Ryan Ruud (Lake One) - The Power of a Story

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This is a podcast episode titled, Ryan Ruud (Lake One) - The Power of a Story. The summary for this episode is: <p>Ryan Ruud, Founder and CEO of Lake One, and Vincent discuss how organizational culture has an effect on marketing and about how accountability allows for growth. </p>
00:48 MIN
Intro to Ryan
02:16 MIN
How Ryan got into marketing
01:46 MIN

Speaker 1: 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.

Vin: Welcome to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you're going to put in your ear. I'm Vin, 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. In today's episode, Ryan Ruud, founder and CEO of Lake One, and Vincent, discuss how organizational culture has an effect on marketing and about how accountability allows for growth. Ajay isn't feeling well, so Vincent takes on this episode solo. Give it a listen.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Ladies and gentlemen, hello. It is me, Vincent Pietrafesa, the vice president of B2B Products and Partnerships and still interim general manager of AccessB2B. They haven't taken those titles away from me yet. They also haven't promoted me to general manager, but let's... Well, that's a whole other podcast episode that we'll talk about that. Do I even want the title? Probably not. But anyway, it is so good to be here. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast, and thank you so much for all the people who are coming up to me now. Again, all the people, let's use that very lightly, there's about three to five people per conference. I appreciate it, to let me know that you are listening to the podcast. You're also asking me, it's like, " I love the banter." You're asking me, " Is Ajay really like that? Just always calm, cool, collected. Am I always like this?" The answer is, painfully, yes. I am always like this. We're recording this at 2:00 in the afternoon, and this is still me, ladies and gentlemen. It drives people nuts. Some people love it. It's probably 50:50. That's how people feel about New York City, I think. New York City people are like, " I love it," or, " I hate it," when they visit. I love it. I live here. So let's pause for a second, ladies and gentlemen. The Marketing Stir, this is the first time you're listening all things marketing, stirring things up. Stirista, right? We're the company behind the podcast. Who are we? We are a marketing technology company. We own our own business- to- business data, our own business- to- consumer data. We help people utilize that data through our own technology, all proprietary technology. You could use it to help you get new customers. New customers, that sounds great, doesn't it? Email me, vincent @ stirista. com. The other thing, ladies and gentlemen, this is a rare podcast. It's just me solo without my co- host with an amazing guest as per usual. But my co- host, not feeling well. He could not make it. And as they say in show business, the show must go on. They don't say that in podcasting. We could have easily re- recorded it or did it another day, but I wanted to talk to this guest so badly because we hit it off right away. You often hear me say that on podcasts. But little known fact, as I get to talk, sometimes, most of the time, I get to talk to some of the guests beforehand just to meet them. It's great. It really builds a nice relationship. This is a guest who is recommended to us from a great organization, and we are so happy that we talked to him. He's doing great things out there in Minnesota, doing great things all over the country, but he is calling in from Minnesota. Ladies and gentlemen, please, a warm Stirista and Marketing Stir welcome to the founder and CEO of Lake One, my friend, Ryan Ruud. What's going on, Ryan?

Ryan Ruud: Hey, Vincent. It's great to be here. And I am going to be the first person to listen to the podcast when you finally get the interim title removed. So make sure-

Vincent Pietrafesa: I hope so.

Ryan Ruud: ...you let me know about that. Yeah, yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah.

Ryan Ruud: Counting down.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I know. I think we should get a petition going to make me-

Ryan Ruud: There you go.

Vincent Pietrafesa: We have a lot of listeners. Let's-

Ryan Ruud: Yeah, exactly. I'll be-

Vincent Pietrafesa: ...make me the GM.

Ryan Ruud: Yeah, I'll be the first to sign it, buddy.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. I love it.

