Do you care about your employees as much as they care about you? Daniel Todd is the CEO of Influence Mobile, a company that specializes in developing products with proprietary algorithms to keep consumers engaged, resulting in higher retention and greater monetization for your apps.Β 

In this episode, Daniel talks about the importance of building strong and meaningful relationships with your employees. He highlights the value of hiring people with a growth mindset and how they can positively impact your organization in the future, and provides insights on how taking ownership as a leader is essential.

πŸŽ™οΈTalking Points:

(1:32) The most important components of organizational culture

(4:14) Balancing stepping stone hires

(6:22) Growing a business with a remote workforce

(12:54) Meeting the income and growth expectations of employeesΒ 

(21:15) Managing hiring mistakes

(25:48) Performance review approach

πŸ”—Connect with Daniel:

πŸ”—Connect with Tom:Β 

Tom Finn:

Hey there and welcome to the Talent Empowerment Podcast. We're here to help you love your job. We unpack the tools and tactics of successful humans to guide you towards your own career empowerment. I am your purpose-driven host, Tom Finn. And on the show today, we have my friend Daniel Todd. Daniel, welcome to the show.

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Daniel Todd:

Thanks, Tom. It's been great meeting you, and I look forward to our conversation.

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Tom Finn:

Well, I look forward to spending some time with you as well. You've done a lot of great work in your career. We can learn a lot from you. And if you don't know Daniel, let me take a moment just to introduce him to you. He's a highly accomplished entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in mobile advertising, digital marketing, and business strategy. He currently serves as the CEO of Influence Mobile, and Daniel has a track record of creating positive work environments that have earned his company's numerous Great Place to Work awards. Now with two companies he's placed on the Fortune 5000 list, he's also received recognition from publications such as the Puget Sound Business Journal that is in the great state of Washington. Daniel has proven his ability to lead companies to success. As a monthly contributor to Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com, Daniel is recognized as a thought leader in the fields of entrepreneurship, marketing and business growth. Alright so let's start right there my friend. is all about understanding your employees and building something that matters to others. What are the components of organizational culture that are important to you?

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Daniel Todd:

So I've always focused on really wanting to have a team, teamwork, you know, where I care about the other employees as much as they care about me. And that's predicated on strong relationships. And so I think since COVID, we were largely a remote first company to begin with. But when we got into COVID, we were seven employees and we're now almost 70. And so we've... we've had to figure out ways to invest in relationships that don't come naturally, I think, as much on that. And so I'd say the areas that we've been doing a good job on, we're very transparent. So to me, transparency is sharing the good sides and the bad sides of things. We tell people how much money we've had in the bank. I mean, we're thankfully now profitable, but for many years we were not. Telling people how much cash is in the bank can be scary, but it's also a trust exercise. right, is you're telling them like, listen, I'm giving you information for you to make a decision. And if you're not comfortable here, but then that starts to earn you trust. And so, you know, we built deep relationships with people for many, many years. And then as we've grown, those relationships have kind of spanned across the companies, we've gotten to 70 people. And so So I'd say the core is like, I focus on people who have a growth mindset. That's from a culture perspective. I try to bring in people that view themselves as a work in progress. They can get better. I can get better. We can all get better together that they want to be part of a team. I tried to avoid people who want to be, uh, you know, They're just viewing our company as a stepping stone in their career. So we actually ended up tending to hire a little bit older people who have experience, who really value the culture that we have. They're not, you know, they wouldn't trade the culture for $5,000 more in compensation. And like when you get that group of people together, you're transparent with them and you set goals. And you know, you're favored by a reasonable market and a good business idea, you tend to see success. And that's what we've seen. So.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, that's a great starting point. So what I think I heard was transparency, growth mindset, avoid the stepping stone hires. So how do you avoid stepping stone hires? Because there are certain folks that are younger in their career that could bring a tremendous amount of energy and talent and a different perspective perhaps that isn't existing on your team. How do you avoid that person? Is it age-based or is it their personality, the way they were raised? What are you looking for?

