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EPISODE
53
Published on
July 2, 2020

053 | Work Hard and Your Pain Will Lead to Progress with Phoebe Assenza of Rhetorica Creative

Summary

Phoebe Assenza  is the founder of New York City, based, Rhetorica Creative - a branding agency focused on creating cutting edge content and messaging for top fintech brands. Phoebe has helped shape the brand narrative for the likes of Weight Watchers, JP Morgan Chase, and Nova Credit. Phoebe sits down with Chris to share how she learned the art of storytelling from a young age and how content plays an integral role in building successful brands.

Highlights

  • How Phoebe's father worked remotely as a journalist in the 1980s
  • How content creation became a family passion
  • The lost art of passing down a craft to children
  • The advantage of having an outsider's perspective when it comes to your career
  • How Phoebe started her career in the music industry at Capitol Records
  • The comeback of the cubicle in light of COVID-19
  • Not being first to market doesn't mean you can't be the best in the market
  • The importance of not getting stuck on perfecting creative

Mentioned Resources

Episode Sponsors

This episode is sponsored by Juhll. They are a full service digital marketing consultancy that has over 20 years of experience helping your business grow sales online. They've helped most of their clients grow more than 50% year over year by helping them meet their digital marketing goals.

Juhll Digital Agency works with companies who are doing $50 million in top line revenue that have a marketing budget of $2 million. They build your company from the ground up and they also help you in creating a strategy that will work best for your team.

You can email Chris Snyder, President of Juhll Digital Agency, at chris@juhll.com, or contact their team today and find out which of their services will work best for your success story.

Tweetable Quotes

Phoebe Assenza

Founder, Rhetorica Creative

Phoebe Assenza is the founder of New York City, based, Rhetorica Creative - a branding agency focused on creating cutting edge content and messaging for top fintech brands. Phoebe has helped shape the brand narrative for the likes of Weight Watchers, JP Morgan Chase, and Nova Credit.

Episode Transcript

Chris Snyder [00:00:43] Hello, everyone. Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown, president at Juhll Agency, and founder of FinTech Startup Banks.com. On this show, we take a no B.S. approach to business success and failure told through the stories of the top executives who have lived them. Join us today as we get the unfiltered backstories behind successful brands. Just a quick message from our sponsor. Juhll is a full-service digital consultancy, and we focus on helping executives solve their toughest digital problems while working as an extension of the executive team. To learn more, go to Juhll dot com. That's Juhll.com. Or you can email me directly if you have questions. It's Chris@juhll.com. OK, without further ado, I'd like to introduce my guest today. We have Phoebe, Assenza - She is the founder of New York City-based Rhetorica Creative a branding agency focused on creating cutting edge content and messaging for top fintech brands. Phoebe has helped shape the brand narrative for the likes of Weight Watchers, JP Morgan Chase, Nova Credit, and Parody A.I..= Phoebe was also the founding director of content and communications for Ellevest, an investment platform designed by Women for Women. Thank you, Phoebe.


Phoebe Assenza [00:02:10] Thank you, Chris. Awesome to be here.


Chris Snyder [00:02:12] Absolutely. Phoebe, I usually like to start with letting our guests know a little bit about where you came from, what your upbringing, how do you get to where you are today. So could you take us back to the beginning? Where'd you grow up in? How'd you get here?


Phoebe Assenza [00:02:26] Sure, yeah. I was actually born in Brooklyn, New York, and my father's job moved us to Los Angeles, California, where I did most of my growing up there. Spent summers in Brooklyn. Yeah. When you're a kid in Southern California, nothing is more fun than been a summer in Brooklyn, New York. And I went to college out in L.A., moved to New York pretty much right after college to be a founding marketing director at a music marketing agency that I quickly lost its funding and went under about two and a half months after I got here. Yeah, I wasn't about to go back to L.A. with my tail between my legs, though. Made it made a go of it. New York and still here, you know. Sixteen, fifteen years later, life happens.


Chris Snyder [00:03:16] Life happens. Right. So what did your dad do that? I mean, most people from New York. I'm from upstate New York. My wife's from Philadelphia. Most people from the East Coast don't necessarily love. They don't say, hey, I'm going to go live in L.A. There's two different completely, completely different cultures there. Yeah. Was there some summer travel back and forth commuting? Or how did that work?


Phoebe Assenza [00:03:41] He was an automotive journalist. And, you know, and he was I think he was a bit of an oddball. In Brooklyn, you know, his entire life. I think the war of West Coast, you know, wide-open roads and, you know, road trips to the desert and, you know, testing cars out in Death Valley. That was. That was enough for him. So, yes, he was. You know, he was living that that car lifestyle that is sort of central to California living. I feel like so. Yes. And he worked at Motor Trend originally, and then he was moved over to car and driver or, you know, he moved over at Car and Driver. He actually worked remotely back in the 80s, which, you know, a lot of people didn't know hardly ever was, but nobody did that. So, yes, he had that spending. He had like a separate phone line in the garage and he would have to wire his articles over to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it would take about three hours. And, yeah, he was. He was a, you know, pretty much a work from home journalists for most of his career and then moved into automotive automotive advertising after car and driver. So like like many do once their bills get higher and they have to make more of a living than on just a journalist's salary, unfortunately.


Chris Snyder [00:04:58] Yeah, no, I hear you. I mean, I think it's, you know, back in the day reminiscing a little bit when you read content, there were really smart people behind it. It was meaningful. It wasn't garbage. I think you could look to the popular media sources, whether it be Wall Street Journal, New York Times, car driver, Nat Geo, all these amazing publications. I mean, they've suffered a great deal over the years based on the incentive model for advertising, which I believe it is the wrong incentive. But it's a business model. So, yeah, you're so your dad's basically an icon. I'll call him that. But are you. Did you have a sense when - because I think you went to Loyola - did you have a sense that you wanted to follow in his footsteps?


Phoebe Assenza [00:05:51] I, you know, it's funny. As a teenager, I didn't, you know, like I thought, oh, I'll never work behind a desk. I mean, I wanted to do something really cool. I don't know what I thought I was going to do, but I just you know, I didn't think that I would be hunched over a laptop for most of my days. And here I am. And you ever a laptop? Yeah, I think honestly, like, he was such a good writer and he taught me so much just, you know, even inadvertently, just the way he spoke and the way he explained things to me. And it's funny because, you know, English was actually his second language. He he he was. He spoke Italian almost exclusively, like from. I think the time he was. Yeah. It about twelve years old. So once you learned English, he like he really kind of went all in and learned every word that he could and like memorize encyclopedias. And so he's just doing brilliant and such as being around him for that time growing up. I couldn't help but become a writer because how to sort of use that that muscle in your brain, if not for it, for writing and, you know, explaining complex ideas and really sort of user-friendly, engaging tones and words. And that's pretty much the thing I do best, just as a product of being his daughter. So, yeah, I think that's kind of what made me follow in his footsteps is I really didn't have much other choice was just sort of hardwired for this work.


Chris Snyder [00:07:16] Yeah. Well, you know what's interesting and I've really thought about this a lot from all these work at home orders and stay at home orders back in the day, I guess people like a few big shoes. Your kids made shoes. If you underestimate kids own a restaurant. If you're a writer, your kid became a writer and we don't spend enough time. I think you know, nowadays we just higher than any or one person stays home, dad goes off to work or mom goes off to work. And we just we don't I don't feel like we pass this stuff down anymore. Yeah. Well, do you have any comments about that or the exposure that you received at a very young age? Clearly gave you an advantage over anybody else in this business.


