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Cindy Gallop: How to Blow Shit Up And Make a Difference

picture of Cindy Gallop

Cindy Gallop

Founder & CEO, MakeLoveNotPorn

My guest this episode is Cindy Gallop, a former advertiser who has worked for brands such as Coca-Cola, Ray-Ban and Polaroid. In 2009 she launched makelovenotporn.tv to make real world sex socially acceptable and shareable. If you are dissatisfied with your marketing 9-5 job, or want to transform your business, this is the episode for you. Listen in to learn how to “blue-sky” your dreams and take your work to the next level.

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We covered:

  • The state of modern advertising
  • “Blue-sky” marketing exercises and changing your mindset
  • Humanizing big data and the importance of diversity
  • Rebalancing the power equation
  • How to productize your business
  • Thinking of your audience as your team
  • Identifying your values and finding your default throwaway descriptor

Full Transcript:

Louis: Bonjour! Bonjour! Welcome to another episode of everyonehatesmarketers.com, the digital marketing podcast for tech marketers who are sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host, Louis Grenier. If you’re a marketer who lost his way or her way, if you’re on a marketing job that you hate, and you can’t wait to get out of your job after 5:00PM, if you feel too smart for the people around you and want to do something bigger, or simply you want to transform your business and truly make a dent in this universe, then listen up, because my guest today might be able to help you. She’s famous for a phrase, “I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business,” and this is exactly what we’re gonna do today. She used to be an advertiser who worked for brand like Coca-Cola, Ray-Ban, Polaroid. In 2009, she launched makelovenotporn.tv which is a video showing site designed to make real world sex socially acceptable and shareable. You might have guessed it, her name is Cindy Gallop.

Cindy, welcome to the show.

Cindy:Thank you very much Louis, I’m thrilled to be here.

Louis:Cindy, what’s wrong with advertising today?

Cindy: A lot, Louis, because the theme of your show is very close to my heart, and it’s one that I spend a lot of time talking about in my business speaking and also consultancy. Let me go straight to the very heart of the answer to your question, because, to anybody listening, per your intro, whatever area they work in, be it in tech, be it marketing, be it advertising, this is really the absolute key if you want to transform marketing to make your business widely successful, whatever it is, especially in tech.

Think about all those millions of marketing and advertising messages all of us receive everyday, including those of us who work in this area, and then think about the messages within them, the ones that go something like this, “You can download this for free if you just agree to watch these ads.” “You can make these calls free from your phone, if you just agree to receive these ads to it.” “Skip this ad,” subtext, “You know you want to.” And my personal favorite, the pre-reel video announcement, “Only 12 more seconds, only 11 more seconds, we know it’s horrible, we know it’s torture, we know you’re suffering, hang on in there.”

What all of these messages are driven by, and what they communicate, is that advertising is a very bad thing. They communicate that advertising is a very bad thing and that people therefore have to be begged, bribed, cajoled, persuaded, tricked, deceived, and blackmailed into watching it. And therein lies an enormous problem.

Years and years ago, I heard a gentleman called Marc Goldstein speak at an American Association Advertising Agencies conference here in the US back when he was the CMO of the ad agency, Fallon. He said something I’ve always remembered. He said, “People hate advertising in general, but they love advertising in particular.” And what he meant by that was if you stop a man or woman on the street and you go, “What do you think of advertising?” They’ll go, “Oh, I bloody hate it. It’s everywhere I go. It gets in the way of all my favorite shows.” But, if you ask the man on the street, “What’s your favorite ad?” They’ll go, “Ooh, I really love that Nike ad where…”

People hate advertising in general but they love advertising in particular. My message to your audience is that if you want to maximize the power of marketing and advertising, you must completely shift your mindset to bloody love marketing and advertising in order to convince people that what we do can actually be good. What I say to people is we need to move our focus on making good marketing advertising to making marketing and advertising good.

Here’s why that mindset shift is so critically important. Whenever WhatsApp sold to Facebook, I think that was about three years ago, I use a quote from Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp. When the media coverage went out about Facebook bought WhatsApp for 19 billion dollars, something extraordinary, Jan Koum was quoted saying, “Don’t worry everybody, we’re still not gonna run any ads.”

