All of our CEO sequence interviews are particular, however at this time’s is especially so due to my private historical past with our visitor. Dan Womack has the doubtful honor of being my very first direct brand-side consumer waaaay again after I began my profession in market analysis virtually 20 years in the past. He was an insights chief at GE Monetary on the time. One way or the other we related, and I bought him on the thought of constructing one of many early on-line proprietary panels. We constructed customized software program to handle it and conduct surveys. By doing so, we realized on the fly greatest practices for constructing and managing a B2B panel. Dan was at all times seeking to drive innovation throughout his organizations and was an early adopter (or not less than experimenter!) of rising strategies and applied sciences; many suppliers moreover me owe him a debt of gratitude for being an early advocate and enterprise accomplice.
For some motive we stored successful his enterprise, and for near a decade he was certainly one of my favourite shoppers throughout his profession at GE Monetary, Genworth Monetary, and Aflac. We additionally grew to become good mates over time, and it has been a pleasure to see him change into one of many few client-side leaders engaged in a visual management position throughout occasions, associations, and printed supplies.
So, why the interview at this time? Effectively, Dan lately determined to return again to the provider facet and has assumed the position of President of KLC (previously KL Communications), one other early innovator round combining crowdsourcing and communities to drive impactful insights. Kevin Lonnie, the founding father of KLC, can also be an outdated good friend whom I respect immensely, so Dan becoming a member of KLC is especially cool! Now that Dan is porting his over 20 years of client-side expertise to one of many main innovators within the business, I’ve excessive expectations on how he’ll leverage the belongings of his expertise and deep business information to actually develop the enterprise and problem the business to innovate additional. On this interview, we discover a bit about what they could appear to be.
Clearly with all of our historical past this can be a very pleasant and informal dialog, however I feel you, pricey listeners, will study lots and luxuriate in it as a lot as I did.
The textual content has been edited for readability.
Lenny Murphy: Good day, all people. It’s Lenny Murphy right here with one other version of our sequence of CEO interviews. And you realize, I at all times say all of those classes are nice and particular. However this one actually, actually is. As a result of my visitor at this time is Dan Womack. And here’s a story for you. Dan was my first unbiased consumer after I went solo again in 2002, 2003, Dan?
Dan Womack: I feel some time in the past.
Lenny Murphy: Sure, so Dan at that time was at GE Monetary, and he had this concept to construct a proprietary panel. And by some means, I wiggled my method in there and gained that enterprise. After which, he’d been a consumer for a lot of, a few years all through. And in case you don’t know, Dan’s going to introduce himself in only a second. He has been across the business, once more, virtually 20 years that we’ve recognized one another, in very influential roles. And he’s obtained some information to share a couple of new influential position.
However it’s nice. So that you’re going to listen to us sort of minimize up a little bit bit as a result of we’ve recognized one another for 20 years and we’ve been shoppers and mates. And it’s only a actual pleasure to have the ability to have this dialog. So Dan, now, you introduce your self after that intro.
Dan Womack: Wow, yeah, nicely, thanks. This can be a lot of enjoyable. I do know you and I speak infrequently however it’s been some time, and I haven’t truly seen your face for a very long time. So it’s good to see you. And thanks for the introduction. Yeah, I’ve been round for a bit. I began out earlier than you and I met, working for a small analysis agency. I spent about 4 years there, realized a ton, and did quite a lot of qualitative work.
About 70% of my time was as a moderator, touring across the nation, doing focus teams. However then I came visiting to the opposite facet of the world, the company researcher, consumer facet at GE Monetary, then Genworth Monetary, and within the final 13 plus years at Aflac till very lately. So I’m excited to say I’ve joined KLC, previously KL communications. All your listeners most likely know Kevin Lonnie. However I’ve joined Kevin and his staff as president. And yeah, I’m delighted to be there and excited concerning the potentialities.
