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Contrarian Content Leadership Advice, Process is Overrated (?), and How to Grow Your Content Career with Benyamin Elias (Podia)

Contrarian Content Leadership Advice, Process is Overrated (?), and How to Grow Your Content Career with Benyamin Elias (Podia)

Proper leadership skills are pivotal in the growth of the company and the accomplishment of any set goals. While there are many leadership styles often highlighted on numerous web pages, few are backed by factual information and real-time data. 

This episode seeks to understand the underlying unconventional, yet proven leadership thoughts that can spearhead the growth of a company. Our guest today is Benyamin Elias, an experienced marketing professional with a passion for helping businesses grow and succeed. Currently serving as the Vice President of Marketing at Podia, a leading online platform for creators, Benyamin is responsible for overseeing the company’s marketing strategy and execution.

Benyamin’s expertise spans a range of marketing disciplines, including branding, content marketing, social media, email marketing, and digital advertising. He has a proven track record of success in developing and executing marketing campaigns that deliver results.

Throughout the episode, Benyamin shares invaluable leadership and marketing lessons that he has learned on his career journey. Some of the notable topics he discusses include choosing between processes and systems, how to do away with inappropriate systems, and implementing the proper psychology in management. 


  • Best Marketing Book for Everyone
  • Content Marketing Challenges
  • Involving the team in Accomplishing a specific project
  • The efficiency of a team Versus that of an Individual
  • The Psychology of Management
  • Are processes always necessary?
  • Process Vs System 
  • Setting the minimum viable process
  • Should quality supersede the meaning of the content?
  • Unlocking the unnecessary processes in the Company
  • Overrated and Underrated Marketing Career Growth Perspectives

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Key Takeaways:

[05:03] Best Marketing Book for Everyone

Read books that use real-time facts to make their arguments

“Oh, man, it’s so good. I have it on my shelf over there. It’s it’s here. So these like little horizontal red and blue ones. There’s how brands grow. And it’s how brands grow part two. And then there are a couple of other books that came out of the same Research Institute. And what is interesting about these books is that they really are looking at real numbers. This is really how marketing or markets work and how brands grow in markets. A lot of what we hear in marketing is perspective or philosophy or sometimes even moralizing about things like customer retention or trust or brand or all these types of things that are vague words that are hard to quantify that mean different things to different people. And what Byron sharp does is he looks at the last 70 years of marketing research and research on markets. And says actually, if you look at how markets behave and how brands operate in markets, there’s a relatively small number of things that have a real effect on growth or that correlate to growth. And it is counter to a lot of what what modern marketers talk about in a couple of specific ways. One is that Byron sharp is not a big fan of differentiation, relative to the general population of marketers, he does not say as sometimes he’s quoted as saying that it is not important at all. But he does say that you can’t really differentiate that much with just your marketing, you have to have product line differentiation, where you target different segments of a market with with your different products. And then when you are actually doing your marketing, you go for distinctiveness, you want to have distinctive assets, whether that be brand design, logo, fonts, tagline, those types of things that some of this is for, like huge companies like the Coca Cola of the world. But but you can still use the principles at a smaller scale, so that you are easy to recognize and easy to remember. And that you come to mind at the moment when someone is making a decision.”

[10:58] Content Marketing Challenge

Focus on the impact, not on the content alone

“And I think some of the challenge that I see in content marketing is that people get very attached to doing content, instead of what is the largest impact that I can have on the business. My tool might be content, so I might be using content as the hammer to hammer that nail. But people will get attached to the playbook. That is content marketing of this keyword research, or of mostly, honestly, keyword research, but sometimes customer stories and other stuff like that. Maybe being a media company or trying to be a publication. And it’s not about any of those things. It’s about in the context of the business that you find yourself in and the way that that business grows. How can you use content to grow more effectively, if you are a content marketer? If if you are not attached to me a content marketer, then it’s just how does this business grow most effectively? And sometimes the answer is content. And sometimes it’s not. And that’s the advice I give to people when they’re thinking about growing their careers also is, you will grow more in your career, if you run towards the heart important problem in the business, there are degrees to that there’s some problems that are too hard for an individual or are not appropriate for your expertise in the area. I know nothing about how to fix that. And, and I can’t run towards that problem. But it’s a powerful thing to be able to say I am focused on the most important growth lever of the business versus I made by traffic go up X percent.”

