Ran Blayer

Co-Founder of Percepto

Ran Blayer is an online communications architect, go-to digital strategist, and problem solver for a diverse global client list of companies, brands, and high-profile executives. He has 15 years of experience in digital marketing and online reputation management. Over the years he has developed digital strategies for many multinational companies and high-profile clients.

Ran is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Percepto, which offers strategic online communications services to corporate and private clients worldwide.

Before Percepto, Ran worked at Seperia, which specializes in performance driven digital marketing solutions. He began as a Business Development Manager and within a couple of years became Vice President of Sales and Business Development. In 2012, after seven years withSeperia, he left to lead Percepto.

During his tenure, Percepto has broadened the scope of its activity and refined its services, developed lucrative partnerships with PR & communications agencies in multiple countries, and successfully served a wide variety of clients around the world.

Ran received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications from Haifa University. He went on to study Conflict Management and Resolution at Tel Aviv University’s International Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation, where he received his master’s degree and certification as a mediator.

Where did the idea for Percepto come from?

Percepto as it is today helps people and companies develop a strong web presence and effectively deliver their message online. The idea for it didn’t come at once, though. It evolved as we grew and became more familiar with our clients. Percepto is the result of listening to our clients’ needs and constantly monitoring and learning the ever-growing and ever-developing ecosystem in which we work.

We started off as a product & service company that aimed to help businesspeople strengthen their online presence by offering them a digital asset that ranks well on Google for their name-search. This asset was a one-pager website that presented the clients’ professional bio. Over time, we realized that while competition was increasing on the product front (LinkedIn, About.Me, and more), we were gaining and providing unique expertise on the service front. The need for this expertise was becoming greater as Google became smarter and more sophisticated.

So, we moved solely into online reputation management. We specialized in helping companies and high-profile individuals worldwide drastically improve the way they are presented on Google in a way that is organic and appears natural. As time passed, we realized that in order to reach this goal, we actually do a lot more than that. We develop coherent narratives and present them across multiple online platforms. After all, your audiences don’t stop at Google—they look you up on social media, read articles about you, etc.

Bringing our experience in the development of cross-platform narratives to the forefront, we became a company that offers digital communications and online storytelling services. We use a wide variety of online tools and strategies to effectively deliver our clients’ message and promote their narratives.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I get up at 6AM to get the kids ready for school.

On a good day, I’ll go out for a morning jog around the Kibbutz I live in. I’ve noticed that the physical activity really improves my productivity throughout the rest of the day.

I catch the 8:00 AM train to Tel Aviv. The train ride is 45 minutes long and it’s a great opportunity to catch up on my emails, read professional articles, and listen to podcasts. I’ll usually turn to the Spin Sucks blog/podcast for communications, PR leadership, and management insights. I also look to PR Week for industry news, opinions, and analyses as well as Backlinko for SEO-related insights.

At the office I make sure to allocate adequate time slots for team meetings, client meetings, and alone time, which I use to advance important tasks and projects that are on my to-do list. It’s sometimes a bit of a juggling act, but I usually manage to reach the right balance.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The best ideas come to me outside of work, while running, commuting, or listening to entrepreneurs from different fields and sectors. I enjoy examining ideas that seemingly have nothing to do with digital communications and thinking about how we could apply them to our work at Percepto.

Once an idea is formulated in my mind, I do my best to document it, even if it’s very basic or if I’m not sure how good it is. So, I’ll jot down a note on my phone or send myself a recorded message, just a few words to remind me to continue examining the initial thought I had.

The next steps depend on the type of idea. If it has to do with our office, team, or services in general, I’ll share them with relevant team members and let them run with it. Usually, I’ll work with them on a timeline just to make sure things happen.

Some other ideas I’ll just keep in the back of my head and present them to the team in the relevant context. For example, if I think of a certain tool or methodology, I’ll suggest it when it could make sense for a certain client.

I find that it’s best to develop ideas on the ground, in action. However, many of the ideas we develop and eventually incorporate in our work don’t actually come from me. They come from the team. I make a point of fostering an atmosphere of boldness, creativity, curiosity, and innovation. We do quite a lot of brainstorming and peer learning. These are important ingredients for excellence.

What’s one trend that excites you?

There’s nothing like a good story. Just like magic—when it works, it works, even after you figure out the trick.

Online storytelling is a fascinating trend to follow. It’s exciting to see stories of companies, people, and events unfold over multiple platforms using different tools and techniques. Online storytelling is unique because it is inevitably collaborative and interactive. The audience and storytellers meet, mix, and sometimes switch places.

