Motivated by his pleasure in building relationships, Dave Wakeman uses his strategic skills to help others grow their businesses.
What’s your story?
When people talk about a roundabout way of getting to where they are, I believe it fits me to a tee.
I started out in nightclubs before being part of the crew that opened Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project in Seattle.
From there I moved to NYC where I got involved in marketing and selling tickets all over the world through some partnerships with global brands like AmEx and Yellow Tail Wines.
Then I started my own consulting practice and I’ve worked on projects to elect an American president, cure rare diseases, and increase profits for businesses.
What excites you most about your industry?
As someone who focuses on marketing and strategy and works around the world, I like the idea that there are these ideas that you can take anywhere in the world to create change and opportunity.
I’m always excited to help businesses increase their likelihood of success because I like to think about how much more security folks feel if they can create success for their businesses.
I guess that the other thing that is exciting is the chance to meet so many interesting people from around the world.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
I don’t know if it is drive or just not knowing any better that helps me go beyond the norm.
When you’ve been in so many places and situations, you recognize that there are a number of different ways to achieve success.
For me, I think the willingness to recognize that there isn’t one right answer, but many, helps me maintain a position of focus that helps me keep digging at the deeper truths and ideas that drive change and create opportunity.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
I’ll give you three:
First, I’ve learned to sell. But selling in a consultative manner that focuses on building relationships. I love people and I see selling as a way to help them.
Second, I’ve trained as a marketer. These foundational principles give me the room to be creative and innovative in a number of situations. As my marketing professor, Mark Ritson, told me, “Training makes you a better marketer. Period.”
Third, I learned corporate strategy. This is helpful because it allows you to quickly assess a business situation and understand the dynamics because change happens so quickly.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best piece of advice was to just go for it. The pandemic has really laid that open for a lot of people and it has guided my thinking as we have started to get more people vaccinated and things are starting to re-open and re-emerge.
Who inspires you?
It is an idea more than a single person, but Eddie Vedder, the singer of Pearl Jam and co-founder of EB Research Partnership, said something along the lines of having such a big platform is great because it allows him to shed light on people doing great work.
That sentiment is inspiring because one of the great things I get to do, or try to do, is help elevate and shed light on others so that they can see more success.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ll take liberties here because I don’t know if this is answering the question or not, but I learned about a strategy framework called “The Power Framework” created by Kamal Munir at Cambridge.
It is so simple but blew my mind because it frames all strategy decisions as decisions about gaining or losing power over customers, suppliers, and competition.
During the Super League fiasco earlier in 2021, I used the framework right away and predicted almost every misstep that was going to take place.
I was truly blown away by how accurately I got this using that frame of thinking.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
This feels like a trick question because you don’t know how making different choices would change you or the things you like.
So I think I’d just stick with the way that I’ve done things.
How do you unwind?
I’ve picked up meditation as a way to slow down. But I also really love watching Tottenham Hotspur, despite the last few year’s results.
I don’t know if this counts as unwinding, but the last few seasons I’ve coached my son’s rec league soccer club as well. The kids are amazing and they help me keep things in perspective.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
I think the biggest ‘ah ha’ moment for me was realizing that people weren’t necessarily buying the products, services, or things I was providing. They were buying me and my relationship with them and my advice, insight, and perspective.
That made it much more important to me to find ways to give folks a better connection to me. Because that is what people wanted.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Allow me give you three:
* ‘Good Strategy Bad Strategy’ by Richard Rumelt.
* ‘Playing to Win’ by AG Lafley and Roger L Martin
* ‘The Effective Executive’ by Peter Drucker
Rumelt is all about the kernel of the business strategy. It is a simple and powerful idea.
Roger Martin is simply the best strategy teacher in the world. So anything he writes is worth the effort, but this one really distills strategy into a couple of really simple choices.
Really, anything by Peter Drucker will make you smarter. But this one is a good place to start.
Shameless plug for your business:
My company is really built on helping businesses find opportunities and capture them. We do great work helping people get refocused, re-energized, and pointed in the direction of growth and positive outcomes.
It is not unusual for us to see our partners double sales in 90 days.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.