Moira Vetter, lifelong entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Modo Modo agency

Moira Vetter is the Founder and CEO at Modo Modo Agency, a strategic brand engagement firm that accelerates the way billion-dollar companies capture and grow their market. Moira has always been an entrepreneur at heart, having begun her journey working the register at her parents’ pharmacy at the ripe young age of 7.

Listen in as Moira explains the human side of B2B marketing, the root causes of employee disengagement and how to address them, and why she believes that remote work isn’t the only way forward.

Episode Details

Show Notes
Moira Vetter is the Founder and CEO at Modo Modo Agency, a strategic brand engagement firm that accelerates the way billion-dollar companies capture and grow their market. Moira has always been an entrepreneur at heart, having begun her journey working the cash register at her parents’ pharmacy at the ripe young age of 7.
Asked about the human side of B2B marketing, Moira notes that “there is a huge fallacy about B2B in general”—that the entire process is about “computers selling computers, tech selling tech, or an organization selling to an organization.” She reminds us that each company is composed of human beings making individual decisions that they believe is best for the brand.
It’s due to this simple yet overlooked fact that “there are humans hidden behind the numbers.” Modo Modo’s goal, with their clients, is to paint a picture of who those humans are and the realities they live with. The best client interviews, then, are those that are driven by genuine curiosity.
Moira also speaks on the issue of disengaged employees and compares and contrasts the desires of the Gen-X, Gen-Y and Gen-Z workforce. She believes highly in the crossover between work and play and why it is vital that today’s organizations cultivate a culture of service, transparency, and self-leadership.
Finally, Moira gives her thoughts on the post-pandemic workplace and challenges the notion that there is no going back from the new normal that is remote work. In fact, Moira, along with her growing team at Modo Modo, believe that theirs is a belly-to-belly culture that thrives best if everyone is mentally and physically present.
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Amanda Setili (00:02):
Today, my guest is more of better she’s founder and CEO of the Modo Modo B2B marketing agency. She spent 30 years in the agency world. She is a hard worker and entrepreneur and a lover of people and life. And I’m so delighted to be talking with Maura today.
Moira Vetter (00:20):
Thank you.
Amanda Setili (00:22):
Yeah. So we’re, I like to sometimes start out these conversations with a deep dive back into your past and to just think, cause you seem to be, to me, a person who’s really hitting, hitting on all the notes. You you’ve found a business that you’re running. That’s very successful. You’ve got a strong family life. You really doing a lot of things, right? Think back to when you were like 11 years old, what did you like to do back then?
Moira Vetter (00:53):
Well, I, you know, family is a big thing and I know we’re talking about me as a kid, but I will tell you when I was seven or eight, I started working in my parents’ pharmacy. And I often tell people, you know, there’s a expose a running joke on my LinkedIn bio that says I didn’t get serious about business until third grade. And third grade, I started taking the bus from school to the pharmacy at the end of the day because both of my parents worked there and so much of my childhood, you know, 8, 10, 11, 12, all my memories are being together as a family in the business, you know, in the evening, like we would, we would eat dinner in the back office at the pharmacy. And so I, I’m one of these people that I really have a hard time separating family and business because they came together in my world.
Amanda Setili (01:57):
That is so interesting. You know, I was just reading the other day, what child labor laws used to be. And, and one of my premises, or a premise that I would like to explore is that work is really not so different than play. And that the things that we do for play, which involve competition and communication and strategy and all of these things that we do for play and making things hard for ourselves, you know, having to run five miles or whatever, it really aren’t so different from the things that we do at work. And I would imagine, and, you know, like my kids went to Montessori school and they always talk, instead of saying, what were you studying? It was what’s your work today. And I would think that going to be with your folks after school and having some little job to do that made a difference in the business would be kind of playful in a way, in a sense. Well, how did you experience
Moira Vetter (02:50):
Well, yeah, so I have a perfect example of that playfulness. So I was a itty bitty, teeny weeny person. Like, no, we never thought that I would get to be normal height. So I was remarkably smaller than people my age. So when I was seven, my father had taught me to count back change and I was going to work the cash register. So I’m, I’m not just talking about dusting shelves. I ran the register at seven. Wow. But I was too short. So I had to wear rollerskates because it took me three inches. And so I would roller skate all through the pharmacy because it gave me the additional height and I would skate up to the register and I would have this huge NCR cash register, you know, old manual Peck, Peck, Peck, Peck. And I just remember rollerskating around there. I, I also learned to fill prescriptions of course, things that, you know, that would be horrifying by today’s standards. But I did all the jobs in the pharmacy. I, I counted the money. I took the, the bank drops up to the, to the bank. I mean, they really involve me in all of the business safe, perhaps HR. Wow.
