Soul & Science
Soul & Science

Season 2, Episode · 1 month ago

S2 Episode 3: Artsy CMO Everette Taylor | Marketing as an Artform


Everette Taylor, the CMO of the online art-collector’s marketplace, Artsy, is “just a kid from the hood,” which is not the typical profile of a global art dealer. His fast-track career is not based on connections but on something far more valuable–inner drive, creative risk-taking and listening to mom. Taylor grew up in a neighborhood where many were trapped by a cycle of street life, drugs and prison, so his mom nudged him to interview for a marketing job, which he got at the age of 14, despite wanting to work at Chick-fil-A with his friends. A natural marketer was born and Taylor’s career has been ascendant ever since.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • A first job is humbling, you learn you don’t know what you don’t know.
  • It’s good business to democratize spaces for everyone.
  • A CMO’s job is to build a team that is the shit.
  • Stay at the job that gives you the most opportunities to grow.
  • Ultimately, there will come a time for CMOs to go for CEO.  

Brought to you by Mekanism.

Hi, I'm Jason Harrison. You're listening to Soul and Science fast forward your marketing mind in about twenty minutes. If you like our show, please take a moment to subscribe, rate, review, and share on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can follow us across social platforms at Mechanism. Welcome to the podcast today. I'm joined by Everett Taylor, CMO at Artsy, the leading global marketplace for buying and selling art. Ever joined arts In from Et Enterprises, which he founded in and where he served as CEO. He has also served as CMO for Skirt and Head of Marketing at Kualaru. Everett is overseeing growth for new mobile apps at Microsoft China as interim head of Marketing, and as CMO for e commerce company sticker Mule, where he led substantial growth for the company as their youngest ever executive. Everett's true passion, however, lies within his philanthropic work giving back to his community. He's been called an innovator who's changing the consumer marketing game by Black Enterprise and a millennial entrepreneur who built a marketing and tech empire by business insider Ineen. He was named one of the hundred most influential African Americans by the Route and Forbes thirty under thirty from marketing and Advertising. Fantastic. So we are thrilled to have you. Thanks for joining us, Everett. So I always start with what the origin story of your career? So tell me about Everett Taylor. Did you fall into marketing? Did you know you wanted to go into marketing? Yeah, it's so funny to hear the origin story because I always think about like some superhero origin story and all of that. And I was just a kid from the hood. Man, I was. I was fourteen years old actually, and uh, I was doing things that I wasn't supposed to be doing, i e. Selling drugs and being in this streets and um, you know the men and my family growing up, um most of them were either in jail or drugs or in trouble um. And so there was just like kind of this this pattern and this cycle that happened within men and my family. And I was kind of going down that same trajectory unfortunately, and my mother, who is an angel, put a stop to that and she actually forced me to get a job. And so uh and the classified ads um for these gen zears who are listening to this, they may not know what that is. UM. In the classified ads, you actually saw a job listing for a junior marketing assistant for this nonprofit called Eastern National, and uh, she called them up and she got me a job interview. I actually had a job interview that same week with Chick fil A, and I really wanted the Chick fil A job because the homies worked there and uh Sundays those on Sundays. I still loved Chick fil A to to this day. Many number one no pickles, UM, So I was disappointed going to it. And I went to that job interview and I absolutely crushed it. It was so easy for me and natural for me to talk about marketing or something that I didn't even realize was marketing at the time. I didn't really know what it even meant. And Uh. I got offered the job and they asked if I could start Monday at nine am, and I said I can't because of school. They thought I was a college kid and I was fourteen. I was actually in high school and I had to get a workers permit to work. I would go in before and after school, UM and I would work on the weekends to make up for time. UM. And that was my first That was my first marketing gig. That's how I got into it. Man, my kids fourteen. I cannot imagine him crushing a job interview. To me, it was this, I really wanted to do this for my mom. Like my mom is when you talk about soul and science, that's the stuff that you can't you can't replicate, like...

