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15 | Joey Hinson, TechCrunch: Scaling Disrupt and Democratizing Tech

  • September 18, 2019
  • 35:55

Joey Hinson (Director of Operations, TechCrunch) discusses the challenges of scaling TC Disrupt, the value of qualitative feedback, why sometimes you're better off not feeding attendees, the future of event technology, and how events are helping to democratize the startup landscape.

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Top Takeaways

1

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES OF SCALE: As TechCrunch Disrupt has grown from a 3,000 person event to a 10,000 person event it has faced unique obstacles. One growing pain has been food quality which, based on survey feedback, consistently received low ratings. TechCrunch removed food service from Disrupt and surprisingly saw an uptick in their Net Promoter Score. “People never told us that they were mad at us for not serving food. They were just upset with us when we did it incorrectly.”

2

PREDICTING THE FUTURE OF EVENTS: Joey understands that people come to events to connect with each other. As he looks to the future of events, he sees more sophisticated technology enabling people to both find those who align with their interests and find the content that resonates with them. “Technology will help us connect with the people as well as the content that is more relative to us in real-time and in real space.”

3

DEMOCRATIZING TECH: TechCrunch recently hosted Startup Battlefield events in emerging tech hubs like Lagos, Beirut, and Sao Paulo. The goal of these events is to discover compelling companies while angling the spotlight on founders in communities that do not typically receive it. “We want to make sure that they’re part of the TechCrunch community and the TechCrunch story about founders and entrepreneurs.”

ABOUT Joey Hinson

As part of the TechCrunch leadership team, Joey develops and executes event and advertising product strategy, creates the overall long-term and annual financial plans, and leads a team that executes and delivers against the financial and product goals of the organization. Before joining TechCrunch, Joey spent several years working with the esteemed Bay Area agency Mosaic Events.

Episode Transcript

BRANDON:

Okay, Joey.

JOEY:

Brandon.

BRANDON:

I think it's safe to say that you're a pretty big fan of technology. What's an early memory you have of being wowed by tech? And if you're a little embarrassed, I can share my own memory first, if that helps?

JOEY:

Please.

BRANDON:

Yeah. So for me it was the Tamagotchi. Are you familiar?

JOEY:

I'm not.

BRANDON:

It was a little ... It was basically a key chain that was a cyber pet. And basically you took care of it, you fed it, you cleaned up after it after it made messes using one or two buttons on a key chain.

JOEY:

Ah, very, very cool.

BRANDON:

To me it was like having a pet, but not actually having one.

JOEY:

Wow.

BRANDON:

It's kind of sad now that I think about it.

JOEY:

Yeah. Not so sad. I thought those things are going to be a bigger and bigger part of our life. Well, mine was the Zenith Z-100. My father bought one for our house when I was seven. And just, I'm going to go ahead and date myself. It was 1982 in Selma, Alabama. We must have been in the 1% of people that had home computers there. And my dad taught me enough Basic that I could make words repeat indefinitely on the screen. And I was able to print huge banners with a dot matrix printer over multiple pages. And I don't even know if you know what this is, but there was this thing called pin feed paper. So—

BRANDON:

No, I don't.

JOEY:

Yeah. So it was all...There were these rails on the side, and it would move the paper through at a given pace when it was done with the line. And my trick for all my friends, and then also for myself was I would print happy birthday signs over 20 pages of legal size paper in 100 point font. So that was my first, "Wow." I didn't actually have to write with a pencil anymore.

BRANDON:

Yeah. You were the tech whiz.

JOEY:

Yeah. Definitely in my neighborhood.

BRANDON:

That's so cool. And obviously those early skills you had with technology have very much transferred to what you're doing today. You are the Director of Operations over at TechCrunch. To set the stage for the rest of our conversation today, could you tell us a little bit about TechCrunch and your role there?

JOEY:

Yeah. So I do a lot for TechCrunch. And that's just because I've been here a while, and we still think like a startup. If somebody told me to take out the trash, I would. If somebody told me to vacuum the floors, I would. And then if somebody told me, "Why don't you make five year projections for our finances today?" I would do that too. But my role is specifically to be the team leader for our advertising sales and events sales team. That's what I'm formally charged with. And then on top of that, there's this layer of being the point of contact for our company finances with our parent company, Verizon Media. And really in all of that, if you had to distill one thing out of it, I'm responsible for making sure our revenue is on track with where we say it would be through both our advertising sales and our event revenue operations.

