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Author: James Nieman

The A-List Podcast: Episode 019 with Paul Caiozzo

After a short hiatus, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann returns to the booth for another exciting (and hilarious) episode of The A-List Podcast! This time, he’s joined by Paul Caiozzo, an award-winning creative and the cofounder of Office of Baby, a youngish creative independent agency that’s mature enough to work for companies like Google, Etsy, Zocdoc, and StreetEasy. Before starting his own agency, Paul served as the executive creative director at Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

In this inspiring interview, Paul shares the unique story behind how he got into advertising, how negativity is poison, the challenges and balancing act of starting a new business, why creativity is still the core of advertising, and where he sees the future of the industry. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes

  • [0:00 – 1:36] Intro
  • [1:37 – 4:59] The meaning behind the name “Office of Baby”
  • [5:00 – 8:08] Looking back on his time freelancing, Paul shares the lessons he learned from being around a variety of different agencies
  • [8:09 – 15:20] The power of remaining positive, even in the face of uncomfortable situations
  • [15:21 – 18:03] How a young web designer from Long Island found himself at a start up in Silicon Valley.
  • [18:04 – 20:25] Paul shares the inspiring story of how a favor for a friend turned into a lifelong passion for advertising
  • [20:26 – 24:20] Packing up his life in San Francisco and leaving to go an advertising school in Atlanta, where he discovered how ideas can be applied to art
  • [24:21 – 28:27] The mentor who convinced Paul to stay in the industry after a rocky start
  • [28:28 – 31:29] What he’s learned from starting a business and how to deal with the challenges that come with it
  • [31:30 – 35:08] Paul shares some of his favorite philosophies he learned working under advertising legend Alex Bogusky at Crispin Porter + Bogusky
  • [35:09 – 38:33] Paul reflects on his time as the executive creative director of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, building a satellite office and selling a vision
  • [38:34 – 40:34] Tom and Paul chat about “global agencies” and how the fragmentation of people solving a problem can be a problem of its own
  • [40:35 – 49:06] The current landscape of advertising, and how even in a sea of data and numbers, creativity still reigns supreme
  • [49:07 – 1:01:29] The future of Office of Baby, the company’s vision, why you should never chase money, and how being kind to others will ultimately reward you
  • [1:01:30 – 1:02:22] Outro

 “The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter

Inspiring Action Brand of the Month: Stitch Fix

“Five years from now, people will say, ‘Remember when we had to wander malls and find our own things? That’s crazy!’”

That’s the behavior change that Eric Colson, the Chief Algorithms Officer at Stitch Fix, is betting on.

It may sound like a drastic change, but in today’s digital world, drastic change is the new normal. Small, smart, and disruptive brands with fewer resources and nothing but a powerful and inspiring idea are, almost overnight, transforming our behaviors in ways like never before. We’ve seen it with the likes of Airbnb and Dollar Shave Club. We’ve seen it with Casper and Betterment.

And now we’re seeing it with Stitch Fix, the online personalized styling service that is reinventing the fashion shopping experience.

Let’s go back to Colson’s prediction. The timeline he provided was five years.

Five years ago, Stitch Fix was hardly more than just an idea in founder Katrina Lake’s head – combine innovative technology with the personal touch of seasoned style experts to change the way people find clothes.

During those five years, she received funding but not much. With less than $50 million raised in the company’s history, she was able to grow the company at an unprecedented rate, raking in nearly a billion dollars in revenue at the end of 2017 – creating what has been dubbed the most cash-efficient e-commerce company of the decade.

And in November 2017, Katrina took the company public, making her the youngest female ever to take a company public. Which brings us to today, where Stitch Fix is using its data-driven model to spearhead the future of personalized fashion.

Five years.

Five years was all it took for Katrina to turn that inspiring idea into a billion-dollar company.

OK, OK … maybe it was six years (Stitch Fix was founded in February of 2011), but you get the point!

So, how did she do it? What is Stitch Fix’s secret sauce?

Like so many other disruptors, they thought differently. They did differently.