Amanda Setili (04:03):
So you were allowed to carry cash through the, through the town on foot?
Moira Vetter (04:07):
No, it wouldn’t be on foot. It would be at the end of the day. So we would finish up every week. They would settle out the door. I remember we would leave from the pharmacy to go to the bank and I would be, it would, it was a game. It was, you’re going to have to go press the security alarm and you have, you know, whatever it is, 10 seconds to get from the back of the store to the front so we can get the door locked before. So that was a race, right. Go back there. And we hit the button, I’d race through the store, we’d get the door locked. And then we drove to the bank and it was the same thing. You have four seconds to get from this card or up to the bank drop, get the key and pull the door down and get the cash.
Amanda Setili (04:49):
So funny. It’s funny. So what was the difference between your mom’s job and your dad’s job? Did they divide up divide labor or did they overlap?
Moira Vetter (04:58):
No, totally, totally different human beings in every way. Now my father was he was the pharmacist. I think they were both social creatures, but he was just, my father was a Hungarian immigrant. And he was a storyteller and he was fascinated by all people. So he would sit in sort of the catbird seat at the center top of the pharmacy and everybody coming in would, you know, shout out, Hey doc, when they came home, you know, he would visit with everybody. So it was a very cultural business. And then my mother was the manager. So she did all the hireling. You know, she worked with inventory management you know, so, so my father was a registered pharmacist and the people, person and guy, and my mom was the operator. She was the executer.
Amanda Setili (05:50):
And how early in their marriage or relationship did they figure out that there was a symbiosis here that would work
Moira Vetter (05:57):
For them? You know, honestly there were not many symbiosis between them but they did manage to pull off this pharmacy for a few years. And so I say the pharmacy opened when I was five. So I would say, you know, that very early on they, they began the work of, of getting the pharmacy you know, off the ground. And they divorced when I was 11 going on 12. So I was you know, a latchkey kid at six and then that’s when we determined, you know, it’d be much better if I just came to the pharmacy at the end of the day. Yeah.
Amanda Setili (06:38):
Interesting. And so how did, how did that transition happen when your parents split up? He hired somebody to be the manager.
Moira Vetter (06:49):
Yeah, so it was really interesting. You know, my, my uncle, my dad had a twin brother who was also a pharmacist and he had a nephew, my cousin who came and, and they sort of, the family told them where mom left. And so, you know, I had the life with mom and then I still had the life at the pharmacy with the family. It was just a different extended family. And you know, eventually we all moved away. So the pharmacy closed, I moved to Florida with my mother and my father moved to Sydney, Australia to live with his sister. And I feel like, you know, it was the close of the first chapter of my life. Right. You know, the first chapter was my childhood, a mom and a dad in that pharmacy and complete, you know, forging of the notion that business and family are an integrated thing. And, and I think that’s something that has been it’s been noted by managers of mine in the past before I had a business, was that I had a sense of ownership about all the work that I did, any work that I did. Right. I, I did not seem to be a worker, but I acted as an owner with, with additional accountability and I really don’t know how to be any other way. That’s fantastic.
Amanda Setili (09:01):
How do you, your kids are 11 now, how do you think the world will be different when they are adults than when we were adults? And how are you, if anything, preparing them for that, or maybe, maybe they’ll prepare you,
Moira Vetter (09:16):
You know, I’m sure they’re preparing me in many ways, but I hope that I am preparing them. I’m not preparing them, I suppose, for what I think the mass society or what the majority of people’s experiences, which I think is a very in technology up to the eyeballs you know, AI and automation all around us, right? The things that they had been telling us since the sixties, right. We’re all gonna fly around in jets and vehicles. All of that I really am trying to focus them on the human experience, right? Strength of character being loyal, doing the right thing, caring, and I don’t care what the technology will be, right. The technology will be something, it won’t be what we imagine it will be different and whatever it is based on the way we’re trending, it will make up for whatever you can’t do.
