This episode's guest on #MWL is Joseph Jaffe. We discuss reinventing yourself during a pandemic, brand strategy, and his book, “Built to Suck.”

Where to watch live:
https://youtube.com/marcuswhitneysvideouniverse
https://facebook.com/marcuswhitney
https://linkedin.com/in/marcuswhitney
https://twitter.com/marcuswhitney

MW-Socials
Get The Full Episode Transcription

MW

what's up what's up what's uh peppy

tuesday

uh I have uh somebody who i

super looked up to um as a social media

marketing

icon uh sort of in the early days of all

this

this social stuff uh I i've been able to

to talk to so many of these guys over

the last uh

guys and gals over the last month I had

mitch joel on

i was able to do the chris brogan show i

got to get him on uh

and and this gentleman definitely is in

that very same category of people who

was very very influential for me uh in

the beginning and then

later on I found out through the magic

of facebook that he and I are both

supporters of tottenham hotspur which

just

quite frankly I love mitch and chris but

this just nudged him over the line he's

a little bit more special to me than

they are I have to say it it's just the

truth so

uh so with that uh the guy with the most

ridiculous background

to ever come on this show welcome my

friend joseph jaffe what's up joseph

 

JJ

wait i'm just trying to I i'm still

figuring out how to mirror the

backgrounds but yeah I mean it's just i

i'm

it said what what did you say it's the

marcus whitney universe

i'm living in the marcus whitney

universe

quite quite literally and i'm loving it

let me tell you

 

MW

oh my gosh dude I I should have known

you were gonna come on with something

wacky like that so

now all of the uh all the people

watching are seeing

three of me they're seeing marcus

whitney live everywhere so thank you

very much joseph for that incredible

background

 

JJ

it's all about you 

 

MW

that's not the mom

of this show this point of this show is

to be all about you my friend

uh so man look with that let's let's

just jump in

and you know I honestly I don't know

this I would love

to hear how you entered this space as

an expert in marketing and social you

know I remember following you and

watching the different companies that

you were part of that you co-founded

books that you've written but like i

don't know your your origin story so i'd

love to hear

how you and this world actually came

came in collision

 

