Unstuck: Top Five Tips for 2023

It’s been a memorable first year for the Unstuck podcast! More than 4,000 people tuned in across 21 countries. Broadcasting to our 4,000 strong community were 38 marvellous guests. They generously shared their experiences and offered invaluable advice. We had entrepreneurs, CMOs, agency leaders, sports stars, food buffs and more. To help compile the top takeaways from our first group of guests, we’ve produced our top tips for 2023. We reviewed every episode, identified the most important messages, and found five core ideas that stood out.

1 – Start with insights

Being marketers, we often focus a lot of effort and headspace on delivering content as fast as we can. The market is demanding and the number of channels to reach them is constantly increasing. However, before we strategise about creative concepts, content types, and channels, we need to study the data. Dr Marcus Collins (our Hip Hop Doctor!) reminded us that every story starts with data and being aware of its significance. The doctor determines that “It begins with insights, what are insights? Insights are converting facts into meaning.”

In order to create expressive content and campaigns we need to be able to translate our insights into meaningful information. Simon Francis, CEO of Flock, felt that the best method of data analysis was to ‘hunt the edges’. This meant looking at the ‘edges’ of datasets, in the areas you don’t usually explore. By discovering and analysing new data you can open a world of opportunity for different journeys. Of course, it’s critically important that you know how to interpret the information once you find it. In the words of Emma Montgomery, CEO at Leo Burnett, “When I was doing deep analysis for media and research I would ask ‘What do the numbers tell me?’ rather than ‘What are the numbers?’” So, when you’re developing your marketing strategy and content plans for 2023, make sure you begin with exploring and understanding the data!

2 – Pivot and Reinvent

Regular listeners will be very aware of the importance of being able to pivot. Our third guest on Unstuck was Amanda Lannert, CEO of Jellyvision. Gamers will be familiar with Amanda’s company as they once developed video games on CD-ROMs. When the CD-ROM business died, Jellyvision had to completely reinvent itself as a B2B tech agency. In Amanda’s words “pivoting is life or death.” She reminded listeners how important culture is within the transformation process. Sarah Hofstetter, President at Profitero, described this process as ‘selective destruction.’ Companies often iterate in minor increments, but Amanda and Sarah believe this is too risk averse. Sometimes we need to pick out areas that are not performing and rewrite the rules. So don’t be afraid to rip it all up in 2023 and start again!

Emma Montgomery was also an advocate of reinvention. She insisted it’s more risky to stay on the same course than chart a new one. “Getting stuck isn’t always a bad thing. When you get stuck – ask why? We’re not growing – why?.”

It’s critically important for your company to be able to pivot and reinvent. However, it’s just as important that you can develop your own personal story too. In the words of Sarah Hofstetter “don’t be afraid to pivot or completely change course in your working life. You need different chapters.” The enlightened Rishad Tobaccowala had a similar idea “remember your career is long. Try to make sure you don’t get stuck for too long. Constantly reinvent yourself by doing new things.” On this note, why not make 2023 the year you revise your company, marketing, or personal playbook?

3 – Keep compassion at the core

When it comes to talent management, the first component is compassion. Before tuning up resource management, skills profiling, and job matching, you need to make your team feel important and appreciated. Beth Ann Kaminkow, Global Chief Executive Officer of VMLY&R Commerce, summed this idea up for listeners, “My secret ingredient for unlocking talent is ‘loverage.’ I’ve always led with love. That means every transformation comes from a place of love.”

Trish Thomas and Nichole Wilson became our first repeat guests on the podcast. They came back to tell us the story of Every Body Eat and why the name is so significant. Humanity and compassion are at the core of the company’s culture. Trish and Nichole have used their food enterprise as an engine to give opportunity and education to disadvantaged areas. Furthermore, their compassion extends to providing second chances to people that may not get them elsewhere. Trish proudly stated, “At Every Body Eat, your past does not dictate your future with us.” Every Body Eat provide a job, life hacks, and growth opportunities for their devoted team.

Once they became business owners, Trish and Nichole could “see the systems and processes that hold inequities in place, and dismantle them from our side.” Another guest that is breaking down barriers to lift people up is Samantha Kolkey. She is the Executive Director at Options for College Success. Samantha is a neuro diverse leader that is leading an entirely neuro diverse organisation. Compassion drives understanding about neuro diversities and unique talents. “The neurodiverse model focuses on there not being a right way of thinking. We must remember that everyone is wired differently. There’s vulnerability to the term neuro divergence. However, when you say it as a matter of fact, it’s accepted.”

