Dave Fink – Co-Founder & CEO of Postie | How to Create a Category

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About The Guest

A 15-year consumer-internet veteran, Dave Fink, is a revenue-focused entrepreneur. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Postie. With a passion for creating disruptive business models and unique monetization strategies, Dave focuses on discovering opportunities to drive rapid growth. His creative, yet data-driven approach to marketing and monetization has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for ad-tech, lead generation, and commerce companies. Over the last decade, Dave has launched and scaled over 20 consumer-internet businesses. 

During the early part of his career, he created performance-marketing platforms helping brands as diverse as Walt Disney World, Proctor & Gamble and The Gap adapt to the rapidly changing digital media strategies available in the internet world.

Talking Points

  • 00:00 — Intro
  • 02:16 — Dave Fink’s origin story
  • 04:40 — Was Dave part of the Dollar Shave Club?
  • 07:06 — When did Dave start working in an environment with different companies?
  • 10:55 — How does Dave Fink choose the category or decide where to go next?
  • 15:32 — What is meant by creating a category?
  • 21:10 — How important is experience in a category for success?
  • 30:24 — Dave’s laydown on Postie and what he is doing with it?
  • 31:52 — What space or void is Postie filling for a marketer?
  • 37:30 — How to track a product through direct mail
  • 39:10 — What is the B2B focus tool?
  • 41:31 — How does Postie work with different tools?
  • 42:34 — How do you win modern marketing through social media?
  • 48:56 — How do you combat, while still maintaining effectiveness, when the consumer is not sharing data?
  • 54:03 — What is the future of marketing and how can people connect with Dave?
  • 55:00 — The biggest challenge Dave has ever faced in his personal or professional life
  • 57:14 — Who has been a mentor to Dave Fink?
  • 59:23 — A book or podcast recommended by Dave Fink
  • 1:02:27 — What would Dave tell his 20-year-old self?
  • 1:02:56 — What does success mean to Dave Fink?

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On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.

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Machine Generated Transcript


direct mail, marketing, business, category, marketers, company, brand, channel, customers, build, creating, consumer, data, startup, people, book, understand, deep domain expertise, work, big


Scott D Clary, Dave Fink



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Scott D Clary  00:33

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host, Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the blue wire podcast network, as well as the HubSpot Podcast Network. That was my podcast and work has other great podcasts like marketing made simple hosted by Dr. JJ Peterson. Now Marketing made simple brings you practical tips to make your marketing easy, and more importantly, make it work. If you like any of these topics, you definitely want to go check out the show how to write and deliver a captivating speech, how to market yourself into a new job, how design can help and also hurt your revenue, creating a social media ads strategy that actually works. If these topics resonate with you. Go check out marketing made simple wherever you get your podcasts. Today, my guest is David Fink. Now David is a 15 year consumer internet veteran. He is a revenue focused and growth focused entrepreneur. He has a passion for creating disruptive business models and unique monetization strategies. He focuses on discovering opportunities to drive rapid growth and his creative yet data driven approach to marketing and monetization has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for ad tech lead generation and commerce companies. Over the last decade, Dave has launched and scaled over 20 consumer internet businesses. During the early part of his career, he created performance marketing platforms helping brands as diverse as Walt Disney World Procter and Gamble and the gap adapt to the rapidly changing digital media strategies available in the internet world. Today. He is the CEO and co founder of Posty, where his team uses direct mail to transform brands including lift, Casper, Warby Parker, and many more. What do we speak about, we spoke about his early role in a variety of different commerce companies, including Dollar Shave Club, we spoke about the importance of experience in building a new category, we spoke about how to win and modern marketing through social media, we spoke about how to market effectively without sharing data, as well as some thoughts on the future of marketing that are incredibly important for you and your business. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it. This is Dave Fink, he is the co founder and CEO of Posty.


Dave Fink  02:51

Yeah, so I can tell you guys abbreviated you know, history of kind of my trajectory, what got me here. I graduated college many, many years ago, and had almost no applicable real world skills. And somehow, pretty early on fell into working for marketing technology company in the web 1.0 era. I was in Chicago, where were I was born and raised. And I just really early on fell in love with the whole startup culture. The company I was working for was a startup itself. But we, you know, I was on the sales team, for many years there was was at this first company about seven years and spent a lot of time selling into fortune 1000 companies, but also had the opportunity to sell into startups and you know, these fortune 500 companies or 1000 companies, I’d show up and we’d be in the, you know, these tiny little offices and have a fairly boring conversation and I’d come back six months later, it’d be different person, that same office, same set of questions, but I would go walk into the startups and, and I, you know, if it was an early startup, I’d be talking, you see some of the founders, and, and they were working off card tables, and, you know, terrible office spaces. And, you know, we’d do some business together, I’d come back six months later, and they’d be in a much bigger office with, you know, 10 times as many people and maybe a real table instead of a card table. And, and I come back a year later, and there’d be a bunch of, you know, Ferraris in the parking lot and hundreds of people and I didn’t quite understand it back then. But there was there was this energy in, in technology and kind of the startup culture and fast forward 25 years later, had the opportunity to be involved in launching a wide range of companies ranging from consumer brands, to marketing technology platforms and and and just I’ve kind of spent my life and four or five year chapters working on taking an idea to market and trying to find product market fit and scale. And I’ll probably be doing it for another 25 years.


Scott D Clary  05:14

You just fast forwarded through 25 years of your life, and you just glossed over like you’ve had, I think, I think you just went through everything like you when you said, you just started a couple different companies, like when I look on your resume. So I’m just going back, I’m going back, and I think I don’t even see, I’m just looking through here right now on your LinkedIn, I don’t even see like, there’s a story about Dollar Shave Club, that you were part of Dollar Shave Club know, where you. So it’s sort of, there’s a whole bunch of other things on your resume that I didn’t even see it there, like you had, like Q interactive blush, beauty fix.com and Demick. access group beechmont. Then obviously, posi like most recently, we have a whole bunch of stuff. So I just I want to dig in the Dollar Shave because that’s a name like everybody knows. It’s like a huge CPG success.