...this feeling of love for the people that you care about, the things that push you. UM. And I knew how much my mom wanted me to have that job and how important it was for her for me to get off the streets. And so I was in there motivated. Man, getting that job changed the trajectory of your of your life. Oh absolutely. You know. One of the things that I will say is that one, it introduced me to the discipline of marketing UM first and foremost uh. Number two uh and this has kind of been in a DNA throughout my career. UM. You know, my first couple of marketing gigs were with nonprofits. So this this idealism of wanting to do good in the world and to help people, UM, and the things that I do. And I think three is that Uh, it allowed me to meet people that I never would have been able to meet. You know. This first job actually was marketing for gift shops and bookstores that are on the National um in National parks across the East coast, right, so I actually spent time in museum. So I was meeting people who came from all around the world, Like a lot of people from where I'm from. They never leave a few block radius. That's crazy, right, They haven't you know, been anywhere. They haven't been on a plane, they haven't been out of the city. Um. And so it's it just opened my eyes to the world. And I think one of my biggest strengths as a marketer because my ability to be knowledgeable about different cultures and different types of people. I think your your first marketing job humbles you because what you think you may know, you don't know until you really test and try things. And so to me, it taught me the importance of being able to back up your thoughts and opinions by actual data and results and outcomes. And so I learned that really really early on. And they were listening to a fourteen year old kid shout out to Bob. Bob was my was my manager, and man, he was much older than me, and he believed in me, and he he gave me the the ability to like try new things. And I think Bob was just there for a paycheck, so he just enjoyed, you know, my optimism. I remember, Um, one of the big bosses from corporate were and it was in Richmond. And there's this hotel Enrichmond called the Jefferson Hotel and it's a five star hotel, only five star hotel in Richmond. And I remember that when we dropped our boss off at the hotel, I was like maybe fifteen sixteen, and the boss literally said, you know, maybe with like, you know, years of hard work, you can stay in a place like this someday. And I stayed there when I was like twenty three. So I remember hitting up Bob and saying like, hey, it didn't take me. It didn't take me thirty years. Yeah, that such a dick comment, But it's all good. I I I've had so many moments in my in my life, in my career where people have doubted me. I remember, Sorry, this might be a little bit off subject, but I've never told this story. Actually, Um, when I was in high school, Um, I met this young lady who was at one of my games and she so I went to school in the city and she was out like way way out in the county. She went to a private school. Beautiful probably. I thought she was like the most beautiful woman I've ever met in my life at the time. And uh, she was mixed. She her mother was white, her dad was black, and she went to this private school. And I wanted to take her to one of my school dances, so I, uh, she said, yeah, uh, I can maybe go, but my parents...

...want to meet you. And so I drove out to this way out there, at this place called Colonial Heights, and I felt like I was in like the fresh Prince of bel Air. I had never seen like houses like this. It was insane. And you know, I'm like sixteen seven, sixteen sixteen at a time, and I have this busted up car, and I'm wearing like you know how it was back then in the early two thousand's, like super baggy clothes, you know, coogee all that stuff, and so you know, I was definitely a product of my environment and the culture I was around. That's how I knew how to dress the way I spoke. I spoke with uh, you know, I probably didn't sound the most intelligent, even though I was number two in my class, you know. And I met her father and he told her and her mother to go inside, and he told me that you are not worthy of dating my daughter. And I will not let some hoodlum date my daughter. And this was coming from another black man who I was inspired by and seeing him live in this incredible neighborhood. And like those moments, you know, those moments, you know, they put a chip on your shoulder and they motivate you. Story. It's it's I've never told this story. I've been scared to kind of tell that story. But you know, that's that's the thing that that hung over me. And um, you know, it's it's crazy how those things happen. But you know, coming from where I came from, you know, people like me didn't have the opportunity to work for a company like I worked for when I was young, or get the opportunity to experience new things. And you know, it took me a while to be able to experience life outside of the hood and become more cultured and a little bit more refined. But don't get it twisted. At the end of the day, I'm still me and I think that's what makes me special as a marketer and a leader of people. I love that story and I love the motivation what happened after high school. After high school, I went my freshman year to Virginia Tech. I took my first marketing job that was initially part of a work study program with United Way um UM as a marketing coordinate Native for United Way, and then they hired me, which was really really cool UM and I worked there my first year and I studied study computer engineering my first year in school and unfortunately UM and I don't want to talk too much about it because it's been talked about a ton, but I was homeless doing my senior of high school and I wanted to go back home because my mom was in it was was going through some things, UM financially, and so I actually dropped out of school UM after my freshman year, like right in the beginning of my my my sophomore year, to go help her out. And I was like working full time down in Richmond, what are you doing marketing? Well not at first, I was doing a BS minimum ways job at joe In fabrics and in Richmond. Yeah, man, it was it was. It was shitty. Um, but I was doing that job. But I was like, man, this is crazy. The gas that it costs to get out here, the money it costs to just even buy lunch would like be like three hours worth of my day already before taxes. You know, it's instate. It's insane, like you know those type of things. But um, it inspired me because you know, at the time, I used to love the party. I was nineteen and so I actually started throwing parties and then it evolved into my first company, which was called easy Events, where we created ticketing software for events and uh, I started that when I was nineteen with some engineers that I had met at a Virginia tech started marketing entrepreneurship. How did you then pivot back into becoming like working at skirt and becoming you know, CMO And how did you pivot away from entrepreneurship into working I really never did. There was only like brief moments. So I sold.

