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Neil Carroll [00:00:05] Hi, welcome to the smarter business podcast. Business advice with a video bent. Our goal with this podcast is to deliver high quality, actionable tips, and advice from business leaders that can help you succeed. Oh yeah, and that video bent, we’re going beyond the typical business tips. We’re going to explore the use of video with these business leaders too. From marketing, to sales, to internal communications, how it impacts their businesses. So thanks for tuning in. We are publishing this series on YouTube in video format, and wherever you download your podcasts. Please subscribe to get access in the future, and to stay in the loop with these business altering tips and advice.


Neil Carroll [00:00:52] Welcome to the first smarter business podcast. So the idea here is that we’re gonna give some business tips with a bit of a video bent. Our inaugural guest for this podcast is Joe Neiman who is with ACV Auctions. What’s your title now Joe.


Joe Neiman [00:01:09] Today it is Chief Customer Officer.


Neil Carroll [00:01:13] Excellent, and I’m going to ask you first Joe, just can you tell anybody who doesn’t know what ACV Auctions is, who you guys are, what you do.


Joe Neiman [00:01:26] Absolutely. ACV Auctions is a Buffalo based startup. So we got going about five years ago, and have built a pretty decent sized company here in Buffalo. We, our customers are car dealers, and we’ve created a marketplace where they buy and sell used cars between, between each other. So we are disruptive to the physical auctions. Most consumers don’t have any idea that this industry exists but there’s something like 20 million cars a year that get bought and sold between car dealers at auctions. So we’re leveraging technology and a lot of people. So we’re over 800 employees now all over the country, about 400 or so in Buffalo, but this is, this is how you want startups to pan out. We’re, we’re very lucky, very blessed. We’ve made a lot of mistakes but have fortunately recovered quickly. And yes we’re doing great. So hopefully that helps.


Neil Carroll [00:02:25] That’s excellent. I think, yeah, anybody who didn’t know who you are, they now know.


Joe Neiman [00:02:29] Now they know.


Neil Carroll [00:02:32] Well thank you for being on the first episode of this too. We’re hoping to talk to a lot of different business owners who have something to share with our audience here. So part of what we’re doing today is, in part of this podcast, is that we’re going through a rebrand and repositioning of our own company, and why I thought you might be a good fit for the first one is you have a good story about the ACV Auctions logo. I didn’t bring any visual props, but could you kind of talk through kind of how that works.


Joe Neiman [00:03:08] Yeah I can definitely speak to it. Another good reason why you want me as the first guest on your, on your podcast is because it can only get better from here.


Neil Carroll [00:03:17] I was going to say because you’re the most famous person that I know.


Joe Neiman [00:03:20] Stick with my answer. It can only get better from here folks. So yeah, so company’s called ACV. Boy I should have wore an ACV shirt then I could have.


Neil Carroll [00:03:29] We’ll put a graphic up.


Joe Neiman [00:03:30] We’ll put a graphic up. So if you’ll notice on the graphic that doesn’t yet exist while I’m doing this, you can see that down in the lower left little leg of the “A,” right, is the lowest point in the logo, and kind of the way I like to visualize it, and this is even before the company had any traction, any legs, before we raised any money, or anything, I kind of knew that this was what I wanted it to look like. But basically it it starts low, kind of goes through the ACV experience and ends high up on the “V.” Right, and the idea is that we are an auction, we are a marketplace. And the way to get the most engagement out of our particular marketplace is the less you ask, the more you get. So it’s kind of a cute, soft way of kind of pitching in best practice, there’s a better way, subconscious, that’s what, that’s the word I was looking for. Subconscious little cue.


Neil Carroll [00:04:24] And it’s become a big part of your business though, that whole philosophy of like getting dealers to start low, and then they finish higher than they expected kind of thing.


Joe Neiman [00:04:33] Definitely, I mean it’s a strategy that works in most auctions. Auctions at the end of the day without going too far down the rabbit hole, require engagement from an audience, and we’ve found that we’re able to really get a lot of engagement on, on auctions when they start low. Right, it’s just kind of, what’s the right word here. I don’t know, maybe it’s.


Neil Carroll [00:04:55] It’s the catalyst to get things started, right, or it’s the starting gun I guess, right.


Joe Neiman [00:05:01] I think I need coffee. We should just like stop this podcast right now, so I can find the words that I’m looking for. But yeah it’s fun when you can have the name and the logo kind of play into what you do. That’s been our experience.


Neil Carroll [00:05:15] Yeah, yeah absolutely. And so kind of the next spot we were gonna go is we were gonna, this will be the spot where we do our own reveal with our logo. I put a print out in front of you, very low tech, but you get, you get a look at it.