4 – Purpose begins within

We often hear of the importance of purpose-driven marketing. Brands that practice purpose driven marketing are those that openly put core values at the forefront. But how can you create content and campaigns that are captivating if your own work is lacking purpose? The purpose driven philosophy begins within the walls of the office (or virtual space). We need to be able to find purpose at work and feel connected to our endeavors. Rishad Tobaccowala shared a thoughtful message with listeners. “Life is a journey through time in search of meaning. Therefore, you need to find meaning at work.”

This narrative continued when we were introduced to a C-suite exec from Atlanta. Craig Robinson reminded us that we need to make an impact through our work. Fulfillment comes from belonging and we are all compelled to leave our stamp. He passionately remarked, “If I’m not here tomorrow, did I make a difference? Did I leave a mark on a corporation? Does my employer care about me? What was my purpose?”

5 – Don’t accept the odds

The final lesson of Unstuck in 2022 is an important one. Do not accept that you’re not good enough, or the right fit, or not from the ideal background. Several of our inspiring guests defeated the odds to be where they are today. We learned about poverty, societal chains, dangerous environments, and life threatening illness. All of these adversities were overcome by Unstuck guests which reminds us that anything is possible.

We mentioned Craig Robinson in our previous section. Craig climbed to the top of the real estate ladder against the odds. Growing up in a disadvantaged Atlanta neighbourhood it was unlikely he would break out of societal shackles. He went on to graduate from Harvard and became a successful C-level executive. Another inspiring Harvard graduate was introduced in episode 37. Mawi Asgedom’s first education was a refugee camp in Sudan. Who would have thought that this war displaced asylum seeker would give a commencement speech at Harvard? Our Unstuck guests overcame life threatening circumstances too. Gina Jacobson was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer four years ago. She beat the odds and the doctor’s diagnoses to be here today. Gina leads Starcom Worldwide and continues to create special work while defying expectations.

Hey presto, we’ve concluded the Unstuck 2022 recap and shared our most important tips from guests. We hope you’ve learned as much as we have this year. Please come back and join us in 2023 for more inspiring stories and practical advice!

UnstuckWrapped 2022

Courage, Originality, and Diversity – Our Unstuck Highlights for November

November on Unstuck concluded with a neurodiversity expert which was a fitting end to an incredibly diverse range of guests and topics this month. We had e-commerce experts, start-up success, a punk rock legend, a tasty home cooking adventure, and a special leader that has broken down barriers to achieve her position.

On episode 31 and 33, we heard about thriving start-up ventures. Interestingly, they followed very different paths to success. Chris and Oskar were established leaders in the e-commerce space before they decided to go their own way. David Rabie took a different route. He developed his company using knowledge collected in the classroom in addition to experiences in the field. These great episodes were sandwiched in between two wonderful minds on episode 32 and 34. Jon and Samantha have led very different lives but are not afraid to be true to oneself. Here are the main themes and topics we discussed on Unstuck in November!

EP31 – First Mover Advantage

Chris Perry and Oskar Kaszubski (Co-Founders at firstmovr)

Chris and Oskar are the founders of firstmovr, an e-commerce ‘satellite of excellence’. Moving quickly and not getting stuck are the fundamental principles of this duo’s consultancy plug in. Like any fast movers, Chris and Oskar are ‘pioneers, troublemakers, and disruptors’. Through their hands on advisory practice they’re forcing companies to confront reality in the e-commerce space. People understand that digital commerce is here to stay, but according to Chris “Companies struggle to find the purpose and see the change that is on the horizon, ”this can have a negative impact on all forms of marketing “CPGs are often built in a siloed way. It’s then difficult to tell an end-to-end story holistically.”

firstmovr work with more than sixty CPG companies to help them understand e-commerce better and stay on top of trends. Through close collaboration with clients, they are building playbooks that are current but agile. Understanding how offline experiences influence online sales is one of the first lessons. Oskar sums up how this misunderstanding can deliver false insights “price architecture may indicate e-commerce is failing, but what about other interactions?” Chris and Oskar have ‘8 levers for change’ that they use to get buy in from leadership and deliver results. Find out what these levers are and get your firm e-commerce ready by listening to Chris and Oskar below!

Unstuck - Social - Quote - EP33 - Chris & Oscar

EP 32 – Awareness of Sounds

Jon Langford (Artist, Designer, Musician at The Mekons, The Three Johns and more)

Our second guest in November was a shining symbol of the Unstuck philosophy. Most people will know Jon Langford through his iconic punk band, The Mekons. Formed in the 1970s, the iconic British rockers are one of the longest running punk rock groups. Not bad for a group of musicians that apparently ‘couldn’t play their instruments’ in the early days.