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Daniel Todd:

I'm not even sure we avoid it. I would just say we balance it out, right? You for sure want, you know, we have people of every, you know. age group that you could imagine. We have people right out of college. I've had a lot of success in my career hiring people that are great culture fit, they're super friendly, they're eager to grow, they don't know a lot and you do have to put them into an environment where they can see stepping stones every so often. So that's a struggle if you're not in a fast growing environment because they're probably going to leave. We've been blessed with an opportunity that we've been growing pretty fast. You know in 2018 we were doing about three million a year in revenue and this year We knew close to 70 million in revenue and so we've been growing big enough so that we can pay people more We can give them more responsibilities. There's more things to do and so we haven't shied away from that But I wouldn't hire like I've we have a board member who joined us for an event and she was shocked At how much older our tech company was than her tech company And I had never really thought about it until she said it. Right. Um, but in our conversations, we ended up, we have, we ended up just talking to people about culture and what, what they're looking for in their career. And most people are like, I just want a place where I feel like I'm part of the team, where I'm fairly compensated. I get to do my job and I get to do it well. And so that's probably where we, we end up. So if you're 22 or 42 or 62, and that's kind of your mindset, that's who we're attracted to. We've got three or four who really every year you can know what's on their mind and that's fine but we just don't have 90% of those, maybe 10%.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, that's a great way to build a business structure. People that want to be there for the long term, people that have a growth mindset and can contribute to the business at all levels. One of the hardest things I tend to find in this environment today is that we're mostly a remote workforce. Many companies are either a little bit remote, full remote. How do you look at the remote workforce as it relates to your business today?

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Daniel Todd:

You mean like how is it split up or what am I doing to manage it?

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Tom Finn:

Well, how is it split up would be the first part and how are you managing it would be the second.

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Daniel Todd:

Yes, so we bought a company that was a close partner of ours two years ago that was in Canada. So of our roughly 70 employees, half, a little bit less than half are up in Canada. And the other half are dispersed around the United States with a good chunk, about 10 or 12 in the Seattle area. And so, you know, during COVID we didn't have any choice. Like they're, in fact, this last January was the first time we brought everybody together in Vegas, cheapest place to get everybody face to face. And it was the first time I had met many of the employees that I'd been working with for several years, face to face, you know, in person. So it was amazing. And what I learned was is that you can build a positive relationship over Zoom. Like the business partner who's now our president, the guy named Randy Waxman, we met briefly in 2018. And then we mostly had an online relationship. would say I talked to him more times than her during the week for many years. But we had a shared passion. We both liked what we were doing and then ultimately that led to us combining our businesses. And during that time, we grew hundreds and hundreds of percent annually every year. So I know that being remote doesn't stop your ability to grow as a business, right? Doesn't stop your ability to create relationships. To me, the answer is, how do you augment relationships? with real world meetings and what interval, right? So this year, again, I mentioned we brought everybody together for one big event in Vegas. We're also taking now teams, and a big group of us are going to San Diego in September. And I'm trying to figure out, like, we're obviously not getting together every week, right? We're probably not even getting together every month. But I know we want to do two to three times a year. So I'm trying to figure out, like, how do you take the best of both worlds, which is allow people the freedom of working from home, living where they want, but still create those deep relationships where you care about each other. And so we're taking the approach that when we do get together, 50% of the time we spend together is in relationship building and fun, which makes it everybody really is looking forward to those events.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, I like the way you're thinking about it. You've got to get people together every couple times a year, right? You can't do it every month, you can't do it every week. Just budgets won't allow for it, and it's just not productive in terms of everybody stepping away from their family responsibilities and their personal situations. So I think a couple times a year makes a whole heck of a lot of sense. And then you've got to be smart about the budget and then even more smart about what you're doing when you're together. Because it's not all about workshops and sticky pads and... here's the next great thing we're going to accomplish. I love the way you're looking at it. 50% of the time, we're hanging. We're getting to know each other. We're spending time doing events or dining together. I think that's probably the best way to affect change within a team. So what's been the hardest part for you, Daniel, as you bring two companies together, as you bring culture together, as you manage 70 employees in a remote environment, what's the hardest part?

