In recent years there has been a lot of talk around how technology like artificial intelligence will soon take over many aspects of our lives. But what does it mean for brands?
AI is transforming the way we connect with consumers, and brands are taking notice. It’s now being used in marketing and social media platforms as companies are looking for ways to create more authentic connections with consumers who crave engaging content and experience.
Kate Bradley Chernis, Founder & CEO of Lately, an AI-powered social media writing software, has a spectacular story to tell. She was initially a marketing agency owner who had come up with the concept for Lately using spreadsheets for then-client, Walmart, and was able to generate a 130% ROI for them year over year for three years.
In addition, she is an award-winning radio producer, engineer, and voice performer with 25 years of national broadcast communications and has worked extensively in brand-building, sales and marketing.
The turning point in Kate’s career
Before founding Lately, Kate served 20 million listeners as Sirius/Music XM’s music director, on-air host, and rock ‘n’ roll DJ. The job itself provided an environment which bred success. However, the long hours and hostile workplace of radio finally caught up with her.
“I was stressed. I was having all these panic attacks, I hated going to work,” she shared. “How could that be? I have this cool job. And it was because people were intimidated by my success. I was doing really awesome things. What happens is they try to push it down.”
Kate realized it was time to leave after a series of health issues got her thinking “maybe this is a sign that I should listen to.” She moved to another company but experienced the same thing again. It took her some encouraging words from her family and Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start to realize that she couldn’t work for other people.
“I understood the secret saying, manifest destiny, basically manifest destiny. Then the next day I met my first angel investors who gave me $50,000.”
She made the difficult decision to leave her career behind; she has found freedom in not being tied down by stressful work environments and made the choice to work for herself.
Building an AI-powered platform
Lately is the only social media management application that uses AI to create content for you. It can turn any long-form content into droves of posts across many different channels.
“We look for the highest engaging posts and we look at the words and the phrases and the sentence structures that made up those posts,” Kate said.
It analyzes the words which will get you the most engagement and studies what your audience wants to read, hear or watch, but it can’t be done without the human touch. The human still has to contextualize it, identify the mistakes and take them out. Lately’s AI content-generator will turn any interview, webinar, conference panel, podcast, blog, PDF, word document or newsletter into lead generating social posts that get next-level results.
The platform can schedule and publish your social media content using parent-child accounts, saving you the trouble of having to do it yourself. With its social media analytics which examine the reach and engagement of every social media post, it gives you suggestions on how to enhance your writing style.
“Lately is very much designed to give you those social posts, but with the link to drive traffic back to the whole thing. So there’s a very clear directive. We want to help you get the lead, get the sale, get the conversion.”
The importance of company culture and empathy
“Work is life and life is work. All life is work.”
In the modern office, it’s important to focus on building strong relationships with our co-workers more than ever and empathy makes it possible. When you have empathy for your team members, it’s easier to understand their needs, desires and emotions. This compassion towards one another coupled with workplace harmony leads to effective leadership and future success.
For Kate, having company culture and empathy is top priority. “Everything I’m doing, I want it to matter,” she said. “I want my employees to feel the same way and to treat each other and to treat you the same way.”
Together with her team, she created Lately to manage the chaos and automate tedious tasks so that every marketer can have an easier time doing their job effectively.
Learn more about Lately and its founder on the Fascinating Entrepreneurs podcast!
Transcript from Podcast
[00:00:00] Kate: Thinking about what is it going to take to get this person to act for me? And the first thing is almost always some kind of reaction, some kind of human emotion has to happen here.
[00:00:11] Natasha: Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit? These and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.
Did you know that I love helping entrepreneurs like you scale and grow your business efficiently to enable revenue and profits to grow faster so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor more fully? I use real-world experience of boarding and running a profitable multi-million dollar company that has been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America for three years in a row.
That coupled with studies at Babson college, the entrepreneurial masters program at MIT and Harvard gives me the unique ability to help entrepreneurs see your blind spots and move over the road bumps faster. I help entrepreneurs like you break through your plateau and reach higher levels of achievement. For more information, go to my website, natashamiller.co.
If you want to get fired up, learn about an incredible artificial intelligence tool and be generally inspired, our next guest will get you there. Kate Bradley Chernis lit a fire under herself and created something that I think will be the secret weapon for every brand influencer and social media manager. It’s my gift to you.
Now let’s get right into it.
[00:02:00] Kate: So I used to be a rock and roll DJ. My last gig was broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day for XM Satellite Radio, which was really wonderful.
[00:02:11] Natasha: What was your DJ name?
[00:02:13] Kate: Still Kate. Although my DJ voice is what’s different, so you’re listening to XM 50, the loft, right? Rolls eyes. Me too. I know. And that voice takes a while to curate and cultivate. I remember practicing. I was in radio when you did overnights live back in the day with cart eight track tapes and stuff.
