Where Freight Marketing Money is Wasted, Flexport CEO Shakeup, and the Logistics of Christmas Trees
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In the latest episode of Freight Friends with Grace Sharkey, we’re talking about the big Flexport CEO shakeup, where freight marketing money is obscenely wasted, the logistics of Christmas Trees, and how rubber duckies taught us about ocean shipping currents.





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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

What's kind of interesting is to see the coverage that we have in sports and watch it sort of trickle into other industries, and I think that that's a good segue to start talking about the major Flexport news that just dropped, related to we'll get to that one in just a second, but it's kind of related to this first topic of what if great tech companies were as honest with their employees as Dave CEO/F ounder of Barstool, is with his employees, and I'm going to bring up this tweet. So, if you're just listening, I'm going to share a screen of the Dave Portnoy tweet. Who he was talking about. Basically, after in our last episode we talked about how he took back over the bar, he bought the company back for $1 after selling it for millions, hundreds of millions, and so he's on a tear right now and it's fantastic to see him kind of digging into the media business side of things, which I know. We're both really fascinated by, both work in media, fascinated by how other industries treat media and sports just as such a beacon at the top, that it affects all other industries and how it's covered. And so with this first tweet that we show, it is Dave Portnoy and he's asking how was Barstool losing money? We're jumping out of planes and filming it like we're filming at Mission Impossible 8. Don't get me wrong, this is an unreal production value. You will also never see this again. So enjoy it, which I think is just so great because it's a well produced video. But Barstool is very infamous for using the, I guess, in office dramas. Is that a safe assessment? Yeah, 1000%.

Grace Sharkey: 1:46

I mean it's over the last couple. They just let 100 people go last week and so before even that happened, I think last episode we talked about the fact that no one was in the office the day that he bought it and he was like y'all are going to regret this because we're going to have to make cuts. I mean, you buy your coming back for a dollar, you've lost value. And here's what's interesting about them is that you've went from basically creating content to get people to gamble with pen. That was the whole point, and as happy as we've talked about this past, we are, that that's kind of done. Now it's back to a straight up, just media company, and that's really his point in all this is that like no, we don't have the budget of pen anymore, we have the budget of a nonprofit company. I think he was telling people we lost $12 million last year, so how are we making that up? And it makes me laugh because I think about a lot of like the freight tech companies or even brokerages that we've talked about, that are losing money hand over fist, and I wonder sometimes, like why don't companies talk to their employees like he does? Now I think there's there's situations that are meant for content that I think are lightly inappropriate for a different setting. That's not using that to make content right. But I mean like even those situations like he's telling people like listen, like we, we're going to lose 100 people and it's going to be people that are. There's a lot of producers that people are fans of, a lot of behind the scenes people that now are going to the people that are left are going to have to take up their role and that's like one thing that he like got on one of his employees for last two weeks ago was like he complained about one person being gone. He's like I have to fire 100. And so I think the employee came back and said, well, how are we supposed to blog that on the weekend? And he's like someone else does it. Like you got to make it up where you can and as much as that it's harsh. I think in a startup setting it's it's fair to explain that to people and and I think I've said this on the show before even in a lot of what we write about or layoff situations and things like that, it's like I write those stories as and try to explain in a way that makes business sense, so that people understand the companies that they're getting into and the business model that they're getting into. There's a huge difference between joining the procurement process of, or coming out of like a supply chain degree and joining, let's say like, like garden or something. Yeah right, like someone who's huge, where it's like they're not going anywhere. If they do have cuts, you know it's there. They're probably a little bit more analytical and seeing further down the line than a startup is right. And then you have people who are joining. You know startups that we've seen have layoffs, convoy if we talk about flock in the past, stuff like that and it really irritates me sometimes talking to individuals who are like I just didn't see this coming and it's like how you're in a startup environment in a in an industry that's like just struggling. I mean like not that I think anything is wrong with my job here at FreightWaste, but I'm constantly working and in sometimes even adding stuff to to the work I'm doing for the company because I want to show that value. But also we're a pirate ship and we want to get shit done and we want to take FreightWaste to a certain level and that's probably going to be a little bit more work outside of whatever you feel, like your salary tells you it's worth. And I just think that sometimes our generation, my generation is really as much as I am for and love the whole employee rights thing because I think that stuff is absolutely true, like you should treat employees like shit. That's kind of where some points I disagree with Portnoy in a more professional setting. But you have to understand the business model that that's behind it and in the economics behind it and and have those conversations like, listen, I'm not, you don't have to be transparent and maybe what the company is losing. But what do I need to do here to make sure that I'm solidified or something were to happen?

Speaker 3: 6:23

And how can?

Grace Sharkey: 6:24

I yeah. How can I showcase that?

