Neej Gore (Zeta Global) - A Multi-Pronged Approach

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This is a podcast episode titled, Neej Gore (Zeta Global) - A Multi-Pronged Approach. The summary for this episode is: <p>Neej Gore, Chief Data Officer at Zeta Global, joins the Marketing Stir this week to chat with Ajay and Vincent about data democratization and responding to consumer decisions. Ajay enjoys napping, and Vincent listens to '90s Hip Hop.</p>
Intro to the episode
00:46 MIN
What Zeta Global is
01:05 MIN
What led Neej to the data world
04:49 MIN
More on Zeta's marketing, and what separates them from competitors
02:47 MIN
How Zeta views identity
03:37 MIN
The current landscape of data: How should we view it, and what should we be concerned with?
01:58 MIN
The importance of data democratization
02:41 MIN
LinkedIn Messages: What Neej would respond to and what irks him
02:09 MIN
Advice from Neej
00:53 MIN

Speaker 1: Maybe big data has gotten too big. Whether you're a B2B marketer or a consumer brand, your data needs to be viable, relevant, and accessible so that Stirista can help you retain customers, acquire customers, and make it personal.

Speaker 2: Welcome to The Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you're going to put in your ear. I'm Ben, the producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders and get their take on the current challenges of the market, and we'll have a little fun along the way. And today's episode, Neej Gore, Chief Data Officer at Zeta Global, joins The Marketing Stir this week to chat with AJ and Vincent about data democratization and responding to consumer decisions. AJ enjoys napping and Vincent listens to nineties hip hop. Give it a listen.

Vincent: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of Stirista's The Marketing Stir. I, of course, am your happy host, Vincent Pietrafesa, the Vice President of B2B products and partnerships here at Stirista. Thank you for joining us. I love talking to our audience, The Marketing Stir, I think season three, over a hundred and twenty five hundred thirty episodes. And thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen for coming up to me at the various trade shows. People are back, people are out at trade shows, and I love... Now look, this doesn't happen a lot. Let me back up a second. I'm not a Beatle, right? As I said in the past, but people are coming up to us and saying, " We love the podcast. This is great." So I appreciate that. You also have a lot of ideas for us here at the podcast, so some of them are good ideas, some of them are pretty awful. So let's come up with those good ideas. But anyway, it is great to be here. Let's pause for one second just to talk about Stirista. That's all. It's the only time we talk about Stirista. We are a marketing technology company. We own our own business to business data, business to consumer data. We help people access that data through our own DSP, ESP. Email me, vincent @ stirista. com. I could help. That is how confident I am. I just gave you my email. The other thing I'm confident in is my co- host, ladies and gentlemen, the San Antonio Slayer. I haven't used that in a long time, but he's back. He's beautifully illuminated. Mr. AJ Gupta. What's going on, AJ?

AJ: Hey, Vincent, I am indeed back. Well rested from Thanksgiving. For a change, we didn't do much, so managed to get quite a few naps in.

Vincent: I know you're a huge napper. I tried to take a nap yesterday while watching... I was with my oldest sons and he just bothered me every five minutes. Even when I started my eyes just to close a little bit, he would hit me. I was like, who is my kid? That's what I would do. I would do the same thing to annoy an adult, but I didn't get much sleep this weekend. But yeah, Thanksgiving was fun. I kind of just went up to Connecticut, visited my brother, and then stayed over at a hotel. I watched the New York Giants lose. I was very disappointed and that's it. Just had a good weekend. Other than that, it was fun. But I'll be in San Antonio.

AJ: Yeah, you had a good fantasy win, which is good because you beat the guy who could have taken over my spot. So I thank you for that.

