TSP066 | Eitan Chitayat – Transcription

TSP067 | Jason Shuman – Transcription
BTSP | Michael Parrish DuDell – Transcription

John Livesay:

Welcome to The Successful Pitch. Today’s guest is Eitan Chitayat, who is the founder of natie.com, which is a ad agency that works not only with advertising, and website designs, and branding, but much bigger things than that. He had different clients from AMEX to now working with Facebook, and Google, and Apple. One of his clients is Valtech, which makes heart surgeries and they worked with them. All they had was a logo on a website to getting bought. It was the largest buyout ever: $929 million from having the clear focus and storytelling in place.

He talks about when you are truthful of who you are, your story is authentic and relevant, and people relate to that. He’s got an amazing video that went viral called, “I’m That Jew”, that he talks about, about not being afraid of who you are and putting it out there. He said, “You know, when you trust your team and you connect with your gut, you make the best decisions about who to have on your team.”

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Hi, and welcome to The Successful Pitch Podcast. Today’s guest is Eitan Chitayat, who is the founder of a brilliant creative agency called natie.com. He’s worked for amazing companies and has clients that anybody would kill to have, including American Express. He’s going to talk to us about one of his clients, Valtech, that was just recently bought for over $900 million. So, clearly, he is an expert in branding and positioning. Welcome to the show.

Eitan:

Hey, it’s nice to be here. Thank you.

John:

I always like to ask my guests about their background. In other words, what were you like in college? Did you know that you wanted to get in and be in the creative world? Did you want to do something else or was it always about branding and advertising?

Eitan:

I was totally confused when I did my first degree. I actually started in political science as a major, and I minored in English lit. Then I flipped it, majoring in English lit and minoring in political science and I just really enjoyed that. Then I moved to Boston to do my master’s degree and that was in integrated communication marketing at Emerson College.

So, I’ve always kind of liked the communications field, but even that degree was more marketing, and it was only in my last semester that I actually, totally by accident, did a creative course in advertising and I kind of got the bug. As all of my friends were leaving college to get these high-paying jobs in marketing, I kind of sat in the computer library for six months and I put pictures with city headlines together and shopped a portfolio around and landed a job in advertising and branding as a copywriter. So, it wasn’t the plan but it kind of just happened and it was good that it did.

John:

It’s your own creative process. Well, you’ve worked with some of the major agencies: OgilvyOne, BBDO, TBWA, which used to be Chiat, and even working at Google’s creative lab.

Eitan:

Yeah.

John:

What was it like? What’d you learn at Google?

Eitan:

Google was interesting. I mean, I was there as a freelancer. They brought me over when I was in Israel and I worked there for a few months. The talent there is extraordinary and the amazing thing about the lab is — I also worked with a creative lab in London, but the amazing thing about the New York lab when I was there was that you have direct access to everything that Google is working on that they want to promote. They found a way under great creative leadership in the form of Andy Berndt and Robert Wong how to translate over that crazy technical stuff into things that people can actually feel.

It really is crazy technical, some of the things that they’re doing there, and to be able to translate it simply in their communications and in their branding was eye-opening. The teams that we worked with, some of them were really senior and some of them were really young. So, that mix and just being around it was great. I got to work on some incredible things and I’m just very lucky to have been there.

John:

Well, that’s one of the reasons – there are many – why we’re so excited to have you as a guest on the show because most of the listeners are somehow involved in technology and they have to somehow figure out a way to take all that tech speak and turn it into a very simple pitch for investors. That starts with figuring out a good tagline and figuring out a good logo and a good brand, which is what you’re an expert at.

Now, I also want to ask you about what made you decide to say, “You know what? I’ve worked for all these big agencies but I’m going to go out on my own now.”? I’m always fascinated by that decision and some of the challenges that you’ve faced that you weren’t expecting.

Eitan:

I think that I’ve always been a little bit of a troublemaker even when I was working at the bigger agencies and I’ve always had a pretty strong opinion. Even when I was working for some of the bigger agencies, I always had a little independent something going on the side. When I got back to Israel, I was the executive creative director of TBWA Digital here for around a year, and within that year, I realized this isn’t working for me. I’m not able to do the things that I want to do, and to be able to deliver the standard that I’m used to delivering, not because there was anything wrong with TBWA Digital. They were amazing. It’s more that I came from a different culture and an international background and it was more for the Israeli local market.

