Evolving Industry:

A no BS podcast about business leaders who are successfully weaving technology into their company DNA to forge a better path forward

Product Experience Management: The Future of Brand Storytelling in E-Commerce

George Jagodzinski (00:00):

Today, we discuss digital shelf and product experience management. I can't tell you how many organizations we've gone into and found a Frankenstein of spreadsheets and shared folders cobbled together to manage their product information. This works until a point, but at the end of the day, you need your products to shine and stand out on retailer websites all over the world. If you're a brand manufacturer, you've got to really take control of your digital shelf, and today, I'm joined by Rob Gonzalez, who's helping companies all over the world do that. Rob's a co-founder and the chief marketing officer of Salsify, a founding member of the Digital Shelf Institute. Salsify is a great platform that, over the last 11 years, has been helping brand manufacturers in the driver's seat of their digital shelf. Please, welcome Rob Gonzalez.


Welcome to Evolving Industry, a no-BS podcast about business leaders who are successfully weaving technology into their company's DNA to forge a better path forward. If you're looking to actually move the ball forward rather than spinning around in a tornado of buzzwords, you're in the right place. I'm your host, George Jagodzinski. Rob, thanks so much for being here.

Rob Gonzalez (01:14):

Thanks so much for having me.

George Jagodzinski (01:16):

Rob, I figured a great place to start is, in your words, giving us that high level, what is Salsify? What value does it bring to your clients? I know I've been guilty, and this might be a dagger through your heart, but I sometimes just explain it as syndicated PIM, right? I know that that really underplays it, but it's a quick way in conversations that I have out in the wild. I'd love you to bring me your magical words as far as how you'd describe it.

Rob Gonzalez (01:42):

Yeah. I mean, we call it product experience management, and what we mean by that is, in the world of the digital shelf, your brand and your product value is expressed through product detail pages everywhere on the internet, some of them that you own, such as your direct-to-consumer site or corporate website or social media platform posts, and some of which you kind of rent, like what shows up on Amazon, which you have some control over but not entire control over. That information includes product details, properties, search engine optimized things like titles and descriptions, images, videos, from-the-manufacturer, media, all that type of stuff. Being able to manage all that information for all the channels you sell your products, being able to get all that content and data out there in front of shoppers, and being able to improve it over time, that's what product experience management is all about. Hopefully, that's a quick enough explanation for folks.

George Jagodzinski (02:40):

That is, that's great. What I figured we could explore today is you're at this really interesting intersection with your clients, and the industry as a whole, where you're at the intersection of commerce, brand story-telling, supply chain, marketplaces, retailers, all of that, and I really wanted to explore your perspective in looking at those organizations from there. I'll start with a fun one, which is I feel like you bear witness to the number of organizations that are running on Excel, and I wanted to do a health check with you on the industry as a whole. Where are we at right now on where organizations are at, moving away from Excel?

Rob Gonzalez (03:17):

I mean, they'll never move away from Excel entirely. I personally love Excel. It's just an incredible piece of software, and use it all the time for all kinds of stuff. I just don't think it'll ever be done. I think, in the same way ... There's an old joke. In the same way that the cockroach has existed from the dinosaur era to present, largely unchanged, and the cockroach will long outlast humanity. I mean, it's just an unkillable, adaptable species. I feel that way about spreadsheets in the enterprise. I mean, it's a fool's errand to try to actually eliminate them. You could eliminate specific use cases of spreadsheets, but trying to eliminate the spreadsheet, man, that's just not going to happen.

George Jagodzinski (04:04):

Yeah. Yeah, just the number of inventory that's managed at global organizations and flat files in Excel, it still boggles my mind. On a more serious note, at this intersection that you sit at right now, you've been doing this for a while. What have you learned from these large CPG manufacturing organizations, these multi-brands, as far as how they're leaning into this space? How have they been maturing over the past however many years you've been doing this?

