Elevate Your Brand’s Content Through Powerful Writing, Creativity, & Strategy With Meg Seitz at Toth Shop

  • Meg Seitz,  Contributor

    Meg Seitz is the Founder and Managing Creative Partner of toth shop, an agency with one goal: Elevate your brand’s content through powerful writing, creativity, and strategy. Former Brand Training Specialist at Lululemon
Elevate Your Brand’s Content Through Powerful Writing, Creativity, & Strategy With Meg Seitz at Toth Shop

Like so many entrepreneurial ventures, my company – toth shop – started before I even knew it was toth shop. I was working for Lululemon Aathletica at the time here in Charlotte; I was also three-fourths of my way through business school. I was working and going to school (on the full-time-graduate -in-two-years schedule, mind you) at the same time; not sleeping, working constantly, and then feeling guilty for not working in every odd, quiet moment I experienced was all normal.

Also deeply ingrained in the daily modus operandi at the time – or perhaps, just my personality – is my inability to say no.

So, when a friend came to me asking for help writing his emerging brand’s story, marketing collateral and investor pitch deck, I said ‘yes’ – no questions asked.

What he knew about me is what would become the hallmark of the business I run today – I know how to write and I know how to think like a businessperson. English major MBAs are a unique bunch. But I love when the two cross-pollinate. It’s weird, I know. It’s also my competitive edge in that not all English majors love business; and not all business thinkers can write the creative, sexy, copy people fall in love with.

So, I started with this friend’s project. Then another – and another – until I had a full-time side hustle. I named it toth shop (‘toth’ is my middle name – my great-grandmother’s maiden name she used at Ellis Island in the early 20th c.). I took it full-time in 2015.

With all that said, that first project wasn’t just a project – it was this beautiful, fun process of carving out a new cavern in my brain. An undiscovered cavern that opened me up to the possibility of partnering with business owners and entrepreneurs to dig in, carve out, strategize, create, design, and write their stories, websites, investor pitch decks, marketing collateral, press releases in a way that was fun, smart, and well-written – but also in a way that made people pick up the phone, click through, engage.

And – funny thing – it also allowed me to do the very opposite, too – take the creative side of any startup venture or established business and sharpen, tune, refine it to market, sell, succeed.

Both scenarios share a through line. And that’s storytelling – not only the art, but also the logistics. And we’re not talking about the traditional definition of storytelling – but, the really personal, intimate, precise brand of storytelling that nails a brand’s identity and captures someone immediately.

All that can be a big process. Fortunately, there are three ways I start that storytelling process; and, quite honestly, three things you can do, too.

  1. Ask why. Then, ask why again.

    With all due respect, I ask why I’m here a lot of times when I’m in a new meeting. Then, I ask why again; I find that the more I ask why, the deeper we go into the story of why – without you even knowing it. I can find out very quickly why you need to re-write your story, why need to re-examine your core values that drive your story, or why that drip campaign copy just ain’t working in the customer’s digital journey.

  2. Set a timer; do a brain dump; look for middle paths.

    This tends to be a rather emotional and cathartic process for entrepreneurs or business owners. Set a timer, and then write (or type) like your hands are on fire – write out anything and everything about your business. This is what I call a brain dump. Then, let’s talk about it – in those moments, I’m looking for repeat words, middle paths, ideas that support each other that can go into your brand’s story.

  3. Do an audit of your stories out in the world.

    Instagram has changed the word ‘stories’ for us. Shake that off for a second. In this context, when I’m talking about stories, I mean – where is your brand out in the world, and where is the story you’ve been telling. Are you telling the same story on your website as you are on all your social media platforms? And then is that the same story in your marketing collateral, drip campaigns, e-books? A lot of times – I see multiple stories across multiple platforms which is my marketing 101 lesson of the day – every day – you need to tell the same great story, consistently.

Ironically enough, I was in L.A. a couple of years ago when I had a professional epiphany – I wasn’t having fun. And I wanted to work in a way that was fun, fresh, exploratory – a total adventure. As an entrepreneur and business owner, I’m getting that kind of experience hand-over-foot now. I know you get it.

The good news is that the adventure continues – toth shop is launching a test concept in L.A. and we couldn’t think of a better crowd to partner with than L.A.Startups. Mention L.A. Startups and you’ll have exclusive access to a discount on our services forever. Let’s tell a great story.

