Hiring Top-Notch Marketing Talent Out of College

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Double Your eCommerce Business in the Next Year requesting the most effective growth and profitability strategies we've unearthed from 5+ years of studying successful stores.

(Actively looking to hire promising graduates?  Post a job to the internship or entry level categories on our job board to reach ambitious, smart new talent.)

Jake Cook is a professor, founder of Tadpull and a fellow Bozeman resident. Today we get together over a glass of bourbon to talk about how Jake finds top talent right from his classroom.

Jake also weighs in on how much he’s seen students change in the days post-iPhone. He shares insight into what to look for in candidates, how to properly vet them and how to market to millennials for brands today.

You’ll learn:

  • Cringe-worthy stories from Jake and Andrew’s first jobs
  • A look at mobile conversion rates and how the mobile industry is changing
  • How to start thinking like Bezos in your business

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(With your host Andrew Youderian of and Jake Cook of

Andrew: Welcome to the eCommerceFuel Podcast, the show dedicated to helping high six and seven-figure entrepreneurs build amazing online companies and incredible lives. I’m your host and fellow ecommerce entrepreneur, Andrew Youderian.

Welcome to the eCommerceFuel Podcast. I’m Andrew. Thanks so much for joining me on the show today. And today I’m actually kicking off what I should start calling the Bozeman bourbon series, because we’re back in my office here in Bozeman and have a couple glasses of bourbon. And I’m joined by Mr. Jake Cook, who I had the chance to get to know, well, probably in the last about three, four months?

Jake: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Yeah. I had a common friend introduce us and it’s been really fun getting to know you. I wish we were could’ve gotten connected sooner.

Jake: Likewise.

Andrew: Jake is a professor up at Montana State University here in Bozeman, my alma mater. I’m surprised they let you come talk to me. And he also runs a digital agent’s digital marketing and a software company called Tadpull,, where they do the software side. They have a really cool piece of software that we’ll talk about a little bit later, but does really cool reporting and kinda analytics and attribution models for companies in the $10 million to $20 million range specifically.

And on the services side, they’ve worked with a ton of really cool brands, everyone from DonorsChoose, to Jackson Hole Resort, Mystery Ranch, Outdoor Research. And so just a smart, fun guy and I’m excited to talk to. So Jake, welcome man.

Jake: Thank you. A longtime listener so feel quite honored to be here.

Andrew: Yeah. Before we dive in, I wanted to say a quick thank you to our two sponsors for the show. First off, Liquid Web. If you’re on WooCommerce and you haven’t heard these guys, you should check them out. These guys know WordPress and WooCommerce better than just about anyone else. A couple of big reasons why you should think about using them, one, really elastic solution.

They handle traffic surges incredibly well. They have a whole suite of tools that can help you stress test your store. And their customer service and their technical team is world-class. So if you’re on WooCommerce or if you’re looking to get on WooCommerce, check them out, Liquid Web, and you can learn more about them at

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You can set up custom segments for people that buy a lot, that haven’t bought anything, that have only bought certain products, and follow up with very customized emails. So if you want to up your email marketing game for ecommerce and you’re not using them, check them out. You can get started with a free trial at

Jake, I was thinking about where to kick off the discussion with you today. And I don’t know why this stuck out at me, but you mentioned, I think it was even in one of your bios, that you’ve been teaching at MSU since 2007.

Remembering The iPhone’s Inception

Jake: Yes.

Andrew: And you mentioned that like that first year, that was when the iPhone came out, which that just seems crazy.

Jake: I know, man, yes.

Andrew: No, I mean, I remember it super vividly, too. And you said you did a tech adoption case study for it. And I want to share some of my thoughts from back then, but I’d love to hear what did you say to the class back then? Like what was the conversation like with…it would be interesting, of course, given that, you know, we have the hindsight now, but was it, “This is amazing. This is gonna flop.” Was it…what was the case study? What were the thoughts back then?

Jake: So one of my favorite books is a book called “Diffusion of Innovations,” by a guy named Everett Rogers, and he studied why people adopt technology. And another book that came after that was called “Crossing the Chasm,” by Geoffrey Moore, which is in the tech space and how people look at things.

So at the time, you know, I remember one of my first jobs, when I got to borrow my boss’s Blackberry because I had to go somewhere, and I could do email, you know? And that was like a big deal. And that was the Palm Treo came after that, which was kind of this other thing. And so when iPhone came out, I think, for me, I think I had a flip phone at the time, the idea of using your fingers to interact with an interface just seemed like so clunky, you know?

And I don’t think I quite grasped the idea like what the…that it was a device, but the way you’d interact with it was just so different. And so it’s just fascinating to watch. I think, you know, when Jobs introduced it as a storytelling and a product debut, that’s become kind of the model of how you like roll out of product. And so that was kind of fun to watch, you know, have somebody get on stage and really sell a vision.

Andrew: So when you were in front of your class, did you make any bold statements like this is just gonna…I mean, obviously, it’s not gonna do well for X,Y, and Z, or soon do incredibly well, or did you have to eat any words, or did you look brilliant to your students at all?

Jake: No. I don’t think I’ve ever looked brilliant to my students to be clear. But I tried to be…I remember when Steve Ballmer, you know, that…he’s was CEO at Microsoft at the time, and just completely lambasted and said, “Who would pay 500 bucks or whatever for a phone.” And I thought, you know, when the adoption curves we were looking like, cool, buy this.

And it’ll be, you know, a very small segment initially will try it and how fast will get to, you know, I think it was like 16% of the market, and then 34% is kind of early majority in these different segments. And so we were wondering, we’re kind of curious like how long till it gets like kind of the…we always joke and call them kind of the freaks and the geeks.

The ones that are gonna try it, but then stay loyal. So that was always the big question that whole semester was, you know, how’s it gonna do, and things like that.

Andrew: I remember it came out and I was wrapping up my time kind of in the finance world, and it came out and I just was…the fact that it was a phone. And I think the thing that blew me away was just it was a full web browser experience in your pocket.

Jake: Yeah, that’s what I thought was amazing.

Andrew Gets Scolded For Early iPhone Support

Andrew: Yeah. And I remember the local paper in Great Falls, Montana where I was working, I had friends that worked there and they knew I was excited about it, so they asked me for a quote.

And I think I gave some quote like it was “a mouthwatering device.” And my boss at my investment bank came in in the morning holding the paper, and he said, “Why do you talk to the paper? If you’re gonna talk to the paper, do not tell them you work for us. Do not tell them you’re employed here. Mouthwatering device? Are you….?” And he just stormed out.

Jake: He’s not an early adopter then.

Andrew: He was not an early adopter.

Jake: Not innovative. Yeah, exactly.

Explaining Millenials

Andrew: No, no. He did not appreciate the assets of it…or the facets of it that I did. You, of course, teach digital marketing today at MSU. And one thing I’d love to get your thoughts on is, you know, I go walk on campus sometimes, and I feel like I’m 22, like I’m 25, and I’m 35. I know that when I’m walking, when actual students walk by, I’m that creepy old guy on campus, right?

They’re like, “Who’s this guy? He’s not a professor. What’s he doing here?” And what I’m getting at is I have no idea how this huge segment of the population, you know, Millennials, college age students, people in their early 20s, are consuming content, how they’re shopping, how they’re living.

