#6: Michael Salkinder – Marketing for the Biggest Conferences Company in the U.S.

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):    Hi, everyone. Hi, Michael. So this is a Go New, and we’re a platform for transformational education. We do video classes and coaching about the important stuff in life, I believe relationships and finances and parenting and how to start your own business. And this podcast series is all about leadership and self-growth, and growth in organizations. And that’s why I’m so excited to talk to you today, Michael, first of all because you’re a very good friend. And you’re doing some incredible things on a very large scale that I think people can really learn from. So Michael Salkinder, you are a marketing director of one of the biggest global companies in the world that create conferences. And you had some experience with very different types of events in the past with your own company. So take it away and tell us a few things about yourself.

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Great, thank you for having, it’s really nice to be here and to talk to you. I think this initiative is very exciting, and there’s certainly a demand and a need for such conversations. So it’s great to be here, and thank you. 

So it’s true, I do work currently as a team leader in a marketing capacity for a company called Worldwide Business Research, which is one of the larger conference producers in the world. I believe the parent company along with Worldwide Business Research produces as many as 400 conferences a year. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     That’s incredible. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     So the volume is quite large. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     So how many people is it, quick math, with the people that … 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     So the company, only the New York office which I think produces around 70 probably has around 120 people currently or something like this. I imagine globally we’re talking several hundreds, probably 500 people or so. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     And the amount of participants a year in these conferences, you’re much better in math than I am, but that sounds like … 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, tens of thousands of people, tens of thousands of people. They are intimate events, and this is what’s interesting, maybe we’ll talk a little bit about this idea of business-to-business interactions and how that difference from perhaps a TEDx conference or something like this one might attend, or from a music festival that is. So many of them are 2, 300 people, and their goal is really this intimate interaction in how to move business conversations forward. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     So tell us a bit about your past with organizing music festivals.

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, I’ll be happy to. So it’s funny, I know we’re talking about leadership and marketing, and I kind of entered this marketing world I feel like through the back door. Early in my 20s I fell in love with some organizing musical events, there’s something very inspiring about seeing the result of your labor and people that’s smiling, it seems very, very rewarding at the time. 

I think one place that I thought I lack was marketing … it’s bringing people there, it was really awareness and marketing. And so my decision at the time was for personal reasons and otherwise, was to go find “a real marketing job” so that I can learn in such an environment. And one thing led to another, and I was able to find this company and they’ve treated me very nicely since. And I’ve been able to kind of grow and develop with them through various types of roles, all centered though around essentially the marketing effort of the company. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     So what do you like about it? What do you like about marketing? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, actually it’s funny, I have mixed feelings about marketing. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Oh, please tell us, because I know some people, so when I work as a coach and help others grow their businesses or transfer from jobs to a business, marketing has a very emotional element to it, and not always positive. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Tell us how you relate to it. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, also with mixed emotions, but I think that the nice thing about marketing out of many business functions today is I think it is perhaps the most malleable and most forward thinking of most business functions in a traditional business unit. There are other functions like operations and like sales, and I’m talking about perhaps older companies. Newer companies, smaller start-ups might be more lean, and so the lines are blurred there. 

But for these traditional companies I think that the marketing department usually plays a really forward-looking department that looks at, for example, at various technologies and how they can help the business. And so the way I look at marketing in the future of it is I think it can go in two directions. 

On one hand you might be a creative individual, so design or copywriting, and I think that’s one way that you could become I think a really good marketing professional, a specialist. But the other way I think is data and technology, and that’s the side that really interests me more, and that’s probably what’s kind of kept me excited about marketing today. So the merger of data science and machine learning in marketing is something that excites me personally. 

