The Value Creators Podcast Episode #6. Kevin Roy: How To Stay In The Lead In The Adaptive System Of Digital Marketing

Continuous change is a feature of the adaptive entrepreneurial model of value creation. Digital marketing is a perfect illustration. By definition, it’s a field characterized by feedback loops and the only way to stay ahead is fast response and a willingness to learn and change.

Kevin Roy, CEO of the digital marketing agency Green Banana, has pioneered in this field and stayed ahead as a leader.


0:00 | Introduction

0:36 | Digital Marketing

1:36 | Introducing Kevin Roy

2:03 | Definition of Digital Marketing

3:17 | Changes in Digital Marketing over the Years

4:47 | Metrics of Digital Marketing

5:49 | Measuring Effects in Digital Marketing

7:16 | Green Banana: What Makes Them Unique

10:03 | Building Relationships

10:29 | Social Media Marketing

12:49 | Email Marketing: Ranked

14:12 | Partnering as a Service

14:56 | Being Seen, Being Heard.

16:14 | Values-based Campaigns with Digital Marketing

17:29 | Over-reliance with Digital Marketing 

18:56 | Introvert Generations

20:00 | Consumer Feeling with Digital Marketing

21:29 | Privacy is no longer a Social Norm

22:30 | Controlling our Personal Data in the Future

23:26 | Digital Marketing Technology

25:10 | Innovations with Digital Marketing AI Future

27:47 | Bottomline with Digital Marketing

28:40 | Final Wrap-Up

Knowledge Capsule

Here are ten things Kevin Roy told us.

1. Digital marketing changed the world with measurability. You learn your results every day, every second, every click. It’s necessary to live in this world of results, not judgment.

2. The same commitment to results is true for practitioners – digital marketing clients are going to pay for performance, not for promises or creative flair.

3. Paradoxically, the commitment to measurability leads to stronger client relationships. You need complete technical expertise to generate and measure results, and deep human expertise to guide clients through the white water of results versus expectations.

4. The world of digital marketing changed even more with the advent of social media and marketing to individuals and personas – with this level of hyper targeting you now know for sure who likes your offering and who doesn’t.

5. More measurability means more experimentation – you can run a host of test campaigns and expand those that work – it’s essence of the adaptive entrepreneurial method. Don’t fret about creativity, just measure outcomes.

6. The goal for clients is not just to be seen and heard — but to be seen and heard for the specific attribute or promise or feature that you want to be seen and heard for. Hyper tactical beats generalized values-based marketing – the values can emerge as a result of the tactical. If Nike sells a lot of shoes, they’ll be remembered as the “Just Do It” brand. Not otherwise.

7. The new generation of digital natives are just different than their predecessor generations – for example, they can be shy and reserved in person but super-energetic and productive on zoom. They are really, really comfortable in the digital space.

8. One consequence is that they’re not annoyed by all the ads and emails and pop ups that older folks might be. They live in the digital world and are comfortable with its consumption patterns.

9. And they don’t worry about Privacy. Privacy is no longer a social norm (Zuckerberg).

10. They welcome greater personalization – because ultimately they see it as a social good. In the future, personalization will bring them better health care, better education and better services in general. Through self-modeling by AI, they’ll create their personal avatar that will make presentations for them, design their personal logo and generate their personal images. They embrace AI and look forward to using it.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #5. Adam Bryant on Leadership In Business: It’s More Than Just Business School Contrivance.

Is there such a thing as leadership in business? Or is it a manufactured concept to sell books and executive education courses from big name business schools?

To shed some light, we talked to Adam Bryant, who has made leadership into his own field of expert knowledge and professional practice. He did so by interviewing over 1000 business leaders, both CEO’s and other senior executives, in multiple industries and stages of business growth and at every scale. He’s published his findings on LinkedIn and in the “Corner Office” column he created for The New York Times.  His latest book on the subject is The Leap To Leader: How Ambitious Managers Make The Jump To Leadership. He is the senior managing director and a partner at the Exco Group, an executive leadership development firm.