And so I would love to get your thoughts. Maybe start with Millennials, they get a bad reputation, right? Kind of like very self-absorbed, very fragile, don’t understand really what it takes to get stuff done. And granted, obviously, you’re in a little tough situation, you’re going on the record here publicly as a professor.

But like do they deserve more credit than they get? Are phones really killing all their abilities and social skills? Or do you think it’s an unfair stereotype as someone who gets to see this demographic, you know, interaction with them quite a bit.

Jake: That’s a great question. They’re definitely aware that this label has been applied to them, and they kind of have a chip on their shoulder as a result. I would say they have a much bigger picture or perspective on things like the environment. Like, that’s a big deal to them. Sustainability, that really matters when they look at brands or some sort of a giveback. So brands like Ponds, that really resonates.

Andrew: Do you think that’s Millennials only in Bozeman or Millennials broadly?

Jake: Well, I have students that kind of…We have a lot of, you know, kids from Montana, but we also have a lot of international students that will come, and then a lot of kids from the East Coast coming to Bozeman, because we’ve got great skiing and it’s a great engineering school and business school. So yeah, there sort of a good, I guess, cross smattering of it. But I would say, yeah, that’s huge.

But as a quick story, and this was a discussion spike five years ago, speaking of when the iPhone debuted, I had a student and he had never owned a laptop because the iPhone debut and he was 14. So he grew up with this form factor in his pocket, and he went his entire college career doing everything in the Cloud through Google Docs, and typed all his papers on his iPhone and didn’t own a laptop. And it just blew my mind that there’s already that kinda user behavior.

They don’t remember it. You know, there’s always that, you remember like when every time school starts up, it’s like, this freshman class, you know, didn’t know this and didn’t know that. And I’m always making like movie reference jokes and I think fall completely flop. Because nobody’s seen “The Big Lebowski” or anything like that.

So I’m that old out-of-date professor. But I mean, they don’t remember a time when they couldn’t answer a question, you know, with something in their pocket, when they had all their music streaming anyway they wanted, you know.

And I remember my grandma had 8-tracks, you know, and cassettes and there were CDs and all this stuff. So it’s a…Yeah, the way they consume and interact with stuff. Yeah, and at Tadpull at our company, you know, we’ve got some fantastic folks, and they can just pick up technology really, really quickly versus, you know, other people you work with, either clients or partners, that can struggle a little bit on just interfaces. And they can just intuitively look at a SaaS app and they figure how to work with it really quick.

Students Pre-Smartphone Vs. Today

Andrew: Let me ask maybe a question that’s not targeted so much at Millennials, but maybe adoption and the increasing prevalence of just phones in our lives or everywhere. You’ve had at least amount of time, not right with the iPhone launch but, you know, or over a good period of time close to it, to see what students were like back then and what they are today.

I mean, that’s hard to be able to judge because it’s so incremental to see. But do you see a difference in students from pre-smartphone to today, both in terms of maybe social skills but also in terms of just general abilities in the classroom?

Jake: Yeah. I would say sometimes the math skills. Because I really try and teach digital marketing analytics, a user centric, think about your user first, and then put hypotheses down, and then go test it off data. And when you get to the part in the course where we talk about profitability, so we’re gonna sell something online from, you know, keep the math easy, 100 buck. What’s our profit margin? How much did it cost to produce this? You know, all these things.

That is something, you know, because you need to know the profit to figure out your acquisition costs. And these are not sophisticated financial models, right? Very basic things. And that’s something I’ve learned over time, I’ve had to spend like a full three hours on in the course to really go deep on it.

The gross revenue, profit, all these things are things that, you know, unless we have, you know, finance students, they’ll kind of grasp it. But the marketing kids will definitely kinda…I really hammer like it’s not about the creative grade, but the data drives at creative, and the user centricity will come from that. But if you can’t look at analytics and infer things and ask questions and get answers out of data, nobody really cares in today’s world.

So the other thing I would say on the social skills, what’s fascinating is they won’t talk on the phone. So if you ask them to like call, it’s like, you just, you know, if you ask them, “Why don’t you give him call?” And like you just think you just asked them to like, you know, run a four-minute mile. It’s like, “That’s impossible. I couldn’t do that,” you know.

Andrew: I even feel, as an old guy, I even feel a little bit of that. I won’t answer the phone if I don’t know who’s calling.

Jake: I never do. And I know that people randomly call you, and I think that’s maybe a generational thing, too. Where I know, you know, folks that maybe, baby words and stuff, they’ll just pick up the phone randomly. But I’d like to know, like, “Oh, okay, I’m expecting your call at this time and I’ll be in a good spot to catch it,” or whatever.

Andrew: Yeah, I see a little bit of that. That’s my claim to youth because I don’t text 100% of the time, just 90% at a time.

Jake: Yeah, exactly. Just 90%. Yeah, exactly.

How To Reach The Youth As A Marketer

Andrew: What about maybe looking at the same kind of that youthful segment through a marketer’s eyes to reach them, to think about how to sell to them or to cater to the way that they shop. What kind of insights can you give us maybe into the habits, patterns, buying trends of people, you know, in their late teens, early 20s?

I mean, you mentioned the student who just went the whole class career without a laptop, doing everything on their phones. Are a lot of your students, and maybe you don’t know this, but are they doing everything on their phones? Buying everything? Commerce?

Even those young Millennials, people in the college today, are they still a lot of times discovering on mobile and then they’ll have a laptop at home they go and purchase at? Or do you have no idea and that’s…because you’re not stalking them at home, you’re just teaching them in the classroom.

Jake: What’s interesting is with Google Wallet and Apple Pay, you know, young folks will, not always, but a lot of times their new paradigm shifts on how you would do payments, they end up getting a card out and typing something in.

That doesn’t, you know, they look at something and put your thumbprint on it and buy it, you know, as they have money. I think that’s what’s gonna…you’ll see commerce shift. So with our client work and then the analytics, you see a lot of cultivation around mobile and then purchasing happening on desktop by and large.

One thing that is interesting is these Millennials have more buying power is how much that mobile experience and that, you know, payment system marrying together. I can see that being a big sonic boom coming. But, you know…

Mobile Device Usage

Andrew: Yeah, it just seems like it’s… You had Apple Pay come out, you’ve had Shopify, who powers…not, you know, most of the web, but especially in our smaller ecommerce web, they power like 40%, close to half of the stores.

They’ve done some cool stuff with being able to check out more quickly by, you know, being able to type in a code on your mobile, all that kind of stuff. And it hasn’t seemed like it’s taken off as quickly as you would have thought to enable.

You know, you haven’t seen those mobile conversion rates jump as quickly as you would have hoped with, you know, the fingerprint. And part of that maybe is you’ve got so many different things, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and things. But, yeah, any thoughts on why it hasn’t taken offer? Or do you think it’s the right place so we just need to wait and be a little more patient?

Jake: Again, there’s some which platform is it, Apple Pay or Google Wallet or whatever, who’s gonna own that. I’m sure, you know, companies like AMEX and VISA want, obviously, a say in that conversation. I think it’s kind of like what we talked about a second ago with the iPhone, you know?