BRANDON:

And you've been with TechCrunch for over seven years. How did you first end up at TechCrunch, and what led you to this specific leadership role that you have today?

JOEY:

It was kind of an interesting way to come aboard at TechCrunch. Back then I was working for an event agency called Mosaic. And I was hired through Mosaic to help produce the second Disrupt in San Francisco. TechCrunch had done one in New York a few months before. But the one in San Francisco was brand new in terms of Disrupt. And I was working with the original team, Heather, Hardy and Tanya to produce the event. And then while I was working with them in this first year, AOL bought TechCrunch. And everybody left. So there was this huge cultural shift. And AOL brought on Ned Desmond to be the COO. And he was really happy with the way that I had navigated and kept everything on track through all this cultural chaos. I just operated as though as business as usual. And he offered me a job, and that's why I joined. And then I went on in—

BRANDON:

Because at the time, you were still working with Mosaic.

JOEY:

Yeah. Yeah. So he poached me essentially. And the way TechCrunch came to Mosaic was, Mosaic was really deeply tied to all of the mover and shakers in San Francisco. Mosaic was an event agency that served Black Rock. They're a big financial institution. And Barclays and all a lot of the tech companies. So they were really known in the community that TechCrunch hung out in, essentially. It was a referral. And then I did work, and they liked my work. And then they poached me. That's how things go in San Francisco.

BRANDON:

And so when they brought you on, you were mainly in charge of Disrupt?

JOEY:

Disrupt and any other events that we did. We did these things called meetups back then. I was the director of events, essentially. And so we started doing these things called meetups. And yeah, Disrupt. That was my charge.

BRANDON:

And now today, not only are you managing Disrupt and events, but you are also overseeing these other functions around advertising and revenue as well.

JOEY:

Yep. I slipped in an MBA there. Right when I started, I was accepted to UCSD. And I spent the first two years of my job here at TechCrunch also getting my MBA. After I finished that, Ned decided that he would broaden my role, given that I'd added some new functionality to my working professional life.

BRANDON:

I'd love to dive a little bit more into Disrupt. Well, TechCrunch produces several events across the world. The most recognizable is TechCrunch Disrupt. It's basically the OG startup conference out there. In your own words, how would you describe the event?

JOEY:

TechCrunch is relentlessly devoted to finding the best startups in the world. And Disrupt is the premier competition and event to get your startup on the world stage through our Startup Battlefield competition. We focus on seed and pre-seed companies through Startup Battlefield. It's been around as you said, since 2010 actually. And all the companies that have pitched on the stage there, they've raised close to $1 billion, if I'm remembering our stats right. And if you invested in those companies, you'd be a top core tile VC. You would be a very, very, very rich individual right now. So we're really good at picking startups. And we're a great place for startups to announce and launch their company.

BRANDON:

You mentioned Startup Battlefield. Is this sort of a Battle Bots or sort of WWE situation?

JOEY:

It's got a really fiery name. Basically, we put out a call to action. We get anywhere from a 1000 to 3000 applications. And we whittle it down to 15 companies that we then coach over a period of about a month. Sometimes it's as little as two weeks, but about two weeks to a month. And we get these companies stage-ready. And then they bring their ideas or their companies to Disrupt. And over three days they pitch their companies in front of judges. So like Marissa Mayer would be a judge, Ashton Kutcher would be a judge. And so they pitch to these judges and they get feedback from them. VCs are also judges. Bill Gurley would be a judge. And also TechCrunch writers would be judges. And they get feedback on their companies. There is some drama around it. It's not quite Shark Tank, it's not Battle Bots. The type of companies that have won are AI companies, Forethought AI. There was also a really cool company called Liquidity that invented this tube that basically...Or this bottle that would filter out water from the Ganges into something that's drinkable. So they won one year. So those are the types of companies that participate.

BRANDON:

And it sounds like it's not only a competition, but also has this coaching element to it as well.

JOEY:

Right. Yeah, Nisha Tombay is our director, our Battlefield director. And once we've got it down to the final 15, she contacts them. She starts taking them through their pitches. And then she essentially helps them write a script for what they do on stage, and goes through their deck and finds all of the different sort of pitfalls that may not be in there. Like a team from Harvard might just focus on something really esoteric. But they don't talk about the fact that they're all from Harvard and they all studied some astrophysics, and are the most talented in that region. So it's important to talk about your team. Or sometimes they forget to talk about their product or their go-to market. And she just helps them get it all in line.

BRANDON:

Those are some skills that the participants not only get to make use of in the Startup Battlefield, but also a future in their careers with their company or elsewhere.