Blythe Brumleve: 6:26

value and understanding the business model of the, of whatever company you're working for or working at it's, even from, like a marketing perspective. I scream to marketers you have to understand where revenue is coming from, otherwise you're never going to be able to justify your role. And so if you don't have that deep understanding, it's not enough to just write some blogs each week. You need to know what kind of traffic that is having an impact on your audience. What are they liking, what do they want to see more of? And then you have to do more of what they like and do less of what they don't like. And so there's all these different variables that it's almost like it's not just a business ROI but what your personal ROI is. And maybe working at a startup is not right for you because you're going to be working, you know, 60, 70 hours a week. Do you want your work life balance? If you want work life balance, then go get a traditional eight to five job, show up right at eight and leave right at five. But for some companies, if you really want something greater out of life, you're going to have to work the odd hours. You're going to have to work longer than what is traditionally thought of. But the thing is like if you typically will, you get what you get back what you put in, and it's a personal investment, it's a personal choice and I think that you're right where it's like a lot of like the you know, millennials, gen Z. They have this glorified view of what work is and it's like look at the economy, look at where it's things are making money and things are losing money. Try to invest in careers that are going to be making money for the long run and then be prepared to work, because if you are prepared to work, you know, from the time maybe you're you're 24 to the time that you're 40, that those years can determine how you spend the rest of your life. So do you want to bust ass now, while you have a lot of energy, or do you want to wake up at 40 and think, oh, my God, I've wasted so much time? I could have been building, I could have been compounding on all of the different things that I've done over the last 20 years and how that's going to affect the next 40 years of my life?

Grace Sharkey: 8:36

Yeah, and I don't want people to think that like one is better than the other. I just want people to understand the circumstances that they're in and say to themselves, like you know, is that something I want or is that something I mean I think we've even talked about in the situation I am, I'm in like I've been offered positions to go back into brokerage and kind of be in that same role, but I don't want that. You know, I enjoy we're just talking about this like I enjoy being able to go get lunch with my dad if I want to, I enjoy it and I have to work harder to make up for the income of the difference and I've put in that work earlier. That kind of you know helps make that decision as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:20

Work a little late. I think you were just talking about how you were working until 1am. So I mean, it's those. I think that's also where a lot of folks that they get a little tripped up and they expect a certain set schedule but then they value something that's not part of that schedule and you have to take personal accountability, personal responsibility, to get that shit done, even if you make those choices during the day that are going to prevent you or maybe delay you a little bit longer than getting that job done. For this particular situation using Dave, I guess, as the catalyst of where he's talking about, you know companies waste, or his company wasting money on just stuff that this is not necessary. Where do you think in freight that money is just obscenely wasted.

Grace Sharkey: 10:10

Yeah, you know, I think that to bring up marketing again, I want to say marketing in particular, but I think when I I'm aware of, when I say that I think it's more of how companies attack their marketing side of things. I just I hate to say this. I don't want people to think of course she's going to say that because of, like, what she does and what she's doing here with life, but, like, I think people underestimate outsourcing it more than they should. I've been in the position before where you're hiring talented, wonderful talented people who have no experience in this industry and the amount of I think people don't realize, the amount of time that it takes for you to to help them understand what their marketing, the importance of it without any industry experience can be really rough and a lot of times when I talk to different departments and things like that, it's like, oh my God, like the value of the product that you're building is just like going right over your head. And maybe point A and B are important and you're right, those are how your technology is helping, but like that's the tip of the iceberg. There's CDEF and G that add up to even more of a better ROI or return and different departments, but I feel like sometimes because of how people invest in their marketing, but those points are never hit. And so there's PR firms out there that specialize right in these areas. There's like people like you, right, who have the expertise, and that's when I'm like, yeah, people are like, here we go, but it's true, and I mean, I think it truly works. And because it's just a weird industry, and I think what upsets me is that we, especially in the freight tech world, right, there's so many fingers that are pointed that are like oh well, that wasn't built by people who come from the industry, so like, why should we trust it? Okay, then take that and throw that same energy at your marketing department, because it's like how do you? Because that's what's selling your product at the end of the day, that's what's helping shape the messaging behind it. So for you to say that tech companies can't build engineers who are built as engineers can't build something without the help that doesn't make sense to me, and your marketing department doesn't near that same concept too. So I think that's a big area that people should consider.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:47

A little bit more. 100%, because when I got started and I started out as an executive assistant who was then given all of the marketing stuff because I merely had a present, because I had a blog and because I was present on social media, so it was one of those things where, like here, take it and run. And thankfully I had a boss that was going to invest in me. That answered a lot of my questions that were very elementary, but it took me a hell of a long time to learn what works. I spent so much time just trying to make a PDF presentation that looked good and there was endless edits to it. So it's like the PDF presentation is like okay, well, that looks good. So if people like this, then I can take this similar format and I can mold it to the website because I already know that they like this. So I'm going to take it here. And then for a lot of the social media, I had no idea what I was doing. I did a lot of the traditional stuff that you see a lot of freight companies still doing today. They're doing like happy Labor Day from our team to yours. Nobody cares. They just keep scrolling. That doesn't impact folks at all. But I think for I would say what do you think? Like 60, 65% of freight companies market that way and I would use quotation marks as like market themselves that way. There's really only a very small amount of companies in the logistics industry that are doing creative things when it comes to marketing, but then everybody else is kind of doing okay things and then the rest I would say probably 60% are doing marketing things that they think are valuable but have no value whatsoever. I just got done with them on Freight Waves Presents and talking with Bill Priestly and Kevin Hill on what some companies can do to set the foundation of their marketing. If you are a marketer, that's looking to kind of up their knowledge level. I mean, it's sad to say there's not a lot of resources unless you go internal. I mean I worked at a trucking company for five years. I only knew trucking. I didn't know how Intermodal interacts with it. I didn't know how Maritime interacts with it. You know planes, you know all of these other things that have anything to do warehousing, robotics. I didn't know any of that until I started the podcast, and so starting the podcast was my education level or trying to get educated, but a lot of marketers don't have that luxury.