Lenny Murphy: I adore it after we convey folks again to the darkish facet, you realize. And particularly for an organization like KL. Once more, sure, I’ve recognized Kevin ceaselessly. Once I first heard the information about you guys connecting on this method, my thought was, wow, what an ideal match of simply extremely sensible, good – and I feel that actually counts, proper? – good those that have actually made an affect within the business over time. To see that becoming a member of of forces, so to talk, it did my coronary heart good. And that’s why we wished to have this dialog. So why? Why did you make the bounce? And why KL?
Dan Womack: Yeah, nice query. So I discussed, I used to be at Aflac over 13 years. I’d been eager about a departure from there, only a nice firm, and a terrific staff I labored with. However I’d gotten a little bit bored and wasn’t attending to do quite a lot of new issues. And so, I made a decision within the spring of 2020 that I’d begin trying to find a brand new job. It turned out to be one of many dumbest concepts I’ve ever had in my profession. So March hit, and I assumed, no, perhaps this isn’t the most effective time to job search. – It was in March 2020, simply to reiterate that it was not the most effective time to go on a job hunt.
So I hunkered down a little bit bit. I made a decision to journey this out, see what’s going to occur with this new world it appears like we’re transferring into. However close to the tip of the yr, close to the tip of 2020, Aflac supplied a beneficiant, what they referred to as a voluntary separation program. And it was my cue to step out. A pleasant runway – it gave me a little bit time to step again, suppose a little bit bit, after which, seek for a task.
And I’ll be sincere. I didn’t begin out considering I’d be coming again to the analysis supplier facet. However Kevin gave me a name, I feel it was within the spring, late spring perhaps, and stated, “Are you continue to on the lookout for one thing new to do?” And I stated, “As a matter of reality, I’m.” And he stated, “Effectively, I obtained one thing I need to speak to you about.” So we spent a few months speaking about it. Such as you, I’ve recognized Kevin for a very long time. I used to be a buyer for some time at Aflac with a terrific expertise. However I knew him nicely earlier than that.
And we each wished to ensure that this made sense for each of us. And in the end, after I most likely drove Kevin loopy to be sincere, I checked out it at each potential angle it may be checked out.
Lenny Murphy: Oh, I bear in mind having you as a consumer, what that was like, so.
Dan Womack: Sure. On the finish of all that, I used to be very comfy and assured within the choice and simply enthusiastic about working with a terrific staff, with a terrific buyer base, and simply tons of potentialities.
Lenny Murphy: In order that’s cool, and it’s a terrific story. I joke about having you as a consumer and being persnickety – however by which you had been at all times a pleasure. However I feel that is perhaps the curiosity level. You had been at all times targeted on the long run, proper? I imply, my God, once more, we had been doing proprietary panel again in early 2000 and on-line panel for insurance coverage brokers in early 2000, proper? That’s about as progressive in future considering as you get.
So I’ve to think about that as you had been analyzing your choices and eager about the position with KL that revolutionary area of interest, that drive for the long run was in there as nicely. So are you able to speak a little bit bit about that?
Dan Womack: Yeah, certain. I feel KL (previously KLC) has been recognized for expertise to some extent since their founding. Kevin began the corporate greater than 25 years in the past. And as you and lots of the listeners might know, proprietary on-line communities are a giant a part of that enterprise. Are they purely a brand new expertise at this time? No. However they’re definitely nonetheless in that realm of latest to many firms and many purchasers I attain at this time.
I feel the revolutionary, the transferring ahead from there for me and what excites me is the instruments are nice, and even we have now a few proprietary instruments, these are implausible. However it’s the way in which I consider these instruments might be leveraged as new challenges are confronted by company researchers as I noticed for a few years. I feel these challenges are ramping up, they’re getting simply extra intense at this time. A few of them are the identical however extra intense, a few of them are fully new with COVID and plenty of different issues happening on this planet.
There’s only a lot we don’t learn about prospects at this time. And what I really like concerning the suite of instruments and capabilities that KLC is that I consider we’re very nicely positioned to assist go into the long run and reply these questions on the place our prospects at this time and perhaps much more importantly, the place they go on.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah and I clearly, I agree. I feel that as we take a look at the – nicely, it’s within the dynamic out of 2020. Let me see for those who agree with this based mostly in your expertise on the consumer facet. We had been all sort of monitoring alongside you realize, after which, right here got here this, oh, crap, situation. And it appears as if the moment response was, OK, we’d like solutions now. We want them quick and we’d like them affordably.