JOEY:

Yeah. We also have outside VCs sit into on these things. So by the time you're done, you should be able to walk into Sequoia Capital's board room and pitch. You could pitch your startup in front of Sequoia, Kleiner, anybody after you get done going through the process to get ready for Startup Battlefield.

BRANDON:

You mentioned that the first Disrupt launched in 2010.

JOEY:

Yeah.

BRANDON:

And over the years there have been some big changes.

JOEY:

Yes.

BRANDON:

I'd love to talk about the sheer size of the event. I think it's quite an accomplishment that what started as a modest gathering of startups, VCs, tech insiders, and press is on its way to becoming a 10,000 person event. What are some of the unique challenges that Disrupt has faced in the wake of this huge growth, and how has the team addressed it?

JOEY:

As you grow in San Francisco, one of the weirdest things that's a problem is venues, right? There are only so many places you can go as you get bigger. We started off at a place called the Concourse, which is now a multi-billion dollar condo complex. And the Concourse was literally a train station at one point in time. After they kicked us out of there, we went to The Piers in San Francisco. And then after you get above 5,000 people, there's only a few options. And Moscone is really the option. So we had to go to Moscone. And we'd never done a whole host of things like had hotel room nights, and all that sort of stuff. And all of a sudden we had to pony up and say, "Hey, we're going to basically be liable for a million dollars in hotel room nights in order to do this thing at Moscone." Because you can't go to Moscone unless you have a hotel room block. So that was one thing. It was a really odd logistic thing. But it's really hard.

BRANDON:

And kind of a risk too.

JOEY:

Yeah. It's a huge risk. So not only are we in the business of selling tickets and selling sponsorships, and creating great content. Now we've got to make sure we sell a bunch of hotel rooms on behalf of the hotels in San Francisco. That was hard. Marketing becomes incredibly more difficult, right? We used to just announce everything on techcrunch.com and that's pretty much it. That got the job done. 3,500 people would show up, 5,000 people show up. Reaching an audience of 10,000 people and getting them on site, it's an international marketing operation. And it requires some very sophisticated marketing techniques. So that was pretty brutal. And then also, we have a lot of content. But we were always one main stage. And we had to take the conference from a single track to a multi-track conference. And we're still actually developing our multi-track strategy.

BRANDON:

There are a couple of things are I'd love to unpack a little bit more. One is the promotional aspect, the marketing aspect of the event. You mentioned that there were some changes that you had make. Are you able to share with us a little bit about what some of those strategies were, are?

JOEY:

Sure. One is just getting technology involved, right? We use Marketo, which I mean, there are a lot of different marketing databases out there. But we chose Marketo.

BRANDON:

Right.

JOEY:

And you start collecting names in this database, but then you have to deploy all kinds of things like pixels, so that you can figure out where people are converting. And getting the technology deployed, not just getting the database, but deploying all of the tracking technology. That was a huge thing, so that we knew where best to apply our attention and our resources. And then the other side of it is content, right? Announcing speakers was no longer enough. So we had to become more and more sophisticated about the content that we presented to potential attendees. Everything from just like, "Hey, these are the deadlines that are coming up." We had to be really clear about that. To like, "These are the reasons you should attend. Not just because the speakers are there, but X, Y and Z." The networking, et cetera, et cetera. So we had to really become more explicit about explaining ourselves on all the different fronts and the benefits around coming to Disrupt. Those are really the big things.

BRANDON:

Sounds like a lot of advances in technology, getting more sophisticated with retargeting. But also affecting a more comprehensive promotional strategy and making sure you're covering all the different aspects of the event.

JOEY:

Yep.

BRANDON:

Throughout this process, have there been any discoveries with data?

JOEY:

One thing that we added to our events that generated really valuable data was this survey part of it. We would kind of lightly ask people in a Google form to give us feedback, but now we're ... The minute the conference is over, you got an email in your inbox that's asking you to do a survey. And we incentivize you to take the survey. And the Net Promoter score, and then all of the different categories of feedback really helped us decide what we would and would not do. And there's an old adage in business, right? It's like, "It's not what you choose to do, it's what you choose not to do," right? Where you put your efforts. And those surveys and the data, and the feedback that we got from that really informed a lot of things around what we don't do. There are all the other typical things about, tracking pixels like we know where our core audience is, where they live, their geographic location, their demographics, all of that sort of stuff. But it doesn't really differ anything from the data that we collect on techcrunch.com. Our readers are our attendees. But the feedback part of it, I would say is really the key driver.