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Daniel Todd:

I think just being, I mean the hardest part was before we got to this size, right? Like it was brutal when we, you know, in 2018 when we weren't profitable. So like when we started to grow, my responsibility shifted from being an individual contributor and managing things that kept us alive to really focusing on the people, which. you know, I don't even consider that to be the hardest part. So I'm lucky in the sense that like, as we've grown, the part I'm focused most on is making sure that we are we remain productive as a company, right? So I think there's a balance when you focus on really being people first, there's a there's an inclination to not want to give people constructive feedback, to not set hard goals, you want to make everything happy. between motivating people towards clear growth and making sure you're creating value for shareholders while also making it a win-win for employees. And you had mentioned in our earlier conversation how, you know, 20 years ago it was very much like employers were in control. And there's certainly a focus now where employees feel in control, at least it was for a period of time. But I actually think the best businesses are one where there's a symbiosis, where each helping the other person in equal quantity to themselves. One of my favorite things, the gal who's been around here 10 years, second longest to me, we hired her out of college as a copywriter and now she's had... you know, maybe a dozen roles and she's amazing and she's our VP of operations and she's like sits at the hub of all of these important things. And it's just an honor and a pleasure to see her growth over these years and be part of that. Right. And so to some degree or another, I'm focusing on that with every single employee, I want to make sure that they do two things that they're growing. They're making more money and that in the process of growing and making more money, they're contributing fairly to the company. And then that system, that ecosystem makes everybody better. Like I said, I would say it's hard, it's very challenging and fun. It's the trickiest part of what I'm trying to do, but it's also a very rewarding part.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, that's the trickiest part for a lot of employers is figuring out that balance between growth, time, and income. Because most of the population wants to grow faster and make more money faster than you can deliver a promotion, faster than you can deliver more income and a new title. How do you slow people down? Or is that the wrong way to look at it? You don't slow people down. think about their work differently when people want to go faster and faster and faster and make more money and you don't have room for it.

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Daniel Todd:

Yeah, I've always tried to, because I view it initially from when I was in my youth, and I was in a position where I just wanted to make more money. And I looked on salary boards and I'm like, I'm not getting paid fairly and all these kinds of stuff. And I went to my first employer out of college and I was like, I want a raise. And they're like, we can't afford to pay you that much. And so I left. And so I know there's a real, that's a challenge. And so for us, what I tell people is like, I want to raise money. to pay you as much as you can contribute to this company. So the number one thing that I can do is facilitate you contributing the most, whatever that is, and then pay you as the maximum amount that I can afford to in this role. If that is not something that matches up with your expectations, then we're not a good fit. For example, we use a product called salary.com that kind of tells us what people's comp bands are. we try to hire people who are in the who are going to be in the 80th percentile. So we're going to pay in the 80th percentile, we're not going to pay in the 50th percentile, we're not going to pay in the 99th percentile, because I believe that companies that are in that very, very highest range are overcompensating for probably a terrible work environment, right? So we want to pay better than eight out of 10 jobs. But then we want all of these other parts of the culture to really make it so that you wouldn't potentially even consider that an open dialogue. So I like to be a year in advance knowing what a person expects to be making a year from now. And we need them to be on that trajectory. And if they're not in that trajectory, we need to tell them. And you know, I don't, I don't ever want it to be weird. Like I've had to let an employee go at a previous company who could make away more money in a job that we just couldn't support, right? We were too small of a company. And so I actually recommended that she go interview at Microsoft, which she did, and she made more money and it made a lot of employees question the logic. But I tried to view it as like, Hey, I want what's best for her. We can hire somebody to replace her. That's more, you know, but if we just. If we overpaid her, then she'd be unhappy. So it's definitely a different view. I wouldn't even call it necessarily altruistic, but it's an enlightened view of like, if you're helping other people grow, they will do a lot to stay with you.