Joe Neiman [00:05:32] I am not a tech guy. I like paper.


Neil Carroll [00:05:35] And I guess maybe where I’ll start on this, and we’ve talked about this a little before, but we have been considering a rebrand for years at Nickel City Graphics, and what we’re going into now. And for a couple of reasons we were always looking at it. The Nickel City moniker doesn’t give you kind of full control over the brand that you use. And then the graphics part of the name was tied to my last kind of real job, which was as a motion graphics and animation artist. But, Joe played a significant role in finally deciding to go forward with our rebrand. I thought I had built some brand equity and so on with the Nickel City Graphics brand, but on a shoot that Joe and I were on, in Austin, Texas, I asked him to lay down a testimonial for us. So we get all set up, we sit him down in his chair, and Joe’s question is “So what do I call you guys?” “What’s the name of the company?” kind of thing.


Neil Carroll [00:06:47] So, that just kind of let me know, you know, it happens a lot, like I worked personally with a lot of clients. So, a lot of people know me more than the name, but that cemented the fact that there wasn’t, we weren’t gonna lose a lot of brand equity by making the switch. So, the new logo and the new name that we came up with is vidwheel. Vidwheel speaks a little more to our actual core service of providing video production and strategy around that. And then much like the ACV logo there’s a little more of a story inside that graphic there. You can see at the top we kind of start with a couple of points that are, you know, kind of speak to the way that we like to create a couple points a contact for clients, and then A/B test, and you can see they kind of go together at the bottom there. That’s when we’re making adjustments, kind of refining those strategies, and kind of, you know, continuing on through the process. And then the end, the kind of dashed line section is about planning. Right? Taking what you learned from that video series, or whatever we’ve put together, a video marketing campaign, and learning from what you did, planning for the next, and then you start it all over again. So, hence the wheel.


Joe Neiman [00:08:11] I like it well some wheels. You know. It makes you think of motion. Right? And progress. So I dig it.


Neil Carroll [00:08:20] Yeah.


Joe Neiman [00:08:20] I think it’s a great name I think. I think if you put vidwheel dot I O you could go raise like ten million bucks right now.


Neil Carroll [00:08:26] Well, let’s do that. But yeah and it fits with ACV. Totally not on purpose, but there you go.


Joe Neiman [00:08:34] Hey. How bout that?


Neil Carroll [00:08:37] So, Joe gets to see this before we even reveal it to everybody. So, to keep that under his hat.


Joe Neiman [00:08:42] Oh yes.


Neil Carroll [00:08:42] For a couple of weeks here until until the reveal party.


Neil Carroll [00:08:46] So, I guess the next piece that we were I was hoping to talk about is just a little bit of some of the different ways. Another part of what we’re doing with the with our rebrand is trying to become a little more holistic in how we deliver video solutions. So, instead of we were always very like video marketing focused. But like for ACV Auctions we’ve done marketing videos, we’ve done videos that can be helpful in the sales space. And we’ve done a lot of internal communications videos. I don’t know. Do you want to speak on any project that we’ve done or is there anything, I guess, that you think worked.


Joe Neiman [00:09:33] I think they’ve all worked. I mean so we’ve done with your former company Nickel City Graphics right pre-rebrand, we’ve done like over 100 testimonial videos or close to it. These have just been an incredible way to capture voice of customer, capture their words. You know it’s one thing to have like a canned kind of piece or or just block of text from a customer. But I think these really get at the emotion and the success we bring in and just honestly I mean your interactions with the dealer, which isn’t really seen on the video, but the fact that you’ve been able to get them to open up and really talk about this has been pretty remarkable. So, that’s helped our sales. It’s also made a lot of our customers feel special and valued which has been cool to see they get pretty excited about doing these things.


Neil Carroll [00:10:26] Yeah. They always seem excited when we get there.


Joe Neiman [00:10:29] Yeah. So, that’s been that’s been neat. And then just you know we’ve done the internal training videos for our sales team. And so yeah I I mean I think they’ve all been great. I’m not just saying that because I’m on your podcast I think of I think I’ve been probably a big pain in the butt on a lot of these. But they’ve really they’ve gone to plan, they’ve come out on time and polished and I think we’re just proud of them. It’s a good way for us to get in front of our customers or even our own internal teams and give them a consistent message. You know and just the world we’re in, I mean I’m probably the worst offender, but people have short attention spans. So, to be able to put something on video and, you know, that seems to resonate. That seems to get the message through more effective than anything else we’ve done.


Neil Carroll [00:11:22] Excellent. Yeah that’s good. It’s good to hear.