Dave Fink  06:05

It was incredible. I honestly, like I mean that that was from day one through, you know, the, you know, acquisition from, you know, to or sell to Unilever. It was tax book fantasy, you know, startup experience. So I was one of the partners at a tech studio in Santa Monica called Science. And we, you know, we’re typically the first money in investors in very early stage concepts and, and Mike Dubin, who’s the founder of Dollar Shave Club came and pitched us. And at that point, it was pre launch, you know, pretty website, he had a rough cut of his initial like world renown, incredibly, you know, amazing, you know, viral video that has become the poster child for how you launch a business in the direct consumer space. And, and we were taken by him. Yeah, the concept Excel itself, I think was fine. Yeah, selling, you know, men’s grooming products direct to consumer. But it was really his ability to bring a story to life in at a time that YouTube was just becoming YouTube, and Facebook was just becoming Facebook. It was. So certainly, that that was not a company that that that I started, but it was it was a company that, that I that I was able to invest in very early on. And and the first two years of that the life of Dollar Shave Club date was incubated right in our offices. That’s so cool.


Scott D Clary  07:39

That’s really cool, man. I didn’t. So when I was looking at that, like, you’ve, you’ve been part of some, like wild rides, but let’s like, like, let’s back it up. So what are some of the what are some of the, I guess some of the companies because you’ve done, you’ve been involved, invested or just helping runs a lot of startups? What were some of the companies where you saw success? It kind of got you hooked? Why did you get hooked outside of, you know, the fact that you were just selling to startups versus enterprise and use, and you saw a little bit of the culture, and the way they could disrupt and how fast it could grow. But when you started working in startup, what was that first, you know, entrance point into that type of environment for you?


Dave Fink  08:24

Well, I think what would kind of did the bug that really hit me was this idea of, there’s kind of a career trajectory, where it’s a series of jobs, and you develop very specific skill sets, and you kind of work through, you know, a very kind of rigid, structuring chain command. And there’s nothing wrong with that, like, that’s a great fit. For many people I did, there are people that quite frankly, or work within our company that are much more their brains work in terms of structure and process and organization, startups need that just as much as big enterprise companies, for sure. But for me, and I think my brain always worked more entrepreneurially in, in, in being able to kind of, like, recognize an opportunity or recognize that there’s a problem. And, and as soon as I kind of saw just how fast in this kind of technology startup world, you can recognize an opportunity to recognize that you may have a solution to your problem, get that to market and and very quickly, you know, create trajectory and momentum to me that that that was like eye opening, and it wasn’t it wasn’t like a kind of like a short, you know, short cutting, you know, in my career, I mean, look, it’s taken doing this for a lot of years. It’s taking me a lot of time to learn and develop skills and put it all together successfully. But it was that my brain work in terms of me Not recognizing, not getting stuck in process and steps necessary to accomplish things it was it was if something can be done, you figure out a way to do it. And, and I think for me, the path to to using Starks as a platform to be able to create things. Yeah. It just fits, it fits the way that my brain works. And then and then and I was smitten from pretty early on.


Scott D Clary  10:32

Not that’s great that No, and I guess also like, you know, it’s just sort of syncs up with your personality, I think like to be a founder to get in early stage, you do have to have like, a certain kind of personality. Like, it’s not like it’s not, it’s not for everyone. I guess it takes a certain kind of crazy to like, love doing this again and again and again. Like,


Dave Fink  10:51

I tell people, there’s like, an easier way to make a buck for sure. Yeah. I have way more gray hair than than I did. Yeah, just a few years ago. But there’s, I mean, from my perspective, there’s, there’s just, there’s nothing like waking up in the morning and knowing that you have an opportunity to, to finish your day and realize that you don’t even remember how you got there from stepping in the morning into night and night or midnight or whatnot. It was just you had the freedom to just keep creating and improving and optimizing your business.


Scott D Clary  11:30

But how do you pick? How do you pick which category because you’ve done a whole bunch of stuff. So even like the most recent company you’re building is very different from any DTC CPG brand, even like, traditional SAS play, like it’s still like it’s out there. So how do you choose what to go into next? Because it’s not like you’re just, you figure it out like a startup playbook. But it’s not even like a category specific playbook that you execute. It just seems to be like, whatever you touch seems to end up working out, which is pretty damn good. Like I we should talk after, and I can probably, you know, get a couple hours of consulting just on stuff that I’m working on. But how do you how do you decide where to go next.