And I remember testing out all kinds of really sexy voices, like just now like an air check myself and listen back and blush, which I am right now, because it’s so embarrassing just thinking about it. But you test out these things. It’s how you have your voice in this show, right? And how we all have our voices in our marketing writing, or sales messaging.
But when I was at XM, it was a boy’s club. Of course, all of radio was, and mostly still is, and I don’t necessarily have a face for radio. So I got a lot of sexual harassment. I even participated in the sexual harassment because it was so normal and we didn’t have, there was no Me Too movement. There was no language.
This was 2004, 2005 and 2006. I was in radio long before that, but now I’m in the big leagues and it’s corporate and nobody knows what a hostile work environment is. And that’s what was happening to me. So people were using my sexuality against me, and I didn’t know that, but what I did know was, I was really frustrated.
And I was stressed. I was having all these panic attacks, I hated going to work. How could that be? I have this cool job. And it was because people were intimidated by my success. I was doing really awesome things. That’s what happens is they try to push it down. That’s when it’s time to leave, but I didn’t know that yet.
I was too young. And so my body started to try to tell me too, because it was like, ‘Hey, dumb ass. You’re not listening. So we’re going to try to give you a little cues here.’ So I had this unexplainable rash on my torso for half a year and I fell down the stairs and tore ligament in my ankle and it wouldn’t heal.
I was in a boot or crutches or a wheelchair for a year and a half. Two years. It’s amazing how many people don’t hold the door for you when you’re in crutches, which it’s amazing to learn. And then finally, I couldn’t use my arms and hands any more to type. I had this extreme, debilitating pain. And so I panicked like anybody would, how am I going to function in the world?
I can’t touch. I literally couldn’t touch a computer. It was so weird.
[00:04:36] Natasha: So the universe was like banging on your door and you just kept not answering it.
[00:04:42] Kate: Yeah. That is what happens. A lot, like not anymore. Now I know. But it’s funny. You have to be in the place to listen. There can be only so many signs, only so many catalysts, but if you’re not open, then it’s not going to happen.
So I wasn’t yet. And then, because I couldn’t type, I couldn’t perform my job. So I, then I started thinking, okay, I’m so resourceful. I’m going to do all these things. So I hired an intern to work for me because XM wouldn’t because I looked normal. And so there was total prejudice around and discrimination around what turned out to be a disability for me.
And then my learned about voice activated software. You know how you guys can all talk to your phones. Now there’s a company called Dragon, naturally speaking. That’s behind that. And I figured out who they were and no one really knew who they were. And I hired a coach to help me and I paid her in CDs because I didn’t have any money, it was radio.
Thank God. She was a fan of my channel, so lucky. And finally I left XM. And move to another music related company. And it was the same thing, different day. Like it was a boys club. Nobody understood, like I needed my own office because the microphone that you talk into to talk to your computer to tell it what to do, hears everything.
And so it hears a door slam and hears if people are having a conversation and then starts typing all these random things. So who was this person that needed these special accommodations? And I was so stressed out because I’m in pain. I was in pain. I’m getting upset thinking about this right now.
Cause it was so frustrating because they were gaslighting me, Natasha, in so many ways. And I didn’t know what that was. And at the same time I was owning it all because I was miserable. I used to smoke like a pack of cigarettes then. And then I was complaining about work all the time and I was trying to do acupuncture and chiropractic and every weird thing I could find, I was trying to get my hands on all of this.
I went to all the Western guys. Two people stuck a lot of needles in me and yada. And finally my dad had it cause I was just crying all the time. And he was like, you’re not the only person in the world who has miserable things happening to them, snap out of this. And he lovingly shook me by the shoulders and said “You can’t work for other people and there’s no shame in that.”
[00:06:50] Natasha: Dads. They’re the best. I just have to say this about my dad. I was 37, had a two-year-old daughter. No, I was 27. I quit a job in advertising that had benefits, salary to pursue my career in music. And I got a flower bouquet delivered on my last day and it said:
“Go girl. Dad.”
[00:07:16] Kate: From your dad?
[00:07:18] Natasha: Instead of don’t quit your job, you need that money. You need those benefits. You have a daughter to look after, he supported me. So go amazing dads. Okay. Continue.
[00:07:30] Kate: Yeah. I’m tearing up listening to that because, so you were in the place to hear it, right? And finally, I was too. So my dad and this was all happening in the same week.
He said that my boyfriend, now husband, heard him and went to the bookstore and got me a start-up book, called Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start, famous one. And I started reading that and I got about a chapter or so in, and Guy says, “Don’t make a plan. Just get started.” So I was like, then I don’t need to read this book anymore, obviously.
So I shut the book and I was also reading The Secret that self-help book. Yes, roll eyes. Cause I hate that book.