Speaker 3: 15:25

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Blythe Brumleve: 16:13

So what would you, I guess, maybe suggest to those marketers who they may be? They're coming in from like an internship and they're working at the? What would you, what would you suggest to them to learn more about the industry before they make a fool of themselves?

Grace Sharkey: 16:29

Well, I would say, first, if you already have the job right and you're already in it, like shadow, just shadow employees and work and see exactly, especially the sales team, like what's winning over the phone, what pitches are they using, that's bringing in customers and and take those pitches and run with them and figure out creative ways to draw an audience in around that right. And then I mean, the fun thing about being on the logistics side too is that you have your carrier into both shippers and carriers. So same thing. So with the carrier department, see what let's say that you're sitting there and there's a carrier rep that every carrier loves, who's like never has issues and use them to spotlight some of the carrier work that you're doing. Right, like. And I think that's probably the best way if you already have the job. If you don't, I would consider if you want to be in this working and marketing in this industry long term, right, Like, know that you're going into it, because I think, where I think it would just be really hard to bounce from a logistics marketing job to like any other industry, it's hard to like kind of like, bring that over. It might help you with like different like types of pitches and working with different like types of customers, like enterprise versus more small, medium sized companies but really like sit and ask, like what they need from you and ask about budgets and and things that are important, I think, to the job that you're hoping to do, and ask the support right, like how available are you? If I have a question? Are you really it can I reach out to any point in the day? Right in your situation? You're able to do that. But the startup environment, like getting a CEO to help you understand what a partial load is is like no, I've got so much stuff going on. And that's kind of goes back to like the expectations, things like you shouldn't hate the CEO for that. You should actually really like that. They want that, they hired you for that role and they want you to run with it. But again, it's kind of setting expectations before you start that endeavor and realizing, okay, this is going to be a lot more work than maybe I thought and what your resources are right, we talk about ways like your resources good, are they not? And judge your background and whether or not you can do that job.

Blythe Brumleve: 19:03

I think you hit the nail on the head, and one way to really sort of expedite that shadowing process of what every marketer should be doing on a regular basis is also just get a tool like autoai. I swear they're not a sponsor of the show. Every piece of content that I create, but they automatically for folks who don't know. They automatically join meeting. So you could set it up where you have an auto AI team account. It auto joins every sales call, every client call, customer call, creates a list of, creates a transcription of that of that conversation, and then creates a list of takeaways and you could use that as sort of a database of training. So then that way you can read through, come up with your questions and then be able to be go back to the leadership team and be like, okay, well, what was meant to hear what? What did you mean by this? Like how can I phrase this a little bit differently, a little bit better is something that annoys the hell out of me, is something that I really learned the hard way during what some of my first presentations is looking for stock photos. Yeah, basically the only stock photos that are on the internet right now for the freight industry are European trucks. Yeah, a little bit better over the last 10 years, but I used European trucks on our website and my boss was like what do you know? He's like we are a reefer care asset based 3PL. We need American truck everywhere. He's like we need American trucks with the reefer unit on the back of the truck, otherwise people are going to call us fraudulent and I was like I didn't know that until I messed up. So I think that there's, you know, giving yourself a little bit of grace to to mess up, but then also some of your best content can come from the things that you don't know that you find fascinating. So I would almost embrace that to where it's. Like this industry, you know it's traditionally been thought of as so boring but that it's couldn't be further from the truth that you have so many cool stories to tell of like cool shipments and you know the logistics of which we always get into and we'll get into a little bit later on in the show. But you have those stories within your office and something that you may find really cool. I guarantee somebody else would find cool too, because a lot of these shippers, a lot of these customers, they don't know the ins and outs of freight either. And so with your content, combined with the sales team and you know, like a meeting note taking tool, you can combine all of those together to a nice little like Venn diagram of content that's going to generate brand awareness and then that resonates with the shippers, the people you're trying to target, who aren't necessarily going to care if it's like a reefer truck or like a flatbed truck, unless they're, you know that's specific to their product that you're trying to haul them. That's a different story. So I kind of take that back a little bit. But the point still stands that you have some cool stories within your company and don't be afraid to identify them. But also don't be afraid to be a constant learner. I think that that's where you know a lot of marketers. They just kind of stated themselves and they don't. They're afraid to kind of ask questions and don't be curious, ask those questions, sit in on those meetings and then, you know, take it from there. I think that's a good sort of starting point. Any any other areas of freight that is, you know money is obscenely wasted. I would throw advertising out there, but that's the only one I can really think of, because a lot of these advertising firms, especially freight specific ones, they use the same photos for different companies and kind of going back to you know that point I just made about the lack of like truck photos that are on, you know, the stock image sites Take the extra step, take photos of your fleet. If you have them, take photos of your office, make your content unique. Don't try not to use stock photos wherever as possible, but also audit the companies that you're outsourcing to, because they could be using the a lot of the same materials on different competitors. I mean I. There was an instance where I outsourced a video that I wanted created to a freight marketing company and that freight marketing company use my exact template for another company and I was pissed off about it and I never hired them again. So awful things that you got to keep in mind as solo marketers, as you know, small team marketers, especially if you utilize outsourcing. So just those are a couple ways of where I think, from my end, where I see money being wasted, or there is there anything else that that you think is important to bring up.