Dave Fink  12:10

But certainly, I’d be happy to do that and talk openly here. But to be clear, like, there’s no shortage of like, things that didn’t work in, and I’m proud of them, like lots of them are on my LinkedIn profile as well. Because those are all, you know, steps to, I think, a constant journey and trying to get better and better at building stuff and creating value. We’ve so I think my my ability in any way, anyone’s ability to make good decisions, comes from some trial and error, a lot of awareness and pattern recognition. So certainly the longer and the more thing at bats you have, you can start picking up on, on, you know, on patterns and attributes that make a business more likely to be successful or less likely to be successful. And there are a couple things that are just, you know, I think common sense to me now, that probably weren’t common sense to me 1015 20 years ago, you one of those, those rules that I try and live by and impose upon our teams, and individuals on our teams as well is that, that you want to be focused on things and spending your time in areas where you’re going to get a disproportionate return from them. And, and, you know, we work in, in marketing and advertising space and posting, I spent a lot of time there. When I was on the brand side, and I had you know, media, buying teams or marketing teams that were trying to figure out, you know, where should we be spending our time, what’s the next channel we should be experimenting with to try and, you know, find, you know, additional growth or speed up the evolution of our business? One of the things I used to have them do is is, you know, you had to look at are these channels optimizable? Are our prospect consumers spending time on those platforms, etc? Do they have the tools and the data and the measurement to be able to give us the feedback, we need to make those channels successful? And you check all those boxes, and you’re really excited about it. But but the final box in the biggest box is, well, if you do everything right, and you put in all this effort and time you’re testing your way through this advertising channel, and you succeed, and you’re and you’re you’re you’re doing a good job, you know, optimizing this this channel, is it scalable? Is it big enough? Is it worth your time? And in some cases, sure, right? social channels like Facebook or not tick tock and snap. But those are really big, massive channels and if you put in the time and effort into those channels you can make make them not just successful, but but that success can can lead to lots of scale. Businesses, a saint is no different, right? So you might have a really, you know, uncover a and a a huge challenge. And that challenge you might have a really interesting solution for. And you might realize you can build technology or software infrastructure to solve that problem. And then you look at what what investors called Tam, or total addressable market, and you realize like, this is a tiny little market, there’s seven potential customers, we can build a world class solution, totally solve this problem. But in the end, if we succeed, at most, we can have seven customers alike, probably not a good business, versus trying to find businesses that you know, that have real authentic product problems that you think you have a unique solution for. And they have a big total addressable market. To me that that’s almost the number one gating factor, you’re gonna work just as hard to build a business that serves a really small niche, as you are to build a business that that can be big and scalable, why not focus on on something that doesn’t have that same ceiling?


Scott D Clary  16:06

Now, what about Okay, so to play devil’s advocate to that the book behind me play bigger is all about creating a category, creating your Tam, basically, you’re so what is that something that just requires like a, an extra level of crazy on top of regular entrepreneurship and going into it, because it just so much work to do when you have that blue ocean? Or is that something that can also be forecasted? Or is that too difficult to really get into in a? No, no, I mean, like, like a Salesforce like a Salesforce like, I think, and that book is like Salesforce, there’s IKEA as examples of just people that created the category and then sold into it.


Dave Fink  16:48

Here. That’s interesting. So I haven’t read the book. But I’m a big reader. I’ll definitely put on my list. That’s interesting that those are the two examples, right? Because, you know, certainly Salesforce, disrupted a vertical but but there were CRMs, right, they were typically serverside. I think when I first started my career, we were using a client side application called Goldmine, that that did a lot of the same things. It just wasn’t cloud based. And Salesforce came along, and it was better and and they innovated and they leverage modern technology and cloud based solutions. So I don’t know if that if, like, I would have to read the book to understand the premise and how they’re categorizing. I’ll give


Scott D Clary  17:35

you the context, actually. So they’re saying that what what Benioff did was he basically created the cloud movement. And just like, you know, took, you know, just absolutely took a shit on everybody who had on prem server side solutions is that this is ludicrous. This is insane. This is why you should move to the cloud. And then oh, look at we just have this great solution that fits that narrative already. So that’s, that’s sort of the the creating a category, the cloud category, and then sold into it with a CRM.


Dave Fink  18:06

Yeah, that looks, I think that’s like, that’s fair. I mean, I might argue a little bit with the author of that book. But that, to me, it still doesn’t sound like a category, it sounds like a complete overhaul and modernization of a candidate category. Again, a brilliant solution. Amazing company. But But when I think about creating categories, I think about it in detail to the original question. Yeah. When you think about creating your own category, I think your timing and luck play a really big role. And then there’s usually some level of brilliance in there. And so you look at, like Google and search. Right, I think that’s probably creating a category. Right? That’s,


Scott D Clary  18:57

that’s a little bit more. So I think, I think more so then. More so than, than just moving things to the cloud. And like improving an existing category. I understand. There’s a big difference there. Search didn’t really exist in any past. Correct?


Dave Fink  19:10

Correct. And there wasn’t a need for it before before the internet in the massive amount of information coming into the, into the web. So I think like in that case, like certainly, like timing, graduating Stanford at it at a time, you know, when technology or the internet was just becoming the internet so that you might want it so I think, I think timing, you know, again, Locke and brilliant, brilliant, like it’s got to be the convergence of it, at least to build something extraordinary like Google, right? One of the best companies in the history of the world. But but like the brilliance have you know, of Larry and Sergey? Like, undoubtedly, right exists like, that company wouldn’t have been that company if they weren’t as brilliant and capable as they were. But they had to hit timing right? They had to be at Stanford and Silicon Valley during the emergence of the web, there had to be good. There had to be at a time in their career where they were able to, like take chances, you know, in this kind of coming of age, like that, like all that had to line up, you know, similar to when you look at, you know,



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Dave Fink  21:32

YouTube, right? Yeah. But YouTube couldn’t have been created eight years earlier, even five years earlier, because broadband was too expensive. They couldn’t have afforded the servers to distribute that type of content. So that’s true brilliance of that product, but also with tie a little bit of timing and lock. You is I think is absolutely critical when you’re talking about building one of these like completely new game changing titan of a company and doesn’t happen that often.


Scott D Clary  22:01

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Dave Fink  23:36

Oh, that’s a double edged sword. And depending on probably the moment of the day, I can argue I can take both positions in that debate.


Scott D Clary  23:47

So explain explain why you can take both positions explain both both lenses.