Ryan Ruud: I'll be the first to sign it.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, it probably doesn't come with any more money. It comes with a lot more responsibility-

Ryan Ruud: Just more responsibility.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Responsibilities inaudible crazy. But Ryan, welcome to the podcast. It's so great talking to you. I said, when we met, I was like, "All right. We got to have this guy on, I feel like," and I don't say this with every guest. As my producers and listeners out there will know, I was like, " I know this guy. I know this guy. Come on, this guy's a fun time." There's no way that you're not a fun time at a party. I know that you are. One day, we'll have a drink together. But Ryan, let's get right into it. I was really fascinated. This is your gig. You're the founder, CEO of Lake One. For those listeners out there, tell us about Lake One and kind of your role. You're the founder and CEO, but just walk us through some of the day- to- day for you.

Ryan Ruud: Yeah, for sure. So Lake One, we are all about B2B, B2B manufacturing, B2B software, B2B services. We help those type of organizations really get their revenue machine up and running and then humming. So it's everything from the strategy behind it to the tools and technology that make it scale, and then also adding some extra hands on support to make it hum and make it go a little bit faster. For me, it really kind of emanated out of this belief about eight and a half years ago that I was seeing way too many people kind of being bamboozled by all of these pieces of technology, this ever expanding landscape of tools and technology that have this promise of, " Buy this thing. Buy this platform. And all of a sudden, leads and revenue are just going to flow through you, and it's just going to be amazing." Unfortunately, there's a whole lot more that goes into it than just buying the latest and greatest piece of technology to really get that revenue machine humming. So that was kind of where Lake One was born.

Vincent Pietrafesa: And what's some of the work you're doing there for Lake One, specific industries? And again, man, after my heart, my own heart with B2B, I still have that title, Ryan. B2B is still my title. Thank goodness. They haven't taken that away from me yet. But talk to us about what the company is doing for your clients.

Ryan Ruud: Yeah. So it's interesting, my entire life has always been" go where the path unfolds in front of me". So when we started, it was very heavily focused on the marketing side, the inaudible side. I come from a background in journalism and PR. That was where I started. So it was really focused on helping people understand how to create the right content, the right stories that would resonate with their buyers. That, inevitably, started to pivot and move into a, " Okay, great. Well, we're starting to generate this interest in this demand. Now, how do we make sure that we're qualifying the right opportunities, and we're getting sales and marketing speaking the same language?" Which, inevitably, turned into a conversation of getting the two sides of the revenue equation at the table talking the same language. So we do a lot of work today in the sales and marketing alignment ecosystem. Some people call it RevOps. It's really just helping organizations come together around a common set of language that emanates out of their business goals.

Vincent Pietrafesa: And we'll have to get into that in a little bit because the sales and marketing, traditionally, Ryan, it's like, " He didn't close the leads." "He didn't get many leads." So I want to talk to you about that first, but let's dig into the name. Lake One, I would imagine it's because... In Minnesota, it's like land of thousands of lakes. What is it the-

Ryan Ruud: Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: So tell me about the name.

Ryan Ruud: They say 10,000. Yep. There's actually 13, 800- ish lakes in Minnesota, but who's counting?

Vincent Pietrafesa: Wow.

Ryan Ruud: So yeah, the name came... I was kind of in between gigs trying to figure out what was going to be the next thing I wanted to do. We took a trip up to the northern part of the state. So people who are familiar with Minnesota, we have this beautiful stretch of territory along the borders between Canada and Minnesota called the Boundary Waters. It's one of the last few pieces of untouched wilderness area, and there's an entry point, a very popular entry point into the Boundary Waters for people that are looking to do canoe trips called Lake One. And I found it very poetic that in Minnesota, the land of 10,000, 13, 000- plus lakes, the road literally ended at Lake One, and it was the beginning of a journey for a lot of people. So over time, it's become really representative of how we help our clients navigate their way through digital transformation around selling and marketing.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I love that. I love that story. So we always ask this question too because there's a lot of people listening. How did you get started? You told me how you got started there at Lake One. But just in this industry, like marketing, was that the path you took? Did you study something else in college? Love to hear that origin story.

