became obsessed with suddenly. Um, and I don't get to do a lot in the social realm, in my current role.

Speaker 1:

So I'm like starting a blog with something that I wouldn't get to do at work a lot. But it was interesting to do that experience sort of as a hobby. I love it. Now if, um, if people are listening, is there a place or a way that you would want them to find you or to be able to connect with you, uh, after the show? Um, I mean, you can find me on LinkedIn share Cusumano um, my, uh, interior design blog, Motley decor has, uh, a big, uh, Pinterest following. If you want to find me there and just sort of look at pretty pictures. I was looking at him before the show and it's amazing because once I started looking, you just kind of get lost cause you're like, Oh, those ones are nice. And then I was like, Oh, I've got to get back to work.

Speaker 1:

It can be an expensive hobby. It really is a, it's, it's a fantastic. So, um, what I wanted to do is it to transition into the topic for today, which is, you know, how to reduce business risk by becoming a skeptic. And this is something that kind of comes from, you know, the element of, you know, essentially saying no. Um, and knowing when to say no. And this is so interesting because in a lot of scenarios people are like, it's the digital age, you got to move quick and fast and be everyone else. And scale, scale, scale goes big as you can. And so the element of saying no isn't something that you hear a lot of people ever talking about, right? I mean, you're in digital, you, you've been in, I imagine countless means. And that's why I was so excited to be able to have you want to discuss this topic because I think it is something that is so commonly overlooked in the world of business.

Speaker 1:

So can you walk us through what, you know, what is the process of becoming or why is a skeptic valuable and, and explain that to the listeners. Sure. I mean, I think he's sort of described it in the intro. We talk about reducing business risk. So it's, um, risk comes in many forms, right? Monetary risk. Um, the more money that you spend on campaigns that ended up not being successful, the less money you have to spend on future campaigns. Um, so conserving resources, um, you know, also don't discount the importance of human capital and the time you spend on a project. Um, if you eat up a lot of time on project a, you don't have time for project B. So it's really important to prioritize what it is you're spending your time and your money on, um, to ultimately grow the business because that's our job as marketers. Now, was there a time or a process that you became, you know, a resident skeptic or someone that, you know, it was like, Hey, now I'm going to become the devil's advocate more than just let's do it everyone and let's run. Um, what, what was the story behind that or how did that come to be? I'm glad you asked that question. I think a little bit. I was sort of born a skeptic. I've

Speaker 3:

always worked on the brand side. So I've always had sales people approaching me. And I remember even when I was very, very green and new to this space, I had this really aggressive sales person who was trying to sell me on something. And I just emphatically said no, ultimately cause I was sort of getting frustrated and he called me a bulldog and it had the exact opposite of the intended effect because I really, I took pride in that. You're like, yeah. Um, but I think also transitioning from working at large corporations to a small business, there's a heightened sense of community and responsibility. And when you go into marketing meetings, you really want to deliver good news, right? We really want to say this campaign did great. It was a great use of money. Whereas you really dread going into a meeting and saying, Oh well this didn't work because we didn't think this through or we probably shouldn't have run this test in the first place.

Speaker 1:

So, you know, in terms of that, how do you, you know, when it comes to like the team and I, I would imagine the process of meetings, right? Like you have, there's some people that are listening that maybe are, they run their business, there's other people that work and run a department. There's other people that may be in a department, there's other people that may be a solo preneur, right? So in the process of those kind of, you know, different scenarios, you know, ideas are coming up, which a lot of times when presented to a person sound like great ideas doing social media and there's a new thing called tock, there's area or a new, you know, everyone's doing LinkedIn now because it's back up in the organic algorithm is much higher. Like anything, there's always, especially in digital, there's always something new. And I think there's a need or an urge to never to some extent be left out.

Speaker 1:

You know, if you, if you're like, well, no, Instagram is dumb. I don't believe in that. And it becomes the biggest thing ever. You're like, Aw man, like I missed out. Right. So you don't, I mean you have that on the backside, but at the same time, the number of social media networks that I've seen that aren't Instagram that I've seen people dedicate resources to that you know, maybe wasted, I wouldn't say waste time, but the flip side dairies, there's a moment in time when there's a meeting when people are like, do we do 20 things right? There's a new thing that adds to one more thing to our plate. You know, how do you know like what is the process that you walk through for saying no to a project or a new opportunity?

Speaker 3:

So I think read the room, right? I tend to believe that we're pack animals and when one role isn't filled, someone needs to step up and fill that role. So if you have a room full of skeptics, you should probably change your mindset to be more opportunity seeking. But if you find yourself in a situation where you have a lot of optimists who always want to try everything, then I think it's really valuable to become the skeptic in the room. And really question how likely a campaign is to succeed, what the, what the design might be missing or what could be done better. And it's not always about shooting down an idea. Sometimes it's just about making people go through that exercise of thinking of all the shortcomings and you know, designing a test that will do better under those circumstances.