BRANDON:

Are there any specific discoveries you've made from that feedback that have had a substantial impact on the event?

JOEY:

Venue. People like to be really comfortable. When you're trying to serve a wide audience, people have sort of homogenized needs along those lines. They need a place to sit, they need power, they need this, that and the other. So that's one. Food. Here's the weird thing. No matter how much we spent on the food, we couldn't get it right. So we just stopped doing it. The feedback was so bad that we were just like...I mean, and literally it's like spend a million dollars, spend $10,000. The results were the same. So we were just...And so all of a sudden your Net Promoter score goes up, because you're not doing something that brought it down.

BRANDON:

Oh, wow.

JOEY:

And people never told us that they were mad at us for not serving food. They were just upset with us when we did it incorrectly. So people want deep dives in things that they're interested in. And so that was another thing that really changed our strategy. It's somebody is interested in mobility, they want to hear a lot about mobility. And they want to meet a lot of people in the mobility space. Yeah, there's this top level startup piece, but it's really...There's also a click down where it's like, "I'm interested in mobility. And if one in 20 people that I meet are mobility people, that's not good enough for me. And if one in 20 sessions is about mobility, that's not good enough for me either. I want to see a track along those lines. I want to meet a lot of companies and a lot of people." So it's helped us adjust our content strategy too.

BRANDON:

Okay. So it's had a big impact on the content strategy. And speaking of which, you mentioned earlier this shift to a multi-track setup.

JOEY:

Right.

BRANDON:

Could you tell us a little bit more about content at Disrupt? The types of sessions that are available, and how your team goes about curating them? Not only pulling from this feedback, but how else?

JOEY:

Well, I mean there's a few different approaches, right? So we're doing a session on space, or a lot of sessions on space at Disrupt this year. And we just think this is a huge area of opportunity for startups to grow in the future. The barrier of entry for starting a startup in space is lowered. We were talking to somebody that's an expert in space. And they said something really, really, really interesting. And we're like, "It used to cost $10 million to deploy one satellite. Now you can deploy an entire fleet of satellites for $10 million." That's a logarithmic lowering of the barrier to entry for a startup that really sort of says that that space is going to be hot in the near future. Everything from actually getting to space, to all the accoutrements around space. I think I read somewhere that there's going to be a hotel in space by 2025 now. I think that that's probably ambitious, and I have no idea if that's true. But those are the kinds of things that are going to be coming up, like hospitality in space. Who's thought about that, right?

BRANDON:

Yeah.

JOEY:

And then we're also talking a lot about IPOs and going public. I'm not sure how aware of the IPO market you are this year, but Uber, Lyft, Pinterest, Zoom, Pager, Duty, Slack, all went public. WeWork was going to go public. Maybe they won't go public now.

BRANDON:

To be determined.

JOEY:

Yeah. Yeah. So there's just that trend piece that we're focused on too, right? This is a coming of age of all the startups that we started talking about in 2010 and 2011. So we focused on trends too. And then there's how-to's for startups, right? So we were talking about HR and talent. So if you're a startup founder, your next biggest question after you get a big check is like, "How am I going to hire all the people that I need to do to get all this stuff done that I just promised this VC I was going to do?" So talent is a big topic. So we cover big topics that are relevant to founders. And that's another way that we choose content and pick content.

BRANDON:

In doing this, do you pool at all from what is trending or popular in the TechCrunch publication?

JOEY:

Writers have a sixth sense for this stuff. I mean, they don't have to look at data. They're in it every day and they just...They're part of the content creation process, and they just stick their head up and say, "This is what we're talking about." If you went through and retroactively looked at it, the data would support their decisions. And there's a content committee that decides on this stuff. And when these topics come up, we do some rigor. But it doesn't start off quite as analytical as you are sort of implying there.

BRANDON:

Yeah. Okay. TechCrunch has come a long way since 2010 as we discussed. In 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt was featured on HBO's Silicon Valley, which as some of our listeners may know, takes a pretty comedic approach to tech and tech culture. What was the reaction like to the show after it aired? Did you see a spike in registrations, more chatter online?

JOEY:

We didn't see a spike in registrations directly after it launched. But we definitely saw a spike in brand awareness, and I think that's even better. People would come up to me and they'd be like, "Oh, you work for TechCrunch? Did you see that thing they did on HBO?" And people assume that we would be kind of upset about some of the portrayals in there. But we didn't actually...We're not upset about it. We actually sent all of our stuff to Mike Judge, and he consulted really closely with some of the people here at TechCrunch to get that done. And we're of the opinion that any mention is a good mention, just like any news is good news. Yeah. I think it's probably helped our brand equity, but I couldn't pinpoint where in terms of ticket sales or page views, or whatever.