So there’s this large shift in direction of all-things digital and sort of on this DIY broad class as this preliminary response, simply to get a deal with on the state of affairs. After which a development as folks begin to get a deal with on – as a lot as we may if we actually have a deal with on it but. Realizing that there have been truly large adjustments that had been occurring, not simply the sort of your fundamental buying behaviors, these kind of issues, however true sort of paradigm shifting behavioral adjustments, cultural realignment, simply enormous implications crossing the board.
And we’ve seen a shift now in direction of extra strategic analysis however with a give attention to, I feel – my sense is that researchers, significantly manufacturers researchers, at the moment are within the place of understanding, look, we’d like agility, we’d like price and velocity efficiencies, we’d like to have the ability to reply questions proper then and there. However we have to perceive and perceive the why, perceive actually what’s driving people is just not so simple as a fast quick survey or fast quick group.
We have to construct long-term engagement fashions that enable us to actually, actually get beneath the hood, so to talk on this change of dynamic. So is that – out of your perspective, am I studying that proper?
Dan Womack: Yeah, completely Lenny. I feel that’s a giant a part of it. And I feel I’ll use the time period that I’m beginning to hear extra and at all times on. So quick, environment friendly, correct, sure, all these issues. However with as quick as customers are altering at this time and as shortly as firms want to maneuver the idea of at all times on applied sciences and at all times on instruments, I consider are simply extra vital at this time than they’ve ever been.
However yeah, the adjustments – and we definitely noticed this at Aflac, and I’m certain most company researchers did as nicely, that the adjustments on each what prospects’ attitudes and behaviors in addition to internally, the calls for and desires of leaders contained in the group had been altering every day as nicely. As a result of they had been getting new info and partial info usually. And on this case, I’m speaking about what’s happening with the pandemic, when are we coming again into the workplace? How are staff feeling about all this? Are we being as productive as we was? All these issues, proper?
So leaders are additionally on this fixed new strain, new change state of affairs. In order that results in new questions on a buyer base that can also be always altering from everyday. And simply one other a part of that too is – I really like the mixture of buyer perception, if you’ll, that comes from attitudinal sorts of work. So the locations market researchers level in being mixed with behavioral knowledge from the massive knowledge, the interior knowledge that sits in databases.
However one of many challenges we began to see, and I feel what lots of people have is the standard of perception coming from the ten years of information or 15 or 20 years of information within the huge knowledge sources hastily coming into query. As a result of if there are enormous shifts in behaviors, your previous knowledge isn’t excellent at predicting it anymore.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah, proper. When the norms get damaged, nicely, you bought to develop some new norms, proper?
Dan Womack: Yeah. Sounds a little bit bit like a mutual fund advert. However you realize, an excellent efficiency is just not a predictor.
Lenny Murphy: So now, after I take into consideration the whole lot we simply stated being true, the neighborhood because the hub, I assume for lack of a greater time period, or one of many foundational instruments within the researchers toolkit to have the ability to drive each this agile, at all times on functionality, but additionally, this in-depth exploration. And I do know that KL significantly has at all times targeted on the thought of knowledge of the gang as nicely and weaving that into their providing.
So is what actually excited you concerning the alternative significantly at KL to construct that future off of that foundational information that this fundamental providing, this philosophy or thesis actually is what’s going to drive the long run as we transfer ahead as an business to deal with a wide range of inside challenges throughout the board.
Dan Womack: Yeah, to a big extent. And I’ll be sincere, I’m a few weeks in right here so I’m getting my head round simply what all of the capabilities are. However the way in which I’m sort of taking a look at it’s the platform, if you’ll, the neighborhood platform is a chassis that adapts rather well to any sort of expertise it’s possible you’ll need to construct or bolt on to it. And it’s simply an unimaginable chassis for answering the important thing enterprise questions that I do know come up daily inside a giant companies. And that’s, yeah, that’s a very thrilling factor for me.
