This week we’re talking with Jeff Greenfield, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of C3 Metrics. As the chief architect of the platform, Greenfield worked directly with the former CEO and Chairmen of Nielsen to solve advertising’s attribution problem, which now measures the advertising impact for some of the
largest brands in the world.
Greenfield’s history of technology and marketing initiatives have served blue-chip clients including: GlaxoSmithKline, Kimberly-Clark, Sony BMG, Black & Decker, Forest Labs, Plum Creek
Prior to co-founding C3 Metrics, Greenfield was a recognized thought leader in the area of Branded Content as publisher of Branded Entertainment Monthly, a joint effort with VNU Media, detailing industry statistics, gaps, and trends. He’s been a featured speaker at NAPTE, The Next Big Idea, and a news source in: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, CNET, and Investor’s Business Daily.
Greenfield studied Biochemistry at the University of Maryland and holds dual degrees from
Southern California University of Health Sciences. He is an instrument rated pilot and a
performing member of Hollywood’s Magic Castle.
What is your favorite leadership quote?
My favorite quote is one from Martin Luther King that talks about adversity – The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. It is a timeless quote but needs to be updated to be the true measure of a person instead of man - but it is from a number of years ago. But I like it because it can be applied to anything, even to friendship. When things get bad in your life you always find out who your friends are. And when things get trying in business, which they always do, you find out what your team is made of. Life is full of ups and downs and the folks that are there all throughout are the ones who really matter and the ones you want by your side.
What attracted you to your current industry and role?
It is really the challenges. Advertising today looks at the whole concept of selling and marketing and the concept of ideas being exchanged and watching those ideas be influenced. If you think about it as sitting and having a one on one conversation with someone - educating them like “hey have you heard of this new thing that will do X, Y o Z?” Marketing and advertising is doing the same but instead of one person to another, it is done to scale. It used to be really simple to make determinations around advertising because there was only one medium – TV. Now though there is a multitude of channels. Large advertisers tend to spend their dollars across all of them. It goes back to the original quote – when you are in business and in a challenging time – like you are in the end of quarter. You have to hit your numbers and you have to cut back on where you are spending but where do you cut.
When the only option was TV the decision was easy. But now if you have six different communication lines, which one do you cut? The problem is you don’t know. And that is what really interested me in this. It was a problem my co-founder Mark Hughes and I were facing on behalf of one of our clients.
We realized there was not a solution out there and we had to figure it out. What was happening was that there was no technology that was available. We saw this challenge and thought we would solve for just one client and we didn’t realize that others had this problem. And now through the new science utilizing the magic of machine learning and computing power, you can know which of those exact communication lines to spend money on. You can be very detailed on which creatives are working the best and when to pull back if you have overspent. What is exciting about that is technology is supposed to make our lives easier – and it allows us to rely on data in additional to our own intuition - so we can make better decisions.
What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?
You can’t do it alone. You are only as strong as the team you are working with and at the end of the day you can have an incredible idea or have the best product but if you don’t have the team working on it that is the absolute best then things are not going to work out. It is all about the team.
What is your leadership style?
I am very transparent - sometimes to a fault. One of the things that can happen as you grow a team is that your attitude tends to get harder and harder and things go wrong. You build a tough edge. It is very easy to keep that rough edge up all the time. But what you tend to forget is you are always bringing in new team members and you don’t want them to see the rough side of you. It is like you are the old cowboy who has been riding on the back roads for thousands of miles and you have faced so many battles. You come into town, not put together and you are not 100%. One of the things that I realized is that at least every week it is someone’s first day. You have to remember no matter how experienced someone is, that on their first day – even if experienced – it feels like the first day of kindergarten. They are as nervous as can be. And it is important to make certain you are open and inviting, even when you had a rough day. I have changed throughout the years. The rough edge is there but I try to keep that transparent and open and friendly side more available so I can build relationships with not only my direct reports but also the others on the team.
What advice do you have for aspiring leaders?
The number one piece of advice is to be honest and upfront with people. More than anything else, people want and they need honesty. Not only in terms of their performance but also in terms of how they are feeling. If someone is not up to snuff and not performing you need to let them know sooner than later so they can make a change. When you think of the proliferation of social media and all the fake personas and what people put out about themselves. You only see what they want you to see. It is very tough for anyone – especially Millennials – to find any truth out there at all. And so if you can just be honest with people in the workplace and be straight with them - so they can have one place to go where there is no BS - that is a great thing. I think that is the most important thing – be honest.