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Tom Finn:

Oh, absolutely. And she could come back and work for you in a few years because of the way you treated her. I'll give you an example. I hired a sales guy three times at three different companies and I moved and got promoted and, you know, hired him the first time, hired him, moved, got promoted, hired him the second time, started my own company, hired him the third time and then we couldn't pay him enough over a period of time. And I said, okay, let's figure out where I'm going to... use my network to help you get the income that you should be earning, but I can't pay you at this stage of the company's development. And I totally get it. You're fantastic, but let's get you paid appropriately and helped him find the next gig within both of our networks. So it can work that way. Now, will I hire him a fourth time? Oh, you bet. If I can and I can afford him and I know what his number is, I would have him back in a heartbeat. I love working with the guy. Shout out to Matt Sherrill, who's one terrific human being. But I think it's that conversation, that transparency, Daniel, that you talked about that separates organizations. If you can be strong enough and confident enough as a leader to say, let me put you in the right place, you can really change people's lives and be revered for it. It's not like you take a hit. People love that.

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Daniel Todd:

Yeah, I mean, it very rarely happens, right? It very rarely happens in my career where you couldn't give somebody an opportunity to grow. But to your point, like, I don't understand why it's so threatening to people to be like, yes, it might be reasonable for you to leave. Like, that just sounds like a normal outcome. And not every company, like, we're thankfully in a fast growth mode, but if you weren't in a fast growth mode, you're in a tough position. So you're either going to get subpar employees or you're going to get employees who are growing and are awesome and you're going to need to do what you did. And I'd like to see that happen more frequently.

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Tom Finn:

When you interview people, do you talk about where salary and where job is gonna go? Because I have this philosophy that you, when you're interviewing somebody, I always ask, what do you wanna make in this job? You've seen the salary band, you know what the range is, what have you, right? But like, what do you really wanna make? And then I ask a second question, how much money do you wanna make that makes you giggle or laugh? that it's completely unrealistic, right? Because I want to know when they walk in on day one what they think they're worth, and I want to know where their trajectory is in their own mind. So if somebody comes in, let's use real math, Daniel, says, I'm worth 80 grand. I want 80 grand right now. And then they say, but you know where I really want to be? I want to be at 200 grand, right? Then you can start to plan out in your mind as a leader, here's where they are today, and what are the steps? what value do they need to give to the company to get them to 200? Do you think about it that way or is there a different guideline that you use?

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Daniel Todd:

I think about it that way, but I do not do that on the very first conversation. Right. So I think one thing that's unique is that I have done most of the first interviews in our company for the last 10 years, and I generally focus on the culture aspect of it. Right. So. If it comes up naturally, we talk about compensation, but I talk about why they want this job. What are they looking for in a company? And so again, I'm generally somebody who is so focused on getting paid the highest salary, probably wouldn't be a good fit for us. So I make sure that there's somebody that I could imagine investing my time in helping them succeed. They're a good culture fit. I like them. They like me. Then it goes into the, you know, the professional interview, like, are you skilled at what you do? people start talking about compensation ranges and all those types of things. And then I really want someone to come in and kind of prove themselves. But in that process, so if we, you know, we can hire them, we're going to pay them whatever they want. But it's that next is probably the first 90 days after that where I got to get into those conversations or like, where do you want to be where, you know, because it takes, at least in our company, it takes people a good three or four months to really start to contribute is that we've got a complicated business, you got to learn a lot of things. time you can tell if this person's gonna be an all-star or not right cuz like you ask them too early and start setting this conversation about 80 and 200 like that could be a recipe for disaster there's people who want more than they're ever gonna be able to contribute I mean everybody wants more and so it's you've got to provide reasonable feedback which I've found is best done once you get a sense of their their contributions, but you for sure want to do what you're saying. It's like, I want to know 12 months in advance so I can imagine in my head, the trajectory, right? And we'd try to give everybody in our company and, uh, especially entry level people, the opportunities to move up first, right? Rather than hiring people. So I'm already thinking about, okay, well, we hired this person. They're only going to want to be in this role for two years. So, you know, let's think about the timing and when we want to transition them into this other role. And there's a lot of people who've grown very successful in our company because of that. But you have to be proactive like you said. So you want to make sure that everybody's thinking about working off the same piece of music shall we say.