You already know, the platforms, the enabler, however you are able to do nearly any kind of analysis off that chassis that you could be ever must do. Clearly, there are some limitations. However I’ve began to dig into this and I don’t know the whole lot but. However simply trying into within the final yr, what sorts of questions have been coming to us from prospects. And simply doing that little train, and I’m not even midway completed with it but, I see that simply unimaginable number of wants which can be being fulfilled from this chassis and a number of other instruments which have been bolted on to it, so.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah, I agree. It’s enjoyable and thrilling instances throughout the board. I need to take heed to time. Of your time in addition to the listeners since you and I can go on and on for a very long time as we have now completed many instances up to now. So that is sort of the final query. Is your entry on this courageous new world of coming again into the darkish facet throughout large change, how are you going to measure success for your self? Proper? A yr out from now, what do you suppose, if I can accomplish this I do know that I’ve completed it nicely. But when not, then, I don’t know. Perhaps, I made the flawed alternative. So what does that appear to be for you?
Dan Womack: No. That’s a terrific query. And I’m going to assault it from a few angles. One is simply on a private stage, on a Dan stage, if you’ll. I’m at a degree in my profession the place I need to do issues which can be significant and have some enjoyable whereas I’m doing it. In order that’s a part of it on the non-public facet, proper? I feel we’re undoubtedly in a spot with KLC to do some significant work for folks we already are. So I be ok with that half. Thus far, I’m having quite a lot of enjoyable with it, assembly some nice folks. So yeah. So these are two key issues on the non-public facet.
And on the skilled facet, you realize, rising the enterprise, bringing new prospects to allow them to expertise what we will do for them, and rising groups and folks. I’ve inherited a terrific staff, which I used to be lucky that I knew a number of the members earlier than Kevin and I began speaking. And I’ve gotten to know all of them a little bit higher now. And that’s actually vital to me is knowing the place persons are at this time, the place they need to go, and the way I may help them get there. So creating the staff, rising the corporate, that may be the skilled facet.
Lenny Murphy: Very cool. And I assume including to the report assortment when you’re going off to the facet.
Dan Womack: Yeah. Effectively, sure, people will be capable to see a slight portion of my report assortment. And yeah, sadly, it’s a behavior I can’t actually break. However not touring makes it simpler. I’m not moving into quite a lot of report shops everywhere in the nation today.
Lenny Murphy: Effectively, hopefully you truly get to get pleasure from them then, have a little bit extra time to interrupt them out and dive in. Dan, I do know this would be the first of hopefully many conversations over the course of time. However it’s such a pleasure to have the ability to reconnect. Guys, for many who simply don’t know Dan, you’ll want to. He’s simply top-of-the-line folks on this planet. Hey, he’s not a consumer anymore so I’m not blowing smoke.
Dan Womack: It might good.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah. So actually, I hardly ever go this far, however for those who haven’t had an opportunity to achieve out and speak to Dan Womack simply as a good friend, you need to do this for those who can have the pleasure of working with him, then, even higher. You’ll not be disenchanted. You truly spoiled me, Dan, again within the day. Like, however wait, all of my shoppers are good like Dan. Some are actually jerks. [LAUGHING]
Dan Womack: You already know Lenny, I respect that. And I’d inform folks to – I’d additionally say for those who don’t know Lenny, you need to. However I’ve simply remembered, all people is aware of you. All people is aware of you already, so I can’t actually say he’s the good man, you need to get to know him. It’s true however they already know you.
Lenny Murphy: It’s like a foul penny. Effectively, we have now a terrific mutual admiration society, and I’m glad that we had a gathering of that society, Dan.
Dan Womack: It’s good.
Lenny Murphy: Congratulations on the brand new position. It truly is cool and really thrilling. I feel KL is a superb firm. I’ve tons of respect and admiration for the staff and for Kevin. I can’t wait to listen to what you guys accomplish subsequent, now that you simply’ve had this thoughts meld to drive issues ahead. That’ll be enjoyable and thrilling.
Dan Womack: Thanks, Lenny. Actually loved it, at all times nice to see you.
Lenny Murphy: You as nicely, my good friend. So take care. Thanks, all people for listening.