Business Productivity Interview: Gini Dietrich from SpinSucks.com and Arment Dietrich
- Peter Vogopoulos
It’s really hard to express how simultaneously cool and nice Gini Dietrich is as a person.
We all know her as the founder and CEO of Arment-Dietrich, Inc., a digital marketing and PR firm, and as the author of the really awesome “I’ve cornered every blogging award out there” blog Spin Sucks.
But did you know she makes a mean hamburger bun, is a nutter for the sport of cycling while somehow managing to run her companies, speaks everywhere, and writes books, most recently “Marketing in the Round” with Dr. Geoff Livingston?
How does this superwoman do it? We’ll find out.
Check out this audio as part of our Productive Marketing Month, where I ask Gini about business productivity, ideas, outsourcing, and lots more…
- Q: I’m tired just reading this list. How do you do it all? (1:58)
- Q: How do you work and be efficient with your team? (2:46)
- Q: How do you decide what you are going to do and what you are going to focus on? (3:56)
- Q: How does it happen that you follow-through and it all gets done? (4:45)
- Q: How do YOU, personally track and stay on top of things? (5:31)
- Q: How vigilantly do you protect your focused work days? (6:51)
- Q: How do you recover from a day that falls off the rails? (8:00)
- Q: How do you motivate yourself to do the stuff you don’t want to do? (9:04)
- Q: What’s your take on time spent on Social Media for entrepreneurs? (10:34)
- Q: What would you tell a new entrepreneur about allocating time to Social Media? (12:04)
- Q: Finish the sentence: “I spend WAAAY too much time on…”? (13:49)
- Q: Finish the sentence: “I spend not enough time on…”? (15:48)
- Q: Do you have a work/life balance? How do you make sure it stays that way? (16:16)
- Q: How important is having activities like for you, cycling,
- in maintaining your sanity? (17:47)
- Q: How do you measure your own success? (18:50)
- Q: What’s the yardstick you use, Gini? (19:59)
Topics and resources mentioned:
- Spin Sucks Pro
Distilled wisdom from Gini Dietrich:
- Tip #1: No matter what you do, remember the vision.
- Tip #2: Keep an idea notebook!
- Tip #3: Patience is key. There is no such thing as overnight success.
- Tip #4: Work hard. Like, really hard.
- Tip #5: Focus your workdays. It helps with business productivity.
- Tip #6: Have an assistant and have them help protect your sacred work times.
- Tip #7: Track properly so you can see if you are getting an ROI from your time on Social Media.
- Tip #8: Content is more important than Social Media. Use SM to promote the content.
- Tip #9: Google +1. Use it.
Peter: Hello everyone, and welcome to our Mirasee Interview Series. I’m Peter Vogopoulos, co-founder of Mirasee. I’m thrilled to have Gini Dietrich here with me today. And if there is anyone to have a chat about business productivity, it’s with Gini. Gini Dietrich is the founder and chief Executive Officer of Armant Dietrich Inc., which is a firm that uses non-traditional marketing in a digital world, and in addition to that, she’s the author of a great blog: Spin Sucks. A really fantastic blog, it provides a lot of expert information and advice on marketing and communications and social media and entrepreneurship, and it’s received a whole bunch of accolades, including being names Readers Choice blog of the year for 2010 and 2011, and a whole bunch of others. From Spin Sucks, she also recently started Spin Sucks Pro, which is a cool content-driven way to learn about all things marketing PR and advertising, with a lot of great learning content on that. She’s also a speaker, she’s delivered several keynotes and panel discussions on the topics of using online technology and communications. You’ll find her writing on the Franchise Times, Creating Chicago Business, and All Business and somewhere in all of that, she also managed to find time to co-author the book: Marketing in the Round with another fellow who I’m a big fan of in addition to yourself: Geoff Livingston. This is a book about applying a round table approach to integrating multiple channels of marketing and it sounds like a great read, it’s on my booklist now.
Peter: Yeah, Absolutely. I understand you’re an avid cyclist? And a foodie, like me.
Gini: I am.
Peter: and I want to cook everything I saw on your food blog, everything looks so delicious. So as I was saying earlier Gini, I’m tired just reading this list. I mean, I want to take a nap, how you’ve got all these projects going, and they’re all in the air, how do you accomplish it all? How do you do all this?