This quote comes from an article that AdWeek published about this, and the headline of the article was something like, “WhatsApp and seven other tech platforms that hate advertising including Facebook.” The founders of every single one of the gigantic tech platforms that are, for many people, the future of advertising, all have one thing in common; they bloody hate advertising and marketing. It’s interesting because they see it as a necessary evil because their exponential growth, enormous valuations, and humongous IPOs are predicated on one thing only, advertising. They predicate on the assumption that everyone on those platforms will be able to turn colossal human networks into advertiser-funded, revenue-generating BMFs.

Larry and Sergey, when they founded Google, originally swore there will never be advertising on Google because we hate it. Funny enough, today, 95% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. David Karp of Tumblr was quoted saying he hated advertising. Mark Zuckerberg clearly doesn’t like advertising either and yet, everybody sees these platforms with advertising.

The problem with hating advertising is that you will never, ever, ever leverage the enormous power technology has to transform marketing and advertising as long as you hate it. An indicator of that is, this never fails to astonish me, take Facebook as an example. Facebook has enormous cash reserves, phenomenal resources, the very best engineering talent in the entire world, and yet Facebook’s advertising proposition for brand marketers and advertisers is basically a new world order form of display advertising. All they sell is display advertising, when what they could be doing is… The point I make is the future is not ad units, it’s ad products.

Creating things of utility and value that delight consumers in the way that they’re delivered to completely transform your advertising business and that is not happening. When you ask me what is wrong with advertising, what is wrong with marketing, that lies the absolute core of it. Marketers included, as long as you believe that what you’re doing is horrible and unpleasant and people hate it, you just have to find ways to intrude on their consciousness as much as possible, you will never, ever, ever leverage the true power of tech in marketing and advertising. Does that make sense?

Louis: Completely does. There is an interesting thing here that we need to discuss. There is a big difference between what people say and what they actually do. People will absolutely always say I hate to be sold to. They don’t want to feel like they are being sold to. Yet, millions, hundreds of millions are spent every year on Super Bowl ads. People are now looking forward to Christmas ads every year. Advertising does work, or else, companies would have stopped doing it awhile ago, right? It does work. People just feel that they’re being sold too much. Rand Fishkin from Moz said, “You only notice bad advertising and bad marketing. When it’s good, you don’t call it advertising. You just say, “Oh, I love this brand. I love what they do.”

Cindy: You are actually right, Louis. At my old agency, BBH, our creative philosophy was, “We don’t sell. We make people want to buy.” That’s what really great marketing advertising does. There’s another very important point about that that I want to make to your audience, specifically as it relates to the tech world, because, and I think, this is partly due again to the ways that many of the huge tech venture role models have grown-up, which is you have tech founders, usually, by the way, and this is also a problem in this scenario, white male tech founders who build something they want to build which really takes off. And then they go, at some point when they’ve taken enough funding and there’s now press and growth, and then they go, “Oh, now we need marketing.” That’s a massive misconception.

Marketing is not an add-on and it isn’t even a separate thing. Marketing is something that you design into your platform from the ground up. You cannot separate it out from the absolute core of what you’re creating. At its most essential, marketing is why would anybody want to use or buy or be loyal to or talk about what we’re building? I really the urge tech world especially not to think about marketing as something you bring on later, is completely separate. All those folks who have no bloody idea what we’re…

That’s also mindset you need to shift particularly because, and I talk about this in my industry when I talk about how marketers and advertisers can take the brave new world of tech and turn it into hard-headed commercial advertising and marketing reality. What you need to do is you need to have a shared vision of what you want to achieve that everybody in whatever discipline that they work in then work towards.

I’ll give you an example of how much marketers, and tech platforms, are not thinking like this at the moment. Marketing and advertising in my [00:11:35] really suffers from shiny new object syndrome. What I mean by that is both on the client side brands, and on the agency side, I see a lot of people going “Ooh, ooh, we need to be on Snapchat.” “Ooh, Snapchat’s the big thing, we need to go on Snapchat.” “Ooh, we must be on Instagram.” “Ooh, it’s all about VR. We must do something in VR.”

Whereas obviously, what should be happening is everyone should be going, “Here are our business objectives, here is our brand vision, here is what we want to achieve. Now, what technology will strategically enable us to achieve that?” That isn’t happening which results in a lot of very diffused and very ineffective marketing strategies and campaigns and programs.

What I urge marketers and advertising agencies to do instead is because the principle that I’m talking about here is objective drives strategy. But even when people get that, they aren’t taking it far enough. What I say to marketers is take the principle of objective drives strategy and then blow those objectives out well into the future. Blue-sky it.

