As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet Edwin Endlich.
Company Role: Head of Strategy and Marketing
Most likely to: make an obscure Star Wars reference
Secret talent: teaching self-defense
Imagine you’ve just moved to a new city and are unpacking boxes when your dad calls and says to “turn on the news.” Not a good sign, right? Moving to NYC the day before 9/11 was a sobering experience, but it didn’t deter Edwin from the city.
With aspirations of becoming a TV writer, he started his career in the Big Apple working for David Letterman and Comedy Central, bringing forward cultural trends to writers’ rooms — which became what could possibly be described as the greatest intro to marketing. But looking for a more stable environment, Edwin eventually ended up moving agency-side as a creative, tasked with writing viral videos and breakthrough ad campaigns for clients like Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Tide, Friskies, and Coca-Cola. That’s where he met our CEO Alex, and the rest is history. Transitioning from a creative director to a strategic leader across agencies big and small, Edwin charted a course that would lead him to become one of our senior leadership at String and Key.
Read more of his story below.
What do you do, and what does your typical workday look like?
So, first thing in the morning, I check the trades to see what’s going on in the fintech world. It’s always good to know who the movers and shakers are and what the market looks like when it comes to the competition. After that, I’ll look into what’s going on in the lives of our target audience and what they’re talking about. i.e., are they sharing any news content that day? Once I’m clued up, I get started on my “real work,” aka consumer research. I’ll check out any interesting insights or trends that have come from previous work and share this info with the creative team. At some point in the day, I’ll switch from right to left brain and put on my financial strategist hat. I’ll work with our CEO, Alex to go through the economics of the business and figure out how we can make this product a success. We ask questions like “what features and functionalities have we not thought of?” and “what are people excited enough about to pay for?” It’s important to know which features are viable and will keep the business profitable. Between Alex’s entrepreneurial spirit and my creative strategy brain, I think we have the makings of a great CFO.
What excites you about your job?
I love that the job is constantly changing. It’s very different from the agency world where you would have one role and one responsibility that stays the same from client to client. So, for example, consumer research at String and Key is completed once, and then we’re done. We move on. Whereas at an agency, I’d have to do that for Doritos, then Kleenex, then Walgreens and so on. It gets repetitive and boring. I love that here, once the challenge is over, you’re done with it. You get an incredible sense of accomplishment.
What do you find most challenging about your role?
What I love most about my role is also what I find most challenging. I never have a second or third try to get it right. I have to be perfect at new things, every day vs. at an agency where if I screwed up on Doritos, I could use that learning for Kleenex in three weeks. I could become faster, stronger, and better. That’s not an option here. if it’s something new to me, I can’t become an expert because I don’t get to practice. That, to me, is what I find most challenging.
What are the values that drive you?
I am deliverable obsessed. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you that I say the word “deliverable” a million times a day. For me, if a meeting is not to complete a deliverable, it’s not worth having. I am hyper-focused on making sure that every conversation we have is going to show up in the product in some shape or form. Also, I’m a big proponent of trusting your gut. That’s a huge value of mine, especially as a strategist. You’ll be paralyzed if you feel like your instincts don’t matter. If something doesn’t feel right or if something feels great, but you don’t have the data to back it up, don’t discount it. That’s something that I always try to instill in myself and my team. At the end of the day, if you’re not trusting people to trust their gut, then a robot can do the job. You hired somebody to be smart. Let them be smart.
What drew you to tech, and what excites you about the industry?
As a sci-fi nerd, I’ve always loved technology and believed that it was where the most exciting ideas were happening, outside of the arts. I love innovation, I love new toys, I love applications and features that no one’s thought of before. Those things are so cool to me. I was also excited to move away from just talking about technology in a way that was like, “let’s advertise on Tik Tok.” I wanted to be on the inside and have people call me to advertise on my platforms, not the other way around. Plus, having a product that can make people’s lives better is something you don’t get a chance to feel in 98% of fields — that definitely drew me to this particular tech.
How do you stay on top of your game?
I’m naturally curious. I always like to know why things work or why things are successful. Having this sense of curiosity draws me in to learn more, to read more, to know more. I also thrive in high-pressure environments, they’re my FAVORITE. I hate it when things are fine. I have a sordid history of blowing things up, wanting to add a new feature, just because I’m bored. I crave some level of intensity to get my adrenaline going and to push the boat out a little further. Having that level of energy keeps me on top of my game because I’m continually seeking out new challenges.
What’s one thing — either industry-related or not — that you’ve learned in the last month?
My daughter’s third-grade final is on penguins, so I’ve learned an incredible amount of info about these animals. Most interesting of all, I know that researchers have just created penguin robots to observe these birds in the wild. Real penguins are talking to the robots, so the researchers have to figure out what sounds the bot should make. It’s tricky, though. If they just record a penguin and then repeat the recording, the robot might then be shouting for help all the time, or constantly saying that it’s hungry. I’m just fascinated by all of it.
What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
Self-defense and penguins, for sure. I could also talk about why the movie Back to the Future is universally-recognized as the most perfect screenplay in cinema history. Some quick reasons are that there are seven different story arcs throughout the movie, It’s incredibly dense, and every line has a weight that is moving the story forward. It’s basically Shakespeare in modern times. That is definitely a course I could teach. I even have a back to the future tattoo (and a Star Wars one, of course).
What’s your favorite part about working at String and Key?
I love the entrepreneurial spirit here. This is our battle to fight, and no one else is telling us what we have to do. It’s the perfect place for all of us to put our skills to great use. I’ve been taught how to make a brand successful, and now I have a brand. We can finally use everything that we’ve learned to push our own company forward — I love that.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Penguin research, obviously. Also, I love to watch pilot episodes of TV shows. Some people binge-watch eight seasons of a show, but I’ll binge-watch the first episode of 20 shows. Coming from a TV background, I believe that the first episode is the encapsulation of your idea. People spend years shopping around this one script that is supposed to be perfect. So as a nerd, I love to watch people’s first episodes to see what that script is all about. Ultimately, I like to start stories, but I don’t need to end them to feel satisfied.
Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?#MotivationMonday #CheatDay #Streetwear #TodayILearned #Spicy
Audiobook or real book?
Comedy or drama?
Art festival or music festival?
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Run or swim?
Winter or Summer?
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