And so I think in general what has kind of kept me going and interested in the profession is just this, is the idea of being able to analyze kind of this myriad data to make more intelligent decisions. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     So if we go backwards, what is marketing anyway? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     It’s a good question, and I think ultimately every aspect of probably communication or the outside world from the company probably encompasses marketing. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     That’s such a good definition. So it’s all about communication, right? And either when working with clients directly or through my video class around authentic marketing, the first thing that I find very helpful is to debunk the myth of marketing is this weird beast that I need you master. It’s actually all about communicating through different mediums, but we have been communicating since the first day that we were born, right? So it’s not really learning anything new, right? Like, we have it in us. And it’s just a way of expanding on what we already are doing and maybe on larger volumes, right? Using technology as you said. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     I tell you what, I’ve been doing this for probably in a formal marketing capacity for ten years and I feel like I know less about marketing today than ten years ago. So I think this idea about “I will understand what marketing is” for me is a false fallacy. As a matter of fact, and perhaps this applies to many disciplines, kind of the deeper you go the less you really know because of complexities. But I completely agree, I think it is communication, it is presentation of the brand, so it could be many ways that it doesn’t have to be direct communication, it could be visual.

And of course, with communication you also want to make sure that you say the right things to the right people. And so that’s where the data picture comes into play. We went from advertising which is kind of the marketing model of probably 30, 40, 50 years ago, to now as close as we can to individualize, personalized communication. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Yeah, beautiful. And this is all about authentic marketing and actually showing up as humans, right? This is not this weird machine that’s on the other side that just flows messages and this big brand. There are actually real people that you can talk to behind this, right? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yes, absolutely. And it’s funny, because on one hand you have more technology driving these decisions, and yet you define it as more human. So it is kind of this interesting conundrum that’s happening today, because … 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Why do you think this change happens? Because it was working [unclear/cross talking 09:15] 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Sure. I think individualized messaging has always been … I mean, still, the most effective form of marketing will always be word-of-mouth, it will always be you, Sasha, telling me, “You have to listen to this next podcast,” which is probably will be the strongest trigger to me actually going and listening to a podcast more than any kind of advertising. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Because this is the easiest form of overcoming objections, right?

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     I think the most trustworthy form, like I trust your opinion as somebody, as an entity, and thus I’m much more encouraged. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     And that cuts through the noise, right? If we are bombarded with so much noise, so much marketing messages, that many of them look pretty much the same, it’s just the players are different, right? We want someone to help us make decisions. Decisions are not easy, brain burns so much oxygen, and we want to conserve that, right? And if you can help me make a decision and cut down all the possibilities, this is so good for me, right? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yes. The decisions have to be … this personalization works, because it tries to address things like timeliness in your decision, like if I’m looking for a flight to New Zealand now I think modern marketing finds a way to show you that if you do a search, you subsequently get many advertisements for that, and I think that we feel there is certainly an uneasiness about that because we feel like it kind of penetrates into our personal lives. But at the same time I much prefer when looking for tickets to New Zealand to receive advertising for tickets to New Zealand as opposed to buying a new car that is absolutely outside the realm of what I’m looking for now. 

And in a way that is more human, because if you and I were to have an individual conversation about just this, about where to best purchase a ticket, it’s happening in the now, and so getting the use of technology to a system that for me is a good move in terms of marketing, moving away from blasting everything to everybody and trying to think about, “What specifically this very niche group of people would like to know about?” It’s good because ultimately I think they are much more interested in the messaging as well. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     That’s so interesting. So you’re saying that it’s not evil to use mediums like pixels and retargeting to show people very targeted messages, right? Because it optimally it’s good for them, right? I do not want to spend a long time in searching for something, right? If I want to find a ticket and I am going to see advertising, it’s good to see advertising for tickets, right? It just saves me time and headache. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Again, I think if we were to have this conversation of me as a consumer, there’s certainly this sentiment of over bombardment of information and why advertising in the first place. And I’m not going to argue against that, that I think as a consumer that is absolutely fair sentiment. And yet in trying to … knowing that this already exists, showing the right things to the right people and making their experience better, more timely I think is a benefit of giving that environment of digital advertising. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Yeah, so I want to come back to something important that you said, because I think if you’re successful in doing that, that can be sort of the magic. How do you translate … And the question is as such a big company, how do you translate all those tools and maybe one way, messages, that usually happen online to inspiring people to share their opinions offline? You talked about data science, you talked about artificial intelligence in marketing, right? So this is sending messages to the web, but you’re saying, “Well, the most useful thing and probably forever will be is word of mouth.” How do you take it from online to offline? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Sure, well, our product ultimately is actual physical conferences, which is very interesting, because we’re talking about digital marketing here. And so our product ultimately is individualized conversations, and it’s having people meet their right clients, the right prospects, or people they can share ideas with and learn from. 

