Steve walked away from a respected consumer insights practice to go all in on a new approach to helping brands understand people. We thought you’d like to know what the hell he was thinking…
What drove your decision to walk away from THREE, a practice you built and led for 10 years?
I started THREE when I had about 10 years under my belt and could see a better way. It worked well, but it was time to shake things up again. On the one hand, I just wasn’t challenged by the work or the model of a custom practice. On the other, I knew we could be doing more to help the consumer insights community. Decisions were being made faster than we could inform, soulless big data was taking over and our partners were under insane stress. In order to provide folks what they needed, how they needed it, we had to blow up the existing model. One day I came in and said “what if we did this?” Haven’t looked back since.
How has the journey to launch been for you?
When I talk with people about Humantel, they respond – fairly consistently – with “game-changing” and “ambitious”. To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. Building Humantel has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. This is the third insights business I’ve built, yet every day is a school day. My partners and I have weathered just about every storm a start-up can face. We learn, we iterate, we move forward. It is absolutely invigorating, but I sure hope there is a villa in my future at some point soon.
Why are you so committed to this idea?
Like anyone who goes all in, I believe very strongly in what we are doing. Having partnered with brands for 20 years, I know they want insights into consumer motivations and I know that having these makes for better business decisions. We’re breaking down those barriers. But what really gets me out of bed is the idea of telling stories that help people understand that there is more that unites us than divides us… that the things we take for granted are things that others yearn for, that will elevate them. And if we can empower brands big and small with good insight, well, hopefully the collective effort will inspire industry to help people reach their best potential. That’s where this gets really interesting.