Vincent: That's right. You went down, Hunter. Don't think you could come in his league and beat me. Come on. But yeah, no, it's a fun weekend. But now it's like we have those couple weeks here until Christmas. It's a joyous time in New York City. Joyous time in New York City. Let me talk to you about joyous. I always love meeting people who... We would've went to the high school at the same time, like the same class, if you will. I always hold those people very close. And I discovered that this gentleman not only is amazing at what he does, we love the company that he works for, Zeta Global. This guy knows data, but I always feel, and AJ, you're not quite my era, I was surprising to learn that you're younger than me. I was very surprised to learn that.

AJ: A lot of women say I'm considerably younger than you, but...

Vincent: Yeah, well, they probably work for you. That's probably why. But no, you're younger than me, but this guy... Hey, I'm not going to say my age. I won't say his age, but we would've graduated high school at the same time. And that means you grew up in a certain area. You grew up in the nineties, let's say it. Who cares? You grew up in the nineties. Great movies, the best music, the best hip hop for sure, right? So that is something we have in common. Let's give a warm welcome, ladies and gentlemen. He's the Chief Data Officer at Zeta Global. My new pal, Neej Gore. What's going on, Neej?

Speaker 5: Vincent, AJ, thanks for having me. And yes, the nineties were one of the best decades of all time, if not the best. And I really appreciate, again, you guys having me on the podcast today.

Vincent: Yeah, absolutely. I agree about the nineties there. And we've wanted your perspective, Neej, and we know Zeta Global, and it's rare. I think we've only had one or two chief data officers and a lot of times it's people... Which there's marketing aspects there, right? You know marketing obviously, you know data. But we wanted to get your perspective on... We see Zeta Global doing some really great things. I have a lot of great friends and people that I know there at Zeta. So we wanted to get you on and we met in person. You're one of the rare guests that we've actually met in person. A lot of people... Out of the 100 and 25 of them, maybe we met five in person. So that is a rarity, a lot of rarities here, Neej. And we'll get into some of your background and how you got into this business. We're going to talk about bar ownership with it. So it's unique, a lot of great things. But Neej, how do we kick off every podcast is, walk people through your role there at Zeta Global. And for those people who don't know who Zeta Global is, talk a little bit about the company.

Speaker 5: Sure, yeah, absolutely. So Zeta Global is an enterprise technology company for marketers and marketing enterprises. We have about a thousand customers globally. Most of them are enterprises. So we work with 35% of the Fortune 100. And our goal is to help our enterprise brands work on improving their acquisition, growth and retention programs. So our technology powers everything from help me find new customers to help me keep my customers for longer, to actually help me extend customer value. And really we operate across the consumer lifecycle in that way. My role here, I'm the Chief Data Officer, and really at Zeta, we have two pillars on the technology and data side. It's myself and my colleague Chris. He's a CTO, and we help to drive the innovation and really the platform itself and taking in data and synthesizing data's inputs and then making it to something very valuable that our customers can use to again, acquire, grow, and retain their customers.

Vincent: And a great team there. Shout out to Chris. Shout out to Bashir, Katie, awesome teammates that we know there. So Neej, we normally ask how someone gets into marketing, but talk to us how you got into just this business, this world.

Speaker 5: Sure.

Vincent: Data. People don't grow up and they're like, hey, let's get me into marketing. People don't certainly grow up and like get me into data. I don't think people talk about that, but tell me how you got into it.

Speaker 5: Yeah, I will tell you, and it's a pretty interesting story if you go back. So by the way, you look very young for your age, and so don't-

Vincent: I'm near AJ.

Speaker 5: Don't be shy.

Vincent: Yeah.