BRANDON:

How does your operations team work with other teams at TechCrunch to make Disrupt happen?

JOEY:

That's a good question. We talk a lot. We talk a lot, a lot, a lot. We go, we do research, we put together our thoughts as a group, as a business unit, as an event team. And then we take those conversations and we check in with editorial, we check in with our product team, we check in with our marketing team. All the things. And then after we build some sort of internal consensus that this is something we want to do, then we move forward with it. But honestly, it's a lot of talking and a lot of research.

BRANDON:

You mentioned earlier how important attendee feedback is, and really measuring the event from a qualitative perspective in that respect. And you also mentioned how Disrupt is a revenue generator. How would you say you and the rest of TechCrunch evaluates the success of the event?

JOEY:

So we look at our Net Promoter score. That's one way. We also look at our media reach. So it's really important for us to understand how far out in the media world we've gone, because when we go around the world with a 130 stories or 200 stories, or whatever it is, that means the message of the startups that were at Disrupt went with them. So media reach is a big one. How many stories were published, how many outlets were involved in publishing those things. Who were the writers of other publications that wrote about it? And then we also...Really easy measure, we look at total attendance. And then we look at the demographics of those attendees. Were these people the right people to be at Disrupt? And then we look at financial success, right? Did we hit our marks? On that front, we've been growing the event every year.

We haven't taken a step back since I've gotten here. And that's saying something. While the economy has been growing and everything else has been great, it hasn't been a straight line. And it's not easy to do. There have been a lot of conferences that have come and gone. So we've done okay. And then we also ask ourselves at the end of it, "Did we do the right thing for founders?" So it doesn't matter if it was big, if it made us a lot of money, if it went all around the world. But if we didn't do the right thing for the startups, it was not a successful conference.

BRANDON:

Aside from the really amazing content, the opportunities to network and connect with VCs and get feedback from industry insiders. What else would you attribute to the event successfully growing?

JOEY:

We're a news organization. So I would say the voice and style of techcrunch.com has really brought a level of brand equity to Disrupt that no other publication, or no other event really has access to. So I'd say that's our one key differentiator in the thing that's made it so successful is that techcrunch.com publishes every day. And they publish in a way, in a style, in a voice that keeps TechCrunch relevant and interesting. And that follows on to Disrupt.

BRANDON:

You mentioned how there's a growing global reach of the Disrupt brand. I know that one of the earliest Disrupt events happened in Beijing. And since then San Francisco and Berlin have become the regular host cities. My question for you is, when making that leap from San Francisco to Berlin, what were some considerations that you took into account? For instance, why Berlin? And how would you go about localizing the experience for that market?

JOEY:

So the first question is, are there any startups there? And there are a ton of startups in Berlin. There are ton of startups in London, and we did Disrupt there too. But we went back to Berlin for various reasons. So are there any startups? And then the second question is, is there money in the ecosystem for the startups? And if you can check that box, you're in a pretty good place. And then the next question is, can startup founders from other places get there? London is an expensive place to hang out, right? So even spending a week in London could put a startup team back $10,000, $20,000. And that's money they're not putting towards their startups. So when you look at a place like Berlin, we had a huge international participation from around Europe. It was like 60-40 split, 60 outside of Germany. And people could afford to come to Germany and Berlin in particular for the event, and it was centrally located, right? People were driving from other parts of Europe. That's not really an option for the U.K. for instance. Or if we did this in Italy way, way South or on an island in Greece, that wouldn't be an option. So that's another important part of it, accessibility. And those are the main factors really.

BRANDON:

Right. And this is all with Disrupt. But outside of the Disrupt event umbrella, understand that TechCrunch and yourself have recently started producing events in international locations that don't typically receive the startup spotlight.

JOEY:

Right.

BRANDON:

Could you tell us a little bit more about this program and how it is contributing to the democratization of tech?

JOEY:

So last year we did three events, which I really think are crowning achievements for TechCrunch. We did a Startup Battlefield in Lagos, Nigeria. We did a Startup Battlefield and Beirut, Lebanon. And we did a Startup Battlefield in Sao Paulo. We didn't do all of the other Disrupt things like have a big main stage. We didn't have a big expo hall. It was all about the competition for the entrepreneurs. And this program has been the result of a goal of ours that we've had since 2012 or 2013. I can't remember exactly when we started the idea. But it was really...Silicon Valley is great and lots of things are happening here, and they're going to continue to happen. But as tech gets better and better, and the barrier to entry gets lower and lower, we're going to see more and more important companies come from other places like Africa, or different places in Southeast Asia, or China, or South America.

