Natan Cohen is a former Marketing VP of Corporate Brand Marketing and Sales Enablement at New York Life Insurance and he is here today to discuss the realm of platforms and AI, exploring the ethical responsibilities that guide us in this rapidly evolving landscape.
Kerry Guard: Hello, I'm Kerry guard and Welcome to Tea Time with tech marketing leaders.
And we're alive. Oh, hell tells me we're alive. Strict nerd. Thank you. Welcome. Hello, I'm Kerry guard and Welcome to Tea Time with tech marketing leaders. And we are like I said, we are alive. If you are here, I can't see you. So please comment and let us know that you have joined us. We look forward to your conversation and your your questions, because that's the beauty of being live is that it's interactive. So please, please chime in. Let us know you're here. And then throughout, please bring us your questions. We're going to unpack it all we have a lot to unpack. It's gonna be a wild ride. Before we get there, Colin, what a treat to treat. I'm so grateful. You're here. A little bit about autonomy. why he's here. Yeah, yeah. So let me just do a quick intro because, well, like why you're here. Why I've been why I take. You want to know if that's a word, but why I felt like this would be a good conversation. So now Tom, I met in 2007. Totally dating us. That's cool. On the 18th floor of universal McCann, right off of Madison Avenue little Mad Men action. He was my very first interview after graduation. So no intimidation there, although a ton of it. Let me in the lobby, he shook my hand. So you back to his office, which was a windowless shoebox. That's right. Really, really hope you didn't have that office log, like really, really helping. Any of this is his very first question to me was planning is not. He told me and I still got the job. But it was beautiful. And that was like the the epitome of leadership. And my point of view, I was right out of college was my very first job. And he totally embodied all of that. Like, it's cool. Like we got that. So when are you teachable? I just want to know if you're teachable. That was my sort of recollection of the moment but I'm curious. Now ton of like, Do you even remember you met so many people did so many interviews? I'm sure it was a blip on the radar there.
Natan Cohen: Yeah, it was. I mean, I don't think you could ever be a blip on the radar. It was. It's funny because you you said like pick you for this. Like I think we did actually pick you for the first the first roll. But it was so funny because we were hiring. Right for if I recall, I think we hired for, you know, entry level candidates at the same at the same time across the Verizon business was a very big business at UNM still is sure and you know, wherever we're different places it sits. But we were hiring across consumer and b2b and other lines of business. And I just remember the thing that stood out the most right, it was it was interesting, because that everybody had their own personality. I think if you recall, like the group that we ended up hiring, like, I don't think it was actually the same, right? It wasn't like, it was clear, we weren't hiring off a model. And I think that's, that's important. We'll and we'll talk about diversity and how the different ways diversity shows up sometimes. But it was awesome. You came in and you the curiosity, I think, really, really got us. I think that's for me, at least, specifically, it was, you know, you can always tell when someone's teachable. And when someone is, you know, I've said when you're looking at entry level candidates, it's not about everything they've done before. It's about are they good? Clay, right. Can they be molded, and not molded by someone but able to be molded? Right? They're gonna mold themselves. Right. But they're open to be able to do that. And I think that one of the ways to easily tell us their curiosity, right? Are they asking questions, right, or is it sort of you trying to pry information? I think that's what makes good clients, right? Also you can share, you have a conversation, you're able to have a dialogue, you're able to have a back and forth and so yeah, you you blew us away with your curiosity. I think you said as as live things go, we'll see if the just started pouring and thundering so if you hear that in the backgrounds, it's just the the weather out here back in the States. You know, Northeast is not predictable. So hopefully, like the Wi Fi will hold up but some thunderstorms going on. Yeah, live.
Kerry Guard: Yes. It's trying I could feel the internet trying really hard. And John Alexander, wherever you are. It sounds like you're having some internet challenges too. So maybe you're in close proximity. I miss the northeast, summers under storms. We don't get them here. And yes, but hopefully the internet will hopefully the internet will hold I love that you sort of clued into my curiosity that really means a lot to me as I I still try to hold that today. But I also try and remember like the the team of people that we had there and the leadership of yourself and some of the other folks that really set the bar for what leadership meant for me and And how I sort of brought that along. And that's why I was really excited for this conversation because I, I feel like as much as we've grown, you know, it's been 15 years. The core of who I remember you to be in terms of a leader holds, holds to this day, and I want so many more people to have a great example of what that is. So thank you. Thank you for jumping on with me. And I love kicking this off and hearing the guests story of how you got to where you got to because I don't actually, I don't actually know it. So I'm on the edge of my seat here. Now, Tom, tell us what is your story? What do you do? And how did you get there?
Natan Cohen: Yeah, so I think for the for the sense of the story, I'll you know, it's for me, the story is never going to decide approach to work. It's never just professional, right? It's always about the personal to me, those worlds, you know, for better or for worse. I you know, when I think about balance, I think about work in life, they always blended together. I always felt like sometimes personnel was was having the bigger push, and sometimes professionals having the bigger push. But for me, that was always the case. I think, you know, first and foremost, I grew up in the agency world with with you. And that's why I loved you know, that's why I loved going going back there and being around it. I got the privilege of working on the and we talked about our Verizon days, I had the privilege of working on a tremendous amount of, I would say fortune 100 companies, but really incredible brands, BMW, Procter and Gamble. And others, you know, across the board, other industries, airlines, you know, financial services, and other sort of great conversations to have, I think that helps you grow, right? I mean, the more experience you have, the more exposure you can have you think about challenges differently, right? It's different when you're working with somebody restaurants in the you know, the has Denny's traffic every day versus you're working with something that has a, you know, a much longer, you know, sales cycle, right, where you have to make sure that the conversation rather these relevant than just, you know, what are we having for lunch today. So it's, it's just you grow up in that different way. And I think for me, that was incredibly helpful. Somebody restaurants, for example. And they're all the athletes, they were associated with Verizon, all the sports sponsorships, and connections, they have their different focus on different devices, right, every month, right, we were launching something new, communicating something different, while still trying to.
Kerry Guard: Right when the iPhone came out too. So it was like this.