Grace Sharkey: 23:36

I think, if we're talking kind of on my end of things and a lot of the work that I do on a daily basis, I think automation in particular, a lot of the technology that we write about is almost more of a missed opportunity type of cost. The fear of spending money, I think, is a big one here especially. I won't get into it too much, but just some of this shit I can swear on this right some of the shit that I see like companies purchasing or doing and I'm like, but you didn't want to even automate your back office, that shit's funny to me. I was talking to an individual in the space and they're telling me how frustrating it is sometimes to sell technology to small, medium sized players in the space. That the big players get it. They understand the investment, they understand this, what they want to scale to, what they want to get to and the investment needed to get to that point. And something I think learning from Craig and here at Freight Waves is like moving quickly and understanding like you can't just sit on something that you know is going to make your company better. Get it done and act it and see the pay off faster as well. But I think a lot of times in these and I get. I will say I get it. I understand you're watching your P&L, understand brokers, especially right now. You got tight margins and you're entering into a situation where now shippers are going to start re bidding right for the next year and they're going to start squeezing those down even more and it's going to get people in a tight spot. But there's so many areas of waste and opportunity within a brokerage and some I mean I like, as my, one of my favorites is just back office, like accounting in particular, and so often people say like listen, that's just like it's a lot of money that we're putting out there, but at the same time you're the same company that's hiring and firing 30 people every single month, right, and so for me it's like I just like seeing there's nothing more I love. There's nothing I love more than seeing a company invest in something, especially something maybe I've written about and I've been passionate about, and see it work out for them. I will. Everyone out there should go and check out. Oh, what is the name of her company? I'm going to look it up now because it's I don't know why it's blanking on me, because, like a back office company. No, no, it's a. We're talking about a company that I think is grown in particular. I just am like overly Okay, there we go, trailer transport Brittany trailer. You know her, I guarantee you know her, if you, if you haven't met her, you saw her on your Instagram story the other day.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:32

Yeah, yes, yes, yes, okay, okay.

Grace Sharkey: 26:34

So she's. When I first met her she was a you probably are there too. She was a small carrier, should just started her own trucking company, and she don't even get me started on what people pay for events or whatever. But she went to our Arkansas event which, for the position that she's in, is probably a huge investment for her. She didn't use that opportunity so well. She talked to every single tech company. She was taking notes, she was watching every single chat shoes. She said like just executing that investment so well, and out of that she's now partnered with turbo, which is again another investment, but one that has helped her scale immensely. There was an interview where she discussed how two years ago she said I'm leaving a company and she told all the employees that she was working with that she was getting out of there, and now she's hired all of them over her past co workers right from.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:43

That's usually a good sign of a good company is if, yeah, first when you go out on your own and the first people are the company or the first your first customers or employees are the first people that you worked with before.

Grace Sharkey: 27:53

For me, she's a perfect case study of taking the resources that, honestly, freight waves has has opened up to her, whether that's individuals like myself who she can talk to on how to kind of execute and attack things, whether it's the opportunity to I mean, turbo then had her at the next moment. They brought her to F3 that following year to showcase to people like what their technology was able to do. That's what I know companies that have done 40 meetings with turbo or companies like it and say no, and it's like she, just she said you know what, these are the tools that I need to grow and become successful. And in an environment where carriers are firing drivers and just struggling to figure it out, I mean I've talked to her for she, you know the market's hurting her, but she's still adding drivers and she's still growing and she's invested in like she's a carrier tech company. That's how she markets herself. That's cool, it's really cool. It's so cool because I talked to drivers all day long about whether or not AI is like real, like we're still having that conversation, and it's like stop it, like realize what you need to get to where you need to be and just jump right in and she's just like. I just sent her one of her marketing videos and it's like it's what's so cool about it. Life is like it's trickle into her whole culture. Everyone that's working with her is like making these cool marketing videos. Oh that's cool, it's just so. What's her company name again? Taylor transport T R a Y L O R uh transport a transpose T R A N S P? O, Rather transparent, yeah, and it's like, it's just so cool and so I just I hope people understand that, like, if you can make the right investment technology and you're into change management and focusing on how maybe your operations will change around it, and just taking that that jump like the ROI is always there, usually there, Um, but it's definitely cool to hear you know the success story when so much is like just doomerism.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:11

like everything, the sky is falling and there's no way out. No, there's opportunities. As little fingers said in Game of Thrones, chaos is a ladder, so look for the opportunities in the middle of the chaos. And that sounds exactly like what she's done.

Grace Sharkey: 30:28

It's so, so good and it's like I think I texted her at least once or twice a week like nailed it, like it's it's how a tracking company should grow, and she's just like so good. Yeah, I wouldn't go check her out. She's absolutely incredible.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:44

Is she on Instagram or is it a website?

Grace Sharkey: 30:47

Instagram, linkedin. I think it's trailer. Uh, I always ask somebody to spell Taylor whenever I send an email trailer. T R A Y L O R transpo. T R A N S P O oh wow, so there's a Y in there.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:03

So trailer transport with a Y, so T R A Y L E R T R A N S P?