There’s a long time like people were, you know, for a year or two, that paradigm shift of a touch interface versus having a physical keyboard on the device. So it might be one of those things were, you know, working its way through the technology adoption curve. Once it goes, it will tend to go, I think it’ll go pretty quick. So when that adoption happens, I think it’ll be pretty quick. And I think the other part on the other side is so many stores have horrible mobile experiences.

And we know it’s really important for SEO and all these types of things, but a lot of mobile experiences are really sub par, you know? It’s getting better, but for a long time it’s been really bad. So I think as things speed up and pages load quick, and you can navigate a site and put it in your cart and all that.

And this is where I’m giving away my age, but I still like that desktop big monitor. I can kind of zoom in and zoom out. I think there’s gonna be a correlation to average order value and mobile conversions. So if it’s not a lot of risk, there’s a lot…low AOB, yeah, I’ll buy it on my mobile because who cares. And if I’m gonna spend like 300 bucks on something like…

Andrew: I wanna see it up close.

Jake: Yeah, I wanna have this whole, like, you know, experience of like checking it out, I mean, the product descriptions and the reviews and doing all the research. Then I gotta get it by my CFO, my spouse, you know, get a procurement done and then…but, yeah. So I think that would be something to test. Does mobile by AOB go faster? The lower the AOB, the faster adoption on mobile payments.

Andrew: Interesting, I bet you would see that.

Jake: I would guess, but yeah.

How to Cherry Pick The Rising Stars

Andrew: Yeah. You wrote this phenomenal post in the forums, we’ll link up to it for members, about how to hire entry-level great talent at the, you know, kind of the entry-level for digital marketers. And you have this really cool position where you can get to know this group of students for a semester.

How to get to know them really well and be able to potentially, you know, huge information asymmetry, be able to cherry pick if you want some of the best students, which is pretty cool. So I guess before I… My long game here is to try that to talk through some of those points in that post, talk about how people can hire really great raw talent entry-level. But do you hire a lot of students for your company Tadpull out of MSU?

Jake: Yes. So a good chunk of it has come.

Andrew: Gosh.

Montana Kids Are Very Hirable

Jake: We had an intern start today as a matter of fact. That was just my class last semester, it’s her first day. So, yeah, I’ve been really fortunate to watch some just really…people that are way smarter than me, getting to work alongside them. What’s been really exciting is some of these students go on to New York and they work some big digital agencies like R/GA or Havas. A couple have gone to Google. Montana State is, you know, we’re kind of out here, you know, the Northwest.

But what I’ve noticed and I’ve heard from my friends in New York that, you know, work at some of these bigger places, they love that the Montana kids have work ethic and they’re humble. And so that seems to be something, for whatever reason, you know, people that go through MSU have that as a kind of a core trait. So, yeah, I’ve seen that in spades.

They say a lot of times like they’ll be in staff meetings, and if they’re stuck they’ll have interns from all over the country, different schools. And the Montana kids will sit there and grind on the problem for two hours, and some of the other interns will just throw their hands up and they’re, “I couldn’t figure it out.” “What have you been doing?”

“Oh, I was checking out my Instagram feed.” They’re like, “Well, what are your next steps?” “Oh, I thought you could tell me.” So, yeah, so I’ve appreciated getting to cherry pick some of the ones that have that mindset.

Traits To Look For When Hiring

Andrew: So this is pretty cool. For people who are not teaching digital marketing at universities, I can’t leverage that. Well, what do you look for? So you mentioned kind of a couple traits that you really look for in students that kinda have great raw material to be able to shape into digital markers or that know something about it and are ready to be nurtured up. What are those two traits that you really look for?

Jake: I look for two things, two behaviors really. And I like to look for curiosity and then do they make things.

Andrew: Like, what do they do in their free time.

Jake: And it can be anything, by the way. And some of the people I’ve been around in my career that are really fantastic, they’ve worked at some of these companies like IDO or Shopify, places like that. They make things on the side, weird things.

My one friend wanted to teach himself to paint, and he realized he wasn’t any good at painting, so he figured how to write an algorithm to do a paint-by-number for lobsters. And that was his summer vacation project. So yeah, we have a fantastic young engineer who’s a computer science major, was randomly in a digital marketing class in the business school, and we would hang out after class for like 45 minutes every class period.

And we would geek out about WordPress themes and what’s coming out with CSS3. And all these like things, you know, and I could follow 10% of the conversation. But he was always…and he had this idea he wanted to do a whole set of themes for breweries.

Andrew: Probably they’re blowing up.

Jake: Yeah, right. Okay.

Andrew: The next bubble next the bitcoin.

Jake: Yeah. So I’ve seen that ability to make things. You know, interviewed this one, it’s fantastic, where she caught my eye in class where she was, you know, we were working some group projects and, you know, we’re chatting. “What do you do?” “I’m interested in social and followers and stuff.” And I was like, “Oh. Well, any examples? What do you like to work on?” She’s like, “Oh, my friend got a Corgi puppy, and I want to see if we could make this Corgi puppy…

Andrew Learns About Corgis

Andrew: I have no idea what that is.

Jake: A corgi? They’re like these little…I think they’re like Welsh dogs, like little short…

Andrew: Oh, it’s a real puppy.

Jake: It’s a real dog.

Andrew: Okay. Yeah.

Male: Okay.

Jake: It’s like a small…it almost looks a fox, I’d say. And so her friend got this Corgi and she was living in Great Falls, which is, you know, three hours from Bozeman. And so, remotely they started putting all these posts together.

And she did all this creative stuff, like just different filters and playing with all these types of things, and got this huge following, and they told the story through the perspective of the dog, of the puppy. And then they started direct messaging people, and then she was sending like direct mail just to see, hey, you know, as the Corgi sending a direct mail piece to a fan.

And I was like, “Why did you do that? You know, who has time as a college student?” She’s like, “Well, I just was really curious to see how it worked.” And I was like, that’s when the alarm bells went off in my head. It’s like, “Oh, interesting.” Because if you’re doing that on your nights and weekends, you’re probably gonna be well able to figure out the next, you know, big wave or the next way to unlock some cool little campaign or growth because you’re just tinkering. So, yeah.

Andrew: Cool. So curiosity and what was the other one?

Jake: Making or just build.

Andrew: Curiosity and making.

Jake: Prototyping maybe is a better way to say it.

How to Convince Talent to Work For You

Andrew: Got it. Once you find them, how do you convince them to come and work for your agency? You know, most…especially people, if you’ve already identified the top people, they probably are hustling on their own, they probably some other opportunities. So how do you sell them on your business?

Jake: Great question. One of our very first employees, she’d worked at Boeing the summer before. And so she took a huge gamble by turning down a chance at Boeing. So, I felt a huge responsibility to honor that. And I’m sure on Sunday she was wondering, “God, what was I thinking?”

So to try and convince them, I think we try and say, you know, if you want to just go push Facebook ads, and not to throw shade on anybody or people that… But do you want to look at like really interesting, challenging things? Like, you know, the user journey to purchase, they Google something, and then they, you know, you re-target them on Facebook.

And then you got an email opt-in. And then how did you nurture them through a welcome series on email? And you want to know like what works and does that work for this cohort of customer.

If that kind of like problem from a marketing perspective gets you excited, then they seem to be…then there’s probably some opportunities to do that. And then the next generation of, “What happens when you can do some predictive marketing and predictive analytics to serve a better experience back to that customer?” If those types of problems get them excited, then they tend to wanna come.