Natan Cohen: Remember some of the fun stories? And again, I can't, you know, hundreds of verify these things are true. But we had heard about, obviously, listen, it was a big deal, right? I fully chose at&t to come out, I think after a number of months and a year or so. It was specifically probably because at&t gave them way too much. Right? They thought the subscribers were going to do it for them. And they were just going to have the iPhone, and I'm not sure that ended up being a good deal for AT and T in the long run, because they gave up a lot to do it. But at the time, Verizon was incredibly sensitive, so sensitive that we heard that one of our clients who pulled out an iPhone during a meeting, you know, it was immediately like, let go on the spot. So things were very testing at, I don't mean to start rumors, these are things from from long time ago. But no, it was definitely tense times. And that's what it was right? You had a new device coming out every month. And it was really about, right, the stock price, right? And all these things were about whether or not you're able to sell that device and the retail capacity, and then think that we've moved into a world where, you know, the device is still there. But also there's so much content, right? And so many partnerships and so many relationships and sort of building up but yeah, those were fast paced, crazy days. I don't know how many when we used to call the revisions on like, the are, are the hours were amazing. The budget reviews and things like that, and we have our good friend Andrew works to to help us remember those things and like the feeling that you would get right when the budgets actually matched up, right, that number you actually actually be matched. And you I still take that with me right? Like to me, that's, that's part of you talking about the journey. It's really going up like that. And I think seeing being a part of the people, right, and that's what we talked about, right? Being able to be there and working those times and building relationships. You know, it's not I know, it's not you know, being in the Army, but it's you have those battlegrounds, you have those sort of you're in the trenches together. And we use a lot of that that language and it's because it's you know, I remember days nights working till one in the morning, two in the morning, whatever it might be. Every night when I worked, we worked so late, and then I came outside and our boss stole our car, the car home back in the day, we used to have to like wait for the car service. And like he got in my car without even asking who it was for cuz he was so tired and like I have to wait like another hour and a half at two in the morning. Like these things were happening. But that's like part of that's part of what bonded, you know, bonded us all together. And I think that's what it's really about. It's about the people. It's about the connection that we had. And I think for me watching you, you talked about the great teams, right and over the years, that's really the great people that worked with watching you and what you've done and what you've done. Ready to cheer? Not just with your agency, but also with your family watching, you know, folks like Scott Downes, who's one of the leaders that in the industry and you know, working together, I think with another one, one thing, Kristin Kilbride was there at the at the time, but you're working with Evan, who's leading the world that he's number of them have become sort of tops in the industry, a lot of them are still contributing and think that stay close to most of them all the time, but just incredible, incredible, folks. And that's that's really what we're all about. Right? We'll get back to that humanity aspect, as we talked about sort of the the main topic of the day, but I think that's the biggest thing, right is, as I've grown up, as I've moved from the agency world, into the brand world, and really have the fortune of working with New York Life and getting closer to a business and really understanding what's happening in that stance, working with a field, you know, doing both switching to a field marketing role, working at a nonprofit, and then coming back to the agency world for me that it's just been all like I look at the world is like one big GPS, right? And all your experiences are one thing, GPS, and every time you change the destination, right? It's the inputs into that GPS, and helps you change your destination. And that's the fun of it, right? The journey is the fun part, the destination means that it might be over, right? Like you don't want it to be over, you just pick a new destination. When you did, right, just pick a different place to live. And the journey starts over again, right like you challenges on in your life.
Kerry Guard: It's certainly that I am curious about the Verizon team in particular, because there was sort of an alignment of stars with those folks between. So I'm going to date ours, I keep saying we're gonna do it ourselves. But it's true. Like it was sort of the boys club, there was three men and one woman and then you hired a bunch of us that were all women coming out of college. And we shook it up, which was awesome.
Natan Cohen: Almost all women can forgive Frank. Okay, forget, you know, we all forget Frank. I loved dearly.
Kerry Guard: Chris and Chris. Yeah. And then and we had, yeah, there was it was there was a little bit of a revolving door there. But they, there was this beautiful group of people and clients, it was just this. Like it, it was the alignment of all the stars that you wish for in any universe. And I'm just curious as to when you all planned on. Okay, we were getting promoted. We were going from seniors to supervisors, we're going to bring in a whole new batch of folks, we have a great client. What were sort of you mentioned curiosity, which you found in me, but what else were you sort of looking for and trying to build that array? Or was it just you? Like, was there a bit of like a plan there? Or did it sort of just happen? It seems like too good to be true. In my, like, recollection?
Natan Cohen: I think that's the thing. I think it when you when you focus on there was a plan, right? There's a plan and they're also different personalities, right. And so part of the part of the plan is about understanding, right? Like, understanding that it's a the work is going to be challenging. But you can't go into a conversation to be like, are you prepared to work for like, that's, and that's not what we're about, or like, you have to find somebody who's going to be I think, where you come in where I come in, where a lot of the people that we hired, came is like, who when I talked them at nine o'clock in the evening is going to be as positive right. And as curious as they were at nine o'clock in the morning, right or whatever it's going to be who's going to who's going to be there, they you want to be able to build the team that has the personality that will will teach the knowledge, right, the knowledge will come through the work and you'll have some of that you'll have knowledge through the networking, you'll have knowledge through, you know, best practice sharing through the agency, right? A good agency, you're going to do that, and a lot of your peers, right, people who didn't even work in the business, but your peers and I think that's one of the bigger shames is, especially nowadays, when there's so much remote work is that people don't get, right that sort of involvement and connections there appears but that's what we look for. Right? That's it we're looking for people who write if you look for the people are going to be perfect, you're never going to find anybody, right? If you look for the people who can build, right, just like a marriage, right? Go on a few dates, at least in my culture, I go on a few dates, spend some time together and know you can build a life together. Right? Don't you don't have to practice building the life together first. And that's I think that's what you look for when you hire candidates is if you're clear on what you need, and the type of things that will work well. It's not a one recipe fits all right. It's not one person and one unique skill sets. There are multiples. And that's why we ended up hiring, it ended up being just a variety of personalities. I mean, probably looking back at like a very wide variety of personnel and approach, which didn't always get along. I think it worked. I think that's a great point. Tension, right? Like, Perfection isn't avoiding tension, right? Perfect working environment is not where you have no tension. It's where the tension that you have is around is around the business, right and not around each other. Right? It's around the business that you work because the growth comes from tension. Right. And that's and that's one of the most important things is don't try to create something Minutes. Stress Free, trying to create something where everybody has the positive attitude and the goals that that stress and that tension is towards something greater, because you want that you want people to buttheads, but because there's some real substance there.
Kerry Guard: Yes, we all believe in what it is we're trying to accomplish.