JJ

yes so my my origin story begins in

in south africa and and I actually i'll

try and tell the first part

really quickly but it's hard to like but

i'll try and be as

succinct as possible so I was gonna

leave

at the end of my uh senior year in high

school I was gonna go

and tour and study and and maybe even

live in israel I felt like that was a

cool thing to do

but I fell off a wall I fell off the

wall trying to break into my friend's

house

so that he could be the designated

driver in the car

with me because I was gonna go pick my

mother up from the airport now I was

driving

illegally without a license and I could

have made it easily to the airport

but I knew that my mom would have been

royally pissed with me so i

i try and get my buddy to come with me

to come in the car with me

but he's been out to a club partying

until about six in the morning I arrive

at seven in the morning

he doesn't wake up there are no cell

phones no one's at his house and I try

and drop myself

down from a construction site from one

wall to another wall to another wall

but I hit the wall uh and I fall

backwards and I fall

15 to 20 feet hit my elbow on the ground

shatter my elbow in three places break

my shoulder

uh in two places and dislocate it and

long story

short I spend my birthday my high school

results

new year high on pathadine basically

in in the hospital with pins and wires

in my arm

and my mother walks in one day and

throws the prospectus at me and says

you're gonna you know like what are you

gonna study because you're not going to

israel you're going to university

and for the first three months at

college I walk around with my arm in

this massive brace

i'm left-handed it was my left hand i

had a like a nervous shape in my arm for

about six months

extensive physiotherapy long story short

i I register for for for a pharmacy i

figure i'm going to open up a chemist

or thomas or a pharmacist but I but i

then get chickenpox

and you know at the age of 18 years old

and and suddenly everything starts to

fall apart I fall behind in math

and I just realized the sciences are not

for me so I went from

bsc pharmacy to bsc computer science to

business science computer science to

business science finance

to business science marketing all and in

under a year

and the minute that I started with

marketing it just clicked wow I was a

marketer

i was meant to market I was meant to be

in marketing

i fell in love with this profession with

this croft

and and I tell you I I you know lost two

years at college

i I was on the dean's miracle list I was

literally you know acing every single

subject I was

in my element I was losing weight i

found a girlfriend who ended up being my

wife

suddenly I was able to do everything

well

instead of before where I was doing

nothing terribly

and uh and and I ended up actually

and I won't even talk about the

serendipity of how it happened

but I ended up working for maybe one of

the most

funkiest coolest incredible brands

that is a brand today called nando's

chicken land

many people have heard me

i was the third marketing employee in

the company's history

and I started I I started with them when

there were 26 stores

i left when there were 600 you know i

still

bleed there is still peri-peri in my

veins

it's so much so good oh my gosh okay so

i

yeah so wow that's amazing so that

this gave me the grounding and I think

you know that look i've been i've been a

marketer i've been on the agency side

when I came to the us 27 years ago

i worked on the agency side so i've

worked on the brand side on the agency

side

and and you know every time i've fallen

as opposed to for i've either fallen off

a wall or i've fallen in love with a

profession

you know i'm such a believer that you

have to love what you do and be

passionate about it and

and so every aspect of my life you know

eventually discovering digital marketing

and then social media and then

the power of innovation and then

startups and so

each one of these aspects it's not

what's hot right now

it's an addition it's like i'm building

like

arrows in my quiver i'm i'm arming

myself with

with a broader wider and deeper

knowledge

of great marketing but the common thread

will always be

creativity risk taking innovation

change that's always the red thread

through everything that I do

 

MW

joseph when when I first came in uh

in into awareness of you and your work

it was it was really around

um internet digital marketing but

but this this sense that it could be

more than

advertising that it could be about

authentic voices and this was

you know the first uh rising of

blogs and uh and the first

first rising of podcasts so we're

talking you know 2005

six seven you know that first wave i

know that you've been

on the on the front end and front lines

of of all of this from from the early

days

did you get the opportunity to play in

the digital space

and and find a love for it when you were

at nando's or where where did that

you know opportunity come up for you and

then how did you transfer from that

opportunity

into the position of leadership that

you've that you've been in

 

JJ

so so you know the um so i'll tell two

things one is

 

Back in the South African days,

 you know South Africa was still as a

 country

 transitioning and emerging from the

 apartheid

 regime into you know, a free and

 democratic republic.

 Technology-wise, we were always behind...

 5-10 years behind the rest of

 the world.

 And so you know, I remember going to... so

 that

 I had I've had a love for gaming and

 computers and

 and technology since I was 9 or 10

 years old with a

 with a ZX Spectrum you know at the time

 of

 -I think it was the Commodore 64 in the

 the BBC,

 and my Apple compatible

 because Apple wasn't in the country-

 but I remember going to sleep at night

 trying to download the new

 Netscape navigator.

 And it was probably like 20 megs then,

 but in order to download it, I would have

 to start it at 11pm at night. And then come back, I

 remember at night 3am,

 5am, 7am, and we'll get to like 19 megs

 and then the connection

 would fail, and I would have to start

 again. So

 I've been you know... it's a weird thing

 when I think about this

 Marcus, which is I remember you know,

 tracing paper or you know carbon copying. You know

 I remember all the old technology,

 all of the old technology. I still

 remember going

 you know, to my mom's coin dealer. I would

 go and I would pick up her, the

 electric typewriter -which was so heavy I

 could barely carry it-

 and what made this typewriter so

 exceptional

 was the fact that you could actually

 delete a letter at a time.

 There was a special thing where you

 could delete a letter at a time.

 So when I go back and think about that,

 and then I

 see this new technology, I could always

 see it for

 for what it was meant to be, not for what

 it was. And I will tell you, I remember

 speaking at a Microsoft conference. A

 guy by the name of Rex Briggs was on

 stage -I never forgot this-

 and he stood up and he went like this [points finger].

 And everybody was looking at him, he said

 “no,” he said. “Don't look at the finger,

 look at where the finger's pointing.” And

 so for me,

 what became my sweet spot -and it still

 is to this day-

 I'm not a futurist, I never will be one.

