Jodi Daniels is a Certified Informational Privacy Professional with more than 20 years of experience helping a range of businesses from solopreneurs to multi-national companies in privacy, marketing, strategy, and finance roles. During her corporate career, she proved a valuable asset to companies like Deloitte, The Home Depot, Cox Enterprises, and Bank of America where she most recently served as the privacy partner for Digital Banking and Digital Marketing. Jodi started her privacy career by creating the comprehensive privacy program at Cox Automotive. She launched an online advertising network for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book.
Since launching in 2017, Red Clover Advisors has helped hundreds of companies create privacy programs, achieve GDPR compliance, and establish a secure online data strategy their customers can count on. Jodi makes privacy easy to understand by breaking it down into measurable steps using plain language her clients can relate to. She passionately supports the idea that privacy is more than just compliance and concern over fines. It's a human right we all deserve. She has made it her mission to help businesses build trust and transparency with this core value at its foundation. Jodi holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, two little girls, and a big fluffy dog named Basil.
Shantel: Hey Jodi, welcome to the show.
Jodi: Well hello, thank you for having me. Really excited to be here.
| PUT THE CUSTOMER AT THE CENTER |
Shantel: Of course. We're excited to chat, and I'm certainly eager to learn more about privacy, and ethics, and trust, and what is a day to day in your world look like. To dive in, let's just start by, do you mind sharing a little bit about your company, Red Clover Advisors, and what you guys do?
Jodi: Absolutely. Red Clover Advisors is a boutique data privacy consultancy. We help small businesses, all the way to big, large, multi-nationals. We really focus on helping companies get compliant with the various privacy laws, like GDPR, the new EU privacy law that's causing all those cookie banners to appear on everyone's page. With, US privacy laws, and the more that keep coming around the globe. But, we do it from really looking at the customer, and building a strong, trust based relationship. And, not just the check the box activity to be compliant with the laws. We're really all about making sure yes, you're compliant. But, that your marketing is coming from that sense of trust, and building a really strong relationship with the customer.
Shantel: That's amazing. Can we dive a little deeper into, how do you do that? I mean, I imagine you're going in and consulting, and talking to these businesses on best practices. Then, how do you layer on that second piece of, like that trust element that you mentioned?
Jodi: Sure. A lot of the projects start with an assessment. Let's take GDPR as an example. A company might not know what it needs to be doing. We would provide a base level assessment. These are the, let's just say 15 things that you need to be doing, and out of that will come a report that says, "You're doing all of them great. Or, you got 12 to fix." Then we'll start working on the ones that we need to be addressing. When we're thinking through the remediation, or someone will ask us, "Well, how can we market to somebody?" Or, "Can we use this type of cookie on the site?" Or, "We want to create this type of targeting campaign." We have the conversation to figure out A, does that work, can you do it under the law? And then, I like to say if you can do it, it doesn't mean you should. You still have to look at what does the customer expect, so really in any of the remediation that we're doing, or in any of the planning to get a company ready, or compliant. We're always taking it from, what would the customer expect? It's that balance of what does the company need, because we are all are here in business to service. But, ultimately we want our customers to be loyal and happy, and so we bridge those two pieces together by always putting the customer at the center of the conversation.
Shantel: Do you feel like ... I mean, I love that you put an emphasis on that. Are there competitors of yours that don't focus on that? I guess, kind of two prong question to that 'cause with the thoughts, are there some businesses that just don't align with your thought process and methodology, and your level of kind of that ethics conversation that sometimes you're like, "You're probably not a good fit because you're just trying to check some of those boxes, here's someone else that ..." You know? Do you ever kind of bump heads with some of the customers you have if they don't necessarily agree with ... You know, they want to just use as much data as they can?
Jodi: Yes, so I have had some of those situations. There was one particular company that was collecting some pretty sensitive data. In doing so, it didn't offer the customer any choices. You sort of filled out a profile, and in doing so, let's just say you had four choices available. The customer might not wanted to have chosen one of those four. Maybe it needed a, I don't want to answer that. But, the company didn't like that answer, and so it just kind of marched forward, collecting some pretty sensitive data. My thought on that is, you're actually collecting bad data. Ultimately, all the metrics and everything that you're doing in your own business, isn't going to be as meaningful because if I'm the customer and I don't like my options, I'm just going to pick one. I didn't necessarily pick the right one. That's one example where its come up. A couple other times, especially on the email side. Everyone wants to email to the max. Under GDPR as an example, you really have to look at, are you a B to B, are you a B to C, and really review the laws, and the rules. It actually is a little bit complicated, we won't go too deep here. But, GDPR is actually one component. There's a marketing law called the, "E Privacy Directive." When you put those two pieces together, that's actually what marketers have to be looking at when they can ask the question, "Can I or can't I email or drop a cookie?" When you start looking at your databases and deciding who can I send this campaign to, who can I put into CRM, you really have to understand what you're sending to whom, what's it about, how long do you have these people. Again, it's always about the customer. There's not a finite rule. As an example, some people will say, "Well I want to use my database from five years ago." There's not necessarily a rule that says it has to be one year, two years, six months, three months. There's some suggested guidance, but you really want to look at what does the customer expect? If I haven't bought anything from you in four years, should I really be sending you an email? Even if I technically could.
