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Category : Thinking

Inspiring Action Brand of the Week: Betterment

Betterment is our sixth Inspiring Action Brand of the Week. Past winners have been ShinolaBonobosEverlaneCasper and ThePointsGuy.


Investing Made Better

Make a quick visit to Betterment’s mission page and you’re greeted with the following:

“We created a company. It changed an industry.”

It’s a bold and direct statement chock-full of pride. And guess what? It should be.

Why? Because here’s the thing: it’s the absolute and undeniable truth, and if wealth managers everywhere haven’t realized this yet, they will very, very soon. The financial investment industry is on the cusp of a revolution, and Betterment Is leading that charge.

Similar to the way AirBnB wedged its way to the top of the hospitality landscape, or how Uber flipped the script on transportation, Betterment is using smarter technology to outduel its competitors.

And like AirBnB and Uber, Betterment isn’t your cute little trendy start-up competing for its fifteen minutes of Silicon Valley sunshine. It’s an absolute force. Based in New York City, Betterment has the mecca of finance grasped in its hands, and it’s not loosening its grip anytime soon.

Through its simple, yet beautiful user-friendly design, Betterment is snatching customers at a rapid pace. It’s the largest, fastest-growing automated investing service out there, and grew it’s AUM (assets under management) from 1.1 billion to 3.5 billion in this past year alone.

That type of uncanny, jaw-dropping growth is the reason financial managers and wealth advisors should be shaking in their boots. Betterment isn’t just influencing behaviors, it’s redirecting them. They’re puppeteering a shift in culture, one where managing your wealth can be as easy as scrolling through your iPhone. And while the suits on Wall Street can kick back in their leather chairs for the time-being, they may not want to get too comfortable. Betterment is knocking on their door, and if their influence continues to grow at the staggering pace it is, that door won’t just be opened, it will be blown off the hinges.

But don’t get it twisted, Betterment wasn’t created to put financial advisors out of work or to lead an assault on an industry riddled with corruption.

It was created for you. It was created for me. It was created so that normal everyday people had a better option. With Betterment, it’s always been about the customer.

It all started with an inspiring idea – an inspiring idea that CEO Jon Stein then put to action.

“Friends and family asked me, ‘What should I do with my money?’ There were no good answers – so I set out to build one.”

So why Betterment?

Because managing your finances is hard, and they make it easy. It sounds so simplistic, but simplicity is Betterment’s favorite instrument, and they play it better than anyone else. It’s what sets them apart from imitators and its why Quartz dubbed them “The Apple Of Finance”. Stated eloquently in their mission statement, they “built an experience that replaces confusion with delight and uncertainty with control”.

Let’s face it. Finance is confusing. It’s a textbook of complex acronyms that only get more complex when expanded to their true meaning. It’s daunting and causes headaches.

Yet, it’s absolutely necessary. It cannot be ignored, and up until just a few years ago, there was no alternative.

Betterment uses an algorithm that implements financial advice that is widely agreed upon. That means no in-person counseling. No conflict of interest. It’s all executed online. It’s quite literally a well-oiled machine.

“You’re trusting somebody, but why? Especially when you can do the same thing with a massively scalable platform like ours” says Stein.

It also means that it’s cheaper for you and me. It’s not nearly as expensive as the typical cost of a traditional financial advisor, which leaves both you and me with more money to invest. Without the overhead of traditional brick and mortar establishments, they can afford to charge less for its services, which again, means more money for you and me.

Their customers include everyone from the old to the young and from the rich to the poor. Their approach to managing money is fundamentally democratic.

However, Betterment has established quite the kinship with millennials. This should come as no surprise, seeing as the tech-savvy generation would be the most likely to trust a website over a human advisor. And then, of course, you have the beautiful and unprecedented luxury of accessibility. How many young professionals in their mid-twenties do you know who have financial advisors?

Now they all can – on their laptop or in their pocket, on the subway or at the ball game. It’s a simpler, more painless way to save and earn a lot more over time. It’s also simpler, more painless way to start today.

That’s why Betterment is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Week.

-James Nieman, Integrated Marketing Manager

SXSW Tips from a Festival Veteran

Ah, mid-March. Spring is in the air, Q1 is nearly over, and it’s time – once again – for the Technorati masses to make their annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas, for SXSW!

This is my fifth year attending South By (as it’s lovingly called by the locals), and I’m here to share some of the hard-earned lessons I’ve picked up over the years:


Make Sure You Attend the Keynotes

Although the networking and creative ideation are arguably the best parts of SXSW, make sure you attend the keynotes, if nothing else. They tend to feature the biggest, most impactful names in their respective industries, and will likely inspire you with their passion and insight.