It’s interesting to see brands train themselves in online storytelling and gradually diversify the methods they use to show the world who they are and what they do. A good online story is clear but layered and told from multiple perspectives, using a rich media mixture. You know a story is good when you’re drawn in, when your fingers click on links and type in search queries, when you’re moved and feel close to the subject, when you feel part of a conversation and are seen by the storyteller, when you remember the story, the experience, and the main character (i.e. the person/brand).

It’s even more interesting to help people and brands tell their story. The whole process is exciting, starting from helping the client find their message and voice, through learning the audience and developing the storyline, to translating all that into a natural, diverse, and captivating implementation strategy. Monitoring, iterating, and growing the story is no less interesting of course (if not more).

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

In addition to sports, which clearly boost my energy and motivation, I find lists essential to my productivity. It took me a while to find the type of list that works best for me. I tried many apps and techniques, but eventually I found that a simple excel sheet with three columns (one for the tasks, another for their level of importance, and the other for their status) works best for me (as long as I remember to update it daily).

What advice would you give your younger self?

a. Focus on people. Learn to identify good people, and when you find them, invest in them.

b. Don’t be afraid to let people go. You know when a work relationship is working and when it isn’t. Trust your instinct and act on it bravely and respectfully. Firing people is uncomfortable, but in most cases letting it drag on is worse both for the company and for the employee.

c. Remember that everything is temporary, both the good times and the bad times.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

In our line of work, we see time and again that the truth is often layered and complicated, and it almost always has more than one side to it.

Another thing we often see is just how big the gap often is between the truth and reality. The truth won’t necessarily prevail if it isn’t told well. Good stories have power.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I’m not the most organized person out there. Creating and maintaining order is an ongoing battle, but it is a worthwhile one. I remind myself time and again to follow my to-do list and work with efficient client management systems.

These tools don’t come naturally to me, but they help me make sure that everything is moving forward as planned and that no one and nothing are being left behind.

Over the years, I discovered three things:
a. It’s good to stick with one system for a while. It can take time to get used to it and understand how to make the best of it.

b. It’s important to try new systems every now and again. You just may find that someone has developed a tool that better fits your work process than your current system.

c. Time/project/client management tools can teach you new things about yourself and your business. It’s a kind of dialogue. On the one hand, the system has to suit your needs. On the other hand, by presenting steps or elements that are new to you and your company, it may help you look at your internal processes with a fresh pair of eyes and improve.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Get out of the office as often as possible. Meet and connect with as many people as you can. Tell them about your services/solutions. Show real and authentic interest in them and in their business. Be helpful.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I would say my biggest failure is trying to do everything myself. Over the years, I have developed better management skills and learned how to build a powerful team and trust it.

For example, at first, I used to do all of Percepto’s business development. And I did a good job of it—I brought in clients and grew the company, but as a result, I neglected other aspects of my job as CEO. Once I built and trained a business development team, I had more time to invest in strategy, marketing, HR, and services. Our biz dev improved as well.

It wasn’t easy and it’s an ongoing effort, but it’s an important one. I learned that good leadership depends on the ability to delegate. One must find the right people, train them well, and then let go of the reins a bit.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Wouldn’t it be great to have an automated note-taker that could write down meeting protocols, summarize them, send to participants, and update everyone’s calendars and to-do lists with the tasks and deadlines that came up in the meeting?

I’d definitely buy such a product for our company. It would make meetings even more productive and allow all participants to be fully present without having to focus on documentation. Plus, it would help us make sure no tasks fall between the cracks.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently bought a new pair of running shoes. I’d been running with the same pair for two years and they’d almost completely lost their shock absorbance. The new pair feels so much more comfortable and healthier. They’ve made a huge difference both to my motivation and to my running experience.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I really enjoy using the PipeDrive CRM to manage our partnership and sales processes. It’s super intuitive and integrates well with other systems. It also supports/enables automation of routine everyday processes.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a classic. It’s a great reminder to every entrepreneur to ditch perfectionism and embrace failure, ask questions, measure what matters, and focus on your audiences.

What is your favorite quote?

“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk

Key Learnings:

· Online branding and image-building are dynamic and interactive forms of storytelling. Good online storytelling is collaborative, and uses a rich media mixture to tell a layered yet clear story from multiple perspectives.

· Good management is about building and nurturing a team you trust, and learning how to delegate effectively.

· The key to successful business development is authentic networking. Get out of the office, meet people, show real interest in them, and lend a hand whenever you can.

· Productivity tools should reduce effort and help streamline existing internal processes. On the other hand, they can also help you take a fresh look at the way you work, and rethink procedures.

· The truth is rarely black and white. It is complicated and must be delivered well in order to prevail.