[15:02] Involving the team in Accomplishing a specific project

Ensure the team’s values and motivation is in line with the project’s goal

“Who on a team is going to come up with the big idea? That’s a question that I think about, because I would like to encourage my team to come up with these ideas. But often, people are incentivized by the work that they do daily, or the things that they are closest to. And as a result, they’re less likely to think across their different functions and across other members of the team or other departments to coordinate the complexity is something that really gets you to what you’re trying to accomplish. So when I think about, you know, the title of that is your team is wrong about what they can get done. And they are like, every time I bring up a big project like this less so recently, because we’ve done a few of them, and we’ve experienced it not being as painful as we thought. But when I bring up these things, the responses and I say this in the article swells nervously. Okay. But and why is that? Like why when you hear in the example that I used, we’re going to 5x our production of these free tools and templates in the next six weeks. Why is that terrifying? And it’s a few reasons. One is that people don’t focus on just the thing that you said, they think about all the other work that they do. Any really big project has 123 things that really have to go right for it to be successful. And you can do just those one to three things and do pretty well, if it’s the right project for you and for the business. But when you bring it to your team, they don’t focus on just the one to three things, they think about all the things that they would love to do, or how they would do it cool, or how they would do a cause, by the way grammar that I recommend using, how they will do a cool how they can bring in all the work that they like to do or that’s familiar to them, they tend to not let go of the other tasks that they’re doing, whether or not those tasks are the highest value tasks. And they also tend to not think of how the team overall can be accomplishing something together, we tend to think, Oh, that’s a huge project that will take me weeks, months years to do on my own, but you’re not doing it on their own. And it’s the manager’s job to recognize that and to coordinate their pieces are the team to some degree, or at least facilitate the coordination of the team to let them accomplish more than they could do individually. And the last piece of that is that they tend to not see process improvements that will happen. So when you actually start working on things, in this case, it was a production timeline, and those are relatively linear, which is helpful, you just get more efficient at them. And it’s not until you set out to do them at a scale that you have not done before that you are forcing yourself to become more effective at them.”

[20:46] Efficiency of a team Versus an Individual

Distribute the work amongst the team members for maximum efficiency

“When you set the the big goals. You give people the freedom To organize towards them, it’s really hard for someone in a team that is looking at their specific function to, to look across everything and come up with a big goal that makes sense that they feel comfortable, like advocating for. Because there are a lot of things that you can do. And you just have to decide. The manager is in a position where it’s easier for them to just decide or just advocate. And that makes it easier for their team to make other decisions, and hopefully, in the future come up with those big decisions also.”

[23:31] The Psychology of Management

Train people to be coming up with solutions to their questions

“And I’m you know, I’m a big psychology guys, my major that’s like, what half my books on my five bookshelves are is really something that I think about a lot when it comes to management. What are you training people to do? Like? How are you influencing their behavior unintentionally? In your interactions with them? Because if people come to you with questions, and you answer the questions every time you are training them to not think for themselves, you have to be careful, as I’ve done this poorly in the past, where people will come with questions, and I would not answer the questions and they will get angry at me, because why are you willing to ask, but you can overdo it. But at the same time, like, if someone asked me a question, I will almost always ask at least. How have you been thinking about this? So far? Like you have this question, some line of thought has led you to this question and I even to answer the question, well, I probably need to know what that line of thought is. And then we can have a conversation about that… If I’m the person who solves problems for my team, they’re not going to solve problems for themselves, I have to create a culture that everyone on the team solves problems. Otherwise, I have to do everything. And that sounds like a lot of hard work. In addition to not being the best thing for the company.”

[26:07] Are processes always necessary?

The applicability of the process is of less importance to the customer, focus on the results instead

“What’s a process accomplished? Like, what are you trying to accomplish when you implement a process? And I think that’s a really important question. Because if you really think about it, like, the first answer that people will give is, oh, we have this problem. And we want to avoid this problem, or I’m probably that’s the most common one, or, Oh, we want to make sure that we, you know, produce this thing in the way that it should be produced. But really, if you dig into that, the answer is, it is causing me distress that we don’t have a process for some reason, because I am having to chase down individual people, or I have to go try to get feedback on stuff. Or maybe something did go wrong. But then we have to think about what’s the appropriate way to address that, and something’s going wrong in the future. And that is not a good reason to make a process. And that’s sort of uncomfortable, because you know, I don’t want people to be having a bad time at work. And if things are on fire, I would prefer them to not be on fire. And we should figure out a way to have them not be on fire. But our customers don’t care if we are stressed about things. So I want to create an environment that’s not crazy stressful, and it’s not actually and I almost commented in the last one where we’re working on these huge projects, and they feel like less work than not doing them because of how well coordinated we are. But the customer doesn’t care or the end user doesn’t care, they care that the end result is really high quality. And that’s what we’re trying to build for. If a process helps with that, that’s great. And if, if the thing holding back, the result is our lack of coordination, then we should create a process for it. But almost never would I say create a process for something that you only done once. Absolutely never would I say create a process for something that you’ve never done. But that happens all the time. Because it will be wrong, it’s going to be the wrong process. If you haven’t tried to solve the problem in a non scalable way, you don’t know how to solve the problem yet, even if you have an idea of how it works.”