In an era where technology is all the rage, brands everywhere are competing in a race toward lower costs and convenience in nearly every industry. Stitch Fix took a different route.

Since its inception, Stitch Fix has always been focused on the consumer, understanding that the technology itself is less important than the customer experience of the consumer through the technology. That’s not to say Stitch Fix isn’t a tech-led company, because it most certainly is, but that technology is harnessed and focused toward a different goal: personalization.

Behavior-Changing Data Science

Here’s how it works: Consumers fill out a survey, or a “style profile,” indicating their style preferences. Questions range from size, price point, and preferred colors to how often a consumer dresses for certain occasions. On average, each client provides 85 meaningful data points. Clients are even encouraged to link their Pinterest boards to their profiles. Clients then schedule a date to receive their “fix,” which can either be a monthly subscription or a la carte, an important distinction that makes Stitch Fix different from competitors.

That information is then run through a list of algorithms, which you can tour on Stitch Fix’s website here. The data then matches the customer with a human stylist, who, with the information provided, creates his or her “fix” of five items and then sends the box directly to the customer.

Once received, the customer has three days to either keep the items or return them. If the customer keeps an item, an additional styling fee of $20 is given to the stylist. If the customer decides to keep all five items, he or she receives 25 percent off the total cost of the items.

This strategic use of data is what makes Stitch Fix so unique. Merging fashion with technology, Katrina can leverage that data to make the business much more efficient. She can forecast purchasing behavior and merchandize optimization. On the consumer side, the data is used to create complex algorithms that help match customers with styles and stylists they love, and Stitch Fix has even begun experimenting with designing new styles specifically for consumers.

Stitch Fix employs over 80 data scientists with doctorates from a variety of disciplines, including astrophysics and computational neuroscience. That team is led by, you guessed it, Eric Colson. If there’s anyone who knows how to change behaviors, it’s Colson. Prior to joining Stitch Fix, Colson was the VP of data science and engineering at Netflix, where he fueled the company’s recommendation and targeting engine, helping us discover our new favorite shows and forever altering the way entertainment companies operate.

In a digital landscape that has already forced traditional brick-and-mortar retailers out of business, Stitch Fix sits in an enviable position, with an unmatched wealth of data on the changing behaviors of consumers. Stitch Fix knows what consumers like and what they don’t like, and each sale or return makes the company smarter. It’s a business model that thrives off engagement. The more feedback a consumer provides, the better suited the “fix” will be.

Stitch Fix is capturing the future. It is changing the way people shop, offering a more personalized, curated, and delightful experience and making the try-on room a thing of the past.

What you wear is an extension of your own personal brand, and consumers more than ever are going to market for guidance and help in shaping that brand. Stitch Fix delivers the type of clothing you didn’t even know you needed. It stays up on the trends for you. It takes the hours of browsing or reading up on fashion tips out of the equation and delivers it all to you in a personalized way that no other e-commerce outfit can compete with.

But it’s not all algorithms and numbers. It’s the Stitch Fix stylists that build trust and loyalty with the consumers. They take time to get to know their consumers on a personal level, leaving handwritten notes and creating the type of emotional connection that makes an otherwise digital experience feel human.

In a letter to investors, Lake said, “I founded Stitch Fix to take on a very human problem: How do I find clothes that I love? Spending a day at the mall, or devoting hours of time sifting through millions of products online is time-consuming and overwhelming and neither effective nor enjoyable. I knew there had to be another way.”

Today, Stitch Fix is another way, but in five years from now, it may be the only way.

Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, once said that “a great brand is a story that never stops unfolding.” And while Stitch Fix’s story is still very much being written, the first few chapters alone have already built a story worth telling. We can’t wait to see where it goes next.

That’s why Stitch Fix is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Month!

Behavior Change Marketers of The Year: 2017

The year 2017 was the year of behavior change marketing. Here is our list of marketers who changed our behaviors for good, for bad, and maybe forever. If there are any brands you think deserve to be added to the list, tweet us here and let us know!