So it’s funny, so we’re talking about marketing here and yet still, for our company, a big staple of the way we bring people to our events is through a team in Toronto that has individual conversations with all attendees. As much as we’re talking about kind of personalized marketing and personalized messaging through the web and advertising – these conversations still for kind of a personalized set up of what you’re going to gain from the event, it much happens through these conversations with our internal team. Same with the way we produce the event itself, the content, getting the speakers there, much of that also happens through actual phone conversations. 

Now in terms of how we merge one with the other, I think that technology can still play a strong factor in that. So even if you go, say you go to an event, you go to a TEDx conference, there might be 400 people there. I think that with time using technology to help you meet the right people, do a nice form of kind of matchmaking, would be really great. Again, one might feel like it’s taking away from the real “experience” of individual conversations. But I think if you’re having the conversations with the right people in person, I think you’ll just see more benefits from such meetings. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Yeah. I’m noticing your background, and that might be a good segue way to lifestyle. Dealing with such a big volume of conferences and marketing and people and so many moving parts, and you work from home, you work long distance, right? And, well, right now I’m in my recording studio, I didn’t go to my office today, and I’m just going to have some video calls with private clients for coaching. And I think it’s as important in today’s day and age to create the lifestyle that would make any job that you do sustainable, right? And you also have a constantly growing family.

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yes. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     And you constantly have visitors and your house is full. How do you keep yourself happy with all this turmoil? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah. Well, it’s a happy kind of turmoil, so that kind of makes it easier. It was interesting, I mean, it could have all started from the 4-hour work week or such literature that really made realize … 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Tim Ferriss’ book.

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, I’m a big fan of them in general, I think those group of people have really been inspiring for me over the past years. Things like that, I’ve been listening to a lot of Sam Harris as well, it’s been really inspiring to me. I highly recommend his podcast. 

So in terms of juggling these, I do find myself having to set aside specific time for family, even though I work from home – I need to kind of be down here for the majority of the workday. And yet I find it modern technology gives us the tools to really be able to deal with managing a team at a distance. I know it’s one of my company’s concerns about it’s one thing to work remotely, it’s another thing to manage people remotely. 

And from my experience it is certainly more challenging, but it is doable. And it requires more frequent communication. And for me it requires the use of some project management tools and some communication tools. For example, we use things like Basecamp for frequent communication and for project sharing. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     What is Basecamp, for people who do not know, what is that? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Sure. So Basecamp is … actually they’re really an interesting company, there’s a famous book, Rework, by one of their authors, I think the company is called 37signals. And it’s a project management tool that allows you to schedule, keep track of what was done, share files on the cloud. 