Phoebe Assenza [00:08:03] Yeah, I mean. I mean, I wouldn't say that myself, but I love hearing that. But I know I do think that just being home, you know, every day after school, watching my dad, you know, finish up his workday at his computer and, like, sort of watching his process and, you know, and he always made it a point to never talk to me like a little kid. You know? He always did his best to sort of speak to me as as a peer and, you know, kind of like respect me as an individual and a person who is sort of that, you know, not something to be talked down to or coddled or anything like that. So, you know, for better or for worse. So, yeah, I really do think I you know, I feel like I grew up in journalism and advertising. You know, he was also a single dad. So you know, he would take me to work throughout summer is when I wasn't in Brooklyn. I was, you know, hanging out in his office at Ketchum Communications and Santa Monica or the design rain and Long Beach and the second.


Chris Snyder [00:09:06] So. Yeah, Dad. So your dad was on assignment. How old were you when he - I'll use the word dragging, but I don't think you have to - like, if our kids could come to work with us every single day I think they would. I think most families would be that way. But what age did you start entering this environment? Being exposed to all this amazing content and process?


Phoebe Assenza [00:09:31] I wouldn't say. I mean, honestly, from as far as I can remember, you know, we never had a car growing up. We didn't have to because he was always given test cars from PR companies. So I would go with him to pick up our new car every couple of weeks. You know, whether it was a pro or it was, you know, the new Nissan as the or, you know, or something less fun, like an automobile. So I was always around him and like notes, son. He would have to sort of, you know, shoot the shit with PR people, you know, when he was getting a new car. And I just watched all of that. I grew up around a lot of like, you know, sort of smoothing and talking shop. You know, I played croquet in the backyard at the Desirae when I was eight years old. Back then, the designer, it was like actually in a house that had been converted to an office. And, you know, I think they're a lot bigger operation now. But, yeah, I was always sort of around him and his colleagues, his work buddy, that car and driver who are all sort of like legendary automotive. You know, they're in the sort of pantheon of automotive journalists now. I literally grew up with those guys.


Chris Snyder [00:10:40] Yeah, that is so great. And I think that's important for our listeners to understand as they get to meet you. The conversation we're going to have today is about, quote-unquote, content and brand-building. I mean, we have someone on the show today that's been doing it since for as long as she can remember, maybe eight years old, maybe as long as she can. Puttan, you remember writing, being around the scene. Right. So super interesting. She went to Loyola Dessaix of Communications. So that must have been relatively easy. Tell me about the college experience back in the day.


Phoebe Assenza [00:11:15] It was. It was. Yeah, I would say it was relatively easy knowing that, you know, just as much as I knew that this is the kind of work that I wanted to be doing. That part was easy. There was a lot of like, you know, sort of navel-gazing, like, what do I want to be? You know, really like college was for me, it was kind of an excuse to get an internship so I can go and work at real companies. And, you know, just sort of like have that credential, like, oh, I'm a student at Loyola Marymount University. Can I work at Grand Royal Records or Capitol Records? And they would say yes, because, you know, when you're a student, you know, it's easier to kind of get a get in on those three.


Chris Snyder [00:11:56] Your work is free. They may have changed that rule, but they didn't change it in school.


Phoebe Assenza [00:12:03] Well, at Capital Records, they actually paid me. I think that and it was like it was a decent salary to think of at that time. I was like thirteen dollars an hour to work into it. Yeah. Working in a sales department there, the retail division of sales there. So we asked the original question. I'm sorry, what did you get?


Chris Snyder [00:12:22] How was your college experience?


Phoebe Assenza [00:12:25] Yeah, it was so it was pretty unexciting. You know, I grew up not too far from Loyola Marymount University. I, you know, I hadn't sort of been primed or groomed for, you know, getting into the best school and, you know, getting that pedigree and networking with the right people. Like, I feel like I was already sort of doing that. And it's kind of like scrappy startup. You way really like college. It's just kind of this box that I had to check, you know, to make my grandma happy to, you know, sort of have that sense of achievement for myself, like, oh, I did this really hard thing and got through it. And yeah. So it really wasn't you know, I was not the, you know, beer helmet, you know, said or didn't join any authority or anything. It was really I, I took college seriously, but I was like pretty much a commuter student who just like went in and, you know, got my job done and then would go off to work at Capital Records or at Grand Royal Records.


Chris Snyder [00:13:24] So you went to college to go to work. Yeah. That's interesting.


Phoebe Assenza [00:13:30] You know, you can't be like, oh, I'm 21 years old with no job. You know, can I get an internship here. You know, you have to be a student. But have you ever thought of how you get in? And so. So that's what I did do.


Chris Snyder [00:13:41] You know, I did something similar. I worked throughout my whole college career. And it felt like when I got out, I was already four or five years in front of all of my peers, like, yeah, I already had a job. It wasn't about, hey, now I have to go out and spend three or four months proving to everybody that I can translate textbook materials in a coed college campus experience to being a professional. They've been doing it already. Right. So, yeah. 


Phoebe Assenza [00:14:12] In my senior year, no school was seriously getting in the way of my job, know, and I was working as the lifestyle marketing manager at a company called philter, which unfortunately no longer around, but they were music magazine and a marketing agency for the music industry. And I was running all the lifestyle marketing there. Well, you know, trying to get a passing grade and my stupid algebra class that I had to take in order to graduate. So, yeah, it was a funny, funny time for sure. I felt like I was living two lives.


Chris Snyder [00:14:43] So you went from Brooklyn to L.A., so you really got L.A. and in Brooklyn embedded. Was it difficult to live in L.A. after having this cultural upbringing in Brooklyn?


Phoebe Assenza [00:15:00] A little bit. It's funny. Yeah, I feel like I grew up just a mess in Brooklyn to feel a little bit out of place in L.A. and vice versa. You know, when I got back to New York, I'm very much a California person, you know, feeling I get a transplant here. But I think that's good. You know, I feel like maintaining that perspective of an outsider is what helped me a lot in my career, too. When I talk to startups who have been, you know, sort of again, in that like navel-gazing, who are we? What are we doing? You know, brand building time. It's really helpful to have someone like me come in and be like, here's what I see. And, you know, here's my objective view of what's going on here. And, you know, I think that that's sort of come out from me being a little bit of a bit of an oddball, you know, outsider wherever I am.


Chris Snyder [00:15:49] Yeah. So. So your father did automotive. You jumped in, too. Sounds like capital records and music. Was there any desire to do automotive in or was that more of a boys club and why music.


Phoebe Assenza [00:16:04] I guess that was a total boys club. Not that music wasn't. But yeah, I was just, you know, I was obsessed with bands. And, you know, I grew up in. I was a teenager in the 90s where I was like, you know, a bit of a golden age for music no matter what you like. You know, I was like really great hip hop of the 90s. That was really great rock in the 90s and, you know, indie rock. And that was, you know, all of that was was just a world that I wanted to be embedded in. And so I just, you know, I found I found ways in and really, you know, I wanted to work in the music industry to sort of be around those people and learn from them, which I did. But, you know, unfortunately, the music industry was sort of just about to be decimated. Right. Look, right around the time I got in. So I only spent a couple of years on that track.


Chris Snyder [00:16:55] So what happened? Napster, Pandora, Apple. What was it to you that kind of ruined it for you? Ruin it? They actually made it better. But at the time, if you when you're in it, really what a song. Especially if you were in it, right?


