Season 01 • Episode 06

Matt Sadofsky, Equinox

Our last, but certainly not least, guest of Season 1 of The Appy Hour Talk Show is none other than Matt Sadofsky, Head of Growth & Retention for Equinox; and formerly with Tidal, Tilting Point, and Studio. Matt joins us to recognize the importance of improv classes for almost literally everyone in any profession. We’ll learn about monthly subscriptions to lactose pills, and pass a few dad jokes around the podcast table until we get down and nerdy when we discuss if audio-based contextual ads are really a thing, or if recency bias skews our beliefs. Join us for some info and laughs with Matt!

Episode Transcription:

Louis: So what makes a good dad joke?

Matt: Unexpectedly cheesy. And it takes you a half a second to figure out what the joke was, and then as soon as you do you go, “Wow, that was a really bad joke.”

Louis: Yeah, I think you also have to laugh at a dad joke uncontrollably, even though you know you don’t want to and it was horrible, but you can’t help but laugh.

Matt: Yes. Sometimes you let out a little laugh and then you catch yourself laughing at it, and you’re like, “Oh my God, I just laughed at a dad joke,” and you kind of have to stop yourself, but it’s too late because everyone heard you laugh at it.

Louis: Yeah, and when I give dad jokes out, because I give dad jokes out all the time, freely.

Matt: You’re the Oprah of dad jokes.

Louis: Yeah. I am the Oprah of dad jokes. Once I did that and Christina from MoPub when she used to work there, she was totally laughing at it. She won’t admit it, but I saw her and she was laughing and she’s like, “Well, it’s a dad joke. How could you not laugh? It’s so bad.” And that’s how I get my laughs.

Matt: I would say it doesn’t matter if you’re laughing at me or with me as long as you’re laughing.

Louis: That’s exactly a quote I use a lot as well.

Kali: I love that.

Matt: Hopefully you’re laughing with me more often than at me, but I’ll take either one.

Louis: Just laugh dammit. I’m Louis Tanguay from App Growth Summit and I’m here today with Kali Stelse.

Kali: Hello.

Louis: And our guest is Matt Sadofsky.

Matt: That is me. Thank you for having me.

Louis: Awesome. So a cool thing about Matt is he does improv comedy.

Matt: I do. Actually, we even did improv comedy together.

Louis: We did. Because I did some improv when I first moved to LA and did that. Actually, this is a good little thing to talk about improv. And you told me what you think, Matt. I think that improv is helpful and beneficial for you no matter who you are or what you do.

Matt: 100%. And the applications as a marketer especially. A couple of concepts from improv that I think are great. One is the concept of A to C. So if an improv scene, somebody else had a suggestion of trains, I’m not going to do a scene about trains. I’m going to think of trains, makes me think of travel. Travel makes me think of going to Montreal. So maybe I do a scene about Montreal. So you kind of take a concept and expand upon it. Same thing in marketing. I have a fitness app, but I can’t just keep on saying this is a fitness app. I have to say it’s a fitness app, it helps you achieve your goals, your goal is to live a healthier lifestyle, so now my ads are about a healthier lifestyle. That A to C concept and then the concept of “yes” and is no matter what is true, you say yes to it and you build on top of it, and that’s applicable to pretty much everything in life.

Louis: Especially when you have a bosses and managers and things. You got to be a “yes” and man.

Matt: Don’t be a “yes” man. Be a “yes” and man.

Louis: Exactly. Yeah, that sounds great. And we could do it the exact way I would prefer to do it. I think even if you do sales and stuff like that, or if you’re a speaker on a stage, improv is so important. Or just in life or even if you just meet someone for the first time, you’re at a job interview, you’re on a date. Things are not going to go as planned. That’s the only guarantee.

Matt: I hate planning. Out of all the presentations I’ve done and the speaking engagements, I’ve never once rehearsed.

Louis: You don’t even have slides. You just scribble things on a piece of paper.

Matt: I just generally know what I want to say and then I improv it as I go. If I know the material well enough, I don’t need to have a rehearsed script that I go through. I think improv’s helped a lot with that.

Louis: So when people present at App Growth Summit, I think the most successful ones are the ones who don’t have a lot of speaker notes. They’re the ones who know what they’re talking about, they already put together the presentation, and they could just present that.

Matt: Yeah. Be confident and just go with it. If you flub a little bit, that’s normal. You don’t have to be word perfect. We’re humans. Most of us.