Speaker 5: Both of you. And so don't be shy about releasing the year of your graduation to the audience. I won't be either. So when I graduated from college, I went to Cornell. I had already been sort of set on this path of entrepreneurship. My senior year at Cornell, I started working with a friend of mine on a technology that was attaching intranet portals to backend ERP systems for schools. And so much of technology and so much of entrepreneurship is being in the right place at the right time. And at that time you had to go to a lab to actually register for courses or to check your grades online. And so we said, well, shouldn't all this stuff just exist on the web? And so we worked to make that happen. About a month before I graduated from Cornell, we actually sold that business to a business in Boston, which was one of the largest ERP companies for higher education at that time and still is. And that sort of lit the fuse under me around entrepreneurship, building my own companies, building my own teams, and working on problems that I thought were really interesting. So that eventually led me to San Francisco, which I considered to be the hub of entrepreneurship and technology at that time. And when I moved here, I did a couple things. So I really didn't know too many people in the city, and I thought a great way to get to meet people would be to get more involved in the social scene. And so I started throwing a few parties with a few friends, and if you fast forward a couple years, we had built two of the most popular bars in San Francisco, and we ran those for about 10 years. But all the while in the back of my head and I was running most of the business side of the operation, I kept on coming up against this challenge where I said, the tools for marketing small businesses are pretty lacking, right there were tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact, but really we wanted tools that allowed you to build loyalty and make them much easier. So I end up launching an ESP and that ESP also scaled pretty large. Eventually I sold that company, but that really gave me my first exposure to marketing as an industry that I'd want to work in. And then since that time, I've had a number of different startups. Most notably about nine years ago, three of us got together and we started a company called Boomtrain. And Boomtrain was an AI powered marketing stack, really to remove the decisioning that a marketer would need to do, let the AI do it, and really enable one- to- one messaging and personalization across owned marketing experiences. And five years into that journey, we were acquired by Zeta. And that platform now sits at the center of Zeta's ecosystem. One thing I learned quickly when I arrived at Zeta is that they had a very broad data asset that needed a lot of cultivation, but they had invested a lot to actually create, synthesize, and utilize this data asset. So we said, you know what? We can take this a lot further. And really what brands want to learn about is not data. They want intelligence and intelligence comes in a few different forms. There's intelligence about customers, intelligence about the market, intelligence about competitors, and then intelligence about prospects, right? That's really what marketers are looking for. So the synthesis of intelligence into a system of activation that could be a DSP or an ESP or a CDP, that combination unlocks something very, very new for the MarTech space. We've already seen intelligence play well with walled gardens for a long time, namely Google and Facebook and Amazon as examples. But in MarTech, when you want to actually be smarter with the way you run your own media, you're paid media and how those then interact together. Intelligence can be the connective tissue between the two. And so identity, intent, signals, they all become part of the way you want to actually build towards successful marketing programs. And so that's really how I ended up in this role is we decided to take what was already existing at Zeta and then go much further and build out an actual data cloud environment. And when I say data cloud, what I really mean is the notion of identities, the notion of identifiers, how you reach people, and then the notion of signals. And that helps you what people are trying to do, their intent and interest. And if you can make that available to marketers in a really easy way, you can unlock the intelligence I mentioned earlier, competitor, customer, prospect, and market. And that's really where the magic happens.

AJ: Neej, pretty fascinating background, actually went to St. Lawrence, so not too far from Cornell.

Speaker 5: Yes, yes.

AJ: Little bit colder.

Speaker 5: Well, once you get to that level of cold, I think cold is cold. Actually, I think, people from Chicago probably think otherwise. But it's weird. I remember being in Upstate New York in the winter in a t- shirt and now in San Francisco, I have to wear my Patagonia when it's like 60 degrees. I can't handle it anymore. I don't know what happened. But I do like Patagonia, so I like to support that brand. But that said, I've lost my tolerance for the cold somewhere along the way.

Vincent: Mm- hmm.

AJ: Me too. That's why I ended up in Texas.

Speaker 5: Yeah, yeah, you got it better than me. Yeah.

AJ: Neej, one of the fascinating things about Zeta is how quickly you guys are growing and expanding. So tell us a little bit about how you do your own marketing and what's really separating you guys from competitors.