Dave Fink  23:55

yeah, you know, I do some investing and and and so to kind of provide some some guidance to friends who do tech investing. And yesterday or the day before a friend sent me over a pitch deck category that I wasn’t super familiar with but you know, reviewed the data and and the deck and the storyline and you want to my feedback on it. And immediately the first thing that I the first page in the deck that I that I kind of gravitated towards when trying to synthesize my recommendation to someone I care about whether they should invest their hard earned money into this business was the team and and it starts with is the team you have capable of of of pulling this off. And that’s a wide range right? It’s it’s the right business leaders have the right technicians and the right marketers or the right operations people etc. And, and this team was extraordinary, you know, military backgrounds, just really impressive, like special ops. People, but but then they also had a number of years and a very clean trajectory from, from their armed service days, through developing candidate category expertise, and, and vertical, you know, domain expertise. And, and that made me really comfort it feel comfortable, right like here, these people, they understand the industry that they’re going off after building a solution to, you could see how that could lead to demand generation, they knew where to go to source initial deal flow and new customer acquisition. But I also think that, and the flip side, when you look and you take someone who has deep domain expertise, and has been playing in a system for a long time, they’ve been trained to think in terms of let’s operate efficiently the way that things have always been operated. And so when those type of people oftentimes come in, and they and they have some idea of how they’re going to disrupt the industry that they’ve spent 15 years in, and you start kind of going deep and talking through kind of their process, and, and you know, and how they were going to attack the problem, you, you realize that, that they’re they’re thinking incrementally different differently than they were at the incumbent they work for. Whereas oftentimes disrupt something, you need a complete fresh perspective, like you can’t be, you know, saddled down with all the reasons why this couldn’t work, or things have to be done the way that they’ve always been done. And so there are times where it’s when you take an intrapreneur doesn’t have DIRECT domain expertise has applicable expertise. And, and that person is more likely to be successful, because they’re just coming in a little bit naively looking and saying, like, with completely fresh eyes like this is this doesn’t make any sense. Like why would you build an entire industry this way? Yeah, there’s a better framework for how this industry should be run. And so that’s, you know, I, it’s so interesting that you asked that question, because I do spend a lot of time thinking about that, you know, when making investment decisions, like when does it make sense to invest with someone who does have deep domain expertise? And you have that confidence that, that they understand what they’re going after? And when when does that not make sense? And when would you rather bet on someone who’s coming in completely, you know, bright eyed and bushy tailed, you know, ready to run through, you know, brick walls? And he’s bringing completely fresh ideas to a legacy industry?


Scott D Clary  27:34

Could you I guess the optimal situation would be like, both personalities?


Dave Fink  27:41

I think so right, where or what,


Scott D Clary  27:43

or what the industry expertise, I was just thinking like, just like as a as a as a entrepreneur going in maybe the person without the expertise would almost like default to and just feel comfortable with like somebody coming from the industry, then maybe that might actually dilute their own thought process and bringing disruptive innovative ideas to accompany


Dave Fink  28:06

I think there’s probably roles for the right roles for both in our company, we have both right. So Jonathan, my co founder and I, you know, we have deep domain expertise and, and consumer internet, and building and scaling direct to consumer brands, and building marketing technology platforms in kind of digital quant spaces. We did not have a background in direct mail, very specific, you know, sector within, you know, advertising in general. And, and I think because of that it’s allowed us to completely rethink the way that direct mail should be executed. And this has an interest. This year, the latest numbers are hers over $50 billion will be spent here in the US on this channel. It’s an established 100 year old vertical with some really big players. And so on the intrapreneurial front, the kind of vision behind you know, what we think this industry could look like in the future and how it can support advertisers and brands. I think it’s very different than the way that that senior execs coming out in the direct mail industry. Yeah, we think and that works out for our roles, but then you know, a lot of what we do is around complex up or operations and logistics, you know, the heads of those departments. You know, we’ve recruited away from from, you know, big incumbent companies because they need to have expertise in how to play within the system, how the US Postal Service works, how freight forwarding and, and logistics providers move pallets of mail around the country how, you know, manufacturer is producing, you know, hundreds of millions of pieces of mail month for us, you know, behave and operate how to source paper in a pandemic. Yeah, they’re all these things that don’t have that domain deep domain expertise. You know, Innovation in the world is gonna, you know, is gonna make you successful. And so in our company at the executive level, we have a blend of, I think, have creative thinkers, like disruptive thinkers, and, you know, those individuals who have deep domain expertise. And so I think that was kind of your maybe your suggestion, and


Scott D Clary  30:19

it was I just wasn’t I’ve never seen, I’ve always sort of seen one or the other. That’s why because I’ve never been exposed to an organization where you have both, but actually, the company that I’m at right now, that’s what what, that’s how we’re trying to build out the leadership team. So it’s just interesting to to get your perspective on it. Because I was, I would hope it would work that’s like that, like the just to theorize like, what would be the best possible way to disrupt an existing category or industry? It’s like, how do you you bring somebody obviously you have great product, but you bring somebody in who’s from that industry, and you can find somebody who is just a creative, entrepreneurial thinker. And then, like, those two in tandem can work together to do like, incredible stuff. But I’m like living through this right now. So that’s why I was just curious.


Dave Fink  31:03

Yeah, no, I look, I, we could certainly take this offline as well. But I am seeing it firsthand that it can work. You also there has to be a lot of other components, that of course, that work collaboratively within, you know, the those kind of different personality types or experience types. But yeah, I mean, it’s probably a pretty good recipe to have a little bit of both.


Scott D Clary  31:27

So okay, so walk me through, walk me through what you’re doing with posi, then now, this is I want to obviously just speak about the mechanics of the business, why you chose to go into this industry in particular, because again, it’s very different what you’ve done in the past. But also, let’s talk about modern marketing, because I think I think it sort of is very much in sync with getting people’s attention, just disrupting the constant flow of information that people are getting from all these other sources that they’re used to getting information from. So yeah, give me give me a lowdown on posting and what you’re doing.


Dave Fink  32:00

Sure, well, you’re posting at its core is a direct mail channel management platform. So for those, those on the marketing side of things that are kind of listening, probably the simplest way to think about it is you know, that, like the programmatic platform for direct mail, the trade desk for direct mail, DV three to 360 for direct mail. It gives marketers all of the technology and software tools to be able to to bring best of breed components ranging from execution logistics, to measuring insights to data science, predictive modeling is created, you know, campaign management and optimization, all those things that we’ve come to rely on that allow us to leverage the big digital channels, social search, email, etc, programmatic. And, but but layer that on top of incredibly productive, incredibly high converting channels, like direct mail, to bring direct mail more in the mix with your holistic marketing strategy versus running direct mail, you know, on the side or disconnected from the rest of your, your quantitative, certainly digital addressable marketing strategies.