Ryan Ruud: Yeah. So I studied journalism, I studied broadcasting. That was my high school gig. I was a radio guy in high school. So I went to college. My undergrad was in broadcasting. I was a semester away from graduating, looking at my student loans piling up and going, " You're going to pay me how much to start a career in broadcasting?" And thinking, " Okay, that's not going to work." So I decided to continue education and pursued a degree in advertising, trying to figure out, " How do I pivot from journalism into something else?" So I got a degree in advertising and PR, which turned out to be perfect because that kept me in the same town that I had my undergrad degree in and opened the door for an opportunity that honestly kind of changed my life, my God, into a startup in this small town in Minnesota, St. Cloud, Minnesota. It's kind of been the part of Minnesota... an ad tech startup that was doing some of the very first mobile advertising work right around the time that the iPhone was released. So that's where I cut my teeth. I got to work for the founders, the co- founders there. They said, " Hey, we have this role. We need somebody to help us think differently about how we're driving demand." When our office is literally at a cornfield of Minnesota and we're trying to sell the big brands on the coast, you think you could hack it? Fresh out of college, had no idea what I was going to do, but I was hungry. And that's where I learned to do few things like testing, throw everything you can against the wall, see what works, pick up the stuff that works and keep doing more of it and keep trying to figure your way through it.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Mass media, communications, broadcasting, that's kind of where I cut my teeth in college as well then, like you said, going out to these companies. I was like, " I want to be in PR." Then I was like, " Oh, no. I don't. No, I do not. I do not." And then marketing and theater, which are my minors, which is like... I'm actually doing all that now, oddly enough. How do you think that prepared you? Like you said, PR and journalism, how do you think that prepared you for what you do now?

Ryan Ruud: So a few things. PR is all about hustle. I mean, if you're constantly trying to earn the pitch, win the pitch. And honestly, modern marketing is really all about puzzle. It's figuring out what works, what doesn't work, being willing to try things. The biggest thing for me is the power of a story, the power a story to move somebody. So while so much of the work that we do is digital and focused on, " How do you make things scale and make things grow?" I've always been rooted in, " Yeah. But if the story sucks, all you're going to do is you're just going to make a crappy story scale faster," and that's not inaudible what happened.

Vincent Pietrafesa: No, it's an interesting background because you have the ability, the writing background to do... And PR, again, it's a perfect background to create a story, some of the aspects there. If you did improv too, then forget it. Then it would be the trifecta there. That would be amazing. Ryan, what are some of the things your clients are asking for now? What are some of the work you're doing? What are some of the trends out there in B2B? I certainly what some of our partners are asking for, but love to learn. You're in the trenches as well.

Ryan Ruud: Yeah, it's been so interesting, especially as we've kind of gone through this way of COVID lockdown, COVID's not going away. While this thing's lingering around for a really long time, it's not going away. So now we have to live with it type of thing. What we're hearing a lot from clients is, " How do we continue to provide relevant context? How can we think about things and make connections that matter?" So again, going into COVID, it was, wow, all of these traditional industries that were very used to selling face- to- face were just completely shook up and turned upside down, going, " I can't travel. I'm a manufacturer that is used to showing people my widget, and now I can't do that." So video replaced that, one- to- one sales video. Now that these platforms are in place and we're thinking about scale, it's how do we continue to be relevant? How do we continue to provide context? So a lot of that translate into having conversations around for lack of... I hate using buzzwords, but account- based marketing tends to be a lot of the conversations, and really thinking about going out, fishing with a spear, not a net.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. Yeah, we hear that a lot too, even in general, even if it's marketers today we're finding, even if it's more persona based, Ryan, as opposed to just ABM. It's just how to spend your marketing dollars wisely, an approach where, multifaceted, use it in different ways. No, I definitely like that approach. So let's get back to the sales and marketing. Why do you think it's so important for two sides to be at the same table discussing it, and how do you think that collaboration affects technology decisions?

Ryan Ruud: Yeah. So I mean, the easiest answer to that is because both teams are responsible for it. So in organizations that are having the most success, those two teams are on the same page. It's when they're combative and at each other's throats. That's when you're seeing the struggle to achieve the revenue results. And especially, it starts to become the most pronounced when things start to get economically dicey, like they are right now. In terms of how are some of those things coming together, in my experience, it's an understanding of what role each side does and representative leaders of both sides having an understanding of, " You do this for me, I do this for you. So you do the hunting, we do, so to speak, the prepping, the-"

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yep, gathering.