Grace Sharkey: 31:09

O, and we'll make sure to include a T R A Y L O R Cause trailer is bringing his last name.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:15

Oh, okay, okay, Okay, okay. Yup, we'll make sure that we put a link to her in the show notes to show off what good marketing looks like in the freight industry. Um, I don't know how I'm going to transition to this next topic, because this company has been historically very good at marketing and I think that they are definitely one of the top companies when it comes to marketing. Um, but we had a little bit of a news drop, uh, just yesterday, which I'm excited that it dropped yesterday, so we can talk about it today selfishly. Um, so, uh, grace, tell us a little bit about what the hell is going on with Flexport, because Ryan Peterson is back.

Grace Sharkey: 31:54

Yeah, he's back Uh, this is a wild story, I because I will say this was like all happening while I was on the radio too, so it was like me, like picking up different feeds, so basically what. I'll go through timeline because I think that kind of helps with all this. So on the sixth he's like this is coming out right. Later on the sixth of this. So yesterday, september 6th, uh, dave Clark, who started off as a co CEO which sounds like we'll get into that in a second uh start off as a co CEO. Ryan Peterson, uh, and then ended up taking it full time CEO. Uh, this summer uh came out and said hey, basically I had this chat with Ryan. Uh, we're not aligning 100% on on where we want to take the company with the way the market's currently going, et cetera, et cetera. Uh, so we've just like basically just discussed this, which was the weirdest part about it Seems like it was very like quick and fast, which that will come up in a little bit later in the story. Uh, and so I'm going to step down and Ryan is going to come back. And Ryan was like tweeted pretty quickly afterwards I want to say 45 minutes afterwards, I'm back down for it, et cetera. Um, and now it came out, probably 45 minutes after that, that there's a possibility that Davis Clark is going to be running for governor of Texas. Um, which is like you know, in today's society, why not? Uh, I guarantee you, with what he's gotten paid in the past at Amazon, you probably can self uh fund it. So, uh, that's a very interesting stay. I mean, we just did an article about uh, transportation and and trade and how much Texas could really become a huge booming economy. So for someone who has been a part of that ride too, it's could be a lot of fun for him, I think, to to be a part of that. But uh, so that came out and that that helped me make more sense and to kind of like the quickness of it, uh. But then, uh, uh, middle of the night, like I said, yeah, thinking about me guys, I just like, don't I? I mean I just take naps and it's like very great, my doctor loves it and I I never hit REM. So it's uh, no, it's healthy, healthy lifestyle. It's like super healthy and like I'm definitely not working on it at all, um, and so I I see in you know, rachel ended up reporting it to this morning that uh, there's some room, there's suggestions and and sources saying out there that uh, uh, now the quickness will make sense of this that he was actually fired, um, by the board, uh, and, and what I think is I mean, we all we've all been in businesses where we feel things coming on right, so I think it was probably one of those situations where someone pulled the card a little bit quicker. Uh, but it is a huge story because really, what's happened here is you have someone who he told Rachel Prima perfectly, go check out the story. You have an individual who comes from Amazon and, if you see, from Shopify and a number of acquisitions and moves that Flexport's made, while with Dave Clark, it's clear that he was brought on to help create more of this uh, full logistics facilitator where I can help a, uh, either a Walmart, but I also have the capabilities of helping a mom and pop shop by globally trade, globally and then, at the end of the day, last mile services, uh, point of sale systems, customer service, et cetera. So it's kind of like this whole, really like logistics in a box Exactly what Amazon has done for their third party sellers, right? Um, there's like a phrase for it. I can't remember what it's.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:55

Amazon something services, but uh, yeah, I, I know what you're talking about. It's on the tip of my tongue too. Yeah and uh services, yes, yeah.

Grace Sharkey: 36:04

Yes, afs, that's what it is. So basically doing that at Flexport and I think clearly it sounds like at some point Ryan can and it's it was just working for where they want to take the company and Listen date. Like Dave Clark seems like he's financially fine. He also seems like someone especially if we're talking about going as governor who would like to be maybe Doing what he wants to in this time of his life. So if you have the opportunity to leave and Do that knowing that you're leaving a position, that's not even really what you're passionate about to begin with. I'm also not surprised by it, and I think most of the industry is not surprised by it too. Once he broke down and explained, you know what he was hired for. You know why that's not happening. I think we see that a lot in the space too. It's always interesting to watch maybe some of these Partnership right, those type of roles, that chief of partnerships, or you see it in revenue as well. Well, those individuals are brought on for. You know a certain way that a company is looking to maybe gain customers or or gain a market share, and If it's not working out, then why am I hired here? You know there's like someone that could use Dave's experience, or Dave could just honestly retire or become the governor of Texas. So, again, that's completely surprised. What I am excited to see, though, out of this is like what happens Next, with, yeah Ryan coming back. He seemed very focused on his next steps in life, so he had just joined.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:48

Why? Why C found? Or was he why see or nope?