Scott D Clary  33:25

Now, this is okay, so when, when we’re actually using this for a marketer is there. Let’s understand why this is so useful, like why disrupting, and being able to measure the result as well through direct mail, because, as a marketer, the first thing you think about is that’s antiquated, that’s outdated. Maybe I would use that as like part of an ABM campaign, but it’s going to be like a small part of it. So what what plays or what gap or what void? Does this post the fill for a marketer? And why is it doing it successfully?


Dave Fink  34:03

So as marketers in 20, almost 2022.


Dave Fink 34:09



Dave Fink  34:11

Rewind, these probably will be 2020. By the time you watch this, right,


Scott D Clary  34:15

it will be 2022 by the watch this. Yeah.


Dave Fink  34:21

So as marketers in, you know, in in 2022 Yep. You know, the way that we approach your, you know, our trade, our craft is very different than it was, you know, a couple of decades ago. So, the ability to understand our customers never been been stronger. The insight we have into the differences between different types of customers, you know, how they behave, depending on how we speak with them, or how we merchandise to them, etc. Yeah, that’s something that digital has, has gifted us right. And so when you think about this idea of addressable marketing or programmatic marketing, it’s an it’s an individual or an audience first approach. Whereas, you know, at some point Yeah, yeah, brand marketing is really kind of a brand centric first approach, right? It starts with the brand and storytelling, they both need to go hand in hand to build big successful companies. And what we’ve, what we’ve seen over the last really 15 years is this movement to, to digital as kind of the way to kind of establish our addressable marketing. And really, it’s two behemoths, its search and its social. And, and its Facebook, and its Google. And whether you’re a digital native brand that has emerged, you know, you know, from kind of a digital first perspective, or whether you’re a big fortune 500, fortune 50 company that has spent a lot of time and energy migrating into a data first approach, digital first approach to engaging with your customers, you’ve seen a lot of power and success there. And you’ve just obviously become addicted to the dynamic nature of executing campaigns and optimization, the flow of data and the predictive value of those channels. But you’ve also probably dealt with the pain of hitting ceilings on those two giant platforms, and you’ve dealt with the pain of them, changing their algorithms on you, and you’ve, you’ve felt the pain of them convincing you to build, you know, followers, and then and then decide they’re going to charge you to distribute content to those same followers that you already paid to, you know, to build an ecosystem where I’d like, we’ve all lived through that. And, and there’s, there’s obviously good, and there’s bad in all that. For us, we started feeling that pain about six, seven years ago as marketers, and we just looked around and said, like we can’t wake up anymore with with our entire livelihood, the success of our business is being relied relying on two algorithms working. And so we started, you know, researching other channels where we’re, you know, very similar, you know, testing optimization approaches, could leverage good results. And in the digital world, you know, again, is six, six years ago or so. So, you know, there wasn’t Tiktok, and snap didn’t have an ad platform, and you were pretty much limited to Google and Facebook. And then you know, longtail programmatic. So we started spending more time offline, in the offline world. You know, the one channel that showed some signs of some, yeah, some signs of I think, similarity between, you know, digital, or with digital was was direct mail. And what we fell in love with was, there’s, you know, it’s massive, anybody with an address is reachable through the channel. It’s highly effective. You know, we have done tons of research on brands that had tremendous successful results across broad sets of verticals and company sizes. There’s a wealth of data that can be used very similarly to how you build and train look alike audiences and CRM segments on email or social platforms. And with brands knowing more, having more and more identity mapping, you know, on with their data, we knew that measurement was really could be really clean possible. And so really, that aha moment was like, hey, this all looks really similar to your programmatic or social research. But it’s not a it’s not a closed walled garden, right. And so, like US Postal Service, can’t change algorithms on you and can’t move people’s mailboxes around and try and trick you into spending more money with them, and increasing your marketing budget. And so for us, it became you know, it became this, this, we had this like little twinkle in their eye, and said, Hey, I wonder if it’s possible to, to, to evolve the technologies and platform tools that we’ve come to use to optimize Social Search programmatic emails, here, I’m etc. And bring that over to the direct metal world.


Scott D Clary  39:04

And the only the only gap that I need to understand is okay, so that all makes sense at targeting all makes sense. It’s falls in line with like an existing marketers experience workflow, but how do you get those data points from a conversion perspective? Because that is the most important metric, right? So if I’m direct mailing a customer, how the hell do I know if they take that letter, and then they go on to my website, and then they actually buy a product because that would be the only thing that I don’t understand how to track with a direct mail tool.


Dave Fink  39:33

So there’s a number of different ways that that that you can run attribution through through direct mail. At its core, what’s special about it is unlike some of these channels that are kind of freaking out right now about the deprecation with a cookie or the latest version of iOS that is going to make digital tracking harder and potentially, arguably not existing at some point in the future. The core match point with direct mail is is the actual address. Right? So you have to be able to tell us postal service where to send a piece of mail to, and you have various insights into that specific, you know, address. And most advertisers these days have a direct relationship with the consumer, either to a web transaction or registration point, or a POS system, that allows them to know who their customers are. And, and and, and you can then match back the address of a converter with the address of a recipient of direct mail during an attribution window and start calculating direct measurement.


Scott D Clary  40:43

Okay, so then that’s, that solves the so that sells the last the last piece of attribution. So then last question would be just as marketer, is this more of a b2b focused tool? Or can it be used for b2c? Where your your you know, your average, you know, customer, like contract value or or order value is much lower? Right?