Ryan Ruud: ... gathering."Yeah. But the other piece of it, too, that we've found has been really interesting is that's the easy answer. Where the rubber meets the road in it is a lot of organizations think they're in alignment around, " Here's the business goals. The business wants to achieve this much revenue," and they think they're in alignment of what that means in terms of qualified pipeline, what qualified pipeline looks like. And then when you ask somebody, you have three sales and marketing leaders around a table, and you ask each of them to say, " What does a qualified deal look like? Tell me, what are the properties of that?" You get three different answers.

Vincent Pietrafesa: All different. Yep, all different answers. Yep.

Ryan Ruud: Yeah. So it's not enough to just be having this foreign language moment. It's actually saying, " Okay. Well VP of marketing, VP of sales, CFO, why are we all thinking completely different things here?" Because that needs to be settled first.

Vincent Pietrafesa: No, I like that approach, and I think that's what we've... We're talking to more and more companies on this podcast. We're trying to just align it and how important it is to everyone, marketing to have a seat at the revenue table. So I think it's more and more important now in moving forward in 2023. So Ryan, let's get back to you said something earlier that resonated with me where you said like, " All right. I'm just out of school, and I have to shine some light on this company in Minnesota," where you said... Did you say cornfield? Is that what you said?

Ryan Ruud: Yeah, the office was literally in a cornfield.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I'm assuming your office is not in a cornfield now, but this company from Minnesota, right? It's like, you hear the big dogs in LA and San Francisco and New York, right?

Ryan Ruud: Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: How are you marketing? How do people... Learning about Lake One, tell us about that journey.

Ryan Ruud: You know what's funny is it always comes back to the PR roots and the journalism roots is that's where do people find their stories? Where do people consume content? I literally was having a conversation with a couple of clients this morning about it. Especially as you start to be more and more thing, more and more pressure get put on ads, on ad spend, and it become harder and harder to target and be relevant, you start to see people go back to... At least two or three times a year, all our clients say, " Well, what would we do to market if the internet didn't exist? What would we do? How would we be relevant?" It would be things like this. It would be getting in front of people, sharing your point of view in tribes that already exist where people are listening, talking about... sharing an exchange of ideas. So doing more and more of that, looking at things like podcast, publications. Chris Walker, the CEO of Refined Labs, is prolific on LinkedIn in talking about this notion of dark social. The thing you can't track, you can't track because there's no URL parameter for it that says, " Ah, this lead came from a Google ad," or, " Ah, this lead came from a LinkedIn click." But it's, " I heard you on a podcast. I saw you at that conference, and I was one of the three or five people that came up to you and said, 'You're that guy from that podcast.'" Yeah, exactly. But that's really where you make the biggest impression, and because it has staying power. I mean, an ad is a flash in a pan, but people remember if they stick with you for 45 minutes, which I hope everybody listening sticks with us through the end of this podcast.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Absolutely. They usually do. Yeah, they usually do because we offer relevant content and have some great speakers on, like yourself. Yeah, I like that approach, going into things, " What if the internet didn't exist?" And I think during the pandemic, a few things happened where a lot of companies were like, " Whoa, whoa, whoa. The internet very much does exist and we're not digitally ready for it."

Ryan Ruud: Ready for it.

Vincent Pietrafesa: "We're not ready for it." It's like those shops, those restaurants are like, " I always get foot traffic." You're not getting it anymore.

Ryan Ruud: Nope.

Vincent Pietrafesa: So there's that, but then you also see that ad of home. I'm in New York City and I'm on the subway and I see ads all the time, and it makes it pop. It's out there. Then there's other mediums, traditional brands that we've spoken to. Cuisinart was on our podcast and they're doing TikTok. I'm like, " Well, you never would think a 100- year- old brand would be..." So yeah, it's a variety of different things that you got to inaudible.