0:00 | Introduction

0:38 | Concept of Leadership in Business

2:12 | Economic Role of Leadership

3:25 | Decision-making Role

6:02 | Being Good at Judgement

8:35 | Accumulating Experience

12:15 | Internal Competitiveness

14:34 | Problem-solving as Leaders

17:00 | Mental Models

18:54 | Individualism as Leaders

24:00 | The Concept of Agility Quotient

28:05 | Alignment as an Important Part of Leadership

31:28 | Economics in Leadership

32:06 | Alignment Guidance

34:50 | Guided Autonomy

37:22 | Adam Bryan’ts Leap to Leader Book

Knowledge Capsule

Leadership is a role to be played, with many aspects. A summary of Adam Bryant’s guidance would define leadership as the alignment of other resources, especially human resources, around the new purpose and business model that can emerge after taking a risk.

It’s about decision making – grappling with the hardest decisions, often when data is lacking or unclear, and making tough choices, alignment others around them, and eliminating friction.

Alignment is especially concerned with values – attractive values with which others can concur.

It’s a lightning rod role – being fully accountable, taking the blame when things go wrong, and owning outcomes.

It’s about focus that others around you don’t necessarily have – seeing the big picture, setting priorities, and focusing on the few things that matter.

It’s a role model for others – the value of risk-taking (“playing in traffic”) and learning from failures, setting the height of the bar, and being a pacesetter.

It’s creative – writing the playbook for your job.

It’s entrepreneurial – setting a compass for a new direction.

It’s being particularly good at processing feedback loops – reality just being source material for the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.

It’s about mediating tension – leadership is not a popularity contest.

It’s about motivating others – unlocking the potential in people, empowering them to do more than they thought they could.

It’s personal style – having the courage to take a stand.

It’s a set of problem-solving skills.

It’s a burden – sacrifices, longer hours, greater exposure to risk and failure.

It’s authority – being in charge, having ascended to a higher position in the hierarchy than others.

It’s a brand – how others perceive you.

It’s a mental model – reframing of issues in ways others can’t match.

It’s emotional – holding the strings to the emotional well-being of the company.

It’s individualism and self-awareness.

Leadership intelligence includes AQ – agility quotient,  the capability to sense and seize new opportunities and to create new business models. Is AQ a personality trait, or a learnable skill or a processed experience?


Adam Bryant on LinkedIn:

The Leap To Leader

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #4. Reza Farhani: Navigating the Future of Work: Insights on Culture, Communication, and Entrepreneurship

Successful innovation is a combination of deep customer knowledge and deep technical knowledge. Both are critical, and it is the unique combination of them that becomes a marketplace advantage-serving customers by solving an important problem for them with a differentiated, preferred and technically superior approach.

Reza Farahani, the founder of WFHomie, is a data scientist, who, working at top global companies in tech and consulting, developed great insights into the way data can reveal human motivations and patterns in customer behavior. 

Equipped with deep technical knowledge in data science and analytics as well as deep customer knowledge, he speaks on how we can apply this to startups to solve new problems for our customers, create healthy and productive teams, and create real innovation.

Show Notes:

0:00 | Introduction

0:40 | Introducing guest: Reza Farahani

1:27 | The combination of customer & technical knowledge

2:01 | Becoming a Data Scientist

3:05 | Putting his expertise to work

4:42 | Creating Hypothesis

7:20 | Identifying Qualitative Data

9:01 | Understanding Teams

11:18 | Leap to Entrepreneurship

13:55 | Crumbling of Teams Due to Remote Work

16:18 | Metrics to Measure Performance

18:05 | Engagement with Employees

22:08 | Importance of Recognition

25:12 | Work Culture

28:42 | Future of Work

30:43 | Entrepreneurial experience

33:08 | Acknowledgement

Knowledge Capsule:

In a captivating conversation, Reza, an entrepreneur and former CEO of WF Homie, shares valuable insights on the future of work, with a specific focus on culture, communication, and entrepreneurship. This summary combines the key points from the conversation to provide a cohesive overview of the podcast.

Reza delves into the impact of remote work on culture and observes that the way people work together plays a pivotal role in shaping a company’s culture. He emphasizes that culture emerges from how people collaborate and align their efforts. While top-down vision from leaders is important, lateral communication and learning from peers also contribute significantly to shaping a cohesive culture. However, the shift to remote work has disrupted these communication channels, necessitating efforts to rebuild and strengthen them. Reza proposes that by fixing communication channels and ensuring effective asynchronous communication, a company can cultivate and maintain its desired culture even in a remote or hybrid work environment.