[00:08:11] Natasha: I hate it too, but I wanted to like it, I wanted to be one of the people, but I couldn’t okay.
[00:08:18] Kate: I’m with you on this. Cause it’s corny and it just seems so obvious. But then I thought, okay what’s coming out of my mouth.
I hate my job. I’m in pain. Like all these negative things all the time. And I was remembering when I used to play softball. If I hit a line drive, what was I thinking in that moment? I was thinking, I rule. I’m the best. And that’s not what I’m thinking now. I’m not thinking at all that I’m rule or so this, that inner for me, my inner soundtrack is always going on and on.
And I’m very negative just generally. My husband is the opposite, he’s so sweet and kind.
[00:08:54] Natasha: Bless his heart. Thank you, husband.
[00:08:57] Kate: Thank you, husband. Yeah, it takes that yin and yang. And so I understood the secret saying, manifest destiny, basically manifest destiny. Then the next day I met my first angel investors who gave me $50,000.
[00:09:08] Natasha: $50,000 for what?
[00:09:10] Kate: Yeah, it didn’t matter. So they were fans of mine at XM, which is amazing. And they wanted to hand deliver a product for the company I worked with, which was very unusual. Everybody just mailed everything. But because they were fans, they were like, we got to meet you. And I was like, okay. So we went to lunch and I was just being myself and myself is, I’m not particularly edited, Natasha.
And I was complaining very loudly about this music industry wonk that we all knew who had a very famous newsletter. And I thought it was a jackass and they loved it. And literally they were like, we don’t care what we do with you. We’ll figure it out later. And we did, I was very lucky because these two men just happened to also be really nice people with good integrity.
And they gave me, I want to say lots of rope. Cause I hate that. It sounds like I was tethered to a rope. There was no rope. They said, “Hey, she’s a wild horse. We want to bet on this horse. Let’s let her run.” And that’s how I roll. And we had a bunch of companies. The first one was music related.
The first two were music related actually. Finding my way and I still wasn’t listening. I needed to get out of that industry altogether, and so finally, my aunt, who was the principal at the National Disability Institute in DC, came along and said, “You’re really good at marketing this stuff, come consult us. We’ll pay you more money. You can get out of the music industry.”
And I was like, okay. And she put me on the Walmart account was the first thing she did. So suddenly I’m watching Walmart and all their franchises and AT&T and all theirs and Bank of America and all theirs and the United Way Worldwide and all theirs.
And the IRS and this really weird mix of people. They are about over three years, we’re about 20,000 individuals involved. And I just thought, what a mess. I got to organize these people for my own brain. I got to figure it out. I don’t understand what they’re doing because I can’t see it. And I needed to see it visually.
So I made a spreadsheet that pulled together everything all these people were doing in marketing specifically. And then I started to look at consistency and content and essentially built what became part of the skeleton for Lately. And it got the project, the Walmart project, 130% ROI year over year for three years.
Hey, go spreadsheets, right? At the time. And so then I had an agency.
[00:11:23] Natasha: And what did you call that agency?
[00:11:25] Kate: Oh, no one ever asked that question. I called that agency Outlandos Media. I stole it from The Police.
[00:11:33] Natasha: Outlandos d’Amour, my favorite band on the planet.
[00:11:37] Kate: Thank you. Yes, me too. I’m a huge Andy Summers fan. Yeah.
[00:11:41] Natasha: Yes. I met him at a bookstore. I prefer Stewart Copeland, but Sting of course was amazing. But anyway.
[00:11:48] Kate: I met Andy too at a bookstore. What were you doing?
[00:11:51] Natasha: He had a book coming out. He was in Alameda, California. And he had like 30 people only. And I was like, “Oh, this is sweet and sad.” It was before the reunion tour, which by the way I digress, I went to see AT&T Park, the giant stadium, I was so bummed out because they reharmonized everything and lowered the key.
So you can’t sing along to that stuff. Anyways.
[00:12:16] Kate: It’s true.
[00:12:17] Natasha: Anyway. Great name, funny name.
[00:12:20] Kate: For people who don’t know what that means, right? It means outlaws of love is Outlandos d’Amour so that I took the outlaw part because I fancy myself an outlaw.
[00:12:29] Natasha: But you’re definitely an outlaw.
[00:12:30] Kate: Thank you.
[00:12:33] Natasha: Okay. This leads me into the next question, which isn’t super deep, but I was still curious. I am still curious. Where did you come up with the name Lately?
[00:12:43] Kate: Oh, no one ever asks this really either, but our first product was, oh my God. What was it? It was this influencer thing that we still intend to build, like where I can’t even remember exactly. But the idea was what have you done for me lately? So it was like Clout. Remember Clout.
[00:13:03] Natasha: What have you done for me lately?
[00:13:05] Kate: Yeah, exactly.
[00:13:06] Natasha: Everything you do has a music. Like you can’t get away from it Kate.