Speaker 5: Yeah, it's a great question. I'm going to give you a slightly different answer, but I think it's one that's really suited for where we are as a business. So I think if you look at Zeta from three years ago, we were the largest marketing technology company that no one had ever heard of, right? If you went to a group of the top 100 CMOs in the world, they might say, "Oh, well I've heard of Zeta somewhere, but I'm not sure what they do." So for us, most of our growth originally came from delivering great results to clients. And those great results would translate into NRR and expanding accounts. Now in'21, we had the fortune and we were fortunate I should say, to go public and have our IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. And that incredibly raised the profile of the company. We also received the number one accolade for marketing automation for enterprise from Forrester in'21 and now again in'22 and that again raised our profile. I still think we could be doing a lot more for our own marketing, but I think the word is finally out that we're on the scene and now there are very few RFPs that we don't see versus where we were a couple years ago. And certainly the analyst rankings and certainly our profile as a public organization have helped us to really elevate our business and really be more known in the market. And I would say that we are just like our customers in a market where macro conditions are getting interesting, I'd say. And people are wondering what will happen in the first half of'23. People are assuming there's a recession coming. We are careful with our marketing dollars just like we encourage all of our businesses and clients to be. And you really need to be able to measure the ROI of what you're doing. We practice what we preach in that respect. And so our same marketing programs we use for our business would be the types of things we would encourage our customers to do. And again, we're more on the B2B side, we're selling to businesses that eventually sell to consumers. But when you're looking at consumer marketing and consumer marketing at scale, this is the time where there is a real opportunity to be specific about what your goals are and prioritize and then implement measurement solutions that really allow you to see if you're operating against those goals. And that's really what can make a business very successful even amidst these conditions we have in the market today.

AJ: inaudible, great answer. So I would say you did answer it after all.

Speaker 5: Thank you.

AJ: So tell us a little bit about... Identity is a big part of Zeta and the businesses, obviously.

Speaker 5: Sure.

AJ: All businesses are evolving with the cookie list world and how to address that. So tell us a little bit about how Zeta is preparing for the oncoming changes and how you guys view identity.

Speaker 5: Yeah. So I think we're unique in one way from a lot of companies in the market, and that's that we have a closed loop environment. And I'll tell you what I mean by that. At the front end of Zeta, we own assets like Discuss. Discuss is the number one commenting platform in the world. It lives on something like five and a half million websites. And through Discuss there is a value exchange happening with the publishers that we work with. And the tool set we provide there is expanded over time, but publishers get increased engagement, consumers get free content and then Zeta gets to access some of that data. So we have data sourcing within our own four walls across the open web that give us a view of identity and they give us a view of identifiers. Now within our own stack, the core technologies that we offer are a CDP, an ESP, and a DSP. The identity that gets synthesized at the very front end of our stack is pervasive through our technologies for our enterprises. And then at the end of the funnel, we have measurement solutions and we can measure everything from place visitation to online to transaction value in store. So the fact that we are not reliant on outside identifiers to connect those dots has given us some leverage in market as it relates to the ecosystem changes. What I will say is over the last five years as different regulations have come into effect, our identity graph and the number of identities that we have consented into the graph has continued to go up. We have direct access to consumers, we have direct access to establish that consent and that opt- in, and then we have direct access to use it in our environment. So we were relatively prepared for the deprecation of the cookie. And I don't think that there's a silver bullet, but we have a multi- pronged approach as to how we triangulate identity and how we would optimize marketing. And then inevitably how we would measure if it's working for our enterprises. And I think most other businesses in marketing or even in data, were missing one piece of that somewhere along the way. And that was creating a lot of issues. Optimizing your marketing is a big part of what every marketer is trying to do, make it smarter, make it better, make it perform, and those dots weren't really connected. So our view at this point is that we have our own internal identifier called a Zeta ID that we establish and resolve to people. And we are tracking what's happening in the industry at large. We think that there is a place for OpenWeb marketing, and the OpenWeb constitutes so much of the traffic that exists on the internet and we'll conform with the utilities they get created to support that. And as well as the authenticated identifiers that we've seen get some traction in market in the last couple of years. But the fact that we have an insulated environment has had really helped us formulate a strategy around targeting, activation, and measurement using our own internal solutions. You can see Facebook as an example, was very reliant on Apple's identification system, right? And so they've been very impacted. We don't have dependencies like that within our own graph.