The conversation moves on to the significance of recognition and celebration within organizations. Reza highlights the lack of recognition as a common challenge in remote and hybrid teams. To address this, WF Homie developed tools like the Kudos app, enabling team members to easily send appreciation to their colleagues. Additionally, partnerships with companies providing physical gifts or gift cards were established to facilitate tangible recognition. By making recognition effortless and accessible, organizations can foster a positive culture where small wins are celebrated, leading to increased engagement and productivity.

Culture and communication are deeply intertwined, and Reza emphasizes the importance of effective communication channels within a company. He shares how WF Homie focused on improving communication to ensure the spread of cultural values. By enhancing communication between top management, employees, and lateral teams, companies can create a cohesive and aligned culture. Reza notes that creating an open and supportive communication environment is crucial, especially in remote or geographically distributed teams. Furthermore, the ability to measure communication and engagement through qualitative and quantitative data allows organizations to identify areas of improvement and take actionable steps to enhance the working experience.

Looking ahead, Reza discusses the role of AI in shaping the future of work. He highlights how AI tools act as equalizers in communication, assisting individuals who may struggle with effective communication. AI can provide support in areas such as documentation, improving productivity and output. While concerns about job displacement exist, Reza believes that AI enhances productivity and enables individuals to achieve higher output, leading to a positive impact on organizations.

The conversation concludes with a reflection on the entrepreneurial experience. Reza shares that being an entrepreneur has provided him with a sense of harmony between work and life, as he enjoys what he does. However, he acknowledges that the journey can be challenging and lonely, as entrepreneurs bear the weight of making tough decisions and carrying responsibilities. Despite the difficulties, the joy and fulfillment derived from building something valuable and appreciated by customers make the entrepreneurial journey worthwhile.

In summary, Reza’s insights shed light on the future of work, emphasizing the critical role of culture, communication, and entrepreneurship. By prioritizing effective communication channels, fostering recognition, and leveraging AI tools, organizations can adapt and thrive in the changing landscape of work. With a focus on creating a harmonious work-life balance, nurturing a positive culture, and embracing technological advancements, the future of work holds promising opportunities for both individuals and businesses.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #3. Jason LaBaw: Culture And Technology Amidst High-Speed Change

You need two types of knowledge to succeed in the business world: specialized technical knowledge and deep customer knowledge. This will allow you to create uniquely valued experiences tailored to your customers and thus build a thriving business.

Jason LaBaw, as the founder and CEO of Bonsai Media Group and a pioneer in web development, AdWords, Google Analytics, and Umbraco development, has accumulated over 18 years of industry experience, client service, and strategic leadership in the digital world and has become an expert in combining technical and customer knowledge to scale.

In this episode, Jason touches on how he believes the future will look and what principles he is certain will be invaluable to thrive in a futuristic economy, such as empathy, planning, and budgeting.

Show Notes:

0:00 | Intro to Entrepreneurial Management

1:56 | Introducing Jason Labaw

3:10 | Businesses Coping with Technology

7:11 | Ways to Engineer Technology

8:32 | How to Work & Run a Business These Days

10:31 | End-user Experience

11:52 | User testing

12:35 | Secrets of Empathy

14:49 | Getting into Depth with Bonsai Media Group

21:01 | Trends: Augmented Reality 

24:40 | Storytelling as a marketing

25:20 | Story about the Future

27:39 | Gamifying Work

29:30 | Risks of Technology to Entrepreneurs

31:52 | Learn More About Bonsai Media Group

Knowledge Capsule:

Combining customer knowledge and tech knowledge.

One of the Value Creator’s mantras is to combine deep customer knowledge with specialized technology knowledge to create uniquely valued experiences for customers and thereby build successful businesses.

Jason LaBaw has done this successfully at the company he formed, Bonsai Media Group. He illustrates how it’s perfectly viable to start simply and advance quickly.

  • An early example of a project is one where the company, in customer service mode, transformed a trivia app request from a client into a social contest that engaged users and immersed them in the brand’s story.
  • This evolved into various combinations of the digital and physical worlds through scavenger hunts – which became an exploration of the potential of AR and VR.
  • AR and VR can be further combined with 3D product imaging. It turns out that 3D experiences are hugely beneficial for conversion rates. 
  • Combining his experiences in both the digital and physical realms, he began envisioning ways to create immersive experiences that merge AR and the real world: to make exploring the world as fun as playing a video game, using technology to encourage people to get out and explore the real world around them.

Simple steps towards a complex future.