Gini: Well, you know, I have a team, right?! It’s not like I do it all by myself. So people look at it and go: “How do you do all that?” Like I just sit in my house and do all this by myself, but I don’t, I have a team of people, and you know, writing the book: Jeff and I split it up fifty-fifty, so I didn’t have to write a whole book, or edit a whole book, you know, I just did half. So, you learn to do things in a way that, you know, technology makes it so efficient that it makes it a little bit easier as well.
Peter: So how does that work? You come up with an idea and you just pass it down to your management system and it gets done?
Gini: No, not necessarily, I mean, the way that we work it is, you know we have Armand Dietrich which is very client service focused, so we have a team of people that service the clients and do the work and, you know, just like a regular PR firm. When we started adding guest bloggers into the blog, that needed to be managed, and I couldn’t do that, so Lisa Gerber is our Chief Content Officer, and she handles all of that. The only thing that I really still have control of is my own blog posts, you know, I don’t have to put that through an approval process, so that’s good. And then I’m in charge of business development, so I’m in charge of growing the business. So you know, those are my, those two big things are really business development, growing the business from that perspective and managing, coaching the team and mentoring them so that they can take on more responsibility. And then I just keep doing my thing. It just kind of keeps going.
Peter: So that actually segues nicely into the next thing that I wanted to ask you. I mean, you probably have, and as an entrepreneur, you have more ideas, probably then you have time to do them in.
Peter: And you’ve chosen a few and you’ve done your book and you’ve done Spin Sucks Pro, but, how do you decide what you’re going to do and what you’re going to focus on?
Gini: You know, a couple of years ago I realized it was really important to remember the vision. And not just for ideas, but for everything we do. For blog posts, for anything that we’re doing on Spin Sucks Pro, for any clients that we bring in: What’s the vision and what are we doing to try and get there? Because there are plenty of ideas and things that we could write about or talk about or do, but if they don’t push us towards the vision of getting us where we want to go then we don’t do it. So I actually have my vision posted on my wall in front of me so that I don’t forget: Now does this get us to the vision? And if it doesn’t, then, you know, I stick it in my little notebook for later, and idea for later, and then I say: “you know, we can come back to it eventually, but if it doesn’t fit the vision right now then we don’t do it.”
Peter: Okay, so, let’s say it fits the vision, and you decide you’re going to do it – now how do you follow through and say that it all gets done?
Gini: You know it depends on what it is. I mean, Spin Sucks Pro is three years in the making, so, it depends on, you know. And what I’ve learned in the last probably three or four years is that patience is key, and you can’t do everything overnight, as much as I would like to. And there is no such thing as overnight success. So it takes, it takes a long time and we’ll introduce something in the staff meeting and we’ll talk about it, and we’ll figure out if it’s something that can be done now, or if it needs to be planned for later, and whether or not it fits the projections and all that, I mean, we run it like a business.
Peter: Sure. Let’s switch gears a minute. So that’s how you do it and you do it when you’re with your staff meeting, but you personally: Gini. You’ve probably got a to-do list as long as your arm and you’ve got all these hats that you wear, so how do you personally track and stay on top of all the things, so that the things you personally take care of don’t fall through the cracks?
Gini: Well, I’m not going to lie, I work 90 hours a week.
Peter: A true entrepreneur.
Gini: Yeah. I mean, I take Saturdays off, but that’s it. I took the Super Bowl off.
Gini: But yeah, I work a ton and I try to stay really focused. On Mondays I do all of my meetings, I do all my staff and client meetings so that I can get all that done and set the mood for the week and then, you know, the rest of the week I worked. Tuesdays we do our staff meeting, Fridays I keep open for things that come up, like SpinSucks Pro, or working on the business, or doing any business development types of things. So Wednesday and Thursday are really my workdays, and I try really hard not to interrupt those. Of course, speaking and the book and all that interrupts it quite often, but those are sort of my “work days” when I get things done.