[29:56] Process Vs System 

“So think about systems much more than they think about processes. And a system is about understanding. This is pedantic in some sense to talk about what words mean. But when I think about systems, I think how are the different forces in an organization connected? How do they influence each other? And how can you coordinate those influences towards the objective that you want to build and assist to understand the system is thing that you don’t necessarily have to build, you build your understanding of the system, but the system exists, whether you build it or not. So you can understand how the system works and you can try to shape it towards the thing that you want to do. But if you’ve put in the work to understand how your company operates, how your market operates, your customer, your customers think you can test it once and see how it goes from there.”

[33:29] Setting the minimum viable process

Improve the team’s output by having a clear minimum viable standard instead of a long process

“Yeah, minimum viable processes. Exactly. I think about it. Also, sometimes I’ve talked about this, and people are like, Oh, he worships chaos. It’s like, No, I hate chaos the same way everyone else does. But maybe I see some things is chaos and some things is not chaos. We have processes for how we QA our emails, so that stuff doesn’t go out without the wrong links in it, right? Like that stuff that we have that that we send some emails that had the wrong links in them. And then we never made that mistake. Again. We have processes for how we communicate bugs to developers, right? Like this is things that you need processes for when they come up. But you don’t have to build those until they come up until you can build around them.”

[35:25] Should quality supersede the meaning of the content?

A little error does not erode the meaning of the content

“It’s funny because sometimes the people who are really good at adding the polish will focus on that, more than the thing that makes a piece successful. If you’re thinking about content. The big idea of the content is what makes it successful. I think in terms of a copywriter, because that’s some of my background, what’s the offer, you’re selling something always it can be an idea. The offer makes or breaks the copy. It’s like the offer on the market or the number one and two things. And everything else sort of doesn’t matter as much. And even if that stuff is perfect, you’re not going to overcome a bad offer in a bad market. The same thing applies to content if you have a great message for the person who needs to hear it.”

[36:50] Unlocking the unnecessary processes in the Company

The opinion of the team members is vital in unwinding unnecessary systems and processes in the company

“It is and what a what a hard situation to be in. I always ask this question of people on the team, I don’t want to talk to everyone on the team, I want to ask them. What should we be doing? If we could do anything? If you could wave a magic wand? What would you want us to do that we’re not doing? And some people will have an answer, like, Oh, I really wish we had better images or something, right? And then some people will be like, we should rethink our entire program from scratch. And if that sentiment is there, I want to work with that sentiment. So it exists if the process is bad somewhere, right? Like someone on the team has thought that before? Can you get them to trust you enough to actually get it out of them? That’s another question. But you want to understand where that sentiment exists and who has it and who is thinking that way. Because those are probably the people you want to build around. And then as much as possible, you want to give them the freedom to work on some version of the thing that they talked about, or something that is conceptually similar. If they give an example that you don’t think is right for the business, but it’s like big and, and interesting and targeting, targeting the I should really work with a specific example would be a lot better. They want to put together some like huge campaign, some ebook. And you’re like, Well, I don’t think we need to do an e book. But But really, what I’m hearing from them is that they want to work on something big, that’s not constrained to week to week Production, or they want to have a big launch for something they want to get other people involved in other teams, if I can create a project that has those elements that I think is a better fit for the business and have them work on it, they’re still going to be excited about it. And that’s how I do think about it, people will gravitate towards a big idea or a big win in a way that they will not gravitate towards an incremental improvement. The incremental improvement is important. But you can’t sell an incremental improvement in the same way most of the time. So you have to sell the big win the big project and use it to drive the incremental improvement.”

[1:00:12] Overrated and Underrated Marketing Career Growth Perspectives 

Always focus on growing your craft and solving the most important problem

“Oh, wow. I mean, most of it is overrated almost by definition. If if I’m going to say this is how you grow your career and content marketing, I think it’s going to be two things and it’s going to be get really really good at content marketing and I have some takes on what that means. And and then it’s stop thinking about content marketing, are the two steps in order to get really really good at content marketing. The thing that is so powerful about content is that you can own the message you can be the person that communicates the most important things about the business or the product to the customer, you can be someone who understands what people really need. And if you are getting reps at making things incredibly compelling I just gave this advice to someone the other day if you’re looking at content you gotta think headline intro subhead, first line line of the, the each section, like you got to pull people through the page, you got to be thinking about curiosity loops, you got to be thinking about scanners. You have to think about from a cop, like if you pull in some copywriting, you got to think about agitation, right? You got to really poke the bear pulling customer language. If you can do those things. You’re going to be able to create things that people read, and also great things people search for. It’s useful to have that skill set also.”

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Alex Birkett

Alex is a co-founder of Omniscient Digital. He loves experimentation, building things, and adventurous sports (scuba diving, skiing, and jiu jitsu primarily). He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog Biscuit.