But I will say like a lot of people, I get emails almost three or four times a week saying, “Hey, we got this opportunity. You know, we want an intern to do social media.” And that’s what if you wanna hire junior talent to come in and run social media. And yeah, they can totally run Instagram and Facebook, but if you’re looking for sales or you’re looking for results, you know, there’s a little bit more nuance to that.

And so the challenge has to be kind of appealing, the good ones want the challenge. The ones that just want a job, yeah, they’ll take a vague description.

Determining Salaries

Andrew: How much, and this may be jumping ahead a little bit, but getting really good people, you have to…most people that are either really talented or really skilled in something, they wanna work on something interesting, interesting, fun, hard problems, but they can probably command a competitive salary.

But on the flip side of that, you’re come out of school. I mean, even the best people coming out of school still probably don’t know what they don’t know. You know, you’re so young. So when you’re thinking about compensating someone like that, like can you take the stance of, “As long as I sell myself and give them great opportunity, I can just pay market rates.

I don’t have to pay a ton.” Do you have to pay up for great talent even out of school? What’s the mindset there for someone to think about when they’re thinking about, you know, bringing someone in, from an intern, maybe even all the way up to just a full-time hire?

Jake: Well, you know, a lot of agencies, and this has changed a little bit in the last years, but a lot of agencies don’t pay interns. You know, you get the anointed…you’re anointed to come here and work for free, which I just disagree with.

Andrew: You get it free for exposure.

Jake: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Andrew: We’ll help you build your portfolio. You can this on your LinkedIn profile.

The Onboarding Process

Jake: So yeah, we’re really…maybe I can walk through kind of how we onboard or how we hire a little bit. So we do some just casual interviews, like kinda know who I think might be a fit culturally. And I should just pause right now and talk about culture, and that’s kind of a cliché thing.

But as I get older, I’m realizing how critical that is as we’re trying to build our team. That culture piece is really so important. In young people, they want autonomy, they wanna kind of mastery, but they wanna like go to work and feel like they’re working around like something that matters. That matters a lot to Millennials, and to all of us to some degree for sure.

And so the more that, you know, you can kind of tie what they’re doing, say you’re gonna run our Facebook feed. “Okay, great.” “No, no, you’re the voice of this. You get to connect with our customers and you can have conversations every day. So that’s a critical part of the brand experience.” Now there’s different ways you can say that, you know, versus just updating Facebook.

So if you give them something that really matters and they feel like they’re working with people and the culture is there to support them. Because one thing like all of us coming out of school, there’s just so much you don’t…the soft skills. And man, thousand pardons to my former bosses because I was nothing a grea.. First couple years, like, “Oh, dear.”

Worst Things We Did in our First Jobs

Andrew: Can we take a quick aside here? And given the fact that we’re drinking bourbon, we’re more likely to talking about this, each share one to two of the most painful things that in a retrospect, looking back, that we did in our first jobs?

Jake: Oh, yeah. I mean, I can take the whole podcast to talk about dumb things I did.

Andrew: Awesome. Okay, you kick us off. I’ll go after you.

Jake: Okay. I worked for a very, very brilliant patient entrepreneur. We did pharmaceutical software. And I had like an identity crisis because I got so bad at forgetting things. Like, we would go to New York and we would have a big trade show at the Javits Center, right?

And we would get clear across town and I’d forget the extension cord for, you know, or the plug-in cord from the laptop to the projector to show the software demo. And then I’d be racing across, you know, midtown Manhattan in a cab. And then I would do it when we go to LA. And I remember just being like, “Come on, Cook, you really gotta sit down and pull it together.”

And he wrote me this…one day he wrote me this kind of email, like, “All right. You know, once is okay. Twice? All right, Cook, what’s going on?” So I was always… Yeah, I was really bad about that. So, yeah, that was…I screwed up pretty bad.

Andrew: Oh, man, I remember a couple of things. I remember when I was first starting. I have a very…like, I’m very detail-oriented and I like to be exact. But sometimes that can get me in trouble. Because like the first probably two months, three months on my job, my associate, I was an analyst, a lowly analyst, and the guy right above me, he’d give me an assignment and he’d say, “Do this.”

And I’d come back, and I’d…it wasn’t that base of a, you know, of an assignment, but I would think of all these implications and how if you didn’t ever do this, these would happen. And what happens of this. And I would think way too many second, and third, and fourth consequences. And I would go down with questions every 30, 40 minutes. And in my mind, a lot of times he would sit there and he would know I was in the room.

Jake: Pretending really.

Andrew: But he would pretend I was not there. And it would take him sometimes 45 seconds, a minute to turn around. And I was like, “What a jerk. I am just trying to do a great job here and he won’t even talk to me.” And then looking back with years of perspective, I can realize I was an enormous pain and should have just taken some, you know, proactive liberties.

I remember another time we had a pitch and we were rolling up to…we were pitching this company, rolling up to this beautiful seaside villa. And there’s these huge windows looking out over the ocean and also where we’re pull up. And I realized kind of with horror that the pitch books we were gonna give them were all in my bag, packed in with my underwear.

And so I had to like it get out of car, undo it, you know, there’s like oh my skivvies and my socks. And I’m pulling out pitch books and the whole board of this public company is looking down on us. Yeah. So some of the stuff that I think about is pretty grievous worthy.

Jake: Yeah. But, you know, it’s funny. I look back on some of those lessons and some of the things my bosses were trying to teach me, which I was like, “Oh, like, this is so…” you know, “Why is this important as a skill to master?” And I look back on it now and… How to run a meeting. How to send an invite to a meeting.

An agenda. I mean, how to coordinate an event or, you know, do all these little skills or how to just be organized. How to plan your day. And so one the thing I’ve realized is like as we bring people on, like, we have…I always try and sit down and like “Walk me through your system of how you do stuff. Do you do it on a…”

And they’re like, “Oh, I…” “No, no. I wanna, like, physically observe how you do this. Do you put it in a post-it note? Now where do you put that post-it note? Does that go in a moleskin or do you that on the side of your laptop? Do use Google Keep?” Like, you know, “What is that?” And so because I think the more you understand that process, like that’s how you can help those kinda…your junior colleagues, you have to speak a little bit quicker.

Andrew: Yeah. Another thing, too, that I don’t know why this sticks at me, but just owning problems. Like I remember multiple times as an analyst when things went wrong, I tried to, you know, I’d be like…I remember one time I was driving, my managing director, like my, you know, boss two or three levels up, somewhere. Totally got lost. And like I can’t remember whether it was the MapQuest, I was trying to blame the MapQuest. I mean, this is…

Jake: I’ve had that experience, too.

Andrew: This is how old I am, right? Like we didn’t have iPhones.

Jake: I remember that, yeah. You’d print out the MapQuest.

Andrew: Print everything up, right? Yeah. But anyway, you know, we got lost somewhere. And I was, you know, I has trying to… And my boss is like, “Dude, you just need to like this…you need own this. Like you need to make sure we get to the right place.”

And then another time, too, where went to a meeting and I pulled out pitch books and gave them to the client. And only after 40 minutes, and this is another like a CFO of a public company, he was like, “Oh, hey, by the way. Thanks for coming. Could I get a copy of that pitch book that wasn’t marked up with your notes?”

