March 28, 2023

Is This Thing On? Ep. 13 with DoorDash Chief Marketing Officer Kofi Amoo-Gottfried

The DoorDash business continues to build on the remarkable growth it saw during the pandemic. In this episode of “Is This Thing On?” GALE’s Geoff Edwards and DoorDash’s Kofi Amoo-Gottfried dig into the company’s wins, taking a meaningful stance on societal issues, achieving work-life balance, and much more.


A Business Agency

The DoorDash business continues to build on the remarkable growth it saw during the pandemic. In this episode of “Is This Thing On?” GALE’s Geoff Edwards and DoorDash’s Kofi Amoo-Gottfried dig into the company’s wins, taking a meaningful stance on societal issues, achieving work-life balance, and much more.

They discuss:

  • (1:18) Turning around a fully integrated campaign in six days when the pandemic hit
  • (4:10) Building a framework for addressing societal problems that is authentic to the DoorDash brand and integrated into the business strategy
  • (9:28) What’s next for DoorDash
  • (17:06) Striking a work-life balance, and doing it all in 24 hours
  • (22:54) Building a strong, collaborative company culture to drive excellent work

We’ve included the full transcript of the conversation below for easy reading, plus have a listen on Amazon, Apple Podcasts, Audible, iHeart, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or wherever else you get your podcasts!


Geoff Edwards (00:01):

Is this thing on?

Speaker 2 (00:07):

Welcome to Is This Thing On. A podcast from GALE, exploring marketing, life and random thoughts with business leaders from around the globe. On this episode, GALE Executive Creative Director, Geoff Edwards, speaks with the Chief Marketing Officer of DoorDash, Kofi Amoo-Gottfried. Let's join the conversation.

Geoff Edwards (00:29):

Allow me to introduce the CMO of DoorDash and my friend to today's discussion. Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, son of Ato, and Efua, brother of Kojo, husband to Kate, father of two beautiful boys, Marlowe and Miles. Kofi, welcome to the show.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (00:48):

Thanks for having me, Geoff. Good to see you.

Geoff Edwards (00:50):

Good to see you as well. I've been following your success. It's amazing, man. Just for our audience to know, this is your LinkedIn introduction and I love it. It touched me. It inspired me to use it because it speaks to the person that you are, and I'm hoping this discussion kind of surfaces that. But let's get right into it. Look, I heard somewhere you turned around a fully integrated campaign in six days when the pandemic hit. Fact or fiction?

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (01:18):

Fact. I wouldn't say I did that, I would say an incredible team at DoorDash did that, but yes, it is a fact.

Geoff Edwards (01:24):

Can you talk a little bit about it?

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (01:26):

Yeah, for sure. So we had gone into everyone else, we had totally different plans at the beginning of the year, we're about to go out for a shoot for our next campaign. The world kind of came to an end. And so we just took a step back and once we knew that we were going into sort of shelter in place mode, we realized very quickly that the most important thing we could do as a business was support local restaurants through this, right? Because we knew that they weren't going to be able to have any foot traffic coming in. So how could we take our sort of marketing engine and point it at getting people to continue to order from those restaurants?


First of all, letting people know that it was even safe to order, that it was allowed to order, that delivery workers were part of the class of people that were allowed to move around. And so that was the point. So we briefed our agency. We gave them 48 hours to come back. They came back with 50-something different ideas, and we very quickly settled on open for delivery as the idea wanted to go to market with, which was really about telling people that while the dining rooms were closed, the kitchens were still open, and the way to get them through this was to keep supporting them and ordering from them.


And then we built a whole bunch of things around that. So the spot was cut from existing footage. Because we obviously couldn't shoot at that time on the time. We wanted to get it out on air as quickly as possible because we felt like every day mattered. And so I think by March 20th we were on air with this campaign open for delivery. We also worked with partners in the restaurant industry to actually have them encourage their rivals.


So we had this really fun Twitter conversation where Wingstop is telling you to go order at Buffalo Wild Wings because the point in that moment was like, it's not about our little rivalries. This is bigger than all of us. And even in our tweet we said, go order from Uber Eats and go order from Grubhub and go order from... because again, it was about being bigger than brand specific, but just saying, Hey, we have an opportunity here to drum up support for the restaurant industry that's going to be hit incredibly hard. And we didn't even know how hard it was going to be hit then because we were one week into this thing.