Jodi: Those are the types of questions that I look at. I think in terms of your question, do other people look at it the same way? I think there's a lot of firms that are very much just the check the box. Here's what you need to do, go do it. I really try and take the approach of, here's what you need to do, and let's make sure it's best for your business. Let's improve your operations, and let's make sure it's going to be a good experience for the customer.
Shantel: ... Well, I appreciate you diving into that a little bit more. I think that's certainly a differentiator from some of those other agencies that you mentioned. How did you get into privacy, and this sort of field? What's the background?
Jodi: Yeah, so about 10 years ago I was at AutoTrader.com, and I helped create and launch a behaviorally targeted ad network, so I stalked everyone listening for cars. Some people think that, that's creepy. The online advertising industry basically came up with self regulation, to try and prevent the government from having privacy regulations. It's kind of interesting to see where we are 10 years later. But, that was my entry into privacy. I ensured our compliance at AutoTrader.com, and at the same time KellyBlueBook.com, and a couple other of the Cox brands. Then, created a full-time privacy program from there. That was my entry into privacy, stalking cars.
Shantel: Nice. What made you take the leap to starting your own firm?
Jodi: I had a hop in between. I was at Cox, and I built that program for several years. Then I went over to Bank of America, and was the privacy lead for digital products. Then, I made the hop into entrepreneurship and it was just, I think I always knew that's where I wanted to go. It was a matter of time, and just being ready. I felt like I had the experience that I really needed, and I had the confidence to do it. Then, it turned out my timing was really well done with GDPR, kind of coming into the horizon, and US companies really paying closer attention to it. I made the hop last summer, in 2017.
Shantel: Congratulations. That's so exciting.
Jodi: Thank you.
Shantel: How have you been attracting clients? Were you able to take any from previous roles and convert them to new clients, or how does that work?
| OLD FASHIONED NETWORKING |
Jodi: I did not take any clients from any previous roles. I did it more the cold turkey routes, where old fashioned networking of working with people, or informing people rather who I had worked with time ago and saying, "Hey, I'm out on my own. I'm available, this is what I'm capable of." And, just a lot of old-fashioned networking. I also did a fair amount of speaking. I love public speaking, I love the opportunity to share the message of why privacy is important. Thank you for having me on here, sort of the same idea. A lot of speaking, I did some writing, I did some blog posts, I've done a variety of webinars, and just really trying to educate on what privacy is, why companies should care, and then I've been fortunate that people will remember me, and then I've done work for them.
Shantel: That's really exciting, and I love to hear leveraging so much of the digital marketing pieces. You did lead with networking as a big piece, but then everything else almost kind of stemmed from being online, and being a thought leader in the space, which I think is really fascinating. Is there anything you wish you knew when you first got started? I know it's been, you're about a year in now. How are you feeling, and what is maybe the biggest lesson that you've learned so far?
Jodi: Yes. You know what, it's funny I'm going to say this because I'm such a process oriented person. If anyone listening really knows me, they would know, oh my gosh, you're such a detail oriented, completely organized, process driven person. But yet, I kind of dove two feet in, and didn't necessarily set up all the processes right away. I'm now going back and doing that. Like, what's a good project management tool to use? And, really getting a good cadence on the accounting, and all of those types of things. Anyone who's going to jump in, it's not as exciting as getting the work, and starting in on it. But, it's really important, and it's so much easier, and I preach this in my own business of ... Right? Build privacy by design, and do it at the beginning 'cause it's so much easier, same thing in business. Tactically build your systems in advance, so that you can scale and grow. Yes, that would probably be my biggest one.
Shantel: Well, I'm playing devil's advocate here, but do you think that you would have known that perfect process or system when you first started? Or, you kind of did have to fly by the seat of your pants to figure out what that client needed, and how you were going to structure it? Or, has it kind of stayed the same, and you just didn't have it written down?