Quite literally go, “In five years’ time, what would we love to have happen?” When I say blue-sky it, I mean literally sci-fi it, magic it. Have no problem with not having to think that vision be grounded in reality. Literally go in a science fiction world, in five years’ time what would we love to have happen? Because no matter how magical and unrealistic whatever you say seems, the technology exists right now that will enable that to happen.

For example, imagine that five years ago you had been a marketer together with your agency or an agency, conducting this blue-sky exercise. What would we love to happen for our brand? You might have gone, for example, if we really engage in magical thinking, we would love our consumer to be sitting around at home, just chilling out, pottering around, and we would love them to suddenly decide they want our brand, and we would love them to say out loud, “Ooh, I really feel like having some blah blah blah…” An hour later, we would love our brand to turn up at their doorstep. Because you might have thought five years ago that was blue-sky thinking but today, we have Alexa and Amazon Prime. You design the experience you want your consumers to have around your brand because then you can take the technology that exists today and you can absolutely make that happen.

Louis: I have so many questions. I need to put my thoughts together. This is great. This is a great framework for people to use and to understand that you need to think for your people, for your audience as well. You need to imagine the world they want to live in as well. This is a tricky thing for a lot of people and I talk to a lot of listeners and I know that this is tricky for them to do even tomorrow because they are driven by quality targets, they are driven by profit instead of giving a shit about their customers, they are driven by billing a product that kind of tricks them into doing something. This is a great framework. I wanted to go back to one thing. I don’t know if you mentioned it, but in your vision of what’s wrong with the advertising world today, you’re saying that companies are data-driven and instead they should be data-informed. Can you tell me a little bit more about this particular aspect?

Cindy: Sure. You’re alluding to the fact that I talk a lot about the need to humanize big data because big data is not statistics, it’s people. It’s very easy to lose sight of this. In all of this, Louis, I’m essentially talking about humanizing every aspect of this, in a way that people often forget to do.

The really important thing about data is, obviously today, consumers are extremely conscious of the fact that pretty much every tech platform is a data gathering exercise and people are extremely nervous and worried about that. Obviously, because we have regular data breaches manifesting in all sorts of areas.

I talk about the need to humanize how you analyze big data, how you view generally, but also very importantly how you go about gathering it. The analogy I draw is think about how in life, generally, trucking along and you meet somebody that you like. This could be a person, any range of contexts, it could be somebody that you meet and you think, “Oh, we get along really well, I’d love to be friends with this person.” It could be you meet a new colleague at work and you think, “Oh, this person is terrific and I’d really love to work with them” Or it might be somebody that you fancy or you’re attracted to. You think, “I would like to date this person.” What you want to do in all of those circumstances is you want to find out more about this person. What you do is in order to get them to share more information with you, you begin sharing information about yourself with them. In order to establish a context and a relationship of trust, intimacy, confidence, liking.

In that scenario, the more you open up to that person, the more they feel able to open up to you, the more you find out about them, the better the relationship you build until you reach the point where that person is thinking of you, I want you to know me. That is exactly the humanized process that brands and marketers should be taking with data gathering.

In order to get consumers to share data with you, you need to open up to them. You need to say, “This is what we stand for, this is what we’re all about. We’re opening up to you because we would love you to share information with us.” Because within that process, you make it very clear what the benefit to them is. In the analogy I just described, the better relationship you build, the more the other person sees how beneficial it is for them in your working relationship as an employee, in a great friendship, in a romantic relationship.

Equally, when it comes to data gathering, the more you make it clear by opening up, there is a benefit to the consumer in the relationship you build and in what you are able to deliver to them because of the information they share with you, the more they all want to share that information until you reach that situation where the consumer whose data you would like access to, where that consumer is saying to your brand, “I want you to know me.”

Louis: This is a fantastic analogy and I actually haven’t heard that before in the concept of big data. In more general, there are a lot of brands nowadays that are being more transparent, openly honest with their consumers. They would share their revenue, they would share how they make their product, they would share how they hire, they would try to be more diverse, and hire people other than white males in their 30s. They would try to really open up. But I also know that a lot of companies are really struggling with these idea. They understand the concepts that you just said but they really struggle with the idea of being vulnerable as a brand. You know this brands in their ivory tower that has to control everything. How do you convince those executives, those leaders to be more transparent, to be more open?