So, I decided to just quit and do my own thing and it wasn’t some type of revolution for me because I’ve always been entrepreneurially inclined. But, working on projects that really allowed me to do what I wanted to do and work with the people that I really wanted to work with without all the bureaucracy and ulterior motives which were very fair and fine, but they weren’t mine.

So, my team and the people that I worked with who are in my team now are, ultimately, people that I just connect with that strategically, creatively, and who kind of get what I want to bring out of whoever I work with in the form of a client. That is super important when you’re kind of creatively driven to be able to have the freedom and to work with the people that you can also give them freedom but they also give you back what would you want, as well, and what you need, and of course, working with the right clients too. So, the long answer is what I just said. The short answer is I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and that little nugget has always gotten me in trouble and now it’s kind of like working for me, which is great.

John:

It is. I want you to speak a little bit more if you will, because all of the founders, whether they’re just starting out and they only have a co-founder and maybe two or three people on their team, eventually want to get funded and grow their company, and you are an expert in finding the right people that fit your culture and your strategy. Can you speak a little bit about how you find the right people that are going to be a corporate fit for where your culture is?

Eitan:

I can answer that, minus one word, which is corporate because that’s the least thing I am but I think that you have to find people that you instinctively trust. I think that’s the most important thing. I mean, I can tell you that I’ve worked — the best relationships I’ve had and the once that I still have are the ones where you just connect at the gut level. Then, of course, there are the strategic partnerships, the ones where you might not be good at something and the other person fills that gap for you and you do the same thing for them. So, there’s that yin and yang thing going there.

Networking is huge. I think that one of the things that you really need to do if some of your audience is younger is to always stay in touch with everyone that you’ve ever met, in some way, shape, or form because you never know. I mean, there are people that I worked with 15 years ago who I’m still in touch with and you never know where they’re going to be and if you have a relationship with them and the stars align, then magic might happen. So, I think those type of relationships, just being in touch is a very good — staying in touch is a very, very important thing.

John:

Do you have a process for how you stay in touch with people? Is it through social media or something else?

Eitan:

Well, you know what? In the last 3 years, because I was in New York for a while and then when I left to come back to Israel, actually, Facebook allowed me to stay on the map, professionally speaking. You know, you write a status and, “Oh, he’s still around. He’s still on the radar.” So, that’s not the way that I stay in touch but, in the last few years, it’s definitely helped. I think I’ve always just stayed in touch with people. I think, being in communications outside of the profession, I’m just a communicative type of guy. So, just stay in touch with people.

John:

It’s part of your tagline for natie, so that makes complete sense. Since, you’ve mentioned Facebook, you’ve actually had Facebook as a client. Can you talk to us about what you learned there or about that culture and branding?

Eitan:

Yeah, well I mean, the stuff that I worked on with Facebook, which was out of the London Office, was more kind of — like Facebook has their own clients. They do advertising in-house for banks or food companies or what have you. So, we basically delivered a couple of ideas for Facebook for some of their clients to try and help them with presenting social media ideas for these clients on Facebook has a platform. That, in itself, was interesting because when we did it, which was a couple of years ago, that was new. That’s a new way of thinking. They’ve always said Facebook is not hiring an advertising agency, a corporate advertising agency. So, we brainstormed for them and we just partnered with them. It wasn’t a huge project, and then we did another thing or two. But, it’s great to be able to worked with Facebook, or Apple, or Google who we’ve worked with extensively as well.

John:

Well, I also want to ask you about one of the things on your website, which is Valtech and it — what an amazing case study in the story, but if you could, tell us about the importance of branding and I love what you talk about it in one of your interviews is strategy is only as good as the first step and the strategy that you had with Valtech and what you were able to do them and matching their design of their product to their complete logo is completely fascinating and, of course, what an amazing exit.

Eitan:

Yeah, that’s an amazing company. I mean, Valtech are doing some amazing things with heart surgery, basically, and when they came to us they had, I think, it was like eight or nine months ago, they had a logo and they had a website which was, by their own admission, stuck in the ’80s, and that’s why they came to us. They didn’t have much of a story and they knew that they needed to — they have incredible mind-blowing technology and you couldn’t get a sense of that from what you’re looking at in their presentation materials, and their websites, and animations that they’ve done.

So, the first thing that we did was we said, “Okay. Well, let’s find out what your story is,” and we had extensive, strategic, methodological meetings where we uncovered their truth, and we found out, basically, what makes them tick, and what is the product that they provide to the world, and how they intend to change the world, and who else is out there doing not the same thing, because no one was doing the same thing, but like similar things and how they differentiated from them.

