We had the good fortune of connecting with Russ Gooberman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Russ, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Understanding your level of risk tolerance. As a former semi-pro poker player, I was able to develop a relatively high risk tolerance in my early 20s. In Hold’Em, a 75% chance to win before the flop is as good as its going to get — and that means, on a relatively sure thing, you will still be outdrawn one out of four times. Understanding that if you have the right habits, you’ll win out in the long run, even if you take some unexpected bad beats along the way. Risk tolerance is, in part, tolerance of failure. Failures are inevitable and necessary. Just make sure that when you push all of your chips in, you’ve got a backup plan if things go sideways. In my early 20s, I took a commission-only job as an investment advisor (or a financial newspaper salesman, if you prefer). The wage was good if you performed well, and minimum wage if you didn’t. I jumped at the chance to pay for my expenses in a 20-hour work week, so that I could spend the rest of my time doing comedy, playing poker and investing time in myself. This was a risk — as my paycheck would vary week-to-week. Not everyone can tolerate that lack of consistency.
What should our readers know about your business?
I’ve been working as a User Acquisition/ Organic Growth consultant for the better part of a decade. I’ve worked for the National Institutes of Health, Jets.com, an international indoor entertainment franchise, and many, many start ups. I’m currently working with BIGtoken – a personal data monetization platform. My job is primarily to connect a burgeoning business with its as yet untapped potential audience. To do this, I have to identify what language potential customers are using that the client business may not be using in talking about itself. I also have to identify what language AI might use to discover and categorize the client business (this is the Technical SEO part). I also spend a good amount of time eliminating impediments to acquiring customers. This can mean tweaking the conversion funnel (the path to sign up users/ customers) of a website, or it can mean eliminating unnecessary steps that are losing potential customers along the way. The job is a combination of marketing, analytics, dev work and communication. When I started doing it, around 2010, it wasn’t something which you would have a qualification or degree from a graduate school. It’s the sort of skillset that you learn, on the fly. You’re given the problem of growing a particular business and you learn strategies and tactics that you put in your pocket for the next go round. Some remain applicable. Others you have to throw away. The biggest challenge of the job is that, every time you go to work for a client in a new field, you have to learn that field — especially the jargon. I’ve worked with clients in precision medicine, real estate, cryptocurrency, chartered jets and sports analytics. Every time, I have to catch up to the language being used in the field, so that I can understand what kind of semantic core — strategic keywords — to employ. The other major challenge is that systems fight back. Google, Amazon and Apple are continually tweaking their algorithms and rules to resist people like me who try to game them. Old tricks become obsolete and new ones become available. You have to be adaptive, by nature, to continue to succeed. My biggest joy, is in bringing more eyeballs to projects that I believe in. Getting someone’s worthy start up seen by a few hundred thousand engaged, invested users, is a reward in itself.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my favorite late night eats is Dan Sung Sa, the wonderful, campy North Korean-themed restaurant on 6th and Berendo. The grilled spicy squid is amazing — and though they have $1.99 chicken skewers, I can’t ever seem to get out of there with a tab smaller than $60. Mao’s Kitchen is my favorite ‘homestyle’ Chinese restaurant of all time. There used to be one in the Melrose district next to Groundlings, which sadly contracted, leaving only the Venice beach location left. If you’re not on the west side, it’s worth the trip. ACME Comedy in the Noho Arts District is another hidden gem — between a retro barcade and a high-end comic book store. This comedy venue keeps alive the spirit of IO West and other improv/ sketch venues that have gone by the wayside. If you’re there early in the month, also check out First Fridays on Abbott Kinney. All of the best food trucks in the city descending on the same block for a mobile gourmet smorgasbord.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Jeff & Jane Michalski at the Fanatic Salon — a wonderful hidden gem of an art theater on the west side. Dave Razowsky — Journeyman improv Ronin My wife, Stephanie Pressman, for her unending support. The late Billy Spindler & GIan Molina for their guidance and kindnesses.