Cindy: There’s a very simple answer to that, Louis. The very simple answer is that your audience, your consumers must be your team. And by that, I mean your team must be made up of the people to whom you are selling. And the people to whom you are selling are the whole of humanity.

What I’m talking about here obviously is diversity. I don’t like the word diversity because it’s not about diversity, it’s about humanity. I can tell you especially in the tech world, that the way to enable brands to be vulnerable as you say, that’s a great word to use, to consumers for business benefit, is through your leadership and your team to be the people who are vulnerable themselves and understand vulnerability, and those are women and people of color. Those are not the leaders with white male privilege.

First of all, women are absolutely critical to everything for a couple of reasons. Women buy. We are the primary purchasers of everything and the primary influencers of purchase of everything, including sectors that have historically been thought to be male. By the way, if you look at any tech sector, women are bigger users of social media than men, more women download mobile apps than men, more women pay to download mobile apps than men.

But what is really also very important in that scenario is that women share. Social media is simply a whole new methodology for us to do what we have been doing since the dawn of time, which is sharing the shit out of everything in way that men don’t. Because we are the gossipers, we’re the chatterers, we’re the talkers, we’re the sharers, we’re the ambassadors, we’re the advocates, we are the recruiters, so much so that I say to brands that think they’re targeting men, talk to women, because women will influence men more than men will influence other men.

Not only are we the primary consumer audience of virtually everything, we are also actively the audience you want to talk to to spread your message. In the context you asked about, that is why your audience must be your team, must be your leadership because we also understand, diversity drives innovation. When I talk about diversity, again I prefer to not to use the word, I prefer to use the word humanity, but I’m talking about diversity of everything. Not just gender, but race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, age. When I cite that spectrum of diversity, those are all people, women included, who are vulnerable and understand about opening up and sharing to collectively, collaboratively get to a better place together, that’s the answer.

If you start any business today with an all-white male founding team, you will  never own the future. If you build any business today with an all-white male team, you will never own the future.

Louis: I think we’ve painted the situation pretty well. What’s going today, in today’s world, and the biggest issues that marketers and companies are facing at the minute. At the start of this episode, I really started to talk about the fact that as a listener, you might be a marketer, you might be losing your way or feeling that you’re losing your way, don’t really know where to go, you like to blow shit up as you said a few times, and you want to make a difference, and maybe you’re part of a company that wants to make a difference as well, that truly want to disrupt stuff in the right sense of the world, not just a buzzword but truly make a difference, truly disrupt things. Together, even though you started, I think you talked about a few actions there, together I like to come up with a sort of a step-by-step, sort of a method, a framework that people can use to say “You know what, fuck that shit. Let’s blow shit up together.”

First step, let’s take an example of a digital agency because there are many, many digital agencies or call centers, freelancers working in digital marketing who have a normal business, I would say, they are making money but not crazy. They have a few clients but they’re not really happy with it. They want to do things differently, they want to own the future and plan for the future. What would be the next step to changing this?

Cindy: I already talked about the first two steps in this podcast. Step number one, change your mindset. Basically, move from believing that what you’re doing is a horrible, evil, interruption of people’s lives, move to absolutely loving and believing in what you do because you’ll never be able to leverage the power of it until you do that. Then when I talked about the second step, objective drives strategy. The opportunity to blue-sky that, to come out with truly extraordinary, apparently sci-fi, apparently futuristic, apparently magical experiences that you can actually make happen with technology.

Here’s the third step, rebalance the power equation.

Louis: Let me stop you right there because this is an important concept, the step two. I think you mentioned a few things. I’d like to go a little bit more direct into the actions within that. You said, for example, five years ago you could’ve come up with the idea of what if people were thinking of their brand and what if after thinking about it and deciding that they want this brand that an hour after that, they’d have the whatever product in their front door, like somebody knocking, delivering this. How would you advise people to go and come up with those sort of ideas and conclusions, what are the typical ways for people to think about this?

Cindy: It’s very simple. It’s what I said earlier, blue-sky it. All you need to do is ask yourself what would we love to have happen for our brand five years in the future? No matter how sci-fi. No matter how magical. That’s it.

Louis: Do you put people in a room and brainstorm?

Cindy: I don’t get into that because that’s a function of whatever your context is. You can sit in a room, you can go somewhere, you can be one person but just ask yourself. It’s very simple, in five years’ time, what would I love, what would we love to have happen to our brand? That’s all you need to ask.