Amazon

For changing the way we read, shop and watch…

Casper

From almost never going to a mattress store to never going to a mattress store – all in one brilliant brand experience. 

Duolingo

For merging innovative technology with behavioral design to reinvent the way we learn languages.

Per unire tecnologia innovativa e design comportamentale per reinventare il modo in cui apprendiamo le lingue.

Para fusionar tecnología innovadora con diseño de comportamiento para reinventar la forma en que aprendemos idiomas.

Kakushintekina gijutsu to kōdō dezain o yūgō shite, gengo o manabu hōhō o kaikaku suru tame.

Google Translate

For making it easy for people who don’t even have time for Duolingo to do what we just did above.

Airbnb

For making travelers feel more at home, regardless of where they are.

23andMe

For taking the genome revolution to the people, allowing us to access our own DNA, find our DNA relatives, and empower us to lead healthier lives.

Nobel Prize Committee

For bringing the beneficent insights of behavioral economics into the international spotlight.

Ellevest

For closing the gender-investment gap by giving women the tools, place and voice to invest for themselves.

Bombas

For making the most personal of clothing decisions – what socks to buy – the most pro-social, by giving a pair of socks to a homeless person for every pair we buy.

Cards Against Humanity

For showing that a silly, politically incorrect game can take a serious political stance, and win big.

GoFundMe

For building a platform that makes humans helping humans more possible than ever.

Headspace

For showing that your guru can be an app. And, for introducing the life-changing effects of meditation to millions, ten minutes at a time.

Uber

First, for changing the way tens of millions of us get from here to there. Then, for exploiting their monopoly in greedy and insensitive ways and driving millions of us to Lyft and other options.

Facebook

From the Russian election hack to the #MeToo movement, Facebook has had an outsized effect on all aspects of our society, changing our behavior in good, bad… and still unclear ways.

McKesson 

For allegedly over-delivering hydrocodone, and perpetuating the opioid epidemic, which currently ends 144 American lives each day.

HelloFresh / SunBasket

For turning the average joe into an iron chef, all without going to the grocery store.

Tinder

For simplifying and streamlining the dating process with one swipe of a finger.

Venmo

For forever ending the headache of splitting a bill and making the act of going to an ATM a behavior of the past.

Resy / OpenTable

For removing human interaction from the reservation-making process.

Slack

For changing the way we manage our email inbox.

Spotify

For using complex algorithms to change the way we discover music.

Netflix

For changing the way television shows are produced and consumed.

Betterment

For making managing your wealth as easy as scrolling through your phone.

StitchFix

For making online shopping more personal.

Acorns

For showing us that there is no such thing as spare change.

Audible

For making listening the new reading.

MasterClass 

For turning our heroes into our teachers.

We’ve loved watching these brands change our behaviors, and change the world. We can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store!

Brand Resolutions That Work

Every brand needs a New Year’s resolution.

Yes, even yours.

We’re not talking about increasing sales. Or retention rates. Or profitability.

Because those are goals, not resolutions.

A goal is a hope. Like losing weight, or getting a promotion.

A resolution is a plan. Like deciding to pack healthier lunches every day, or to walk to work instead of taking the subway.

You see, resolutions are all about behaviors.

Dislodging the behaviors you don’t like, and replacing them with new ones that empower you.

Resolutions are the behavior change plans that help you achieve goals.

But behavior change is hard.

Hard, but not impossible.

Behavioral science research has provided us with insights on how individuals and organizations can effectively change behaviors to better drive business results.

Like the practice of moral reframing, which we wrote about last month.

Or rewarding outrageous failure, which you can learn more about in this video.

Or behavioral design, which Inspiring Action brand Duolingo has mastered.

There is so much behavioral science can teach us to better understand what drives consumers.

And it’s our resolution to bring all of that to you in the upcoming year.

Through emails, just like this one.

And now, it’s your turn.

What is your brand’s New Year’s Resolution?

What Behavior Change plan will you launch?

And what goals will that achieve?