Rob Gonzalez (04:33):

Yeah, so at Salsify, something pretty close to 90% of our customers are branded manufacturers, and the remainder are distributors and retailers. The branded manufacturers, if you go back to when we started the company in 2012, the percentage of their gross sales that they perceived as being online was de minimus. If you're Johnson & Johnson's consumer brands, and it's 2012, you're talking less than 1% of your total sales are online. There were some categories that early that had moved online in terms of the total gross percentage basis a little more aggressively. Beauty products, pet care products were two that were quick to grow online early, but for most branded manufacturers, it was, at best, it was a sideshow for them. They might've had an e-commerce team somewhere in the building, but the e-commerce team was really just a sales team that managed Amazon or managed Chewy, just depending on the category, and that's kind of all they did. If you were a branded manufacturer and you were talking to Walmart in 2012, the quality of your product's appearances on walmart.com, that just was something that never, ever came up. Walmart.com was not this strategic thing that you, as a seller, were talking to a buyer.


Over 10 years, that's changed dramatically, and you saw branded manufacturers go through a whole evolution of organization shifts to accommodate the growth in e-commerce. At some point, for example, the e-commerce team, their sales are big enough where it can't be two guys and a dog in a basement anymore. You've got to treat it like a real business. You might get a VP that's on top of that. The VP is still usually reporting to sales, but but then all of a sudden, you figure out that, "Oh my gosh, we've got 16 VPs of e-commerce across all these different brands," so you create a digital center of excellence, and you try to centralize some of the control, and you kind of go through several different iterations of that, centralized, decentralized, and so on and so forth. We're getting to the point now where e-commerce and e-commerce-influenced sales, like “buy online, pick up in store,” are such a significant part of the overall gross of most of these businesses that it has become part of the charter of almost every function in the company and has become business as usual.


It's a little bit less of a specialty organization on the side of the business or a ninja strike team center of excellence play, and it's become a little bit more of what the trade marketing team is responsible for and the brand marketing team is responsible for, and the sales team is responsible for, and they've all got responsibilities that include digital shelf now. What that's meant for the technology is the technology buyers and users and implementers have changed in the same arc. 10 years ago, it was a director of e-commerce who just bought a piece of business software to help him or her to their job, right, and then five or six years later, you're talking about a center of excellence, so you're talking about a piece usually considered a business application, purchased by the business, limited IT involvement. You've got more users, and you've got more departments, and you've got to worry about multi-geography and stuff like that, but in general, it's still a business application. And now, what you're seeing over the last couple of years is this category of software is being purchased by the office of the CIO and is being rolled out across the whole business and is being managed completely differently. And so, the requirements of the software stack and what it's got to integrate with all that type of stuff have evolved along those lines. That's the quick history.

George Jagodzinski (08:18):

Yeah, that mirrors everything that we've seen, and we go into these organizations. We help them kind of start from zero, stand up that DCOE and then grow it and expand it and graduate. Something that we've noticed over the past couple years is not just that move to the OCIO, but now they've much more tightly integrated those digital initiatives with the brand teams. It's very much the, "Let's throw this thing over from the brand to the digital team," and now it's more much integrated. We're now unlocking a lot more brand storytelling. I'm interested to hear from you, how is that increase in brand storytelling impacting your platform and your solutions?

Rob Gonzalez (08:56):

I'll give you just kind of a data point now. This was from talking to a global branded manufacturer in the hard lines space, and their big customers in the US include Home Depot, Lowe's, for example, and they spent God knows how much money rebuilding their corporate website a few years ago. If you compare the amount of traffic that gets to their corporate website versus the amount of traffic that gets to their products on homedepot.com on any given day, you're talking an order of magnitude of difference in favor of Home Depot, so if you're trying to tell your brand story and you're doing it on your corporate website but you're not doing it on homedepot.com, you're missing the vast majority of people who might interact with your brand. Same thing with Amazon, same thing with Walmart… These mega channels are the places where you tell your story these days, and we reached a point this year where less than 50% of US households have linear cable television anymore. The number of commercials that people are seeing is down significantly overall. I mean, there's entire sections of the population that are kind of opting out, and so where do you tell your brand story? It's where people are interacting with the brand. You go to the search bar. You go to social media. You land on product detail pages. That's where you've got to tell the story.