Louis: Great! Okay, step three.

Cindy: By the way, I’ll just give another example of of step two. I have a gratifyingly big following and fanbase. What I hear regularly from them, especially from women is, “I really wish I had Cindy in my pocket.” “I really wish I had you on my phone.” “I would love to be able to get a kick of Cindy inspiration anytime I needed it.” “I wish I had Cindy on my shoulder as I look in the mirror every morning before I start my day to give me some of your kickass inspiration to start the day.”

People have been saying that to me for years. But obviously, I can’t live in your pocket, I can’t live in your phone but now I do. This is why I was so delighted when earlier this year, the digital agency, RGA, came to me and said, “Cindy, we have an idea for equal payday on April 4th. We want to turn you into a jackpot that will help them and get pay rises.” They basically created Cindy Bot, you can find Cindy Bot on Facebook. It’s built on Facebook messenger, just go to Ask Cindy Gallop and message that page on Facebook.

This bot is absolutely brilliant because RGA partnered with The Muse which is a millennial careers jobsite. They partnered with reply.ai which is chatbot technology. They partnered with PayScale which has a whole range of payday. They partnered with Ladies Get Paid which helps women get paid more.

The team that built the spot researched the hell out of me, literally. It was a guy and a girl and the girl said to me, “We’ll be having meetings. I know you better than you know yourself.” What happens is she’d go, “No, Cindy would never say that.”

This is a bot that literally talks like me, swears like me, and you can ask it any questions you like and it will give you advice. It will base that advice on data. I will ask you, “Tell me what job you do,” and you might say, “I’m an art director.” I’ll go, “Where do you live? Give me your zipcode.” I go, “In your area, the average art director’s paid blah, but you’re not average, are you? So we’re gonna go for more.” And then I give advice on how to do that.

The reason I’m making this point, Louis, is because what I love about Cindy Bot is it scaled me. Before RGA had that idea, I didn’t know how to scale me. That’s what I mean by blue-sky it.

Step number three is rebalance the power equation. I referenced earlier that huge tech platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc. all hate advertising but their enormous valuations and IPOs are predicated on the belief that they can make a shit ton of money out of advertising. And yet, I see our industry going cap in hand to these platforms, I’m talking about brands and agencies, going, “Oh please, please, please, Snapchat. Please, let us spend our money on your platform. Oh, Facebook, please let us work with you.”

Snapchat and Facebook going “Yeah, sure. We’ll take your money, here’s what you get for it.” I say to my industry is all the time rebalance the power equation because they need us more than we need them. In the last couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of reporting about Snapchat’s slowing growth, huge misstep with spectacles, piles of inventory that has been written-off, share price tanking, and very high monthly burn. In all of this, in fact I pull these quotes up from a presentation I gave to the 3PercentConference about precisely this, two weeks ago.

Within these articles, journalists saying, “However, Snapchat is projecting lots of  advertising revenue growth to make up for all of this.” There’s our opportunity. What I say to digital agencies like the hypothetical one you just described, and to our industry in general is don’t go cap in hand to the big tech platforms. Look at their platform, and again blue-sky it, go, “Here’s what we want to do on that platform.” Forget what their advertising sales team is offering you. Go, “What would we love to have happen for our brand using that technology?”

Come up with your own ideas because they are desperate for those ideas, and because they hate and despise advertising, they are not coming up with it themselves. Because you are not able to come up with a brilliant way that you can create a completely new form of advertising on your platform when you fucking hate advertising, so come up with those ideas yourself, and then go to them and go, “We’ve got this brilliant idea and we will license it to you.”

One of the things I say [00:32:21] is what is your marketing business model? And by that, I do not mean how does your brand make money? I mean literally, how does your marketing program make money? One way to make money out of your marketing program is to come up yourself with the ad product, that is what Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram should be doing but haven’t, to go and sell it to them and to license it to them and to license it to the rest of the industry, make a shit ton of money.

Louis: That’s a fantastic idea. Have you come across any companies who actually did it successfully in the recent past?

Cindy: No because nobody else is thinking like I am. I mean seriously, have you ever heard anybody else say any of this before, Louis?

Louis: No.

Cindy: That leads me to step number four. Step number four is productize. By the way, I generally hate nouns that turn into verbs, but in this case it seemed the best way to articulate succinctly what I mean.

