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Marketing Maven Ryan Alford: ‘The Questions An interviewee Asks You Reveal More Than Any Answer’

In this edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, marketing guru and ace podcaster Ryan Alford discusses the entrepreneurial qualities he cultivates among his teammates, starting in their first job interview.

The next time you find yourself interviewing somebody for a position at your company, follow Ryan Alford’s advice: look for candidates who show strong evidence of having done their homework and arrive prepared to show you more than their record of accomplishment. Yes, their experience and skills count, but they are probably not as important as another trait: their curiosity.

“I can sense whether or not people have the mindset to be successful in our consulting firm and what it takes,” noted Alford. “It takes a very entrepreneurial spirit. It takes a very driven person. But I actually learn more about people by the questions they ask than the questions I ask them. It shows how much research they’ve done, how much interest they have, and how much curiosity they have.”

As a boy growing up tall in South Carolina, Ryan Alford developed plenty of drive going toe-to-toe with another intense basketball player, young Kevin Garnett, and even played briefly on the same AAU team as the now NBA Hall of Famer. After graduating from Eastside High School, Alford went to college at Clemson, not to pursue basketball but rather business. From there, he worked as a “Mad Man” in New York before returning to South Carolina to join Erwin Penland, a South Carolina ad agency. Before he was through there, Alford would be part of a team that built a $50 million advertising account with Verizon Wireless, including the launch of the iPhone, beating out several big Manhattan agencies in the process.

Today, he runs his own marketing consultancy, where he cultivates the kind of “radical” thinking needed to provide world-class services to clients. “I’m always looking for challenging questions,” he explained. “We create space for people to feel comfortable asking hard questions. And if you don’t create that space, you aren’t allowing for that kind of natural curiosity and interest to take place. Your team needs to know that asking a hard question is in no way going to be career limiting.”

If you are a business leader interested in maximizing your team’s creativity, this podcast is for you, offering insights that include:

3:00   Ryan’s experience playing basketball with Kevin Garnett.

5:00   Why talent alone is not enough to be great.

10:00  The power of an underdog.

17:00  Do not shy away from sharing a “bad idea.”

22:00  How to develop your personal brand.

25:00  The radical formula for building Great marketing campaigns.

23:30  Why silos are death for team spirit.

24:45  How to break down the sales vs. service silo.

28:00  How to establish a clear vision.

In addition to running his business, Alford is the host of his “Radcast” podcast, which earned kudos as one of the top marketing podcasts in the U.S. According to Alford, the weekly podcast offers a forum where listeners can hear “influential marketers and entrepreneurs across the U.S.” produce business insights all in Alford’s preferred “boundary-crossing,” radical way.

Why not build your own creative capacity and that of your team by enjoying this great conversation between two podcasters, all for the price of, well, none?

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive and subscribe to new episodes.


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