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Tom Finn:

So what do you do in the first 90 days if you realize that the person is not the all-star? How do you help them? How do you shift them into a new role? What do you do if you're going, uh-oh?

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Daniel Todd:

Yeah. Well, I think this is the part that is obviously very hard, right? Because I reassess them and I think, well, either I hired this person inappropriately, right? Or we're not giving them the right tools or we're not giving them. So I kind of take ownership and say it's probably our fault. So I really try to make sure we address all of these issues. Like do they know what they're supposed to be doing? Do they have a manager who's giving them clear expectations? Do they have the right training? And then, uh, this is probably one of my, one of my areas of weakness is not firing people too quickly, you know, that sounds like a strength, but you know, that can, that can weigh on an organization if you let people in there. So I do tend to wait a little bit longer to give that person every opportunity to improve. But you have to have these candid conversations again. And I think you want to do it early while you're still rooting for them, right? Because if you, if you go too long until you're just super annoyed with the person, you're not going to have a constructive conversation with them. So as soon as, as soon as you can identify that they're not performing and meeting your expectations, I try to intervene and say like, hey, not a major red light issue, but like something we should probably be, you know, and so, but if that drumbeat just continues and 90 days later, they're still not making progress, then you pretty much have to put them on a performance plan and get them out. So, which I always tend to have take much longer than it should, but. No one will say, I haven't given people the chance to improve. That's general.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, and that's okay. Look, most good leaders, Daniel, have a really hard time letting go of people because we take accountability for putting them in that position, for taking them out of their prior role, for not giving them the tools and resources to compete at the level we expect them to compete at. And we take accountability and there's nothing wrong with that. I think that's the way businesses should operate. And if that's your weakness as a leader, I think that's probably the one that you want if you were to look back in time.

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Daniel Todd:

Yeah, it's, you know, there's a sliding scale of waiting too long, right? So it's okay to wait a little long, but not extra long. And so it’s finding balance.

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Tom Finn:

Well, that's a hundred percent right. But let's talk about the why. Why is that an issue? And the reality is that the reason it's an issue, from my perspective, love to hear yours, is that if you let it go on too long, you start to poison the well of all the other folks who are performing. And that's the way I see the world is, okay, now we have a low performer who's taking from the organization, not giving enough, and everybody else is watching.

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Daniel Todd:

Yep, yeah, that's exactly right. And so we have a pretty high level of expectation around here. We're very clear and goal-driven. And so yeah, when, if people start to see, and it is a little bit more distributed because there's some benefits, I suppose, in this world is like some people under performers are maybe more siloed than they used to be, right? But yeah, it for sure. In general, we're all working as a team. And if you have one part of your engine that's like sputtering and not doing its parts, everybody's waiting on them. Right. Um, and so it can vary on. So there's two parts. I'm more patient with someone who's a great cultural fit and they're just not getting the details right of their day to day job. But there's been a couple of times in the last five years where we've gotten people that for whatever reason turned out to not be a good cultural fit and they weren't producing. Then I've got, I'm far less patient, right? Because the deterioration and negative impact of the culture flashed. drives me to move more quickly. So if it's just a matter of like, oh, they're a little slow on this project, I'm more patient. But if they're literally actively annoying all the super producers, then you gotta be very blunt and serve them out as quickly as you can.

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Tom Finn:

You gotta hire slow and fire fast is always the advice that you hear, right? Um, but it doesn't always work out, uh, that way in practice. So I'm curious, cause I'm hearing you talk about culture. I'm hearing you talk about performance. Are you in the camp of performance reviews in a traditional sense? Do you review people differently over the period of a year? What's your, what's your model that you use?