What I say is what I’ve said earlier, the future is not ad units, the future is ad products. The future is crafting and building things of utility and value that will awfully delight and surprise consumers in the way they’re delivered.

What I’m talking about here is an entire talk and presentation itself, but I’ll give you one example of the kind of thing I mean. Historically, notifications have been irritants. Constantly notified about something, aggravating as hell, except when those notifications are the ones that tell you that somebody liked your Facebook post, somebody retweeted your tweet, somebody shared this thing that you put out there.

What those notifications then become, I wish I could take credit for this next line but I can’t. I read it years ago on somebody’s blog, I’ve tried ever since to find out who it was, I cannot and if anybody ever does find out, please tell me because I’d love to credit them. But what those are are not notifications, they are little pellets of love, little affirmations. Somebody likes you. Somebody shared you. Somebody respects you. Somebody affirms you. Little pellets of love.

Now, imagine a brand owned little pellets of love, imagine if you built something that enabled a brand to own notifications in a way that meant when those landed, there were little pellets of branded love. That’s just one example of what I mean when I say productize.

And then step five which we already talked about is as I said, your audience must be your team. Don’t even think of selling to anybody if your team and your leadership does not look exactly like people you are selling to across the entire spectrum of who those people are.

Louis: Let’s say you have a team that are all white males like me, with beard, with hoodies, and they’re selling to a completely different market, how would you go about finding those people who are coming from diverse backgrounds because it’s quite tough actually.

Cindy: No, it’s not. It’s not tough in the slightest. Anybody who says it’s tough just has not put the work in it and is not prepared to put the work in. We exist everywhere and we are extraordinarily easy to find. All you have to do is break the closed loop of white guys talking to white guys about other white guys. Break out beyond that and go and talk to women and people of color and ask them to spread the word, reach out their networks. It’s very simple.

You say to your headhunters, you say to your recruiters, you say to your HR head of talent, only show me candidates who are… What I always say in this context, Louis, is in all of this, lead with that area of the community and talent who are out there that is the least represented which is black women. Lead with black women, say to your recruiters, “Find me candidates who are women of color with the potential to do the job.”

The reason I make that point is there are several barriers that are incredibly easy to break down but nobody’s bothering to break down. Barrier number one is exactly what you just said. We really wanted women, we just couldn’t find any. Bollocks! If you say that, you didn’t put the work in and you don’t really want me. The moment you decide you want some, you’d be amazed how easy we are to find when you go out there and do the digging.

Barrier number two, they weren’t any good women candidate or people of color candidates. The reason for that is that men get hired, promoted, and funded on potential and women get get hired, promoted, and funded on proof. By the way, black women don’t get hired, promoted and funded full stop. But to talk about the gender point, when you have an all white male leadership, and they’re looking at young white guy, it’s really easy then to go, “He reminds me of myself at his age. Oh, I can see myself in him. He’s great to have a beer with Yeah, we reckon he can do the job.” With a woman, it’s a completely different set of standards. “Well, has she done the job before? Has she done the job long enough? Has she done the job well enough?”

All you have to do to change that is flip the equation. Hire, promote, and fund men on proof, and hire, promote, and fund women on potential. You’d see a very different picture instantly. As I said, black women especially get the sharp end of the stick on all of that. Lead with black women. Say to your recruiters, “I want to see candidates, especially women of color, with potential to do the job who may have not done the job yet but have the potential to.”

Louis: Thank for being that honest and that direct in your answer, and that blunt. I appreciate it. It is a nice reminder that we all need to do a better job at it.

Cindy: There’s a third barrier, Louis, which I also want to make sure that your audience hears.

The third barrier is, and I will paraphrase this as somebody at Google actually said this. “Oh, diversity’s great but we can’t lower the bar.” Diversity raises the fucking bar. I am really, really tired with how low the bar’s been set in every industry by the dominance of white males. We have not even begun to see how high the bar can be set when we bring the talent, and creativity, and skill of the women, and people of color in the equation. That’s the fantastic, successful future that every business has when you do that.

Louis: That sounds pretty good to me. Let’s move on to one subject that you have, I think, explored but you haven’t directly talked about in this conversation yet, the values. They’re very much like when you talk about the fact that you need to set up your own values, you decide what your values are in order for you to find the right opportunities then and to reject the wrong opportunities as well. This is exactly what happened with this podcast. I have to do a better job at it to go even deeper and fight against shitty marketing.