Geoff Edwards (03:46):

Outstanding. So not only do you deliver food quickly, but also marketing.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (03:54):

I like that.

Geoff Edwards (03:55):

You're going to make us all look bad. Amazing. Could you talk a little bit about DoorDash' approach to addressing societal problems, Kofi, and how have these kind of purpose-driven efforts impacted DoorDash' business?

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (04:10):

Yeah, it's a great question, Geoff. I think for us, the first thing we start with is making sure that everything we think about comes back to why we exist as a business. And so our mission is to empower local economies. We think about the work that we do, about connecting people to their favorite businesses, connecting people to earnings opportunities, giving businesses the tools they need to grow, particularly in a digital economy where the world has moved online and into an on demand convenience mode.


It's when you start with that as the basic thesis. The way you actually do that is you do that by providing access to opportunity. So you think about, I'm a person looking to earn an extra income, here's a way for you to do that. I'm a restaurant looking to grow, here's a way for you to do that. I'm a person who's at home, who's home bound for whatever reason, here's a way to bring the outside world to me.


And so when we've been challenged with social issues, we come right back to that notion. And so when George Floyd was murdered, it forced us to really build a framework around how we think about these issues. And we knew that while this was about George and the Black Lives Matter movement, this was also going to be broader. We needed a framework that could speak to any type of situation that the brand might be required to take perspective on. And so given our focus on providing access to opportunity, that became the through line through which we think about how we're going to take a stand, right?


So is this actually about equality of opportunity? Does this drive positive outcomes for people? Does this reduce bias? So we've now created this framework called the DoorDash Compass that allows us to ask those questions. And importantly, the thing we've agreed on as a business is that we will only take a stance on issues where we feel like we can make a material impact through our business.


Because it's very easy to get up and be part of every conversation. But many brands don't walk the talk. And so the thing that we want to do is to say, we will get involved in these things if we can make a material business impact through our business because that's the surest way to guarantee that we're actually going to be in it for the long haul. And if we set a precedent, we intend to continue with that precedent. And we want to make sure that we're not flavor of the month, we're not dipping in and out of these things, but if we decide that we're going to do it, A, we can do it and our business is set up to enable us to do it.


So that's been the way that we think about it. And now we've started to bake that thinking even into not just reactive, but proactive. So when we do our business planning every quarter, every year in every plan that's written by any business team, it says, how does the work you're going to do advance the principles of the DoorDash Compass? So how are you going to provide more opportunity through this product, through this feature, through this program? How are you thinking about mitigating the bias that might be endemic and how your product is designed? So we go through a thought process that's about making sure that we don't just have a way to respond, but that this is actually core to how we build our business.

Geoff Edwards (07:11):

That's absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing that with us. I'm sure there are a lot of brands that want to play in that space. What advice would you share for those brands wanting to play a role in solving societal problems too?

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (07:26):

Yeah, I would say the most fundamental thing, at least for us, is start from a place where it's authentic to you and don't feel like you can do everything because you can't. You can't have a position on every issue, particularly if you're going to take them seriously. And you have to understand that this is long term. Systemic biases will not be eradicated by your tweet. You know what I mean? These things have been going on for 400 years, depending which issue you want to talk about, some even longer. So I think for us it's really be authentic, engage meaningfully. Don't do it from a place of just wanting to be part of the conversation. Think about how your business is uniquely positioned to make an impact on that issue and make sure that the things that you are saying are real because we are also in an era of maximum transparency.


And if you remember Geoff, how many brands put up the Instagram square and someone very quickly then put up a picture of the leadership team or of referenced some challenges that they had around these issues. And so it's really important to lean in a real way, which is why we focus so much on as we think about these issues, we start first with how can our business make an impact here, not what can we say about it?


The first thing is, if we take the Black Lives Matter movement, can we use our business and our platform to highlight surface, encourage, help black-owned businesses and help make them successful? Turns out we're uniquely positions to be able to do that. So then if you build the things that allow you to do that, then that enables you to be authentically participating. And then if you are asked to have an opinion, you're doing that from a place of credibility.