So, we’ve uncovered the truth and then we were able to translate that truth into a story that separated them from the rest, was authentic and was relevant to their audience. After that strategy, we developed a consumer-facing or B to B facing or, medical industry facing narrative. Different verticals. Then, of course — we didn’t do much with logo, actually. That was the one thing that they kept. We evolved the whole brand, visually, from conference materials to brochures to a website.

The funny thing is, it’s a funny story but their exit was done when we were meant to have a website up for them around 6 weeks later, and then they called us up and they said “Listen”, without giving us any information, they said, “We can’t tell you why but we need to have this website ready in 10 days,” and it was a pretty big website. And we delivered and then like around a week later, of course, something that we guessed, that we hadn’t discussed, of course, but that they made a phenomenal exit of almost a billion dollars, which is the largest medical exit for an Israeli company ever and we were just really happy to have done everything for them and we’re still working with them on a pretty ongoing basis with all sorts of little things and big things.

They’re doing amazing things and it’s really nice to work with clients or companies that are doing things that really are changing the world, like their non-invasive heart surgery to be able to repair someone’s heart as it’s still beating is just incredible to work on. I get to work on great, great, great stuff and it’s so many different things. I mean, if you’re talking about startups, startups, basically, everyone has an idea and every one of these ideas has a potential to change, well, not everyone, but a lot of them have the potential to change the world. So, those are the things that we want to work on.

John:

Sure. Things that can inspire you and your creativity but then, you’re focusing on something creatively, that’s helping save lives. In this case, I love the fact you’re talking about Valtech being in heart surgery, and that you found the truth of their story and what makes them tick. I don’t know if you consciously did that or not, but I thought, “Oh, what a clever play on words about how our heart makes us tick.” It’s great.

Eitan:

Complete accident.

John:

This whole concept of storytelling is something I’m constantly working with my clients on when they pitch to get funded and in this case, you were able to craft the stories so well that it allowed Valtech to have an amazing exit. Is there any —

Eitan:

Well, I don’t know about that. I could swear I helped them but I think, maybe, we helped them in some way but we are just, I think, a very small — it’s not the brand that does it, you know what I mean? It’s the product and it’s the people and the brand can help but I don’t want to take anything away from them. I mean, we were just lucky to be there.

John:

Well, when I look at Apple buying Beats, I think a lot of the reason they bought Beats was the brand, what that stood for and how it fit their culture correctly.

Eitan:

Yeah. Yes, it’s true.

John:

So, what you did for Valtech was you made their brand distinct and you told a story that was authentic and relevant, you said, and that, to me, is what makes people want to invest, whether it’s an exit or giving initial funding, and that’s what’s so fantastic about what you do. Let’s talk about what you do with Entrepreneur Organization in Israel, EO Israel, since that’s another whole world of startups. You actually helped them with telling stories of, I saw, 8 people that you picked out of all their members. That is so important, I think, is when people hear one or two stories that they can relate to, then they can expand it beyond that, right?

Eitan:

Well, I mean, with Entrepreneur’s Organization Israel, I’m actually a founding chapter member and I was the communication chair for the first 2 years of the organization, and so I just took it upon myself to do all of the branding, and the website, and the video, and social media and all that good stuff. I think that it was important to allow our audience, or other potential entrepreneurs in Israel, to understand that being an entrepreneur, and I’m sure that you guys can relate to this and your audience and I certainly can because I’m an entrepreneur. It’s the loneliest job on the planet and you don’t have that big team. If you’re lucky, you do have someone to talk to but, usually, it’s just like at the end of the day and at the beginning of the day, and then in the middle of the day, it’s just you.

So, the organization allows you to get some support on a professional level, on a personal level, sometimes. As an entrepreneur, I’ve been working 14 hour days for 6 weeks now and haven’t seen my kids. Okay, that’s not a professional problem. That becomes a personal problem, a family problem. So, you have people that you can talk to about that. Or, I need to hire someone and I just have been trying for 6 months and I can’t find the right person. You can get shared experiences. That’s the whole point.

So, we did the branding but it came from within because I’m kind of like a chapter member and you know, again, it just was nice to kind of hit on the truth, knowing the truth, because the people that we — the entrepreneurs there are, ultimately, friends as well. So — yeah, I don’t know if that’s answering your question.

John:

No. It totally is — the fact that you’re a founding member, an entrepreneur and you can relate to it so well allows you to tell stories, again, that are completely authentic, and again, it’s changing the world because as you said – we’re going to tweet this out – that being an entrepreneur is the loneliest job on the planet. I love that quote. That’s a problem you’re solving with EO, correct?