Natan Cohen: And you're a head butter. So we were very, very happy.
Kerry Guard: Well, I needed to understand. And sometimes in my wanting to understand, I sort of pushed really hard on things. But I got there, I was still valuable at the end, I'm still to this day, I dragged my team nuts. Yeah, but I mean, I just want to make sure I've vetted it enough that I truly understand what's happening. And we're making the right decision, I have all the right information, I like to tell my team, they're really sick of hearing me say this, but I can't make decisions in the dark. And, you know, it all comes back to data and all comes back to the very first job of all the spreadsheets and all the land. In terms of humanity, like you mentioned, and marketing of what we do, where, you know, we're in a, you mentioned this in our prep call, but like we're in a very interesting time right now your words, probably takes a little bit back to 2008, when there was a lot happening in the market and the economy, and digital coming on line in a really big way from from a marketing standpoint and print sort of like trying to hold on for dear life. And we're, it feels like we're sort of entering that friction again. What's, where do you see the marketing industry? Go? What's what's like, the history of it of it all?
Natan Cohen: Yeah, I mean, it's, it's a big question. I think I think for for me, I always start with, right, like, I got into marketing, right, and why I sort of fell into this career, it's a love with it is because of people, right? For me, marketing, you know, is very much about behavior change, right? And to understand behavior, you have to understand people, it's understanding why they do the things they do. And you talked about data. Yeah, that's the signals that we get. But at its core, it's really about understanding people. So when I think about the marketing industry, right, to me, it oftentimes is just a microcosm of what's happening in the world, right, and what's going on in the world today, and sort of the reactions that are taking place, and we're in a very, obviously going to be entering a new political cycle and a very politicized world for a long time. Now the economic pressure is back and has been, it's been here for a while. So we're, we're seeing sort of a place right now, where that like as people, right, we're maybe not showcasing our best selves at the same time, there's so many more opportunities to connect right, so many more platforms and programs and new tools that are out there to be able to help us do our work and live our lives better. But not all of those tools, have the rules written yet, right? Of how to do it, of when to do it, of how to do it properly, of what the risks, right that may be involved with getting involved, whether it's about automation, whether it's about AI, whether it's simple things like chat, TPP, which I think are phenomenal. And I've used now, hundreds, if not 1000s of times, just for simple tasks for my kids, and for them to use and to get too used to it. Because again, this is the way the world is going. But but there's also what we what we always find, right, and maybe this is the this is the New York lifetime in May, where risk is like one of the bigger things to focus on in the financial industry. And sort of preventing risk is that, unfortunately, there are always going to be bad actors, right? And so people who are going to use those same developments, right, and that same negative feelings to take advantage of people. They're going to use people that are looking for, you know, roles, people, people, you know where we are right now, in terms of layoffs and terms of unemployment, they're going to try to use those people to their advantage. Because when there's desperation and when there's a way to convert that desperation into action, that's bad behavior, right. That's bad marketing. That's that's using marketing for the wrong reasons. It may actually be good marketing, but it's using it for the wrong reasons. I think that's the world that we're we continue to find ourselves in. And a lot of it's driven by the fact that we're, everybody's chasing the same dollar or a similar dollar, everyone is chasing that same thing. Agencies are chasing it from a margin standpoint, businesses are changing chasing it from consumers and consumers are chasing it from their employers. And that's sort of going around and around and around and you have all these bad actors in the middle, trying to steal it from each one of those parties. So I think the more we can recognize that we're have more in common and together on these issues, then we can start to tackle them but I think we're in a very high pressure environment. And that's going to keep driving. Really drive through A lot of what we're seeing in terms of some of the recent stories, right? With Google, the recent stories with, you know, concerns over chat GPT congressional hearings, right, that will continue to take place where they are on social media where they felt like they were too late and on AI where they want to get ahead of it, you're gonna have the world start to police this themselves versus waiting on the technology companies, the individuals to police, because we really can't trust ourselves most time.
Kerry Guard: And what are we going to exchange as consumers at the end? That's the big question. And all of this as well, like, with the bad actors, with our data with being taken advantage of with us all up against each other versus working together. At some point, you're right, the government's gonna step in, and then we're, as individuals, we're gonna have to give something up for our safety. And what is that? I think that's a big.
Natan Cohen: That is a huge, it's a huge piece. I mean, I think that's the understanding, I think, what happens is, if we know, right, the goal, if we can align on the goal, right, the goal is to create, right, a safe and secure future, right, for our children, for our families. And do that, I think, then we'll be together. I think not everyone necessarily views that as goal number one, right? If I'm a publicly traded company, our as I mentioned, our good friends. You know, Andrew always said, There's no such thing or at least maybe as professor in Michigan said, There's no such thing as right Corporate Social Responsibility in for profit companies, because ultimately, that same social responsibility is there to enhance the bottom line, right. As a fortunately, as a profit company, you have the responsibility to your shareholders to drive return. Right. And so that return right, sometimes you're making a decision based on that return, as opposed to based on what what's good in the world and how safe and secure those things need to be. So I think it's, it's, it's the risk is to us, I think what we have to talk about, and I want to get into a little bit is, what can we do right as individuals, right? Because we can sit here and talk about Google and meta and their behavior and their choices to wear blue in the face, but it's not going to, it doesn't equip us right? To be better. Yeah, there is some awareness. I'm sure there's some people that still aren't aware of all the things that are going on. And I'm definitely not aware, like the things that make the headlines, and other things that can be researched. But what can we do, right? How can we help bring some of that moral compass, as we talked about back into our process, where it's where it's left us a little bit?