We sold Easy Events in two thousand eleven. Um for I thought it was a lot of money then and it's not a lot of money now. How much money was it there? Was one point two mill. I learned about capital gains. Yeah, after you know, taking care of family. I bought myself a Porsche. I was like twenty two with a Porsche. Um, you know, once once all that. And then obviously I had other people that helped me build a company, so compensating them and things like that, I didn't have much money leftovers, not as much as I thought I would, so actually had to go back to college. So I went back to school. You know. I used to look up to people like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey and all these people who were like building these companies in Silicon Valley, and I was like, man, I need to get out to the West coast man. So literally I decided to drop drop out. In two weeks later, I was in California, you know, working on a startup with Sean Ellis, who I'm not sure if you're familiar with Shaun Ellis, but he coined the term growth hacking. So he is the father of growth marketing, growth hacking, and uh I worked for him. I was his mark, I was his head of marketing. Um at I'm like that maybe younger, um And yeah, that's that's how I started. And you know, we're building a Silicon Valley startup. Qualaup came there. It's head of marketing. That company got acquired. Later we also started a company together called growth Hackers dot com. So actually co founded growth hackers dot com with Sean Ellis. But that the success of that platform, growth Hackers, and obviously being head of marketing of a company that got acquired catapulted me into the opportunity to become my first CMO at Sticker Meal, which Sticker Meal. A lot of people don't realize how big and successful and profitable Sticker Meal was. And to be honest, like I was in over my head even going to that company being in the first time CMO. I mean, you have a lot I can't. I'm trying to, like you wrap my head around. You have a lot of like focus on where you were going and a lot of entrepreneurship, but then a lot of like following your gun and ship just worked out. Dude. That is the story of my life, Following my gut, man, I'm telling you, following my gut It's been an incredible journey. And now you know, I can't announce what company it is, but I'll be taking my first CEO role for a well known company at thirty three. So I've just I've accelerated that path by taking a lot of risk and a lot of changes, um and uh, just betting on myself constantly and a lot of hard work. You know, that doesn't come without a hell of a lot of hard work and hustle. And then when you got to Artsy, what sparked your interest in Artsy? Like, why did that feel like the next right move? I think, what was that twenty nineteen? Yeah, So you know, it's crazy, and I'm little ashamed to say this, but like I've been at places where I was like passionate about the team or passion about the company, and sometimes passionate about the mission sometimes but rarely not at any point in my career, even the companies I started because even maybe except for easy events like you know, being able to throw parties, because that was something that I loved and was passionate about at the time. But you know, I've really made decisions in my career that was really based on financial security and like elevation in our careers, and a lot of professionals do that, right. I think arts presented the first opportunity in my career to actually do something that I was extremely passionate about. Like you see the art in my background, I lived this. I love art. I love the mission of democratizing in space. I love the team that I was working with UM. I love the ability to learn so much with Arts being a bigger company, having an experienced CEO, so the ability to learn, to be able to transform an industry, to do something I'm passionate about. I literally get up every day a excited about what I do at...