But really ultimately, from all these tools, what’s been most useful for us was simply this chat functionality which is very user-friendly, it could be done individually or as a group, you can share files there. And so since we’re there often, we feel like we’re almost in the same environment. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     So that’s interesting, you use online to feel more connected. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     We have to. I also find myself having many more calls maybe than I would have if I was there in person. And I’ve transferred much more to video calls. I find that if you are in a position where you need to work with somebody closely, but you’re in a distance, I highly advise doing video calls. There’s something about seeing the other person and seeing body language that I think is very important to feel connected to your team that you might not get while talking on the phone. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     And I work many times with clients who work from home or travel, and sometimes there is a sense of loneliness, right? You don’t get the sense of camaraderie being in the office. There are many benefits, you don’t get to spend all your time in meetings and just burning time. But how do you keep yourself … Yeah, how do you avoid this loneliness that sometimes happens when working from home? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     I think we have to be self-aware. Like, I, previously to be moving out here I lived in New York for many years, so I think I was on the extreme of that in the other direction. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     And now you’re living in Colorado. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, I’m now in Colorado. So swinging the pendulum the other way was a welcome decision by myself and my family. So kind of I’m okay with that. And I still have, I would say in a week, I probably still have eight or so calls that I make with a team out there and in general some of the remote team. So it goes with close communication. Surely, I still need to find myself in the office; I think it’s still important to be physically present where possible. 

But there also I think other ways to find what you’re just describing, outside of work hours. I don’t think it has to be this, I don’t think we have to find this kind of necessarily social fulfillment during work hours. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Yeah. And I think one of the most inspiring things that you did is that you created a huge life change, and this position, you basically created this position, right? Of working from home in a totally different state. And interestingly enough, your wife did the same, right? She works in Live Nation and manages huge performances, also some marketing efforts, and working with teams but also doing it from home. And one might say this is a dream job, no commute, you can do it in your sweatpants, and it’s just very nice. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, I advise it for everybody for some time. I still find that ultimately I think the nature of the work probably for me supersedes the way we do the work, meaning from where. It did work out, and I guess this in retrospect very much follows this kind of 4-hour work week idea of building trust with your company, show your value to your company. And then I think once that is in place, I think then having the conversation slowly about the values that are important to you can take place. 

And so this, I’ve worked with the company for eight years before moving here. And so it was apparent for them I think from fairly early days that New York was probably not the ultimate place that I would like to end up and I have probably other values that I would like to explore and be closer to. And so it kind of they allowed me to go on sabbatical, for example, in the middle of this when my first son was just born. So they have treated me nicely, but I think what was important is that I was upfront with myself and with them. I think we can get into this mode of working for years and years with having this kind of threatening relationships with our job. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Yeah. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     And it took probably a personalized decision on many occasions to say, “This is important for me. I’ll be a happier person if I do this.” And so once that mindset is there it’s important to let your company know and just have upfront conversations. There’s a lot of work, like there are jobs out there, and I know we sometimes have fear of job security, and I do as well. And at the same time I think we have to learn to be more confident and trusting of our core values and really what’s important to us. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     I really like the movie The Matrix, and it sounds unrelated but it actually is, because it’s a great metaphor of looking at your own perceptions and the ability of not buying into them, right? Because you were very proactive in creating this position for yourself, right? And many times when people look at career options they take the passive approach and not the proactive approach. And I think this is the biggest mistake in terms of, “Well, if I need to find a job, I’m just going to go and look for what’s posted,” right? Instead of thinking creatively and starting from the most important thing, “What would I actually want to be doing,” right? Instead of trying to maybe find the leftover, right? 

And the jobs, 70% of the jobs are never posted, and what’s posted is there kind of the leftovers when a company couldn’t find someone that they can get from word of mouth, right? And those jobs are being … the competition; someone can get … if someone posted for some of my clients, within a few hours we get like hundreds of applications. This is impossible to compete with. But you took a different approach, right? You said, “Well, I’m doing those music events, music festivals. And it’s so interesting, the marketing part is very interesting, and I want to know more about this. How about I go to “the sauce”, to a company that does it on a large scale and learn by doing,” right? 

And one might be scared to do so, because, “Well, maybe I don’t know enough.” But you’re saying, “Well, I’m just going to learn it. I’m going to apply and see what happens.” And when within the company you provide so much value that it allows you to make a request, right? You’re not looking at open positions at the same company; you’re just having a conversation, right? And many times people will not make the request; they will just wait for life to give them opportunities. 