With these relatively simple business steps, Jason has now advanced to become a futurist of AR, VR, and AI. While some believe these technologies have been overhyped, Jason believes they have tremendous potential to transform human experiences. He emphasizes the importance of human connection and expresses his hope that future generations won’t be locked in virtual worlds. He sees augmented reality, AI, and voice-enabled technologies as key drivers for positive change. For instance, he envisions a scenario where augmented reality glasses enhance meetings by providing contextual information and augmenting reality with relevant data.

The discussion also touched on the concept of gamification. Jason explains how gamifying networking events can facilitate connections and conversations by using augmented reality cues to identify shared interests. He believes gamification can also be applied to work, where incentives and rewards can be used to motivate employees and create a more engaging and efficient work environment.

There are basic economic principles underlying this futuristic scenario.


Empathy remains the essential skill for businesses, no matter how futuristic or high-tech. Jason emphasizes the importance of having conversations and conducting in-person interviews with various stakeholders, including frontline workers, managers, and customers. This qualitative data gathering allows businesses to uncover valuable insights and understand how customers perceive their brand and experiences. Jason recognizes the value of quantitative data, such as analytics and user testing, in making informed decisions and improving products, but it’s best when it is in addition to qualitative data,

This way businesses can focus on their customers’ needs, goals, and preferences to create competitive advantages. He suggests that companies can provide value by enabling customers to perform tasks online, like paying bills. 

Planning and budgeting

Planning, allocating budget, and continuously iterating based on customer feedback and analytics are crucial for adapting to change

Jason suggests a general formula for coping with technological change, starting with a budget-focused approach. By analyzing different options and making design and technical decisions based on budget and return on investment (ROI), businesses can adapt to changing technologies. He emphasizes the need for clarity and defining a project’s ROI from the start. By allocating budget or accruing it, businesses can invest in technology iteratively over time, improving functionality, and user interfaces, and switching components when necessary.

Additionally, Jason highlights the significance of having a contingency plan to deal with unexpected events or disruptions. He shares an example of a company that had to pivot quickly when a technology vendor was acquired. Being prepared with alternative vendors or technologies enables businesses to adapt swiftly.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #2. John M. Jennings: Mental Models Are The Uncertainty Solution

In a complex world full of uncertainty, all businesspeople and entrepreneurs can draw guidance from shared mental models that help us make better choices. John M. Jennings took this advice to heart and developed a latticework of mental models for financial investing and any other business discipline, which he explained and expanded on in his book The Uncertainty Solution: How To Invest With Confidence In The Face Of The Unknown.

John is a premier thought leader in the wealth management industry and President and Chief Strategist of St. Louis Trust and Family Office, a $15 billion national investment firm. He is also an adjunct professor at Washington University’s Olin School of Business in its Wealth and Asset Management Graduate Program.

In this episode, he not only teaches why we always look for certainty and how we can be aware of certain pitfalls we fall into while dealing with uncertainty but also how to navigate uncertainty to not only come out unscratched but profit from it.

Show Notes:

0:00 | Intro

00:28 | Mental Models with John M. Jennings

1:39 | The Uncertainty Solution

02:25 | Defining Uncertainty

03:34 | Predicting the Future

04:35 | Defining Mental Model

6:08 | Unliking Uncertainty & How to Deal With It

8:48 | When Cause and Effect Don’t Work

12:37 | Extrapolating Trends

17:49 | Business Cycles

20:36 | The Result of Our Luck 

24:36 | Exponential Growth

28:42 | The Latticework of Mental Models

33:57 | Loss Aversion

36:38 | Overconfidence is the Mother of all Biases

41:20 | Wrap Up: Philosophical Advice from John M. Jennings


(Book) The Uncertainty Solution – John M. Jennings

(Book) Managerial Decision-Making – Max Bazerman

(Book) Scale – Jeffrey West

Knowledge Capsule

In his book, The Uncertainty Solution, John M. Jennings urges each of us to use a latticework of mental models to simplify the complexity we inevitably face. Here’s a summary.

A. Knowledge: Think of information in four categories: data, information, knowledge, and wisdom, and focus on knowledge or wisdom over data and information. 

B. The Quest for Certainty:

  1. Uncertainty: We dislike uncertainty as it causes stress and triggers our fight-or-flight response.
  2. Seek resolution: Resolving uncertainty brings pleasure, but we should recognize and sit with the discomfort instead of seeking closure.
  3. Avoid information overload: Resist becoming an information junkie or relying too much on expert predictions.
  4. Embrace discomfort: Sit in your discomfort and focus on what you can control. 