Louis: Perfectly. Most of us. Most of us are humans. Are you a human Kali?

Kali: I am a human. And I am a human who just did improv for the first time.
Louis: She did.

Kali: I liked it. It was good. I was nervous. I’m not really one that like… I can talk okay in front of people, but just to do something like that, it was completely out of my comfort zone. But it was fun. It was a small group of us, but we did some quirky stuff. I learned some stuff. So I think all in all it was a good time.

Matt: That does sound good.

Louis: What was that improv class for?

Kali: The SpeakHer Association for AGS.

Louis: Yeah, we have a SpeakHer Association for women’s speakers and we started off with a dinner to kick it off and figure out where the group’s going to go. We then had for a second meeting an improv class, because obviously, as you just heard, we are fans of improv.

Matt: I think you and me, probably about two years ago, were walking around, I think it was near Grand Central, and we were talking about how improv would be a good event for some sort of thing that you’re doing, and it’s cool two years later you actually ended up doing that. Full circle.

Louis: So your advice is taken from time to time, Matt.

Matt: Yes. Once every two years.

Louis: You do have value in this. And now we’re going to get into a section where Kali is going to ask you some random non-sequitur questions. As if this was not already casual enough, we’re going to continue down this spiral, I mean this great avenue of ours.

Matt: Let’s do it.

Kali: I really enjoy this question. Do you think that you would win more money at Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune?

Matt: Absolutely Wheel of Fortune. I know a lot of random stuff. I could probably hold my own in Jeopardy, but not anywhere close to the way that other people can. I can figure out words. Wheel of Fortune seems easier.

Louis: I can figure out words.

Kali: Two part question. One, do you like nachos?

Matt: I do, but with limited toppings. So basically chips. Chips with some cheese on it.

Kali: So then what topping is a must have on your nachos?

Matt: I’m lactose intolerant, but cheese.

Kali: I feel you. It’s a struggle.

Matt: The doctor said don’t have dairy, and if you have it on occasion, take a Lactaid pill. So I got a monthly subscription of Lactaid.

Louis: Just for your nachos.

Matt: Just for cheese.

Kali: Where do you get a monthly subscription of Lactaid?

Matt: Amazon. I get a box of 60 sent every month. And I go through the box every month. I eat way too much cheese. Italian household.

Kali: You know, I might have to do that myself. What was the worst hairstyle you’ve ever had?

Matt: Oh God. I’ll show you my driver’s license later. I had this awful Beatles style bowl cut through middle school and early high school. My friends took me to a barbershop, said they’d pay for the haircut if I shaved it all off and then left at the end of the haircut and didn’t pay for it. But they said it was the best thing they ever did for me. I appreciate what they did.

Kali: That’s a roller coaster of a haircut.

Matt: It was.

Kali: We’ll do a couple more here. If you had to lose one of your five senses, which one would you give up?

Matt: Oh Man. Stumped. Probably sense of hearing.

Kali: Why?

Louis: What did you say?

Matt: Hearing.

Louis: What?

Matt: That was good. Because I feel like sign language is another form of language, so you could still communicate with people. It doesn’t need to be audible and you could still get by in life. And I wouldn’t need to buy new AirPods every couple of years.

Kali: Did you ever skip school before? And if so, what did you do instead?

Matt: In high school, no… in college to sleep.

Louis: Why, what did you do the night before?

Matt: Nothing. I was a mellow student.

Louis: Just tired.

Matt: Just tired. Need my sleep.

Kali: Last one. Where are you considered a regular at?

Matt: Used to be Starbucks, but I’ve cut that back. Now I would say I am a regular at… probably still Starbucks. I’ve cut back a lot, but I still go way too much.

Kali: You need coffee.

Matt: I don’t even drink coffee though.

Louis: What do you do there?

Matt: Sometimes I get tea, but I like the breakfast sandwiches they have.

Louis: Oh, okay. You’re the freak who just walks in to buy a sandwich. Coffee? No.

Matt: The reduced-fat turkey bacon is 230 calories. It’s fantastic. So there you go.

Kali: I like that. Enjoy that.

Louis: Shameless plug for Starbucks.

Matt: Yes. I don’t get paid by them. If anything, I pay them way too much.

