In this edition of More than a Bio, we get to talk to Mr. Naples who offers another perspective of what we accomplish here at IC. We also talk about why he’s been getting less sleep these days. I’ll let him explain.
So Mr. Naples. You are the first person we’re talking to that does what you do, so first thing’s first. What is your role here at Intuitive Company?
Well, I’m the only one that really does what I do here…
[Laughs] I’m a Relationship Strategist, which does not mean I can help single people with their dating…
But it means I handle all new business relationships and in addition to that, giving our team and our work a voice. What I mean by that is I liaise with the marketing, PR efforts, outreach of all sorts, and award submissions… So I’m kind of that interface with the outside world as it relates to business and press and marketing around Intuitive Company. A large majority of my role, I would say 85-90% of it, is really driving new business potential and opportunities for new partnerships.
On a typical day, what do you do? From an outsider’s perspective, they can possibly boil it down to something as simple as “sales,” but it’s not. What is your process like because I’m sure you have 15 plates spinning at once?
Yeah, and that’s really what it is. That’s where the strategy part of my role is key. We have a niche in the financial services and banking vertical, however we also work with and can work with any type of company. So the challenge becomes, how do we get in front of those decision makers to talk about our service, to see whether or not they need a firm like ours because we bring a lot of value in our various types of engagements. Typically, our relationship starts with an initial engagement from your team [Research], to show our value because we have smart people who understand what it takes to have a user-centered and smart design. You know, for some reason the banking industry thought if you have a website, “if you build it, they will come” kind of thing, where it’s evolved in a big way. So, from the strategy perspective it’s a drive that we, I say we because it’s me, Tim, and the partners, have to get in front of those people, talk about our story, show our work, and continue to cultivate a relationship to a point where they make a decision to partner with us. Saying that I have a lot of different plates spinning at different stages of progress to become a partner is very true, because it takes time. Sometimes I’m reaching out and it only leads to now they know about a firm like ours. Maybe they never even knew a firm like ours existed. To then be, “I know about firms like yours, now I know a little bit about Intuitive Company, specifically.” Then, “well, I’m not the right person to talk to, let me find you the right person.” Then you finally find the right person, but “we don’t have it in the budget right now,” So, yeah. You’re right. There is a very long continuum and managing those touch points in a way that’s not annoying to the potential customer, but also that’s persistent enough with emotional understanding of the receiver to make sure it’s being heard correctly.
Yeah, we don’t sell or market a cookie-cutter product. It’s not the same message to every single person…
So, getting that message across, it’s different for every single client or potential partner.
Right, and not calling their baby ugly, too. Trying to get in front of them and saying, “I did some research and your website sucks ass. You need a firm like ours…”
“This is garbage. I mean, I can fix it. But it’s garbage.”
[Laughs] [Laughs] Yeah. You know one of the cool things I do is leveraging some of my past connections. I’m a firm believer that you never burn bridges because you never know where an interaction can lead. And you get what you give, too. So you help somebody else out with introducing someone with a business need or personal need, go back to them and see if, “Hey, do you know some people who can benefit from a firm like ours?” Our team here is so amazing and comes from so many different backgrounds and I see that having a niche in one industry can drain a creative team. So, one of the things that excites me is when I make inroads with a completely different, cool company that can really stretch the team creatively… you see their [designers] faces when we talk about, “hey we could be working with such and such company,” just to see the creative vibe increase.
Yeah, that idea trickles down to Research, too. As much as we love what we do and we’re getting better at it, it’s really exciting when we get a different type of program or application. There’s an exciting, new challenge on the field… so get some more of those.
Yeah, I’m working on it. A lot of good stuff… in my little over a year now here, I personally needed to gain some traction because I’m new to the technology industry. So really learning and getting my head around, “okay this is what we do, now how do I communicate what we do into a value proposition to address a client need and who are the people I can talk to?” We attended and presented the whole NetFinance experience, and knowledge learned there, and finally understanding that we were in front of the right people and that there really is a need. That experience really justified what we do and confirmed that we can bring value to a lot of potential partners. Now I have to research whether there are other industries out there that are slow to adopt a user-centered design philosophy. That’s my drive. How do you find that and how do you get in front of those people? You have to be persistent and you have to be a positive person because we get a lot of “no’s” too. It could be “no for now” or it could be “no, not ever.”
Being able to speak to the client on behalf of the user or vice versa and have it all mesh can be an incredibly difficult message to relay, especially if they recently reworked their site. So now it’s nicer, but none of the actual issues that impede people from using it correctly have been addressed. So, being able to get that message across without stepping on toes or telling them that their “baby is ugly,” as you put it, is probably not the easiest thing in the world. Much respect.
Well, thank you.
So, what else is going on with you?
Well, we just had another baby.
That’s like your eighth kid, right?
No. Third. Third and final, in my opinion. Yes.
Are you and Tim racing [An army of four children]?
No. I concede. He’s the winner [Laughs]. I was on the flip side growing up. I was one of four, came from a larger family. Your parents become a lot smarter once you have several kids and you understand once you are a parent how hard it must have been for them. I have a ton of respect and understanding now of what my parents were able to pull off. You finally understand the full complexity of that. So, my wife and I just had a baby boy, Grayson, and are just so happy to complete our family unit with a four-year-old girl, almost two-year-old boy, and now Grayson. Seeing the dynamics is pretty cool, but the lack of sleep and…
I was going to say, you aren’t a sleeper much, are you.
Yeah, going back to that is challenging, but understanding that it has an end and it’s only temporary.
So, with a 4-year difference between the youngest and the oldest, I’m trying to think, at what point can the oldest babysit the youngest. 12-13? Is it a big enough age gap?
Yeah, that’s the thing…
Maybe when she’s 16 and the others are 14 and 12, she can watch them while you two go on a date.
I hope it’s not that far away. [Laughs] Yeah, but she’s been great [oldest girl]. She really is the queen bee of the family.
I’ve met her, I believe it.
[Laughs] Yeah! It’s been cool.
Any final thoughts about your work/life balance or not having time to sleep you wanted to share?
Yeah, I guess if you were to sum up me as an individual, I guess it is that strive for balance. It goes back to being a Libra, I guess, but I really need that balance or else I start to feel overwhelmed. I think working here has really just been a perfect fit because I’m challenged in what I do and constantly amazed by the things we do, the people that work here, and even the partnerships we make with new clients. But also there’s an appreciation of everybody and an appreciation of making sure that we all have that balance. I think the understanding is that you want to still be able to function and be creative and that translates into your family, interests, and hobbies as well. It all feeds back into what we do here and being good at that. You need to be able to be observant and to understand that things change, for the good and for the bad, because I think that’s really what we’re doing at our core. Bringing the good and understanding the bad to make things better, in a digital perspective for our clients and being able to completely find new things, instill new ideas, to keep pushing the envelope along the way. I think everybody takes part in that here. So still being able to have energy when you go home is very important because it drives what happens here at work. It’s just been great. Even my wife said [compared to my old job], “you are excited to get to work and when you come home, you’re still excited.” So that’s a good thing.
Very well said, sir. That’s awesome. Also, congratulations. We’re all very happy for you and the latest Naples!