C. Looking for Causes in All the Wrong Places:

  1. Causation Is Tough to Determine: Assuming one thing caused another can be risky, as coincidence and multiple factors often play a role.
  2. Correlation Does Not Imply Causation: Strong correlation doesn’t mean one thing causes the other.
  3. Regression to the Mean: Extreme events tend to be followed by outcomes closer to the average.
  4. The Law of Large Numbers: Conclusions based on small sample sizes can be misleading; consider sample size whenever causation is asserted.
  5. The Highly Improbable Happens All the Time: Unlikely events occur frequently, so don’t be surprised and caught off guard. 

D. The Stock Market Is Not the Economy:

  1. Economic Growth vs. Stock Market: Economic and stock market performance are not always correlated.
  2. The Stock Market as a Complex Adaptive System: Predicting stock market movements is nearly impossible due to the interactions of intelligent agents.
  3. Economic Indicators Don’t Predict the Stock Market: Economic indicators and market signals often fail to predict market performance. 

E. Market Cycles and the Two Axioms of Investing:

  1. Markets Move in Cycles but Defy Prediction: Market cycles vary in duration and intensity, but no permanent plateaus exist.
  2. Economic Stability Creates Instability: Stability can lead to bubbles and crashes; opportunities arise when stability appears.
  3. Market Timing Doesn’t Work: Timing the market is challenging and requires being right twice—both at the top and bottom.
  4. It’s Okay to Invest in Advance of a Bear Market: Investing before a bear market can be fine if you follow a disciplined strategy.
  5. The Limits of Arbitrage: Being right doesn’t guarantee winning due to the market staying wrong for extended periods. 

F. Beware Experts Bearing Predictions:

  1. Economic and Stock Market Predictions Are Worthless: Investment predictions are often wrong, and investing without relying on knowing the future is better. 

G. Skill and Luck in Investing:

  1. The Skill-Luck Continuum: Luck plays a significant role in investing, and short-term results may not reflect skill.
  2. Most Investment Managers Underperform the Market: Most active managers underperform after fees, so consider the odds before investing with them.
  3. Most Stocks Underperform the Market: Picking individual stocks is challenging, and most fail to outperform the market.
  4. Monkey Portfolios Outperform: Following a different strategy than the market can yield better results, but it requires discipline. H. The Trend Is Not Your Friend:
  5. It Is Difficult to Spot a Trend Early: Identifying trends early is challenging, especially exponential growth.
  6. Trends Don’t Always Turn Out as Imagined: Established trends can change rapidly due to new competitors and technologies.
  7. It’s Difficult to Find a Successful Needle in a Haystack of Competitors: Picking winners among many competitors is challenging, and early pioneers may not be the long-term winners.

H. The Trivial Many Versus the Vital Few:

  1. The Danger of Using the Bell Curve in Investing: Relying on bell curve statistics may not capture the true nature of the stock market’s behavior, so be skeptical of advice based on such statistics. 2. The Stock Market Is Better Described by Power Law Distributions: Embrace the uncertainty provided by power law distributions instead of relying on projections based on the bell curve. 

I. Navigating Our Behavioral Biases:

  1. The Endowment Effect: We tend to overvalue things we own, including our investments.
  2. The Storytelling Bias: Stories strongly influence our decision-making, so be aware of how they can sway investment choices.
  3. Hindsight Bias: Looking back, we think we should have known the future but realize that infinite possibilities influence outcomes.
  4. Loss Aversion: Losses have a more significant impact on us than gains, leading to risk aversion and irrational behavior.
  5. Overconfidence: We often overestimate our knowledge and abilities, leading to poor decision-making. Recognize and mitigate overconfidence. 

J. Behavior—The Most Important Ingredient:

  1. Choose Inactivity Over Activity: Avoid excessive tinkering and market timing; maintain a long-term perspective.
  2. Prefer Simplicity Over Complexity: Start with a simple approach and add complexity only when necessary to avoid complications and fees.
  3. Establish Simple Investment Algorithms: Create an investment policy statement and follow simple asset allocation and rebalancing rules. These insights aim to provide a clearer understanding of investing and guide decision-making in the complex world of finance.