Shoot us a tweet, and use the hashtag #BrandResolution.

We’d love to hear it.

The A-List Podcast: Episode 018 with Sandy Greenberg and Terri Meyer

This week on The A-List Podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO is joined in the studio by Sandy Greenberg and Terri Meyer, co-founders of TERRI & SANDY, an award-winning, brand-igniting agency that was recently named Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year.

Before founding their own agency, both Sandy and Terri left their creative marks on some of the biggest agencies in the world, helping to build some of the most iconic brands, including Mars, Kraft, Campbell’s, Disney and Nestlé. Along the way, they’ve won virtually every industry award, including twelve Effies. Terri and Sandy’s work has permeated popular culture, and has been featured on TBS’ Funniest Commercials, Conan, CNN, The View, Fox News, Access Hollywood, and Today.

For just under an hour, Terri and Sandy tell Tom all about starting their own agency, why young creatives struggle with strategy, the importance of building a strong client relationship, and so much more. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes

  • [0:00 – 1:42] Intro
  • [01:43 – 4:03] Terri talks about growing up in St. Louis, and how she knew she wanted to be an Art Director from as early as age 15.
  • [4:04 – 7:17] Sandy talks about moving all over the East Coast during her childhood, and getting her first gig at D’Arcy in St. Louis.
  • [7:18 – 9:51] Sandy and Terri recall how they first met, and why it took some time for the two to become friendly with each other before eventually becoming partners.
  • [9:52 – 14:07] What it was like being a female team in the early 90’s, and why politics are the dark side of advertising.
  • [14:08 – 17:39] The two creative mavens discuss each other’s strengths, why loyalty is so important to a good partnership, open communication, and screaming until you laugh.
  • [17:40 – 21:46] The two discuss some of their early work together, like the Twix “Oh Yeah” spot, and why young creatives struggle with strategy.
  • [21:47 – 28:33] The story of Sandy becoming Terri’s birthday present, remembering the wisdom of Richard Levenson, and the importance of not burning bridges.
  • [28:34 – 32:39] Terri and Sandy talk about starting their agency 7 years ago, and how not having a plan took them from a couch at Terri’s house to on office on Broadway.
  • [32:40 – 39:10] Building a great client relationship through honesty and listening.
  • [39:11— 41:00] Growing an agency culture.
  • [41:01— 44:08] Terri and Sandy talk about some of the favorite campaigns they’ve worked on, including Avon’s “This is Boss Life”
  • [44:09 – 50:00] How advertising has changed since the Mad Men era, and why agencies need to unite more to give back.
  • [50:01 – 50:52] Outro

 “The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter

Inspiring Action Brand of the Month: Duolingo

Photo from Business Insider

After he sold his second company to Google, Luis von Ahn received a phone call.

It was Bill Gates.

The richest man in the world, and co-founder of Microsoft, was personally recruiting the young computer scientist to join his team.

But for von Ahn, joining a world-changing company wasn’t enough. Like Gates, he needed to create his own.

So, the Guatemalan-born web wizard —who has become famous for combining humans and computers to solve large-scale problems that neither can solve alone — founded Duolingo, a free, science-based language education platform that is now the most popular way to learn languages online. And while von Ahn’s portfolio consists of several successful ventures, Duolingo is likely to be his masterpiece.

Von Ahn’s passion has always been rooted in the world of academia. A graduate of Duke University, who later received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon, where he now serves as a professor, he knows the education system all too well.

Both sides of it.

He’s seen the prestige of the world’s most elite universities, and the wealth that feeds them. He’s also experienced the resources, or the lack thereof, of the schools in a developing country. This side, sadly, is much more prevalent globally, and it’s the problem von Ahn has made his life work to solve.

In countries like Guatemala, education does not bring equality to social classes, as some may think. It does the opposite. Those with money can buy themselves an education, while those without it can barely read and write. This system sets up career barriers that are almost always insurmountable, and only widens the divide between the upper and lower classes.