 I can tell you where the puck is heading

 ala Wayne Gretzky,

 not where the puck is. I have no interest

 in where all the lemmings

 are right now... where everybody's piling

 on when it's the

 flavor of the month, right now. I lose

 interest and I move on.

 Not to the next big thing, but

 understanding where it's all moving

 towards.

 And that's maybe the... you talk about a

 leadership position,

 that's where I try and lead and inspire

 which is to

 give you a different perspective, a

 different take, an original take.

 And always, always... you will never ever

 see

 a tactic in search of a strategy with me.

 It's strategy

 first. 

 

MW

so uh

when coronavirus hit uh

i quickly moved everything from my

office in east nashville to this uh

not really spare bedroom it's my oldest

son's bedroom but he's a marine and he's

deployed so

i'm using this room uh and I went about

the process of

starting to build it into a mini

broadcast studio

and you know i'm part of a couple of

different facebook groups

that that you are a part of as well and

then I noticed

that you had already launched uh

something called

corona tv and you know

one of the things that I think is uh so

great about your style of leadership

is and something that I always try to do

is that you are a practitioner

so there's nothing that you're telling

anybody to do that you're not

willing to roll up your sleeves get

dirty and try yourself

and try in a way that is very uh

vulnerable you know it exposes it's like

while you're leading you're also

exposing that you don't have all the

answers you're not the expert in how it

all works and you're figuring it out in

public

Can you talk about like what

 sort of drove you? What

 circumstances, in terms of changes to

 your own business -to the time,

 to the way you were spending time- drove

 you when when the pandemic really hit to

 take on CoronaTV, and sort of what it

 is for you? I mean,

 if you're watching this... people know what

 this is for me, but you know, talk about

 what CoronaTV

 is for you.

 

JJ

Yeah, and the

 story which I don't know there'll be

 time to talk about today

 is one of the stories that I actually

 write about in Built to Suck is how I

 became an Uber driver.

 And the point that I

 make by doing it is there

 are many marketing gurus out there...

 I'll bet you not one of them has ever

 become an Uber driver and can talk about what Uber's

 building from the inside out from the

 other side.

 And there's of course, it's a you know, any good

 hard honest day's job is a respectable

 job and something to be looked up to. And for

 me, you know, the ability to go, and

 and understand, and see it from the other

 side

 was illuminating. And it's the message

 that I always tell to marketers which is

 you can't read about this in a book

 -even mine, you know a little bit uh

 cheeky, snarky or cheeky there-

 you've gotta live it. So my story is a

 very simple one, you know. I

 was visiting my mom in South Africa,

 -you know, thank god she's doing okay- But

 it's four years into into a bout with

 cancer.

 That we, you know, we call it the red

 dragon... trying to keep the red dragon at

 bay. And i've been trying to visit her three,

 four times a year.

 And 20 minutes before I was meant to

 give a presentation in South Africa

 -because I try and you know do a little

 bit of work there as well-

 my wife calls me and she says, “I have the

 coronavirus... I'm pretty sure I've got

 COVID.”

 20 minutes before, I mentioned, I flew

 back, but

 I flew back the next day. And I was

 meant to fly back the next day,

 but I would have anyway... Obviously the

 day that I arrived I must have passed

 her on the on the I-95 from JFK to

 Connecticut because she was getting

 tested.

 I got home and I needed to be

 self-quarantined...

 different bedroom, different floor, you

 know, away from her for almost a month.

 I was on a different floor in the

 house, and

 I'm obviously faced with

  1. You know at that point it's like

 March 15th.

 Every hour, every day another conference

 is cancelled.

 I was going through the SXSW, you know,

 thing at the moment, and I kept on

 telling everyone on my Whatsapp group,

 “guys this is definitely going to be

 cancelled.” But I couldn't cancel it.

 And because the hotel... So anyway, so

 everything's been canceled,

 all my speaking engagements have been

 cancelled, consulting clients are

 cancelling.