Jodi: I think it's probably a combination. I didn't do a good job of writing it all down. I was so focused on client delivery, and client leads, that I just kind of always put the boring back office stuff in the back, I think 'cause it just wasn't as exciting. I think you, any entrepreneur, just like any sized business, has to be nimble, and has to be agile to be able to change and adapt. It would have been great had I set up, for example, a Trello board, and so I could have just continued to repeat, and maybe even made my life easier having done that with my clients. Here's everything that we're going to be doing, and the expectations would be super clear. Because I didn't do it, I wasn't as formal that way, because I was so focused on just, here's what we're going to be doing, I want to make sure I get you what you need to be in this time period. Also, I think because so many companies were calling me last minute, trying to get everything all ready by the May 25th GDPR deadline that we just had. We were very focused of that, versus some of the other items.
Shantel: No, that's certainly fair. Thinking of that recent deadline, do you anticipate there to be some seasonality, and some ... These like big deadlines that keep coming, that help shape your business and cashflow. Or, have you kind of figured out a good retainer model ongoing to stabilize some of that?
Jodi: It's a great question. I think for companies ... I think there was a massive rush for anyone doing business in the EU. Of those companies, I put them in a couple different buckets. I think there's the people who did nothing and still need to. I think you're going to see a rush of companies, they're kind of waiting for what kinds of fines are going to come, are their customers really going to demand that they pay attention to this law? I think there will be a new wave, 'cause the fines are coming, it just takes a while for all those regulatory bodies to process them. Then, I think you had people who did a little bit, and I call it window dressing. They did the privacy notice and the cookie banner, but they didn't do anything internally. Those companies I think also are going to have some extra work to do. All of that would be kind of new business. Then of course, you have companies that are US now, but they're going to start expanding, and so they'll have to figure out what does it mean to them to comply. Then, you have the ongoing maintenance piece. That's sort of my other bucket, where I feel like a lot of companies, maybe they did do all the assessment work, and they've identified any changes that needed to be made. But, they didn't think about, how do I do this on an ongoing basis? Because, it's really not just a check the box activity, not a one and done. But, really how do I make sure that every time I have a new vendor, I update all the documentation that I worked so hard on back in the spring? Or, every time I want to create a new app or a new website page, how do I make sure that I'm thinking about the privacy notice that I have, and all the personal data I'm collecting? All of that is a maintenance piece, so part of the model that I'm looking towards is helping companies design that process, and then also a bit of an audit check to identify here's what you said what you were going to be doing, how is that going? And, to help companies, and give them some assurance that all their GDPR plans, and soon to be US privacy plans, are a check.
Shantel: That's really exciting. Yeah, so definitely seems like exciting waves of new business opportunities. It's something that kind of resonated with me. When we started the company almost six years ago now, social media, everyone knew they needed to be doing it, but a lot of people hadn't jumped on this new marketing piece. I think it's similar to your business and you're the front leader, and a thought leader in this space. Everyone is now starting to hear about it, understand it, know they need to do it. And, they're just starting to jump on board. I'm so excited to see where you grow, and continue to head. On that note, where do you see your business going?
Jodi: Yes. Well first, GDPR and the concept of it is kind of sweeping the globe. We started in the EU, but it is expanding. Especially to anyone listening who didn't do it because they thought that they don't ... They're not in the EU. It's gone to Brazil, it's coming to China and India, and Argentina. Canada's looking at it, and the US is now also starting to have some privacy laws, and a lot of heated discussion on a broader privacy law. I think the future of my business is to keep helping people on GDPR. I think that's just still going to be a couple years of, before it's even remotely mature. Especially as people start understanding what does it mean, and we start sort of seeing some cases, and there's kind of like ... I hate to use the fancy word precedent, but that's an important word to really get a sense of what kind of consent does that cookie banner really need to look like? Because, if you go out there today, you'll see three different versions. Each of those companies thinks it's right. We'll get a good sense, so I think GDPR will be there for a little while. I think helping companies with all the new US privacy laws. There's a big one in California that is effective in 14 months, and there's more to come. Many other states are following suit. I think you'll start to see that. And, I'm really hopeful that we'll start to see the smaller and mid companies realize that they need to have more of a kind of privacy as a service. I think it'll be a little while till they probably start hiring full-time privacy people, like the larger companies are. But, that they're going to need some ongoing privacy services, and that's a big piece of what I'm looking to be able to do is provide that fractional privacy as a service piece to the small, medium market.