Geoff Edwards (09:12):

That makes sense. That makes sense. That makes so much sense in so many different ways, Kofi. Okay. Well, let's talk about today in 2023 and the next five years or so. And what do those look like for DoorDash? Where are you headed? What can you talk about?

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (09:28):

Yeah, look, first of all, five years out for us is half the lifetime of the company. So let's put that in perspective. We're going to turn 10 today, and you asked me to think about what life is going to be when we're 15.

Geoff Edwards (09:42):

That's fair.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (09:45):

But it's a great question. Look, I think if you go back to 10 years ago when DoorDash was first being conceived as a company, and you go and look at our submission to Y Combinator, which is the accelerator program in the Bay Area where the company got started, Tony, Stanley, Andy, Evan, they talked about this as a local FedEx.

Geoff Edwards (10:08):

Oh, interesting.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (10:09):

So that was the pitch. The pitch was like, Hey, we believe there's all of these businesses on every block who are being left behind by the shift to a convenience economy. These are businesses that were never meant to be digital. They're brick and mortar. They count on people walking into their shops every day. And they also make a disproportionate impact on our neighborhoods in our communities. Because as you know, it's like where you have thriving businesses, then you end up with great character, great different services, they shape the character and vibrancy of neighborhoods. We think this is a really important problem to solve because if these businesses fail, so will the communities that sustain them, right?

Geoff Edwards (10:50):

That's correct. That's right.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (10:52):

That's just how this works. And they contribute something like 60% of any city's GDP, comes through these local businesses. And so the thesis was that we wanted to build a business that was going to help these local businesses be successful because we thought they mattered so much for our communities. And we started with restaurants because that was the largest use case because if you think about it, most people eat three to five times a day, happens seven days a week. And then we also felt that if you can solve the problem of delivering a burger and fries when it's hot and ice cream when it's cold, if you can manage both of those things, that means you can probably deliver everything, right?


But the thesis was always that this thing was going to be a service for every type of business. And so when we think about the next five years, that's what that looks like. And I think you've started to see us make this shift over the past couple of years where no longer just a restaurant marketplace now, delivery of alcohol, of groceries, of convenience, of flowers. We expect this to be a big destination on Valentine's Day as a place for people to come to purchase their flowers.


And then beyond just what happens on our marketplace, again, if you go back to the thesis of thinking of what is this business? And it's like we want to build services for merchants. We've built a whole bunch of services that live outside of our marketplace, but that direct to our partners. So we've taken everything we've learned about building this marketplace, and now we're deploying those things as services for our partners. So for example, if you go to order from the Chipotle app on chipotle.com, DoorDash on the backend handles the delivery. So that's basically logistics as a service. We do support as a service.


We're working on software as a service in terms of helping merchant partners who don't have their own first party channels. We're helping them build those channels through our storefront product. So we're looking at advertising to help merchants get discovered on our platform. So if you come to DoorDash and you're thinking about, Hey, how do I discover a new type of business? Turns out a big part of the reason why small businesses historically have not invested in things like advertising and marketing, it's because they couldn't figure out how to make the math of it work.


Am I actually going to get a return from this investment? And if I'm a small business that runs lean margins, that feels like a build grist. So even in designing our ad products, this goes back a little bit to the concept of the DoorDash Compass I was telling you about, it's that team took that inspiration and built an ad product that's super unique. So our sponsored listings product only charges businesses on a conversion, not on an impression, not on a click. So if you have business and you're spending on DoorDash to get discovered, you know that, that spend is going to turn into a customer, it's going to turn into an order. Because if that doesn't happen, you doesn't get charged for it.


And that's thinking about how do we level the playing field for small businesses as they compete in these ad-based options. So I'd say that continuing to grow our core restaurant business will be the focus. Continuing to build out into all of these new categories will continue to be the focus. Building out our advertising product will continue to be the focus. And then I think over the past couple of years, we've also really been focused on international.