Ryan Ruud: Sorry to interrupt. But you think about a B2B brand that all of a sudden says, " You know what? We're going to not take all of our ad spend and put it into LinkedIn, but we're going to use what we know about our ad spend and target with Connected TV." So all of a sudden, I'm beaming into the home of a CIO if I'm a SaaS product and they're flipping through Hulu and they get a SaaS ad in the middle of a Volvo ad. That's jarring and disruptive, and that makes an impression.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Exactly. It's one of those things. We hear more and more about that, Ryan, about it's like Connected TV or reaching the business- to- business executive at home. Let's take a step back. Reaching the B2B executive at home is the QR code. Years ago, seven years ago, you didn't use a QR code.

Ryan Ruud: Right. Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I was like, " Who is watching me?" I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I was like, "What the heck is this?" Now you got my mother- in- law ordering chicken parm with it. She's in her 60s and she's like, " I'm rocking and rolling with this." It's like it's got a lot of people being like, " Oh, you could target a business executive at home, who cares?" Oh, now you do.

Ryan Ruud: Yeah, exactly.

Vincent Pietrafesa: And then that's relevant. You'll go to a game, like a stadium or an arena, and you'll see an ad for like IBM or Salesforce. You're like, " That makes sense. I'm in a box with other executives and we're enjoying a game." So yeah, it's that outside the box thinking.

Ryan Ruud: Totally.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Speaking of that, Ryan, what would you say sets you apart as a marketer, as a leader, some of your differentiators? And also Lake One, talk to us about that. Is Lake One... You have regional and national clients. What was the focus there too? I know that's a lot of questions, but I just have a lot in my mind where I'm like, "What is the focus to also help some of the companies right there in your backyard?" I think these companies need some help, right?

Ryan Ruud: Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: So talk to me about that.

Ryan Ruud: Yeah. So it definitely started locally here. I cut my teeth in the startup world, was always fascinated with startup growth and loved the energy of it. And honestly, one of our big core values, one of my personal drivers, is this notion that school's never out. You're always learning. That has always been what's drawn us to high growth organizations. So it doesn't necessarily have to be a startup, it could be an organization that's changing leadership or family- led manufacturer that's trying to make a big change. It's just that desire for quantifiable growth. And I think a lot of times... you used the reference earlier about marketing having a seat at the revenue table. I've come to experience two types of school of thought around marketing. One is that where marketing has the ability to have a very articulate, " Here's how we can influence revenue, and I'm not afraid of the numbers," even if the numbers are bad. That's the biggest part is it's okay to fail because that means we're learning something that will get us closer to the success we want. And the other school of thought where either marketing is afraid to have any accountability for the numbers or because the organization and the culture of the organization is one that marketing is a task- taker and just executes on some things and makes things look pretty. So it was always my intent with Lake One to find the companies that were interested in perceiving marketing as that first bucket, that they knew that in order for them to achieve the results they wanted to, marketing needed to contribute at that level.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. No, I like that. Accountability, I remember speaking to some people, friends of mine in the industries, " Oh, yeah. I'm at this new company. We don't have sales goals or market." I'm like, " So no quantifiable goals?" It's like, " Yeah, I don't even have a number." I'm like, " Yeah, that's even worse, not having-"

Ryan Ruud: That's even worse.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's even worse. It's the way I look at it. Ryan, let's talk about one of our staple questions. We brought up LinkedIn. We all use it, it's a great platform. But our signature question here at Stirista is your title. CEO, founder, Lake One, you must get a lot of unsolicited emails or messages through LinkedIn. What are some that resonate with you and what are some that you just, " Nope, never click on," you're just like, " They got it wrong"?