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Daniel Todd:

So. I would say this is in a, it's always been in a state of flux. Like I've found almost anything you do, uh, in a management capacity and communications can get tired and old pretty quickly. So we used to do quarterly MBOs, management business objectives, where we would talk with people as the company got larger, it felt like that was just more administrative and we weren't actually giving people good goals. So, uh, we shifted to more, uh, formal annual review. process, but regular check-ins between, you know, obviously the managers are checking in. It depends on the role, but almost everybody has some expectation that they're supposed to deliver something in a window of time. And then we also have HR meets with every single person. They were meeting with every single person every single month about the check-in from a training perspective and a compensation perspective. And so, yes, we have formal reviews now, which I'm less of a fan of because I don't think to tell somebody that they need to fix things. So I'm generally looking at people's contributions and looking at the areas where I'm expecting growth and if we're not seeing that then I kind of dive in to the individual areas right like we're a very uh dev driven product driven company. So for us to double in size, we can't just double the number of sales. We actually have to make product improvements that improve retention rates and make our core metrics go up. And then the sales team can do different things. So generally at any point in time, the company is, shall we say, bound in some specific area. So I spend most of my time making sure that we're flourishing in that area. And of course I try to help the managers monitor all that. But I'd say we're always evolving. and I mentioned we went from seven to 70 people in the last two years. So we're still kind of getting our legs underneath us in terms of the formalized process. We're just getting to the point where, like I just rolled out today, where... kind of our leadership team of vice presidents can get more interaction with each other because people are very siloed. You got a dev organization, you got a sales organization, you got a finance team, they're all over the world. They don't, you know, you don't run into each other at the water cooler. So we're just now getting into the system where one VP can talk to the other VP about... It's usually been me or the president, you know, kind of managing individual performance and talking with HR people. And if we do see someone needs help, we, you know, we try to give them, as we talked about as much feedback as possible on how to improve and then set clear goals and give them a reasonable time frame to improve. But That's right, totally answered your question. So it's in a state of flux. We're moving from quarterly MBOs last year to this annual process. People have generally liked the annual process, but I am also concerned that it's just not frequently enough. So we're trying to make sure that we're surrounding the managers with good enough advice to know when to inject their feedback into their individual teams performance.

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Tom Finn:

Well, something's working, because you're a great place to work.

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Daniel Todd:

Yeah.

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Tom Finn:

And you can hang the banner and the badge from my great friend Michael Bush, who leads that organization. So I commend you for the work that you're doing. I think we've taken a moment to understand your culture, your leadership style, how you look at the world, how you view talent, which I think is so important. But I'd love to learn a little bit more about your business and the core fundamentals of Influence Mobile. And what What did you set out to accomplish early stage? And then I'm going to ask you, of course, where you are today.

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Daniel Todd:

Sure. Yeah, so we started the company, I started the company in 2012 and the initial name was Affinity Influencing Systems. So I wanted to actually build systems or technology that influence people's future shopping. So we actually, in those days, partnered with celebrities primarily on Facebook and they would post and say like Jillian Michaels or Jeff Gordon, they'd say, hey, get a chance to meet me or win stuff from me when you shop. And so then people would install this little toolbar. Whenever they shop, they earn points. stuff. This was going along quite nice. We had a partnership with Lindsay Lohan. She posted and 9,000 people in five minutes came to download the product on their mobile phone. This was 2013. Cool, but we didn't have a mobile product at the time. We had a problem.

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Tom Finn:

9000 people were now not thrilled.