But my main goal working with clients and coaching is, well, how do you create your own opportunities? And go really deep into what stops you from doing so, which is usually fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success many times, right? Because what happens if suddenly I get this opportunity and all the responsibilities that come with it, and I just collapse and won’t be able to perform, right? Or I would just be burnt out and there would be a huge price to pay. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah. The one … So this is something that I think is very … I have found in my own personality, there’s a formality which we spoke about, kind of in the business world, which I have found very difficult with I think probably still comes from the day of organizing music festivals in which I had to wear many hats, but we could also make the decisions and we didn’t have to play this kind of … the business game. Until today, I’ve always had a very difficult time to be … the kind of saying the correct things at the same time, and like, again, playing that game. 

But I think where I have seen the benefits is in having real conversations with people in my business about what is important to me. And I was never afraid to kind of challenge the status quo. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     How so? What helped you to make clear requests about what you want? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Well, I think first and foremost it was important to understand who I’m talking to and how to best talk to them. Like, I think the idea of … Well, one of the really nice things that has helped me was learning about personality types and how different conversation with different personality types can be fruitful. There are some people who need to see numbers, there are other people who are maybe supporting personality types for whom the idea of we is very important, there are other personality types that are promoters, people who want to say it’s all about me, me, me, and so the kind of information you feed them is very different. 

Our CEO happens to be kind of a controlling personality type, and that probably is somebody who cares about company first and foremost. And so each one of those kinds of people you try to speak in a different way. And so I think that that has come to me maybe easier than maybe for others. I think many people try to mirror their own personality types in conversations with people, with others, and I think what’s important is to try to not only display your own personality type but try to match what’s coming at you from the other person. 

So for example, if I’m talking to somebody who really is worried about things being done in … like there’s a process, right? And we have to follow that process. Well, then what I’m going to do in offering a remote role in this idea of a different position is I’m going to document it, I’m going to do a three-page proposal saying, “This is what a day might look like, and this is what I’m going to deliver, and here’s how often I’m going to be there.” But, then again, it could have been somebody who makes very emotional decisions and then that conversation would have been very different. 

So I think that approach has helped me a lot. But certainly what you mentioned about this idea of fear and kind of embracing it, I still have challenges with it. I think we all do. I think just acknowledging it and understanding that, again, this idea. We have to calm ourselves I think when we have kind of formal jobs in a business environment, especially for a while. And remember that our experience and our knowledge is valued. And there are other opportunities out there. And just knowing that and reminding that to yourself I think makes you go with much more confidence to ask for these sorts of things. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Beautiful. I’m very curious to hear about your latest interest in data science. You have been doing some very extensive training, which one might say, “Well, why do you need to learn new things? You have a very good position right now.” But whenever you talk about data science I see like this spark of interest and excitement. And I’m curious to hear first of all what data science is and why it’s important for you personally, and then on a global scale of companies. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah. So there’s a lot there. So let me start with I guess my own experience with data science. About three, four years ago … I’m always a believer in continued education even though much of it has never been applied directly to my work. I received a master’s in public administration from NYU maybe four years ago at this point. And I really enjoyed it, it was a really challenging time, I remember my son was just born and I was working full-time and studying full-time, it was … 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Yeah, you did the impossible.

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, it was quite the impossible kind. And it was interesting, it became apparent that in a public policy environment what I enjoyed the most was research. I found that I always had an attraction to academia. And while not necessarily wanting to work in academia full-time, that is something that really spoke to me. 