How do we take this business that we've built here? How do we think about other markets where we believe we can bring the same mission, the same idea of empowering local economies, the tools that help merchants be successful, but obviously scaling them in different contexts will present different challenges. So over the past five to seven years, we've launched in Canada, we've launched in Australia. Last year we partnered with the Finnish food delivery company that's now part of the DoorDash Family Wolt and Wolt operates in 23, mostly European markets. So we're building out our international footprint and really thinking about what the model looks like for building this type of business in other parts of the world.


So I'd say overall, that's kind of what the next five years looks like, becoming a local commerce company and doing that globally, doing that on our platform and doing that directly for merchants as well.

Geoff Edwards (15:22):

Kofi, that's really interesting to hear. And thank you for sharing the expansion strategy because it seems like a logical move is to go over the pond and see if you're able to take some of these things, whether it's empowering local communities and all that. It scales, doesn't it?

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (15:40):

Yeah, we believe it does. We believe that everywhere, these are secular global trends. So if you think about the move towards digitization, move towards convenience, it might be happening slower in some parts of the world than others, but generally we think of these as broad, secular global trends. And we think it's critical in any of these situations to help merchants make that transition. Because otherwise what happens is that foot traffic stops coming in the door as people have access to all of these digital tools. But then these merchants are uniquely disadvantaged because they've never built that infrastructure.


And so a lot of what we think about is, and that's true everywhere around the world. There's nowhere around the world that trend is not happening. The pace of it might be different, but that's true everywhere. And so we believe that the need exists for the things that we do well.

Geoff Edwards (16:36):

Yeah. Okay. Got it. So let's dig in now to, I wanted to explore the total story of you. And this is great kind of background on where the organization is, where the organization is headed and so forth. Kofi, how do you do it all in 24 hours? Come on. We share the same 24 hours-

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (16:58):

How did you do it in 24 hours, man? How do you do it?

Geoff Edwards (17:01):

You brokered some deal where your 24 is 29, 30 possibly.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (17:06):

No, look, I think this is a hard question to answer because I won't pretend that I've figured it out. This is recent for me, in the last couple of years, I've just gotten much better at being disciplined about just carving out time and not just letting things take up space. Because I think what's really hard, and Geoff, I'd love your perspective on this as well, you're a busy executive. There's many people that are listening to us that are busy executives. All of us are pretty much always on. But I work in this business that's a daily business. Every day we have goals for what's going to happen, which means I'm always going to be on. But I think the thing that I've figured out how to do and still working on is just be very deliberate about carving out time for all the stuff that matters and then trying as hard as I can to protect it.


Right. So I'll give you what my day looks like, but what what'll typically happen is I get up pretty early because you mentioned Marlo and Miles, they're 9 and 7, without fail, by six o'clock, we're up. So I'm up with them first thing in the morning. I try and get in a quick workout and all of that's protecting that time. I get them ready for school. We do the lunch boxes, they have breakfast, they do all other things. They get out of the door by 8. Kate takes them to school. I then go off on a walk, for an hour and a half. And I'm usually listening to, it could be a podcast, it could be a book, it could just be music. My soundtrack this morning was 2000s hip hop, which was terrific. It was great to come back to that after the Grammy's. I just kept it going.


But all of that is being really deliberate because what I realized, Geoff, was when I didn't specifically carve it out, I'd be trying to fit that in later in the day. And inevitably what would happen is that other things would end up superseding it and then I'd be bummed out because I hadn't had my thing for myself that gets my head straight. And so the thing that I've just learned over the past couple of years is just like, this sounds crazy, but I pretty much calendar everything now.


So I'm like, Hey, from this time to this time, here's what I'm going to be doing. And then from 9:30, I'm locked in and just do doing this and spending time with my teams, solving problems, talking to our customers, spending time with our partners. And then I do that until about 7. And then I try and do bedtime, bath time books, put the boys down, and then Kate and I actually get to hang out for a couple hours because we try to get them down by eight o'clock and then kick it, and then we're back at it the next day.


But the only thing I've found that works for me is just to be really deliberate about carving out time for all of the things and then making them a priority and then trying to protect. How do you do it?

Geoff Edwards (20:25):

Yeah, that's great. You and I share a lot of similarity when it comes to that, Kofi. When I asked, I tell people, the CMO of the house is who I work for.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (20:42):

That's right.