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Daniel Todd:

They were not thrilled. And so we're like, I think this mobile thing is going to stick around. We should probably figure this out. So we started just converting what we had been doing, which was shopping rewards programs. It's not dissimilar to get honey if you've ever seen any of these things. So, um, We started doing that, didn't work at all. People wouldn't open the app. And so we ended up partnering for a brief time with Facebook. They let us experiment. We gave people points for trying new things and that evolved to what we do today. So today we actually have an app that is it's, it's like an airline miles for gamers. So, you know, when you fly, you get points. We basically give people who spend a lot of money in games, 10 to 20% cash back when they spend that money through the games that they find. our app. So we have an app called Reward and Play. You download this. You can earn, you know, $20 to $30 a month just playing games. But our core demo, this is the part that most people don't believe, is actually females 35 plus. They spend most of the money in casual games. And to give you a sense of how much money is spent in casual games, more money is spent in mobile games than all live sports, all movies, and all concerts combined. So it's a lot of money. And then that money is concentrated in about 5% of people who spend the bulk of it. So these people are spending anywhere from five to $50 a day. Our top spender this year spent $9,000 in one month buying stuff in other people's games. Again, they're not, they're not giving it to us. So we sit between these game developers, typically the top hundred biggest game developers, and we reward these people coming in and then we keep them around forever. and makes it more and more valuable to the next game developer.

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Tom Finn:

Wow. I don't think I had any idea coming into this call, but that's where this was going to go. Um, goodness gracious. I never really thought about mobile gaming as a massive industry and being able to attack a market 35 plus female that doesn't make any sense. But of course it does. When you start to really unpack it and think about the marketplace. So give, can you give me an example of, of what a game is in this environment?

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Daniel Todd:

Yeah, so like. One of our big partners is a company called Scopely. They make Yahtzee and Scrabble and WWE. There's other games, you know, Candy Crush, almost any of the most popular games in the world. We call them casual games. They're typically games that are like not mid-core targeting younger males. Casual games are like card games and dice games and, you know, match three games where you drag the three gems around. And so typically someone will come in, you know, like we bring in about five, million new people a year so about 15,000 a day those people can come in and they can get a $5 gift card in about two days if they download three games play those games for roughly an hour and we give them a $5 Amazon gift card and the purpose of that we want everybody to earn the gift card but we're really trying to look at the people who spend money in these games and again we end up giving those people you know, some of these people are earning thousands of dollars a year back from us in rewards. And so then if you were doing that, why would you ever leave? Why would you go find games anywhere else? You wouldn't.

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Tom Finn:

Right?

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Daniel Todd:

So then what happens is we end up keeping this larger and larger group. And so we're routinely the only private company that ranks in the top 10 in the world in terms of providing high quality spenders to game developers. Most of the other companies are like Google and Facebook and Twitter have thousands of employees and billions of dollars and we're this little tiny 70 person company that's created the unique opportunity to connect game developers and the people that spend money in those games in our app.

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Tom Finn:

But I'm not gonna ask you to give away your secret sauce, but can you help us understand the business model a little bit? Do the game companies pay you? Do you take a percentage? Like just basic stuff that I don't want you to give away too much, but help us understand it.

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Daniel Todd:

No, so the games companies pay us anywhere from between $5 and $25 to get each person to download one game. We then take a portion of that money and we create a multi-month rewards model where we say, hey, you're going to get some points if you played level 1 and more points if you played level 10 and a lot more points if you played level 100, but that's still a small proportion. The biggest amount of points are going to be tied to if you spend money. And so we have something called an elite rewards program where if you end up spending we give you special bonuses, we kind of treat you like if you roll into Vegas and you're a high roller, we want you to have that experience. We get your customer support tickets back to you within a few minutes. We send people Influence Mobile swag, like we send those people shirts. So we really treat them as part of the family. We want them, again, when I say 35 plus, disproportionately like So it's typically people, you know, income 90 to $150,000 a year. They typically have four or five kids. They're playing games on their phone six or seven days a week. Yeah, and so we get paid that money. And then our whole business model is really, we don't get paid as a revenue share, but we treat it like a revenue share. So we reward these people for months and months and months, even though we get paid on day one, right? our the trajectory of earnings from our clients outperform almost any other source in the world because we treat it like it's a revenue share so then our clients have comfort that they can continue to pay us higher and higher amounts and they'll always earn it back because we're rewarding people six months later for playing in the game that they installed you know six months early so

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Tom Finn:

And for the game developer, they only have to pay you once.