Speaker 1:

I do love that point of, you know, it starts with kind of the room, which is, you know, if you've got a bunch of engineers and they're like, this technically cannot be made or this is impossible. Having someone that's like, well, let's play the devil's advocate. And the devil's advocate could be someone that's like, no, how would you do it? You know, you take, we have unlimited money, unlimited resources, how would you make this work? And a lot of times feel like, well, there could be a way. Um, and it's the same way. You get a bunch of people that are like, yeah, we can do anything. We'll do it. We'll do everything. Um, having someone to be like, Whoa, Whoa, who's responsible for what? And instead of everyone just running around and wasting a bunch of time, can this actually be accomplished in the timeframe that we have?

Speaker 1:

And it's, it's just crazy. You know, looking back, I guess in my experience, the number of times I have seen the skeptic in the room be like a vent would come up. Like someone's like, Oh, there's a great event that we can go to and it's a week away, but we have to prepare everything. This will be a, we're getting it at half the price. This is great. And the person's like, there's absolutely no way anyone could pull that off. Right? Like there's just no way. Like if you went in and tried to do it, you would get halfway done, which would look even worse than doing nothing at all

Speaker 3:

about fire festival. And then everyone got mad about my festival.

Speaker 1:

Uh, but yeah, I mean that, that's a great example of those type of things of just, it's snowballing out without having that person that's like, hold on. Which, I mean, what are your thoughts on that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean I think it's an important role that someone at the organization needs to fulfill. Um, and I think that you make yourself doubly valuable if you can play both sides, if you can be the skeptic and sort of poke holes and make people think about things more critically and if you can be the person who brings ideas to the table. So it's really good to balance both.

Speaker 1:

I mean, I like the fact that it needs to be like a balance. Um, you know what, what happens if, you know, let's bring in a boss, right? So if your boss is, you know, the optimistic one of we can do anything, how do you, how do you go back to a boss and be like, no, I think what you want to do is impossible because then it makes you kind of look like a Debbie downer or someone that is always negative, you know? How do you do that with tact I guess would be my,

Speaker 3:

that's always a tough one. No one ever wants to tell their boss now. Um, but I think a good strategy is to empower and then warn. So if you're not the decision maker, you sort of have to realize that and you have to be very forthright about that. So you would say something like, ultimately this is your decision, but I feel strongly that this won't work because of X, Y, Z. Maybe you bring a forecast with some quantitative information that kind of demonstrates why this might not be the best idea at this point in time. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I mean it too. To take it back to kind of like maybe the fire festival as an example, which anyone that doesn't know is, there's a couple of Netflix documentaries on this, but it was a big, uh, event that was supposed to be an amazing music festival in The Bahamas or somewhere in the Caribbean. Uh, they were like, it's on a private Island. They've got a bunch of Instagram models to go and say we're going to be there. Uh, and the marketing was fantastic. The actual implementation of the festival when people arrived turned out to be a logistics nightmare. Um, because they hadn't really planned a lot of that through. So in that scenario, at what point in the planning process did you, would you say things went wrong? Was it at the beginning, you know, was the guy who was like, I'm the visionary. He didn't necessarily care about the logistics. So it was that he wasn't listening to a logistics person, or maybe you didn't even have a logistics person.

Speaker 3:

That's kind of where my mind was at. I don't really know. But to your point, he might not have had that skeptic in the room like he should have.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. That's just, it was a crazy, a crazy story. Anyway, I'm glad I wasn't there, but it didn't look like fun. Um, you know, do you agree or disagree that no idea is a bad one during a brainstorming process?

Speaker 3:

Completely agree. I think that, um, you need to generate up surplus of ideas before you can start looking at them critically, right? Like, you can't mow your lawn before you've grown your grass. So I think brainstorming is just as important as being a skeptic. It's just something that happens before you become that skeptic. So,

Speaker 4:

okay.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I just lost my train of thought. Um, she a bad one for brainstorming process. Oh man. I don't even know. I was going to say, I just lost my train of thought. Um, how do you avoid being, um, how do you avoid the dark side of being a skeptic? You know, of of appearing in a, in a meeting is always being the one who is, uh, you know, maybe the naysayer or the person that no matter what anyone says, it's like, no, no. And I think most people could imagine a person being, they could probably put a face to, I know who that is at our company or our team. Um, but how, how do you avoid that? Because that does have a value to the process.