The Mekons are in their sixth decade of gigging and Jon attributes their endurance to originality. He explains how record labels and the music press gave them a hard time, but they never changed who they were. As Jon says, “The best times were when the band were fully in charge of what they were doing”. The rock icon firmly believes that the band would not have lasted so long if their first record was a success. Setbacks merely inspired them to keep going and they always stayed true to the Mekons brand.

In addition to an outstanding music career, Jon has forged more creative paths. The second half of Jon’s career has touched other forms of art such as painting, graphic design, and fashion. Jon believes that art and music are closely aligned when it comes to original thinking, “People are afraid to declare something as good until a superior validates it.”. He has incorporated guerrilla marketing tactics to help promote his art career. In the marketing world, his approach would likely fall under ‘direct marketing’ tactics. Hear more about Jon’s approach to marketing and get a view into a rocker’s world in this melodic episode!

Unstuck EP34 - Social - Quote - Jon Langford

EP 33 – QR Cooking

David Rabie (Co-Founder & CEO at Tovala)

We were introduced to a mouth-watering growth story on episode 33 of Unstuck. Dave Rabie took a winding road to get to where is today. He taught English in China, managed a frozen yoghurt chain, and worked in a PR firm. While Dave wasn’t always sure where he was heading, he was always aware of his two passions – business and food. At Booth Business School in Chicago he realised he could have a career that combined both.

Technology wasn’t Dave’s strong point but he developed those skills while developing an app during his studies. This was the final piece of the puzzle for Dave’s business idea. Like many people that work outside the home, he was struggling to find time to cook a decent meal in the evening. He realised he could tackle this problem with his experience in the food industry, his entrepreneurial spirit, and his new found tech skills. At this point, we’re introduced to his impressive food delivery and home cooking solution, Tovala!

Tovala delivers fresh ingredients to your home but also cooks the ingredients for you! Using the Tovala smart oven (a prerequisite for the food delivery service) and a QR code you can prepare a home cooked meal with no effort. Due to the sophisticated nature of the product, it was difficult for Tovala to find market fit. However, once the food service realized their positioning the sales numbers exploded. At one point in 2019, the company was growing 10% – 20% every week! Tovala now employs more than 130 people and Dave has needed to become a leader in addition to an entrepreneur. Tune in below to hear how Dave and Tovala combined software, hardware, and knowledge in this appetizing adventure!

Unstuck EP35 - Social - Quote - David Rabie

EP 34 – Divergent Thinking

Samantha Kolkey, LCSW (Executive Director at Options for College Success)

Samantha Kolkey is a leader that doesn’t fit your typical manager profile. She overcame the odds to combine an Executive position and a neurodiverse disposition. It was an agonising path for Samantha to get to where she is today. At school, she found learning and homework very difficult. Everything seemed more challenging and enduring than it should have been. Samantha also experienced difficulty interacting socially and being herself in social circles. Naturally, this resulted in stress and anxiety for the teenage Samantha. This meant that her schooldays were a long arduous slog. Her parents brought her to various consultants and medical experts to see if they could help. Different doctors delivered varying conclusions – anxiety, depression, bipolar. None of these diagnoses resonated with Samantha. As a result, no relief was found.

Things improved once Samantha left school and attended college. She felt like she “came in with a blank slate” and that people were “more accepting”. It wasn’t long before she fell into destructive practices again. Samantha reverted to people pleasing and masking her unique personality traits. It wasn’t until grad school that she received a diagnosis for ADHD and finally “things made sense”. The diagnosis was liberating and enabled Samantha to be herself and learn more about neurodiversity. As she says “the neurodiversity model focuses on there not being a right way of thinking. Everyone is wired differently.”

Samantha is now leading an entirely neurodiverse team at Options for College Success. As a neurodivergent leader, it can take extra effort. She is passionate about creating a safe space for her colleagues though. Samantha is investing in talent and removing stigma around neurodivergence. Find our more about neurodiversity and Samantha’s inspiring journey below!

Unstuck EP36 - Social - Quote - Samantha Kolkey

Join Screendragon at the Festival of Creative Operations!

We’re delighted to reveal that Screendragon are sponsoring The Festival of Creative Operations! The virtual event is hosted by creative industry experts Henry Stewart Events. Screendragon is delighted to partner with Henry Stewart Events for a fifth year and look forward to meeting the crème de la crème of the creative world!