Phoebe Assenza [00:17:13] Yeah. Yeah. And right around, you know, when I was working part-time and Capital and when I got my, you know, my first full-time job at Filter, we were still, you know, CDs were still a thing that we were shipping CDs out to influencers. And, you know, that was actually influencer wasn't even a term then. But we. Yeah. So that was sort of the last kind of gasp for the music industry. And I, I remember like after literally after 9/11, I lost my part-time job at Capital. They had to sort of clean up wherever they could and they would be at the thirteen dollars an hour. College kids had to, you know, some of them had to go. Yeah, and, you know, from there, it's become harder and harder to find the next big opportunity, you know, because there just weren't any. So I just sort of kept moving sideways. You know, I worked in nightclub promotions for a while when I moved to New York just because I was available.


Chris Snyder [00:18:07] Tell me a little bit about nightclub promotions because I got to tell you, I know a couple of promoters. That life seems crazy.


Phoebe Assenza [00:18:16] It's insane. And honestly, it was so fun. And I learned so much that it's still serving me today. Just watching, you know, really. But that's like that's a truly entrepreneurial Seraphine kind of living to put together. And it's all about networking and to, you know, and talking to the right people so that you can, you know. And then a lot of it is just really it's just marketing like, you know, having these proprietary email lists so that you can invite people to your events. And, you know, having that be your kind of cachet. Yeah. I learned so much about just, you know, really kind of like scrappy marketing tactics by working with some club promoters in Manhattan. You know, some of them are still doing it today. I bless them. I did that for a couple of years. And then, you know, that was I was done.


Chris Snyder [00:19:10] Do you feel like, given all your experience and all your training at this point...because, you graduated, you've been working hard for, what, five or six years since you graduated. And now this whole thing is coming apart. And you've literally been writing quality content for a long time. And, you know, in your own words, you're kind of moving sideways and you're even doing nightclub promotions. Did you feel at any moment like, fuck this. This is ridiculous. I write top quality content for the most admired brands on the planet. And now I'm sending e-mails to a bunch of dipshits who want to go to a nightclub and get like, did you ever see? Cause that's what I would say.


Phoebe Assenza [00:19:59] There was well, there was a little bit of that. I hadn't been writing a print at that point. You know, I sort of I wrote a lot of marketing copy. I did that, you know, in the music industry. But really, I was just more of a straightforward marketer. I wasn't writing full time at that point, but I knew I had that talent and I knew that I could sort of like use that. I just didn't know where to bring that. I did feel that, like, fuck this moment. You know, when I was working with the nightclub promoters and it was, you know, it was nothing to do with them personally or, you know, the people who go to nightclubs or anything like that was a sort of you know, it was this machine that that kind of you know, it ran. And I put in the input to make the machine run and then that was it. It never kind of went anywhere. There was no sort of next level of the business or anything like that. It was kind of, you know, kind of status quo, keep things running as we need them to. And so I was just not feeling very challenged at that point. The other work in Canberra was like, you know, I was backstage with Radiohead at the Greek theater in L.A. and, you know, two years later I'm, you know, writing mass fliers for Crow Bar.


Chris Snyder [00:21:11] Oh, my God.


Phoebe Assenza [00:21:12] And it was humbling for sure. I will say that.


Chris Snyder [00:21:16] It's good life experience. So I think, you know, we saw the 2001 crash and then a 2008 crash and now the 2020 crash. And it feels to me anyway. I'm 44. It feels like every single time we go through this, we have to reinvent ourselves. And yeah, although it is hiring, it's also one of those things where you get to a spot in your life and you're kind of like, look, I feel like I've earned it, but you haven't. You're never gonna stop earning it. So just get that out of your head.


Phoebe Assenza [00:21:51] Yeah. That's so, that's so important to now is like, you know, I remember saying, like, when I was I think I was like twenty-four and still working at Filter, I was like, oh I'm so jaded by the music industry is like I don't know. Right. To be jaded or even say that word. You know, I have not put in the work and paid my dues at that point. And I feel like, you know, the universe or whatever you want to call it kind of gave me that humbling experience, like, oh, you think you're jaded in this industry. You know, why don't we. Why do we send you off to New York where you can write fliers for Crow Bar then?


Chris Snyder [00:22:24] Oh, so it's just always, you know what? There's always something worse. There's always something. Exactly. I mean, you could be a dung beetle.


Phoebe Assenza [00:22:31] At least be grateful wherever you are.


Chris Snyder [00:22:38] I've seen that on Nat Geo. Yeah. What we're doing.


Phoebe Assenza [00:22:42] Exactly. Yeah. Although, I don't know, some people might argue that club promoters are the dung beetles of the music industry. I don't know. I surely wouldn't say that.


Chris Snyder [00:22:53] Them and direct marketers, which I'm part of that group in some sense. OK. So you're doing some marketing stuff. When do you feel like you got back to your roots and really got back into editing and writing is at grandparents.com? What is that?


Phoebe Assenza [00:23:11] Well, that yeah, that was actually my first widget, full-time writing job, salary benefits company and coal mine and all of that. But I really, it's funny, I started blogging when I worked for the club promoters and I had this like this little sort of like Party Girl blog for a few years. And that really popped me again, like, you know, it wasn't huge or anything. But I had, you know, I had a nice little devoted following. And it taught me about writing a great headline that people are going to read and, you know, writing stuff that people are going to comment on and, you know, watching my eye and blow up after I post something. And, you know, it's sort of, that's where I really kind of like is my voice a little bit. And I was able to, funnily enough, bring that to grandparents.com, of all places. But really just sort of like writing every day. You know, I was doing that while on the clock at the Klepper voters only because they didn't come until around like 4:00 p.m. every day. And I was there at the early hour of 11:00 a.m., so I had some time to kind of, you know, mess around with writing a little bit when I was sitting at my desk.


Chris Snyder [00:24:24] So got it. So wait a second. So you're actually going to a nightclub to do work in the back?


Phoebe Assenza [00:24:30] Yeah. It was that. No, it was actually with an office in the middle of clubland on the far west side of Chelsea and Manhattan. Yeah. Which is a lot more built up. Now there's like a lot more over there now. But before it was just warehouses and, you know, the place would only really kind of come alive at night. You know, it was pretty just like this, like a little bit of a wasteland. And yeah, I would ride my bike from the East Village to the West Side every day. Right. Copy of this called little office next door to at this nightclub called Crow Bar. That was one of our partners.


Chris Snyder [00:25:09] So that's amazing. I'm sure you could we could branch off into a lot of stories about that.


Phoebe Assenza [00:25:16] Oh god yeah -  I can write a book.


Chris Snyder [00:25:18] So so you're sitting there and you figured out like, hey, I don't really want to do this at the bottom, basically. And how do you find a job to be a writer? And furthermore, what are the requirements and then when you sit in that chair, like what is it that you do now? I mean, because you do writing. You know what writing looks like. But now you're sitting in a chair and that's what you're responsible for. How do you find a job doing that? And then what is that like when you sit in that chair? Tell me about the day.