LA Startups Crew
Los Angeles Startups
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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LA Startups Crew
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

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Nominations Open for New Book to Highlight Top Players in Los Angeles’ Startup Scene

LA Startups - StartupGuide.com

Entrepreneurs, investors, colleges, accelerators, coworking spaces and experts can now be nominated to be featured in Startup Guide Los Angeles, the first-ever entrepreneurial handbook dedicated to Los Angeles’ startup scene. Based on traditional guidebooks that can be carried around everywhere, Startup Guide books help entrepreneurs navigate different startup hubs across the globe and are now in 20 different cities across the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East, including London, New York, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and Stockholm.

To ensure an accurate and trustworthy guide, the book is co-created with the local startup community. From Dec. 6 – 18, 2018, anyone in the community can contribute by nominating candidates they’d like to see in the book here.

After the nominations period, the local advisory board – consisting of key players in the local startup community – votes for the final selection so there is a balanced representation of industries and startup stories in the book.

Founded in 2014 by Sissel Hansen, Startup Guide is a creative content and publishing company that produces guidebooks and tools to help people turn their startup ideas into a reality. The idea behind the Startup Guide books originally came to Hansen when she moved from Copenhagen to Berlin to start a business and discovered how difficult it was to find useful information and local advice about the process. Despite being rejected by multiple investors, she bootstrapped the project and launched the first Startup Guide book in Berlin in 2014 – and it sold out in less than 48 hours.

For Startup Guide Los Angeles, Startup Guide has partnered with The L.A. Coalition for the Economy & Jobs, who will be the main project facilitator and supporter, while the main sponsor for the project is SAP Next-Gen, a global, purpose-driven innovation university, and community.

The Startup Guide Los Angeles book is set to be released in July 2019. To save 20% on the book before the launch date, pre-order it now.

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
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LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

Uber Works Wants to Disrupt The On-demand Staffing Business

Uber Works Wants to Disrupt The On-demand Staffing Business

Uber doesn’t always have an easy time doing business. But instead of just relying on its rideshare platform, it’s diversifying its services to provide a lot more earning opportunities for the company and for its drivers. One of these initiatives is the new Uber Works, which the company is testing right now.

What’s Uber Works?

This is an on-demand staffing business, much like the original Uber template is an on-demand rideshare business. This service enables its client businesses to hire various workers for short-term duties. If there’s a special event or a corporate function then Uber Works allows these companies to hire waiters and security guards for the duration.

It’s still a new initiative that Uber is exploring, and it may not turn into a business at all. But it has been tested in LA, and now trials are being held for Uber Works in Chicago.

Other Uber Ideas

Uber Works isn’t the only new way for the company to earn income.

  • Uber Eats is perhaps the most notable new service offered by the company, as it provides its drivers with a new food-delivery service. It’s a service that’s now available in 250 cities all over the world, and it has managed to generate $6 billion in total bookings for the last year.
  • Uber has a trucking division called Uber Freight, which matches available truckers to companies that need its goods to be transported. This division now has a new service called Powerloop. This time, it rents out physical equipment like tractor trailers to the drivers who need them.
  • They’ve added bikes and electric scooters to the Uber apt this year.
  • They’re planning to add the option for all-electric short-range aircraft in the future.
  • Uber is also working on self-driving technology.

Uber as the Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

It’s no secret that Uber has been facing a lot of criticism for the last few years. Critics have long harped on how it denies its drivers benefits like a minimum wage and health benefits. Its global expansion has slowed down, and it has been disastrous in Russia and China. Even its research on self-driving technology has taken a beating in the public eye when one of their test cars had an accident that killed a pedestrian.

Yet the valuation for Uber has now grown to $70 billion. Some even think that it can reach a total value of $120 billion when it’s time for the company to go public. Those $120 billion valuations would be more than the combined company value total of the Big 3 automakers. To see just how Uber has grown, note that its supposed rival Lyft is also planning an initial public offering but experts believe that it will end up with just a valuation of $15 billion.

Much of the Uber renaissance is due to the diversification of its efforts. Uber Eats in itself is already worth $20 billion. It’s trying to do another Amazon path to success, and Amazon started with just books. Will Uber achieve the same level of success? Stay tuned!