Peter: And just out of personal curiosity, because we’re going to talk about some of these tactics this, throughout this month as we talk about sort of the various hacks that we do in order to stay productive. So, during those two days, those Wednesday, Thursday days where you try to get all your work done – how vigilant are you about protecting that. So you just sort of turn off, do you do the whole: turn off the email thing, turn off the phone thing and get it done. And try getting that?
Gini: Yeah, it and really helps to have Patty who’s my assistant, because she’s much better at saying: “She can’t do it” So if somebody said to me, “Oh, I’d like to meet at two o clock on Wednesday.” I’d be like “Okay.” But she’s all like “No. She can’t.” So she’s very, very good at helping me maintain that. You almost need… A bad guy, or I call her my work wife. You need a wife.
Peter: That is actually a really good idea. I suffer from that syndrome too. I tend to sort of, try to accommodate people, but I really pay for it, so yeah. I need a Patty. I need a work wife.
Gini: You need a Patty. You can’t have my Patty though.
Peter: I won’t take your Patty, I promise.
Peter: Okay, So we sort of alluded to this already, so you’ve got your week and you’ve planned it out and that’s how you’ve planned your week, and there are, even though you’ve sort of laid that out – the best laid plans tend to go awry sometimes, sometimes something you’re doing takes three times longer. How do you handle it when it gets off the rails. How do you recover after that?
Gini: I work 90 hours a week!
Peter: 90 hours a week.
Gini: You know, things happen, and you just have to re-prioritize. And I keep a running list of, you’re right, my to-do list is quite long, and I just keep a running list and I put dates next to everything that I need to get done, and I just, I still handwrite them, Mike makes fun of me he says “you know like, there’s this thing called the computer?” Yeah – I still handwrite my to-do list.
Peter: I’m a paper and pen list person too, so – I can’t get creative on a computer. I need to draw arrows and stuff.
Gini: I agree! So, I mean, I put dates next to things and, and if, you know it’s two days from now and I just wanted to get a head start on it, then I’m still in good shape – so it just depends on what it is. But, yeah – you have to re-prioritize all the time.
Peter: How do you, how do you, and I mean, I’m very human this way in the sense that I will really have to kick myself to do some of those items on my to-do list that I really don’t like doing. You know, isn’t it amazing how the stuff we love to do gets done really quickly, but the stuff we don’t like – “ehhh. I’ll do it tomorrow”. Do you have that, or what do you do about it if you do, or if you don’t then – give me the trick!
Gini: You know, I do a couple of things – I intersperse the things that I want to do throughout the day so it’s sort of my reward for getting the hard stuff done or doing the stuff that I don’t want to do. Where I have a problem is the stuff that needs to get done, but isn’t necessary. Like adding my photo to my Google +1 page. Which I haven’t done yet. You know? It’s just little things like that. That, it just needs to get done, but, so that’s where I have a hard time, not necessarily on the stuff I don’t like to do.
Peter: All those little nit-picky things.
Peter: Yeah. So, you know, I mean, I consider a lot of the social media stuff, like, you know, adding a picture to Google+ and all that stuff nit-picky things to, and I too have a list of that sort, that I probably should do: update this and update that, but you have been voted one of the top social media people – around, so – tell me a little bit about that. How is social media insofar as it relates to productive marketing? Because that’s the sort of thing where, if you approach it with a very unplanned, unstructured sort of way it can be a tremendous time-suck, and you know, I see lots of people really get sucked into that, and spend an hour or two a day on it, and in the end it really doesn’t translate to anything. So I would love to hear what you’ve got to say about that from somebody who’s really active in the social media environment.
Gini: You know, in the beginning I was really careful about having a very strong strategy in terms of who I followed, what kinds of conversations I had, where I had those conversations, what kind of information I was putting out about other things, not just about us. I have the 80, no 60/40 rule, where 60% is about someone else and 40% is about something that we’ve done. So I was really, really careful about that, and because I, sort of by sheer dumb luck, did that in the beginning, I didn’t have to retrace and do it all over again, but it’s really interesting to see. We keep track of where our links come from and between my speaking, the blog and Twitter, that’s where we get all our leads. So it’s you know, I mean: when you look at that it’s…
Peter: It’s where the bread and butter comes in.