Phoebe Assenza [00:25:52] That's you know, that's actually a really good question, because, you know, the way I got that job was through a friend who read my blog and she knew a guy who knew a guy who got some money together to build this thing called Grandparents.com because some tech investor, you know, some dot.com investor was buying up Web yourself that he thought might be valuable. And so he bought Grandparents.com and threw some money at it. Would like to go when she guys try and build a company. So this guy, Jeff Biel, who, you know, ended up being my boss, the grandparents.com had read some of my stuff. And he's like, yeah, when you come over and try writing some stuff for us, like, we have no idea what we're doing. So, you know, let's throw spaghetti at the wall, see what sticks. And I was lucky enough to be a string of spaghetti that stuck to the wall there. And a group grew along with the company. So I went from sort of, you know, writing you like little product reviews to, you know, being the founding products editor there and going to Toy Fair here and going on NBC and pregnant Chuck Scarborough about this year's hottest toys. And, you know, I became the toy expert. It's so funny to talk about this. And like, you were just really how many lives have I lived as a writer?


Chris Snyder [00:27:08] And I just thought of I just sort of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when you said toy. I think Elon Musk is selling that guy's house. So, yeah. So you were there. You were there a long time, though.


Phoebe Assenza [00:27:24] Yeah a whole four years or something like that.


Chris Snyder [00:27:29] Tell us about that experience. How many people worked at Grandparents.com? What was your role there like? What happened to that company? Was it thirty people? Was it VC backed? But give us a sense of that business. You were there for four years?


Phoebe Assenza [00:27:44] Yeah. The antiques, all of that. Yes. So we, you know, originally was just it was me and the president, David Brinker, who is at Snap now, and then Justin, who I mentioned previously, who's actually a product guy at 1-800-FLOWERS now. And it was the three of us. I don't know, maybe three to six months, I want to say. And then I, I think we got another infusion of cash and started hiring. And, you know, it's funny because at that time I was getting really into writing and I thought, oh, I should probably go to journalism school, I should go to grad school so I could be a real writer. And, you know, as I'm applying to grad school, I'm also looking at people's resumes, who had been to grad school and graduated from, you know, Syracuse's journalism school in Columbia. And I was responsible for hiring these people. I was like, maybe I don't need to go to grad school if I'm already in the position to. Yeah. You know, assess candidates who have come out of grad school. So. So, yeah, that was like the grandparents.com with pretty much my grad school just learning the ins and outs of running a content site.


Chris Snyder [00:28:48] So would you how do you guys make money? You wrote stuff that older folks would read and then you inject them with toy ads. I mean, how did that work?


Phoebe Assenza [00:28:57] Yeah, pretty much. I mean, it's that it's no longer around. So I can't really answer the question of how we made money.


Chris Snyder [00:29:05] It redirected me. I looked at it. He directed me to a company called Considerable.


Phoebe Assenza [00:29:10] I don't know what that is. Yeah. It ended up changing hands at ownership quite a few times. But essentially, yeah, the idea was we were targeting baby boomer grandparents who were, you know, say what you will about boomers today, that at that time, you know, they were sort of these that young, sprightly, digital savvy or, you know, becoming more digitally savvy and having grandkids for the first time and really kind of, you know, having the spending power to spoil those grandkids. And so we sort of inserted ourselves as like, hey, we're the expert on what to buy your grandkids this year and next week and next week. And when you see them and where to take them and how to talk to them and know just sort of really kind of like nurture that relationship or help, you know, that was sort of our design.


Chris Snyder [00:30:05] So that was great experience. So you're working very closely with the product teams, the content teams. You're in charge of setting the narrative and the brand voice for grandparents.com. So we go from Crowbar, right? Yeah, yeah. I got some weird images in my mind about that, but I'm sure. Yeah. And then you go to this. Right. I think what happened after that?  So do you stay there until it changes hands so much you get bored? You're like, I'm out of here. Did Weight Watchers call? What's next for you?


Phoebe Assenza [00:30:43] Yes. So. So at that point, you know, really know David Brinker, who is the president there, when he was once he put in his notice that he was leaving, I knew, like, OK, the writing is more than on the wall. It's time to get out of here. And then when I met the new owners, I was like, oh, yeah, it's really time to get out of here. I remember, like, our analytics person was showing the new owner, you know, just our numbers, like here's our e-mail open rates. And, you know, here's the number of visitors to the home page last week. And he's like, why are you showing me this? Why is this important? Like what? You know? And I was like, okay, this guy doesn't he has no idea what he's doing. It's completely out of his depth. You know, his uncle gave him this job or something. So, yeah, that was sort of it was just it was time to go. And yeah. Luckily, David Greenberg knew someone at Weight Watchers who was looking and I ended up in the content department there and running copy for the product and the website and some of the sort of like physical collateral for it for meeting rooms and things like that.


Chris Snyder [00:31:43] So yeah, Weight Watchers was a pretty big deal. They felt like if it feels like it and felt like back then, they were big time as it relates to performance, direct response. They had celebrities and sponsorships. Yeah. I was about your experience at Weight Watchers a little bit.


Phoebe Assenza [00:32:01] Yeah. I would write Jennifer Hudson's weight loss diary for the site. You know, we get sort of like these transcripts of, like phone interviews with her just to see how she was doing each week. And then I would suggest that into ad copy for the website. And, you know, it was an interesting time to be there was right before. It's funny, I have this habit of like getting into businesses right before they kind of, I don't know, go through a little bit of an existential crisis. But it was before all the like Fitbit and my fitness pals and all those like free apps that are available now for, you know, calorie counting and activity tracking and all that, that this was, you know, they were sort of owning the digital space in that kind of like, you know, that wellness, behavioral change world. And it was a really interesting time to be there. It was the first time I worked at a company that big. And I had a cubicle.


Chris Snyder [00:33:00] Cubicles. I love them.


Phoebe Assenza [00:33:02] I was there was you know, I never thought of I didn't I just hadn't had an experience like that, like, you know, just sort of being a worker among workers at a very big enterprise. I mean, to me, Weight Watchers, if you just actually, I think objectively a mid-sized company, or at least was then. But at that time I was like, oh, my God, I'm like this like mothership. And, you know, and it was funny, like, you know, again, it was like a little bit humbling. It at grandparents. I was, you know, big fish in a small pond. And at Weight Watchers, I was, you know, just another fish.


Chris Snyder [00:33:37] I got to tell you, whoever came up with a cubicle idea needs to be just put out of their misery.


Phoebe Assenza [00:33:43] You know, I think they're as they're saying we're going to make a comeback because of open office plans are, you know, not COVID-19 compliant. So we might have to go back to cubicles, which honestly, I'm not too mad at. I feel like I, you know, not that I work, you know, at someone else's company and like in an office or anything. But I remember hating the open-plan just as much. So, yeah, I'll pick your poison.


Chris Snyder [00:34:13] Yeah. Well, let's talk about your situation now. You're in Brooklyn, New York, with your husband and two kids. Yes. In what? Like a thousand square foot. What do you what do you have?


Phoebe Assenza [00:34:26] I think so. Yeah, I read some somewhere around that. Maybe I was maybe sixteen hundred or now. But Yapper basically, you know my husband has his office set up in like our very small guest bedroom. I have my office set up in our bedroom and the kids have full reign over it over the rest of the house. You know, we're dividing it.


Chris Snyder [00:34:49] So you. So you'll take a cube right now?


Phoebe Assenza [00:34:53] Oh, yeah. Now it is sort of a cube-like, you know, when I close the door that's it. Like I'm in my cubicle now.


Chris Snyder [00:35:01] So maybe that was it. This was all just a plot to make us appreciate our cubicles.


Phoebe Assenza [00:35:06] I honestly, I. I would. I would yeah. I would pay a lot of money to rent the cubicle right now.