Dave Fink  41:06

So, the vast majority of clients in the Posty platform are consumer brands, really, and the widest range of categories? I mean, yeah, just about anything that you’ve bought, in the last 30 days, I’m sure we have multiple clients that are, you know, selling those similar products and finding value in direct mail. Yeah, the conversion rates tend to be very high, doesn’t mean it’s an easy channel to get right. That’s why I think we have a business delivering, yeah, some some software that makes complicated things a little bit easier. But the I mean, the general average order value of a consumer good, you know, compared to the conversion rate needed to get a positive return on your ad spend is well in line with what what direct mail can deliver. Every once a while, there’s an outlier, right? You’re talking about, you know, selling one off nail polish for $4.99. Yeah, if that’s if your average order value is Yeah, two or three bottles was nail polish, and it’s a 10 to $15. You know, you know, ao V like, probably harder than make a channel like direct mail works. But yeah, it’s subscription product and you rare situation.


Scott D Clary  42:22

Yeah. That’s gonna say subscription products like anything. There’s a higher ARV. Yeah, yeah.


Dave Fink  42:28

Yeah, yeah. So So we work with, you know, plenty of clients who on a on a per transaction basis, the ARV is relatively light, but the expected lifetime value based on, you know, reoccurring revenue model is is, you know, sort of more than supports the cost of the channel.


Scott D Clary  42:46

And then if I was going to use it for now, and just being selfish, and if I’m going to use it for a DTC product, are you acting as say, I actually want to send out samples does post the actors fulfillment for that? Or am I hooking up postie with my own distribution center? My own distribution channel? How does it actually work? With all the different tools that, you know are under the hood?


Dave Fink  43:07

Yeah, either. Either way works. Yeah, the vast majority of of advertisers are not sending samples, partly because there’s more incremental costs associated with that. And there are some nuances of what can and can’t go through US Postal Service attached or affixed to, you know, piece of mail or postcard. But yeah, we have expertise in that. And, and there are there are certainly a number of clients, especially in I think the skincare spaces is one where we see fairly regularly, you have samples as a component in their in their direct mail arsenal. And we certainly can support those campaigns, if they’re, you know, their, their their other clients who have, you know, a current, you know, third party logistics provider that they’re working for the kind of assembly have a sample kit with a specific piece of mail. And we can certainly take possession of those and in more of a dropship relationship as well. So lots of different ways that we can work together.


Scott D Clary  44:07

How do you Okay, so, this is part of a modern marketers arsenal. How do you how do you win modern marketing? How do you marry this up with, with Facebook with PPC programmatic to actually stand out in any category? What’s your main takeaways?


Dave Fink  44:28

So you for for me, everything starts with audiences. And I want to get into Hey knucklehead, doing great


Dave Fink  44:48



Dave Fink  44:54

it’s a it’s a phenomenal question and, and it’s one that we spend a lot of time thinking about. And, ultimately, you know, in, in a kind of a modern marketers world, you know, my belief is that every marketing starts with the audience. And, and it used to be like in web 1.0 is always like targeting, targeting targeting. Now, to me, it’s really understanding your first party data. You know, there’s no excuse for not understanding who your customers are, and not just understanding who they are in aggregate, but, but understanding the differences within different segments of purchasers, and how different segments behave within your customer file. When you start there, then you need to start looking for channels that you can activate, you know, those audiences, or that you can use that first party data to build look alike audiences. And, and, and, and kind of start your marketing with the advantage, right. So if you if you think about, you understand this specific, you know, high a low V, frequent purchaser customer set, who shops, you know, in this one specific category, and and you’ve done your research, and you have a really good sense on what makes these individuals unique, and what type of messaging they respond to, then you can leverage that data to go after individuals that you know, that look very similar to those, you can do that on Facebook, you can do that in GDN, you can do that I believe through the trade desk programmatically. And you can do that on Posty. Through, you know, through direct mail, what you’re doing is you’re not saying like, direct mail needs to work or Facebook or social needs to work, you’re saying I understand my customer base, and I’m gonna look about you figure out ways to activate audiences that are similar with, you know, the right messaging and offer and frequency and storytelling. And to me, you know, that’s the beauty of of what we’re doing with direct mail. It’s don’t think about direct mail as just another channel or something that you do in addition to other things that you’re doing in marketing, but but rather, start with kind of a holistic approach of what you’re looking at accomplished within your marketing stack, top of funnel, bottom of funnel retention, etc. Think of, you know, attacking kind of a data first, you know, Insight first approach to understanding your customers and the segments within them. And then, and then bring together the channels that can allow you to activate those audiences and prospect pools with with control and prediction measurement.


Scott D Clary  47:29

And just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode swag.com. Now, you know, if you’ve ever received a corporate gift or swag in the past, how many of those gifts did you actually keep? Probably not many, which is probably because the stuff that you got was not so great. I’ve gotten like a lot of stuff and trade shows, and from companies in the past that I’ve just thrown out the second I get it. So this is why you need checkouts. why.com, I’ve been on the receiving end of getting garbage gifts. I’ve also worked in companies, where I only had access to a really, really small inventory of stuff that I wanted to give my customers, my employees, and I knew that it wasn’t going to resonate, I knew that was going to suck. So what is swag.com? Well, it’s like swag upgrade, it’s the best place to buy custom gifts and swag that people will actually want to keep. So they sent me a box because obviously they’re sponsoring the show. And I wanted to see what it’s all about, you know, I’ve worked in businesses, I want to make sure that the quality of their stuff actually was up to my standards, because I can tell you right now that when I get garbage, it goes right into the trash, it’s like it really goes right into the trash is that gonna get back from the tradeshow or the conference or whatever. So I received one of the customs white boxes from swag.com. I loved the unique packaging. So it was a beautiful unboxing experience. I love the actual products they sent me and there’s a whole bunch more that obviously they didn’t send me. But the stuff that they did send was absolutely beautiful. It was very high quality. And I can only imagine that if I actually got this when I was working for companies, I probably would have actually used it. And to be honest, I’m going to start using them for people that work on my show and in my company as well. Because I know that this isn’t just a novelty gift that somebody’s going to throw it’s stuff that they can actually use. They have so many unique and customizable gifts that I’ve never seen anywhere else. They have custom yoga mats, they have custom Apple air pods. They even have branded kayaks, which I did not know was a thing. So they carry all these premium brands like North Face, Yeti, Nike, and more. And it’s all customizable with your company’s logo or artwork with swag.com. They take care of all of your swag at their warehouse, and they ship it to individual addresses. Or if you prefer, you can just send it to a bulk location in one single shipment. It’s easy to manage from their online portal which you obviously get access to. So if this is something that you think would benefit you if you have clients or customers or a team and you want to go the extra mile and you actually Want to give gifts that people appreciate, which is the whole point of giving these gifts in the first place? Go to swag.com for the perfect swag and custom gifts. Right now they’re giving everybody who’s a success story, podcast listener special offer, it’s 10% off your entire order, but only when you go to swag.com/success. and enter promo code success 10. Remember, for 10% off, go to swag.com/success and use promo code success 10. And do you feel like we have to be, of course, understanding first party data is important, but it’s becoming harder to potentially understand that when I feel like consumers are pushing back on what data is actually shared. Every Facebook marketer I speak to now is having a tough time getting insights after an iOS update. Right? So how do you how do you combat that still maintain effectiveness, when the average consumer is getting much wiser about not wanting to share their data that impacts you as a marketer in a major way. So how does direct mail potentially is one facet of the solution. But it’s not. It’s not the end all?