Kerry Guard: I want to be, I don't want to stay in the doom and gloom, I agree. But I also want to make sure we're painting a picture of the challenges we're up against in terms of this new era, we're about of AI, that we're sort of embarking on. And it feels to me, you mentioned that there's a lot more tools, and there's a lot more platforms, and there's a lot more opportunity out there. But it also feels at the same time. Actually, there's less places to go, especially from like an advertising and media standpoint. So like, we got some three big players. We got Google, we got meta, we got Microsoft Tiktok flicks hanging out hanging in there. But at the end of the day, like these three companies essentially own most of where we advertise. So yes, there's more technology out there. But in fact, in terms of where we can go, it feels like the world's in some ways, getting smaller. That
Natan Cohen: Yeah, I think can feel that way. At times. Definitely. When you when you look at right, you know, take search, for example, and yet 90 plus percent still right within within the Google platform. I also think that a lot of a lot of that's happening, right? Because it's the destination and therefore the aggregation that's happening of content is just happening there. You know, let's go on Facebook, you know, go on Tik Tok. A lot of times you'll see the same content, right? Go on Instagram, you'll see the same content, it'll just be housed there. So I think we have to make choices, individuals having the original places where the content lives, there's still a lot, right. And I've talked to a ton of people both within the business from a business side. There are companies that are you know, swearing by not using Google and not using any of the walled gardens right until the transparency comes I think those are the kinds of decisions that you can make as a business and start from sort of the Inside Out versus Yeah, if you're going outside in and trying to get everybody then seeing who raises their hand then you're gonna you want to cast as wide a net as possible. I think we have to change the way we approach driving business and I think we've been doing that a little bit in philosophy is right best customer right? Where's next best dollar spent? Who's my best audience? I think we actually took that we would go inside out right look at ourselves and our internal customers for First, and that people were doing business with and find a way to reach them. We don't necessarily need some of these walled gardens and non transparent places to be able to do and I know their businesses that are thriving on being able to cut that out. But to your point, the risks are huge, humongous in terms of not just these properties, right. But also in terms of anywhere, right? The the fraud, right, in terms of the invalid traffic itself, is significantly high the fees, right, all the players that we're adding on, right, the people that we have to pay from a tech standpoint, all these things, this is only right, the spoof sites, the content that isn't real, the fake news, all that's going to grow, right, that's these lessons are the same tools create there is doom and gloom. And if you want to take it to the nth degree, right, I remember this quote from the King, first congressional hearing on AI, where they were asking so you mean, somebody can launch a drone, right through AI and give it a tax break to give it a command to attack someone? Yeah, absolutely. That can happen that is happening now. No, but the possibilities are out there and where the possibilities lie without, without sort of a, I would say a group, except for a group standard of what's acceptable and what's not, and a motivation to do what's right, it doesn't make a difference, right? That you will enable that actors or you will even become, you know, a bad actor themselves. I think most people go start, especially when it comes to the business side, they do go and tend to do what they did, maybe not, you're given the benefit of the doubt. But once the money starts pouring in, right, it's very easy to keep doing what you're doing. If no one's going to double check and blow the whistle on what's going on.
Kerry Guard: Let's talk about those fringe companies. I'm really curious, in terms of, you know, I feel like you know, back in the day, we had all these tools in terms of comScore in terms of figuring out where our audience was really what programs they were watching, and what newspapers and magazines that you are consuming. I feel like now that the world's gotten so big, and the customer journey is no longer very linear, that data sort of gotten either lost, or we stopped paying attention to it. But it feels harder to know, like we sort of just accept it. It's the big players, it's Google, it's metates, LinkedIn, these are workplaces where we need to be is that it sounds like that's not necessarily what we should be thinking about.
Natan Cohen: Yeah, well, we've shifted to this place where we tend to care less, right about the Think about thinking about relative to your like, you know, not you personally, but in general, because you probably have the whole world to see where you are. And it's awesome. And you're still probably still exploring it. But you know, us who just sit at home sometimes and watch on the couch or whatever it is, right? Our viewing habits, right? We stopped caring about which channel right owns or produces the content, right? Unless they make us download their app or whatever it is to be able to connect to and even that, right, we we are fans of the content, not necessarily the provider, right? Is the world that we live in? It's the same what's happened, I think a lot of times from an advertising perspective is that we've stopped caring about where the content is coming from, right? And why they've made the content to begin with, and only cared about who's seeing it what the end result, isn't the kind of connection incentivize an action. Right? Can I simplify something based off the bat, and I think that's, you know, where we run ragged in programmatic and other places. And we've sort of, you know, we're chasing $1. And, you know, we don't want to do that with a long tail. So we want to do that where we can aggravate AGIS our aggregate impressions, and that's where it sort of goes back to well, if I just join, right Google that I can, you know, get these 10s of millions and billions of impressions, if that's what my business needs to survive. And I think what happens is that we have to start decoupling that and go back to where those 10s of billions of impressions are made up, right of hundreds and 1000s of impressions. And I think we are starting to have the systems in place. That through transparency, and through the technology, we can actually go after and build our reach and build our audience through safe places at a time versus sort of aggregating and going down. And I think, to your point we need to go back to do we trust the person creating the content, right? Do we trust, right part of part of what we looked at, right, in the old days is like we looked at the score, right? We looked at the reach, we looked at those important risks and the costs and all those things. Remember those wonderful scorecards that we build. But we also looked at, like, is this a good partner to work with? Right, some of the intangibles are, you know, are people right? What's the attention? Right? What's the engagement that people get when they have the reach? But are people really engaged with the content that's coming? I think that's, that will always be the truth, which is, if the content is engaging, right, then people will feel connected to it. And that's really what you want to do as a brand is you want to create these relationships with consumers. You don't just want to share information. You want to create a relationship depending on where you are in that journey. I think that's where we have to go back to we have to go back to the partners and influencers. It's not just like, let me work with a partner that works. With 1000 influencers? No. So I'll do a mini campaign and work with 1000 influencers. Well, what do I know about those 1000 influencers? How many of those 1000 influencers are really saying things that I would never want? I used to, I used to say, right, like, the golden rule is like, do unto others as you would do unto yourself. But I think as you become a parent, it's like, stop thinking about what you're okay with and think about what you'd be okay with people doing to your child, or your child's seeing or right or, or what information you would you be comfortable with them knowing about your child. And I think that's like that, to me is we've, we have to, we have to put these processes in place to make sure that we're not just handing somebody money and not caring, right about what goes on, because that's what I see, when we start talking about CCPA. When we started talking about the all these privacy things, it was like the agency world was like, well, as long as the, you know, as long as the publisher signs this thing. So the word that clear, right, or the brand was saying, well, as long as our agency and publisher signs this thing, we're in the clear, and everyone's just basically moving from this place and just passing responsibility on. I think it's motivated by you know, what I started to term as shifting from the, you know, can we should we, I think that's one of the big things that we have to do is that we have to put in place, the way in which we look like design thinking is huge. And we talked about how might we do this? And how can we do this? And that's great stuff to think about. But nobody's asking the question of should we do this? And I think we have to bring that back into the process is, should we just wish we can just because it's not that technology just just because we've passed whatever the creepy test is, from a consumer stand inside it, that's not the only bar, right? The bar is also should we be doing this? Is it the right thing to do? Are we adding benefit? Are we adding value? Because at the end of the day, if you can't answer those questions with a positive, then maybe we should write or maybe we shouldn't, to the scale that we're doing it or to the way in which we're doing and I think that's, that's the big shift that I'm hoping starts to take place is that we move from this, can we world to the should we world, at least apply that filter?