We’ll be telling people about our specialist creative services management software that transforms creative operations at agencies and in-house agencies! Screendragon empowers smart workflows, better briefs, reduces rounds of revisions, controls time and budgets and accelerates speed to market.

If you’re attending the event then then make sure to join the creative panel discussion ‘Challenges, Shifts and Trends’. Screendragon’s Fergus Ashe will join Robin McLoughlin and guests to assess the latest trends in creative operations. Haven’t yet registered? There are still tickets available for the virtual event on 27th September by following this link. Registrations for brands and agencies are free so come join us!

Want to see Screendragon’s creative operations management platform in action? Schedule a 30 minute demo here!

Space travel algorithms, urban farming, and keeping marketing simple – Unstuck in August!

August may be a month of R&R for many, but the Unstuck podcast kept rolling! We had four guests from very different backgrounds telling stories of space and planets, urban farming, and falling into marketing. While all of our guests are finding great success in their field, the paths they took were very different. We’ve never had such an eclectic mix of themes and topics discussed in one month. There’s sure to be something for every listener!

Space Models with Wes Chaar

EP24 – Wes Chaar (Chief Data & Analytics Officer at Fyllo)

At one point in his life, Wes Chaar was probably more likely to end up in space than in marketing. He first gained a Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering. Then followed a Master’s in Computer Science and he completed the set with a PHD in aerospace engineering. In different circumstances it would be fitting to say he was reaching for the stars, but in truth he was focused on planets. Wes became a solutions expert on interplanetary navigation by creating algorithms for optimising space travel. Long before AI was a buzzword, he built algorithms that could learn from other algorithms. These programmes subsequently created new and improved algorithms!

In 1996, tech company Sabre created a research group to find better ways to practice revenue management. Wes suggested they use aerospace algorithms to drive innovation and Sabre were intrigued. They offered him a job the next day and Wes began a hugely successful career in business analytics.

In addition to Sabre, Wes held senior analytics roles at Delta Airlines and Turner Time Warner (now merged within Warner Bros). At TTW, he created AI powered AdTech that sometimes needed to manage 8,000 different campaigns at once. Huge cost savings, forecasting improvements, and inventory management innovation were achieved under Wes’ guidance. He’s now the Chief Data & Analytics Officer at Fyllo and we recommend tuning in to his episode below if you have an interest in data, analytics, or space travel!

Unstuck - Social - Quote - Wes Chaar

Upwardly Mobile Farming with The Scala Sisters

EP25 – Mary Kathryn and Jacqueline Scala (Co-Founders at Freight to Plate)

Mary and Jacqueline Scala re sisters putting down roots in a different kind of ‘homestead’. During the early days of the pandemic, Mary began researching new ideas for work when she was put on furlough along with the majority of the hospitality industry. At the same time, her sister Jacqueline was sitting on the board of a non-profit organisation and tasked with evaluating a new form of farming. They both inadvertently stumbled upon freight farms and were hooked instantly.

They began educating themselves on freight farming and made plans to build their own container farm sitting on Chicago suburban concrete in Fulton Market. Their new 320 square foot farm would be called ‘homestead’. Mary and Jacqueline have quickly become freight farming fanatics and set up their own company called Freight To Plate. They offer advice and practical support for land procurement, farm activation, farm operations, and farm management. In their own words, their mission is to ‘unlock hyperlocal food production for all communities’. Mary and Jacqueline’s long-term goal is to set up 100 freight farms across the United States. They are immensely passionate and energised by this modern and sustainable urban farming system and if you listen to their episode below you will understand why!

Unstuck - Social - Quote -Mary Kathryn and Jacqueline

Back to Basics

EP26 – Mayur Gupta (Chief Marketing Officer at Kraken Digital Exchange)

Unsure what he wanted to do after finishing school, Mayur Gupta completed a degree in Computer Science on the recommendation of his mother. Job prospects for computer scientists were strong and it was considered a good bet for a career. Mayur rarely took the safe option though and his computer science degree created an opportunity for a dramatic career pivot several years later. While working in technical roles at SapientNitro he developed his reputation and earned a chance to lead an AdTech product team. Without ever planning to be one, Mayur was suddenly a marketer!

Mayur admits to needing to research Wikipedia to understand marketing job specifications. This was in addition to googling marketing tips and strategy advice. He’s come a long way since then though. Mayur fulfilled senior marketing roles at Kimberly Clark before taking up the mantle of Chief Marketing Officer at Spotify. Since then he has held the same position at Gannett (USA Today) and now Kraken crypto exchange. Listen below to hear how Mayur managed to build a career in marketing from scratch and why the principles of the disciple remain unchanged – it’s all about understanding human behaviour.