Geoff Edwards (20:43):

And that's my wife, Marie Colette, and my daughter Ella, and my son Tribe, that's who I work for. That is the leadership team of the Edwards House.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (20:50):

That's right.

Geoff Edwards (20:52):

And then valuing your time, because you know as an executive in doing what you do, a lot of people ask of your time, and you have to be very kind of deliberate and a little bit selfish in who that time gets handed to. You beat me by an hour, you get up at 4, I get up at 5, and then I read five papers before the day begins, is how I start the day, just so I have some kind of mental fortitude going into it. Physical fitness, mental fitness, servant leader, those are my three. All three as important, and that's what gets me through. But it's interesting to talk to someone that has achieved what you've achieved in terms of how you value your time, just because that's something that doesn't get discussed. So thank you for sharing that.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (21:39):

Yeah, for sure. Generally, I tend to think of time as the only resource we have now. That's the only one we have. Everything else is pretty ephemeral. There's this amazing book that a friend recommended that I've been reading this year, and I keep going back to it, and I think it's called something like 4,000 Weeks. But the notion is that that's it.

Geoff Edwards (22:02):


Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (22:04):

Do you know what I mean? 4,000 weeks. That's it. That's what you get. That's 80 years on this earth, Geoff, that's 4,000 weeks.

Geoff Edwards (22:12):

Wow. Okay, that book is officially on my list. That's amazing.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (22:16):

It's incredible. And it just really makes you think about what are you trying to get done and how do you value your time, and how do you realize that if you don't prioritize the things they will get prioritized for you.

Geoff Edwards (22:33):

That's right. Well, thank you for that. Okay, well, let's shift a little bit and talk about the creative culture. Let's talk about the creative culture at DoorDash. So what is it about working at the company, Kofi, that you love? And talk to me a little bit about the culture that you've created there, that is working with your partners and making some of the best work in the world.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (22:54):

Yeah, I think it's a number of things. So I think the first piece is that this is a business. And one of the things that I really like about this place is that it doesn't assume to have the answers. So it starts with a sort of scientific data based interrogation of the world around us, which is to say, Hey, don't assume that you know, actually just go test it. Go figure it. Because we built a digital product, we can test lots of things. We can figure out behaviors that are already happening on our platform that inspire us to build products. One of my favorite examples of this is our DoubleDash products, which if you've used the DoorDash recently, recently, sometimes Geoff, after you've made an order, you'll get a prompt that says, Hey, if you want to order from these stores in the next 10 minutes, we'll bundle it and it's no delivery fee to you.


So let's say you've ordered a burger and then we serve you up a thing for like, Hey, do you want ice cream to go with that? Or would you like a coffee from this other shop? And it's built because all of those places are very close to each other, so we can make the logistics of it work. But that was inspired by watching consumers do that. We saw people who were going in and ordering and then making a different order 10 minutes later. And so you went, huh, that's really interesting, why is that happening? And you talk to them and they're like, well, it's because I wanted this thing from that place and that thing from the other place and so I made two different orders, but it's costing them money because they're now spending on a totally different order with a totally different delivery fee and so on and so forth. So what if we could fix that problem?


So I share that as an example of a big part of why we were able to do the open for delivery in six days is because this is the type of business that will mobilize around things that we believe to be important. So once we got to that place, there's lots of teams across the business that had to lean in to make that happen. Not just in marketing, but everyone was able to come together to do that because we've got this sort of bias for action, got this understanding. I think the other thing that's super cool is you take everything I've just said, but then you marry that with the belief that in order to break through to consumers, you're going to have to do work that's remarkable.


So yes, experiment, yes, go fast, yes, do all of these things, but on top of it, hold a really high bar for what we think is going to matter to people. Because the reality is that we have to earn people's attention every time. No one is obligated to watch any of our advertising or care about this company or do any of those things. People actually have very full, very confusing, very busy, complex lives, of which brands, mine included, are 100th of a thousandth of a percent of the things that they will care about in any given day. So if knowing and understanding that, how do we then do things that we believe are going to be worth people's time? We're not there yet, Geoff. No one's cracked this thing. No one gets to make good work all the time.