Kerry Guard: I feel like the answer is we always can do it. And I love what you're saying. But should we and it's this delicate balancing act that I think is taking place around the bottom line. Right, as everybody's racing to the bottom line. And I think that if we can take a step back, I love what you're saying about relationships, you know, I remember back in the day of print, and even somewhat, from a direct site buy standpoint, the relationships that salespeople will go out and the effort that they would do that they would go through to make an impression with us as media planners was meant, like that was their job, their job was to leave the office every day, and go find ways to create a relationship with us, sometimes to our dismay of like women who are trying to work and I don't really need this call. But I appreciate what you're trying to do. To you know, the lunch and learns. I remember so many times, you know, Sports Illustrated and having so many of these wonderful events from making speakers to trap using trapeze school, right? Those memories stay with me. But more importantly, I remember the person I remember her I remember the experience we had, and the relationship she built with each of us not just as like, you know, the VP of media, but every single one of us she took the time to get to know us and we loved Yes. I do think it's coming. It's trying to come back to that to a degree of where we are extending our hands now to say this is from a b2b perspective, this is a People to People world, and you're going to trust us because you know, we're a real person. And so, but it's a it's a tough world because how does that scale like that's where I think companies are really struggling of like, we know it's going that way consumers are demanding it. But on the business side, it's like this big, but how do we scale this thing?
Natan Cohen: You just reminded me Well, first of all, I'll do a very very quick important aside Janice Bale was one of the best people I've ever met in my in my life just out of out of just cuz you may I still stay close with Janice and you know, following your story and her kid we used to go you know, like her kids were around. I don't know if you remember this, but her husband worked for Verizon. So we were working on the account and on Verizon again, we probably only shouted out Elizabeth Mahoney who was she had a great relationship with and all these things and Steve Fox and those guys, but her son actually plays HARRISON BADER her son is the centerfielder for the New York Yankees. So if you didn't know that, you should know that but he was fantastic college ended up playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and now is back home near his hometown of the Bronxville in there. So these relationships develop it's it's it's again, it's seen the light For the adults around it, right. And I think part of that you made me think of something. Really, I think profound. That's that's somewhat obvious, right. But I think it needs to be said, and I think we need to remember it when we make the choices that we make is that not everything that takes time should be automated. Right? We're trying to make things go faster. And we think that if we make it go faster, and we take things out of right out of that process, or add automation to the process, that it's always going to create less cost and therefore greater revenue or greater return on the other end, and I think that's, there were certain things that yes, it may be true. And it may be true in the short term, even between the long term but it doesn't want it that's what I mean, when I go back to this, should we? The answer is shouldn't right, should we take the people out of the process, and all standpoints, being business will always be I believe, a relationship driven piece, and you can conduct business, and we've seen companies grow, significantly grow, just conducting business, digitally without ever talking to someone? Right? But then you hear about customer service? And you hear about their experience? And you hear about those aspects of it. It can work it absolutely can. The question is, should we write should we worked in a financial services business with New York Life Insurance, that the goal of the financial advisor was to be able to help someone make a complex decision? Right? Consumers may not want to sit with somebody in their living room where they may not want to have a conversation. But it was really important that they do because otherwise, they're gonna make a complex decision without really having the information to do so. And as you said, before, it's about right, we don't want to make decisions in the dark more so as a brand, right? Are you comfortable? Consumers making decisions in the dark? Right? That's where the should we question comes in is, yeah, I can get a whole bunch of people to sign up and do this and buy my product. But do I feel okay with the fact that some of them are buying it, when they don't need it, that there are people struggling buying something as a luxury, versus the people that I want to talk to who are going to buy this as necessity? Right, who viscerally for? Let's figure out how to get more of those folks, than the folks that are going to buy it? Yeah, I can get them to buy. But they really don't need it. They shouldn't have it. They're just doing what we said all along, which is marketing is separating a fool from his money, right? Yeah, that's sort of the old quote, do we want to do we want to perpetuate that, right? Or do we want to reward and incentivize good behavior? And that's I think the question is, we don't ask because we're chasing profit. Businesses are chasing profit agencies are chasing profit can i get i can get my clients to sign up for this new service. It's actually not much better than what they are doing now. But I can sell it that way. Should we do that? Right? Or do we really focus on what's needed? And I think that's the question that we have to ask ourselves over and over and over again. It's not just about getting the dollar, it's about the arena, right? Is it quality?
Kerry Guard: I think comes back to the problem we're solving, are we actually solving the real problem you have? And do you have the right solution? in place, I feel like so many times, we try and do like a square peg round hole, like, see your problem. And I sort of have this thing, and I really want the business. So like, I'll just make it work. Versus like really thinking about, am I getting coming back to that point of adding value adding value again, they might not be you. It might not be your business. But giving them the right thing is actually more valuable and could actually pay off in the long run than pretending to try and get the dollar today.
Natan Cohen: 10 years ago, crazy storms in? Oh, 809 Were we living off of 14 years ago now? I guess, crazy stores, crazy storms and our basement flooded. And we were like, dead set. Like we need to figure this out. We need to get a sump pump. We need to get French drains we do all this stuff. We had someone come in. And it's I still remember it to this day, because it was it was one of the best moments and I think the bottle this moment for customer service where he said let's not take a look at what happened. Right? Your stuff didn't actually come from it came from the bottom right. We had so much rain so many days that the water table grew and looking back at the history of this area. I wouldn't do with it. Right? He was there to tell us have him. US pay him for his service and his service. His response was, it's not worth it. Don't hire me. You don't really need this. And still that was and guess what, when anybody ever calls, right to ask for recommendation, that company? I don't know whether he's still there, that company is the one that we recommend. So it's that experience. It's that type of experience that I think you can really rave about. And I think that experience matters more because I think businesses really have to understand how for most people in this world now the money It's just it's a very hard place to be right. Like, whether it's for retirement, whether it's for cost of living today, yes, there are a lot of people living, maybe, you know, with with great means, but there's too many people that are still struggling. And disproportionately, you know, that we talked about a lot of times, you know, people of color other other parts of the other parts of this environment. That's where some of the diversity of those opportunities come in. I think people are just working too hard for that money for us to take it away so easily, by, you know, by being that guy who rides into town and sort of like putting on a show, and then, you know, walking away counting the money. It's like, we've tried to move away from that, but we've inched closer and closer to it.