Grace Sharkey: 37:52

a Founders fun. Oh, founders, okay, you're thinking of a combinator. Yeah, yeah, nope, founders, fun and that's yeah, exactly Like he's seen, not that he was like over flex for, but like he had an idea of what was gonna happen next. So I Am interested to see where this goes. Especially, that's what they're going straight back to, focusing on freight forwarding. I mean they Maybe they get rid of some of those acquisitions, but Even though the plane looks really cool. Right, that's the freight forwarding stuff right there. They just bought their own capacity, I guess. But uh, yeah, it's like exciting to see, maybe, what happens next there and yeah strange.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:35

I think it feels very abrupt. Yes, I think maybe, if I'm reading between the lines, because I just pulled up Dave Clark's LinkedIn profile and just a day ago he shared like an exclusive, like flexport exclusive launch event. Come by and say hello, we'll be. You know, sweet tech giveaways and some other surprises along the way. See you soon. He shared that a day ago on his LinkedIn profile and I was the reason I pulled up his LinkedIn profile because I was curious what was his logistics experience prior to Amazon? And it looks like it was just Amazon, for looks like six plus four, that's yeah, so 22 years at Amazon and I think that was his only Logistics experience. And I say only as if that's not like a huge achievement. But you're going to somebody like I think Amazon and their business dealings is vastly different than like a freight forwarder where you have to understand all these customs rules and regulations and, yes, for global countries which are different for each and every country. So Very interesting. I think that he did it kind of abruptly because I think, ryan, you know I probably want to wanted to control the message a little bit more than just Dave Just dropping the news on his own Twitter and then say in peace, and then I, from a communication standpoint, it looks like Dave wanted to be the first one at the jump to drop the news and I imagine that the PR department and the leadership team within Flexport was not Entirely prepared for him to drop it that soon. But I like the, I like the I'm back tweet from Ryan Peterson because you could tell like that it's just so. I think it's really challenging to Do, first of all, the questionable decision of hiring a co-CEO, especially when you're such a a Figure as the founder, like you are a figurehead within logistics, like you are going on like the top podcast in the world to talk about logistics. So you're almost, I would say, like him and Craig are like one a, one B as far as like the people who talk about Logistics on the big, like legacy platforms, like a Bloomberg or it's not legacy, but like the all-in podcast which is insanely popular. But Ryan Peterson is a friend of those guys on that show and he's, you know, spoken at their events. So I think it's really interesting to have such a big founder persona and then think that Hiring a co-CEO who is probably shares a lot of your same leadership qualities, that you would be able to balance that power. I just don't think. I think you got to have one person at the helm that is the ultimate decision maker and then everybody else falls in line or follows suit or, you know, challenge where appropriate, of course. But I I do think that that move was doomed to fail from the beginning of hiring a co-CEO, and it feels like that. That's sort of the when a lot of other people are at. Would you agree or would you think that co-CEO's work?

Grace Sharkey: 41:41

I know the look on your face I remember because I just remember when the news came out I was like ew. I, just in the back of my head, I'm like, oh, those must be really fun decision-making meetings you know, like, like, who's the final say?

Blythe Brumleve: 41:59

Like, if you're cosy eos.

Grace Sharkey: 42:01

That was one of the driving the vision. That's like the whole point of a ceo is to like drive that vision. And if you're telling me that, I mean even in this situation, when they did announce it, they did say that there was like a transition period, like that wasn't going to be, uh, absolute co-CEO situation. But that also tells me that you, that the person, might not be the right person for the job Because you have to take that time to transition, transition them into it, to understand where you want the business to go, and I just felt like Like as big and the investments behind it that it was like I can't. I can only assume that the investors are like great, yeah, yay, you know like that sounds solid, um, but, uh, yeah, so it's. It's, I think, ironic, right to see how it all ended, knowing that this is how it all started, because clearly that transition period did not work as if one hoped it would. It makes you feel like, okay, probably wasn't just the best, probably wasn't the best person to lead it, or the thought process of how to grow it, of what he was supposed to do, wasn't well thought out of, thought out with too.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:16

So, yeah, it's very interesting and I just wonder it's yeah, with someone like Ryan who does talks so much like if we'll find out more within the next couple of weeks With, like you know, we were talking about freight marketing earlier and I mentioned how I just I'm such a fan of their marketing and I don't know how many of those people are still actually at Flexport. I think they were unfortunately involved in some of their layoffs about a year ago when the new CEO or co-CEO took over, and so I think some of those people are unfortunately not with the company anymore, but they were one of the first to create, like hey, here are some you know people on Twitter that you should be following that work in the freight industry. So simple things like that interview series, you know, shining a spotlight on women in logistics. And one of my personal favorites and I'll share it with you now, is the beer of lading. What Did you? Have you ever seen this? No, they made their own beer, right.

Grace Sharkey: 44:19

Where are those sold at?