Shantel: Exciting. Do you hope to bring on new teammates, and hire people to help support you? Or, do you love working independently?
| MARCHING FORWARD|
Jodi: I absolutely want to grow the team. I've been fortunate along the way, that I've worked with some contractors and freelancers. I want to grow, I want to scale. I want to stay as a boutique consultancy, but I absolutely want to grow, and be able to really serve more clients. I love the small, medium space. People always ask me, "What size is that?" It's hard to say, 'cause it's really all about the kind of personal data that you have, and less about number of employees and revenue. 'Cause, a teeny tiny startup could have more personal data than a really big company. But, I absolutely want to grow, and I'm excited about marching forward to do that in 2019.
Shantel: Do you anticipate still being one of the leader consultants, or managing the team that will be consulting on your behalf?
Jodi: I think I want to still be one of the lead consultants. I really enjoy working through some of the big problems that clients have, and what should I be doing with this data, and what can I be doing? Here's this great new amazing technology, and way to analyze data and I want to be part of that conversation. Data is king. There's so much data out there today. There's the ability to use it, we just have to do it from a privacy mindset. I absolutely don't advocate that you have data, you can't use it. It's just about trying to use it smartly.
Shantel: Mm-hmm. Well that's exciting that you're interested in growing the team. I mean, thinking of all the hats that you're wearing right now, what is maybe the first one that you're thrilled and so pumped to pass off in a new teammate?
Jodi: Probably policies. I don't love writing policies.
Jodi: I actually do have someone really awesome at writing policies whose been helping me. That has been amazing to be able to have some help with. Yes, that one. Super important, and I review every single one that we have, and before we send it out the door. But, I don't love doing that part.
Shantel: That is fair. Usually we hear bookkeeping, and accounting, but writing policies…
Jodi: Yes, yes. I am a former accountant. I don't love keeping the books, but I do ... I, yeah, I don't love that part either.
Shantel: Nice. Well at least you know how to do it, which I'm sure is one step up from most of us who started, which is great. Where do you continue to learn, and to grow? Especially in such a fast paced industry.
Jodi: I spend a lot of time on social media. What's really neat is the privacy community is very tight knit, and across the globe. I have met, in LinkedIn and online from so many privacy professionals around the world. It's a really amazing community, because so many of these laws are new, and we're all learning from each other. I spend a fair amount of time reading peers comments, and then different regulatory bodies. So, not super exciting, but like in the UK there's a wonderful site that breaks down this information. It's a lot of information, but it breaks it down pretty simply. I'll read those. Then, kind of like the regular trade publications. Then, I listen to a lot of the marketing podcasts, because I really want to make sure that I'm in tune with some of the latest and greatest trends.
Shantel: That's great. I want to switch gears and kind of toggle back to the how you're attracting clients now, and how you're finding new customers. One of the leading things for you is networking. I would love to hear your thought process on how you divvy up your time. Are there certain days of the week that you carve out, okay, I'm going to spend X percent as being a very detailed oriented person, X percent of the time here, or I have to go to this many a month. How do you find those networking events that you attend, and then also how do you break it down from a week to week standpoint?
| EVERY DAY IS AN OPPORTUNITY |
Jodi: Yeah. I have followed a number of people who would say I should absolutely break it down and be that detailed, but I will admit I don't. I do look though, at every day as an opportunity. What I try and do is block it, so that I'm not doing sort of one offs if I can help it. For example, later this week I'll have three networking meetings back to back at the same location. That way I've used that entire block of time for networking, and other times I'll take a big block and say, "Nope, this is my thinking, working time," and I'm just not going to meet anybody during that period of time. I do try and block and tackle as best as I can, but of course there's sometime those meetings, and it's the only time someone can meet, and it's a really important meeting, or I feel like it will be extremely valuable, and I break my own rules. I think that's a really important piece for any entrepreneur, or really any person, is to understand your own rules and have the flexibility to know when it's important to be able to break them. But, I find out about events, I am on a number of different LISTERV's, I learn a lot from LinkedIn, and I do, because I also do a fair amount of networking sort of online. People then tag me, and get to know me and think, "Oh, you should attend this particular event." Then, I do spend some time trying to find what would be the events that make sense for me. You can't attend all of them. We just came off of, in October, Cyber Security Awareness Month. I literally could have gone to a conference every single day, and never worked, and never done anything else but go to conferences. Which, is not feasible. I needed to look and decide, okay which events am I going to go to? And, turn down other events, and just make the best use of my time. When I look at them I'm thinking, whose my target market, and do I think that they'll be there? Or, do I think that they'll be a good distribution channel partner that might be there? You sort of have to balance the learning for yourself, versus the people who might be good lead generators for me there. That's how I break up time.