ARTS. You know, it's something that's really exciting for me. That's hard to find. You know, it's hard to find all those things. And I know that arts UH sales on the platform have grown over a Obviously that's teamwork and collaborative, but the CMO does have a big part in that growth. How did you contribute to that incredible growth. I think it was changing, helping shift the mentality of the company, making us more user centric, listening to our collectors. UM. You know, originally Arts was a strictly B two B business. UM before they didn't have a marketplace that you could transact on. So really pushing this user centric strategy of really starting to engage with collectors and in making art feel more accessible and not this opaque and exclusive experience. And then also on the product side, bill the right products that we're going to delight and help people transact and be engaged on our platform on both the B two B and B two C sides. I think that was the biggest thing, like really making a lot of noise and then when people get on the platform, making sure that our product was incredible, our matchmaking are onboarding, all of that was going to be on point when using our team. When you're making those decisions and you're putting the audience first, you said user centric. Do you do a lot of research and analytics or do you I'm a user to this doesn't work for me, or this does work for me. How do you balance what research says or how much research you do versus like the Everett common sense theory. Yeah, I mean I'm a little Steve jobs in Kanye ish at times, because you know, this is a space that I understand, and you know, I'm a collector of myself and so I have these natural instincts. But that's also bridge with like, you know, we have data, incredible data scientists at art C. We have UM, incredible researchers and brand researchers UM, and user researchers at art c so combining the data that they're seeing on the platform seeing, combining the qualitative data and feedback that we're getting on the user research side, and then my natural instincts. It's a it's a combination of everything. You're split between soul and science. Because here's the thing, man, when it comes to leading a company or being a face of a company or whatever that may be, if you have this approach that you know what's best all the time, you're gonna lose the people. You have to be able to be inspirational, innovative, and have great intuition, but at the same time be able to work in a collaborative UM way that does not discredit the hard work that the rest of the team does. You were named Forbes CMO Next and uh Forbes World's most Influential CMO on that list. Has that been like a game changer for you in your career? Is that very useful? And my second question is what did you do that was game changing to get on those lists. Honestly, I don't know. The CMO next thing. I think it was really a lot to do with the work. Man, we had a lot of high visibility work and we were um doing things that we're truly driving impact and driving a lot of success. That's my team, man, Like, my team is absolutely incredible. And I'm not just saying that to be like politically correct. No, my team is the ship. And if you're a true CMO and a gray CMO, then your job is to build a team that's the ship. You know what I mean, You're you're supposed to build a team that's absolutely lights out incredible. And so I I owe a lot of that to them. And in terms of like how that's impacted me or change, I think the one thing I will say is that it definitely got... more attention on the recruiting trails for like bigger, like multinational, big public company CMO roles, high profile CMO roles. I've turned down some really big like if I if I talked, I couldn't talk about it. But like some of the opportunities I've turned down, people worked their whole careers for as a marketer. But I knew that my path was to CEO, right, So even with all of the accolades and all of the things that were happening, happening. My north star this entire time has to get to be back in the CEO CT and a non founder CEO C right. And so to me, it was great and it was amazing, and I appreciate that, you know, I celebrated with the team, you know, in terms of like just giving them their flowers for that recognition. But at the end of the day, man, I knew where my path was headed and it wasn't CMO. What would you give advice to younger ever, Taylor? Do you have advice on do it like I did it, don't do it like I did it. The advice I would give to any young version of myself is to really be focused on impact. Everything else is gonna work itself out. When I looked through my career, it's easy to be able to say like, oh, he went from VP to CMO, he went to this. No, when I looked through my career, it's like, oh, wow, I started a company, got acquired. I became head of marketing for a company, scaled it and got it acquired. You know, I was at my first CMO role when we grew even though it didn't work out, it was you know I made impact in that company, went to Skirt, scaled it, got acquired, went to Art c grew the company tremendously, and now I'm in a position to be a CEO of a well known brand. So to me, the common theme was the belief in myself and then actually driving impacts wherever I went. The other thing is if if title or something like that and knowing where you want to go is important to you. I knew I wanted to be back in the CEO c I don't really like having a boss. So I love Mike though. That's my guy hunting, you know, my man hunt Grant. But um, what I what I thought was all right, this is where I want to be. How do I work myself backwards to get to where I want to go? Right? So Sam at Art c M CMO of Arts, Right, and I could go and be CMO of a uh an even bigger company. But does that put me in a better position to be a CEO. I don't think so. Right, it could just put me in a position to continue to be a career CMO. Where Arts, I had a lot of responsibilities that expanded beyond marketing, and I had a great relationship and was learning a lot from my CEO here and so to me that was better preparing me for the trajectory that I wanted to become a c e O. I love that. So for all the Steve jobs, be Kanye West out there. Don't just go for like the coolest brand that might not take you where your ultimate goal is absolutely or money, money too, because you know these some of some of these roles, they pay a lot of money, but you gotta know which your ultimate in state is going to be. Do you have a favorite artist or a piece of art that people should know about, or something that speaks to you that you know you're passionate. I'll just talk about a couple of pieces from my own collection. Um there's one piece that um really stands out to me more than anything, and I see it every morning when I get up and come downstairs. This this piece by this Nigerian British Nigerian artist named Johnny Fato j to me. And it's an abstract piece that's called I'm just one crawl away. And every day, no matter what you're trying to do, you feel like you're just one crawl away. You're never gonna feel like you're quite there, right. It's always like one step forward, a...