And so more recently I was invited to a PhD degree here at UC Boulder in economics, and I realized that it probably would be a really heavy lift at this point in my life. But the one thing that it did rise was this excitement again in revisiting research. And so I found data science is a really interesting opportunity to do the similar kind of nature work where we tried to understand patterns in large datasets, something that was never really available to us previously. I mean, computers just never had such power to be able to deal with so much data. And now that it’s available we can find some really interesting insights. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Like what? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Well, there are different … Yeah, there are many different applications to data science. For example, a close friend who works for a company that does software for thermostats and so they try to set your temperature based on your past behavior before you even know that you want it. Another gentleman that I know leads a team of AI at Pearson, and they do things like automating essay grading for schooling based on some form a teacher would grade some papers. But then the rest would be automated. 

They’re really applications of data science in every environment. And so right now I am indeed finishing up a data science boot camp that’s been lasting about six months. It’s been a really fun experience and I’ve learned a lot. And then on one hand I’m thinking about how could I propose and apply this to my current environment. And that I think is very fun to think about it and to be able to like it learn new things and then apply to your work. I think it keeps our work always exciting. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     That’s the reason why I started Go New. This is the age of really questioning old education systems, right? And first of all, do I really need to learn from a teacher a subject or do I need to learn from a person who had success in doing what they teach, right? So I believe this is the age of experts versus the age of teachers, right? 

And the age of choice, I can actually choose to customize my learning instead of being given this random package, well, not random, but master’s is great, and I’m doing a PhD now and this is great. But I sometimes see that if I seek the biggest experts in the world on the subject that I want to learn about, usually they have some sort of, for example, weekend training, that I can go to and get laser-focused knowledge that has specific tools that I can apply in a very fast-paced format. 

And using the power of the group and the power of mastermind, being in a group of people that learn the same thing. And in many times I learn in those types of environments more than I learned for years in master’s or bachelor’s programs. And using technology, once again, you can pay with a button and go and study an online class or a hybrid program. And this just feels so great, this is such an abundance. And with flight tickets being so cheap and with more options for technology like Airbnb you can create your own education system and just go and see and travel … see places and get an access to the biggest experts in the world, which is incredible. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     I think it’ll be a cultural change, I think it will take some time though. Because the age of classical education has lasted so long, it’s one of the things that probably hasn’t changed for thousands of years, the idea of classroom education. I think it’s fantastic that it’s being challenged. And I imagine that those people that learn, that get comfortable with this and that learn to do this can indeed reap the benefits of this. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     And I think what we’re doing right now in a way is an extension of that, right? Just the whole format of podcasts, just taking the idea of modeling into a higher level, right? If I want to be doing something, why don’t I go and learn it from someone who already did that, right? So if I want to create a lifestyle and maybe create a job that I would enjoy working from home, why don’t I go and listen to a podcast with Michael Salkinder, for example, right? And get some ideas in a very different type of environment, right? 

What we’re doing right now, it is a conversation, and every time that I do a podcast with someone or some very big experts in their field I always see this humbleness, while sometimes the danger of formal education is teacher holding the power in being kind of the expert that brings knowledge from the top of the mountain to the student. And sometimes really forgetting that when I go to a higher education program I’m employing the teacher, I’m the employer, right? I paid for it, but somehow it gets flipped and the teachers hold the power, and it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, that’s very interesting. I wonder if … Do you actually have advice for me and for others? So you’re saying a teacher you find in a formal environment, and that’s what’s easy, right? You sign up for a school and everything is set up for you. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     They take the power away, right? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Sure, but the idea of … 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Tell me what’s good for me, right? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Sure. The idea of you’re kind of … In the more individualized approach that you are discussing right now, you actually have to go out there and seek these people and have what are challenging conversations. There is an uneasiness about going on Linkedin and going to a current data scientists and saying, “I would love to learn more,” whether it’s approaching for a job or whether it’s just approaching for knowledge, information, experience – there is a natural uneasiness I think. And I wonder what you tell your clients or otherwise or just people in terms of advice on what kind of attitude or what kind of mind shift needs to happen. What do you recommend to have? 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Yeah, that’s a great question. One of my biggest goal as a life coach or executive coach is to learn to deal with the mental biases, the mental shortcuts that we take to make quick decisions but the price is precision, right? One of those are biases being black or white thinking, if we have a huge amount, endless amount of possibilities – what our minds, our brains tend to do is minimize them to only two options, right? Which is an illusion. 