LA Startups Crew
Los Angeles Startups
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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LA Startups Crew
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

PledgeLA to Boost Diversity and Inclusion in The Los Angeles Tech Community

PledgeLA to Boost Diversity and Inclusion in The Los Angeles Tech Community

As the tech sector in LA grows due to the saturation of the tech industry in the San Francisco area, the same problems in Silicon Valley are now coming up. There’s a growing tension between the upstarts of the tech industry and the regular folks in the community surrounding this IT boom.

According to critics, what will follow in LA will be what happened in San Francisco if there’s nothing done about it. Regular people and longtime residents will feel alienated and looked down upon. They will feel like they’re being forced out by the higher rents and costs of homes as well as the prices of regular consumer goods.

That’s why more than 80 entrepreneurs and tech investors are joining Mayor Eric Garcetti and the non-profit Annenberg Foundation to launch PledgeLA. This is the LA tech community initiative that seeks to avoid what happened in San Francisco and to the people there who felt disenfranchised by the growing tech boom.

PledgeLA Features

Features of the initiative include the following:

  • More opportunities will be provided for everyone, regardless of race, background, or gender. So even non-white women who grew up poor should have the same opportunities as the white guys who grew up rich.
  • Those who signed to the PledgeLA agreement will track civic participation and diversity data each year. That data will be made public so that people will know if a tech company is made up of exclusively white males from the Ivy Leagues and other top schools.
  • Startups and funds will report on the composition of their workforce noting various factors. This won’t be just noting age, gender, and race. It will also note socioeconomic origin, educational attainment, and even sexual orientation to see if there’s bias against hiring members of the LGBT community. Other factors will include the status in regards to disabilities, immigration, and military service veteran. Even the tenure at a firm will be noted.
  • The signatories also will come up with a proper code of conduct centered on diversity and inclusion, and diversity will be practiced in corporate hiring.

Good Business Sense

While many who signed PledgeLA did so out of a sense of moral and ethical rightness, it also makes good business sense to emphasize diversity on corporate hiring practices. A Diverse workgroup brings different points of views when it comes to making decisions. It helps with networking for sources of talent, and the diverse work group can help build a diverse consumer base as well.

LA has now become one of the top 5 US destinations for technology investment and it’s now one of the top tech hubs in the country. The top 100 tech companies in LA and Orange County has reported a 24% increase in employment within the last year.

There are a still a few notable holdouts to PledgeLA, however. Tesla and SpaceX have not yet signed on, and nor has Snap. But LA is an inherently diverse area, and such a diversity must be maintained in the tech workplace as well.

LA Startups Crew
Los Angeles Startups
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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LA Startups Crew
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

Top Content Marketing Trends for 2019

Top Content Marketing Trends for 2019

Every year, different trends come and go in marketing. But classic methods don’t go away, and that includes content marketing. In fact, content marketing is growing at such a pace that experts estimate its worth will exceed $400 billion by 2021.

If you’re finally joining the content marketing bandwagon, here are some trends that you should anticipate for the coming year:

Content Marketing is Now Mainstream

It wasn’t that long ago when content marketing was considered a side project. It was something marketing pros tried out after first dealing with the more important marketing tasks.

Today, content marketing is considered one of those crucial tasks that you have to deal with. It’s now part of mainstream marketing because ignoring this facet of your marketing strategy will doom your enterprise. It’s that integral to your success.

Documented Strategies

Since content marketing has now been recognized as crucial to a marketing strategy, it will no longer suffice for marketing officials to launch content marketing strategies on the fly. This can’t be a “fly by the seat of your pants” project. It has to be carefully thought out and planned.

This is why 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. Such a carefully planned campaign can identify a key marketing goal and set up a plan to achieve that goal.

Greater Focus on Customer Success

In the old days, companies focused on making the sale and then moving onto the next sale. They dealt with complaints as they arose afterward. But today, services are much more personalized. Marketers have realized that if they wanted to forge deeper relationships with their customers and encourage them to spread news of their brand, they have to make sure that customers get full value from their money.

That’s the essence of customer success. This means that with your content, you can help customers take care of their bought products. The content can also suggest new ways of using the products.

Brands Change from Vendors to Partners

Traditional marketing has always been at the core a way to sell stuff. Modern marketing, especially content marketing, is instead about forging a partnership with customers. That’s what the content you offer should focus on. It’s not about convincing people to buy stuff from you. Instead, it’s about engaging with customers and forging a lasting and trusting relationship.