Ryan Ruud: Yeah. And I'm sure every guest says the same thing. It's the ones that are not personalized. It's the ones that are just praying and spraying. And candidly, I don't respond to a lot of LinkedIn messages because there's just so many of them between my inbox and my LinkedIn messages, they're so bad. The ones that get my attention and that make me go, " huh, maybe I will," are succinct and precise. So they're quick and they either make me laugh because they clearly took time to write something to try to catch my attention or they addressed something specific. So it's, " Heard you on The Marketing Stir Podcast, agree with this," or, " Saw you respond to somebody else's comment." They're trying to make that connection and they don't go straight for a sell right away.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. I know we talk about a lot on the podcast because we've had a hundred and something guests and it's somewhat different answers, but it's always this underlying tone of personalization. We have a lot of people, we have the term SDRs and BDRs. We have a lot of their managers or even SDRs themselves come up to us or write us and they say like, " Hey, thanks. This helped me go to my manager, who she or he just was like, 'No, 100 inaudible a day.'" And it's like, no, it's not what it's about. And I always say, like advice, where if we get a lot of people who want to be on this podcast, and we love that, we appreciate that, but here's a great way to get our attention, tell us you listen to the podcast, tell us you like the podcast. That's all. Just, " Hey, I love the podcast. We'd love to have someone on." That's it, little things like that. That's what grabs my attention, but-

Ryan Ruud: Real quick on that. So I mean, for the SDRs, BDRs that are listening too, one of the questions you asked was what about the PR, journalism background has carried really well for me? Same thing. I mean, PR people are the best at writing pitches because they take the time. Back to that first gig that I had where I'm sitting in the cornfield and the task was, " Get us seen in TechCrunch, get us in GigaHome," and I'm sitting here going, " Okay, I'm 19 years old, a nobody at this tech firm," the ways I got into that was starting to follow, finding the right writer at TechCrunch, at GigaHome, following them on Twitter, sending them a DM about something that they wrote about that was interesting, and then within two weeks, pitching them on an idea and they're like, " Absolutely great." So if you take the time, you make the connection. And six times out of 10, you're going to slam dunk it.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I love that. Yeah. No, that's excellent advice for people out there. We have C- level executives, SDRs, students who listen to this podcast, and that's some of the best advice we've heard for them on this is just do the research, follow them, understand some of their styles, mention that you like something with it. Also, virtual coffee, we mentioned that a lot. Especially a student, maybe not the term virtual coffee, but a student where they're like... If you are reaching out and you want to learn about a company and you reach out to a C- level executive and you want to pick their brain and they don't respond, well shame on them. Shame on them. Obviously, they can't do for 47 students, but... I'm part of the Marketing Club of New York, which is a nonprofit organization. I want to talk about some of your work that you do as well for charitable organizations. But the Marketing Club of New York, it's an organization that... it helps fuel scholarships for people pursuing this marketing career. After an award show, if I'm hosting it or if I'm just part of it, people come up to me and I'm like, " This is great." I found our last intern that way and then our current intern through that relationship there. So it works. It works, it's just don't be a jerk, just mention... But I would also tell these students as well, Ryan, is, " Just follow up." I'm saying, " Follow up with me. If you don't, that's on you. And don't just follow up once, we're busy, and it's no problem if you follow up more than once."

Ryan Ruud: Totally. It's amazing how many missed opportunities are lost in the follow- up.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Exactly. And nowadays, it's so easy. Remember when I came out of college, this is going to date myself here, and my co- host Ajay was on, he'd laugh at me, but I went to the local library and I had a research companies and I had to get resume paper and send out letters. I got a rejection from a letter. You could always tell when you didn't get the job. It's like the same way you don't get into a college at the letters too. Then letter, " You didn't get it." It's a big-

Ryan Ruud: Oh, totally.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's an advice for... Well, who's it? It's not for everybody. But nowadays, if I wanted the CMO of Pepsi's attention, I'd have to write them a letter. Now I could follow them on LinkedIn and look up, it's Todd, Todd Kaplan. Right? He was on our podcast and just say, " Hey, Todd." That's it. You have access. Come on, students.

Ryan Ruud: Totally, yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: You could do it. You could do it.

Ryan Ruud: Yeah. You just have to be brave enough.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Exactly. So Ryan, let's talk about that. We always talk about... We love when our guests are also doing volunteer work. Stirista just had a summit and this year's nonprofit was Respite Care of San Antonio, before it was Leukemia& Lymphoma Society. Tell us about your work within Pinky Swear Foundation. I love that name, by the way, Pinky Swear. We'd love to hear more about it.