[00:13:11] Kate: I can’t. Which is great.
[00:13:12] Natasha: I do remember Clout. Is that still a thing?
[00:13:15] Kate: So it’s not a thing anymore. So Clout was for basically business stuff and this was Clout for more personal stuff because my superpower in radio and with Walmart actually is B2C.
This is my personal superpower. And around how to make listeners into fans. Customers into evangelists. And so our first product was basically something around this and it just was a nightmare and nothing ever happened there. And I actually had thought of it because I was looking up things on the lyrics and whatever, and I saw that there was a Van Morrison song called, Have I Told You I Loved You Lately also.
So it was like, okay, we can still use this name because it’s cool. And then my team by then was already calling me Kately.
[00:13:57] Natasha: So you did not spend $30,000 with a naming convention company to figure out?
[00:14:03] Kate: No, we didn’t. Thank God. I figured like this is one thing I used to be, but our first name was terrible. It was Cloud MRM.
[00:14:12] Natasha: Yep, not sexy. I wouldn’t have even asked you where that name came from. It’s so horrible.
[00:14:17] Kate: Yeah, we just couldn’t think of one. So we just needed something to be suitable.
[00:14:21] Natasha: So I’d love to take this time and ask you to teach something to the listeners for somebody that wants to start a SAAS business and has no background in starting a business or technology or engineering, et cetera, et cetera. What is something that you would say to them?
[00:14:42] Kate: Wow, there’s so much, I’ll say a couple of things. The first thing is your gut is really valuable and it always knows. It’s like a damn weathervane. If you’re up at night, thinking about that thing, it’s true.
It really is, always. And I don’t even need it to be one or two times, like right away I know. Shoot, I gotta address that because otherwise it’s going to gnaw me. Sometimes it’s relevant to your stress, right? It may be, it’s not going to be a problem solver for the company, but it’s just about your stress.
And as the CEO of any company, your stress is monster and your stress matters because if you’re not functioning, no one else is going to be functioning. So they tell you things like you need vacations and then you need a coach and therapist and whatever, and you think yeah. But like now Natasha, I have nine people that keep me up. Wellness people that keep me upright because it’s pretty intense. And that goes with anything like the gut check is for your customers. You want to be able to fire customers and say no, when that feels bad.
[00:15:47] Natasha: Yes, you do. I have done that. Someone that was valued at $200,000 a year, I was like, “Nope, you don’t treat us well, you don’t treat our artists and our vendors. Not happening.”
[00:15:58] Kate: Good for you. It’s hard to do that. The first time is really hard. And then it’s usually the gift that keeps on giving because you hear what a nightmare they were to someone else.
[00:16:06] Natasha: Oh yes, absolutely. So how did you figure out how to create this platform? Which, by the way, I don’t know if you know this, but I am in love, I have had a demo.
I was like, sign me up. Like before it was even done, this was amazing. Today I had my communications gal on it and I was like, just screaming “You’re gonna love this!”. And I think she was probably like, what is happening?
So a lot of technology has occurred. And everything that you’ve told me, doesn’t say I’m an engineer. I understand technology. How did that happen?
[00:16:48] Kate: Thank you. Thanks so much for doing that by the way. Yeah, again, you just fall up, you fall into it, right? One thing that I know, and I’ve had a lot of investors tell me otherwise, and I’ve always felt like f you on this one is that people say that you need to know all these things and you don’t need, I don’t need to know how to change my oil.
There’s a guy who does that for me. And I just need to know how to get him 30 bucks to do it. Like I could.
[00:17:11] Natasha: You need to know that you have to do it.
[00:17:12] Kate: You need to know that you have to do it. That’s right. And you need to know that someone else has the expertise. I can’t be the best at everything.
And I already knew that and the person, so catalysts, first of all. So Steve, one of my co-founders was introduced by a mutual friend who was like, you got to see this broad’s spreadsheets because they’re amazing, and so Steve kept asking to see my spreadsheets.
[00:17:34] Natasha: Now I want to see your spreadsheets too.
[00:17:38] Kate: I’ll send them to you.
[00:17:40] Natasha: My spreadsheets may rival yours, but we’ll see.
[00:17:46] Kate: I bet they will. Like, so my designer, Jason also was like, those things hurt my eyeballs so bad because you just grabbed the colors that are available to you there. And I was intent.
[00:17:56] Natasha: There are not good colors on there.
[00:17:58] Kate: They’re terrible. Why don’t they do that?
[00:18:00] Natasha: Oh my gosh. Another business segment. Okay, keep going.
[00:18:04] Kate: Because there is Smartsheet and there’s other things, but people always go back to spreadsheets, right? So why don’t they just like revamp, put a little, some lipstick on the old wheel there or whatever. Mixed metaphor. So Steve was in venture world, SAAS world. He was a serial entrepreneur and angel investor and a former CTO.