Vincent: I like the way you break that down, Neej, and AJ, let's take a step back. Neej's probably the coolest data person we've ever had on... How many data people do you know, first of all, rocking out bars and your senior year was a lot different than mine. I should have been paying more attention in developing a company and I too went to school up north there. And I think the answer is, yeah, I was in t- shirt running around, a lot of alcohol usually involved in my end. But yeah, now if there's like a breeze, I'll come at a restaurant. I'm like, " Sir, is there a breeze in here? Can you shut that window?"

Speaker 5: Yeah.

Vincent: That's what age I'm at right now.

Speaker 5: Yeah.

Vincent: That's what I do. But, Neej, let's talk about the current landscape of data, there's a lot of people, how are consumers viewing it? What should consumers be concerned with? There's like a lot of data privacy out there. Talk to us about your kind of current take on the landscape.

Speaker 5: Yeah. There's so much noise right now around data and what's coming and what's happened. Generally, I think that enterprises should focus on one thing and that one thing is make sure that you're democratizing your data across your organization. If there's one thing that you do, make sure that your data that you have collected is available in the places that it needs to be made available so you can make good decisions. Once you have a framework for that in place and so that's why data democratization has become so important as a theme for executives. They're boardroom themes now, not just within the data teams, but once you have that in place, then you need to start thinking about how do you actually cultivate and get more out of your first party data set, right? There's so much anonymous traffic for consumer brands that visits their sites, that visits their stores in real life. You want to be able to capture the value of as much as that as you can and then make it usable for your organization. And the third thing I'd say then is work with partners like yourselves or Zeta that can actually help you fill in the gaps. The goal of our technologies is to wrap around the business, find out where they have gaps, where we can help them fill, do they need help with identity? Do they need help with signals? Do they need help with intelligence? And then eventually at the end of the day, I really love this concept of agile intelligence, which is enabling the marketer to visualize, explore, and take action on something they've found without having to go to a data scientist or an analyst to help them do it. So the tool sets that you support and that you actually adopt in the organization should support ways to make marketers better and give them more utility. And that's something that I'm personally very passionate about and something we've worked a lot at Zeta on as well.

Vincent: And Neej, I've heard you talk about data democratization and talk to us about that a little more. Why is it important? And because you mentioned it there and a lot of it's been coming up a lot lately, so love for you to expand on that.

Speaker 5: Yeah, so I mean the basic idea of data democratization is that usually people, and historically I'd say, people have been focused on getting as much data as possible, right? So you want to feed this data engine. The challenge is great, if you have an AI that's building a specific lookalike model or doing a specific thing with the data, maybe it's able to actually synthesize into something intelligent. But the reality is you have people that work in your organization and most people at this point are being asked to make decisions that are really responding to consumer sentiment, which is changing faster than ever. So this notion of data- driven decisioning is all the data democratization comes down to. Have you enabled your team members and people that are on the ground to make the best decisions they can based on the data that they have available? And we find in many organizations, this just doesn't exist. And so whether you're talking about making an email campaign perform better or you're talking about doing something like making intelligent decision on what content to personalize in a message, those are both things that the data can help to inform. I was working with an enterprise a few weeks ago, and they have this thing called a lapsed customer list. I'm sure you guys are familiar with these. They have a database that's north of 20 million. It's a big consumer oriented company, and they have several hundred thousand what they call lapsed consumers, that they had stopped messaging. Now we looked at that lapse consumer list and we said, okay, who does Zeta see of these individuals that are actually online? That are operating around the web? But not just that, tell me of those individuals, which of those people are actually actively shopping with competitor brands, right? So we were able to identify 350,000 people that were completely lapsed, and they sent a campaign, and this is just a very basic top line metric, but the campaign generated over 30% open rate with high engagement. So again, making data usable at the time that it needs to be used and for the people that it needs to be used by is really what data democratization comes down to. And your technologies, your CDP, your intelligence tools, they all need to be able to do that. It's great to have amazing data on the input, but that needs to be synthesized and then made available so that people can take actions on it.