That's why, in broad strokes, the brand teams are getting a lot more engaged with this than they used to. The product detail page still, in the vast majority of cases, is not viewed or treated by most companies as a place to tell brand stories. I'd say the most mature digital companies treat it as a place to tell brand stories, but a lot of them, you go on Amazon, they're not telling you the brand story. They're just transacting. They're missing an opportunity to connect with their shoppers. And so, there's an evolution happening there. In the Digital Shelf Institute, we did a survey a few months back with Stratably, Russ over at Stratably, and the survey was focused on retail media and who owns it. Retail media in a lot of companies is kind of co-owned and co-budgeted across three or four different departments. They can't figure out who should actually own it, who should own the budget, who should own the operations. The brand team is only part of it in a very small minority of cases. You're talking 10 to 20% of cases is the brand team even involved in retail media placement. And so, this is an evolution that's happening right now.


I think when you're talking about the brand team being engaged, I think that it's the most digitally mature companies where that's the most true, and there's plenty of places where the brand team is not really paying that much attention to the product detail pages, not really heavily engaged in the retail media strategy, and missing opportunities to tell the story they can tell.

George Jagodzinski (11:41):

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Yeah, and I'd love to dig into perhaps the unsexy challenges for the less mature organizations because in your pillars of PXM, you have centralized data, connect, automate, right? Just that first pillar of centralized data, to so many of these organizations, it's like, "Oh, crap. I've got a mess of SKUs all over the place. There's no structure to it. How am I going to do this? How do I get started?" They may even already have... We've delivered plenty of these scorecards showing them how all their product detail pages are, and there could be a lot of red and Fs on there, but it's like, "Now what the heck do I do? How do I get started?" Through your experience, where have you found those biggest friction points on just getting started, and maybe some stories from the trenches on how they could push through that?

Rob Gonzalez (13:00):

Yeah. Depending on the size of the business and their digital maturity, getting their operations in order from centralizing all their content and then developing good workflow hygiene can take a little while, right? The way that most organizations store product data, it's either they have it in their ERP system, and that's the primary place, or they have some kind of a legacy product information management system that has some version of the truth. When we come in there, what we find is, typically, their legacy PIM might only have 30 or 40% of what's needed across all their digital channels. So if you look at all of the attributes that, in aggregate, an Amazon, a Walmart, a Target, a Kroger, and so on and so forth are asking for, it ends up being hundreds of attributes.


I mean, one of our customers, 3M, their consumer business group has a product called the Command Hook, which is an amazing product, and Darlene, the leader there, had her team look at all of the attributes that were requested from all of their trade partners in just the United States for just one SKU. And then, they went through the effort of de-duplicating the attributes, so if one company calls it description and the other ones calls it product description, whatever. We're going to call it the same thing, or whatever. They went through this exercise by hand, and they found that it was something like 620 unique pieces of data that were being asked for across their trading partners just to get the product live in market. Most companies, you go back to their internal systems and you look at their ERP system, you look at their PIM system, they don't have anything remotely like that level of data that's required to get the product out there.


They don't have any of the channel data, really. So oftentimes, one of the pieces of friction is just realizing, again, all this work was done in Excel before. The way that the sales teams operated is they went to the PIM, they exported into Excel. They found, "All right, I've got only 30% of the columns filled out." They would key in data by hand into the Excel spreadsheet, and they'd mail it over to their buyer or their distributor, or they would upload it into Amazon, and there'd be no place to store any of this stuff. There's a change management process where you've got to figure out where all this stuff is hiding on people's hard drives, and some of it's in a PIM. Some of it's in the ERP system. Some of it might be in a pricing system. It's just all over the place. You've got to find all of it, do the archeology project, and then you've got to create workflows to make sure that it doesn't get out of date in the future.