Kerry Guard: I think it's gone more underground. So it's harder to see it. Yeah, I think it's harder to see, I have questions around the AI piece, because as we're talking so much about, you know, being human and these, these manual connections connection, you are still proponent of AI. So where do you see the value of that coming in, in relation to balancing the human element?
Natan Cohen: I love that question. That's a great question. It's something that honestly, if everybody's not asking this of themselves, they're really missing something. Because that no matter where you are, we used to say, right, like, you know, innovation can come from everywhere, right? Doing work in your person on the team, to the most senior person on team to the client, or whatever. That's the same thing that's happening now. Which is, it exists, it's out there, it's only going to get better. But the question is better for one, right? Yeah. Have you established what your goals are? To your point? What problem are we trying to solve? And so right now, when I look at AI, and I look at the tools for AI, I actually advise, you know, on the businesses that I work with, and then for the folks that stay connected to what are the things that what are the tasks, right, they're taking up a lot of time? Right, what is? And are those things, you know, mechanical in nature, right? Can you are they Is there a predictable way in which they're done. And it's really just, you know, something that can be moved to more automation, something that's ripe for automation, I think that's what you audit, audit and understand where the resources are being spent, where human resources specifically are being spent and time is being taken. And I think then audit those lists of things that you come up with and say, right, what is what, what is simply a task. And what is something that actually because what I don't want to lose is that as we remember, right? A lot of the training comes with those tasks, right? So if I automate some of those things, then I'm going to end up in a place where I stopped hiring junior people, because I don't need them to do those things. And they're not going to learn, they're going to have what they need to come to the next level. So I think a lot of these things have to be thought of not just right, that's the first step. But you have to put it against what my goals are, and then the business. But I often think that that's great. If you can take those tasks, automate them and speed them up, you'll actually create new opportunities for learning, right, that actually becomes the foundation. Right? If we had to, you might not remember this. But when I first started, I had to go into the media room and look up ratings information and look up all these things, both locally and nationally. And we used these reports that were published by by by Nielsen and others. And that was, you know, that was replaced, and by the time you came in those that was foundational, right? So that was the same thing here, right? What's going to happen is those tasks are making a foundational on you're going to start from a different point of entry. And I think that's the important thing is we can audit and use that to take care of the automated tasks. And I mean, that from a discovery standpoint, from a reporting from a buying from from every part of the process, but what you can't take away is the oversight don't give, right? The automation, the opportunity for oversight, because I think then you're you're taking the Y out of it, right? Like the automation for me as much as you can train it, it's not going to really ask why in the same way, and then apply that situation differently, but absolutely take as many we've seen in their own lives, right? Big fan of AI robot vacuums, like there's a reason for it, right. Like they love those things that disproportionately impact potentially, housekeepers and others who were there. In some ways, it may have made their job much easier in other ways. It may have taken away jobs right and taking away things that people need, because you can now just set it and forget it. Now, there may be opportunity for them to do other things right now you can focus on those other things. So they don't think you'll speak to anybody and say, oh, yeah, I took care of my house. Everything on my list, you'll never find somebody like that was never said ever. So the opportunity becomes what are the next opportunities and I think that people who would attack it that way, are going to be the ones who are successful. But don't say no, because if you say no, then you're slowing progress, and you're slowing things that are gonna be vital, and you're just gonna be left behind because progress just happens without you.
Kerry Guard: I also think that if we don't embrace it now and figure it out, then we're gonna have similar situations to like, and not learn from our past. You know, from the pass if you look at social media as an example, right, and how the regulation on that isn't strong enough, especially from an age standpoint, and the way that misinformation is routed, as well as the echo chambers that we end up in, and more importantly, young kids end up in is tragic. And so I think if we don't figure this out now and embrace AI, and understand it, more importantly, schools need to do this too, and teach kids how to use it appropriately, like we do with research, right? Like, we were given the internet and said, You're gonna do a research paper, and here's how you need to make sure that you're validating the information, right? Same with AI, we need to make sure that whatever research we're doing, which is going to help speed this up, which is great. And how are we going to validate that information is correct. And we're using it in the right way. I, I agree, I it's not something we can shy away from, we have to embrace it. And we have to learn how to use it correctly. In terms of our moral compass in that way. What do you see as, like the fork in the road like this? Like, for me a very simple example. It's just like what I said, like just typing in a prompt and accepting the the example at face value. And off we go, right. Like there's, there's some due diligence we have to do with this. What other examples do you see of us ensuring that we use this in the right in the right way to make to not have the social challenge, like the social media challenges we're having now?