Eitan:

Yeah, well I think the organization, it’s a global organization of almost, I think it’s around 11 thousand members and what they have done – and, again, I’m just a member – what they’ve done is they put entrepreneurs together to kind of support each other. It’s not like a support group. You support each other just because you’re like-minded people, you know? I think that’s really important when you — my agency is a core team of 4 or 5 people, and a couple of remote teams. That’s our structure.

So, if I want to make a big decision for my business, I can find and I know, obviously, a few people within the Israel chapter alone, who also have small teams but work with very, very, very big businesses. I mean, you can reach out to people in different countries who are part of the organization. When you fly to London, if you want, you can reach out to chapter members there and just say, “Hey, I’m an EO global member, what’s going on in London?” and 9 times out of 10, people reach out to you and say, “Hey, come and meet me.”

So, it’s also a networking organization too. They do some great things, also. They have big events that people from all around the world go to, universities, programs, seminars. It’s interesting and it’s all about entrepreneurship.

John:

Yes. Well, it almost reminds me of American Express with global offices, and you can always have a place, almost like a second embassy, if you’re traveling, and need a soft place to land, as I like to describe it. That’s a soft place to land for entrepreneurs who might be visiting other countries.

Eitan:

Yeah, I think I’ve heard really nice stories about people who have been there for complete strangers just because of this organization, this connection, this platform, whatever you want to call it. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s all about people. Yeah, it’s cool. I mean, if we’re talking about entrepreneurs and startups, and you’ve brought up storytelling, I think one of the most important things, really, is to get your story right and when it comes to branding, getting your story right has nothing to do, really, with creativity at its core. It’s about understanding who you are and what you’re doing, and then translating that into a narrative, and translating that into visuals and different mediums like animations and websites and stuff. But, the brand story is uncovering the truth of who you are, it’s like really knowing who you are and I like that.

John:

I do, too. Well, you’ve gone from using storytelling to help Valtech save lives with heart surgery to helping EO Israel help entrepreneurs with a place for shared resources to this amazing viral video that you’ve created to also help, not only yourself, but you’re telling a story and it’s certainly timely with all the terrorism going on, which is, I’m sure people have probably seen it, is “I’m that Jew”. Can you talk to us about, by now, how many people have watched this? Everyone’s always looking for, “How do I make something go viral?” but I don’t think that was your intent when you started.

Eitan:

Oh. Wow. Well, first of all, I’m shocked that you’re asking about it but that’s great. I mean, I’m happy to talk about it. Yeah, “I’m that Jew” was, I think, right now, with combined YouTube and Facebook, and all the different channels, we’re at around the 3 million view marks.

John:

Congrats.

Eitan:

Thanks, man. It’s been out like around 4 or 5 weeks, but it’s not the number, it’s the comments that have been the most moving. So, there’s like tens of thousands of comments and stuff like that. It started off as a blog post that I put out there, as a written narrative. After the Charlie Hebdo Massacres, some terrorists killed some Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket, I wrote this down, and then, in time, I just realized I want to present it as a visual story and it’s kind of meant to be a celebration of who we are.

So, it was written by me, a Jew, to my Jewish brothers and sisters, but also to anyone who shouldn’t be afraid, whether you’re black, or gay, or a woman, whatever, a man, be who you are and be proud of it. You should just be able to say it and hope that the people out there who are listening will embrace it. It’s okay to be different. We can embrace our differences. But I was saying it directly to the Jewish people for me, then actually, I was saying it to a woman who is living in France right after the time of those massacres and who was just afraid to say that she was Jewish. She’s a friend of mine.

So, I basically wrote it for her and then I produced it with some just really close-knit group of friends and colleagues, put it out there one night. I knew that people would spread it. I didn’t think that it would have this kind of impact. The response has been nothing short of — I’ve cried several times because some of the things that people write is just really moving.

John:

Well, I think it’s totally relevant to what we’re talking about, which is storytelling is understanding the truth of who you are and you were brave enough to put that story out there. You remind me of Liz Gilbert who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love”. She talks about how she wrote that book for one specific friend of hers who couldn’t travel because she had a husband and children. So, she filtered everything. And you created “I’m that Jew” for your one friend that was afraid to say she was Jewish. So, from that real specific audience and that intention, I think that is why things are so successful, whether it’s “I’m that Jew” or “Eat, Pray, Love”. The other thing that you touched on is really encouraging people not to be afraid and I read that that’s one of your key criterias of who you like to hire, creatively, is that they’re not afraid to take chances and risks. So, I think it’s full circle, right?