Again, this means more focus on content that covers post-sale topics. What do your customers need after buying what you’re selling? Your content should provide info that can help them with those needs so that these customers will buy from you again. They’ll also be much more likely to recommend your brand to their social circles. After all, you don’t just view them as sources of profit—you act like they’re you’re partners.

Content Distribution is Key

The best content doesn’t help your cause if no one gets to see it. That means you need to find efficient ways of spreading the word and your content. These methods include social networks, email marketing, and other distribution channels that can best reach your audience.

Also, check out 2018 Internet Trends Report From Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins

LA Startups Crew
Los Angeles Startups
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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LA Startups Crew
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

How I Got a Programming Job in Los Angeles Bustling Tech Hub

Searching for a job as a software engineer is really painful. There’s a new tech company popping up every minute of the day, and it’s tough to know which one to choose from.

Obviously, I should be grateful for all the opportunities I’m afforded as a software engineer, and I do, but man is this an annoying problem.

The Problem

The software industry is getting a continuous flow of money from VC’s that are just crossing their fingers, hoping that 1/10 of their investments goes IPO or gets acquired.

So that means there’s a lot of cash being invested into all sorts of ideas. Some of these ideas are good, and most of them are crap. Ideally, you want to land at a company where there’s less crap.

Since a lot of these companies are popping up, there are tons of job opportunities. What I’ve found though is that a lot of these companies have hiring managers that simply aren’t prepared to interview software engineers.

These companies don’t know any better, so they use hiring practices that are popular amongst the top tier tech companies like Google and Facebook as a crutch. This makes the job interview process feel really unforgiving for new and existing software engineers alike.

I recently put myself back out there to find a new job. It’s through this long and grueling process that I figured out a few tactics that helped me circumvent many of the common software job search headaches.

Job Search Begins

I kicked off my job search for Senior Android Engineer positions back in June 2018 and started preparing for interviews. You can imagine that I’d have to be quite unhappy at my existing job to have to deal with the aforementioned job search process. Here comes all those fun whiteboard algorithms, yay.

I needed to leave my employer at the time because my goals were no longer lining up with what I was doing. This feeling is something that I’ve learned to pay a lot of attention to. It’s hard to stay excited about anything if you no longer see much value doing it.

My short-term goal at the time was relatively simple: be part of a product-oriented team at a company that focuses on software. Additionally, my long-term goal has been to become a better leader, so I can one day confidently lead teams of my own.

With these goals in mind, it really helped me filter out the job opportunities that were presented to me.

Finding Opportunities

Having been so disappointed with previous job search processes, I desperately looked for a better way to interview with companies. That’s when I came across this very eye-catching ad while I was perusing Quora. It said something like “skip the whiteboard interview”. I was sold.

I am thoroughly convinced that the whiteboard interview has caused more people great pain during their careers as software engineers than helped hiring managers narrow down candidates. It’s one of the most anxiety-inducing and demoralizing interview “strategies” I’ve ever experienced.

Whiteboarding is a topic I could rant about for hours. It was my main motivator for finding a new way to job hunt, and this anti-whiteboard ad I found for a company called Triplebyte, was my holy grail.

I applied for their developer exam immediately. Since I’m an Android developer, I chose their mobile specialty exam and raced through the timed questions. I soon got confirmation that I was good enough to get a follow-up interview, and went from there to schedule it.

The whole process, from initial exam through to their video call screening, and eventually to the onsite interviews was fantastic. I really felt I was getting taken care of. This is how interviewing should be!

That wasn’t the end of my interviewing journey though; it was really just the beginning. Even though Triplebyte set me up with five great companies to interview within San Francisco, they didn’t have the clientele at the time to help me search more local. Since I live in Orange County, I had to find job opportunities out here the more traditional way.

I reached out to everyone in my network that could help me out with this. Previous co-workers, friends, family, and anyone else who could point me to a company with the values I was looking for. I set my LinkedIn profile to “searching for a job”, and tidied up my resume.

I got into contact with a few different interesting companies this way. Some in LA, some in OC, and more — many more — in the Bay Area. I really didn’t want to have to go to the Bay Area.