Gini: Yeah! And when you weight it against the time you’re spending, you’re like: “Well. It’s kinda worth it.” Sometimes, I just said this the other day, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel sometimes because we get so many leads. You know, not all of them are applicable to us, or we don’t always have the experience or whatever, but, yeah – the blog, speaking and twitter, are where we.
Peter: So what would you say to someone who doesn’t necessarily have that audience developed yet, or that’s just starting to get onto social media for their small business or professional service and at this point in time, it seems like, they’re really not seeing as much return as they’d like to see. What would , sort of advice would you give them?
Gini: You know, I think content is probably more important than social media. You want to use social media promote that content and do it in a valuable and educational way, but I think that’s less important. If I, if this were a year ago, I would suggest that Twitter is probably one of the easiest ways to do that. You know if you’re a B2B manufacturing company that makes dials, probably not, but if you’re professional services or you have a small business, it’s a good way to network and gain a large following really quickly. Google+ you know, even though it’s not a great social networking tool, it’s phenomenal for search. So, I actually had a conversation with somebody about this the other day, and whether or not you should, they should use Google+ to blog, and I suggested: no, you should actually use a platform that you own, like a wordpress.org or, you know, or something on your website, and then use, use that to push to Google+, because all that search, as you know Google has changed their algorithms again and it’s including, you know, it’s pushing up Google + and Plus1, fishing up their own stuff.
Peter: Their own stuff.
Gini: Right, of course, which is should, right? I mean, we all want to promote our own stuff. So, if you can use it in that way and you have that really strong content platform, that’s a really good way to do that. And content doesn’t necessarily mean a blog either, it can be White Papers and case studies and newsletters and things like that that doesn’t take 15 or 20 hours a week like it does with blogging.
Peter: Right, Cool. Cool. So, I’m going to play a little game with you, I’m going to give you two sentences.
Gini: Oh no!
Peter: And I’m going to ask you to finish the sentences.
Peter: The first sentence is: I spend waaay to much time on…
Gini: Woah. What do I spend too much time on? I probably spend way too much time reading other blogs.
Peter: Other blogs?
Peter: So, just because it’s, in the sense that it doesn’t really seem to translate into anything positive necessarily, or just because it’s all interesting content and you just can’t stop?
Gini: Yes. No, I, I mean it’s both, but I do it because I have the philosophy that, you know, if you’re kind to people they’ll be kind to you, and if you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours, kinda thing. So I spend a lot of time on blogs where I probably am not getting a lot of value, but I want people to see that I care that they come to our blog and that they comment on our blog, so I feel like I need, should return that favour. So I probably spend too much time doing that when it doesn’t really translate to much.
Peter: Yeah, that’s part of our blogging strategy too, so I know how you feel.
Peter: Here’s the second sentence: I spend not enough time on…
Gini: You know, I don’t spend enough time developing concepts for Spin Sucks Pro.
Peter: Time on Spin Sucks Pro?
Gini: Yeah. I’m a lot of the backend, like, business piece of it, but I haven’t spent a lot of time developing content for it.
Peter: How does that time, let’s talk about it, just briefly. You’ve recently come out of private beta, right?
Gini: Yes, we have – we haven’t announced the beta yet, but we’re going to announce it in the next couple of weeks, so right now we’re just, sort of slowly leaking it out to friends and family and clients. It’s getting there, it’s getting there. You know, we were supposed to launch last May, so we’re all kind of overly cautious about saying anything right now, but it’s definitely getting there. We spent quite a bit of time on it over the weekend, so it’s getting there; I’m pretty pleased with how it’s coming.
Peter: If somebody wanted to hop on it, could they do that now?
Gini: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Peter: Good, alright. So I guess, you know, a couple final questions, just related to the famous work-life balance. So you’ve go, you’ve got a 90 hour work week, but you also have a family life. Do you feel like you have work life balance and if so, how do you make sure that it stays that way?
Gini: You know, I don’t have kids so it’s a little easier for me than most for me to, work all the time. And my husband owns his own business, so he works all the time, and he’s in politics, so –
Peter: That’s nice.