What happens quite a lot is I do receive a lot of emails saying I love your show. I also know that it’s a yin and a yang scenario meaning that I know that a lot of people hate it as well. But they don’t really care. They don’t listen. They probably listen five minutes and then hate it, great! But, it really enabled me to be connected with great people like you who agreed to be on this podcast because I’m fighting for something and I have values that are quite strong and I’m willing to say no to a lot of others.

Can you remind us of the importance of setting up your values in order to get the right opportunities as a business, as a person?

Cindy: Sure. This is my most fundamental life and business philosophy. Everything in life and business starts with you and your values. It’s astonishing to me how many people never stop to examine what their own values might be. It’s really important that you do that for a couple of reasons. First is all this exercise requires you to do is take a long hard look into your own self and to say to yourself, “What do I stand for? What do I believe in? What am I all about?” What must be there in what I do, what I interact with that is absolutely true to me?

By the way, Louis, when you do this, it makes life and business so much easier. Because life will still throw you all the shit it always will. But you know exactly how to respond with any given situation in a way that is true to you. That is really the secret to happiness.

Another reason to be very clear on what your own values are is that then enables you to be your own filter which is something I recommend very strongly to everybody, but also to founders, entrepreneurs, marketers. What I mean by that is you mentioned at the start of this podcast, I like to sum up what I do in a certain way, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m bootstrapping so I support myself through paid public speaking and consultancy, I consult very selectively, only for clients and brands who want to change the game in their particular sector. You come to me for radical, innovative, groundbreaking transformative. I don’t do status quo and so that’s why I sum up my approach to business as I like to blow shit up. I’m the Michael Bay of business.

I don’t do that as a bit of fun, or a bit of creativity, or a bit of whimsy. I do that very deliberately because when I talk about what I do in that way, it attracts to me the people who want what I do and it repels the ones who don’t. I sure as hell want to repel the ones who don’t because they’re a waste of time, effort, and money. When you know what you stand for and when you project that out there, you will attract to you the people whose values synchronize with yours, the people who are on completely the same wavelength, and you will repel the ones who aren’t and you sure as hell want to repel the ones who aren’t.

Louis: How do you answer to a lot of people I know who are thinking, “It sounds good, but I’m scared of what other people will think.”

Cindy: There’s absolutely no reason to be scared of what other people think because the exercise I’m talking about results in other people being enormously admiring of you, precisely because so few people have really thought through what they stand for and then put it out there.

When people do, other people wish they could be like that as well. But there is also a very pragmatic, fundamental business reason for doing what I’m talking about. When you engage in this exercise, and when you identify how to articulate yourself and others what you stand for, you are doing something that is enormously valuable to you in life and in business. Because what that then generates is what I call your default throwaway descriptor.

Every one of us has a default throwaway descriptor. We all have a personal one. What happens when two people meet somewhere, at a conference, at an event, in a social setting, one of those people knows you and the other one doesn’t. Those two people are chatting, and during the conversation, your name comes up.

One person goes, “blah blah blah, Louis,” and the other person goes, “Oh, who’s Louis?” The first person goes, “Oh, you know Louis, he…” That is your default throwaway descriptor, it is the way someone sums you up very quickly to someone who doesn’t know you when you are not in the room. It therefore behooves all of us to consciously think what we would like that default throwaway descriptor to be and to manage it so it becomes that.

Exactly the same is true of business. Both of you in a professional context but also of your venture, whatever it is, the brand you’re marketing. You need to have your brand, your business, your startup’s default throwaway descriptor because you need someone to go, “I know what, we should get ___, because they’re ___.” It’s your reason for being. The more compellingly you articulate what you stand for and what your business stands for, the more the word will spread about it and the more people want what you are.

Louis: I have a little tip around that if you are struggling to find your own values and what you fight for or fight against, to actually survey your friends and colleagues and ask them the question on your behalf. Sometimes, you get a lot of good answers.

Cindy: Oh, absolutely right.

Louis: People will say you’re very good at what you’re doing at XYZ, and I like your values against, or what you fight against, blah blah blah. I think that’s something that could be helpful. Sometimes, self-assessment can be a little bit tough but asking for people around you who know you sometimes, as you mentioned in the past, better than yourself, might actually help out.

