It’s important to acknowledge the hard work people put into the product they deliver and even the humblest people enjoy hearing their work is well received and appreciated.
Marc Becker spent seven years of his career at Universal Pictures as an Executive on the Global Brand Marketing team. While at Universal, he worked closely with filmmakers, creative executives, and marquee brands to ensure a consistent global brand strategy for the studio’s films and franchises. He helped develop unique, synergistic campaigns to integrate films across the various NBCU/Comcast platforms collaborating with television networks, digital channels, Comcast’s various corporate business units, and Universal Parks & Resorts. Marc helped launch the Despicable Me franchise and enhance the Fast & Furious saga, among many landmark theatrical campaigns.
After using Tangent as a trusted vendor for several years, Marc left Universal and joined the Tangent team as CEO, where he oversees business operations and leads the charge for future business development.
Where did the idea for The Tangent Agency come from?
As an executive at Universal, I worked with nearly every agency under the sun. As the trend of franchise development and multiplatform execution continued to become increasingly important, I found it difficult to find an agency that could be both a creative partner as well as a thought partner. It wasn’t until I completed my MBA that I decided to partner with a small creative shop called Tangent Creative House that was doing incredible work. I joined as CEO to lead the charge for restructuring and scaling the business. At inception, we pulled together a diverse team of some of the best strategists, marketers, and creatives in the business. I continue to be inspired by them on a daily basis.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
When you’re running a company, you have to a wear a ton of hats. On a typical day, we’ll have a team check-in to talk about priorities followed by picking what music or movie we should put on in the background. From there, I’m usually joining calls with partners ensuring we’re clear on all their objectives and deliverables. In addition to the account management side of things, I’ll work with the team on brainstorms for ideation and review material before it’s sent out to the partners. Another big part of my day is usually working on business development whether it’s chatting with partners/collaborators or potential clients who could use our services. I’m also a big proponent of mentorship and sharing my experiences whenever possible, so I NEVER turn down an informational interview. It sounds very business school-esque, but now that we’ve hired a couple more members of the team, I’m looking forward to working more ON the business instead of IN the business, which will enable us to scale a little faster.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It’s truly a collaborative process. We pride ourselves on being an agency that “does our homework.” We’re constantly keeping our finger on the pulse and someone on the team is always sending around the latest debuts in tech, advertising and of course entertainment news. Although we aren’t a research agency, our strategy is insight-driven so step one in our process is to do a deep dive into whatever brand/IP we’re ideating around. We’ll use a combination of primary research from our clients (brand studies, exit polls, focus group research, etc.) along with our secondary research through database subscriptions and a full sweep on what’s publicly available. We have everyone on the team throw their ideas into the mix and will even bring in specialists whenever necessary. One of my favorite parts of the job is seeing the team collaborate to take an idea from inception to final deliverable to our partners.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The current trend in the entertainment landscape is franchise development. What’s exciting about this trend is that it fuels storytelling. Modern entertainment isn’t pigeonholed to one medium but rather is being consumed across multiple platforms including Film, TV, Experiential, Digital, VR, and beyond. As a marketing agency, we feel it is important to have the storytelling drive the story-selling and one of the best approaches for this is to bridge the gap between marketing and development. With our franchise development, story-world building, and mythology capabilities, Tangent is well poised to help lead the charge on this trend.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as a CEO?
Planning. Although I still consider myself a spontaneous person, when you’re running a business and have multiple priorities, projects, people, etc. all going at once, it’s essential to plan and stay organized. I’ve heard from several sources and read various studies that multi-tasking isn’t a real thing – I definitely disagree. Either way, if people plan and stay organized they’re able to juggle a good amount of tasks at once without fear of anything slipping through.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Buy Apple stock… I’m only half-kidding. I’ve been very fortunate to have some incredibly successful and experienced people champion me throughout my adult career and I never take that for granted. I’d tell my younger self to get a mentor earlier. I’ve had my own entrepreneurial ventures since I started selling ice cream on the beaches of Santa Monica at 14 and have had several setbacks, including losing $20k producing a concert tour in college at 20 years old! (story for another time). I’m proud of the mistakes I’ve made and they’ve helped shape who I am as a person and entrepreneur, but it’s also nice to learn from the mistakes/experiences of others.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Crocs are extremely comfortable and proper work attire at our agency.
As a CEO, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Give compliments and praise. Work can get pretty crazy at times when deadlines are approaching and fire drills are all happening at once. It’s important to acknowledge the hard work people put into the product they deliver and even the humblest people enjoy hearing their work is well received and appreciated.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Being real with our partners. Most of our business has come from word of mouth. A big part of this is we’ve developed a strong relationship and trust. Not only do we go above and beyond to over-deliver, but also we look to create a personal connection with our partners and always strive to be an extension of their team as a partner rather than having the traditional vendor/client relationship.
What is one failure you had as CEO, and how did you overcome it?
Not sure it’s a failure, but when we formed the agency, I was positive I’d 10x the company in a year. Although we’ve been growing at a great pace, it’s safe to say those numbers were a little ambitious! I’d say I overcame it by tempering my expectations and although I will always be ambitious and persistent, allowing the natural order of things to occur and not forcing anything.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I had an idea to do a gasoline delivery service during my MBA – essentially an Uber for gasoline. There have been a couple startups that have launched in the last couple years but I still think there’s huge potential for this overseas. I recently visited Colombia and the price of gas there is extremely high given the cost of living. I haven’t looked into the numbers (that’s for one of the readers to jump on) but I’d be curious to know the amount they spend on gas each year. Who knows, maybe I’ll do it. With entrepreneurship a big part of the game is execution.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A friend of mine is running for school board. It wasn’t a huge donation and time will tell if he’ll win, but it felt pretty cool to support someone I grew up with as he looks to help shape the education system in Southern California.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Outlook calendar. Sometimes people make fun of me that everything has to go in the calendar, but it helps me stay organized. In a city notorious for flakiness, my calendar prevents me from ever missing an appointment.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank. He’s a leading mind in entrepreneurship and I appreciate his approach to executing on your idea. His blog steveblank.com is also a good read and he’s constantly posting interesting information and resources.
What is your favorite quote?
“Nothing’s impossible, Mario. Improbable, unlikely, but never impossible.” It’s also special because it’s a diamond in the rough delivered by the talented John Leguizamo as Luigi from a not-so-successful Super Mario Bros. film adaptation from the 90’s. Is it cheating if I also use “Create your own luck”? Not sure the origin, but a huge fan of the concept.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.