How You Say Something Is More Important Than What You Say, According to This Self-Described Data Junky
HERO Sports and Data Skrive CEO Brad Weitz discusses the intersection of machines and people in business.
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what's your business?
My name is Brad Weitz and I'm the CEO of HERO Sports, which provides news and rankings for every college sports team, and Data Skrive, which is a SaaS business that serves any company looking to either fill content gaps or extend existing content efforts to create deeper monetizable engagement with consumers. Both companies leverage our patent-pending machine learning technology that converts data into marketing optimized digital content.
What inspired you to launch these businesses?
I've spent the last decade as a martech consultant (a blend of marketing and technology) advising companies like Salesforce, Bank of America, ESPN, 3M, and others, on content and web strategy. I enjoyed working with such strong companies, but the experience was increasingly frustrating as my recommendations were not always implemented although the business case was justified. When I discovered the opportunity at HERO Sports I immediately recognized it as the perfect chance to implement the recommendations I had been advocating.
What has been the biggest lesson you've learned in producing and marketing this product?
The biggest lesson we learned is people are nervous about losing jobs to machines. Candidly we had the same fear until we walked into our first newsroom. After we introduced the executive editor to our platform he looked at us and said, "You're telling me I can finally let machines do what machines do well, and my writers can do what they do well?". We didn't appreciate the question until he broke down how much time each writer was spending doing mundane tasks around creating each article. He saw our platform as a tool to eliminate hours of rote tasks and empower his staff to spend more time breaking news, conducting interviews, and building relationships.
We experienced a similar epiphany at HERO Sports when creating March Madness previews. Last year it took our writing staff over 3 weeks to create and publish previews, but using our own platform the entire process took only two hours this year. Our writers used the extra time to conduct player/coach interviews and create insightful analysis a machine could never do.
What does the word "entrepreneur" mean to you?
Entrepreneurs are people who don't accept the status quo and make things happen in the face of adversity.
What trait do you depend on most when making decisions and why is that useful for you?
Analytical thinking coupled with emotional IQ. My background is in behavioral modeling so I am a data junkie. However, I think it is important to balance analytics with compassion and understanding how the analysis you are about to share (whether its business strategy, mentorship, etc.) can be communicated based on the person you are sharing with. Understanding how to say something is more important than what you say if you want people to feel empowered and buy in.
What book do you always recommend and why?
The Numerati is a phenomenal book illustrating the thought process, practical applications, and potential pitfalls using and developing algorithms for different verticals.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
"The difference between vision and hallucination is other people can see a vision." And "In the absence of detail, people create their own narrative." Both are great quotes because it stresses the importance of inclusion and communication.
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