Besides the obvious factors of the Bay Area — like it’s way too expensive — I knew that moving there would be tough for my wife. It would be much easier to be able to pack everything up and move up there with all the industry elites if I was just a single dude. I had to think about my wife’s family, my family, and the future we’re trying to build together.

That said, I knew that I wanted to get as much interview experience as possible. From previous interview experiences, I anticipated a certain ramp-up time needed to get my mind warmed up for the oncoming onslaught of interviews. The more interviews I got through, the better I felt about the next one.

I ended up narrowing down my search to seven companies: one in LA, one in OC, and the five Triplebyte had arranged for me in the Bay Area. It was time to buckle down, so I took a week off from work and got ready to dive deep into my interviews.

The Interviews

Triplebyte’s process promises that once you are through their initial screening period, you’ll skip ahead to every company’s final interview.

Every company evaluates their software engineers differently. Some throw many hypothetical and theoretical technical problems at their candidates, whilst other companies stick to more practical job-related interview questions.

One thing that really stuck out to me in my round of interviews is just how inconsistently the idea of a “Senior Developer” is defined. Some companies have a list of skills they expect from their “Senior” people, and others just want to see how many hoops you can jump through before getting to the real work.

This made me realize just how fluid job titles are from one business to another. A “Senior” developer at one company could very well be a “Junior” developer at the next one over. Title definitions all come down to the business’ needs, their existing pool of talent, and how desperate they are to hire developers.

Having caught on to this very strange phenomenon, I knew I had to problem-solve my way out of it. So I started explaining to companies what I thought was “Senior” to me. I made sure to highlight my experience leading teams, my abilities outside of programming, and of course proving this all via different code challenges and Q&A.

It actually worked. Of course, the caveat here being that my strategy only worked on companies that I could truly add value to. Meaning that I had to have already been a solid candidate; I just used my “Senior” story to help tip things in my favor.

Out of the seven companies I interviewed with, I received offer letters from five of them. It’s not a bad batting average at all, and I felt rather proud of myself for getting this far.

It wasn’t long after my interviews were over, however, that the final challenge would prove to be most difficult. I had to make a choice as to which company to go to.

Making a Decision

I was staring at a list of five incredibly impressive businesses, with similarly incredible offers. I took a tip I got from one of the recruiters and started on a spreadsheet with all the companies I was considering.

I ended up with a whopping seventeen different categories that I used to compare all of these companies. Let me say that this helped immensely. It gave me a high-level look into all the things that I cared about. Here, I’ll list them out so you can laugh at how thorough this ended up being.

The categories in no particular order: pay, equity, 401(k), relocation bonuses, benefits (like medical), extra perks (like lunch catering, cell phone allowance, etc), vacation policy, company culture, engineering culture, product pros and cons, social impact, audience size, industry, gut feeling, location, commute, and work hours.

The Winner

All things considered, I ended up at my current employer, Weedmaps! I honestly surprised myself at this one too. I’m not a cannabis user, but I was so impressed with everything they were offering that I felt like it was a no-brainer to me.

What really tipped it in Weedmaps’ favor too is that I didn’t have to move. I could stay in beautiful OC, and be close to all my family. I think that’s something that people don’t value enough when considering their next job.

So far though, I’ve been thoroughly pleased with my choice to work at Weedmaps as a Senior Android Engineer. Having been here for just a few months now, I’ve really grown to enjoy working here. I’m so impressed with just how welcoming, and collaborative of an environment Weedmaps is.

It’s the collaboration, the willingness to compromise, and the desire to be better that makes a place like Weedmaps feel like home to me. I think those three traits are what foster growth, and build great teams.

For now, I’m focused on really maxing out the value I can bring to my team at Weedmaps. It’s a place that I feel will grow with me as I continue to push towards my career goals.

Maybe next time I can talk more about those dreaded whiteboard problems. Sigh.

Check these 50 Hottest LA Startups to Work For Right Now

Ryan Simon
Contributor
Ryan Simon is a Senior Android Engineer for Weedmaps. He has taken his background in investing, his degree in business and applied to the world of a software engineer. Ryan spends his free time cooking with his wife or playing Overwatch.
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Ryan Simon
Ryan Simon is a Senior Android Engineer for Weedmaps. He has taken his background in investing, his degree in business and applied to the world of a software engineer. Ryan spends his free time cooking with his wife or playing Overwatch.