Yeah, that's kind of the unsexy part of it, but it's also the piece that has the highest internal yield. The amount of effort that you're reducing over time by doing the centralization work upfront is just incredible. People will reduce time to launch a new product from three or four months down to a couple days because they've got their stuff organized. It can make a huge difference, but it can also be hard to get up and running.

George Jagodzinski (15:59):

Yeah, and that centralization is the true foundation for being able to tell a true brand story on these product detail pages because there's this law that I always like to refer back to, which is Conway's Law, which, paraphrased, it states, "You will build a system that just is a mirror of your internal communication frameworks." I like to have fun. Even just this year, when I was holiday shopping, you can look at some of these product pages, and you can almost reverse engineer how they're organized internally, right? If their pricing team is way separate from their product team and whatever it is that's out there. I'm curious about some of the improvements that you've seen with these brands in telling their stories when they centralized. I'd love to hear some stories.

Rob Gonzalez (16:39):

Well, they range the gamut, right? I mean, I'll give you one example. One of our customers was using, and I'm not going to name names, but they were using another GDSN data pool provider for setting up data on their grocery customers in the United States, and the way that the GDSN is very typically set up in organizations, GDSN evolved as mostly a supply chain synchronization tool. It's been, in recent years, being used for more than that. Places like Kroger, you'll be able to send e-commerce data over GDSN. The way that it was set up to support supply chain data was you would basically hook your ERP system up to some type of GDSN on-ramp, and then the data would get into GDSN, and then it would get to Kroger, or it would get to Albertson's, or it would get to your trading partners that use the GDSN technology.


Anyway, this customer of ours did an internal audit, and they found that they were seeing a little under a half a million dollars of chargebacks related to data quality issues on GDSN.

George Jagodzinski (17:52):

Wow, that's crazy.

Rob Gonzalez (17:53):

Yeah, and that's just one type of publication channel, right? They had been suffering those penalties for years and were considering it just the cost of doing business without a clear path to fix the data issues, holistically across the organization. You see a reduction in chargebacks. Another customer had 700 distribution partners in the United States, and for a new product to go live across all the distribution partners, it would take them over four months just because of the clerical work to set up the product for sale in all of the different purchase systems in all of their distribution partners. All that is is product data exchange, so you can bring that from over four months down to a week, two weeks, by centralizing the requirements of all those downstream channels and making sure that you're collecting all that information upfront so that when you're ready to launch the product, you're ready to launch the product. It's not like you go to launch the product, and then you realize, "Oops, where's this piece of data? Let me go see if I can find it. Oh, I'm missing something else for this other guy. Let me go see if I can find it." You can look at time to market.


You can look at things like share of voice. A lot of companies, your number one product on amazon.com? You probably have that product dialed in, right? That product has great images. It's got a great product title. It's got a great description. It's got a video. Your number one seller on Amazon, most companies treat very, very well. Your number 40 selling product on Amazon, you get down to that list and that product detail page, often, it looks okay. There's a few images, decent title, but it's not as good as number one. You only have so much time in the day to work on number 40. And so, by introducing automation, you get leverage on your creative team, and all of a sudden, number 40 can look a little bit more like number one, and it can improve its search ranking. On Amazon, if you go from the number 10 organic spot to the number seven organic spot, that's a material boost in sales. I mean, it's still not a number one organic spot, right? It's still not going to crush it for sales, but you're still improving the sales for that one product, and you do that across 100 or 500 products, and that's real money. By creating automation and by creating process controls, you can actually increase your search ranking and increase your revenue, especially across the longtail of products that you're selling through digital channels, and so on and so forth.