And I’d given him the wrong… Anyway, the bottom line is just that I would always…my first reaction as a really young person in the professional world was to make excuses because I thought that would protect me when…that’s now how it works. Like, you get so much more respect and trust and confidence from your superiors when you own it. And you just say, “I totally botched that. I’m sorry. I’m gonna make it better next time.” But I didn’t realize that.

Jake: No. That case in point when I kept screwing things up and couldn’t get my act in order. My boss wrote me this email. On that same trip I’d like got the wrong MapQuest direction and he landed, he had taken like an overseas flight, met me, and we were going to like Pfizer, I think, at their headquarters and it was a big deal, you know?

I got us lost in rural Connecticut in a rainstorm because I didn’t have MapQuest. And here was this email like, “Can you do it in…,” you know. But like we got back home and, you know, two days later I got this just scathing like list of, “You screwed this up, and then this up, and this up.” And I wrote back and I remember just being like, “Man, I got nothing to say. Like you’re exactly right. And I’ll try and do different next time.”

So, yeah, I think as a young person coming out, you don’t want anybody to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. And the brutal secret is none of us really know what we’re doing most days. But as a young person, you think all these old people know what their…they’ve got it all figured out and they look like they’re put together. But, you know, we’re all just kind of spinning plates a lot of days, too.

Andrew: Well, at least you owned it. You were ahead of me.

Jake: Well, I’m sure, I think I tried some whining and consternation to my cube mate at the time, so, yeah.

How To Test Aptitude

Andrew: Oh, yeah. So enough for Andrew’s and Jake’s story right here. Sorry about that. But getting back, one thing I wanted ask you is, so jumping back into getting really good quality talent, unlike ourselves, into your organization, how do you test…people can say…you can probably assume that most people coming out of college don’t have a lot of hard skills based on an experience. Maybe a little bit here and there, but not much.

But how do you test somebody’s aptitude and ability to really, you know, scale this up quickly and develop those quickly, versus someone who just maybe isn’t cut out for that role? Do you have any kind of processes or trial runs or projects that you put potential hires through before you’ve signed them on?

Jake: Yeah. Hopefully this is helpful because this is a hack I stole from a company in Palo Alto called Medallia, which does customer experience software, and they have an incredible culture of people. One thing I learned was, you know, you go through interviews and people can snowball you.

That’s a whole art in hiring which I’m still trying to get better at. But you go through…so I would do it, for example, I’ll walk through the process. I’ll do an interview and I’ll kind of walk through it, and then I’ll pass it over. And often times if it’s a student I know, I’ll just introduce them to our head of services and I will say, “Hey, Hannah,” Hannah runs all our service division.

“Go ahead. Here’s somebody you might I think is interesting that you could grow and help you, join your team. Roll with it.”

And so Hannah will do an interview with like somebody else. We’ll kind of put together like what are we looking for, kind of like a scorecard or something like that sometimes in advance. We’ll see how they go out of that, they progress. And I let the candidate know upfront like, “This will be really painful and laborious, so just bear with us.

But it’s really important that it’s a good fit for you and it’s a good fit for us, even as an intern. Because I don’t wanna waste your time, and I want, you know, if I can help you get to a better opportunity, I’ll definitely do that if it’s not a Tadpull or whatever.”

So if they kinda progressed through these things and everybody is like, “Yep.” Feel like they’re coachable, they’re curious, they’re humble, they’re not a know-it-all, they’d work well in teams. Then from there, what we’ll do is I give them a challenge.

So it’s almost like similar to what I’ll do like for a final exam in class. Like, okay, Google merchandise store. You can setup a demo account in there in Google Analytics so you can get a full ecommerce store. I was like, “Hey, what if you had to grow average order value by 30%?” I’ll give kind of a vague thing, like here’s the business goal.

Similar to, you know, what you might be trying to do with your own store or for, you know, a client or whatever. And then we’ll have them go through and put together a deck, or a presentation. And part of that is I make them use Google Data studio, because I wanna see can they ask questions of data and then visualize it.

And if they can put together a dashboard that gets at some of these performance indicators and backs up some of their thoughts with data, and they’ll come in and they’ll present to the entire company. So I’m looking for analytical skills, I’m looking for a little creativity, and I’m also looking for the soft skills. Can I put together a deck and a logic and we can all follow it?

And then how do they present? So you’re an engineer. We’ll give them a challenge. We’ll give them adjacent array out of the Shopify store. I’m like, “All right, parse through this. Tell us how it stores. Then give me a dashboard. Imagine I’m the CEO of this fictitious watch company. Help me visualize the data, how to use that.” And so that’s worked really well for us. Really, really well for the most part.

Hire for Short Term Contracts

Andrew: And when you assign those, do you pay them for that? How long did those take? Is this like a two or three hour…sounds like it’s more than two or three hours. Is it kind of a short-term contract project? How do you think about that?

Jake: It’s a great question. So I do say like this isn’t a paid gig, you know, like, this is…there’s some hire, you know, all sorts of crazy things with contracts and stuff like that. So I’ll say, “Hey, you know, if you’re interested, this is the process at the outset. This is how we go through it. And if you advance here a couple gates on the interview side, we’ll do a challenge,” and we’ll kind of go through it. “And if you’re open to that…” The fascinating thing, I’m always looking for the soft clues.

So if they try and slap something together, I mean, you can tell right away. And I’ve always noticed from teaching, the students that go out and like talk to 25 to 50 customers, potential customers, for a marketing campaign, their stuff is just…the qualitative research, they know their customers. You can’t catch them, they know it. “Our customer would do this because…” “Well, we notice this behavior.”

“This is the belief, this is the trend.” And so that shows up again on these interviews, you can just see. And so they know conversion rates, you know, if SEO is up or down, they know all that stuff and it comes through when you ask them questions, you know, like, “Okay. Sweet. I’m not gonna have to…” or, “Nobody on this team is really gonna spend lot of time trying to make sure we got someone here that can roll.”

So we’re looking for that baseline. But then when they come in, there’s obviously all sorts of stuff that they’ll apply about a year to a year and a half of pretty brutal learning curve.

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I think you mentioned in your post in the forms, most people are kind of, you know, half drowning for the first 6 to 12 months. And that was totally me and my first job.

Jake: Oh, we all were.

Andrew: I mean, I was just…hence the 45-minute on the dot regular question sessions with my boss.

Jake: I always used to just go and say, “Hey, quick question.” And you could just hear, as my hot breath is cascading down my boss’s neck, you could see him just kind of like sigh and his shoulders would slump and they’d slowly turn around in their chair.

Andrew: Now, I should have done that. I should have got right up on his neck and breathed. I think I would’ve spent less time sitting when he wouldn’t acknowledge my presence.

Jake: Hey, quick question. Yeah, yeah. I’m very fortunate to serve a really great group of people every day and I love walking up the stairs. And I think for me, as a leader, when you walk in like I’m gonna work with some really smart people, a lot of them are gonna teach me something today, which is really fun. I like that.

And so how we get them to try and perform is we do open book management at the company. So Jack Stack wrote a book called “Great Game of Business.” He wrote another one called “A Piece of the Action,” I think he’s, the editor at Inked Magazine.

But basically the open-book management is you treat business like a game. They have a whole company called “The Great Game of Business.” But the idea is that you open up the playbook and the score. And I always treat it kind of like a game, and say, “Okay. Here’s your gross rev, here’s our forecast, here’s our profitability, here’s our cost, here’s what taxes cost us this year.”