Moira Vetter (10:21):
But I really want them to understand these core human fundamentals. Because when, when I look back on my readings, right, and I, and I do, I mean, I don’t read near enough, but I mean, I, I read Aristotle and Socrates, you know, I, I read, you know, things from the late 18 hundreds. And I look at, you know, DaVinci’s drawings and, you know, I think about more than just the last 50 years of history or the next 50, right. I’m trying to think in a longer timeline. And I think that these human things are the things that trip us up generation after generation. The technology is along for the ride the, the industries change, but the human condition, if you can really focus on the human condition and what people need to feel whole to feel love to do good things, to, you know, to sort of amplify their influence and positive impact. That’s what I, that’s what I want them to know.
Amanda Setili (11:31):
That is so important. And obviously in the marketing world, it’s super important. You do B2B marketing, you help your clients who are selling to business buyers who sort of should quote, should be thinking in terms of dollars and cents and practicality and all of that kind of thing. And yet I would imagine that as an agency, you’re also thinking about what enables the buyer to feel whole, what enables them to feel confident, what enables them to feel like they’re going to really implemented a fantastic technology or something. So how do you, how do you use those human skills? I’m sure you do, but can you give any examples of how you use those human skills to solve B2B business problems for your clients?
Moira Vetter (12:19):
Yeah, I, well, I think that there is a huge fallacy about B2B in general. I think people think that business to business means, you know, computers selling the computers or tech to selling to tech or an organization selling to an organization. But at the end of the day, it is still a set of people at a company that have something that individuals at another company purchase. Right. And it is, you know, and I, I don’t know why I never got on this bandwagon of human to human, but it is human to him. You know, you could call it business to business, but ultimately human beings are going to make decisions. And I think that because of their capacity to be very dollars and cents driven and very logical, particularly in large B2B organizations, let’s say engineered services companies are highly complex, you know, energy business, you know what, I’m just giving an example, manufacturing organizations, the people that get to the top of those organizations by and large came up through technical disciplines, right?
Moira Vetter (13:27):
So they often over-index on logic, right? And sometimes under index on touchy, feely, human, emotional things, but then make people either comfortable to make decisions, have clarity, feels safe to make decisions are often emotional. And so, you know, you cannot have one without the other. So a huge part of what we do is remind our clients that there are humans hidden behind the numbers you know, and help them find the way when we say we’re going to help you do customer journey mapping. It’s not to say the ideal customer that will buy from you will be this size. And you know, they will buy X million dollars worth of your product over the next five years. It’s just say the two people that directly influence your sale are I T managers who have been completely overwhelmed during the pandemic with the move to remote and virtual environments, I’ve learned all the frailties of their technology and they’re overworked, overtaxed terrified, and looking for things that are low risk and do things by themselves.
Moira Vetter (14:40):
And you know, these other executives over here that are battling with XYZ you know, it’s to really paint that picture of who the human being is and what, what is I keep using the human condition, but what, what are their, what realities are they living in? And what are the pressure points that would help them you know, better use you better engage with your offering. And you know, to me, that’s really what marketing is all about, understanding the audience and understanding why, what you offer is special or different or better to that audience. So how do you do you do customer interviews or how do you, how do you determine those things? Yeah, so there is a lot of well there’s customer interview. And often there is a deep integration with the Salesforce because the sales team is very again in large complex B2B organizations that salespeople are more integrated with customer organizations.
Moira Vetter (15:52):
And so, you know, it is really understanding the executives, the sales people’s perspective of the customer and the customers, you know, understanding of, of an ecosystem. So yes, there’s, there is a lot of interviewing you really do have to, you have to be a great listener. You have to be curious you know, one of our core values as a business is curiosity, and, you know, you cannot work with complex businesses without, if you do not have a natural curiosity, you will not be successful in B2B marketing because you have to be able to get past a lot of technical detail. You have to get comfortable with a lot of complex you know, terminology or, you know, ecosystems, right. And to be able to get those and then be comfortable enough to get underneath it, right. And, or to get decided, or to say that that’s all well and good, except it’s all going to be obsolete in two years.