He’d had multiple exits, good and bad. So he knew this life. And he was working for Lauren Michaels actually, finding business solutions for all their departments. That’s something he’s really good at doing. And so he was like, I’ve never met a company who is good at marketing at all. And like your thing here really seems to hone in on this piece that no one’s addressing.
And so I said, “First don’t touch my spreadsheets. What’s wrong with you? They’re awesome. Hands-off.” And then he was like, we only need $25,000. We can build some wireframes and automate your spreadsheets. What are these words? This is foreign language to me.
[00:18:59] Natasha: I love those words by the way.
[00:19:00] Kate: You do? Yeah.
[00:19:01] Natasha: As a musician and an artist, I have this weird other side where I’m so systems and process oriented. This is like music to my ears.
[00:19:11] Kate: Okay. So music is very mathematical for some people like, so I play classical piano. I did. I don’t anymore. And I can read, but I hate reading and I hated theory. And I also don’t really like to play with other people. Are you surprised?
[00:19:24] Natasha: I have to tell you something right now. When you said theory and reading. You got to check out this guy, Jacob Collier, if you don’t know him, he will blow your mind. He is a genius. Okay.
[00:19:34] Kate: I know him. I do know him.
[00:19:35] Natasha: Yes. He’s phenomenal. Check him out.
[00:19:38] Kate: Is he a guitar player?
[00:19:39] Natasha: He plays everything. He’s like 22. He’s on Quincy Jones’ label and management team. He’s won a couple of Grammys. He’s like crazy.
[00:19:47] Kate: Brilliant and young, and I think I heard him playing lap steel and then singing on one of his songs.
[00:19:53] Natasha: And he’s gotta be a mathematician artist.
[00:19:56] Kate: That’s what I was getting too.
[00:19:57] Natasha: He’s all those things. So you’re right. Musicians, classical musicians, especially, but even rock and jazz musicians, you have to subdivide. You have to think a few measures ahead of time. It’s all math. It’s just not the math we were taught in school.
[00:20:12] Kate: That’s right. It’s totally different. And then for the rest of us who dabble, like I play by ear. It was like a different kind of thing. And so here we are with Steve Blood, who’s the math and he got the $25,000 together.
Like I said, I’d been eating ramen for a couple of decades, right? I was buying my first house, which I was really hard to save that money up. And I thought he was just totally insane. So he took the money out of his own pocket. He hired Jason, who he’d been working with Jason for a long time, like my co-founder and designer now.
And they came to my house on a Sunday night. It was eight o’clock at night. I had already had a couple of glasses of wine. I was on vacation. I was like, you get away from me. And Steve says that after that night. I was a lot nicer to him because I got it. And from there, we got punched in the face every day since for the last seven years.
[00:21:04] Natasha: So that’s how long Lately has been around, seven years?
[00:21:08] Kate: Yeah, since 2014. Yep.
[00:21:10] Natasha: Wow. You know what I think your market must just now be waking up to you. You may have been a little pre-market. Am I right about that?
[00:21:20] Kate: Yeah, but also we didn’t know what we were doing. So for the first two years, I’d raised a quarter million, but I lost it and had no product because my first two CTOs were gone to either alcoholism or depression.
Hey, these are fun. And then I got us into an accelerator, so I got us 40,000 bucks with some breathing room. And then we managed to start building a product, wasted more time raising no money from the wrong people. Finally then the next year raised our first round. So now we’ve got more going in and basically it was a drip feed of different angel rounds and extensions, and a lot of accelerators to get free rent and all that stuff.
[00:21:58] Natasha: And do you have venture investments now?
[00:22:00] Kate: No, I said no. A couple of things I wanted then. So you’ll relate to.
[00:22:04] Natasha: But you’re a woman and there’s only 2%, maybe 2.8% now that are funded.
[00:22:09] Kate: That’s right. Yeah. So whoa, way to go. I think they increased from 2.3 to 2.8% in the last year, right? Yeah. So 95% of my team wasn’t paid for two years, including Chris, he can get a paycheck actually.
[00:22:25] Natasha: Well, Chris better be getting something.
[00:22:27] Kate: Okay. I try to give them commission when I can cover everybody else’s pay so.
[00:22:31] Natasha: Well, I am investing in Lately, so there’s a drop in the bucket. Okay. So we talked a little bit about the culture of corporate. And so you now have a corporation. I don’t know if you’re an LLC or an S Corp or a C Corp. It doesn’t really matter. How many employees do you have?
[00:22:49] Kate: There are 11 full time and about seven or eight part-time.
[00:22:54] Natasha: That’s a lot of responsibility and you are creating the vision and the culture and the core values. And I bet you’re basing them off of your past unfortunate experiences. So talk to me a bit about that.