AJ: Neej, with the oncoming recession, how do you see that currently affecting our industry and looking ahead for the next six months or so?

Speaker 5: Yeah, it's the most interesting thing, and I get a questions from a lot of investors about sell side and buy side analysts about RFP volume. And what I've actually noticed this year is that RFP volume has gone up, which tells me something that's really interesting. Brands are getting very specific about measurement. They're getting very specific about the ability to generate ROI. CMOs are being asked to make a case to the CFO and say, " You need to retain my marketing budget because this is what it delivers." And so people are reevaluating their stacks, they're reevaluating their data, their identity graphs, and they're trying to figure out what are the tool sets they're going to enable them to do more in macro conditions that are going to be more challenging. Do you guys know the race car driver? Senna? He's a famous driver.

AJ: Sure.

Speaker 5: One of the world's most famous, he has this great quote that he says, " You cannot overtake 15 cars in sunny weather, but you can when it's raining." And if you think about that, the rain that's about to come is going to create separation between businesses that are doing it right and the ones that have not made the right types of decisions during this time. So again, we are seeing increased RFP volume, we're seeing people ask more of their technology stacks. Obviously there's been a boom and interest in CDPs in the last few years. That's a little bit of a right time, right place, right situation thing that's happening in the market. But really what it lends itself to is CMOs are being asked to look at their marketing equation differently. Retention marketing, growth marketing, acquisition marketing, they're all part of the same marketing puzzle, right? And I'll bring up the example of Patagonia. Just because I have a Patagonia on right now doesn't mean I don't want to purchase another one. So maybe I'm a candidate for an acquisition program, or maybe I'm a candidate for a retention program because they have an upsell for me or maybe a growth program. So marketing is different now, and because of the ability to measure and to think about marketing in this new way, you're seeing solutions like Zetas and others really evolve, that are going to be more end to end and having identity and signal data really at the core of all the programs that are driven. And I think you guys also provided great input into that equation.

AJ: Yeah, I think they should send you some free merchandise based on the promotion on this podcast.

Speaker 5: Well, I mean, look, they did a great thing with their charitable announcement this year, and I love it when businesses say what they're going to do and do what they're going to say. And Patagonia was a good example of that, so I have to support that.

AJ: Awesome. And do you think with some of the changes coming, people looking at their marketing more carefully, how important is the role of data going to be in all this?

Speaker 5: Yep. I think it's going to continue to be very important. So again, being more specific about how you work with your own data assets and then where you choose to fill in gaps and which partners you use to fill in those gaps with becomes very important. And again, the input can be very vast. You want to make sure you have tools that take that and then visualize, explore, and then eventually enable action. So the more you can enable action for the marketer, the better off you will be. And we think about these two kinds of systems that have traditionally lived separately. There was a system of activation and there was a system of insights or a system of intelligence. What we're seeing now is that those systems need to work hand in hand together, right? They need to actually be sewn into one another for a marketer to be most impactful. And that's something we strive to do here and we see that trend also more broadly across the ecosystem.

Vincent: And, Neej, some of the questions that were asked now, it's kind of more on the personal side, some of our staple questions.

Speaker 5: Sure.

Vincent: We have a LinkedIn question, and this is a question that people at conferences love hearing, and thank you for coming up to me again and telling us how much you love this question, listeners, LinkedIn, your title, chief Data Officer, at a company like Zeta Global, a lot of people are probably sending you messages all the time to get your attention. What's a message that resonates with you that you'll respond to? And then what are some of your pet peeves about how people reach out on LinkedIn?