Geoff Edwards (26:07):

Now this is true. But I'll tell you, there are some things that you have cracked that I want to double click on. The idea of being able to put things in market, optimize, make changes based on the people that you serve, is a very kind of GALE value. That is something that I practice and am responsible for every day. There's something else that you mentioned, which is the 1% better every day. And the curiosity, just the spirit of that. 1% better every day is attainable. That's attainable.


And what's interesting is that the business, or rather the values of the organization for DoorDash are human values. Sometimes it's interesting when you talk to CMOs, you'll hear values of the organization and they sound like marketing values. When you say 1% better every day, I could apply that, it's just-

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (26:59):


Geoff Edwards (27:01):

It's amazing.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (27:02):


Geoff Edwards (27:04):

That's great. So listen, Kofi, you've been on both the agency and the brand side. You've worked at some of the best companies on the face of the earth. The resume speaks for itself. Everybody, if you want to know, just look it up, Google it. In your opinion, what do you think needs to change?

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (27:21):

So as someone who's, as you said, had the privilege and the opportunity to do both of these jobs, when it works really well, it feels like you're on the same side. It doesn't feel like there's this odd division. It feels like you're extensions of each other's teams. There's not actually a client and an agency. There's a team that's focused on driving an outcome for a business, whatever that outcome might be. That might be about acquiring X new customers or generating Y orders or growing a brand metric by Z.


But when it works really well, both people are coming to the table with a crystal clear understanding, a shared understanding of the business problem. Not the marketing objective, not the creative brief, but what is the business problem we're solving? Why are we actually about to invest X dollars in any of this at all? And then on top of that, what's the consumer problem that this solves, right? Because businesses don't exist in a vacuum. So you might have a business problem, but if you don't have a consumer insight or a consumer angle into that problem, or some problem you're solving for customers, kind of doesn't matter if your business is not going to grow anyway.


So I think having a shared understanding of those things seems elementary, but Geoff, both of you and I know that it is not at all. Most marketing I see as solutions looking for a problem. It's like, what is the business thing? What is the customer thing? And getting really clear on that and having that shared understanding. And then if you have that, it creates a really amazing opportunity, which is that you can then be totally agnostic about what the solutions are.


And I think this is also hard for both clients and agencies because agencies build a capability set, but then that capability set ends up being a box that you placed into. So it's like, well, Geoff, I'm going to come to you for the things you do well, I'm going to go to this person for the other things that they do well. Whereas ideally, what you would want is if we're all super clear on what the problem is, then the answer should be able to come from anywhere. And an agency should be able to bring an answer to the table that may not even be the direct capability set and have credibility because they've understood the problem and they can say, Hey, the answer's not a TV spot, the answer's actually this thing, and here's how we're going to go work with whoever it is to bring that to life and make that real for your business.


So I'd say the thing that I would love to see change is those two things. One, do we have a clear, shared and compelling understanding of the problem that we're trying to solve or the opportunity both from a business perspective and a customer lens, and then are we willing to be open to where those solutions might come from and what they might look like?

Geoff Edwards (30:24):

Got it. Yeah, I agree with that. In my experience as well, the best result comes from feeling either the client is an extension... we're an extension of your team or you're an extension of ours. There's no separation, there's no delineation or delta. Agree. Kofi, how has your agency background impacted your leadership today? And I say that because it's just been a pleasure to see you evolve as a leader throughout the years here, but I know that you come from an agency background, that's kind of where it started. Talk a little bit about that too.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (31:02):

Yeah, look, I think what I've tried to do is take experiences from everywhere that I've been. And so if I think about my career, I started out at Leo Burnett. Shout out to 35 West Wacker Drive, Chicago. But started out at Burnett working on the Kellogg's business and as a client service associate, and spent probably the first five years of my career touching that business, but various different aspects of it. Got to work both in Chicago and in London at Leo for Kellogg's as well as a few other clients.


But the thing that, that business taught me and that first experience was how to be a business thinker. We were expected to know the business as well as our clients. That was the job. My boss would say, Hey, if your client get hits by a bus or wins the lottery, I want you to be able to do their job. So being an account guy on Kellogg's at Burnett was getting a mini MBA. That as a foundation was incredible. And so gave me a really good grounding in thinking about the commercial implications of the work that we did. Not just that we made a dope ad, but what did it do? And being able to talk to clients and follow that all the way through.