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Daniel Todd:

That's right. Yeah.

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Tom Finn:

So for them, it's a simple business model. I'm paying you for lead generation, and then you're going to take the accountability on maintaining that populace for me. So my game is utilized. I mean, that's brilliant because you're holding yourself accountable for performance.

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Daniel Todd:

Yeah. And it's, well, it's brilliant now, you know, early on it, it didn't, it's not the easiest thing to convince game developers up because they, they want to compare apples to apples. And so, uh, now we're recognized. So now it's brilliant because everybody's like, Oh yeah, we get how it makes sense. But when we first told people, they're like, They didn't understand the process. So it was a very slow roll for a long time, but thankful to a couple of gaming developers who really invested in our product and we knocked it out of the park for them. And like I said, now for the most part. Most companies, you know, they all love Google and Facebook, but they don't want to spend more money necessarily with Google and Facebook. They'd like to diversify their spending. So as we get bigger and bigger, we just get more and more budgets from these game developers. So our job is just to do a better job of keeping these high value spenders happy, keeping them around longer and making sure they don't go find their games anywhere else. And as long as we do that, that's our secret sauce.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, beautifully said. So what are the challenges in the next five years that you see on the horizon for your organization?

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Daniel Todd:

Well, there's more people doing this, right? Now that we've kind of proven out the model, we're not the only ones, there's a couple other companies. For us, it's really continuing to grow and expand into other categories. So games, as I mentioned, when I started in 2012, I wanted to reward people for all their future shopping. So we've built a survey tool where we can understand whether or not you get home food delivery. We've been testing, we had a successful launch with Paramount Plus where people can sign up for Paramount Plus and get a $5 gift card. It's not a big stretch to go from games to non-games. Then from non-games to real world shopping. Eventually we'd like to become the largest unified rewards platform in the world. So you have this product, you're here playing the games, and we're like, hey, we're going to get gas anyways. Why don't you get gas with us and then get more juice for your game? You're going to go to Safeway anyways. Why don't you do it through us? So eventually we want to give these females that are spending money just every opportunity they can, wherever they want. They don't have to. want they can spend money within our network they get more things they care about most.

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Tom Finn:

I absolutely love it. I love the model. I love the way you're looking at culture. I love how you're focused on the people first. But I can tell you've put a lot of effort into the product and the technology and the development. And for those of you out there that think that Daniel woke up this morning and was just an overnight success, remember when he started at the beginning of this conversation, say, well, back in 2012, when I started this thing, we weren't making a whole lot of money. And we only had a few employees, and you've grown it to 70 folks in a booming industry and in a market space that's niche, but certainly appears to be very profitable as well. So kudos, Daniel, to you and the work that you're doing, but more importantly to the great work that your team is doing for your customers. Well done.

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Daniel Todd:

Thank you.

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Tom Finn:

So we're gonna leave it right there, my friends. Daniel, where can folks find you if they wanna get in touch with you, if they wanna come work for you at the organization, or if they wanna get involved in your business and use your tool to start gaming?

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Daniel Todd:

Yeah, so LinkedIn is probably the best place so they can look for my company name, Influence Mobile, or my name, Daniel Todd on LinkedIn, and come say hello, and I'm happy to make introductions.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, wonderful. Well, thank you, my friend, for joining the talent empowerment podcast. We appreciate you being on the show.

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Daniel Todd:

Thanks Tom, I love what you're doing.

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Tom Finn:

I appreciate it and thank you all for joining. We hope you've unpacked a few tips and tricks to love your job or find something easy and simple to do like some casual gaming. Get ready to dive back into all things career and happiness on the next episode. We'll see you then.

Tom Finn
Podcaster & Co-Founder

Tom Finn (he/him) is an InsurTech strategist, host of the Talent Empowerment podcast, and co-founder and CEO of an inclusive people development platform.

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