Natan Cohen: Yeah, and this happens all the time? I think it's a great question. I think it might me and my wife works in editorial in the pharma business on the agency side. And what happens is right, you'll oftentimes get a claim, right, or something that is somewhat unsubstantiated, or a different way to express my claim, I feel like that's a lot of what she does is to go out, right, in fact, check and do those things. I think I really do believe that, you know, whether it's the journalism school of, you know, make sure you have to confirm sources right before you go to print and those things. I think, right now, there are two things that have to happen, because I think we're talking about a lot of the things that put the emphasis and the onus on the business or the publisher, right? I actually think there's a lot of emphasis as well on the reader, right? The consumer, right, the end user to these to the world that we're in right now, which is you have to know that there are people out there that want to take your money and feed you misinformation, right. And so don't treat everything as false, but also they'll be somewhat healthy. Skepticism is still a very good thing. You can learn from the person, right? We that's why influencers are so important, because we trust their content, how do you develop that trust in that build that chocolate chip? When it comes to your unicorn of education? And kids, right, like, we have to train our kids, because I think they're just naturally more trusting. Right? So we really have to train educate our kids around this as well. It's dangerous, right? Like, it's not just the guy in the van with with a lollipop. That's, that's dangerous. Now, it's, it's the, you know, fraud scheme that lets you use your Alexa, that you now know how to use or your phone or whatever it might be. And so they don't care, right. They're indiscriminate, or whether it's kids, or adults, it's content, right, that gets shown. But I think we have to be more discerning As consumers, we have to be more discerning in that way, and then be able to say, Okay, this is wrong. And we see that it's about community, right? Being able to do that, as a community. I think that's one of the key things. And we talked about it when we talked about audience information. We talked about coops a lot, we talked about sharing resources, and I really do want to see more of that. I want to see more of what's happening both in the industry where somebody comes up with the solution, and yes, there's money to be made off, and everybody wants something that they have on their own. But let's share with the community because then we can grow from there. We need to stop this. We've seen what's happened. I mean, come on the AMA is recent report. It's not so like it's recent. But like it's been every year for a long time, right? Like, we know, ad fraud exists, right? But now it's like, quantify $20 billion, all these things. It's always existed, we knew it existed, and nobody wanted to stop it. Because if I can make money off it, right, why do I want to? I don't want to expose the problem. Because then like, as an agency, right, if I'm buying stuff, and I'm buying fraud, if I expose them exposing myself, and I think that's the transparency and credibility and authenticity, all these things really mean that you would do it even if the fingers pointing back at you, right? That's what real transparency is. And I want to see when it happens that we don't try to you know, as a sighted cancel those people like when we blow the whistle on ourselves, the reaction shouldn't be get rid of them. Let someone else do it. It should be that's awesome. We have a brave, heroic person or company or organization here that's willing to flag themselves. That's a really big deal and don't let them give the punishment themselves necessarily but but They're willing to call it on themselves, we see that all the time in college sports that they flagged themselves, you should get more credit. It's much easier to take someone as probably, you know, from your experience, both as a manager and myself and yourself as as you know, when we started out, it's much easier to take someone who made a mistake, and I'm sure they don't make that mistake, again, than it is to just get rid of that person and teach someone brand new, all the things that they already know. So we got to stop, you know, whether it's the extreme, which is canceled culture, but anything else, like, let's not call up people's mistakes, let's call out what the solutions might be and help that person, that's where we need to get to is we need to be able to put the humanity back in that sense where it's let's retrain and redevelop people, and re educate people so they can be more valuable in the world that we're moving into. Then sort of toss them to the side and in whatever way shape or form or sort of say, you know, one strike, and you're out that nobody wants to live in that world, it'll eventually come back to you. Right? If you operate in that way, then you're gonna be you're gonna be living that way.
Kerry Guard: You know, people constantly leave because people leave managers, companies. That's true. That's right.
Natan Cohen: I love that. That's one of my favorite things where they leave bad situations that managers not companies.
Kerry Guard: It's true. And I think we as managers, and you did, you did a really good job of this. And I think it's been super I learned it, but giving people that, that space to fail that first time. And as long as there's progress over perfection of growth, right? And that accountability piece,
Natan Cohen: Don't make the same mistake twice. Right? That's, that's, that's the rule I like to fall back on more is don't make the same mistake twice, right. But part of that is Did I do the job I was supposed to do as your manager when you made it the first time, right? Because if I didn't help educate you, if I just was one of those people that said, you made a mistake, right? And then I just stole your work and fixed it and then sent it to the clinic, right? Like, hey, to that, right? Like, tell me what to do? Send me the note, right? Let me teach me how to do those things and tell me where I'm making my error. And then I can adjust my GPS, right? I can, I can adjust how my process. But if you take it away from me, right, and don't give me the chance, all it's going to happen is we're going to create a bottleneck, it's going to create bad things. I think that's where the, that's where it comes back to our role in utilizing the tools, I think it's you can't like no matter how high you want to go, right? Even if we create these tools that can do the process all the way up to the top, there's still going to be that need, at the very top to have oversight of it and the human element, it's there. But we need to train people to know what's coming, right, we need to train people to know how to use these tools and how to how to talk to our clients about what the value is and what the mistakes might be what the pitfalls are. And that's where it goes back to community, right? If if you test and learn something, right, and you find something out, share it with a competitor of a great innovator, I follow an influencer out in the Israel tech space. Hello, fooled who's I think on the one of the Forbes most influential people somehow, it's just amazing that he does this great work. But he always talks about this, he tells us to entrepreneurs all the time, which is like, Don't hide your ideas, right? Share your ideas, that community will make it better, right, you will have to you know, it comes down to the execution, right in terms of whether you're going to be successful or not. But if you start hoarding and hoarding and hoarding, you're going to create this world that you don't want to live in, right, you want to create a world that shares that has community that helps us grow, and then somebody will do it better, that's great. And then you'll do it better. And then you'll keep leapfrogging each other but you'll grow together because now you've grown the size of the pie and the need for what you're providing the service for your building.
Kerry Guard: Could keep going because I double down and tell all the stories around the importance. But it sounds like from my conversation with you and my conversation with some other folks both on the podcast and behind the scenes, the market is really heading in the three directions, like advertising will always be a need. Mostly because it's what keeps the media going. And that's important. And really what's going to build business in the long run. And from what I'm hearing is community influencers, both of what you mentioned and content, which is what you mentioned too, like the the magnitude of these three things together, is really what's going to propel companies forward and the companies who can figure those three things out, will both win in my opinion. And I'd love your final word on this in, in both business and building a better world.