Joe Neiman [00:11:26] Slide me that twenty dollar bill right now. That was good right.


Neil Carroll [00:11:28] Yeah. Yeah. That’s excellent. Yeah. And that’s what we. That’s what we aim to do try to add some efficiency and so on to some of those communications.


Neil Carroll [00:11:40] Another piece that we wanted to kind of tie into this podcast is we have a lot of supporting materials out there in one piece that I know we talked prior to this and you guys have never really done the announce something big type of video but that’s what we’re doing now with this podcast and kind of the launch of this whole thing. So, I don’t know. It’s just another video type. That’s another way that you can kind of you know from more of a PR lens get things out there and that’s that’s kind of what you’re helping us with right now. Whether you meant to or not.


Joe Neiman [00:12:23] Happy to be a part of it.


Neil Carroll [00:12:23] So we’ll just move on past that. So, we’re gonna get kind of the end of the official interview type of thing which. I’d like to know because we’re calling this a Smarter Business Podcast and the whole idea is that we’re gonna bring people on who know what they’re talking about and one I like you know share their knowledge with her viewership or listenership. What’s one key way that you think you’ve made your business smarter in the last couple of years.


Joe Neiman [00:12:55] OK. I’ve got one that I am happy to share.


Neil Carroll [00:12:58] One is good. All right.


[00:13:01] It’ll be a fun simple one here. So, I can’t take credit for this, but this is something that I learned handful years ago at a dinner. Kind of an impromptu thing and I was sitting with an executive, former executive, from Coca-Cola bottling of all things. And this is a guy who really built, you know, a several billion dollar empire, prior to his leadership Coca-Cola Bottling it was all just like they just worked with bottlers all over the world. And I think the effort that they made was to really unify all of these different companies and bring them together through acquisition and standardize the operations. Big big effort. Right? And he was having a lot of fun with myself and George, who’s the CEO of our company, and and kept asking us you know “What’s the secret to hiring.” You Know. And we’re like jeez how do we I don’t know. Oh you know we thought we had some good ideas. He’s Like “no”, “no”. You know everything we said. He finally said “Do you want to know what it is?” Yeah. After all this build up. Right. And he said “I’ve hired, you name it. Right. Everybody thousands of people. And it doesn’t matter if they went to Harvard. It doesn’t matter if they don’t have a degree.” You guys want to know what it is? Yes. He said “hire happy people.” That’s it. Huh?


Joe Neiman [00:14:23] And it was interesting because it was right at a time where we had just brought on our SVP of Sales this guy, Mike Waterman, who’s like the coolest, happiest dude you’d ever meet. He’s a singer in a rock band. I mean he’s just awesome right. So, anyways like well or at least we got that right because if there’s one glowing character trait of Mike it’s that he is just the happiest dude going. But the whole point and what I’ve seen play out now we’re over eight hundred employees is; it really doesn’t matter how smart these people are, smart people are great. You know. But if they can’t work well with a team or spin in a different way they need to be able to work well with the team they need to be able to be positive, resilient, have a smile on their face because you know you just get more out of that person and they like being around and the glass, you know, the glass is always can be half full or it can be half empty and I guess from a cultural perspective, as I’ve watched our company grow, you know, just the miserable people you know they can bring down a lot of people with them. So. And look interviewing is a tough thing. You know you got you got a resumé and you spend half an hour or an hour with somebody and you’re basically marrying that person for all intents and purposes. That’s a hard thing to get done and do right consistently. So, I interview a lot of people now and I guess I’m letting the cat out of the bag, but I just like to have friendly conversations, get to know somebody, and man if they seem like a happy optimistic resilient person, like you know, you can train the rest. Right? But that person’s just they’re going to get more mileage out of you. You know you’re gonna get more mileage out of them. Their interactions with your customers are going to go so much better. Their ability to integrate well with your team and be kind of a positive shining star within your organization. Like it’s all those soft skills that people don’t give enough credit for but yeah. Hire happy people, you know, and then call people out when they’re not being happy and go send them on a vacation and say “Come back when you’re happy.” You know because otherwise you don’t need him around. They’re doing more damage to your org than than you probably even realize when they’re not in a good state of mind. So.


Neil Carroll [00:16:48] You have all happy people then?


Joe Neiman [00:16:49] Absolutely. All happy people. We have mostly happy people, you know, and hopefully they’ll listen to this and go maybe I should be a little happier.


Neil Carroll [00:16:59] Right. Well that’s the secret.


Joe Neiman [00:17:01] I’m not completely naive. But a baseline of happiness is an important place to start.