Moira Vetter (16:54):
What’s the next thing? What do those people think? You know, we do a lot of work also when, when our clients tell us, you know, here’s who we are, here’s who our customer is, and we want to market with them. You know, a lot of our key clients are they’re either an and this is who we target. They’re either in the leader quadrant or they’re challengers. And so they’re, they’re upper, upper, mid market, or they are leaders in their space where they’re working on the next five to 10 to 20 years of who they want to be, where they see their revenue will come from who those customers will be. And so we do have a great opportunity to be doing kind of R and D with our customers, you know, on what the future might be and what those customers might respond to and how, how to get involved.
Moira Vetter (17:48):
And, and we try to not be quite as involved on that feeding frenzy, e-commerce retail and where it’s, you know, decisions made in the next hour, you know, flipping levers for the next hour. We’re, we’re really involved in those long-term sales long time long-term positioning which, which really do you know, give you an opportunity to understand the stories, right? The stories of business, the stories of how people succeed, how industries rise and fall. It, it is a great domain for stories. So it sounds almost like you don’t just work on the communication of what is you work on the distilling of what should be in the future. Yeah. to some extent, yeah, I would consider us you know, this is always the age old question. What, what does agency mean? Right. What is an agency and we’re kind of a hybrid agency.
Moira Vetter (18:46):
So we’re, we’re one part consulting, one part agency. So on the consulting side, you know, we are working very closely with executives. You know, I give you a good example of a place that we do get to sort of play in the sandbox with them on, on what would be, we have several clients right now, and, and really this is happening all over because whenever there is a shock to the economic system, we’ll have a lot of businesses change hands, right? So you have mergers and acquisitions and divestitures. And we work with a lot of companies. Who’ve purchased a lot of other companies and have to integrate them together and have to understand what is our new picture of value as a company. You know, when, when we were a, and B, these were our respective stories to the market about our value and what we did for them.
Moira Vetter (19:44):
And now that a and B are together, this story is not a plus B anymore. Right. We need to tell the story of C, right. But we are not exactly articulate it. And so we do have an opportunity for those clients that do engage us in that manner to work with them on what does that look like, right? What is it, what is the sum of the parts? And then how do you talk about that value to two distinct audiences? And so in that way, we are very consultative and sometimes there is no comms about it, right? It is about offering those things, doing customer journey mapping and having plans, and then their team might go off and run with it. And then, you know, we also do a good bit of internal comps because, you know, when you work on those kinds of engagements with clients, particularly if there’s been a roll up and there are different teams coming together, if you haven’t done a good job of the internal comms you know, if you don’t have sales marketing, does it share what they’ve learned with the sales team and the internal teams don’t know why this is what the company now is.
Moira Vetter (20:55):
Then don’t go tell the external world, you know, because the inside does not understand that. So we do a lot of, you know, internal cons plans and internal messaging and education and training. In addition to those external comms and external campaigns,
Amanda Setili (21:11):
That makes so much sense because so often I see companies who’ve grown through mergers and acquisitions, and then they, this Salesforce is asked to sell more stuff than they used to sell, but they don’t really know how to sell that new stuff. And they are worried about cannibalizing their old stuff. And they’re kind of just scared of bringing a new story. And if you can help them clarify that in their mind where it can roll off their tongue really easily, but also just be really believable in their own hearts so that they really passionately believe in the new story. Wow. That’s magical. That’s fantastic.
Moira Vetter (21:54):
Yeah. It’s it’s something, you know, I, in early in my career, you know, when you, when you begin in the agency, you know, you start very tactical, right? So you, you get, you get exposed to, we get to do a brochure and here’s where the brochure, you know, see. So you’re very bottom up early in your career, but the more you go through your career, as you, as you move up from the tactical to the strategic programs and from the programs to the key business initiatives, the closer you get to the C-suite. And that’s when all of a sudden you’re like, oh my God, now that I understand why all of these things were put together or connected, if I had only known that before all these other pieces that have been so much more effective, because we were just sort of missing the big picture, right. Nobody showed that picture. They just cut it up into little boxes and say,
Amanda Setili (22:46):
I didn’t understand it either. No, well, they had understood it. They would have told us, but,
Moira Vetter (22:53):
And often it’s they don’t talk to each other right. In, in, in large organizations, right. Global organizations, there’s so much matrix and siloing going on that they have entirely different perspectives of reality because they are different realities.