...couple of steps back, or you reach this new mouthstone and there's another mouthstone, right. And so it is this, this this painting that just keeps me level headed and remembering that, like, man, this is a process and in a tough days and everything like that, you know, you're always that much closer to your goal. Um, and so you know it's a continuous process, but it's a beautiful reminder that, man, this stuff is tough. Man. And uh you know, the you have to continue to level up, continue to level up over time, and you've done a lot of philanthropic type of endeavors. How do you balance that passion with the business passion? How do you look at that? You know, this is this is very interesting because think about my new role. Obviously I can't say it right now, but what better bridge is there between doing good in the world and building an incredible brand the company. I feel like this new role is literally like my life has been heading towards this point this entire time, you know, and it's it is it is clearly uh so aligned for me in my world, wanting to bring positive change and in genuinely impact the world in a positive way and still be yet a well known brand and building my career, etcetera, etcetera. So I think the two are really coming together. If your job can also be philanthropic and you don't have to do that as a side hustle to make yourself feel good inside and make the world better, I mean that's kind of a dream. I mean, even even at Artsy, just the efforts we've made on the on the philanthropic side would benefit auctions. I mean, after this year we've we're probably gonna have over just my tenure have probably gonna raised over fifty million just to give to two benefits and philanthropic causes. Alright, turning over to non business, Everett, what are some of your role models that you have in your life? Um? I don't really do the role model thing, but but I'm trying to think what do you have against role models? I mean people that that I really look up to and respect. Is a little bit different. Like, all right, so I'm gonna spew out a few names. Um let me think, uh, Frank Ocean, all right, Jack Dorsey, Donald Glover, Dave Chappelle, and Kyrie Irvin. What do all five of those people have in common, you think me, they're best at what they do, one of the best. Yeah, essentially arguably some of the best of what they do. I think it's incredible to see people who are authentically themselves. They don't align with whatever social norms or social constructs that the world that has for them. They speak their minds, they true, they're true to who they are, and at the end of the day, they're fucking great at what they do. Frank Ocean, Jack Dorsey, Donald Glover, Dave Chappelle, Kyrie Irving. Say what you want, disagree or not with them. They live their ways in a life that in their life that's authentically them, and they are some of the best at doing what they do. And I really really appreciate that. I know they do do a lot of philanthropic things too. Now, mind you, I don't agree with their political beliefs or whatever, right, but I appreciate them for being authentically them. Like there's people on that list that I just named that I like, vehemently disagree with some of the things that they believe in, right, but at the end of the day, I respect them for being true to who they are and speaking their truth. And also being really, really great at their craft. Do you...

...have a favorite quote or mantra that you go back to or that you think about. All good things come to those who stay true. Damn who said that? Pop? Alright? All good things come to those who stay true. Stay true to yourself, you know, be a good person, do good in the world. Um, and I think it's all gonna come back to you. Man. You've seen that firsthand. It sounds like oh, one thousands and percent. And trust me, I've been through my share of heartache and and disappointment and failure, man, But I always bounced back, Man, always bounced back. Well. Thanks for taking the time to be on the Soul and Science podcast. This was incredible. I think, uh, you're obviously true to who you are. We look forward to, uh seeing what's next. Thank you, brother, thank you, Thanks so much for seeing the Soul in Science and we'll see you next week. Soul in Science is a mechanism podcast produced by the unbelievable Frank Risco, Ryan Tillotson, Tyler Nielson, Emma Swanson, and Lily Jablonsky. The show is edited by Daniel Ferrari, theme music by Kyle Merritt and I'm your host, Jason Harris,.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (27)