Unstuck - Social - Quote - Mayur Gupta

Up next

September will be another exciting month on Unstuck. We will be joined by a Salesforce exec and a creative director turned coffee maker. Clive will also catch up with two entrepreneurs that we met earlier in the series to hear how their healthy food company is developing!

Unstuck in April: Start-ups, Selling Chicago & Improv Comedy!

April brought an eclectic mix of guests on the Unstuck podcast as we heard from a startup fanatic, an agency and brand veteran, a public service marketeer, and an improvisational comedy guru! Virtually all our favourite topics were covered as we heard about building businesses from the ground up, managing a global agency network, swapping agency life for brand marketing, creating a brand for a city, and how to use comedy techniques to improve daily life!

If you want to see what happened last month on the podcast, then don’t forget to read through our Unstuck highlights for March. Keep an eye on Screendragon’s social channels for new episode and guest updates and make sure you subscribe in your favourite podcast app!

‘The Process Playbook’

Chris Ronzio, Founder at Trainual

Chris Ronzio is a serial entrepreneur that caught the business bug as early as kindergarten and set up his first successful business at 14 years of age when he built and subsequently sold a video production company.

After selling his video company, Chris tried his hand at several different entrepreneurial ventures which delivered varying degrees of success. In January of 2018, Chris set up Trainual – an employee onboarding and development platform. The company now employs 85 people and supports more than 6,000 small businesses in over 170 countries. Among Trainual’s unique employee retention policies is to offer new hires $5,000 to leave once they’ve completed two weeks in the firm. To date, no one has taken Chris and Trainual up on their offer – listen to the full episode below to find out why!

‘Fun at the Forefront’

Cristina Kenz, Chief Growth and Sustainability Officer at Kraft Heinz

Cristina Kenz is the perfect guest for a company like Screendragon. She has scaled the agency world to lead global networks like Grey and BBDO before fearlessly swapping agency life for senior roles in Pepsi Co, Danone, and now Kraft Heinz.

Her career in marketing and advertising has spanned three continents and four decades but Cristina’s ambition has always remained the same – to be a happy and whole person. This means work needs to be a place of enjoyment for Cristina and this puts teamwork and play at the top of her leadership policy. Tune in below to hear how this marketing and agency veteran is keeping things simple after all these years!

‘Improvised Confidence’

Kelly Leonard, Executive Director at The Second City

Kelly Leonard is a staple of the Chicago comedy scene as a 35-year veteran of famed improv hub, The Second City. Kelly is the author of the amazing ‘Yes, and’ book which intertwines improvisational comedy and a self-help guide. Kelly believes that humans are prone to say no when confronted with choices which results in many opportunities for fun or development being missed. ‘Yes, and’ is a gentle nudge to say ‘yes’ more often and see where that path brings you. Too often we approach the world with ‘humble curiosity’ which can close doors and suppress personalities.

In addition to comedy and writing, The Second City offer coaching and development for teams wherein improv techniques are used to guide people towards unlocking their true talents and abilities. Kelly explains how he uses improv techniques to guide him throughout many facets of his day – even handling busy roads and traffic! Kelly’s episode is a unique opportunity to find new tactics and approaches that can help both your work and daily life.

‘A World-Class City’

Michael Fassnacht, CMO at City of Chicago & CEO, World Business Chicago

Born in Germany but made in Chicago seems an appropriate depiction for Michael Fassnacht, the CMO of the City of Chicago and CEO of World Business Chicago. In both roles, Michael is tasked with telling the story of Chicago and promoting the city on a domestic and international plain.

Having spent many years working in the agency world, Michael is experienced in building brands and delivering business. He’s now using these skills to sell Chicago as a melting pot of educated workers, talent, diversity, and ecological benefits. The city’s business sector is booming after a record year for VC investment – listen below to find out how Michael Fassnacht is packaging a ‘world class city’!.

Want to listen to more episodes of Unstuck? Visit our Unstuck homepage or listen via YouTube, Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple or whatever podcast app you choose!

Viva Screendragon! Viva Creative!


Screendragon would like to welcome Viva Creative to it’s long list of world-class creative agency clients. Viva Creative specializes in experiential marketing and has produced live events, digital content, and insight driven creative to organizations like Viacom, Under Armour, Marriott, and the MTV VMA awards!

The Viva Creative team will use Screendragon to maximize a robust pool of in-house resources and harness insights that drive efficiencies on projects in their pipeline.