I mean, there's just so many examples of getting this right. Some companies will come in there, to your earlier question on branding, and they'll use a Profitero, for example, which is a fantastic digital shelf analytics product, and they'll look at their brand consistency across dozens of channels in multiple countries and they'll realize that their brand is inconsistent across lots of different digital touchpoints, and how do they fix that, right? Then they'll measure before and after brand consistency for having a centralized content management plus product indication strategy, and so on and so forth. By going through this process, by having a single product experience management platform and strategy where you're centralizing all your content, you're connecting it out there to where consumers are going to see it, and you're automating a lot of the work that goes behind the scenes to make it happen, there's cost savings, operational effectiveness, and sales growth all seen from that investment.

George Jagodzinski (21:12):

Yeah. It can seem really overwhelming and burdensome to get all that centralized information cleaned up, but the ROI there is huge. Rob, you keep saying this word “automation.” I believe the marketing gods have mandated that we must only call that “AI” now.

Rob Gonzalez (21:27):

Yeah, right. Well, it's funny. We have a workflow system, and we're getting to the point where... I'm going to get the ratio a little bit wrong here, but it's directionally correct. For every task completed by a human in the system, something like 100 tasks are being created by bots, and those are pre-AI bots. These are bots that you create basically on rules, like, "If this, then that," and the bots in the system can be programmed to do any number of things. We're seeing already that the automation of task completion by bots is overwhelming the task completion by humans in the system, so you get a lot of leverage on your investment through that. Now, with AI, us and every other content-related player in the space has built some type of integration with OpenAI and others for the content generation — create a product description, create an image, whatever. Actually, I think where we're going is not the content generation angle. Where we're going is that AI should allow you to automate a significant amount of tasks that are currently hard to automate using just regular bots.


One example that's kind of interesting to me is companies like Kroger or Walmart are releasing updated product content style guidelines that include qualitative statements. For example, one statement is, “You cannot make any maximalist claims in your product description.” A maximalist claim would be something like, the most healthy, the best-selling, the most popular, number one recommended. All that stuff, they're saying, don't put that in the product description, right? Creating a bot using regular expressions to catch all those is very, very difficult. It doesn't work that well, actually, but if you take the OpenAI model, and you do a little additional training on it, you can get pretty close to 100% of instances caught automatically from a validation perspective. It's incredible, and that's just one validation example, but we found a ton of those types of examples where you can not only validate and find the mistake but have the system propose a correction and then have that correction approved by a human, and then it goes live. You're basically automating most of the data quality improvement process.


There's lots of examples like that where we're looking at the capability of AI to do tasks that currently humans are doing that are clerical in nature, and I mean, literally, if you look across Salsify over the course of the year, there's a million of those across our users. It's not an insignificant amount of time savings and operational efficiency boosting that you can get from those types of investments.

George Jagodzinski (24:21):

Yeah, and you can even train it to speak in the language of the brand voice in making those recommendations, right? Something, I wonder if you have any fun numbers on this one, but the number of change requests to content like that is staggering to the suppliers on this. We work quite a bit in bev-alc, and so you're not only dealing with the retailers and the marketplaces, but you're dealing with compliance, on a state-by-state, on a county level, countries, and there's just no possible way for any human to keep up with it. I'm curious if you have any stats or fun numbers as far as the change requests.

Rob Gonzalez (25:00):

Well, yeah. The interesting part is, I mean, if you go back five or six years ago, Target has always been a strong digital player, but they weren't updating their product data requirements that often. A few dozen times a year. In 2022, I think the number was something like between 250 and 300 times, they updated their product data requirements, so they're getting to near real-time, and Amazon is almost every single business day. I mean, they're over 300 updates over the course of the year. The reason that they're updating it all the time is because they have people that are looking at the analytics on the website and they're running AB tests, and based on those AB tests, they're updating their site search taxonomy. When they update their site search taxonomy, that means that there's a new requirement or a changed requirement for branded manufacturers to keep up with, and if you're setting up a new product, it's got to be set up with the latest site search taxonomy. You're seeing a significant volume of changes, even in places that you wouldn't normally think of as fast-moving.