Ryan Ruud: So Pinky Swear Foundation's based here in Minnesota, serves families nationwide. It's based on the pinky swear promise between a boy and his father as he was dying from terminal bone cancer. It was Christmastime. This last weekend marked our 20th year of this charitable work. So as he was dying on the pediatric cancer ward floor here in Minnesota, he overheard another family talking about the fact that they wouldn't have any Christmas gifts. So he asked his dad to go take all of his savings out of his savings account. It was 6, 000. He put them into envelopes and wrote, " XOXO, Mitch," and handed out the cash to all of the kids and then made his dad pinky swear promise that they would continue to do that. So pinky swear stands today to give families financial grants when a child is diagnosed with cancer. One in 10 families who have a kid who is diagnosed with cancer ends up bankrupt. So they're giving out financial grants for everything, from being able to pay the mortgage, to being able to put fuel in the car to be able to take kids back and forth from appointments. They also do things like buying groceries. We have relationships with hospitals all over the country where we have... they're called pinky swear pantries, where there's places where families can go and get snacks and stuff if they're hanging out with their kids. And we also do all- star weekends where we'll let kids get together with their brothers and sisters, go hang out at the Mall of America or something like that to just be a kid. So I started volunteering with them in 2016. I joined the board two years ago, and I'm a 28- year survivor of childhood cancer. So that's my personal connection to it.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's an amazing story. So glad you're a survivor of it. That's pinkyswear. org, ladies and gentlemen, for people who are listening. Keep up the great work there, Ryan. We love hearing stories like that, pinkyswear. org. We're just about done, Ryan. It's flown by. So tell us about what does one do in Minnesota? I would imagine a lot of outdoor-

Ryan Ruud: Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: A lot of outdoor stuff, right?

Ryan Ruud: Oh, yeah. Well, not today, not today so much. We're getting a combination of ice, snow, rain, wind. It's a little bit of everything today. So today is not so much an outdoor day. But normally, yeah, I spend a lot of time outdoors on one of the lakes, in one of the many lakes, doing a lot of things, camping, fishing. We love all four of our seasons here in Minnesota.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's amazing. I don't know if I had liked one of them. I don't know if I'd like that winter there. We have our coworker, Aaron Grote, shout out to Aaron Grote, our head of digital here, and he's in Minnesota as well. And he just tells me these stories. I'm like, " How is this a thing? It's like March, it's April. How is it snowing like that?" But no, and I hear this a lot about Minnesota, and he says when it's beautiful out, it's just gorgeous. It's a great place. So Ryan, a closing thought, if you want listeners to take away one or two things from this podcast, what would it be? Lay it on us.

Ryan Ruud: So I say this to all of our clients, I say this to my team, it can get overwhelming. All of these things that you're trying to push forward, especially from a B2B perspective. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has an opinion on what you should be doing. But I love the quote, " Progress over perfection." There's multiple people that are attributed to it, but it's an old war quote that, basically the plan, " never survive first contact with the enemy". And I've distilled that down to progress over perfection. Just keep moving forward. And if each day you can do one thing a little bit better than you did the day before, you're outpacing your competitors.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. Progress over perfection. Ryan, this has been awesome. I knew it would. It's amazing catching up with you. Check out Lake One, ladies and gentlemen. Check out Ryan Ruud, R- U- U- D, you'll see it when you go to listen to the podcast, founder and CEO of Lake One. That's Ryan Ruud. I'm Vincent Pietrafesa. Ajay, our co- host, hopefully feeling better. We hope him back very soon. He's our leader here. We call him the Harry Potter of our company. He's our wizard. So thank you for listening, ladies and gentlemen, and we'll talk soon.

Vin: 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 @ stirista. com, and thanks for listening.


Ryan Ruud, Founder and CEO of Lake One, and Vincent discuss how organizational culture has an effect on marketing and about how accountability allows for growth.

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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Ryan Ruud

|CEO at Lake One
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