Louis: So let’s go onto a section now that we call it “Talk Nerdy To Me.” This is where we’ll talk a little tech, because this is an industry podcast, so to speak, in the loosest forms of all of those words and descriptions. What is the best piece of career advice that you’ve ever been given?

Matt: Hire good people and let them do the job you hired them to do.

Louis: Is that what you tell your boss?

Matt: No, I’ve had a chance now to build out three different marketing teams, and as you’re scaling an organization, it’s always becoming more and more complex, and eventually it’s going to get to the point where I can’t be there for every single decision that has to be made and you have to trust the people that you hired to make those. I’ve seen some people who like to be involved in every single decision that’s made and they go crazy because you just don’t have all the time in the day to do that. So trust people that you hired to do the job you hired them to do.

Louis: Especially if you want to sleep late and call in sick just for sleeping. I trust you to do it. Let me know how that campaign went. What’s the most common misnomer in the industry that you’re tired of hearing?

Matt: The number of people that work in this industry that believe that Facebook is listening to their phone calls and using that to serve ads. I can’t get Siri to answer a question correctly. There is no way that Facebook has the technology to correctly listen in on a phone call and serve relevant ads based on that. The concept drives me crazy. If you will allow me for a moment here…

Louis: Rant.

Matt: A clear case for why it’s not true. The average person living in a city sees between 1,000 and 4,000 ads every single day. I actually did a study on this when I was at Tidal. I did three different groups of 20 in the company and asked people to try to recall every ad they could see in the previous day. On average, people could recall 0.4% of the ads that they saw. So you forget about 99.6%. Statistically, you’re going to see an ad that’s relevant to something you said at some point during some month. So people like to point to four or five times a year that they go, “Oh my God, I was just talking about a Mercedes and I got a Mercedes ad on Facebook.” Well, yeah, I was just talking about Dunkin Donuts and I saw a Dunkin Donuts billboard. That doesn’t mean the billboard’s listening to my conversation. It’s just happenstance that those things happen to come up and that conspiracy theory drives me crazy.

Louis: Do you think it’s just the Facebook one or just Alexa and everything? You think that it’s all balderdash and poppycock? Do you think that there are some devices that just listen for keywords and then serve it up?

Matt: I think the devices are listening, but I think they’re using that to train their algorithms for speech recognition. I don’t think that’s useful for ad serving. Especially because if I say I cannot stand milk and then I start getting a bunch of milk ads because it heard the keyword milk. That is the worst use of that keyword possible. So not only you have to have an algorithm that’s properly picking up all the words that you’re saying, figuring out the difference between the different people that are saying it in the conversation, but then also using natural language processing to figure out if it was a positive or negative connotation with it. That’s just such an inefficient way to serve ads. So I can’t imagine that. Then Facebook, Google, and all these people would have to be lying to us about not using that information.

Louis: Oh, they would never lie to us.

Matt: No, never. But I just think there’s just way too much stacked up against it to make sense for that conspiracy to be true.

Louis: I think a lot of people like to blame other things. For example, there was a big debate over, “Oh, you no more organic traction for your Facebook pages. The only way to get seen for your Facebook page is by buying ads.” And you know that’s not true, because all you have to do is go to your newsfeed and scroll down, and if every single, no page that you saw said sponsored, then it would be true. But you see a lot of organic posts in your newsfeed and it’s just that the pages aren’t doing posts that are encouraging enough engagement. So what’s more likely, that Facebook’s like, “You must pay for everything,” or Facebook’s rewarding pages that put out good content.

Matt: Facebook cares about engagement more than anything. If you’re not keeping people engaged, they are not going to surface your stuff and you’re going to have to pay to get it surfaced. That’s the way it goes.

Louis: And it’s kind of merit based marketing. You put out crappy stuff, why is it their obligation to show it to everybody?

Matt: It’s true.

Louis: Do better marketing. All right, so Matt, we’re reaching the end of our amazing podcast with you. Thank you so much. You’ve been an outstanding guest.

Kali: Yeah, thank you for your dad jokes.

Matt: I have more. Just not ready at the moment.

Kali: Should we close out with one? You gave me really high hopes there.

Matt: No, I can’t do that. That had to be natural. You can’t force a dad joke.

Matt: Because then it’s a bad joke.

Louis: See? There we go. Thank you. You delivered at the end. Under the gun he came through.

Matt: Just got to give me a good setup.

Louis: Thank you very much, Matt. And we’ll talk to you soon.

Matt: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

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