What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?
I think it is the process of looking at your business from the perspective of what is lacking. We went through this process looking at our team years ago. The vast majority of the members of the team were all male. We were not gender balanced at all. Just recognizing that we knew we needed to do something about that. For me the biggest thing is to step back and look at the whole process – from the moment you start writing the job description to inviting people into the office for interviews.
I think the entire hiring process is discriminatory across the board. From how the job descriptions are written and the language that is used. I read an article this weekend in the NY Times about black talent agents in Hollywood and how few there are out there. One of my friends Tracy Christian has been in that circle for years. She had this great quote in an article of hers and it struck me – “men are given credit for their potential and women are given credit for their actions. “
When you start to read all these studies and you see how women won’t ask for raises, a woman does not want to speak up about something until she has done it. And if you asked a man if they could do something they will immediately say yes. If you look at the process around creating job descriptions – people insist on them being so specific. Women look at that and say, “I don’t know that exactly” so they don’t even apply. We did an experiment and it is one of the things that turned the corner for us. I went to the Lululemon website and looked at how they wrote their job descriptions. The way they write is very inviting, especially the words they use like asking if you love your job.
When we took a similar approach we overnight had more women apply for the same roles. Just by changing some headlines. I am selfish here, I want this business to grow as much as it can and I know we can only do that having a gender-balanced team. You start to sit down and examine how you can make that happen. So that is another method I use – look at other workforces that are gender balanced or have more women and examine their approach.
What steps are you currently taking to improve yourself, professionally?
I get a good night sleep every night. That is number one. First and foremost. Even to this day modern science does not know why we sleep but we do know it is a necessity. I am usually in bed by 7 PM. I owe that to my wife. We were dating and in our 20s and she was in bed by 6:30 PM. Some people say they can get by with little sleep but I just have not seen it. And what happens is you end up in one of those sleep deprivations that wreaks havoc on your body. I do know I saw a study yeas ago on 60 Minutes and they took someone in a sleep lab. They noticed that when they were about to go into REM sleep and they would add in sound, the brain would not relax. By the third night they had to stop the experiment because they showed that a young college student was going into a pre-diabetic state. So you have to sleep and dream. I have no idea why but you just do – to do a great job at work. I also eat a great breakfast every day. Start with something healthy and exercise. I have a good night sleep each night, a good healthy breakfast and then at least 30 min of exercise. If you get those things out of the way you are ready to take on the day.
What is your proudest achievement?
Building the team here and being able to shift in the course of a year from having not a very diverse workforce to one that is moving towards gender equality in the next 18 months. On a personal note it would be my relationship with my wife. We have been together for 30 years.
What do you think needs to happen or have you seen done successfully in the past to create an inclusive workplace/corporate culture?
In order to get more inclusive cultures in the workforce today, we need to go all the way back to kindergarten. There are two problems we are facing today. One is that the hiring process is discriminatory from job descriptions to issues with family medical leave. That is one side of the equation. The other side is that we are all programmed to a certain extent, but even to this day young women are being programmed into certain professions. Women don’t grow up saying “I want to be a salesperson.” When they read books in kindergarten, they do not promote that women should be in sales even though all the studies show that women prefer to buy from another woman - and men do as well. Sales forces should be tons of women not men if companies want to grow.
You can have women in business go into colleges and talk with them about some of these more non-traditional jobs – including STEM roles. That would be great because it may encourage some young women to consider going in that direction. But if we really need to change the culture, we need to look at the books that are being read to our children. The ones that are putting people in boxes we need to think twice about. We live in this wonderful world today looking at equality and inclusiveness, but the books have not caught up. We still put girls and boys into boxes, which is a shame. We are starting to see more and more women at C level in organizations and they will make more changes, but if we really want to see change we need to go back to those young children and change those stories. As we do that more we will see corporations cultures change. I believe it will make all the difference in the world.
Another important thing I want to share is that I want my company to grow faster and that will only happen if we have the right team.
For information on participating as a sponsor in our fall program, please feel free to reach out to us at Candice@bensonconsultinginc.com.