Be Discerning with Your Swag

You’re going to pick up a lot of branded knickknacks this week, especially at the trade show. After having finally thrown out a handful of branded key chains from SXSW 2011, though, I can tell you that it’s important to really consider whether or not you really need that extra koozie  or coaster you’re being handed. In other words, only take the swag you’ll actually use – like earphones, pens, and spare phone chargers.

It’s OK to Go Offline

It’s easy to get swept up in the interactive madness, but it’s OK to disconnect from your phone every once in a while…especially when listening to the speakers. That’s the only way to ensure you’re actually being present and soaking everything in.

If It Sounds Awesome, the Wait Will Be 4+ Hours

Of course you want to see that free Snoop Dogg concert, go to the Mashable House to meet Grumpy Cat, and make your own 3D-printed Oreos! Those activities sound like a ton of fun! However, everyone else at the festival agrees with your excitement, and started lining up about two hours ago. So if you have your heart set on attending a specific, high-profile event, get there early and be ready to wait.

Bring Spare Chargers and a Cord Splitter

The ABCs of SXSW = “Always Be Charging.” Chances are, after all of the tweeting, Instagramming, and Snapchatting you’ll be doing, your battery will run out around 2pm. In order to avoid being tethered – literally – to the wall during the speakers’ keynotes, bring a few spare chargers with you to last throughout the day. As a backup, it’s a good idea to bring a cord splitter or a surge protector (worst-case scenario) so you can approach an occupied outlet with a creative way to get in on the charging-your-device action.

Rebecca Weiser, Media Director, Proove Accountable Media


The Story Behind That Inspiring Mural Video

You’ve seen it on our T-shirts. You’ve seen it on our Twitter. Chances are you’ve probably read it about a dozen or so times here on our blog:

Inspiring Action SallieMae-1156_1000

We say this so often because we truly believe in it. It’s something that we strive for each and everyday. How can we inspire action in ourselves? In each other? With our clients and throughout the world? Asking these questions can only have a positive impact.

Inspiring Action is about helping people lead better lives. It’s about forming more and more empowering habits. It’s a term we use for business, but it can be applied to almost anything in life.

As an agency, we help influence consumer habits. And when we leave the office, that influence may change but it certainly doesn’t stop. We still have influence on our family, friends and peers. We have influence at the dinner table. We have influence when we’re on vacation at the beach. It’s a tremendous responsibility.

Inspiring Action is all about taking that responsibility and using it to inspire better decisions, and then watching those decisions come to fruition. It’s about realizing that you have the power to impact others’ lives and then choosing to do so in a positive manner.


So when it came time to change the mural on our office chalkboard, the one that stands tall at the core of our workspace, it was a no-brainer. We’re so immersed in this Inspiring Action persona and so eager to share it with the world that we wanted it stamped front and center for all visitors to see.

We tapped Q Choi, our brilliant (note the emphasis on brilliant) senior motion graphic designer to put this inspiration into action. And so, for three long days Q worked hard at the center of our office, putting his famed attention to detail on display for all who passed by. Seventy-two hours later, the mural had sprung to life.

“As a Motion Graphic Designer, almost all of my work is done on a keyboard, monitor or tablet, but I still love to work with my hands.” (You can view Q’s work on his website here)

“I studied our theme and drew the initial sketch in a small notebook. I’m really happy with how it turned out”

Inspiring Action from Q on Vimeo.

It’s now the first thing you see once you’ve passed our lobby. Whether you’re going to the printer or leaving a meeting, it’s right there, grand and bold, reminding us all why we chose to work here.

And that’s to Inspire Action.



Especially at the beginning of relationships, while you are earning the trust and the admiration that will smooth the inevitable bumps down the road. While you are figuring everything out, and laying the groundwork for success. Get on more planes. Provide more options. Ask more questions. See the factory, meet the workers, go to the research, talk to the sales force, get a demonstration, sample the product, talk to a board member, brainstorm with the client. Over communicate. Over collaborate. Over deliver. Time and energy invested in relationships pays us back in better work, business and results. Oh, yeah, and better relationships too.


At DiMassimo Goldstein, we put our values in a document we call “The DIGO Standard.” It doesn’t just hang on the walls and sit on our desks and desktops. We use it every day. People who visit often ask for a copy. Here’s yours, and you didn’t even have to ask.


Inspiring Action Brand Of The Week: Shinola

Shinola is our fifth Inspiring Action Brand of the Week. Past winners have been Bonobos, Everlane, Casper and ThePointsGuy.

Jeep. Budweiser. Levis. John Deere. Shinola.


Yes, Shinola. The next great American brand.

The Detroit-based luxury lifestyle brand, founded five years ago, has positioned itself as the general of an army of entrepreneurs and artists all trying to march the Motor City back to its former glory.