Speaker 5: Oh my goodness. So AJ, I'm sure you and Vincent both get a ton of these, right? So there's a couple things, and I know how hard it is to be an SDR in today's world. You're tasked to do a lot and you realize that there's thousand other SDRs that are tasked to do the same thing, and you need to cut through the noise. So I like it more when if someone messages me, they're not asking for a meeting, but they're offering me something I can learn. And typically I think that's a better practice. We're all interested in learning. I really enjoy it when there's something I can read or something I can look at that is actually very interesting. There's a company called Chartr, C- H- A- R- T- R, and they do basically data stories, right? So they're not selling anything, but they do very interesting visualizations of what's happening in the world. And I love their emails. I love to see the way that they've structured a data narrative around something that's happening into real practice. Now, that's not really an SDR message to me, but if an SDR was going to reach out to me, I think again, focusing on something I can learn, something unique outside of the meeting. And then I'd also say it's typically better to keep them shorter if possible. And if there's a client that you can actually connect the dots on, I can tell you as a business leader, it makes me way more interested. So if you said so- and-so is a client of ours, we noticed they were a client of yours, we were wondering if we could have a conversation of how we can both do more together with this client. That would get my attention. And I know that's hand- to- hand combat if you're doing that at scale, but from the SDR perspective, I think it's way better to send less messages and be more thoughtful in what you're actually delivering than just going for a volume play. I think the volume play will end up with bad quality in, bad quality out.

Vincent: Yeah, no, we agree. Everyone who's been on this podcast, no one is ever like, I like a mass message that where it's clearly name is in a different font.

Speaker 5: Yes.

Vincent: It's like, no, you don't like that. But it's like, yeah. And even a lot of sales leaders, again, will come up to me and be like, thanks. I use this, that advice for my own SDRs because it's like at the end of the day, you'll maybe get more meetings. I always say if you talk to people like human beings, you find something out. And my own friend targeted me in a... I was just with him three days ago and he must put my name into this one solution where it's like, " Hi Vincent, are you interested in this? Blah, blah, blah." I'm like, dude, I was like, why did you just as almost said his name? I was like, " Why did you reach out to me like that way?" " Oh, it's just part of my software." I'm like, " No, you want a meeting with me? It's a different way." Anyway, Neej, talk to us about the personal side. So you went to school up here in the great state of New York and now you're in another great state of California, but where did you grow up? Did you grow up in either?

Speaker 5: I grew up in Virginia, just right outside of DC. So Cornell was... It wasn't in my backyard, but it wasn't too far. And there's a trick that the schools in Upstate New York do, you guys probably both know them well. You visit in the summer when the weather is the most beautiful that you've ever seen. And then as soon as you get there and October hits, you're like in snow for nine months or wintry mix for nine months. So that always becomes a little bit depressing. But I was in a computer lab all the time anyway, so the only 10 I was getting was from the glow of the Sun Microsystem computer I was probably working on, and that's also dating me a little bit. So there you go.

Vincent: I remember having to go to computer labs, AJ, I had to go to a computer lab to do my papers. My roommate had a word processor and we would use that. I had to go to a computer lab at Oswego again, which they take you in there in the summer. They're like, look at our sunsets. I was like, I never thought there's a beautiful sunset. There's amazing, it's right on Lake Ontario. That's how they got me. And then it was May, I was freezing, it was snow on Mother's Day. I'm like, this is the worst. But I had a lot of fun. But-

AJ: Vincent, did you go to a school with Warren Buffett or...?

Vincent: With Warren Buffett? Yeah, he was my roommate. He was back in the day, I was like, " You should start investing." And he was like, " Oh, that's a great message." But I still get no cut from his... No, I'm not that old. Darn it. But yeah, no, you had computer labs, remember, Neej?

Speaker 5: I do. I remember them well.