Natan Cohen: Yeah, I think that's that's it's beautifully said, I think to to add just just one more thing. I think it's the right like these are the things that we're doing I think that we have to it goes back to the motivation. I'll just recap again like we have to move from this. You know, can we to add this element of should we do To add some more developing our custom learns and optimization, then we're going to scale it. And the question is, is this going to be good? Right? If this if this happens, not just for us. But is it going to benefit right here? are we solving a problem? And is that problem that we're solving is not? Right is something that crosses lines around ethics and morals, and we have to be very careful with it. Right? It's the Wild West, right with a lot of these new tools right now. And we've seen this before, right. And we've seen this before with the digital era, we've seen this before. In the mobile era, we see this more like, you know, where there is no oversight, there is a lot of overreaction, right and action that probably can be saved, I think just really be thoughtful, if we can be clear with our motivation. And if we can be aligned to the fact that our purpose, right go back to purpose of what we're here for not just what we're selling, but the purpose of what we're here for his businesses, as brands as agencies, like what makes us different. And what makes us great, is really being able to go and drive that purpose through. Let's focus on that, right. You know, we talked about bringing your whole self to work and all these things that happen, let's, let's let people do that. Let's create that that world is creative collaboration, diversity, that community that we want, but has to be a community of good. And a community that's doing the right thing, not not a community of dollars, but a community of good that's that's really being that's, to me is the biggest thing. And that's why I love being part of this industry, about reconnecting and talking with people like yourself, Kerry, and others. Because I think, at its core, we're all have the same drive, to create good to leave a legacy to be able to do that, and to be able to build that within our children and our children's children. And if we do that, collectively, then we'll be in a good place. But if we don't, if we let other things happen, and we see things that are bad, but we don't highlight them, we don't flag them because we're afraid we're going to, you know, upset the boat or help our competitor do their thing, then we're just as bad as the perpetrators themselves in a certain respect. Because we're allowing it to continue. And I think that's, let's sign up for that. Let's sign up for that moral and ethical approach to life. I love it. I obviously, I'm visibly Jewish, and it's part of sort of where I came from, it's sort of part of the upbringing. And I know, it's a little you know, sometimes to some people may be contradictory, you know, we're a Jewish guy is telling you don't chase the dollar Chase, the chase the people and the morals, but you know, the stereotypes that we sometimes build, you know, build into, and that's, and that's what happens. But I think we're here collectively to be a light to other people. And the more that we can do that, the better off we'll be. And I just can't thank you enough for the the platform to be able to talk through and recheck because I needed to write, I need to recheck where my moral compass in my heart is, in the work that we're doing.
Kerry Guard: I'm so grateful for this conversation. I think it's so important as we look to these tools, these platforms to we as we use our dollars to hold brands accountable, like Google and meta, and our data, our data is now absolutely a chip on the table of something we can hold companies to in terms of how much we share and what we share. And we need to use that in order to help guide that morality. I am so grateful for this conversation, before we go, you are more than a marketer. And I just would love to know, if you could travel to anywhere in the world right now with me as easy as possible, assuming there's no like, the fact you got to take with you and stand in long lines forever. And all the things that sort of get in our way of getting up and going. Where would you go? And why?
Natan Cohen: It's a it's a great question. It's really, it's a really easy one for me, I'll make it I'll make it interesting. Before I do, though, I just I do want to say this before I seen you in this capacity is like nothing makes you feel better as a leader. Right then seeing people that you've once time led, but more worked alongside, grow into their potential. And you know, that's that's you in spades. So I want to make sure I'm not remiss in mentioning that. But the place that I would, the place that I would go right now is very easily Israel. And I'll tell you why. We just sent our 16 year old daughter on her first time I guess away from home overseas, she has been some sort of way camps or whatever it might be. But we we sent her away to Israel, and she's there for about 40 days or so. And so for me, we're both missing her. And she gets like I just want to be on like hearing what she's doing. I want to be on tour right now. Like, that's I want to do I want to call up and be like Do you need any chaperones? Place right, where you didn't have as many responsibilities and just to be able to take things in and and not feel like, you know, you're just sort of building who you are as a person. I'm just so jealous of what she's on. So I would join her right now on that on that team learning tour. In Israel right now for the next few weeks, that's absolutely where I would go. But I would probably sit in the back and not tell her I'm there, you know, on all the other responsibilities again, but I just want to, you know, you probably have experience too, I would love to be a fly on a wall for some of my children's sort of, monumental experiences, right? If you could just be and watch them, watch them as they go through this and not right, don't be the parent, don't be the helicopter parent, don't, don't try to give all this advice, but just, you know, watch them experience the world in a certain way. And that is just like, I wish we could do that we don't, we never really get the chance to do that. Because every time we see them, they know where they're, they're very few times, you know, had a couple probably, but they're very few times where we get to see them as they are and not see them as you know, as you know, with us in the in the background. So it's it's really a rare opportunity.
Kerry Guard: Who they are for us versus who they are. For the rest. The world is so different. And I feel like I've, whenever I see my kids out in the world, and being these amazing humans that they are even though and sometimes they're really really most of the time, they're very hard at home, and it's like, why are you so hard here and then you see them out in the world, like, that's why I'm doing my job, it's hard at home, you're fighting the boundaries for being good parents, because this is who you are in the world. And a real quick story on parenting. So I just love this conversation. I had to sign my, they do swimming here, which is amazing, because we live by the sea. So kids need to learn, very important. And they have swimming every summer term. And they didn't have enough parent helpers for my kids class. And so they My husband was like, Ellie can't not Henry can't do something, and Ellie cannot do something like, that's just we can't have this, like, we're gonna have to sign up. Okay. I don't really know how I feel about this. And I talked myself into going like the first couple times, because it's a lot of kids and I have to manage children. And this is really out of my comfort zone, whether or not my own and I Oh, and we're in a hot room. And there's all these like mental blocks of like, having to go do this thing. But then I get there and I get, I can't pay attention to her because I have to manage the kids who aren't swimming. But I get to sort of see her out of the corner of my eye and her do this really brave thing that she's really uncomfortable doing. And it's just yes to that, like, it's a rare moment. And thank you for reminding me of like, the importance of those moments, I'm not gonna get them that often. And that is definitely one of them.
Natan Cohen: Take the credit union, your husband, and again, the whole the support system, you know, the village that you know you have around you. That really is like, I'll tell you, that's the one thing like I miss when my kids were really young. I missed that. And my youngest is now seven, about to have my middle ones, but it turned 12 And I said my 16 year old or three girls, I missed when they were really young and totally dependent. And when they would get sick and they would try to curl back into inside you. I missed those days. But it's also you get a kind of joy that you'd never you didn't get because you see them as adults or as turning into adults since human beings expressing opinions for themselves and talking for themselves. And I think that's just as they come home. It's the perfect time to wrap this up, but like to see them become real. And you got to see what choices they've made. Right How they picked who they want to be versus who you are, right. And I always say like, the way we should act is be the kid be the people that your kids think you are. But kids they should they should choose who they want to be.
Kerry Guard: I love that. What a great what a great spot to end on Nakane I'm so grateful. Thank you for joining me.
Natan Cohen: Nothing but love honestly. And just again, like I said, tremendous to see this and I really just you know, if nobody watches it, this is the most fulfilling thing just to be able to talk to you and see how you grow.
Kerry Guard: And I hope people will pay attention to the kinds of leaders we're looking for in the world. So thank you for emulating that and thank you for
Natan Cohen: That just what I wants too, thank you Kerry.
Kerry Guard: Thank you
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