Sure, Shinola handcrafts beautiful watches, bicycles, and leather bags, but its greatest creation is undoubtedly the jobs that come with them. The fact that it’s in Detroit, a city known just as much for its storied manufacturing past as the decades of decay that followed, really helps tie the bow on a beautifully packaged brand backstory. Not unbeknownst to founder Tom Kartsotis, the carefully selected location of their headquarters and factory have successfully added to the “Americana” lore that circulates the brand.

Shinola understands the importance of origin. Dissimilar to nearly all of its competitors, Shinola’s products are pre-dominantly manufactured in America (a small minority of the components are sourced overseas). The product of that decision has been hundreds of jobs, many of them to former auto workers who were previously unemployed.

In a recent New York Times article, Kartsotis was quoted saying “We’re not a watch company. This company really started as a job creation vehicle.” That mission has proven successful, and with big plans on the horizon for 2016, it seems as if that vehicle is only picking up speed.

Shinola knows what their devotees love about themselves, which is one of our Ten Signs of an Inspiring Action Company. Americans are patriotic. It’s in our wiring. Whether it’s watching July 4th fireworks, or suddenly becoming a huge soccer fan when the United States is in the World Cup, we love to root for the home team. Shinola represents that team, and they aren’t shy about it, either. Their tagline proudly states “Where American Is Made.”


Massive in size, Shinola’s first factory is a far cry from the decrepit factories of yesteryear. Nestled inside the renowned Argonaut building, the factory boasts 30,000 renovated square feet of clean, state-of-the-art equipment. The building is a former laboratory for General Motors.

It’s not just the work space that gives the factory its world-class reputation. Shinola brought in the best Swiss watch builders in the world to train their people, and absorbed the cost. Additionally, Shinola pays hourly workers at least $3 more than the $8.50 minimum wage, a figure that is unrivaled by the majority of its competitors.

So go home and throw on whatever red, white and blue you have and head to your closest Shinola. Uncle Sam will be proud.

Feeling inspired? Want to learn more about Shinola? We’ve got you covered. Check out our full length case study here.

-James Nieman, Integrated Marketing Manager


Take the Word “Brief” Seriously

Let’s not ever make each other guess which part of a brief is the important part. Let’s just include the important pat. Let’s make sure our briefs are simple, compelling and crystal clear. Nothing in an agency is more sacred.

Make the creative teams and our clients partners in the brief. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 4.49.24 PM

At DiMassimo Goldstein, we put our values in a document we call “The DIGO Standard.” It doesn’t just hang on the walls and sit on our desks and desktops. We use it every day. People who visit often ask for a copy. Here’s yours, and you didn’t even have to ask.


That’s A Wrap: Recapping Season 1 of the Inspiring Action Podcast


Last June we made the decision to jump head first into the world of podcasting. We asked you all to join us on this journey so we can inspire each other and learn what it takes to become an inspiring action leader. With little to no experience, we recorded our first interview with Public Relations legend and long time friend Eric Yaverbaum (which is a must listen for anyone who wants to be a world-class marketer).

8 months and 12 inspiring interviews later and we’re finally ready to wrap up the first season of the “Inspiring Action Podcast”. We want to thank all of our guests for being so generous and taking their time out to join the show. We’d also like to thank our inspiring action tribe of listeners for continuing to tune-in each episode. We have plenty of upgrades and even more incredible guests in store for Season 2, and we can’t wait to share them with you. If you happen to have missed any of the previous episodes, we’ve listed them all below:

Eric Yaverbaum – President, Ericho Communications

Anthony Butler – Founder & Creative Director, Can-Do Ideas

Ty Montague – Founder & CEO, Co:Collective

Ty Shay – CMO, LifeLock

Leslie Dukker Doty – CMO, President of Reader’s Digest Consumer Services, Inc.

Steve Harrison– World’s Most Cannes Lions Winning Creative and Author of a Book on Ad Legend Howard Gossage

Paul Butler – Senior Vice President of Global Programs, Rare

Mark Taylor – Master Chair & CEO Coach, Vistage NYC

Mark S. A. Smith– Marketing & Sales Guru

Sir John Hargrave – CEO, Media Shower

Ben Rothfeld – Founder, Plannerben Anecdata

Alec Brownstein – Creative Director, Dollar Shave Club


We’re Here To Make Things Grow

Movements. Ideas. Products. Brands. Companies. 

If we can’t get excited about growing them, we shouldn’t be working on them. The work we do has a purpose and fits into a larger whole. By maintaining that perspective, we make success more difficult. But in facing the extra difficulty, we earn our integrity, self-respect and market value.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 4.20.56 PM

At DiMassimo Goldstein, we put our values in a document we call “The DIGO Standard.” It doesn’t just hang on the walls and sit on our desks and desktops. We use it every day. People who visit often ask for a copy. Here’s yours, and you didn’t even have to ask.