In the B2B industrial supply and distribution spaces, Granger, for example, they've got over 8,000 product categories for which they've got a specific set of attributes that they ask for. Across the set of them, it's updated every single week, and Granger has a very high performing website. They're not doing it to make manufacturers' lives difficult. They're doing it to make buyers' lives easier, so the volume of data changes in order to do that well is significant. Yeah, there's a huge volatility to the changes. I mean, if you couple that, for example, with the volume… So I gave the example of the 3M Command Hook and the 620-odd attributes. 620-odd attributes, some of which are changing nearly every single week, somewhere across those attributes, that's what you're talking about. It's a huge volatility for a huge volume of data, and that's the challenge, if brands get it right, they gain share of voice. They gain sales. They reduce chargebacks. They just improve their overall brand consistency across all the sites.

George Jagodzinski (27:14):

It's just staggering, the number of attributes and how rapidly it's changing, and I would imagine it's just going to grow and grow as we move forward, right?

Rob Gonzalez (27:22):

You would think so. What we're seeing a little bit is we're seeing the experiences at the very highest end, the tier one online retailers, we're not seeing a growth in attributes there too much. I mean, it's kind of a little bit plateaued. It's more volatility within the attribute set, and then the longer tail are usually pretty happy to have a nice complete standardized set of data. If you're the number 27 grocer in the United States, you're not going to necessarily be able to demand whatever you want out of your suppliers, but you're pretty happy to get what the number 10 guy has. You know what I mean? We're seeing kind of a bifurcation of data specialization and competition at the tier ones and a little bit more standardization on the longtail. I think that's about the trend that will continue for a little while.


Where you're seeing the challenges are with new channels that pop up, so quick commerce. Uber, for example, is selling more and more products in more and more channels in more and more geography, and they just simply have different data needs because they have a radically different shopping experience than a traditional e-commerce site. That puts additional burden on the suppliers to make sure that they produce a really great experience through Uber. New channels will introduce new types of data. From the branded teams, I know Metaverse is not the hot topic anymore, but there's still a bunch of, especially in apparel and fashion, there's still brands that are spending time and money in Metaverse experiences, and those are 3D assets that are shown. I do think that there's going to be an increase of 3D asset usage and all the information that surrounds that in the upcoming years. I just think that new channels and new experiences are what's going to drive the data volume growth, not so much a never-ending growth within the existing channel set.

George Jagodzinski (29:15):

That makes a lot of sense. There's going to be a little bit of a GDSN nerd question from myself. Back in 2003, I was actually part of a team. We were building one of the first GDSN data pools back when Walmart did its whole RFID mandate to all the retailers that didn't really happen the way it was supposed to. Man, from day one, GDSN was just being used the wrong way. Every single relationship, from a supplier to a retailer, they were piggybacking off of attributed to kind of make it their own, and it immediately got to the point that you kind of had to be locked into a data pool because they knew all your specific transformations from how you were interpreting the data because no one was truly interpreting it the same way. Very different fields used in very different ways, and it was never meant to be used for, really, imagery or multimedia assets or anything like that. I'm curious, from a standards body perspective, are you pushing into anything new, or do you think that there's even a place for these standards bodies moving forward? What's that whole landscape look like?


There's also a selfish reason. We're cross-industry. A lot of our clients in different industries, there's always these conversations going around, like, "Oh, we should start our own. Going to take our ball and make our own, go to our own island and make our own standard." I'm curious, from you, sitting at the middle of this, what your thoughts are.

Rob Gonzalez (30:32):

Yeah. I think standards that try to focus on getting a taxonomy right are doomed, and we've seen that over and over again. They're doomed because of the data volatility. I remember we were part of a working group for general merchandise and apparel that, over a course of two years, were trying to come up with an attribute set. Macy's and Dillard's were on that working group and finally got to a set of categories and attributes according to the global data dictionary for GS1 that would apply to apparel within the department store space. And a month after the standards were released, the major department stores were already moving off of them. The reason is because they don't want to have identical websites, right? They've got completely different search and nav experiences, so therefore, the data is going to be different. Every attempt to standardize a taxonomy across tons of different retailers has failed, and I just expect that to continue.


