Peter Kozodoy is the CEO of Stradeso and a Partner at GEM Advertising. Peter Kozodoy is a thought leader, keynote speaker, and serial entrepreneur, and provides the vision and energy that has inspired the creation of both GEM Advertising and Stradeso, the new marketing technology platform launching this Spring. Peter Kozodoy joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has awarded GEM Advertising as an Impact Company of 2019, and we are delighted to have Peter join us for our Leader Round Table Interview. The Stradeso and GEM Advertising story is very interesting, and we are very excited to not only interview Peter about his very successful business and entrepreneurial spirit, but also put Peter through our popular speed round as well.
Peter, thank so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview, and answering some questions about leadership, your vision, and your passion.
1. Can you describe what the elevator pitch for Stradeso and GEM Advertising is?
So interestingly, one birthed the other. GEM is a strategic partner for growth, acting as a sort of "Chief Marketing Organization" that supplies our clients with growth strategies and marketing support. Out of that company we realized there was an opportunity to use technology to accomplish a lot of the marketing and content fulfillment that brands need today – and they more and more content every year. So, we created Stradeso as the first tech platform that takes the HR problem out of the creative agency business model and instead connects content projects directly to freelancers with extra time (imagine Uber, but for marketing content).
2. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give CEOs just starting out regarding keeping a company moving forward, and please tell us the key to your companys success?
As Barbara Corcoran once told me: "Don't give up." Every entrepreneur needs to pivot and keep pivoting until they put the pieces of the business into alignment and find the perfect solution to a customer's need. Once you realize that it's a process and it takes time, do good work and don't give up, and you'll build that company you dream of.
3. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as GEM Advertising, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Go back to the fundamentals. I coach other entrepreneurs now, and the number one thing we return to is the five pieces that make up the business puzzle: The right customer, the right problem, the right solution, the right profit model, and the right mindset as an entrepreneur. Typically, when an owner is struggling, it's because one of those five pieces is slightly out of alignment. It takes a great deal of honesty to go back to the drawing board and say, ok, something's not working, we need to keep twisting the Rubik's cube until it all lines up. Otherwise, you could go off in the wrong direction for years. If it's feels impossibly hard, it might simply be because something is out of alignment…so keep returning to the fundamentals.
4. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at GEM Advertising, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
It's a great question because our clients hire us for different reasons. Some want us to modernize their brand and assets; others want us to research their customer's preferences as they're changing; others want us to grow them and track that growth. One thing we pride ourselves on is responsiveness. We're not leaving anyone in the dark — we'll explain the analytics as many times as it takes to make sure our clients get it, and we pride ourselves on being teachers as well as executors so our clients learn how effective marketing works.
5. What is the one overriding belief that GEM Advertising has about what it is doing?
The best marketing comes from honesty. As I talk about in my upcoming book, honesty is the key. We see so many prospects saying one thing and doing another, or not being honest with how they need to change some internal processes. Instead they want to go to market and tell everyone how great they are, when in reality they need to become better companies that can be honest and transparent to win trust with prospects. We love that deeper work where we can help organizations change to become honest communicators and to honestly offer the best products and services. That's why we're not an "advertising agency," but a strategic partner for growth.
6. In todays fast changing business environment, what do you do to keep up with the changes? What do you read to stay abreast of things?
I'm always reading entrepreneurial stories, but I'm most interested in what creates innovation within companies. Our own process of innovation, from GEM to Stradeso, was a journey of being honest about how the world is changing. I think every leader needs to constantly not only learn about what's changing by reading and watching, but also embrace it and ask how to integrate new technologies and opportunities. Learning is sometimes the easy part; implementing is much harder.
7. What is your Why? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead GEM Advertising?
I love inspiring people. I'm working with literally hundreds of entrepreneurs now, helping them grow and change and evolve, and it's so satisfying to help them avoid the massive mistakes I've made in my own journey. Many people are afraid to try, afraid to fail, afraid to succeed, even…so helping them get over that fear and bring out their best selves gets me up in the morning.
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. I often saw that it was the most recommended book, so I finally said, OK, how good could it be? It was that good. Plus, Ryan's just a good guy and someone who cares about changing people's perspective, so we have that in common. For anyone who wants to gain clarity on how to deal with adversity, this is the book for you.
9. In one sentence, can you tell us what the most important thing about being a leader is?
Helping others. There you go, two words!
10. In one sentence, can you give some advice to fellow entrepreneurs wishing to build a company as exciting as GEM Advertising?
Get a business coach. Doing this alone is really hard, and I love saving my clients thousands of hours and dollars by telling them, "look, I've seen that model and it didn't work, here's why. But you might consider this, because x, y, and z," and they've just saved tons of time and money by taking a shortcut on someone else's mistakes. Once I got into EO (Entrepreneur's Organization) and started getting coaching, my whole world opened up. Don't do it alone!
Peter, we would like to have some fun and do our famous First Reaction round with you! We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only.
Here you go!
1. In three words or less, What makes a successful CEO?
2. Describe GEM Advertising in one word?
3. Describe GEM Advertising customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee for GEM Advertising?
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about GEM Advertising?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
Helping others succeed
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Know who you are
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at GEM Advertising?
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
Become more self-aware
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English Language?
Peter Kozodoy, thank you so much for sitting down with us at our DotCom Magazine Impact Player Round Table. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping others to learn more about your company and what it takes to be a leader. We we wish you, your family, and of course Stradeso and GEM Advertising, nothing but the best.
The Peter Kozodoy Roundtable Interview brought to you by DotCom Magazine.