Chris Snyder [00:35:11] I just give us a way our damn cubicles back, please. It's like, it's like a bad Simpsons episode or something like that. Yeah. So this is crazy. You've done all of this and then you get into finance.


Phoebe Assenza [00:35:27] Yeah. Yeah.


Chris Snyder [00:35:29] What the hell - you go from music to, you know, grandparents related stuff to, you know, Weight Watchers to now. Oh, wait. Forget that we forgot the nightclub promoter stuff.


Phoebe Assenza [00:35:49] We forgot the nightclub.


Chris Snyder [00:35:49] Which was awesome. So now you've got this completely well-rounded experience to propel your career in financial services. So here now, talk about Ellevest, what you were hired to do there and what you learn there.


Phoebe Assenza [00:36:06] Sure. My experience at Weight Watchers helped Ellevest a lot because, you know, sort of that that behavioral change that you're trying to do, want to say sell. But the idea that we had to change the behaviors of the people that we were serving, that was like how to get the product to work. Right. Like with Weight Watchers, you have to track what you're eating. And it sort of forces you into this mode of losing weight because you're watching what you eat. Right. And then the same thing with investing. You have to put aside a certain amount of money every month. We're going to take it out of your account automatically. And then that's going to keep you on track to your goals. Like a lot of the language was really similar to like Weight Watchers about staying on track, your weight loss goals. Ellevest is about staying on track to your financial goals. And in each of those things require that sort of short term sacrifice, whether it's, you know, parting with your liquid cash for a bit or parting with your, you know, liquid soda. I don't know, I was going to make a really bad analogy. But, you know, putting down the cookie and putting down the impulse shopping and then things like that is very, very kind of like some similar behavior change that we were driving.


Chris Snyder [00:37:26] Yeah, I love it. So tell me about some of the things maybe that you brought or some of the favorite things that maybe they appreciated about your background, that they what was the unlock for them with you? Like, they had no idea about this one thing or these two things until previous sends a got there. And you were like the fucking baller at Ellevest.


Phoebe Assenza [00:37:49] That was you know, no one was more surprised than me when I first Met Sally Krawcheck. Of course, I had Googled her before I had. And I was like, whoa, OK. This woman was CEO at Bank of America. She was CFO at Citibank. I don't know, getting her resume completely right. But basically, you know, a lot of these really impressive Seifi positions at the biggest banks in the world. And I was like, she is, you know, again, like going back to that, I'm the oddball outsider. Like, I don't know if this woman is really going to appreciate what I can bring to the table, but you know that a former colleague had set up the meeting and, you know, and I don't feel like me, it hit it off. Yeah. She was concerned about having someone writing who didn't have a financial background. And I sort of put I sort of pitched my like, well, you know, I'm your target audience, you know, because I don't have a financial background. And, you know, here's what I could bring to the table. I can talk to people in a way that's not going to be full of financial jargon. And I was gonna explain these complex things to, you know, so that people can understand it. I'm gonna be understanding and as we go along and I really didn't think it would it would take off. But the, you know, the more we work together, the the the more we started gelling. And I was I was basically just, you know, Sally's right-hand gal for writing a bunch of stuff. She wrote a lot. And we just we collaborated a lot. It's funny. After I was like, oh, so this you know, this investment platform for women, this is feminism, which I never got to say at work before. You know, you can't you can't go around talking about feminism, you know, but not in my club. Nobody gives a shit. Not at Weight Watchers because, you know, there's no room for that there. But, you know, at a startup like Ellevest where it was just all about the, you know, the underlying mission was the financial empowerment of women. It's like, oh, this is kind of like the final frontier of feminism. Like if women can be financially equal with men, then, you know, then we're equal with men. Like we live in a capitalist society where money is power. And so, like, that's what we're doing. We are giving women their power back by showing them how to make their money more powerful. And, you know, money is power. So so get invested in that, you know, and that's messaging. They're still running with today, I think maybe not today. Today, because of poverty and all that practice. It's more about, you know, keeping yourself safe, I think. But yeah. Is that money is power and message and that sort of financial feminist message is sort of central to their brand still today.


Chris Snyder [00:40:22] So what was a couple of the primary problems you were trying to solve? I know you touched on the bigger picture money's power and women can be part of that. But what are some of the unique things that women may have that men don't as it relates to investing?


Phoebe Assenza [00:40:40] Well, what you know, what I learned from Sally and her, you know, she has this brain for research. She was, you know, I think one of the top analysts on Wall Street for, you know, over a decade is that women are actually better and better than men because they're actually sort of less emotional. They get less scared when things look scary. So they're not the ones that are, you know, kind of day trading and, you know, selling off all their other stocks. Well, you know, seniors, things look like they're about to take a turn or and doing that, they're they're sort of more level headed. And I'm doing the, you know, what's probably the smarter thing, which is to just keep, you know, keep your money in the market, keep it in a diversified portfolio and that and, you know, sort of stay the course. Whereas, you know, the behavior of men, you know, just look at like a Wall Street trading floor like that, you know, it's yeah, it's intense. It's emotional. There's yelling. There's, you know, like it's - women just don't they don't approach investing the same way. The problem is like, you know, it is a boys club. Just how we're talking might help, you know, automotive, the automotive world was to like finance is very much a dudes club. And, you know, it's something like, you know, when you hear guys talking about stocks and trades and, you know, whatever buzzwords. End of the day,  it sounds like they're talking about sports. And it turns a lot of women out. And, you know, so here's just women have sort of been kept out of that in some subtle and not so subtle ways. So we wanted to provide that that bridge into this kind of scary boys world may also create a world for women there.


Chris Snyder [00:42:25] It's a big market. I mean, if you look at it objectively, it's a big market. And why. Why the hell wouldn't you? It's kind of obvious that men and women are different and they need to be probably spoken to differently as we think about content and brand voice and the products that we build and how we communicate them. It seems very obvious. I don't know why a company like Ellevest wasn't around before this. Candidly, I mean, there was no one doing this before Ellevest was there. They're not at this scale with someone like soundbytes. Important, right?


Phoebe Assenza [00:43:03] Exactly. Yeah. No, there was there were a few like minor players. I think, you know, there are women who like who got it and knew, like, you know, and then women who work in finance are like go like, you know, women don't care about, you know, outperforming the, you know, the S&P 500 or whatever. They just care about, like, can I buy a house in 10 years? So that's sort of what Ellevest is built on. But yeah, it's funny, like me, whenever I would tell people, you know, what I'm doing and, you know, the company I work for, they're like, oh, yeah, and that's important. But that makes total sense. Like, why hasn't that existed before? So, you know, I guess it's a note to all entrepreneurs that if you know, if you think something probably already exists, it might not. Or something. And then also, if you could be third to market, you're in a better place than the true pioneers. They are.


Chris Snyder [00:43:48] Yeah. The pioneers, they blow a lot of money educating the market. It's in my opinion, I agree with you. It's always best to be a fast follower unless you're Elon Musk. Right. And he's just a maniac. I'm going to launch Rocket and turn it around and land it in the ocean on a platform that moves me to think that car companies like that guy is super gangster. But most of us should ideally look at a market that someone else spent the last 10 years and a billion dollars opening up and then just nibbling away at the incumbent until you eventually swallow them whole like a shark, right?


Phoebe Assenza [00:44:25] Exactly. Yes. That's the way you do want to be, the very tip of the spear. You want to. You know, be part of that. But I don't know, whatever you call that at longer V, be that bigger V. thinking very abstractly now. Yeah.