[00:23:12] Kate: Of course, I feel like I know you already. Yeah. So like I said, I’m a wild horse, so I treat everyone who works at Lately, like a wild horse, because I need that autonomy to function. And I need the people around me to have it as well, because you don’t want me to micromanage you. I’m a bitch. I am, and I don’t have the time.
That’s why, because then I’m wasting time. I need people to read my mind. I do. And I mostly find them, which is amazing. And there are people who-
[00:23:37] Natasha: Do you use recruiters?
[00:23:38] Kate: No. One thing I learned at XM was to hire brains, not experience and culture fit, actually. Which is, I don’t know if that’s even legal, but.
[00:23:48] Natasha: It is.
[00:23:50] Kate: That’s good. HR. We don’t have that yet.
[00:23:53] Natasha: I’m not a lawyer. So contact your lawyer. But I believe it is.
[00:23:58] Kate: But yeah, so mostly through our own networks, which means we could, we have a lot of women on the team. We only have one human of..
[00:24:06] Natasha: I like it on the one male, Chris, how did I end up with him? He’s sassy, by the way.
[00:24:10] Kate: He’s sassy. Do you have a music background? So that’s why, because Chris, as you know, he’s a rock and roll DJ also.
[00:24:17] Natasha: I didn’t know that, but I had a feeling because of the questions he was asking me. Wait on our first call. You’re going to ask me a question that I wasn’t expecting, and I don’t know how to answer. Anyway. I won’t tell you what the question was, but my answer was reluctantly, fame. Okay. Anyway.
[00:24:37] Kate: That’s amazing.
[00:24:38] Natasha: So let’s go back to company culture and empathy. And why is that important to you?
[00:24:43] Kate: It’s everything right. So work is life and life is work. All life is work. And it goes back to everything is gold to me, like garlic is the easiest one. So if I’m going to spend time unwrapping that stupid cover around it and then chopping each little piece, and I’m really good with a knife, I was a line cook all through middle school and college and every little piece has to get off that knife into the pan.
If it doesn’t, I’m like cutting it down. And so I feel that way about not only Lately, but everything I’m doing, I want it to matter. It does matter. And I want my employees to feel the same way and to treat each other and to treat you the same way. So for us, we’re really lucky because we can walk the talk.
So Lately, just so everybody knows, is artificial intelligence that creates content for you, social media content for you.
[00:25:28] Natasha: It is so brilliant. I’m so excited about it. In fact, I almost can’t wait to get over with this interview so I can fiddle around. See my stats from past posts scheduled this. Seriously.
I really adore you and I’m really loving this thing. Seriously. This moment we’re off.
[00:25:44] Kate: You’re doing it. You got to send me this file too, so I can use this in Lately. So the way Lately does this is, and this is important to your question, we instantly connect to all of your social channels that you let us connect to.
We look for the highest engaging posts and we look at the words and the phrases and the sentence structures that made up those posts. So what did you write basically? And we build our own writing model based on what we know already works for you. And then we have to learn. So in order for the brain to learn, you have to feed it long form content, and that could be a blog or a press release or a video or..
[00:26:16] Natasha: Transcription of this podcast or the authentic video.
[00:26:21] Kate: Or the video. Exactly. Then you push a button like Natasha wants to do, Lately will in the case of video transcribe the whole thing, find the best quotes of cool things you, or I said, and put the video snippets of us saying those quotes into the social post for you. It’s awesome.
[00:26:37] Natasha: I can’t even tell you how amazing this is and if you have an affiliate link, I need it because I will become a very wealthy person.
[00:26:46] Kate: Awesome. We are working on that on kit is the man and we need to reconsider it. We had another conversation cause we keep getting screwed by people who tell us they’re going to do it. And then they never do. And then we ended up paying fees and whatever, but that’s another story, high class problems for SAS.
So the point though is Lately only works if there’s a human involved. We get you three quarters of the way there. We do business of clipping those things up, telling you what are the best phrases and words and keywords, but the human has to contextualize it, has to catch the mistakes, have to be like, “so” I said, XYZ, maybe take out so. Those kinds of things.
So there’s lots of opportunities there. And this is the idea of automation technology and humans working together to make an actual one plus one equals three equation. Not just to cliche it out.
[00:27:36] Natasha: One plus one equals 32 or 24 or 64. And if people listening to this, do not know what I’m talking about, you need to do a demo with Lately.ai and see how many different posts one of your pieces of material can be output in this app.
[00:27:55] Kate: Thank you so much. I can’t thank you enough, but yeah. So you push a button and you get a lot, you get too much really.
And if you apply that idea of technology gets you three quarters of the way there, human gets you the rest of the way home, and then think about how Chris treated you. So Lately did the hard work. It made you lean forward in that demo and go, oh my God. But Chris did a lot of hard work too. Had you get the 20 and the human we don’t do an automated demo.