Dave Fink  51:09

Yeah, that’s a way broader, you know, challenged and in conversation, you know, that, that attacks pretty much every channel. First of all, you know, just there is an advantage. And, and we didn’t set out to solve this problem, we just happen to be maybe this is some of the luck we talked about right place the right time. But in a world where digital could move more and more to contextual and less addressable. It just increases the power and value of of a channel like direct mail, where you’re not relying relying on a cookie or digital fingerprint, but you’re actually using household address level data as as your, you know, again, any key. So your direct mail will always be an addressable channel. And and I think could play a more powerful role in a marker stack over time, depending on how the evolution of some of these compliance. Yeah, technology changes happen. But I think customers getting wiser is, or consumers getting wiser is a good thing, not a bad thing. I don’t Yeah. And I don’t see a world where consumers are going to be willing to share data, they’re just gonna be selective in what data and to whom they share. So, you know, when you think about just building quality businesses, yeah, that you got to build a quality product. Yeah, and you have, you want to think about good ingredients or components. You want to think about an authentic marketing, you know, messaging. And you want to treat your customers really well, and are treating them well as being honest and forthright and upfront, and transparent, which is what all this privacy, you know, movement is in red. Yeah, regulatory changes are trying to, you know, motivate and incent brands to think about your, like, there’s no, there’s like nothing in privacy, you know, changes that are saying that you can’t capture data on a customer. It’s just talking about, you know, what appropriate ways and notification and, and how to, you know, how to recognize it, that that that information, potentially belongs to the consumer, not the brand, and you need to ask for it. So if you’re a brand that has a reason to be asking for that information, and you’re transparent about why that, you know, customer sharing that information will get a better experience, you’ll be able to innovate faster, you will communicate more directly. I think consumers that like, like, being savvy isn’t doesn’t mean that they’re not going to share that information, it just means that they’re going to choose who they share it to. And it’s not going to be so readily accessible. And I think that’s a great thing. But that doesn’t change. That doesn’t limit our ability to be quantitative. It just means we have to be a bit more mindful and thoughtful and forward with with how we capture data is not a bad thing.


Scott D Clary  54:03

Which is definitely not a bad thing at all. Maybe marketers got like a little a little lazy, a little lazy for a little bit.


Dave Fink  54:11

I don’t think the typical marketer was like evil like, in thinking in evil ways, I think. Yeah, I think maybe laziness or, you know, getting a little too caught up in what was possible versus what should be. And this move is a good thing. Yeah.


Scott D Clary  54:30

I want to, I want to always I always ask like rapid fire stuff to pull it like career insights from you, but we did a lot. We did a little bit of, I guess, startup category definition and how to tackle new categories. You spoke about marketing, postie. Was there anything else that is top of mind for you in terms of direct mail, future marketing, startup entrepreneurs? I know like each one of these could be like a separate show.


Dave Fink  54:56

Yeah, let’s do it. I’ll be back here tomorrow. That’d be great. Bye.


Scott D Clary  55:00

Alright, let’s do I would do is I would do a full I would do a full like playbook from pre revenue to like, you know, your first million first five mil I think it’d be a really good show too, because I just did


Dave Fink  55:11

a topic and it’s science when when I was part of the incubator, that’s all.


Scott D Clary  55:18

I know, that’s all you did. So I think that would be good to first dollar and


Dave Fink  55:21

then you know, yeah, in some cases first $300 million.


Scott D Clary  55:24

But if you want to do another one, I’ll do another one. All right, we’ll do it. We’ll do it. All right.


Dave Fink  55:30

listeners hear from someone else? Maybe like in a couple months.


Scott D Clary  55:33

All right. All right. So before, before I pivot into some rapid fire stuff, closing thoughts on future of marketing, but also more importantly, if people want to contact you, social media, website, email, whatever you want to drop, where do they go?


Dave Fink  55:50

Yeah, I mean, certainly, LinkedIn is a super easy way to meet me. And communicate and LinkedIn messenger is great one, once we’re connected, so feel free to shoot me invites there. Yeah, if you’re interested in connecting with Posty, the websites great a lot of content and information there that can get you started. But certainly, if you fill out the lead request form, you’ll you know, we’ll get you right into the right team member. And, and, and, yeah, I think those are the two best.


Scott D Clary  56:24

Okay, perfect. Okay, so let’s go through some, I guess, some career insights. Here. Let me just pull up. Okay, so first question I want to pull out from you is biggest challenge you’ve had in your career, personal professional life? What was that? Had you overcome it?