An Open Book With Financials

Andrew: So you share, sorry to interrupt, but you share all of this with your hires? Like the company financials?

Jake: Full-time. Not interns we won’t. But, yeah, once you’re a full-time employee, part of what we do is open-book, yeah.

Andrew: Oh, wow. Okay.

Jake: Because if you’re an employee and you might, you know, hear what a contract goes through, what the cost is, like, “Oh my gosh, you know, they’re killing it. Oh my God.” It’s like, “Yeah, well, we paid this…”

Andrew: Should I get silver floors at home.

Jake: Reality is dented bamboo. The idea there is, you know, taxes. They have no… It’s funny because young people, you don’t realize, that like you know we pay 35% to 38% in taxes as primarily a SaaS service company. We don’t have a lot of hard assets to write off against or anything like that, you know, capital expenses, things like that.

So trying to teach them, my goal is if people come and work at Tadpull, when they leave I want them to understand not just digital marketing and data and analytics, but also business. And I really want them to get that. Because if I can get them to think like a business person entrepreneur, when I put them in front of a VP or a c-suite person as a junior person, you know, if you talk to a c-suite person about profitability, lowering cost, increasing sales, increasing customer lifetime value, if you talk those numbers, they will always look past your age.

You’ll always get a little bit of, like, you’ll get their attention a little bit more I’ve found. So I tried and do that. And I found the best way to do that is starting with our own company and explaining all the costs and stuff like that.

Importance of Empathy

Andrew: That’s cool. Couple more questions before we start wrapping up. But you mentioned empathy. You know, empathy for a project manager. And I noticed that, you know, kinda in prepping for this, on your LinkedIn profile, you mention the word empathy like numerous times in relation to marketing. And I’ve always thought empathy is one of the best secret weapons that all really amazing marketers have.

Because really good marketers in my opinion, not paid per se, because if you want paid traffic you just pay to play, but if you’re trying to connect with people, if you’re trying to market on a human basis, or with companies, or just other stakeholders, there’s no better way to be able to do that to understand where someone is at, what’s bothering them, what they need, and how you can help them either get to where they wanna go or solve that problem.

And if you can take that mindset, your market can become so much more effective. And so, I don’t know, I thought it was cool that you mentioned that, too. And I’d love to…is that something you think about or is that a sentiment you share?

Jake: Yeah. I’ve just kind of become obsessed with it over the years, as I realize the power of it. Because if you look at, you know, when Larry and Sergei did their initial public offering letter, they talked about our number one guiding principle, Google serving users. And I think about some people want to figure out some of way to game a, you know, an algorithm is, you know, do some blackout techniques to gain it or whatever.

It’s like, “Man, what if you just spent, you know, called your ten best customer and spent an hour talking to them.” And Bezos, I think, at Amazon, you know, it’s a whole lot of conversation probably, but…

Andrew: He does it well, I think.

Jake: I think that, yeah, their…you know. And what I think what’s fascinating about Bezos is, you know, he starts with what’s gonna be true in 10 years? What will customer want in 10 years? Not what do I want, what does Amazon want, what’s a customer want in10 years? Do they want, you know, more expensive products?

No. Slower shipping times? No. A convoluted experience across devices? No. I mean that’s how they navigate Amazon off that kind of piece of it. And so I think our best people kind of have three things, you know, they have empathy, they can execute, and then they try and do that with excellence. We try and talk about those three Es, like, you know, so that empathy piece is huge.

And a lot of times when you’re dealing with people internally, externally, whatever, we try and talk a lot about like, we all have our bad days or whatever, but it’s like, “Well, what’s that director optimizing for? What’s his variable that he’s optimizing around?” And we’ll ask that question, “Well, what’s he optimizing for?”

It’s like, oh, you know, it could be… “She might be, you know, under trying to get a promotion and she’s really worried about this campaign performing well,” or “They were trying to get a bunch of data, they’re try to understand this data before they make this huge investment in inventory.” And so that stopping and pausing, or even asking like, “Hey, you know, I’m just curious. What are your goals?”

That was one of the most…I was like, “Hey, what are your goals or what do you really…is there anything we can do to help you achieve some things that will help you get that next promotion or raise.” If you shut up and listen at that point, it’s amazing what people will start to tell you.

Andrew: Yeah. It’s funny till you hear like people aren’t motivated solely by money, but then I think a lot of times, we think, “Oh, we forget that,” or like, “Yeah, we’ll just pay somebody more.”

But I mean, just reminded me today, I was sitting down with somebody and just talking about how, I mean, they’re making really good money, but there are certain aspects in their working career where issues with people they work with, or they’re not feeling challenged enough, and they’re thinking about maybe making a shift for, you know, just the reasons that they want to be more challenged and more respected in the workplace.

And like, as a manager like I think it’s easy to read the quotes and forget them, but they’re super true. They’re cliché for a reason, because they’re true.

Heroes Don’t Scale

Jake: Yeah, I completely agree. And I think back to like how do you get good talent, keep them retained, and whatever? I think giving them that challenge but also the empathy that comes with it, you know, of like, “Hey, I know you’re a year or two out of school. This probably seems a lot overwhelming. There’s a lot of small, you know, soft skills that you’re still mastering. But I’m interesting in you because I wanna help you achieve these things. And I’m, you know, I want to build the team that’s gonna support you.” We always say like heroes don’t scale.

Andrew: That’s a good quote. That’s a really good quote. One last question for you. Thank you. You gave me the book, “Four” by Scott Galloway. Fantastic read, really enjoyed it.

Jake: Yes.

Takeaways from the book “Four”

Andrew: He’s a really interesting, unique guy in our space. What was your biggest or most impactful takeaway from that book? And maybe before you answer, just as a quick cue of it’s a book about Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple, and really where we are in 2018 with in the tech landscape, especially given how much power those four have accumulated.

Jake: I can’t spin it on you and ask you, I’d love to hear, spin it around and hear your take on what you thought was the biggest takeaway.

Andrew: Oh, man, that’s good question. I would say the biggest takeaway for me was that… And I am politically, you know, probably pretty centrist, maybe that slight amount, lean slightly conservative, but fairly centrist. For me the thing that it probably convinced me a lot of was that we are gonna have some real issues going forward with wealth and equality in the future.

Some of the stats he talks about with the amount of wealth and profitability that these four firms are able to generate with the size of their workforce, is just phenomenal. And I think the quote that probably sums up the best, I would say, was one from the book where he says, “It’s never been easier to be a billionaire, and it’s never been harder to be a millionaire.” That’s a little hyperbolic. But the sentiment is that it’s the rewards of mastering tech are just accumulating so disproportionately to people who know it.

And on one hand, it’s cool if you know that stuff. But you think long-term, if you would have asked me 10 years ago, if I thought there would ever…you should ever have a basic universal income, I would’ve said, “That is the worst idea I could ever imagine.” I still think there’s a lot of really big problems with that, a lot of moral hazard issues.

But Bill D’Alessandro would love to jump up in here and talked about his vision of the future where everyone’s plugged into VR and drinking Soylent all on matrix style. But I think we have to do something, like, I think it’s gonna be a big issue that’s only gonna get worse. Especially for countries like America who, you know, we’ve kind of disproportionately enjoyed kind of this insulated standard of living for a lot of our residents even if they aren’t crazy, you know, highly skilled. So for me that was the biggest takeaway.