Chris Snyder [00:44:40] So you worked very closely with the executive team, Ellevest. What are a couple things you learned and really took away from that? That they might be able to share with our audience.


Phoebe Assenza [00:44:53] I would say, you know, I learned a ton just from watching Sally. She is she will outwork anyone.


Chris Snyder [00:45:04] So hard work.


Phoebe Assenza [00:45:05] Yeah. I mean, not even hardworking, like. She would live and breathe that company. But she had to because she was you know, she was the CEO. She was the entrepreneur. She was the one, you know, at the helm. But nothing was beneath her, you know, like she would do any, you know, any interview that that came up, you know, or. Yes, I think she sort of showed the just the value of shipping. Like not waiting till things are perfect, but just like if it's good enough. Ship it. And I, you know, I think it's it's really easy, especially for people of more on the creative side. We want to make sure we get things right before we how to launch anything. Yeah, we don't you know, we're scared of looking foolish. And, you know, I'm not saying like, she, you know, she would risk looking foolish for things, but there was really just sort of just get it done. And it was it was a big volume game. It was like do as much as you can. Good enough, you know. She did have very exact standards, like she wasn't you know, she didn't let anything fly by her. Like she looks at every word of Poppy I ever wrote. Really? But yeah. Like that. But also, you know, on the other side of that, you know, it didn't have to be in this, like, beautiful design. Every time we came out, we had to send an email out to some send the fucking email. And you know what the words do, the heavy lifting at this point. Let's not wait around and make sure that the, you know, that it's got this is that it's in the right template. There are some things like that. So it's sort of you know, she was the most startup, a scrappy person there, really. It's funny, like a lot of the people around her were kind of slowing things down.


Chris Snyder [00:46:53] So she came from an environment which probably is the opposite of that. Right. Like, very pragmatic compliance, you know, hundreds, multi-hundred-year-old banking systems. So, yeah, it was definitely her superpower. You'd mentioned something in there. So hard work and speed, right. Hard work and shipping stuff quickly. It doesn't need to be perfect. Even those humans are incentive is to make sure that we look good because it doesn't feel good to put something out there that might have a typo. We know that's not acceptable, but it does happen. But does have the value you get from speed really is the speed and volume is another thing I heard in their volume nowadays is a big deal in moving quickly. It's a big deal. But another thing you mentioned in there was hard work. What do you think about the whole work-life balance thing? We hear a lot about that on, frankly, my own opinion on it. It's like if I hear that, it kind of irritates me a little bit, depending on the kind of man or. But what's your opinion on the-work life balance thing?


Phoebe Assenza [00:48:00] It's something I've been you know, I've been thinking a lot about, especially now, when, like, the two are just so intertwined with us just being home and working all the time like everyone's doing it. I think we're you know, I think we're past the days of having that really clear line between your workday and your, you know, your home life. But honestly, I'm not sure that that was even there to begin with. You know, I think even like, you know, in the 50s when people didn't take their work home with them, they still didn't a lot of ways, like, I'm sure, you know, the like the grumpy dad who wouldn't talk to the kids when he got home from work. Like, that's taking his work home with him. Like, you know, whatever happened that day is bleeding. Boy, he's bleeding into his personal life, into his family life. Like there's not that that clear line of, you know, there's no sort of while there. It's all, you know, it's all just stuff. And, you know, and I think the more people look for work that is, you know, kind of true to who they are and what they're good at and what they want to do, or if they're just like trying things out and being experimental either way, like you're gonna want to do a lot of, you know, and sometimes you're going to do that on a Sunday. And, you know, sometimes you're going to have to tell your kids to like, wait one more hour and then and then you'll watch Sesame Street with them or whatever. Yeah. I think that, you know, and if you're an entrepreneur or founder and writing your own thing like there is, there is no. There's no. Yeah. I'm like, OK, you know, I talk to my husband about work stuff all the time and the just we're always on the clock.


Chris Snyder [00:49:35] So yeah, same here. My wife and I are the same way. And guess what, if you're not passionate about it, don't call yourself an entrepreneur. Just don't do it. Go to the bank, punch the clock, go behind the glass, give people their money, and then take your fifteen-minute breaks and go home at four like.


Phoebe Assenza [00:49:52] Yeah, which is great. Like that's a fine line too, you know. Like that, you know, it's different personality types like for me, like, you know I. And that's what made it really hard to like be at one company doing the same thing all day every day. Was that like I'm just way too serious and I get bored too easily. And so I need to be working with like a lot of different people all at the same time. And that makes like the final product or the work a lot better, because I'm learning so much from like other areas where I can find patterns between the, you know, the marketing of the 3D printer print manufacturing shop and something like a. Now, a new humidifier. There's another, like, weird analogy, but the idea being that there are so many parallels, like across different types of businesses. And if you're not someone who's kind of like cross-pollinating that way, you know, you're not bringing that value.


Chris Snyder [00:50:47] There are some interesting books out now that really describe the benefits of these meta or macro thinkers as you over the course of your career, you build these weird connections with things that probably if you had just stayed in automotive or you stayed in music or you stayed the course in weight loss, it's actually less valuable than the background that you have. Right. So when it comes up to you and they say, hey, I see that you only do financial writing. So I've got weight loss writing for you to do. So I don't think that that's going to work. It's like, what are you talking about? Writing's writing, right? We figure out the brand voice. We do a little bit of research. And then we start writing. Right?


Phoebe Assenza [00:51:36] I mean, and it's also the writer's job to, like, become a subject matter expert very quickly, which I think is, you know, that's sort of a huge part of my job, too. It's like I knew nothing about 3-D printing. You know, two months ago and now I'm writing about it quite a bit. So, yeah, it's you know, in that learning that makes you a better marketer, too, because, you know, you're educating your audience. And so what better you know, who's better to educate an audience of someone who's just learned recently and has some exciting stuff to share?


Chris Snyder [00:52:06] I love that. I love that. Let's talk about Rhetorica. Let's talk about that a little bit. So you've obviously done other things in the midst of Rhetorica. So this has been your side hustle, right? But it is now your Full-Time hustle. Is that accurate? So I, you know, that being an entrepreneur or having your own company now having to get into quick books, having to send bills, signing contracts, plus writing, plus 10 kids plus working at home.


Phoebe Assenza [00:52:37] Yeah. Wow. Yeah.


Chris Snyder [00:52:42] Sorry if you got depressed all of a sudden what I set out.


Phoebe Assenza [00:52:45] I know it's funny, I just realized I'm like, yeah, I'm pretty much sitting in the middle of that tornado. You described it perfectly. Then there. That's kind of what it is. Yeah, it's great. I mean, it's it's exactly what I want to do, which is to sort of beat that person who's connecting between different industries and learning different things from different people, you know. Speaking about this little vague, we just want to, you know, talk about my clients, like to you personally without them being part of the conversation. But yeah, you know, the admin stuff that you mentioned, though, is like it's just the worst. So, like, if we're giving advice, I would just say, fine. Find someone you trust who can really help you with that stuff, because, I mean, you're gonna have to do a lot of in the beginning, no matter what. But when you can finally hand that off to somebody, it frees you up so much. And it's a really good investment. So, yeah. Yeah.