And so we put a lot of resources around finding the right location where the ecosystems were starting to gain momentum in terms of the number of startups being formed. And then also adding in a partner that would help us go in, because you can't do this alone, right? You need somebody who has a similar vision to help you do this. For instance, Facebook was our partner when we did the Beirut, Lagos and Sao Paulo events. We're going into places where there's a lot of startup activity, but there's not necessarily a lot of money and a lot of success stories. Because at the end of the day, we think that interesting companies and interesting solutions are going to come from unusual places in the future. And it's really about also including founders of diverse cultural backgrounds as well in...Diverse on all fronts. We want to make sure that they're part of the TechCrunch community and the TechCrunch story about founders and entrepreneurs.

BRANDON:

Okay. I'd love to turn the conversation to you. If you were to put on your futurist glasses, how would you like to see technology shape events in the future? And if you say anything around AI or blockchain, you will definitely get bonus points.

JOEY:

There's one thing that people want to do at events most of the time. And that's connect with each other. So the future of events is moving closer to a place where when I go to an event, I can really quickly find the people that are aligned with me. Whether that's taken all the data that I generate through my social media feeds, and all the other things that I do and comparing that to other attendees' social media feeds and activity and data, and saying, "Hey, this is the right person based on your behaviors."

Or I have to take some survey that really puts me in a category, and then takes those categories and puts all those people in those categories together. I don't know what it is. Technology definitely will have a role in it. I'm sure you know AI is a way to look at a lot of data and find correlations and causation, and predict outcomes. So I'm sure AI will be used in figuring all that sort of stuff out. But I think it's about technology will help us connect with the people as well as the content that are most relative to us in real time and in real space, and events in the future.

BRANDON:

Who is someone you look up to in events, marketing, or business in general?

JOEY:

The South by Southwest folks are, I think they're really impressive. They've been able to dial South by Southwest up in a lot of categories. And they've kept their cool factor all at the same time. I've never been to South by Southwest, but I'm going for the first time this year. But I can tell you that from the outside, it looks like they're doing everything right. So I look up to the South by Southwest guys. Marketing, it's really simple. I look up to Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Google has done something that nobody else has been able to do. They tap into search. And I think search is just being able to understand what somebody's looking for and connect them with what they're looking for. It's just, I mean...Wow. It has been the biggest innovation in marketing in ever probably. I would leave it at...On the event side, the South by Southwest guys on the marketing front. I would say Google has it down, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page really got it right. It's amazing stuff.

BRANDON:

Okay. Between operations and events, and advertising, you have a pretty large team on your hands. How would you describe your approach to training and managing your staff?

JOEY:

I believe in setting goals for people, and then coaching them on the way to achieving those goals. That's pretty much it. And then in terms of training, there's a couple of different things. I think that everybody should have general business knowledge. But then there are also tactical moments that come up in your experience when you're operating. And I take those moments and then have people do specialized training around those things in order to gain skill sets like whether it's learning how to do automated marketing management or learning all the ins and outs of programmatic advertising, or whatever.

BRANDON:

Okay. A final question. If you could give an earlier version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

JOEY:

The one piece of advice I would give my earlier self is to figure out how to prioritize and be ruthless about focusing on your top priority, and excluding anything that's a distraction from that. I think prioritization of what you actually want to do in life is the key to...It's the keys to the kingdom, really. You can do whatever you want as long as you focus on it.

BRANDON:

And how has that impacted your day-to-day, or would it have impacted your day-to-day?

JOEY:

Yeah. It would have. When you know exactly what you want to do, you're not so concerned with pleasing other people or taking on everything that comes your way. It's okay to not do some things. But it's really important to do the right things. If marketing is something you're interested in, well then focus on marketing every single day. And tell people, "No," when they ask you to do this, that and the other that's not related to that. And soon they'll stop asking. But when you get good at doing the thing that you're focused on, people will ask you to do more and more, and more of that thing. And you'll become more and more, and more successful at it. And it would've created a lot of opportunities for me a lot faster had I just been relentless about focusing on the thing that I wanted to do.

BRANDON:

That's amazing. Well, Joey, that's our time for today. Thank you so much for chatting. I really appreciate it.

JOEY:

Thanks, Brandon.