Amanda Setili (23:13):
Totally agreed. They just don’t, they don’t understand the other side of the fence within their own company. And so an outsider coming in and just doing selected interviews throughout the organization can come up with a totally new worldview that they’ve never really been able to put together before, because each person in the organization has a strong history and vested interest in what it, whatever it is that they do, their function or their division or whatever. And you don’t have that. You’re independent. You come in and just listen.
Moira Vetter (23:47):
That’s where I think some of these human skills I’m talking about really mattered too, though, from the standpoint of you have to have empathy, right? You have to understand that if someone sounds stressed, it could be because they do feel that they are in the dark. Or if someone sounds short, it could be because they have just told five other consultants the same story right. Over the last year. And no one is doing anything with it. Right. So I’m just tired of telling my story because it goes, it’s, it’s the no end. And so I do think there, there really is a place in business for people who not only listen well, but care, right. Care about what they’re hearing care about, how hard it is to sort out whatever the challenge is, and then go about it with some degree of humanity and civility. You know, I, I just, I think that people, people always use words like integrity and they think about being honest in business, but I don’t know that they take it that extra length to how do you express in business?
Amanda Setili (24:59):
Right. so I often hear people lamenting the fact that such a huge proportion of our workforce is supposedly disengaged. And I suppose that’s true. And one of my missions in life is to figure out how I can help more leaders to make their employees just feel more engaged with their work, more work connected with what they’re doing. More like they’re really accomplishing something every day, more that they’re working on a team that they really click with, that they’re in a state of mutual flow. And I would imagine that you’ve probably, you know, achieved that within your own team. And I’m wondering what your reflections are on the bigger organizations that you’ve worked in, what, or if you have some thoughts on what companies could do to create more engaged workforce and people who are just really fired up about getting up and going to work every day and, and are also seeing new opportunities, because, you know, the world is changing fast. We need everybody to be spotting new opportunities and to be in empowering those people, to be able to act on those opportunities.
Moira Vetter (26:12):
Yeah. Well, I, you know, something interesting, you said early on when we were talking about you know, Montessori and what was your work today in the, in the sort of play and work being so similar to one another. And I feel that that is, that’s the thing strengthened our culture, that work is play, and we either put, play into the work, or we intersperse work with play so that there is enough of enjoyment and it is completely missing in large companies. I, it is an investment, right? And I, and I understand how difficult it is for publicly traded companies whose primary goal is shareholder value. It costs money to let people play, you know, it costs money to budget, time for play. It costs time, which is money to build, play into process. And it’s something that I can’t imagine wall street necessarily places a premium on.
Moira Vetter (27:29):
But I think it is, it is the reason that smaller private companies can create stronger culture can create engagement, can find a way to build play in. And I think it gets harder and harder. The larger you scale, the more you’re looking at cost cutting and efficiency and shareholder value you know, what, what, what does, what does that play worth, right? What’s the ROI on play, right? Huge ROI on play, but I don’t, but Arbor, hasn’t done a paper run, you know, or maybe they have, and I haven’t read it, but I think that’s the thing. Somebody needs to show you what the ROI on play is. And as soon as the logical people in business understand there’s an ROI on play and is willing to take a risk on it, right? Pilot is we’re going to do a six month pilot.
Moira Vetter (28:22):
As soon as the year that I think the engagement will, will go up. And I think we’ll start to see some movement there, but I’m equally horrified as you are to hear about all the disengagement and all the, everybody getting off the bus. It, it, the dynamic is really interesting in what I see. And I I’m on the Kennesaw state university marketing board, and we had a meeting Friday morning. And one of the questions that I asked was about new career marketers, right? Career people coming out, going to work, do they, do they want to go be in an office? Right. So what, what are their expectations and the norms that they think they’re going to do as, as a workforce entry path? And one of the things that we talked about that is so concerning is that the gen X-ers and the remaining boomers that are still a part of the work environment want to connect down the entry-level.