So my goal is to expand it back to the possibility of, “Well, actually are there just two options,” right? Is there just two programs that you can choose from in two universities? And the power of brainstorming and gaining some thinking around what is actually possible. And one example that you use, going to LinkedIn and maybe reaching out to a different expert, well, how would you feel if someone that … This is a ridiculous example, but maybe not so much. Someone who’s listening right now to this podcast just looks you up and reaches out to you through LinkedIn and says, “Hey, Michael. I really like what you are saying about creating a lifestyle. And I really am curious to know more about your marketing experience and maybe apply that in my own company. And I’m willing to pay you 10,000 to kind of have conversations with you for a year maybe once a week,” right? How would you feel about that? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, no, I even think … payment aside, I think there’s very nice … One of the most rewarding things that I found is the idea of mentorship. I think that once we’ve done something well to be able to share that with others is probably the most rewarding of activities. So I do agree with you there. I still think it takes some degree of … there’s probably some language that has to be … some kind of self-communication that has to happen for you to be able to do this. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Yeah, I think it starts with putting yourself in the shoes of the other person that you’re reaching out, right? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Would you consider the idea of me paying you 10,000 for a year just to have a conversation with you once a week? Would you? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Sure. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Well, it’s like, yeah, why not, right? But if I can go to the source and learn from the source, and invest 10,000, versus a 100,000 student debt for three years of, I don’t know, business school, that I probably will not learn any precise applicable knowledge, right? Well, then it makes you wonder, right? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Absolutely. There’s something about this, about this kind of like mentorship economy that’s happened. I think that it’s really, really interesting. A staple of my course right now, so I am doing an online data science course because I work full-time so I have to do it in the evenings, though I think that that’s really given me the most value is the mentorship part of it. So I have weekly conversations with a mentor who kind of helps answer my questions and give me some degree of confidence of understanding the subject matter better. 

It took me a few mentors, I have to admit, to really find a connection with somebody who I think is giving me the confidence. And yet it’s just interesting that we come back, we’re talking about marketing and we’re talking about how to do it at scale, and yet we come back to this kind of individualized conversations. And I do imagine that this is going to be … continue to become a growing economy. I hope it does, of connecting the right people to have continued conversations. 

Because it is through conversation ultimately that I think we’re going to learn the most, because it’s when you can ask very specific questions to your problems in whatever area of life or business that there might be. And this is a phrase I keep hearing in some, for example, in podcasts that I hear, it’s like, “The power of conversation and how much it can really transform our lives.” 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     And it doesn’t come from out of the blue, the idea of mentorship, that’s how we always use too learn, right? In some cultures it’s just verbal knowledge that’s being translated, not even written. And what happened with the Industrial Revolution is that knowledge was industrialized, right? How would you feel about having the same class, but instead of talking one-on-one to mentors going to a lecture with 400 other people, which is sometimes it is the standard in higher education, right? 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Uh-hmm. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     And I think it’s important to take what you do seriously and get the most education that you can get that will help you to bring benefit to others, right? And I’m doing the same with my PhD program and Go New as a part of my dissertation as well, and my PhD program is all about education supervision, it’s counseling education. And we learn and research a lot of teaching models, and one thing that keeps showing up is the lecture model is completely (passive?), it’s done, especially with Millennials who are so … just were born into a first page interactive way of living, right? You cannot expect someone to follow for an hour and a half and be passive and just listen, right? It’s just not going to happen, people are going to space out, it needs to be interactive conversations. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, similarly in this course I’m doing I find that the elements and what I learned best is when instead of an hour and a half long lecture, I have snippets of information and then actions on those. And this idea of practice mixed with a degree of lecture, right? Mostly a visual lecture. I found that maybe more of us are becoming more and more visual learners, or maybe we always have been, just never was presented in that way. So usually a visual presentation of information followed by exercises I found to be the most effective way for me to learn. And I imagine that I’m not unique in that way. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     So as we are coming to an end of our conversation, any tips that you have for people who are watching, listening or reading, in terms of how to really advance their careers in terms of authentic career and lifestyle. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Yeah, well, first and foremost I think we have to stay … I know it’s cliché, but we have to stay true to ourselves and remember what are the things that make work interesting for us. The other thing is I think it’s very important to stay curious, so I think it is continued education that’s going to feed … If you’re in an environment where your work allows you to learn on the job, and it’s interesting for you, for me that is an incredible combination that I think one should cherish. 