Vincent: You had to go to a computer lab and then I would always go last minute. I always think best last minute if they're... That's when I get all my thoughts out. I love a good deadline. I'm not preparing seven days in advance, but also what are you doing now? What are some of your hobbies? You were just on a sailing trip, right?

Speaker 5: I was. I've sailed in the British Virgin Islands, in the French Virgin Islands and just generally that area many times. So I just completed another seven day sail there, which is a fabulously amazing and I thoroughly encourage you to do it. All of you that are listening, and we were on a 52- foot catamaran this time, so had friends with us. You eat really well. You basically are salty and soggy all week. It's glorious. And in San Francisco here, there's obviously tons of activities to do. I'm passionate like AJ is about tennis. We haven't played yet, but I would love to at some point. And just generally anything outdoorsy or active is how I distract myself from the work. And yeah, it's a great place to be in the Bay Area, primarily because we're so close to so many great things. We have Napa and Marin, we have Big Sur and Lake Tahoe. So those are all things that offer awesome activities on the weekends and even on the weekdays if you can get away.

Vincent: Nice. That's the key to AJ's heart. A little tennis, why don't you tell Neej your tennis partner? Can you reveal your tennis partner next week? He doesn't listen to the podcast, I'm sure.

AJ: Yeah, actually Manu Ginóbili, playing him on Wednesday.

Speaker 5: Wow.

Vincent: Yeah, San Antonio. That's awesome.

AJ: He moved in right next door to me, so...

Speaker 5: That's amazing. He must have a good wingspan, so I'm sure he is good at the net.

AJ: Yeah. I mean, he is close to 7-foot tall, so...

Speaker 5: For poaching. Yeah.

AJ: Yeah.

Speaker 5: Probably a good serve too. That's great. You'll have to fill me in on that.

Vincent: When you come back we're like welts. I'm like, what happened? You're like, " Manu, Manu like..."

Speaker 5: It's like playing John Isner or something. Yeah.

Vincent: That's awesome.

AJ: Definitely has the same height, if not a little taller.

Speaker 5: Yeah.

Vincent: Yeah. So Neej, as we wrap up here, something you'd love our listeners to take away, just a closing thought.

Speaker 5: Yeah, I think that what I've learned is that, and people use this expression that patience is a virtue, but I think generally the way I think about that and the way I've thought about my career and just generally these times where there's a lot of uncertainty is just try to get 1% better every single day or every single week. Over time you'll find that you've made amazing strides. Bill Gates has this expression where he says, "We tend to overestimate what we can get done in a few days and underestimate what we can get done in a year." And I think that's very true. If you look back on where you were a year ago... You've kind of tried to maintain this mindset. You'll find in almost anything you're working on, you are going to make amazing strides. So if I could leave everyone with that one thought, that's what I would do. And I look forward to hearing from anyone that wants to connect with me.

Vincent: Yeah, that's awesome. Check out Zeta Global, ladies and gentlemen. Check out Neej Gore. Neej, I love the way you break it down, you take data and put into great layman's terms for myself, people out there, so we appreciate you breaking it down. That's the Chief Data Officer of Zeta Global, Neej Gore. Thanks for joining us. I'm Vincent Pietrafesa, that's AJ Gupta. This has been another episode of The Marketing Stir. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk soon.

Speaker 2: Thanks for listening to the Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate and subscribe. If you're interested in being a guest on the podcast, please email us at themarketingstir@ starista. com and thanks for listening.


Neej Gore, Chief Data Officer at Zeta Global, joins the Marketing Stir this week to chat with Ajay and Vincent about data democratization and responding to consumer decisions. Ajay enjoys napping, and Vincent listens to '90s Hip Hop.

Today's Host

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Vincent Pietrafesa

|Vice President, B2B Products, Stirista
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Ajay Gupta

|Founder & CEO, Stirista

Today's Guests

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Neej Gore

|Chief Data Officer, Zeta Global
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