By launching Duolingo, von Ahn was taking a seat at the intersection of technology and human behavior, inspired to create a product that could change outcomes in more permanent and integral ways to tackle the global-scale problem of language learning.

The mission was simple: make language education free and accessible to everyone all over the world.

Why language?

Of the 1.2 billion people in the world learning  foreign languages, 800 million of them satisfy three properties:

  • They are learning English
  • The reason they are learning English is to get a job
  • They are from low socioeconomic classes

For these individuals, learning a language can be the gateway out of poverty, but doing so can cost up to $1,000 dollars. Without the money, and no other alternative, the odds are unfairly stacked against them. To change those odds, von Ahn would first have to change behaviors.

Behavior Change Marketing

Learning a language is difficult. Everyone wants to do it, but most give up. The key is making it a habit. Duolingo could never work unless a user visited it regularly, so the success of the company hinged on it becoming a regular behavior, which also meant dislodging other long-held behaviors.

And change, according to world-renowned behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, “comes not from the inside, but the outside. If you want people to lose weight, give them a smaller plate. You have to change the environment.”

For von Ahn, the environment was technology. How could behavioral design be used to  prevent the poor retention rates of other language-learning softwares? How could he reinvent the teaching process to make it a memorable experience worth the consumers’ time?

You gamify it.

American psychologist and behaviorist, B.F. Skinner, once said, “No one really cares whether Pac-Man gobbles up all those little spots on the screen… What is reinforcing is successful play, and in a well-designed instructional program students gobble up their assignments.”

As the work of behavioral economists has shown us, consumer decision-making is not just about the availability of information. Instead, it’s about how that information is framed and delivered. By framing language-learning as a game, von Ahn was applying behavioral design to keep consumers coming back for more.

He and his team incorporated gameplaying elements to increase engagement. Like other mobile-game apps, Duolingo is friendly and fun. It uses images, video clips, and the microphone on the mobile device to not only help you learn words, but to recite and write them as well.

Behavioral science has proven that marketing efforts that activate goals have a much greater impact on consumers. Duolingo rewards right answers with “points.” Consecutive daily lessons can help the consumer build “streaks.”

“It’s like a video game, where you have to do something every day or you lose your rank,” says Gina Gotthilf, VP of Marketing and Growth for Duolingo.

The streaks give you  virtual currency that can unlock bonus skills or purchase outfits for the game’s mascot, a green owl named Duo. Von Ahn picked an Owl because owls are associated with wisdom, and chose to make it green as a joke on the company’s co-founder, Severin Hacker, who’s least favorite color is green (seriously).

An educational resource that’s actually enjoyable to use, Duolingo combines fun with function in a way that no language-learning platform has before.

A major point of differentiation amongst competitors like Rosetta Stone, other than the price, is DuoLingo’s use of Artificial Intelligence. In his research, von Ahn discovered that the hardest part of learning a new language is overcoming the fear of sounding it out in front of others. With AI chatbots, DuoLingo users can practice without pressure, preparing them for real-life conversations without the awkwardness and anxiety that come with the learning process.

The performance data also allows Duolingo to measure how effective different teaching methods are. If a person makes a mistake, or even hesitates to answer a certain question, the app registers that behavior, and will serve a new series of questions to help that person overcome that difficulty.

The Duolingo team has conducted thousands of A/B tests exploring the biases and cognitive shortcuts that affect how people absorb and process information. In doing so, they continue to build on their mastery of behavioral techniques, analyzing how millions of people learn at once, to create the most effective educational system possible, and then tailor it to each student.

For example, if Duolingo wanted to know if people learned faster when being taught plurals before adjectives, or vice versa, they would simply split the next 400,000 users into two groups and test each. Once they have their answer, they can implement it across the entire platform. This allows Duolingo to get smarter and more efficient as the company grows; and it’s working. A recent study by the City University of New York shows that 34 hours of learning a language on Duolingo is the equivalent of an entire university semester learning that same language.

Today, with over 200 million users, it is the most downloaded educational app in the world. In the United States, there are more people learning languages on Duolingo than there are in the nation’s school system.