 And I don't even know what I

 can... if you ask me what the spark was, I

 would say honestly I don't

 remember. But I just decided to do a

 Facebook Live,

 and the Facebook Live led to an

 experiment with Zoom. And Zoom led to

 using a piece of software called

 Streamyard.

 And the next thing I knew, CoronaTV was

 just

 there. And then I remember the day -I mean

 there's such an

 interesting lesson here- but I was

 talking to my sister, and she has a

 spinning studio in

 London. And she was saying like,

 “we've got to close our doors,

 and I don't know what to do.” And so

 she went and put all her bikes -she has

 one studio, it's hers-

 she put all the bikes on like a U-haul,

 emailed her

 customer base, said “who wants a spinning

 bike,” and started streaming herself.

 So I said to her, “why don't you come on

 my show? You can be my guest.”

 She was the first guest,

 now my whole show 82, 83 episodes later.

and so you can see sometimes you know i

if there is a motto for all of this it's

the nike motto just

do it yes you know don't don't even

think sometimes

don't overthink it just do it do what

comes natural do what comes

normal you know I started corona tv with

a view

to helping people that were stuck at

home or stuck

you know from a mental health or

depression standpoint

i wanted to help my fellow authors that

were also stuck and I was like let me

just

help right everyone was saying helping

is the new selling

so people have said what are your views

and how are you monetizing i'm like i

have no idea and I don't

care right but I do know that if I do

this long enough and if i'm true to

myself

and if i'm passionate about what I do

and if I try and help people

surely good things will will follow and

maybe they won't but but hopefully they

will right and so that's

and that and that's and then you know

like what you and

and laura and myself and chris you know

i coined this term streamies we are

fellow

streamies and we help each other and we

support one another

why wouldn't we so this thing by the way

this became part of the interesting

style that instead of my green screen

being about

me I I wanted to make it about my and

there's nothing wrong with doing it the

other way but I just wanted to make it

about my guest

also because it because every day I have

to be creative yeah it has to be

original

it can't become a formula or template

you have to have a template yes but if i

could always

customize and change it and go what's

the green screen gonna be like today

um you know today i'm interviewing colin

shaw who's a customer experience

like one of the smartest cx people in

the world

well we met at a conference at stamford

bridge you can imagine as a spurs fan

so that's my background today it's the

chelsea it's the chelsea stadium

 

MW

wow that's fun I I uh

so how how many episodes have you done

now

 

JJ

i mean I don't I don't have like i've

been doing it pretty much

every day since march 15th um but I have

about 82 or 83

interviews 

 

MW

it's that's unbelievable i

think you

are my 42nd or 43rd

uh episode of mark's live and it's it's

crazy when you do it uh I mean I do it

every weekday

and uh just about every weekday like

occasionally i've got like a speaking

thing or a board meeting or whatever but

just about every day I do it

and it's crazy how you rack up the shows

when you do it

every day you know and and just how you

get better at it how you you I am

at this point now where I want to spend

the weekend and really kind of

overhaul and upgrade my entire setup

because

i you know i've kind of got it dialed in

but as you

as you mentioned your your hack around

changing the background

every single show gives you that

creative juice

that i'm currently missing right now i

mean I don't get me wrong like i

i I love the shows but I do feel like

i'm kind of phoning it in for my guest

and so you just you called out something

that I had been feeling in a way that i

know I need to

i need to focus on um

 

JJ

things as well you can do like one of

the things that i've done is

i can come up with a quote where I find

a quote yeah

and and then and I probably did it with

you as well and

and I can't remember yours but like in

some cases the whole point is

because i'm a sadistic you know sob

uh i'm gonna make sure that it is so

esoteric that there's no

way that you're gonna figure it out but

of course what i've done sometimes

is i've actually used their own quote um

so they're like I did it with laura with

laura gastner arting and she was like

wait that's my quote

you know so so that's that's the thing

you know like I have one and sometimes

it can be like lady gaga and it can be

like

it's just so you know esoteric yeah um

but it but it's a

but it's another way of keeping it fresh

 

MW

yeah I think mine was

was like a ben franklin quote or

something like that

um man 

 

Let's talk about your book.