Chris Snyder [00:53:42] Managing a company is way different. A structured company, managers at structure companies way different than managers of non-product-market fit smaller businesses or very start at the entrepreneurial businesses, like there is absolutely nothing standard about a business that you just start. Right. I know you've been in this a long time, but someone has to sit down and figure out that contract. Someone has to sit down and figure out how to hook up quick books to send invoices. Someone has to look at the books and make sure you're collecting the invoices. What happens when people don't pay? Right. How much are you going to charge? The list is so frickin long.  I tell a lot of people if someone told me like 12 or 15 years ago, whenever I accidentally stumbled into becoming an entrepreneur or someone told me how hard it was going to be, I could have demonstrated that. I may have thought twice about it. Right? Maybe. Yeah, I yeah.


Phoebe Assenza [00:54:42] I feel like, you know, I think I heard a lot of that and I didn't listen. I like. Yeah, yeah. OK, yeah. Evan says that. I know that. But you know, I've got this big dream and you know, I can make it work. And I've sort of been running on that, that big dream. I can make it work attitude for quite a while now. And but now that things are you know, this is my full-time job. This is the sort of niche that I've carved for myself. I really have to make sure that that it works. And, you know, I don't know, like, luckily my cousin married an accountant. I'm keeping it in the family and thinking, And. So, like, look at the books and, you know, and give it to me to like Tommy, like Phoebe, like, you know. Yeah. At this rate isn't working for you or, you know, whatever. This person is too expensive or know whatever, whatever the case may be, it's really nice to have that again. Like we were talking before we said recording the kind of person to kind of set you straight on the set, that you're just, you know, you don't really have that head or the patients for. And I certainly don't. I just love offloading at all at the person who knows what they're doing with that stuff. Yeah.


Chris Snyder [00:55:48] Which is the right thing to do. So tell us a little bit about what you do and how it works. Right. So I'll give you an example. I know someone who owns a domain named Banks.com.


Phoebe Assenza [00:56:02] This is interesting - tell me about this person.


Chris Snyder [00:56:06] So I don't have the same lens as you do when I look at banks dot com. I think about the marketplace. I think about the partners in the demand generation around it. I think about the technology and all the moving parts. The last thing on my mind is whatever it is that you do. So describe for me in the audience how you would take something like that brand. And I'm thinking back to your grandparents.com, Ellevest. I mean, you've got so many great credentials here. Give me a quick what do you do? And then how do you do it so we can understand what needs to be done there?


Phoebe Assenza [00:56:47] First thing was, you know, if we're banks.com as an example, I would ask you like what you know, what your big problem is right now? What are you trying to achieve? And why haven't you achieved it yet? Like what? What's the Blocher there? Got it. And if it's you know, because, um, because of what I do, I sort of look for like, okay, so what's the problem as it relates to messaging? You know, I'm not asking the right people. Are you talking to them in the right way. You know, just looking at your site right now. Welcome to Bangkok. OK. It's nice to have a welcome. We worked for you. Our mission here, you have sort of like high-level mission statement here, but there's nothing here. This grabbing me and saying, do you need, you know, this very specific thing? Are you trying to accomplish this very specific thing, like we can help you? And so that might be, you know, looking at the possibility of different landing pages, having more of a conversational interface when you go to your site and ask you, like, what would you like to do today? Do you need a loan? Do you want to consolidate your debt, you know? Are you just looking for a good high-interest savings account?


Chris Snyder [00:57:52] So based on your instincts, when someone says, hey, we want to deploy Phoebe, because I know she's totally she's a professional in this field. She's doing the first things you do is you just start looking at this brand and asking them all these questions. What happens if they don't have good answers to these questions? Are you like, oh, shit. Or they say, I've really thought about that. I just haven't had a chance to execute on it. What goes through your mind when you fire off all these? What I would consider to be audit-related questions or discovery related questions. I'm assuming it has to be to an executive because they're the ones who should be driving the brand voice in the narrative for this amazing product. What? Right. Well, you just can't connect there. You don't feel like they've thought about it.


Phoebe Assenza [00:58:42] That's fine. You know, I like that. And that's why I'm there. I'm there to think about it and. And, you know, show them why it's important. And then, like, you know, let me handle it the same way that I give past letters to my accountant. You know, the CEO can give their messaging needs over to me. And that's something that I've thought about. And it's something that, you know, and I think that's also, you know, that's sort of what made me want to strike out on my own as well. Because I can have those conversations with the CEO because my job isn't really on the line. I'm not going to be scared to poke holes in the strategy of someone who isn't really my boss.


Chris Snyder [00:59:21] You know, it's a great point. You're a peer.


Phoebe Assenza [00:59:25] Exactly. So if that person were responsible for my next bonus, I. I might be a little wary of poking holes in their strategy and really challenging them. No matter how no matter you know, a lot of CEOs say like, oh, they want to be challenged. If they don't it's bullshit. No, that's bullshit. They need to be surrounded by their yes people. But they also need, you know, as bad of a rap consultant get, you really do need consultants to come in and be like, OK, well, this isn't working and why haven't you haven't thought of this, so why not try this or you know, again, that's sort of speaking about a very abstractly. But that dynamic of being that outsider looking in and it does come from a place I know it's not me saying like, haha. Like you threw up like, you know, it's really it's coming from a place of service, like, let me help you. Like, this is the stuff I'm really good at. You have your mind on other things. And, you know, you can only stretch your efforts so far. So but, you know, let me take care of this part of it and, you know, keep communicating with you on how it's going.


Chris Snyder [01:00:31] Yeah. I love that approach. And the comment you made about consultants getting a bad rap, I think bad consultants get a bad rap. And I think, unfortunately, that they push that bad and bad agencies get a bad rap and they push that rap onto the new consultants were freelancers coming in the front door. But not everybody's like that. I mean, yeah, when the ship for a long time. And I think that, you know, I don't know what kind of rap you get. I'm sure it's a good one for the first. It helps. Right. Which actually are. How do you measure yourself?


Phoebe Assenza [01:01:08] That's a good question. It's really just kind of like what? What's coming in and the amount of referrals I get? You know, I really don't do any cold calling, you know? I follow up on leads. When someone reaches out to me via a referral or something. But really, I'm you know, I'm not out there, like, pitching myself cold. So just like that. That sort of, you know, whatever it is, it's called the net promoter score. Yeah, I know. I don't know what mine is exactly, but I feel like I have a must-have a pretty high one because all of my business comes from people who have warned me before. Yeah. So. So that's one way to kind of measure how I'm doing. And then also be the length of an engagement. You know, I try not to, you know, get the most, you know, deliverables and billing hours out of a client right off the bat. And then, you know, just sort of like going for those short term gains. Like for me, it's more important to build a really solid relationship with a client and earn their trust. Obviously, I know I need to, like, make my hourly rate, you know, doing that, but really like having that sort of period where we're building trust. I'm not trying to lock them into some crazy contract right off the bat, you know. And then, you know, I get sort of I, I wait later. So we, you know, we date before we get married. That's what I do with my clients. And that works out to just me - how many basically how many people are willing to marry me.


Chris Snyder [01:02:35] How do clients measure you.


Phoebe Assenza [01:02:44] That is also a really great question. And, you know, again, like I am, I'm not a queen. I look it at, you know, obviously, like, you know, I want my work to be data-driven and I want to make sure that people are opening the subject lines that I write and. And really, you know, it's like if I get it like an e-mail open rate of like under 20 percent, I get really sad. Like, I might spread myself and really above average open rate for any emails that I write. And I think, you know, my clients see that you really you know, it's at a deeper level. It's looking at, you know, conversion rates and click-through rates and things like that. Like, you know, is the copy converting really comes down to it.