Jake: Yeah. I think this backlash you’re seeing against tech, where it was so cool and big mobile and social, and knitting the world together. And for, you know, probably a lot of folks that are listening like myself, you know, its let us have these incredible careers. You know, I grew up in a pretty blue-collar background in rural Wyoming, and I watched my grandfather and my father do road construction, ran a road construction company.

And, you know, in an open cab in the wind in 30 below weather. And with inflation rates in the 20s and they’re borrowing ridiculous amounts of money to buy a piece of equipment to try as an asset to put to work, you know. And I whine about I got a lot of email to answer to, you know?

So I think it’s enabled these incredible careers where, you know, you can spin up an ecommerce store. And I think that’s what’s kind of cool about this stuff is, you know, the technology is no longer the barrier, you know, It’s not…that’s not the hindrance. What does that mean when, for all these other reasons, when we don’t need, you know, when the robots deliver the packages, we don’t need a FedEx driver.

How’s that person go home, put food on the table, and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, I think it’s a very interesting future, you know. There’s lots of different ways it can go. You hope for the best. I think for me, one of the big takeaways of the book was just I was just dumbfounded by Amazon, in the first part of the book when he talks about there’s the vision of where they are and how far ahead they are.

And we do this a lot with helping people with, you know, we always say like what the software is, they were trying to give the same tools Amazon has on the data to the mid-market companies. So Amazon’s had these tools for a long, long time. Let’s try and disseminate those. That’s kind of the vision that’s helping teams. We’re act on data, automate data so that the right things happen, those things are serviced, you know, so you can compete. Because the one thing Amazon can’t do is build that empathy, that personal connection to you.

And if we can use data to help you scale that, so you can scale that empathy if you will a little bit, which is a big challenge. But if we can kind of build those tools for small businesses, we think that’s a huge opportunity. One of our clients is in rural Arkansas, and they’re just great folks. Really fun people to work with.

But you go to, you know, this town about an hour outside Little Rock and, I mean, this store is a big deal. I mean, it drives that local economy in a big, big way. And so you think about, “Wow. They’re creating jobs and all these things that happen.” And, you know, you kind of want players like that to win. Because if that all goes to Amazon, like this little…what would this do for the small community?

Andrew: Maybe on a flip side to my point on a slightly sunnier side. So I’m kind of like, you know, they’re just gonna drive off a cliff in their cars right after this podcast. I mean, on the flip side, one thing that is cool is if you are ambitious and you hustle, and you’re dedicated to excellence, and like the internet has…

Because everything…location is so much less of an issue than it used to be, so many of the games do go to people. If you can find a great niche and niche down and do really well, and be world-class, even if it’s a really obscure niche, you’ve got the ability to be able to create a life, and a business, and a career for yourself today in 2018 that rewards you in a way that you’ve never been able to before.

Jake: Yeah. It’s amazing.

Andrew: Pretty cool.

Jake: It’s really amazing.

Andrew: Yeah.

Jake: And you don’t have the high priests of technology where you’ve got to spend ridiculous amounts of money to get on the field. I mean it’s…you can have a store up in an hour or two. I mean, that’s mind-blowing because when I started out, I remember uploading, you know, PHP files and all sorts to the server to, you know, and editing config files for WordPress.

And in class, on the midterm exam, we all built a site in WordPress and in an hour they’ve reserved a domain name and they have a WordPress site tipped up. And they’re learning beginning on page SEO. And I have to pause and they kind of roll their eyes. I’m like, “You guys, isn’t this amazing?” And they’re kind of like, “So?”

Andrew: But if you pull out your flip phone to like really put an explanation point on what you’re trying to say.

Jake: I still have it in a file cabinet somewhere, so I should.

Andrew: You should start all your classes with your flip phone.

Jake: Everybody got their phones? I want you to show you like… Yeah. Yeah.

What Tadpull Does

Andrew: Jake, can you talk a little bit about what you do at Tadpull and you have a services side of the business and a SaaS side, which we’ve kind of alluded to, but I’d love it if… Can you talk, kinda just give us an overview of the services you offer and the software you offer at Tadpull?

Jake: Sure. So on the services side, we kind of see, you know, this path to purchase or user experience, crossing across device and across channel. So we kind of help clients navigate that. So, you know, helping with SEO and then helping with social and re-targeting, helping run things like Google Shopping, and then email. And a part of what we try and say is your knowledge should be free.

And so when we work with our clients, we hold a conference in New York in May, or excuse me in June. And then we hold one here in Bozeman in October. We bring everybody together that are kind of in a similar vein. And it’s, you know, “What do you wanna know?” We do a survey and we put together a lot of tutorials and trainings. “Hey, here’s the tools we’re using you might like.”

“Here’s an awesome Chrome plugin for keyword density on a page,” or whatever. So, yeah, so we have a lot of helping clients drive traffic through those four channels, helping their teams level up on the data in the analytics, and then teaching tactics and tools, and things like that.

On the software side the last two years, we’ve kind of silently been building this software tool in the background to manage and map a campaign, and then figure out what’s working. Plan a campaign, strategize, assign people to do it so it gets done, and then looking at how channels are performing. And the big thing we stumbled across was operations.

And what happens when you have, you know, stock-outs in inventory, and all these things that as you grow, become a big constraint, which a lot of times it’s hard to do in small companies. “So we’re out of stock but we’re still running ads on Facebook. We’re paying for that traffic. Someone comes in, it’s, you know, out of stock. What do we do? Like, how do we dynamically turn that off? Or how do we surface that.”

So the software is called the Tadpull pond. It’s kind of a take on data lakes, we call it a data pond. And then we look at everything that sits in the pond as a lily pad, apologies for the cheesy analogies.

Andrew: I’ll try to not “ribbit” right here.

Jake: Yeah. So there is a ribbit, that’s what we call it. So when there’s an alert, call that. But we were listening on the data, and when there’s an anomaly, like, you have a spike in 404s, or your inventory is running low, or your conversion rate dipped out of the blue, you know, we surface that, and it’s either a text or an email back to the right person.

So if someone goes through checkout and gives you a 1 out of 10 for net promoter score, you can catch that in the moment. Because you might have spent 10, 20 bucks acquiring that customer to come in, and that should go right to the head of customer service and try and win that customer back.

Andrew: Very cool. And you also have a site, where you write a lot about, you know, all things digital marketing, kind of a lot of that stuff, as well as a textbook you’re working on, “The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing.”

Jake: Yes. I kind of open-sourced everything from class. It’s been a fantastic experiment. I did it just to kind of learn and in play. And so I wrote it, open-sourced it, and there’s a second edition coming out that’s kind of built around this…if you’ve seen a business model canvas from Lean Startup, it’s a very similar type of thing but for digital marketing. And so, hopefully, that’ll come out later this spring or summer.

Andrew: Very cool. And this is Tadpull with a, right? Not P-O-L-L.

Jake: Correct. And the pull stands for pull marketing instead of push marketing. Know your user, have empathy, and pull them in.

Lightning Round!

Andrew: Awesome, love it. So check them out, Before we wrap up, if you’re up for it, would love to do a quick lightning around with you.