Neil Carroll [00:17:08] That’s great advice. Right? Yeah. You don’t want people dragging you down. So, I mean you kind of hit on a bit of advice to give people too. So, we’re in a pretty good spot. So, I’m gonna give you this just like we give in all our interviews and you’ve seen this done a million times. Do you have any any anything else to add? We’ll leave it open ended. You go, Joe.


Joe Neiman [00:17:37] Yeah. I can’t say no. Right? What if I just said No I’ve got nothing else.


Neil Carroll [00:17:41] It’s happened.


Joe Neiman [00:17:42] So, Neil and I were we’re chatting over lunch today and you know Neil and I have gone on some fun trips together all over the country, interviewing doing testimonials of ACV’s customers. So, we get a lot of time on airplanes and at airports and over dinners and things.


Neil Carroll [00:18:01] And diners in Indianapolis.


Joe Neiman [00:18:03] Yeah. I don’t think I make a pass on that one again, but we survive. But anyways we end up talking about books and life and stuff like that. So, today over lunch I mentioned a book that I recently read and I’m now rereading. See if I can remember the name of it.


Neil Carroll [00:18:18] I wrote it down.


Joe Neiman [00:18:19] It was called. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Untethered Soul. I really, really need that coffee. Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul and I usually read like nonfiction business books. This one’s a little different and it’s all about consciousness and how you perceive the world around you. It’s a short read it’s an easy read. It’s not like too far out there in the in the woo woo kind of you know weird space, but really blew my mind. About I guess you know I think I’m like a lot of people, but I’ve always got a voice that’s talking in my head, so maybe I belong in a insane asylum but I’m saying too much here. But you know kind of, I’ll give away, I’ll give away one little thing in the book and they talk about the fact that like everybody’s got that hopefully that’s true. Is that voice in your head and really the fact that that’s not you. OK? That voice is going to you’re going to talk constantly no matter what. You really can’t even stop it. And and trying to is actually a futile effort. But as soon as you understand that like that voice is actually not your own voice it’s it’s kind of a crazy person that you’re you know locked in your head with and you have the choice if you view it as such you have the conscious choice to do I want to listen to this. Do I want to give it the attention that it’s trying to get or you know can I just kind of ignore it and make my own choices. And the fascinating thing is when you create that space I mean I remember reading this like you know four months ago and now again I’m rereading the book but just kind of blew my mind. It’s like “Oh if if that’s not me then who am I?” And I get the choice to listen to that voice or choose to ignore that voice and create some distance in space from from that voice that’s always going in, and listen and think about it. Do I want to take its advice? Or is that crazy advice, which you know probably 80 percent of the time it’s crazy, you know, crazy advice.


Neil Carroll [00:20:31] It’s usually pretty negative. Right?


Joe Neiman [00:20:32] It’s usually pretty negative. Yeah. Yeah or it’s overwhelmingly positive. And then it just decides to switch. Right? And see things from a positive light to a negative light and as soon as you like to distance yourself from that and go “OK. That’s just my crazy roommate.” You know, who’s always trying to stir the pot. Oh well isn’t that refreshing. So, obviously the book has a lot more to offer than just that but it’s kind of one of these, I think the way I termed it to you was like mind bending. Just causes you to see things in a different light. Now. Keep in mind no reading this book for a second time even though it’s a quick read because I kind of feel like I got so much out of it the first time. You know. But then I see opportunities where, you know, some days I’m living you know and thinking the right way and other days I’m short sighted and impulsive. And so, hopefully by reading this kind of on a more regular basis and revisiting it I can build some habits that should help me.


Neil Carroll [00:21:29] Excellent. Yeah.


Joe Neiman [00:21:29] But I highly recommend that book.


Neil Carroll [00:21:31] Yeah. Great. That’s good. Good recommendation. Hopefully people take it. I’ll read it.


Joe Neiman [00:21:38] Read it.


Neil Carroll [00:21:39] I’m always looking for something to read.


Joe Neiman [00:21:42] That’s right. See you what you think.


Neil Carroll [00:21:43] Yeah well report back next time and we’ll discuss this book in further detail. All right. Well that is that is going to wrap it up for today. That’s. We’re trying to keep this short and sweet. I don’t know what the runtime on this was but you know trying to keep it to that 20 minute-ish span and we’ll look forward to our next one. All right. Great. Thanks Joe.


Joe Neiman [00:22:07] Thanks for having me on.


Neil Carroll [00:22:09] So there you have it. The first episode of the smarter business podcast I hope you found it informative and like Joe said hire happy people. He knows what he’s talking about. He has been hiring machine for the past two years. Please subscribe leave comments, share this with your friends, and let us know what you think. I will see you next time.