We don’t do a self-service thing on purpose because our goal is to make you an evangelist. Remember my super power?
[00:28:33] Natasha: Yes. And you have made one in me clearly.
[00:28:37] Kate: Thank you. Thanks. And that’s the hard way, right? So Gary V says scale the unscalable, the hard way is the way. And the hard way is the way, like I knew this all through my radio career and I did a lot of selling on the side for different companies also. And people respond to charisma, right?
[00:28:58] Natasha: It’s true. They want to be in the realm of this amazing person. So that might be a good lead into wanting to talk about social selling. What does that mean to you? What is the importance? How does Lately fit into that?
[00:29:12] Kate: Smart question. So it’s so funny how technology or marketing, where they label things that like, selling has been social since the first person was a man actually sold a wheel to somebody. It’s always social. You remember those library booksellers used to go door to door? It’s why politicians still come.
They still do come door to door because it’s the most effective way. But it’s also the hardest way and nobody wants to do it. People are lazy. So social selling, Lately is very much designed to give you those social posts, but with the link to drive traffic back to the whole thing. So there’s a very clear directive.
We want to help you get the lead, get the sale, get the conversion.
[00:29:55] Natasha: Okay, this brings up a question. I have to ask for my own benefit. I was going to link an Inc. Magazine article about me and my company through Lately, and that would have driven traffic to the Inc. Magazine but we also have it on our website. Should I have pulled that URL from my website instead of the native Inc.?
[00:30:16] Kate: You can do both. So if you got 60 posts, you can do either way you want, depending on what you think. So if your customers need the validation and the social proof of seeing you mentioned on Inc.’s website, which they might, you’re going to get a benefit there.
And it’s a long tail, you’re going to hope that they’re coming back to you, but that’s what all marketing is anyways. So I would AB test those two things and then start filtering out people, but in your campaign tags labeled them. So you can actually track to see which.
[00:30:41] Natasha: Oh my God, it’s gold.
[00:30:43] Kate: So I was talking to the people at Inc. magazine a long time ago, because I was like, you guys have all of this content that’s just collecting dust.
And so if I was talking to them, what I would say is, use Lately to market all the content on behalf of all of your entrepreneurs, drive it back to your online article and you get to tag the entrepreneur in each one, you can do 60 posts once a week for 60 weeks in order to get people excited about the next year’s thing.
[00:31:11] Natasha: I will figure out a way to connect you with the people at Inc. so that you can pitch them again. I am pretty deep with them and they’re an incredible organization and maybe they weren’t ready to hear at that time.
[00:31:25] Kate: Yeah. ‘Cause before COVID, COVID changed a lot of mindsets, right? I would love that Natasha, that would be like my karmic gift of thankfulness. And I will buy you a steak or a sushi dinner or whatever you like.
[00:31:36] Natasha: You’ll make me feel very good to do that. So bottom line to tie up social selling, what is the most important aspect that you want to deliver to everyone?
[00:31:46] Kate: For us, it’s not selling. So to emphasis on the social media, have you met Chris? He’s a not sell, sell.
[00:31:51] Natasha: He didn’t need to sell to me. I was like, okay, stop it. Give me, let me give me your. He’s no, we have to. I was like, no, I want this now.
[00:31:59] Kate: That’s amazing. You’re going to make him feel so good ’cause I know he was bummed out this week, so that’ll be really good. I’m going to tell him to listen to this. Yeah. So the idea is you don’t want to be embarrassed about your sale and you don’t want to deny that you’re selling anybody, but you want to find the common ground. So the weather, where do you live? All of these things that people think of boring subjects are they’re the best subjects ever, right? Find that common ground trust is the commodity that we wield. All of us. You want someone to do something for you? Whether it’s your husband taking the trash out, or your boss giving you a “atta girl” or your engineer fixing the bug, whatever it is, how you communicate to them is social.
You’re selling them on doing this thing for you. And there’s no shame in having these very clear objectives and thinking about what is it going to take to get this person to act for me? And the first thing is almost always some kind of reaction. You want to get them to touch some kind of human emotion has to happen here.
So there’s a lot of them. There’s fear. There’s joy, right? We’ve seen politicians use those, some of them before. I like to go for empathy, sympathy or empathy. So like in this interview, I’ve been in tears almost. We’ve laughed a few times, right? We’ve got Andy Summers and in staying in well, steward, come on. He plays everything, but the beat, how can you not love him? We’ve got a lot of touch points.
[00:33:25] Natasha: That’s the way of the world.
[00:33:27] Kate: Yeah, it is right. Like the drummer should get paid twice because they’re doing a lot more work than everybody else, especially if they sing right.
[00:33:34] Natasha: And they have to bring that drum kit around and set it up and tear it down all the time. Anyway, I love this. I love that you are really compassionate, empathetic entrepreneur trailblazer. That’s a lot.