Jake: Absolutely.

Andrew: All right.

Jake: I’ll do my best.

Andrew: Awesome. I love using it, yeah. If you had to identify the number one thing you’re trying to optimize your life for right now, what would it be?

Jake: Good food.

Andrew: Nice. Who’s someone you strongly disagree with?

Jake: That’s a really good one. I would say, probably strongly, leaving politics aside, I would say I probably strongly disagree with Peter Thiel. I don’t think monopolies are the future, I think there’s something in between.

Andrew: And just based on kind of our discussion today about hiring talent, what’s your favorite or most telling interview question when hiring potential people out of college?

Jake: What do you for fun nights and weekends?

Andrew: And I will ask you off air what you were hoping to find out. Because…so your students can’t hear your answers. Not that I think there’s that many turning into the ECF podcast. How much money is enough, what would be your number? So money in the bank where, if you had that in the bank, you’d still do stuff for wanting just to work for love, but you wouldn’t feel like you had to if you didn’t have to.

Jake: So money in the bank that would generate a passive income stream, this will sound weird, at like three grand a month. Because I think constraints are opportunities. And so if you had to live on three grand a month, what would you do differently? Would you move to Vietnam? You know, would you do something totally different? So I’d probably take a little bit different approach there like, yeah.

Andrew: Interesting. This is interesting. Probably the episodes won’t likely air this way, but I’ve asked that question and probably three out of four or four the four last people I’ve talked to have said something similar.

Jake: Oh, really?

Andrew: Mr. Money Mustache or living on, you know, being really, really careful with what I spend. And I feel like there is…maybe it’s just who I, you know, who I end up talking to, but…and enjoy chatting with, but I feel like there’s somewhat of a shift. Even for people who are like yourself, you’re a really smart guy, very successful business owner, like thinking through how can I…taking more of a mindset of you don’t need a lot to be able to be happy in terms of perpetuity and enjoying life.

Jake: Yeah. I think that idea of gratitude every day, especially if, you know, if you’re fortunate to live in a town like Bozeman with really fascinating, smart, interesting people and amazing views. I mean, we’re sitting here looking at an incredible mountain range as the sun’s setting on like snow-capped peaks.

Andrew: Our guys should come over to your side of the …

Jake: It’s quite the view here. So, yeah, I think that gratitude piece is huge and in keeping that in mind. So I always struggle a little bit like, you know, revenue things or ways to kind of…it’s like peacekeeping a split in a race. So it’s kind of fun to major off that. But if you kind of put your self-worth around that, then you start to get into some like scary areas. So I try to be grateful. Back to good food. I find it’s a really low investment that can provide a lot of enjoyment.

Andrew: There’s very few things that give me as much like visceral pleasure as just good food when you’re hunger.

Jake: I just wish going to the gym was as much fun.

Andrew: What’s the worst investment you’ve made in the last 10 years?

Jake: I bought a 3D printer.

Andrew: Was it a good investment?

Jake: Was a good investment. I didn’t know 3D CAD and I didn’t know about the architecture market, but I did a start-up 10 years ago and bought a 3d printer and put it in my garage. And I learned a lot about online marketing that way, which was really good thing, but I think there’s other assets to purchase that would’ve provided the same learning experience.

Andrew: I’ll let you redeem yourself here, what’s the best investment outside of your business that you’ve made in the last 10 years?

Jake: Probably time with my wife. Incredibly smart, kind, motivated person. So yeah, I would say every minute I get to spend with her, and she’ll put up with me which is great. So, yeah.

Andrew: Nice.

Jake: Thanks, Lee.

Andrew: That’s a good answer. And then finally last question, what’s the first CD you ever owned? We were talking about how old we are. We might as end on this one.

Jake: Oh, I remember, it’s crystal clear, because I grew up in a town where you couldn’t buy a CD, it was so small. And so Nirvana, “Never Mind,” when he kind of knocked Michael Jackson off the charts. I mean, that was like a big, big deal.

Andrew: Yeah, I’m shocked. That’s such a huge album. I can’t believe we…I’ve never had that… That one has not come up yet in the lightning round from people, which is shocking.

Jake: Do you know what’s the most referenced album?

Andrew: They’ve been over the board. Everything from like Salt and Pepper to TLC to Nirvana, they’ve been everywhere. It seems like everyone has their…I think we need to do like a playlist of music off of people’s first CDs off the lightning round.

Jake: I think that’s awesome. I just say Dr. Dre…yeah, The Chronic from Dr. Dre. I remember that was a big one that came out around that time. So, yeah.

Andrew: Not a good.

Jake: Talk about dating ourselves.

Andrew: Yeah. Well, let’s just stop before we…people think we’re 70. Jake, this has been fun, man. Love having you here. Hopefully we can hang out some more in the future, and thanks for coming on.

Jake: Well, thanks for all you do for the community and putting together, you know, content like this for free. I know I’ve learned a lot at the gym listening to the podcast and being inspired by the guests. So I feel deeply humble to be here. So thank you.

Andrew: Yeah. It’s been great having you. And if you’re at the gym listening to this, I will definitely try to get that 90s playlist in for you. Because that would be…

Jake: Anything that would make…yeah.

Andrew: That would be so much easier to run to than my podcast so…

Jake: No, this is fantastic. So it’s actually my motivation to go to gym, like, “Oh, cool. I learned something. Now maybe I’ll go to the treadmill.” So, thank you.

Andrew: Cool. Thanks, man.

Jake: Awesome. Cheers.

Andrew: That’s gonna do it for this week’s episode, but if you enjoyed what you heard and are interesting in getting plugged into a dynamic community of experienced store owners, check us out at EcommerceFuel is the private vetted community for ecommerce entrepreneurs.

And what makes us different is that we really heavily vet everyone that is a member to make sure that they’re a great fit, that they can add value to a broader community. Everyone that joins has to be doing at least a quarter million dollars in sales via their store. And our average member does over seven figures in sales annually. So if you’d like to learn more, if that sounds interesting, you can learn more and apply for membership at

And also have to thank our two sponsors that make the show possible, Liquid Web. If you are on WooCommerce or you’re thinking about getting onto WooCommerce, Liquid Web is who you should have host your store, particularly with their managed WooCommerce hosting. It’s highly elastic and scalable, it’s got built-in tools to performance test your store so you can be confident it’s gonna work well, and it’s built from the ground up for WooCommerce. And you can learn more about their offering at

And finally, Klaviyo for email marketing, they make email segmentation easy and powerful. They integrate with just about every card out there, and help you build…help you, you know, build incredibly automated powerful segments that make you money on autopilot. You can check them out and get started for free at

Thanks so much for listening, and looking forward to seeing you again next Friday.

Andrew: Want to connect with and learn from other proven ecommerce entrepreneurs? Join us in the eCommerceFuel private community. It’s our tight-knit, vetted group for store owners with at least a quarter million dollars in annual sales. You can learn more and apply for membership at

Thanks so much for listening and I’m looking forward to seeing you again next time.


What Was Mentioned
Posted on: April 13th, 2018

Andrew is the founder of eCommerceFuel and has been building eCommerce businesses ever since gleefully leaving the corporate world in 2008.  Join him and 1,000 vetted 6 and 7-figure store owners inside the eCommerceFuel Community.

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