Eitan:

Yeah, that’s funny. I mean, not being afraid gets me into trouble, a lot of the time. I’m not talking about like putting stuff like “I’m that Jew” out there, I’m talking about just like, you can butt heads with clients and partners and colleagues, but I think you have to be who you are. You have to not be afraid to have faith in who you are and to trust your instincts and to put yourself out there because the right person who is opposite you, if it is the right person, will somehow be able to embrace that or take what you’re saying or be able to take you in another direction and take on your not being afraid and wrestle with it a bit and bring you over to their side too.

I think that it can get you in trouble, but it’s a quality that I look for. I have a designer that I worked with in Italy, and he challenges me all the time and we are constantly butting heads but in the most respectful way. The same thing with writers. My strategist, today, called me up and we – after meeting with the client – we were disagreeing, openly, in front of the client but it was all in the pursuit of what we think the client needs the most. It’s not easy to be honest in this world. Do you know what I mean?

John:

Yes, I do.

Eitan:

I hate this politically correct world.

John:

Well, that sort of leads me into my last question for you which is tell us about this 5% Club.

Eitan:

The 5% Club is a initiative that allows — it’s a platform, a social media platform, and it allows people to express what they’re really feeling. So, if 95% of your life is on autopilot, you go to work, you take the kids to school, you go and you have your standard lunch, you catch yourself thinking about something that you really wanted to say, that you really want to do one day, an experience that you went through that you haven’t really, maybe, talked about before. That’s the 5%.

So, “I’m that Jew”, that’s just one of my many 5%s. Someone recently wrote an article that we haven’t put out there yet about not finding the time in her life to reminisce on a beautiful year that has gone by with her family, so she takes the time, once a year, to go through her photo albums and put together an album. And, in doing that, she connect with that year that she had or someone will write about a custody battle that he had with his ex-wife, where the judge stood up in front of him and said, “You know, because you’re a male, because you’re a father –” he favored the mother and that really pissed the writer off and he wrote about it, and he actually won custody.

Things that really affect you and move you, the idea of the 5% Club is to be able to share that and pay that experience forward. It’s a small initiative. It’s a project that I hope will gain traction and we’re trying to gain subscribers and reach new writers, but you have to put meaningful shit down. Oh no. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that maybe you can delete that out.

John:

No. You can say that. That’s totally fine. No it’s —

Eitan:

Oh, god. I wish I would’ve known that at the beginning.

John:

You’re completely authentic. Yes. Well, we’re certainly going to put the 5% Club and all the other things that, you know, natie, in the show notes for people to check out your agency’s great branding site.

Eitan:

Thank you sir.

John:

“I’m that Jew”, we’ll put the link for that and, certainly, the 5% Club, so that people can really get a sense of if they want to contribute and spread the word. I think anytime you encourage people to tap into something that’s meaningful and pay it forward, we’re making the world a better place. We might not be saving lives like Valtech is, but, we’re doing it in our own way because we want to make our hearts strong physically, but also emotionally and spiritually, and you do that 360 better than almost anyone I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to.

Eitan:

Wow. Thank you. I appreciate it.

John:

Yes. It’s been an honor. It’s been great having you on the show. I can’t thank you enough.

Eitan:

Wow. Thank you. Honor’s been mine. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much.

John:

Thanks for listening to The Successful Pitch Podcast. If you liked the show, please go to iTunes and write a review, and encourage your friends to write reviews too. It really helps get the word out. You know, people say that the longest distance is between someone’s mouth and their wallet. People can tell you they’re going to invest but when it comes time to write the check, they don’t do it. So how do you get people to say yes and then follow through? Visualize yourself on the left side of a riverbank and you have to cross the river and on the other side of the river is where the funding happens.

So, first, you make up your idea and then you make it real and then you make it reoccur. Once you start dipping your toe into the water to get to funding, that’s where I can help. I get you across that river faster than you would on your own with a lot less frustration than you will get when you hear a bunch of no’s and you don’t know why. So, if you want some help getting funded faster with less frustration, go to my free funding webinar, sellingsecretsforfunding.com/webinar and sign up and get in depth information on how you can get funded fast. Thanks.

TSP067 | Jason Shuman – Transcription
BTSP | Michael Parrish DuDell – Transcription
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