 Fantastic title,

 “Built to Suck…” love it. Really, really

 great title. Let's let's talk about it

 though, what's this book about?

 

JJ

So the book was written,

 you know... it came out actually at

 SXSW 2019.

 And on the cover of the book is this

 corporate apocalypse. This

 you know, you see the the remnants of

 companies

 that have fallen by the wayside. Kodak,

 Blackberry, Toys R Us. And then

 quite interestingly, Sears and JC

 Penny on the cover both have since gone

 out of business.

 And then just to be even more

 provocative, GM, GE, McDonald's

 PNG, etc. of course but I miss, you

 know, I mix it up. It's like GMP

 and EG. And you know, just playing a

 little bit of parody.

 But the premise in the book is

 that

 you know... and I'll take a small step back.

 I walked into my daughter's classroom

 like four or five years ago,

 and I saw this magnificent chart showing

 -it was actually like a history chart-

 but showing 5,000 years of of history of

 civilizations and empires

 -Romans, Ming, you know, Ottomans, Egyptians,

 Nazi Germany- just all of these empires.

 Every single one of them rose and fell.

 Every one of them thought they could

 live forever.

 Every one of them, through hubris,

 arrogance, whatever...

 inability to change, died and.

 And I said, “well if the corporation were

 a civilization or an empire,

 then surely it too will not be able to

 outlive and and fool the sands of time.”

 And the message

 is that the business model of big

 business is broken.

 The day and age where size was a growth

 enabler

 -economies of scale ,efficiencies of scale

 global networks, being a

 multinational- it's now a growth

 inhibitor

 because large corporations have become

 too slow,

 too siloed, too political, too

 bureaucratic,

 too conservative. They're essentially

 slowing down

 when the world is speeding up, and they

 are being disintermediated

 and disintegrated by startups, by

 founders,

 by technology, just by change in and of

 itself.

 You know, if you look at what's happened

 with COVID right now,

 the companies that were on life support,

 that were struggling,

 that were really, you know,

 coping very poorly with the Amazons

 with all of these new forces... they're the

 ones that won't make it through.

 The only companies that will make

 it through are the ones that had enough

 of a buffer

 or some kind of of wiggle room because

 -and I write about a lot of this- they

 were looking to put themselves

 out of business. They were looking to

 transform.

 They were changing the business they're

  1. You know one of the examples I use is

 IBM. You know, IBM went from being big

 blue to big data, right. They went from

 mainframes

 to AI. If big blue could go from a

 company of the most -I mean their main

 frames were

 multiple floors of a building- to

 now dealing

 in bits and bytes, then anything is

 possible.

 

right

and so and and so you know it it's it's

i'm quite you know explicit about this i

take no

joy in seeing a company fail right

i am a messenger though saying you know

hawk the end is nigh

you know don't shoot the messenger but

the reality is right now that there is

no I mean i

even talk about another company in the

book that has gone out of business

uh which or or or file for bankruptcy

protection which is Hertz

you know and I said I I for for for the

life of me

i do not understand why a single car

rental company

is even in business today because of

uber and lyft

like I do not understand what the

business model

is yeah and so right now these companies

i mean they've got to rethink everything

if they want to survive and thrive and

part of the message in this book is

today we're all in the survival business

from the biggest of the big

to the smallest of the small yeah and

and that's a good thing because when you

have your survival instinct

in play right survival instinct is based

on two things

self-preservation and adaptation

self-preservation means don't

kill me I just want to live to fight

another day adaptation says i'm gonna

kill you

if it's between you and me i'm gonna

take you out

in order to kind of be the last brand or

lost man

whatever standing and so this book is

i'm very proud of it because because it

doesn't you know it doesn't mince any

words

and it calls it and says no company

can and will survive and I even take it

so far as to say

right at the end of that chart marcus is

you know

uh the united kingdom the eu

usa russia at one point well guess what

the ussr ussr is not the ussr anymore

china I mean who knows what's going to

happen when the whole world

decides to attack china you know nazi

germany

gone the eu and brexit very different

and then right at the bottom usa and i

actually say

uh you know even the mighty united

states of america

may have to face its own heresy which

just

might be racism and I wrote that a year

ago um and I didn't expand on it i

didn't want to be too controversial

but I go back and I look at this and and

and you know you look at

brand usa like brand coca-cola

yeah yeah it's the same thing

if you cannot adapt if you cannot evolve

if you cannot embrace your heresy you

know

then then you will join that scrap heap

of all the empires and civilizations

that came before you

MW

wow that's heavy uh

yeah it 

 