Cindy: Yes. An important thing in this too, Louis, and I say this especially from a business perspective, when you identify what you stand for, what your brand stands for, what your company stands for, you need to sum that up in the most compelling way possible because it’s very easy, and again, especially in the tech and marketing world, for people to default to a very standard vocabulary. One of the quickest ways to make people think differently about anything is to change the language around it. You want to make sure that your articulation is completely distinctive and unlike anybody else’s. You want it to be something that is provocative and stands out in which my own self descriptor does.

For example, I was working with a tech company, this is a few years ago. They were a software company. I was talking to the CEO and the business development guy about how to position themselves and how to sum up what they did. They were just coming out with very standard verbiage, and I was really pushing them on this. I said to the biz dev guy, “Listen, forget what you say to your customers. In your mind, what is it that you do? What do you do?” He went, “We unfuck companies.” I went, “That is bloody brilliant!” Oh my god, yes! You unfuck companies because who wouldn’t want to be unfucked as a company? Now obviously, that cannot, in itself, be what you actually put on your business cards, but I said that is a bloody brilliant way of summing up what you do. Now, you just need to find a succinct way of articulating that. But in casual conversations, by all means, the moment you say we unfuck companies, people get it.

Louis: That is why in social settings, during events, what I try to say when they ask me what I do, I fight marketing bulshit.

Cindy: I love it, I love it. That’s a great summation.

Louis: This is the thing. People tend to think, “Oh, but if I summarize my stuff, people won’t know exactly what I do.” But this is the point when you say, “I fight marketing bullshit,” they’re like, “Woah, okay. Tell me more.”

Cindy: Exactly. The whole point is it’s a conversation starter.

Louis: Exactly!

Cindy: People really have lost sight of the power of mystery and intrigue in a world today that strips a lot of that out of our everyday life. Your summation should absolutely be intriguing enough that people go, “Oh my god, I wanna know more.”

Louis: Cindy, what do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 5 years, 20 years, 50 years?

Cindy: I’ve just told you. I’ve just given you the five things that they need to learn today. I’ve just done it, that’s what this podcast is about.

Louis: No, but I like that. Because usually, in this podcast, we try to talk about principles that will not change in the next few years. But you managed to explain them in an actionable way while remaining first principles that people can use today. This is fantastic. I was just making sure that there wasn’t anything else you wanted to say.

What are the top three resources you would recommend anybody to read, to listen to, to consume, marketers in particular, obviously.

Cindy: I’m gonna answer that question with a principle. I would actively, I’m gonna ask the people listening to this podcast, go out of your way to read, consume, and follow women and people of color who are outside your realm of experience. I say that for all the reasons I’ve spelt out, but for example, men recommend business books by other men. I keep seeing business book lists from white men in advertising, and in tech, and in every industry that are lists of books all by men. Actively go out of your way to read business books by women because we have a completely different perspective on everything. Go out of your way to follow people of color on Twitter, black Twitter is phenomenal. Actively go out of your comfort zone to find resources and stimulus from people who are looking at the world, looking at business through a completely different lens to yours.

Louis: Cindy, you’ve been absolutely fabulous. Where can listeners connect with you and learn more from you?

Cindy: You can follow me on Twitter @cindygallop. You can follow my Facebook page which is Cindy.Gallop on Facebook. I’m on LinkedIn, you can follow me on LinkedIn. I also have, obviously, my own startup, @makelovenotporn on Twitter. Anybody who wants to hire me as a consultant, book me to speak, wants to invest in sextech or MakeLoveNotPorn, it’s cindy@makelovenotporn.com.

Louis: Is there anything, listeners or myself, can help you with in the next few weeks or days?

Cindy: I’m constantly looking for sextech investors for both MakeLoveNotPorn, and the 200 million dollars sextech fund I’m raising, the world’s first and only sextech fund because if nobody else is gonna do this then I will. But otherwise, quite honestly, you can help me by doing everything I’ve talked about in this podcast. To transform the way the world sees marketing and advertising, including actively going out there and giving opportunity to women and people of color, to build the future that we all want to live in.

Louis: Cindy, once again, thank you so much. It was a pleasure.

Cindy: It’s a pleasure. Glad to be on here with you. Thank you.

Next: check out the 500+ marketing resources mentioned on the podcast over the years (sorted by the number of mentions and format).

Become a confident marketer that gets real results (without treating people like garbage)

Bonjour bonjour! I’m Louis Grenier I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).

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