Blythe Brumleve: 44:21

Well, ryan tweeted this out in June of 2022. So about a year ago. I'm not sure how they actually have sold these or whatever, but if you're just listening, it's essentially a beer they made. Flexport made their own beer and it has the label on it that calls beer of lading. Obviously, I play on a bill of lading, but then also like the graphic design and the bottom of it, where it looks like waves of the ocean and like little cargo ships. In the way the design is beautiful. The name is insanely clever. I just think that somebody like a Ryan who goes on all of these you know, sort of mainstream legacy podcasts, to have somebody like that. That is a fan of marketing like this. Our industry needs it and I don't know, you know what the ROI of something like a beer of lading can is. I just think it's fun and I want more like fun freight marketing and I don't know where you can buy this. Maybe that's a good decision, you know, or a good question that we could ask Ryan, but related to you know, sort of the. What you were referring to was like the qualities and the leadership decisions of what's being made at the top, like who's driving the ship there are during all of this, you know, sort of kerfuffle that was happening. Yesterday, one member of the logistics community tweeted out this book that's called Chasing Stars the Myth of Talent and Portability of Performance, and he mentioned this book because of all of the points that you were sort of highlighting in the fact of how are you gonna bring in this company or bring in this person who's had a tremendous amount of success at another company, and how do you know that they're gonna be a fit for your company? And maybe some of the warning signs were there ahead of time that should have probably been paid attention to. And so a few of these things, a few of the key takeaways from the book is that performance isn't always portable. The role of context, which you know sort of, I guess, puts a focus on okay, if they were successful, what is the context of what they were successful in the industry and the company that they were working in, in the conditions of the economic environment of where they were working? If you were working, you know, a trucking company during 2020 to 2022, you were probably favoring, you know pretty well with rates that success during that point versus this year is probably not gonna translate, or maybe it won't translate. That remains to be seen. But there's a couple of other points here. One I thought was really interesting is in the book it says the gender differences in portability, where it identifies an interesting gender dynamic where a women's performance appeared to be more portable than men's. In the specific context that he studied, this was attributed to the idea that women had to build more portable external networks because they may not have had much access to internal firm-based resources.

Grace Sharkey: 47:18

Oh my God, is this my life? It's so funny. Oh my God, it's so. No, this is hilarious because I feel like, personally, I had to do a little bit of that between my experiences, because I felt like I needed more of that external network in order to showcase my skills or to provide Like an insurance policy. Yeah, exactly Like a way for me to say, like here is the skills that I have and here are the people in different areas of our industry that can support that. Right, that's incredible. I will say, starting off just on the portability of an employee, I will say that I think this often and I think this is like part of the whole like non-combeat discussion as well In the startup environment that I've been in the past, we would oftentimes get individuals who were kind of like that star, which is another one that I think I don't know if you've touched on it yet but the dangers of yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:34

Yeah, the dangers of star hiring strategy to companies that seek to hire away star performers from competitors often find that these individuals do not perform as well in their new setting. This questions the wisdom of hiring strategies that prioritize the recruitment of high-performing individuals without consideration for how they will fit into the new environment. That's pretty spot on.

Grace Sharkey: 48:56

Yeah, and I've seen it happen over, like when we first started there was an individual, like when there was three of us at the company. At one point we had hired like an all-star from a very good brokerage and as a small broker, especially at the time where this was when the bond had changed for brokers. So there was a lot of brokers leaving the industry and a lot of new ones coming in who could afford the new bond. What was?

Blythe Brumleve: 49:25

it when it went from like 75 to 100,000 or something like that.

Grace Sharkey: 49:30

Yup and so in that we already were struggling to showcase to carriers that we could pay our bills right. And so this individual comes in and they've yeah, there's a good book that he could bring with him. But we, especially at the time, we were flatbed oriented and this was like I wanna say that he was like into like GFS type of moves like these, like food services and stuff like that. It's like we don't have any reefer capacity, we don't have the ability to take huge losses. That was another one. There's another big company that we had, I wanna say, took someone from, but someone from over there had come over and helped us secure a customer and was like just running losses nonstop and he had come from a different center of system and from a company who could take losses on all these loads and it's just like no, we aren't looking to organically grow that way, we're bootstrapping, and when you're bootstrapping you can't cut your margins down to 1% in order to get by. So that individual is actually costing us money and I think that's, you see, that I think a lot in this industry is like, and that's why I think the whole non-commit thing is even funny to me, because how often do those individuals that you steal? How quickly can they bring that stuff over? Like, especially the bigger the account? Like, how easily is someone like Walmart gonna say, oh, yeah, you know what, yes, I'm gonna move this completely over to a different company just because you're some guy trust? No, you're a peon in their world. It's like so. I think that's a little bit of it. I think you see a positive star situation more on, like a higher level, of someone who's been in the industry for 30 years and just has that Rolodex and that reputation built in the industry, where it's like, yeah, that person is gonna close P&G for you, that person is gonna get you in the door, for sorry, there's some bug on my microphone is gonna get you in the door to a bigger customer. But I don't think a lot of times that works 100% and honestly, you end up finding out that a lot of those individuals have really bad behavior. You know they're that all-star who brought culture down. And at what point are you willing to risk that? And like, how much business is this individual who's gonna come in? That's not also detrimental to the business that maybe is now coming out?

Blythe Brumleve: 52:12

So- yeah, are they a team player? Are they going to? Did they get away with a bunch of shit at the other place that they worked at because they brought in so much business and they maybe come into the new spot with a little bit of swagger? And I think anytime you join a new company you almost have to have a little bit of like a humbling part or a humble part of your personality where you gotta learn. You gotta learn new culture, you gotta learn new. What's allowed in the office, what's not allowed in the office, how do you collaborate with teammates and executives and the dynamics between all of that. So it's not necessarily transferable from one company to another to your point.

Grace Sharkey: 52:52

Yeah, and I think we've witnessed maybe some individuals out there who have were doing that, and that's-.

Speaker 3: 53:00

So you stopped yourself there.