Outside the U.S., entire countries like Costa Rica and Columbia have adopted Duolingo into every public school that has access to the internet, and the company is currently working on creating offline platforms for countries that do not have stable or reliable internet connectivity.

Von Ahn wanted to show the world that true equality  exists only when money cannot buy  better educations; and, while he’s just getting started,  he realized his impact when he received news about a familiar friend.

Bill Gates used Duolingo to learn French.

The richest man in the world and kids in developing countries – both using the same educational tool to learn.

Now that’s inspiring action.

 

Desiree Cortez Wins 2017 SmartCEO Brava Award

We are so proud to announce that earlier today, DiMassimo Goldstein CFO and Partner Desiree Cortez was recognized as a winner of the 2017 SmartCEO Brava Award!

The Brava Awards program celebrates high-impact female business leaders who set their companies on the path to tremendous growth, and no one is more deserving of that honor than Desiree. She is a fearless leader who brings an unmatched enthusiasm and passion to everything she does, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that her hard work is being recognized by the rest of the industry.

In addition to being agency Partner and CFO, Desiree is also the head of our human resources, finance and operation departments – but even that would be selling her value and importance to the growth of this agency short. For 12 years now, she has been instrumental in helping establish DiGo’s position as the lead behavior change agency for life-changing marketers. We simply would not be where we are today without her.

Internally, there isn’t a better representation of our agency culture than Desiree. She puts our core values of love, courage, and understanding at the center of everything we do, and the team is better for it. Whether it’s our weekly meditation sessions, salad bars, quarterly internal surveys, or our buddy lunch system, Desiree has had a hand it all.

She has a passion for helping people grow. A former intern at the agency herself, she helped establish our internship program, which over the years has evolved into a cornerstone of our company. She creates the training materials for all new team members, ensuring that they are both prepared and comfortable to contribute right away. For team members who have been here for years, her door is still always open for mentorship. Desiree goes out of her way to make sure that every person within these walls knows that they are valued member of the team, and works hard to help them realize their potential.

This latest award marks yet another accomplishment in Desiree’s already inspiring career — which she wrote about on this very blog last year. But above all of that, she is a rock to her family and an incredibly active member of her community. We are so lucky to have her.

From all of us here at DiMassimo Goldstein, Congratulations Desiree!

Behavioral Economist Wins Nobel Prize

Thanks to the brave and brilliant contributions of one renegade, economic theory as we know it has been changed forever.

Richard Thaler, the world-renowned behavioral economist who has long challenged the standard economic model, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize earlier this month. His work, which Nobel Prize committee member Peter Gärdenfors simplified as “[making] economics more human,” has influenced our education system as well as government policy.

Thaler joins a small list of behavioral economists to win the award. Robert J. Shiller was among the winners in 2013, and Thaler’s longtime collaborator and friend, Daniel Kahneman, shared the award in 2002. Though they won before him, it is Thaler who is widely credited with bringing behavioral economic theories to the mainstream.

Thaler has dedicated his life to helping people understand how individuals make choices so that they can be led to make better ones. His best-selling book, Nudge, was the culmination of decades of behavioral science research, and was written to prevent people from making mistakes that can negatively affect their individual and collective well-being. That’s an inspiring mission, and one that resonates with all of us here at DiMassimo Goldstein.

We use behavioral change marketing to drive growth in brands and businesses that change lives for the better. We study the work of behavioral pioneers like Thaler to become experts at providing our clients with the strategies they need to drive profound behavioral change in the areas of healthy, wealthy and wise. Understanding human behavior is key to empowering brands to provide their consumers with a self-actualizing experience, — and that experience is what will ultimately inspire them to make better decisions and form more empowering habits.

This has been our mission for 21 years, and it’s never been more important than it is today.

We applaud people like Thaler for continuing to push the conversation forward, and for persuading more people to pay attention to human behavior. To read more about Thaler and his work, check out this article in The New York Times.

Congratulations on the honor, Richard, and keep up the good work!