Chris Snyder [01:03:31] Is this editorial as well as more direct response driven? Because I would I would consider email a little bit more performance-driven headline subject lines or, you know, subheads, ads. What about maybe the editorial side of the business? Are your clients giving you access to your numbers so you can make the necessary improvements?


Phoebe Assenza [01:03:54] Yeah. So, I mean, yeah, that's something I, I usually have to like, be really dugs about following up on you sometimes, you know, ship the thing, it goes off and I don't know what happens after that. And I really you know, I want to know and I need to know. But on the editorial side, you know, things like e-books and putting those behind, you know, email captures and then and then making sure that that that work, whatever it is, is there's also converting. It's a little tougher for kind of like softer sales like that. But I think there are other kind of like softer metrics that we can look at looking out, are people interacting with your brand based on the social media that you're doing now and the messaging that you're using now based on what you were using before you started working with me? And just kind of looking at those like kind of, you know, sort of old school marketing engagement metrics, which is, you know, sort of a lot of that is got stuff and intuitive stuff, which, you know, of course, Kwanten and especially the business world that we're in now where you can measure everything, like people don't love that. But I think having those intangibles and sort of having that that unexplainable thing that sort of works and feels good for the people who are, you know, on the client-side and the people who are interacting with the brand, that's stuff you can't really measure. But. But you see it in sort of like an overall big picture. And I try to bring that to, you know, again, it's tough to sort of put that into, again, into a slide show.


Chris Snyder [01:05:34] Yeah, but it's quality. It's quality. Right. For the longest time, I told a lot of members of our team on bank stock comments like, I don't care if it looks like Craigslist. And the reason why I did that and that was specific to design. The reason why I did that is because sometimes you get overweight on quality without paying attention to, like, the substance and the infrastructure. In the end, if you start adding that quality component too soon, it really you really get tangled up. You create. Yeah, in my opinion. Anyway, this creates an environment where you're just adding another node to this thing that's already really complicated and it branches out from there. But yeah, when you see quality, you know, it's quality. Right. And yet in the types of institutions that thanks dot com wants as partners, they know what quality looks like. And so, you know, I agree with you. There's a lot of things that can be measured. There's equally a lot of things that cannot be measured. So you need to find the people that are interested in quality. You need to figure out what things need to be measured. And then just leave the rest alone and do a really good job.


Phoebe Assenza [01:06:42] Right. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. You can't measure someone's sort of emotional connection with a brand. And that's all the stuff that you get. And coffee and good design.


Chris Snyder [01:06:59] So I had one more question. Are you focused exclusively on FinTech now or are you still an entrepreneur that will take whoever?


Phoebe Assenza [01:07:13] Yeah. It's funny, I, I have sort of toyed with that a little bit. Like, do I want to focus primarily on fintech? And the answer is, you know, like I said, I like to work with a lot of different types of clients across different industries. I happen to have a bit of a fan technique after working with al-Abbas. But. But, you know, pep talk in general, I think is probably my strong suit just because I, you know, again, I really like taking these really complex ideas and putting them in to really digestible words for your average consumer. You're, you know, even savvy consumer, engaged consumer. That's like part of the joy of my job is like, can I make these, like, really, really happy technical subject matter. Sound really cool and fun. And that's sort of that's that's my bread and butter.


Chris Snyder [01:08:08] Got it. All right. So last question. I promise. Last question. This is not as. This is the advice question. I'd like to get everybody at the end of the show because you're an accomplished executive and entrepreneur in your own right. You've got a lot of experience. What are you going to leave our listeners with as a bit of advice as we close the show here?


Phoebe Assenza [01:08:31] Oh, that's a good question. So, you know, your listeners, are they a jump-starting out as entrepreneurs or all that? We're going through my process. Now, well, who's there? You know. Yeah. What message are we putting out there? For which audience? What are they trying to accomplish here?


Chris Snyder [01:08:49] Everyone's executives, everyone's executives and entrepreneurs on this show, just like us and. Right. And why we created the show is because, you know, I feel like some of the other shows have all those super big shots. Right. Like Tim Ferriss has Elon Musk on or Rogen has these guys on. These are what feels to me as normal people, I would consider us to be normal people running businesses. Sometimes when I hear those things, well, I don't run a billion-dollar company. Right. I didn't check it out at, you know, crowbar do nightclubs like I don't really like. I don't really feel like some of those guys. You can learn from them, of course. Don't get me wrong. But I don't feel like they're qualified. They're not in the same position as you and I are. So. Right. Given that audience, you know, I would say a lot of the executives on this show are between probably 10 million and top-line revenue and a billion and top-line revenue. So it's that sort of niche there. So what kind of you know, what sage words of advice would you like to extend to everyone? Oh, here's one. Tell your 20-year-old self, what would you advise your 20-year-old self? Because you are now...


Phoebe Assenza [01:10:06] Twice that.


Chris Snyder [01:10:12] I wasn't going to say it.


Phoebe Assenza [01:10:13] Wow. What would you say to my 20-year-old self? I probably just, like, reassure her that she's doing just fine. Like, you know, you may not think that be the dead-end job at the club promoter's office where your bosses roll in at 4:00 p.m. all hungover will teach you anything. And that's, in fact, taught me a whole lot. You know that even just thinking about it right now is like, you know, to get their attention and let them know something was important. That's copywriting. I had to say things in a way that was going to grab their attention because they had their minds on all these other things and they might may have been clouded with other substances. Like I had to cut through the clutter and be able to communicate effectively with these people. And that that may have been really frustrating on a day to day level. But now, you know, that's what I do for a living is cut through the clutter and get people's attention with them with, you know, really strong messaging.


Chris Snyder [01:11:04] So in your moments of perceived pain and despair or something positive in there and always all of us need to while we're going through that, just take a step back. And I'm probably being a hypocrite right now because I can't stand being in pain, in despair, but I'm going to start thinking about it differently. We need to take a step back and go, OK, what's the lesson here? Let's get through it. Some of what these morons are saying is valuable, and I just got to get it out, right?


Phoebe Assenza [01:11:34] Yep. That's awesome. Funny I. Yeah. No. Yeah. Not to get to see where we were spiritual about it but yeah. There's always some pain. Always in the progress, you know. No pain. No gain.


Chris Snyder [01:11:47] Oh I love that pain. Pain leads to progress. Yeah. That's. I love that. I'm going to. That's good.


Phoebe Assenza [01:11:55] Come back stronger, you know. Don't let the stuff beat you down too hard to make. You know it. It'll pass. And once it does, you're gonna be better off for it. So.


Chris Snyder [01:12:03] All right. Maybe that's gonna be the headline for the show. Pain leads to progress. Love it. Oh. OK, well, you know what? Take care of the family. You guys stay safe. Yeah, for sure. So let me just do one thing. Phoebe Assenza is the founder of New York City-based Rhetorica Creative, a branding agency focused on creating cutting edge content and messaging for top fintech brands. And according to her Everything else, tech, any tech to tackle all tech. And fin...fin. Yeah, and she's not doing your nightclub. So don't call her, please. 


Phoebe Assenza [01:13:01] I mean, if the price is right now. 


Chris Snyder [01:12:56] Yeah. OK, back to everything else. OK. That's been great. It's been great. This is good. Thank you. Thank you so much.Yeah. Unscripted. Uncut. You're gonna get it all. I really appreciate having you on the call today. And keep looking up. I appreciate it. 


Phoebe Assenza [01:13:07] You too - thanks so much.

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