Grace Sharkey: 53:01

Power to you, go for it. I wish you all of luck. But it's like you know, sometimes our generation makes me laugh. We're so confident in ourselves sometimes and it's like you know, put the work in and that'll work out. But I also, like there's people in this industry that we all know that do have that network and have built up decades of time in order to pull that off. And just because it's easy for you to get an LLC and say that you're doing something doesn't mean it's necessarily gonna happen. So we'll see. Ooh the shade so funny.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:44

This is the beauty of this conversation is that there's layers to it.

Grace Sharkey: 53:49

There's layers, honey, like it's-, no, it's-.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:52

I did want to oh, it's funny.

Speaker 3: 53:55

Every episode.

Grace Sharkey: 53:56

I just get too shady and I have to take phone calls afterwards.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:00

Well, speaking of which, I want to move on to our next segment, but quickly. While we're talking about good and bad marketing it's kind of like the theme so far in this show I did want to showcase a company that is, I think, doing a stellar job of marketing. We've been talking, you know for I think you and I Reed from Lost Freight Craig, of course Everybody's been kind of pumping up Twitter, slash X and getting more folks to or getting more people from the freight industry to come over on the platform and just post more. You know, ryan Peterson is a perfect example of that with his great marketing. But another company that I wanted to highlight is Truckstop.

Grace Sharkey: 54:40

Dude, who oh my God, who did Truckstop hire in the last couple months? That's so funny. Everyone. She didn't even tell me she was going to say Truckstop and then I was about to be like. She says Truckstop right now. Yes, I support this thought process 100% and if anyone at Truckstop is listening right now, whoever is running your Twitter account is killing it.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:02

Yes, they are doing so good. We're showing one of their latest tweets. Obviously, we know that fraud is a big industry problem. It's only been getting worse and worse and you know what? There are a bunch of companies that are kind of turning a blind eye to it a little bit, but there are other companies that are highlighting the problem, figuring out where the problems are and offering solutions, and so Truckstop is not hiding behind some of these things that they just released a tweet yesterday that they were highlighting all of the accounts denied by Truckstop's fraud prevention in 2023. And so they have the branding, of course, I think you know it's no surprise of whose I guess maybe they're taking a shot at here, but this image is 7,155 accounts that they have blocked, and they're showcasing this as hey, come work with us, because we have the fraud prevention capabilities that you have been screaming from the high heavens for, and they're not afraid to talk about it and they're not afraid to double down on it, which I love. I love when people go on social media and they have a hot take or you know, I guess, a quote, unquote hot take and they don't back down and they double down on it. That you. It's like instant respect when a company is able to do that, and this isn't the only tweet that they've been firing off. They've been firing off a lot of different tweets. There are a lot of different posts on X whatever we're calling it today, but it's really, really good. So, you know, I just wanted to sort of cosign what you just said. Whoever is running the Truckstop Twitter account, kudos to you.

Grace Sharkey: 56:41

And I felt it. It's a. They hired someone in the previous quarter that it's gotta be a millennial because they're using more emojis. They are. Can you see the replies? Their replies are so good. No, no, no, like how they're replying to other people's tweets. Oh, oh, that's what's really been like I haven't been enjoying. It's like, oh, someone is on there like putting in some actual work and like reading what people are saying and I just again, whoever is running it, I'm feeling the presence, I'm enjoying it. It's like again, but I did not like plan that. Yeah, see, look at these gifts.

Blythe Brumleve: 57:26

It's like it's a fair thing about can work great.

Grace Sharkey: 57:30

right now I'm being really brunt after this episode and telling him to give that person a high five because they again are just like that and it's funny, like again neither of us told each other we're gonna talk about this and we already had the same experience. Like I'm seeing it in the timeline. I'm seeing the response yeah, exactly, see, like scammer's gonna scam. Yeah, that's so simple. How do people just like kind of, how does that go over?

Blythe Brumleve: 58:03

people's heads. It's not complicated. Whatever conversations are going off on the brokerage floor or the sales floor like these are the kinds of conversations that you could be some of them not all of them, but some of them that you could be having that gravitas, that little bit of a swagger, like yeah, we've heard you, we know this is a problem, here's our solutions. And hey, it's actually like a real person that's responding to this. It's not just like auto tweets with a few hashtags that nobody's gonna click on and nobody's gonna use. These are real replies, these are real interactions, real engagement, and that's what we want from people who are going on these social media platforms is to have a personality, because your personality is gonna get you talked about.

Grace Sharkey: 58:48

Yeah, love it, thank you. Thank you so much for bringing that up, because I felt that like a couple of weeks ago I remember they replied to something I did and then I saw them reply to something else, like am I ever gonna crack tweet, or something, and I was like this is new you know, somebody has a personality and freight.

Blythe Brumleve: 59:08

Like immediate follow, like immediate interaction, because I just we're both big fans of that it's showing up authentically. That's what we mean, like have a selling point and have a little bit of a swagger behind it and not be afraid to have that confidence and be able to double down and not have to have every tweet go through, you know, at legal and all of the different approval processes. Just let your creative people be creative within you know. Obviously. You know don't let them talk about like politics or religion or you know anything like that. They didn't questionable, like that but if it's in their domain, let them boast about it.

Speaker 3: 59:47

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything Is Logistics, with a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen at Digital Dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus, freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on DigitalDispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go. Jags прек.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.