[00:33:47] Kate: I don’t know who you’re talking about.
[00:33:48] Natasha: That’s a lot. Okay. So we’re going to switch gears to right now, today. What is the biggest challenge that you’re facing with your business in scaling and growing?
[00:33:58] Kate: Oh, God, it’s me. I’m like negative Nancy. I’m up everyone’s ass right now. I don’t think I’m being a very good leader. There’s a lot of, we had a really tough surprise we had to swallow and then another big thing. And they both happened at the same time. And if they didn’t happen in the same time.
[00:34:14] Natasha: There’s a third thing coming, just prepare yourself.
[00:34:17] Kate: God, I hope not. And so we were riding on this great high, and right now we’re on a low and I got to keep everybody together and I got to keep all the horses running and it’s hard because we’re fucking up. And I have to also point out that we are and do it in a way where people hear it, acknowledge it, fix it and move on.
And when there’s money challenges, it’s when all the negative stuff comes, it’s just across. And I know that it’s a plus there’s COVID. And even though we’re coming out of COVID, I feel like my body is just saying, you put off all this stress for the last year and we know you can take it now. I’m also feeling like I’m having to support a lot of people as a friend, a lot of my employees.
[00:34:54] Natasha: So you’re not currently working as a visionary on your business. You’re still really day-to-day in your business.
[00:35:01] Kate: Yeah. And it’s burning me out cause we were in vision mode for a good little while there. And right now I’m like being a therapist. I’m being a shitty leader, bad coach.
[00:35:11] Natasha: We can talk offline on that. I can help you with that.
[00:35:14] Kate: Okay. I need some help. Yeah. Because I feel like I’m just hanging out above water.
[00:35:18] Natasha: You’ll learn some things from it and then you’ll move past it. But it’s really uncomfortable right now I’m sure.
[00:35:23] Kate: Yeah, it’ll work out. It always does.
[00:35:27] Natasha: In January or whenever you were planning for this year, was there a strategy that you were really focusing on to drive growth and momentum and what was it?
[00:35:39] Kate: Yeah, so we’re crossing the chasm, as they say. And I spent all of last year putting a couple dozen things in place and they all came to fruition in the first quarter. That was amazing. And then we raised and we staffed up and we hired and we’re like ready to execute. And then those two big bombs came. So then that’s why we feel like we were caught with our pants down because we’d spent the money and suddenly we’re having to pull back.
And also then I broke a couple of things. I know this, I say it all the time. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And I broke it. I don’t know why I did so now that I had to fix it. And there’s a slinky happening so all growth requires that. I know it. I see it. I know it’s there and I love this team.
I feel like I just really got the best people together and I don’t want anything to happen to change this team. And so we just need to hold on, next month will be a transformative month for us. And in the meantime, not to be negative Nancy, but there’s actually all this other really amazing stuff happening.
So the chasm that we’re crossing, all the things that I put into play for that are working like crazy.
[00:36:44] Natasha: I just saw an Instagram post with you. And I think if I remember correctly, you were celebrating, I think a million dollars in annual recurring revenue.
[00:36:54] Kate: Yep.
[00:36:55] Natasha: Was that the post you were like?
[00:36:58] Kate: Yeah.
[00:36:59] Natasha: So that is a huge milestone. And the things that you did with empathy, with your spreadsheets, with looking back and then looking forward, instead of only looking back really have gotten you to this crossing, and then there’ll be so many more, but that was a big one. Celebrate that too.
[00:37:20] Kate: Yeah. Thanks. We fucked that up. So that’s why I’m not excited about it right now. Like sorta.
[00:37:27] Natasha: It will redeem itself. Every challenge is the opportunity to actually it’s like the two steps backward one step forward or whatever that is. I believe in you. And I believe in your product and your product to me is, it is, you can tell. It’s hard for me to explain how excited I am about it.
[00:37:46] Kate: Good to hear that because I literally sit there in the middle of the night and I think maybe they’re all fake imagining this, cause these are the doubts you have.
[00:37:54] Natasha: Of course. I have doubts all the time too, but I met the age and the experience for me to say, “Shut your mouth. That’s detrimental to your progress. It isn’t actually true. And you have proof everywhere you look, so go to bed and wake up and let’s start again.”
[00:38:13] Kate: I need that. I need you to come. And can you just sit right here?
[00:38:17] Natasha: Yes, I can. In various forms.
We learned about the importance of empathy in the workplace, how this startup approaches funding, and also the challenges that many entrepreneurs face. For more information about Kate and Lately go to the show notes where you’re listening to this podcast.
For more information about me, go to my website, natashamiller.co. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you love the show. If you did, please subscribe. Also, if you haven’t done so yet, please leave a review where you’re listening to this podcast now. I’m Natasha Miller and you’ve been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.