And that was a long-running relationships. So there was a lot of trust and a lot of sharing of information on both sides. And then had the incredible opportunity to go to Weiden in Portland where I sort of switched roles and became a strategic planner on the Nike business. And that taught me something else entirely, that was about just pure creativity. That was like, how do we make something that's completely magical, same end goal of driving sales, but the index on the craft and the creativity and the being able to really, as Dan Weiden would say, move me, dude.


The job is to make me feel something, make me do something. And getting to learn that way of thinking about the world and just the standards of what it took to make work that good, that consistently and what you had to give up in order to be able to do that. And how you had to just make that the only thing that mattered. You had to be willing to walk away from client relationships. You had to be willing to do lots of things to just protect that singular vision of making the best work in the world. So that was hugely informative for me.


Then I moved back to Ghana, where I was born and raised to build an agency for Publicis. I built out their West African business. And that was a crash course just in all of the things, man, P&L management, leadership, hiring, firing, scaling a business, dealing with the weight of having other people be depending on you if this thing doesn't work, people lose their jobs. Dealing with the weight, the sort of mental challenge around being responsible for a burgeoning enterprise.


So I spent three years doing that and learned... It would've taken me 15 years to gather that education anywhere else. And I'd say those were the first formative experiences probably the first decade of my career. I went to Bacardi for a little bit, came back into agency world at FCB for a hot second in New York. And that's when I started thinking about this notion of can agencies be more than their capabilities? Can we actually broaden out? Can we solve different types of problems, both as marketers and agencies? Which is what then led me to what the last eight years look liked, which is between Facebook and now DoorDash.

Geoff Edwards (35:02):

Yeah. It's amazing. As long as we've known each other, and as much as I thought I'd known, just to hear you go through that journey of your past is a personal treat. So thank you. And now you're at a job where you can not only grow the organization as you've been doing, but also impact culture. You know how important that is to me and how honestly important it is to the world. We need it. We need it right now. So awesome. So let me ask you a couple questions in closing. Sage advice for a young male or female looking to kind of disrupt things?

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried (35:47):

When we've been at our very best, I think this is true of most companies, it's probably a general statement, but I'll do it through our lens... When we're at our very best, it's because I think we had just a deeper understanding of what people needed in that moment from us, and we're able to bring our organization to deliver against that. One of the things that I talk to my team about often is that the only thing that great brands do differently from the rest of the brands, they just have a better handle on what their customer needs, and they do a better job of meeting those needs. That's all it is. It's sounds really simple. It's actually very difficult to practice to do it consistently.


So I would say that figuring out how to tap into that, and not in an abstract like, oh, here's a trite insight someone wrote on a brief. But really tap into what do people need from you now as a brand in this moment today on Tuesday, February seventh, what do they need from you? What do they need from your business? And can you mobilize to meet that need? So I'd say figuring that out is super important. I think career wise, I'd say go where people see your magic, man. Not every place is for everyone.


And so I think so many of us, particularly now when thinking about a tight employment market, concerns about the macro economy, all of these things, I think it's just really important to understand for yourself what you're really good at, what your superpowers are, and which types of environments in which your superpowers thrive. Because not every place is for you, even if you might be for them.


Buddy [Jabari 00:37:40] talk talks about this often and it's always stuck with me. And try trying to find that connection of where you get to bring a set of things that you're really good at, but also with the slope of you getting to learn and trying to find the perfect thing that marries both of those things. What do I bring to the table that this place needs? And what am I going to get in terms of learning? What new skillsets am I going to walk away with? And being really clear about that and sort of letting that guide you is the other one that I'd offer.


And then the third one would be, surround yourself with dope people, man. Honestly, we were talking about time earlier and we spent a lot of time at work, Geoff, all of us do, and if you're not doing it with people that you like, the work's not going to be good anyway.

Speaker 2 (38:31):

This has been, Is This Thing On? The GALE Podcast. For more information about this or any other episode in the series, visit gale.agency/ideas. And to learn about GALE and how we can help you with your marketing efforts, visit www.galepartners.com. On behalf of the entire team at GALE, thanks for listening.