Moira Vetter (29:30):
People are thirsty for information. They want to get, you know, grounded in, in the workplace. But slung portion of the millennials seem to want to check out. You know, there are things that you’re reading about you know, the great resignation for instance, right? A lot of that is generational, right? It’s the people I’ve put in my 10 years, I see enough. I don’t want to spend the next 10 right, doing this or 15 put in 15 years. And if this is what it’s going to be, I’m going to do something different with my next 15 years. If there were ways that people could try different things where they are, or see a different way to be in business, they wouldn’t feel that the only solution was a resignation and total industry career change
Amanda Setili (30:20):
‘Cause they might jump from the frying pan into the fire. Yeah.
Moira Vetter (30:24):
Yeah. So they could decide, ah, I’m going to become an entrepreneur in some fun thing that I love to have as a hobby, but they have no idea what it means to be an entrepreneur. And maybe they’re not even wired that way. And then they end up hating the thing that they loved, that that should have stayed a hobby. Right.
Amanda Setili (30:44):
You know, when you were talking about play, being an investment, I can kind of see what you are saying, but I’m also thinking that there is a way to help people just find work that really clicks for them, where they can really be in a state of flow every day and where they can have great working relationships where people’s creativity build on each other or, or their kindness builds on each other or their service mentality builds on each other, all of these things, if you can really get it working, right. It doesn’t have to cost anything at all. It just costs trying to have design work so that people get feedback on what they’re doing. And they get, you know, a sense of accomplishment every day, and that they’re matched well to what they’re, what you’re asking them to do. And that they’re doing something that’s meaningful. That makes a difference that is important to them. I think.
Moira Vetter (31:42):
Yeah, no, I, I do think that there is such a an emphasis on not hurting people’s feelings that people often do not give very direct feedback that might help somebody find a better course to be on. You know, I think that if you’re very focused on these are the three things you did right. And not, these are the two things you did not do. Right. Or, you know, do not align with the core of this thing. And, and, you know, you seem to be this other kind of person, why don’t you do something like that? I think that people may be reticent to give that kind of the Lily is such an emphasis on what is it, strength finders. Let’s talk about all the things you’re good at. Sometimes doing course correction and getting into the right field is also about focusing on the things that are not right. You know, it’s not always just about the things that are right. And leading you towards them. It could be getting away from these things. And then if you got away from those things, you might be a complete piece.
Amanda Setili (32:52):
That’s really interesting. Yeah. So I just think we need better. Something better assessments, better HR processes, better leadership something to help people get into roles where they really feel like it’s clicking for them, especially with knowledge worker type folks. Like what I would imagine, a hundred percent of your, your employees are knowledge workers, even at your lowest lowest level. Yeah. So is there anything that you’d like to share about the ups and downs of the pandemic of thinking things were going to implode and then they took off and how you manage your workforce and what happened when people went remote. And now that you’re asking them, if you are asking them to come back, what that is like.
Moira Vetter (33:38):
Yeah. So you know, it was, it was very scary. And you know, I, it was interesting to think about it in these terms, but when I began the business it was October of 2007. And so the economy crashed, you know, not, not even a year into the business, so we weren’t even out of the case. And when you’re in startup mode, right. Everything’s crazy already. So I think we took that in stride at that point, but the thing that made the pandemic hard and I think it also made it very hard for a lot of art. You know, global leading customers is when you are a mature market business, you’re mature, you’re set in your ways, you have the way that you do things. And so, you know, the pandemic hit when we were 13, 14 year old agency.