And I think once we get into a position, into an environment in which we feel like, “Okay, I really haven’t learned much new in the past X months, years,” and you feel kind of in a rut, that’s where I think we have to make sure that we bring up this idea for ourselves of where else can I find this information and can I apply this. The interesting thing is being in that sort of environment where you are continuously learning is it gives you optimism about what you can accomplish and about what else is out there. I think it is being in the same environment, solving the same challenges, even beyond when they already become mundane to you – I think that’s where we really could get into a rut. 

So I think it’s important, and this is just based on my own experience, it could be anybody, but for me I think the things that have helped me move in this direction, and I’m still a student of this, of this exact question so I’m in no way an expert, it has been understanding what are the values that I would like to have in my life. And being willing to take risks and maybe even stay in environments that don’t necessarily give you the full work fulfillment, like I still am … there are parts of marketing like we said in the beginning that I don’t love and parts of my job that I find that do have a negative connotation, and I would love to perhaps apply my knowledge in other ways. 

But as long as I’m continuing to learn and understanding how this could be applied in better ways and how it can self-improve myself, I do find myself feeling much more optimistic about where my career is and where it might be going. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Beautiful. Well, it’s been such a pleasure talking to you. This is fun. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     Indeed, indeed. I hope we do this again. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     I learned a lot.

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     This is an awesome environment, and I wish you the best of luck with the rest of these podcasts. I know they’re going to be excellent. 

Sasha Raskin (Life Coach, Business Coach & Therapist in Boulder):     Thank you. All right, take care. 

Michael Salkinder (Data Scientist & Marketing Team Leader):     All right, thank you, Sasha.

About the Author Sasha Raskin

Sasha Raskin, MA, is an  international #1 bestselling co-author , the founder and CEO of  Go New , a transformational education program, a  life coach, and business coach and a  psychotherapist in Boulder, CO. He is working on a P.h.D in Counseling Education and Supervision and is an adjunct faculty at the Contemplative Counseling master’s program at Naropa University, from which he also graduated. Sasha has been in the mental health field for more than 10 years, worked with youth at risk, recovery, mental health hospitals, and coached individuals, couples, families, startups, and groups. He has created mindfulness stress reduction and music therapy programs within different organizations. Whether it’s in person or via phone/video calls, whether as  a counselor , a  life coach or a  business coach, Sasha uses cutting-edge, research-based techniques to help his clients around the world to thrive.   As a  coach Sasha Raskin provides individual and group  coaching in Boulder, Colorado, and worldwide via video and phone calls, drawing from over ten years of experience. His services include:  life coaching,  business coaching,  career coaching,  ADD / ADHD coaching,  leadership coaching, and  executive coaching. Schedule your free 20-minute  coaching phone consultation with Sasha Raskin As a  counselor in Boulder, CO, Sasha provides  individual counseling in Boulder, CO ,  family therapy in Boulder, CO, and  couples therapy in Boulder,  marriage counseling in Boulder, and  couples intensives /  couples retreats, drawing from over ten years of clinical experience.  Schedule your free 20-minute  psychotherapy phone consultation with Sasha Raskin

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