Speaker 3:

You're right. Um, it's very easy to fall into that role of Debbie downer and then people start to dismiss things you say. So it's very much in your interest if you want to continue to be the skeptic in the room to do it in a diplomatic way. Um, I don't think it always has to be saying no flat out. You can pose questions that make other people come to the conclusions that you've already sort of come to. Um, I also think it's important to own what you were right and own what you were wrong about more so the ladder, right. So if I'm wrong about a campaign that we ultimately moved forward with, then in the next meeting I'm going to be clapping and applauding that person and saying, great job. I was wrong. I'm glad we did this because what's good for the company? It's good for the team. So I love that.

Speaker 1:

Cause I mean that comes with the team approach. It comes with, you know, being humble to be like, and I would think in the marketing world for sure, the number of times I've been proved wrong, where I was like, Oh, this is going to totally beat the other one. And I'm like, I was 100% wrong. There we go. Let's go down that path. And it, for me, it doesn't bother me. There are some people that you know, will stick to their guns and they're like, no, I know this is the right way. And I'm like, the data just doesn't show it.

Speaker 3:

That's a great point. It's really important to take emotion out of it. Right? It's a job. You're there to achieve a purpose. It's not about who's right and who's wrong. Um, it's about the team and succeeding as a team.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. It definitely does get, get emotional, but I just, it's weird because it was a thing that I've always done well with, with, you know, not taking things too personally or if I'm wrong, I'm like, Oh, there we go. Yeah, well we found something better than what I thought. Now I know. Um, let's go and keep moving and what's next and what's next. But a lot of times things do get very emotional. People can get feelings hurt if their idea wasn't the one that was selected. Um, but I mean it's just, it's fascinating because a lot of this comes back to, you know, ultimately for businesses to succeed, they need to be making right decisions and doing the right things consistently. Uh, you know, and the more you write, and it's okay to make a mistake, but ultimately, you know, the most successful companies have good people implementing, you know, clear vision with the right decisions behind it. I'm in a lot of those come from being able to say no, um, during the process.

Speaker 3:

Right. And I'm just lost my train of thought. Um, Oh. So I don't think any team or any one person is going to be right 100% of the time, but you want your batting average to be pretty high. Right. Otherwise you kind of go out of business. That is true. Um, is there ever

Speaker 1:

an idea, uh, that you had wished you hadn't turned down? Is there ever any examples you can think of where you're like, man, there was this one time?

Speaker 3:

That's a fantastic question. Um, nothing's jumping to mind and I think it's kind of, it's two fold, right? If we don't do a campaign because you know, it, it got shut down for one reason or another, then we kind of don't know how it would've turned out. You can't really be wrong in that situation. Um, but then if it is a campaign that we did and it worked, then I'm glad, um, because you know, someone else on the team made a stronger case than I did and we went forward and we all win. I love it. I love it. Um, you know, as we kind of bring

Speaker 1:

the podcast, uh, to a close, or is there any sort of pieces of final advice that you would have for other

Speaker 3:

who are, you know, in, in those positions where they need to move forward and accelerate, but they also need to understand when and where they should say no. Um, that's a tough one. I mean, diplomacy when you're saying no, it's really important to be diplomatic about it. Um, and to make sure that you're not creating an environment where you're stifling creativity, you should still be really encouraging of all your team members. Um, and I think I mentioned this earlier, but it's also on you to bring ideas to the table and if you don't have an idea that you think is good enough to move forward with, bring your best half baked idea to the team and see if they can find a way to improve it because then you're contributing. But then you're also putting yourself in a vulnerable position where people can poke holes in your idea.

Speaker 3:

I would say I think any person in a, in a team, um, you know, in meetings or things like that generally has thoughts or advice that could be valuable. Um, and you never know where a fantastic idea will come from. And I've just heard stories numerous times that people would be like, we were talking about something and the person that worked at the front desk came in and looked at all, everything was on the board and was like, well, why don't you do it this way? And everyone in the room would stop and be like, that's fantastic. We'd never, we'd never thought of that at all. And a lot of times at different perspective can really be valuable to be able to bring that in. Yeah, I mean, respect all your team members and remember that you're all there for a reason. Right. Something brought you there. Something qualified you to be in that room. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, well, it's fantastic advice. Thank you so much, chair for being here today and sharing your vice with everyone and for all of this news, we'll catch you on the next episode.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for listening to the Duke of digital podcast with Brian Mitt, one to network with other business owners. Join our exclusive group at facebook.com/groups/duke of digital fancy the Duke. Leave a five star review on your favorite podcast app and you can be mentioned on the show. The Duke of digital was produced by advertisement and recorded in Hollywood, California.