Moira Vetter (34:33):
So we were not in not that a 30 person agency is not an agile lean organization in contrast to a publicly traded company, but we were less agile than we were when there were five of us, you know, figuring things out in that first year. And so I think that it complete willingness to imagine a blank page, you know, kind of came before me. And I think everybody had to be there, right. Everybody thinking about, am I going to file for PPP funding? Hopefully there’s going to leave. Will I have employees, will anybody be working any more? You know, like there was, it was such a anything is possible, right. I think that’s one of the things that makes for a great entrepreneurial environment is the anything as possible mindset. And I think the further you get into the business, the more, you know, XYZ about your business and the less you focus on, what, if anything was possible, what if we didn’t have to do it? You know? And so I think that the pandemic, you know, while having horrific, you know, consequences and concerns, you know, tremendously, I think on, if you have to look at the the glass half full side of it, it did make everybody imagine what if I were starting tomorrow, you know, and then
Amanda Setili (35:59):
I think you’re right. And I think that the entire world learned how fast they can change, which I think was just a huge learning opportunity that will change our mindsets forever. Because, you know, for so many years, I’ve worked with companies who want to change, but can’t change everything, you know, has to go so slowly. And suddenly we find that in the space of two weeks, we can send everyone home and work from home, you know, and another thing serve our customers differently. So many things, and I love that idea that you brought up, that it put the idea back in our minds, no matter how long we’d been in business, that anything is possible, and that’s both a positive and a negative, anything is possible in that calamity could strike or something wonderful could happen. And also, you know, we can do anything, we just need to figure this out. So I think it was just kind of a fascinating time in history may change our mindsets forever. Yeah.
Moira Vetter (36:59):
And then the other part of it that, you know, we’re personally experiencing is as an industry by and large marketing and agencies, if you read any of the press that you know, is targeted to the marketing space all people believe that everyone is going remote, right? It’s it’s, the whole world will be remote from now on, right. No one will have office space and everybody’s going to be remote. And what was so interesting in our situation is we absolutely can do things remote. You know, we, we can be effective, we can do good work. We didn’t like it. Right. And that’s not to say that there aren’t a few people that really liked it, but as an organization and our culture, as we built it, we did not like it. And so we, we wanted to be together. So I have secured office space. And in the spring, we’re moving into a space, double the size of the space we’re in. We are all going to be back in it. And you know, the thing that’s hard about that is a lot of my peers. And again, if I read all the press, you know, all these agencies are going to be remote except ours. Won’t right.
Amanda Setili (38:18):
And though that’s your competitive advantage, your creativity from being together.
Moira Vetter (38:22):
And, and the thing that’s interesting and this goes back to that meeting I had at KSU, the students they want to get out into the world, right? They want to know, what is this, what is this adulting thing, right? What is this going to work thing? What is a professional colleague, right? What is the difference between socializing in a college environment and socializing with my work peers, right? And they have a, they have development to do, and they want to connect and do it. And I think that for people that have had five years in the workplace, or 10 years in the workplace, or 15 years in the workplace, it is totally understandable to say, you know what? I want to change a pace. But for people who went from their parents, you know, a house to a dorm room for four years, they’re ready to start life, you know, ready to socialize in a new way with professional colleagues. And a lot of the ones that I talked to do not have a sufficient apartment to, you know, they don’t want to go hang out in their apartment. They want to, to the world.
Amanda Setili (39:31):
Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, work is such a great environment for friendship too. You know, you, you, you, you can’t be the type of intimate friend that when you’re, when you work with someone every day, there’s an intimacy that develops, that’s not know about, you know, you know, everything about each other’s families or anything it’s that you just know how each other think, and you know, what turns people on and mentally, and you, you, you develop little routines with them of how you eat lunch and stuff. And it’s, it’s a relationship that is, is impossible to create remotely. I think,
Moira Vetter (40:17):
I think so. And we, we it’s, it’s just so interesting again, I do think there’s a generational component to it and I, and I don’t think it’s I don’t think it would be surprising to anybody who’s you know, our age who’s seen what happens to people in their twenties and what happens in their thirties and what happens in their forties. I think there are always natural places along the course of life where people want to have a change of pace or, you know, have on ramps and off ramps. I get that. I just think that the, the entire economy doesn’t need to be in their home and can’t be in their home for us to have the rich environment. You know, like if you say all knowledge workers are going to be at their homes, but, but we still want people to be able to go to a dry cleaner, or go to a concert or go do all these other things that are out in the world in order to do those things. People have to go out in the world, right. In order to have things brought to your home, people still have to go get into trucks and bring things to your home. So there’s a portion of the economy that cannot just hold up.