Gini: Yeah, so now, his big, I mean this is his big time right now, he’s working toward the primary. So for us, if I’m on my computer, or I’m on my iPad, or I’m texting or something, he doesn’t really get upset about it because he’s doing the same thing. So I think it’s easier from that perspective. But yeah, I mean and the other thing right now: it’s not cycling season, so I’m not outside riding my bike three hundred miles a week. So it’s easier right now. But I definitely, you know I read, I cook, I ride my bike – there’s a lot of things I like to do in my spare time. I have enough. And I sleep too, so. Everybody’s like: “Do you sleep?” and I’m like: “Yeah. I sleep.” I like my sleep.
Peter: Well yeah, absolutely. That what we have to do to be productive the rest of the time. How, this is one of the questions that I’ve been putting together for the survey that we’re going to do as part of this month, and one of the things, since you brought it up I wanted to ask you, one of the things I was trying to gauge was the importance of all these other activities, like, you cook and you do cycling and I know other people, like other entrepreneurs, I know they, one does opera singing, the other one does theatre. How important do you feel those are for you to maintain your sanity and be able to do all of the things you do?
Gini: Very important. It’s funny because, if I, if I get up late, or I’m just running behind or something and I don’t ride – my team can tell. They’re like: did you ride your bike this morning?
Gini: Crap. Yeah. Yeah, I mean it’s very important. It’s when I do my thinking, I, you know, it’s my stress release, it’s, I get all of that, sort of you get the endorphins and everything too, so I do it for that. But I also do it because, like anybody else, I’m vain and I like to keep my girlish figure.
Peter: Sure. Do you, when you get a good idea on a bike do you actually somehow record it on something or do you just store it
Gini: No, I just have to store it. Cause I ride with a bunch of guys, and If I stopped and, they’d be like: “What are you doing, sissy!” So I just store it.
Peter: Good motivation, group motivation always works great, group accountability. So, final question: You’ve achieved a lot and I’m sure you’ve got lots of plans to achieve even more; how do you measure your own success?
Gini: Not very well.
Peter: In the sense that – you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished as much as you wanted to accomplish?
Gini: Well, I think I’m really bad at looking at what I have accomplished, and what we’ve accomplished as a team and celebrating that. I’m not very good at that. You know, people will say to me: “Oh, the books written, are you going to celebrate?” And I’m like “No! It’s not out yet.”
Peter: There’s always something.
Gini: Yeah., You’re right, there’s always something. So I think I’m not very good at that. I’m fantastic at measuring results business-wise, but personally, I’m not very good at it.
Peter: So let’ extend that to one more question then. If you were to try to sort of say: “okay, you know, I, I’m happy with this result.” What’s sort of like the metric you use? Is it because – is it an internal metric, “well, okay, I’m happy with it” just personally, or just because of the external accolades, or sales of the book, or, or visits to the blog.
Gini: I mean that’s the problem, is we change the metrics right? So –
Peter: So the bar keeps going up.
Gini: I meant two years ago 5000 visitors a month to the blog was fantastic, now I would die if that’s how many we had. So the bar definitely keeps going up. I mean, my goal is global domination, and I’m not there yet, so.
Peter: Remember me when you’re in charge, okay?
Gini: Do you want a country? You can go ahead and speak for a country.
Peter: Oh, sure, I’ll take my, my country of origin, Greece. I’d love to –
Peter: – fix that place up, because it needs help.
Gini: It needs help badly. Yes. Alright, Greece it is.
Peter: Thank you!
Gini: You’re welcome.
Peter: You heard it first on Mirasee: When Gini Dietrich takes over the world I am going to be in charge of Greece. I can’t wait, so I’m going to help Gini do this.
Gini: Don’t tell Danny.
Peter: Danny, well, he can choose his own country.
Gini: He’s got his own thing to do.
Peter: He’s got, he’s got a couple of countries that he can choose from. Besides, Danny’s conquering the world in his own way these days.
Gini: Yes he is.
Peter: Well, that concludes our time. I want to respect the fact that we’ve come to the close of our time together. Gini, I can’t thank you enough for doing this. It was really a pleasure
Gini: Yeah, of course, thanks for having me. I’m a big, big fan of your guys, so thank – I really appreciate it.
Peter: Truly thank you so much, thank you for saying that. Folks – this was Gini Dietrich, and this is Mirasee, Productive Marketing Month.