Dave Fink  56:43

Gosh, that’s a great question. I think probably the biggest CIT challenge, and maybe like darkest time was the first time I was I kind of took on an entrepreneurial challenge. I was building a startup funded by another company. So I kind of stepped into an environment where there was a few 100 a few million dollar budget, and the general idea and I was it was really my first attempt to build something from the ground up. And I’ll be honest, I decided not do a great job. And, and it was lack of knowledge. And I every day, being overwhelmed. I think that was that was my my first wake up call. And it’s probably the first time in my career where I was doing something that I think I was just underwater on and ill equipped to, to handle. I that was just those are dark days. It was it was I you know, I could feel myself I think, like drowning a bit. And, and then. And it could have gone very differently, right? It could have it could have, I could have walked away from that experience and said, I’m not cut out to be an entrepreneur. But I think I just got angry and mad and was frustrated at how little I knew about so many things that you need to know to be successful launching company. And I just kind of put my head and went back to work. And it worked out. But it was a very humbling experience, I think and, and, and I it was the first time I kind of had to acknowledge I wasn’t so good at what I was doing. And that was a long, long, two year stretch.


Scott D Clary  58:36

That is a long two year stretch to feel like you’re drowning. That’s not that’s tough. But it all the matters is how you come out of it. At the end of the day. That’s really all that matters. Yeah. If you had to choose one person who was incredibly impactful in your life, there’s probably been many of you have to pick one who was that person and what do they teach you?


Dave Fink  58:59

This is it’s tough. I’m gonna I’m gonna do a blend because I have to make sense. So definitely my mom and dad. So I have two parents that are there are wonderful parents might my dad passed away a few years ago. My mom is still alive and well. And, and they they grew up in a in a commission only business where they had very high aspirations of the type of life that they wanted to for themselves and for us as a family. And and they had very unpredictable finance and kind of personal personal finance. Some good years, some bad years. They from a very young age instilled that in me that they didn’t care what I did. professionally. They wanted me to find something that I was passionate about. They wanted me to make sure I got an education and they wanted me to be financially in control. Have of my wife and be and, and, and. And I think that translated itself into my sisters and myself as in work ethic, quite frankly. So I think that, that what I took away from kind of seeing some of their there’s their stresses and their motivation and life lessons that they were trying to impose on us to make our lives a little bit easier, you know, played played its way out, you know, as, as you know, you’re always you’re always a student, you’re always learning, you have to be working your butt off at all times. You got to keep your eyes open, and you got to be in control of your own destiny. And I think that’s tremendously shaped my my adult life, but certainly my career.


Scott D Clary  1:00:54

Good, very good advice. If you had to pick a source to learn or grow from, it could be a book, podcast, Audible, anything that you’ve it could be business, non business, what would you recommend people go check out?


Dave Fink  1:01:07

Well, so I’m a huge consumer of behavioral economics and behavioral psychology books. I, yeah, I, my team here will laugh there if they’re listening to this because I pull out, you know, insights and examples, even from like crazy psychology, university studies that I think are applicable. I’m looking at at my shelf, my bookshelf right now to make sure I get it, right. There’s a book that I’ve been recommending, quite often, to people, my sphere. It’s kind of a good primer to behavioral economics, called Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman. And he’s a Nobel Prize winning behavioral economist. There’s a number of other books by him. And I think he’s, I think his partner was Amos Tversky, as well as a bunch of papers, and what they have, you know, the idea behind behavioral economics, essentially, is that we all think we’re like, these free thinkers and making decisions. And the reality is like, our brains are wired to respond, you know, specifically to to various stimuli. And you kind of realize like, yeah, maybe we’re not as free as we think we are


Scott D Clary  1:02:36

I so that I know that book. I haven’t read it in a minute. But it’s been a while. But that book is like, Slightly depressing. Because you’ve realized that a lot of things that you thought are of your own design are not at all. So


Dave Fink  1:02:50

I think I totally get why you’re saying that and it does. Like, like, I think it’s anxiety provoking. But when you start understanding what isn’t what isn’t controllable, then, and the whole concept behind like Thinking Fast and Slow is that there there are like reactionary responses that we have in certain situations. And that’s kind of the fast part of your brain. And then there are times that, you know, that rationalization takes over and you can kind of slow things down and take control. So it’s like your instinctual brain versus your thoughtful brain. Look at me, helps me understand my dogs a little bit better. And my kids and their developing brain, you know, have a little bit more empathy that someone responded some way, maybe it’s not because they’re a jerk or weren’t thinking. Yeah, they’re just wired that way. And we hit a trigger point and that caused a instinctual reaction.


Scott D Clary  1:03:49

That’s good. It’s good. That’s a good book. He’s he’s brilliant. It just, I just, it’s a good recommendation that I think everyone should read it. If they haven’t. That, definitely. Okay. If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?


Dave Fink  1:04:05

Oh, my 20 year old self. I guess I have to I think we’re like what I was doing was 20. Ah, what I think I would tell my 20 year old self. You don’t know that much. And you should ask a bunch more questions.

Scott D Clary  1:04:26

That’s good advice. Very good advice. And then the last question, what does success mean to you?

Dave Fink  1:04:35

Oh, gosh, I forgot to give here. Six. I think success is is staying in the game long enough to always have another achievement that you’re looking ahead. For me, and there are a lot of entrepreneurs that have reached I think like, like incredible success. They’ve had a monster exit But I think they there’s a common thread there’s there’s a certain sense of emptiness like after that happens, like, what are you going to do next? So I guess there’s a lot of reasons why there are so many serial entrepreneurs out there. But I think to me, it’s always like, success is, is is achieving, but being able to push the goalposts back. So never quite getting there, but also not because you’re you’re failing, but because you’re accomplishing so much that it’s opening up new doors. I, to me, that’s, it really is the path you got to accomplish along the way, but it’s the path it’s not like getting to some endgame

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