Shantel: No, that's great. As far as the conferences, I mean I certainly feel you. There's always something that you can be going to, and learning from, and meeting people. When you attend the conferences do you have, like I'd love to meet five people and that's my goal today. Or, it's just kind of organic, and whatever happens at this conference happens?
Jodi: It's more organic, though my goal is not to meet everyone. Because, that's ... My goal is to meet a handful of a few people that I could foster a relationship with. Because, it's not, it's quality over quantity. If I meet, if there's 100 people there, there's no point in my meeting 100 people because I'm just going to have the name, and I will not have even had a meaningful conversation, and neither of us will even remember anything about each other. It'd be much better to go and meet three or four of them, have a real conversation, foster that connection, and then do some type of a followup. I think the followups really important, because otherwise it's just another business card that sits on your desk. Then in three months you look and say, "Who on earth was that person? I really don't remember who they are." Or, if you just go and add them to LinkedIn but don't do any followup to understand their business a little bit more. Again, it's really just an empty contact, and that's not meaningful. When I go, it's very much about I don't necessarily have, I have to meet three people. 'Cause, maybe I meet four. But, it's very much, I wanted to have good quality conversations with just a few people.
Shantel: Yeah. No, I love that. It always surprises me on the followup piece, how many people do ... If they get your business card, just do not followup. I mean, it's mind boggling to me. That feels like the thing you need to do.
Jodi: Yes. The other piece that is what you should not do, of course it comes from the privacy point of view, is don't just take the card and add them to the CRM. That is not networking.
| FOSTERING RELATIONSHIPS |
Jodi: That's just blasting. I'm kind of annoyed. You just take in my card, and just want to sell me something? As opposed to get to know me, and understand who I am. I literally was at a conference this weekend, and it was a company all about marketing, and how to help you market yourself online. What they did is put me in their system, and I'm just getting spammed. I will not hire that company to help me, because they're not treating me as a customer, right? They're not trying to get to know me, and what is it that I need, and who am I? I think the whole point of networking is fostering relationships. Going back to your question of how do I ... Where is the client work coming from. My very first client was from a relationship that I had six years ago, right? Just continuing that ongoing relationship. Now, you never know who you meet, right? I might get something from someone I met last week. But, it really is about understanding who they are, and how can you help the other person, and making it a give and a take and not just a take.
Shantel: Mm-hmm. Maybe a good partner or client to trade with, 'cause it sounds like they may need some help, and then you can help guide them.
Shantel: Okay Jodi, only a couple more questions for you to wrap things up. First and foremost, for any listeners interested in starting a company, and taking such a big leap going from corporate to starting their own firm. Do you have any advice?
| BE CONFIDENT |
Jodi: My first advice would be, be confident in yourself, and know that there are so many amazing people out there who are going to root for you. Then, of course, some of the practical steps. You have to have a good financial footing if you're going to take a leap with no clients. You need to be able to know what are your expenses, and understand the ramp up time for revenue to start coming in the door so that you can be prepared. Because, when you don't have a strong financial base that you feel comfortable to be able to take that lead time to start generating business, you might start making decisions based on emotion, or based on that sort of lack of good financial backing. Those aren't really the best decisions. Really make sure you have a good financial plan sort of before you take the leap from corporate, would be number one. Having an idea of what it is that you want to do I think is always important, and start having those conversations with people before you leave, and let them know this is what you're thinking. If you need a website, maybe you start planning some of that early so that when you literally hand in your resignation, you're kind of ready to go. The most important piece I think is truly what I said at first, which is to just have the confidence, and start building your own little board of advisors, and trusted people who can help you, right? At the very beginning everyone is so interested and eager to help you, and there's an amazing support network out there. But, they can't help you if you don't feel comfortable and confident of what you're doing, and you don't reach out to them.
Shantel: Those are all great. If you were to summarize your first year in business in one word, what word comes to mind?
Shantel: Nice. That's a really good one. There was no hesitation there, so that's awesome. Well Jodi, how can people get in touch with you, learn more about Red Clover Advisors, and stay connected?
Jodi: They can go to RedCloverAdvisors.com. You can find Red Clover Advisors on Facebook, and on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, I am Jodie Hoffman Daniels. I do a fair amount of posting, and thought leadership there. Of course, just my email is Jodi, J-O-D-I, @RedCloverAdvisors.com.
Shantel: Great. Thank you so much for being on the show. We really appreciate your insight.
Jodi: Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed it.