JJ

I thought it was a light read

 

MW

yeah I don't think so

um you know 

 

JJ

it's funny

i make lots of jokes 

 

MW

well well you're

funny you're a funny person

um we're to the end of the show and i

mean

i I feel like I don't really want to

leave that topic but i

i never like to leave uh these very

short shows

on a on a pessimistic view so

let's let's now look to the

to the innovators into the companies

that can embrace their shortcomings

and can uh self-disrupt you know what

what would you say

uh are are the the the inspirations that

we're seeing sort of around us right now

and the opportunities

well 

 

JJ

I will say that the book is the

book is not

pessimistic and the note is not

pessimistic because

what I introduce is is a solution and

there are four growth pillars which is

which is digital

disruption like what's happening right

now is not digital disruption

it's digital catcher it's just companies

trying to catch up yes the next one is

customer obsession

which is something jeff bezos wrote in

his very first letter to shareholders

the third is talent resurrection like if

we

i actually say ban the word employee if

we can't figure out how to attract and

retain

and uplift our talent we are dead and

then the fourth is

corporate citizenship you know if you

want to be good

you know if you want to do good you have

to be good right

um and and it's just like a different

spin on or

or different take I should say on

purpose and corporate social

responsibility so

so even if you look at a company like

patagonia that has changed its mission

statement to say to save this planet

you know large of course anyone can

survive and thrive

if they are able to to continue as i

said to adapt and evolve

uh and and be dynamic and so the

inspiration around me right now

i mean i'm like you I believe in the

power of the entrepreneur

of the startup you know walt disney said

if you can dream it you can do it and i

believe that technology can solve

any business problem quite frankly

even what's going on with covert

technology and

humanity when combined when unified

when united we can solve anything

whether it's technology and

and contact tracing or humanity in terms

of the

i said this the other day to a doctor i

said why are all the top

doctors positions nobel prize laureates

not having a zoom core status call every

monday morning

or if it is why they're not streaming

that or giving us minutes of that

yeah because because because I do

believe

i do believe in redemption I do believe

in

in humanity you know I believe that

creativity

and and as I said disruption and

innovation and and just

the entrepreneurial spirit and grit

and determination and and and embracing

you know failure and failing for like

all of this stuff

combines to power what I call in the

book the

entrepreneurial revolution it is the

next industrial revolution

and it is so powerful right now and so

as long as we keep feeding our

entrepreneurial

potential and spirit and passion there

is always going to be hope for

for for humanity and for the world

amazing amazing note to end on and

uh but we gotta we gotta get you back on

here soon because there's a part two to

this conversation uh I wanna dig more

into your four pillars uh I love them

and i

i kind of could we could do a whole show

just on the four pillars and

and uh looking at who knows them well

you know any time any time and it works

both ways

right anytime you want to come back

amazing always open

uh thank you so much joseph everybody

out there please follow joseph you can

get him

online at jaffeejuice and at

jaffeejuicetv

jaffeejuice.tv or josephjaffee.com or

the web properties go follow

this this brilliant hilarious hilarious

man uh the book create an orchestrate

it's in stores right now hopefully

you've already picked up your copy if

not why not

it's uh it's only 6.99 at amazon right

now kindle edition

the podcast marcus whitney's audio

universe wherever you get your podcast

you can grab it please subscribe

downloads I need them thank you and you

can follow me at marcus whitney

everywhere online and of course marcus

whitney.com is the website

that is it I will see you all tomorrow

for another episode and until then

hope you were inspired by today and

let's build the new normal piece

Leave a Comment