On the other hand, the ability to standardize a pipe, like a communications protocol, I think that has a lot of possibilities. GDSN, for example. I mean, you're right that the history of GDSN was that a data pool would try to take an open standard and close it to try to create a local monopoly, either geographically or within a category, in order to raise prices. That's 100% what the strategy was. 1World tried that in the US, and a bunch of... If you go almost country by country, a lot of the GDSN data pools have tried to do that, and the way that they do that is they work with the retailers, and they come up with validation rules against the attributes that are non-public that they know that other sourced GDSN data pools that might publish don't know. Now, at the end of the day, you can actually work through that if you've got the retailers' collaboration. For example, we've got a GDSN data pool. We've successfully used it in Germany, and it was painful to get up and running because we had to kind of, through trial and error, figure out all the validation rules needed to publish the GDSN data endpoints in Germany, but we got there, and we've got a process we're doing, and making it done.


At the end of the day, you can kind of get around those things if you push for it. I tend to think that, and by the way, we've got a... Jason, my co-founder, is on the board of GDSN. He's on the global GDSN board, and one of the areas where we really want to drive the standard is to make the endpoint requirements public. GDSN wins when more people use it as a protocol for transmitting data, and it's universal, and I would love for that to be possible because it makes creating new connections to new places easier. But in order for that to be possible, exactly what you were talking about, exactly what I was just saying, the requirements of the endpoints have got to be transparent, and they've got to be public in some way, and right now, there's no standard for making all the requirements public. If we can solve that problem, I think that you can see a rebirth in GDSN simply because it's a good standard communication protocol for transmitting a lot of this information.

George Jagodzinski (33:53):

Yeah. I mean, it's kind of, to bring that to real words, it's like a neighborhood. You want the roads and the driveways and the entrances and the exits to be all standard and good, but you don't want the HSA telling you what the heck to do with your lawn or your front door or your paint, right? We're all human, and each of these brands are going to want their own experience, and so that taxonomy-based standard, yeah… It makes sense that it would be doomed from the start.


Well, Rob, I really enjoyed this. I always like to finish these with a fun question, which is, in your many years in your career and just your personal life, what is the best advice you've ever received?

Rob Gonzalez (34:28):

The single best advice that I've ever received?

George Jagodzinski (34:32):

Well, now or forever... You may be brought up on trial if you answer wrong.

Rob Gonzalez (34:39):

Oh, yeah, okay. Well, the interesting bit about advice is that it's so contextual. The advice you need when you're starting out running and the advice you need after you've run your first marathon is totally different advice, so usually the best advice that I get from folks tends to be context-dependent, and it's also somebody early in their career, do they want career advice, whatever? I don't know. I mean, I think as a philosophy, I'm a big fan of the Jocko Willink “Discipline Equals Freedom” mindset, where, if you're organized and you show up and you do your best and you do that over and over again, that's going to put you in the top 1% of performers most of the time. I really truly believe that that's something that a lot of people could maybe bear to keep in mind a little bit more. Anyway, yeah, I think if I were going to say just one thing, discipline equals freedom. That's exactly right.

George Jagodzinski (35:42):

I love it. I totally agree as well. Rob, thank you so much. I really enjoyed it.

Rob Gonzalez (35:46):

All right. Cheers. Thanks for having me.

George Jagodzinski (35:49):

Thanks for listening to Evolving Industry. For more, subscribe and follow us on your favorite podcast platform, and pretty please, drop us a review. We'd really appreciate it. If you're watching or listening on YouTube, hit that subscribe button and smash the bell button for notifications. If you know someone who's pushing the limits to evolve their business, reach out to the show at evolvingindustry@intevity.com. Reach out to me, George Jagodzinski, on LinkedIn. I love speaking with people getting the hard work done. The business environment's always changing, and you're either keeping up or going extinct. We'll catch you next time, and until then, keep evolving.