“Content Creates Brand” Words Of Wisdom With Startup Strategist Hillel Fuld
“Turns out that the way the internet works is that if you generate content consistently about your space, and the content is valuable, you position yourself as an authority, and the more you invest in this, the stronger your brand becomes. Content absolutely works. One of my first jobs was in finance, and I am SO not a finance guy, but one of the first things I did at my new job was start a company content strategy. Within a matter of weeks, I began to get emails from people around the world asking me for some financial advice. Weeks. That is all it took. That was a tremendously valuable lesson.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Hillel Fuld, Co-Founder of ZCast. Named Israel’s top marketer by Inc Magazine, and the “Man transforming Startup Nation to “Scale-up Nation” by Forbes. Hillel works with hundreds of leading entrepreneurs and collaborates with leading brands such as Google, Oracle, DJI, and Huawei. Finally, Hillel mentors startups in some of the world’s leading accelerators, including the Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, as well IBM, Intel, and Mass Challenge.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was born and raised in NYC, and moved to Jerusalem with my family as a teenager. With a deep love and passion for technology, it didn’t take long before I realized I needed to take part in the impressive Israeli startup ecosystem.
While working at my first job out of university, it hit me that I had many thoughts on the world of technology, which, combined with my writing skills led me to start my first blog. This was before the era of mainstream blogging, and as far as I was concerned, this was a diary in which I would record my thoughts with the sole audience of those thoughts being me. There was no business model or strategy, but I did love technology and writing, and I followed that passion. Little did I know that writing, which I did for many years, would open countless doors, and would launch what would be a career in tech marketing.
How did your blogging turn into an actual career for you?
Over the years, that blogging quickly transitioned into advising startups. That too, was not monetized in the traditional sense of the word. However, while I cannot pretend this was a goal or a plan of mine, many of the startups and entrepreneurs I had helped in the early days circled back and asked me to join them in an official capacity. Some of those relationships were of a passive nature, and included equity as compensation, while others were much more hands-on, and included a monthly retainer. Helping startups was always a hobby of mine, and something I did on the side. But what ended up happening is it replaced my full-time job, and today I work with many leading startups as an official Strategic Advisor.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Interestingly, unlike most cases, my story actually went in the opposite direction. Instead of using my success to bring goodness into the world, I tried to bring goodness into the world, which led to my success. It turns out that when you’re a ‘giver’ in business, when you facilitate success for others, it paves the road for you to go on your way to success. I continue today, to meet as many entrepreneurs as my time allows, and 95% of that time is not, and will never be monetized. The monetization comes much later down the road after I tried to provide maximum value with minimum returns for me and the entrepreneur, the recipient of the value reaches the conclusion that we should be working together in a more official capacity.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest is the most important thing to do?
The most important thing anyone can do to advance their career, and in my opinion this applies to all industries, is to find their own core talents, their most unique form of value, give it away to anyone who can benefit from it, and go all in on that strategy. Throughout your career, focus heavily on relationships, on helping others, and on providing the maximum value to as many people as possible.
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
As mentioned, today I am fortunate to be working with many leading startups and entrepreneurs, who I accompany on the rollercoaster that is startup life. These companies include prooV, a company enabling startups and enterprises to collaborate in the most seamless manner, Hometalk, a company building a DIY empire with minimal funding and immense talent, and Intelligo, a startup using cutting-edge technology to make our professional world a safer place. These are three examples among many others who I am fortunate to be working with to solve real problems using technology and innovation.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.
Choosing 5 things I wish people told me is not easy. There are hundreds. The most important ones include:
- Content Creates Brand: Turns out that the way the internet works is that if you generate content consistently about your space, and the content is valuable, you position yourself as an authority, and the more you invest in this, the stronger your brand becomes. Content absolutely works. One of my first jobs was in finance, and I am SO not a finance guy, but one of the first things I did at my new job was start a company content strategy. Within a matter of weeks, I began to get emails from people around the world asking me for some financial advice. Weeks. That is all it took. That was a tremendously valuable lesson.
- Highlight Others: As I continued to build my audience through blogging, it occured to me that interviewing others would really kick it up a notch. By interviewing others, I established the beginning of a relationship with that person (Everyone likes to be on stage.). Additionally, as soon as I publish the interview, the person I interviewed shares it with their audience, which drives me tons of traffic. Finally, by interviewing interesting people, I increase my own credibility and validate myself. So basically, by spending just a few minutes to write interview questions, the return is a relationship, traffic, and validation. That is a great return on investment if I ever saw one. I have used this method to build real friendships with stars such as Steve Wozniak, Marc Andreessen, Alyssa Milano, and so many others.
- Failure is a Stepping Stone to Success: Many have said it before me, but failure is only failure if you don’t learn from it and leverage it to succeed the next time. I have had many failed startups, whether as a founder or CMO, but I have learned endless lessons from each so thinking about those stories does not leave me down or depressed, but rather hopeful and optimistic about the next challenge.
- Not Everything Can, or Should Be, Quantified: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Whether it was Einstein who said that, or someone else (There are debates online about that.), that quote is tremendously insightful. In my world, the world of marketing, I understand those words to explain the power of branding, the importance of emotion and sentiment, and how not everything is about conversion rates. This is very much a debated topic, but if I have learned anything about marketing over the past decade, it is that if and when people care about you and your vision, that leads to great things.
- Doing Good and Doing Well are Not Mutually Exclusive: At the end of the day, what I have learned over the years is that business is not zero sum game. If you help someone win, that doesn’t come off your bill of success. You help others win, you end up winning too. Take business intros for example. You connect two great people, they both gain, and you, as the person who facilitated that intro win, but helping those two people achieve a level of success they would otherwise not been able to achieve. If you do good for others, for your ecosystem, you quickly position yourself as being indispensable, you establish strong relationships, you learn to overcome challenges, and you build yourself a massive pool of favors you are able to call upon down the road.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)
I am not sure my dream breakfast is that different than others’. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg would be high on that list. As would Marissa Mayer. All four people fascinate me for different reasons but more importantly, that breakfast, if it is to achieve its goal, would have to be initiated with the proper context.
As I mentioned, I try to put myself on the giving side of business. I am more comfortable on that side than on the receiving end. So if these intros would be along the lines of “Hey Mark, meet Hillel. He wants to have breakfast with you.”, I would think twice whether to even ask for that intro.
If however, I was able to come up with some value that I can provide any of these people, and while that may seem far-fetched, it is not, everyone has challenges, it is all about finding that itch and scratching it, that is when I would love to have that breakfast. “Bill, meet Hillel, he can give you a very unique perspective on X.” or “Elon, you should have breakfast with Hillel, he is able to shed some thought on Y.”
The bottom line, as mentioned throughout all the answers above, what most people have yet to understand, is that the more you give selflessly to others in business, the more you end up positioning yourself as a giver, and the more you end up winning big!