Amanda Setili (41:29):
Well that, and I just can’t wait to get back to, if we can get back to conferences and trade shows and stuff where you just stumble into people and you talked to them for two minutes, and then 10 years later, you still remember that encounter because you kept their business card and you might’ve just sent them an email every two years or something. Well, you and I got to know each other probably 10 years ago. And I’ve felt a connection with you ever since. You know, it’s just these happenstance things that happen when you mix people together, that don’t happen when you’re just working remote and everything is planned and it all less 30 minutes or 60 minutes or whatever
Moira Vetter (42:09):
Exactly. Well, and that is one of the things, I mean, there’s no question that there are efficiencies that have been found and people have learned to do things different and, you know, there’s places we don’t need paper that we used to have paper. You know, there, there are absolutely benefits, but there are a lot of things. And I, you know, I’m in a place in my life where I am particularly focused on how do I share what I’ve learned, right. How do you pass along wisdom? You know, w what are the ways that you can teach the, the up and coming generation? And it is, I have not found the way that they can just, you know, they’re not on all your streams, right? You can’t pop in, in the way you can, when you’re in an office and say, just come sit in on this, come shatter this, sit in the corner of the room, listen to this dynamic.
Moira Vetter (43:00):
Tell me what you think. Right. Right. Along with me to the XYZ we, we took an employee, a junior employee. We had a client meeting, I guess, about three months ago, four months ago, we went onsite. The let’s say, what is she? She’s probably two and a half years into her career, three years into her career. We said, this will be your account. And we’re going to go onsite and have the meeting. When we had the meeting, you know, we talked about who would be, what is it meeting came back. And we said, so what did you think? And she said, well, that was the first time I’ve ever been in a room with a client. Wow. And, and, you know, for us, we were just like, but you had three years exp you know, wow. You know, a year and a half of it was in the pandemic.
Moira Vetter (43:51):
And I guess the first year you’re, so entry-level, you’re learning where the bathroom is and people are having, you do spreadsheets, you know? So, you know, it’s things like that. You know, that, that I love being able to see body language watch how people respond. You know, I, there are so many of the cues, physical cues that you miss in a virtual environment, like, you know, in a room, I can see how everybody is shifting based on what Bob is doing over there on a video stream with eight faces. It’s just eight boxes. I don’t know who did what, because somebody else did something. And I just, exactly, I, again, it goes back to everybody is engaged differently. I happened to be engaged in a very human in-person environment. Right. Hires me up. And again, I’m excited to know that, you know we, we have added a tremendous number of people.
Moira Vetter (44:58):
We’ve, we’ve added 10 people this year. And several of the new people have said that we had multiple options, right? It’s a tight labor market. And several of them have said, I was not going to interview for anything that was remote. I had to have an in-person environment. And I think the ones you want to exactly. But I think it’s very interesting that three people have told me I would not consider something remote. When what I read is that everybody better hurry up and figure out how to be remote because people want it, you know? So again, it’s which people, which people want it exactly find the people who don’t want that. And they’re your people. Right? Good. Well, Maura, it’s been fascinating talking with you and I’m so happy that we got to explore a lot of this territory that I’m so curious about, and you’re so good at, and I really appreciate you coming on the podcast today.
Moira Vetter (45:55):
Well, I thank you so much for having me. I, it was, as you mentioned, you know, years ago, I found you to be such a fascinating, like, I remember your stories. I remember you talking about girl Scouts and going off and doing an overnight camping trip all by your, with the girl Scouts. You know, there’s so many of these things that stick when they’re told in story. And you know, I, I love what you’re doing with your business. It’s really, you know, it is connecting the, the humanity and the play. And so thank you so much for having me on. Yeah. We might have to do it again sometime. Let’s do.


We all want to do work we love, and as leaders, entrepreneurs and employees, wouldn’t it be great to create workplaces where work feels like play?Where people are tuned in to changes going on in the world around them? Where they’re constantly learning, spotting new opportunities, and taking action to go after them? These traits are essential to an organization’s agility and success.In the Fearless Growth podcast, Amanda Setili and her guests explore the mindsets and choices that lead individuals, leaders and their organizations to outstanding performance.

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