“Ask for help — constantly.” — Foolish pride led me to believe that I had all the answers (or if I didn’t, I could surely figure them out). But it wasn’t until I turned to others — former bosses, mentors, old co-workers, industry groups, trade orgs . . . that I began benefiting from the perspective and insight of others. It’s remarkable how many people want to truly be of service — and help you avoid mistakes and see the opportunities that you might otherwise be blind to.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Glen Muñoz, an entrepreneur, innovator, mentor and maker rooted in Digital Media and The Media Arts. With a focus on Marketing, Strategy and Operations, Glen identifies and unleashes the untapped potential in organizations, teams and people. Over the past 25+ years, Glen has worked with Fortune 100 brands, global media properties, tech start-ups and performing artists — helping them all innovate, evolve and grow.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a small town in rural, north-central Ohio. I was the fourth of four boys born to a physician father and a stay-at-home mother (formerly a pediatric nurse). I am lucky to have grown up in a loving home and in a town with good public schools. It was there that I came to appreciate the importance of modesty, hard work and community. Perhaps most importantly, I learned that our actions (for better or worse) have a lasting impact on those around us.
I was drawn to music at a young age. I was singing as soon as I could speak and was playing the trumpet by fifth grade. I went on to pick-up more instruments (including french horn, guitar, percussion and harmonica) while also singing at school, in church and in rock-n-roll bands with my friends.
At the same time — I developed a strong curiosity about any and all things. I was constantly asking “Who? What? Where? When? Why? How does that work? How could it work better? What is the best solution to that problem?” I was fortunate to be surrounded by a family, educators and mentors that nurtured my innate curiosity . . . so no one deterred me from asking questions, seeking answers and striving to make things better.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s not so much a concise quote as it was an experience . . .
My 8th grade English teacher at East Junior High School was Jane Pease. Even though I enjoyed school . . . for some reason . . . I was sassing off to Mrs. Pease (I likely thought it might impress a girl in my class). As we were beginning that day’s lesson, I let out a heavy sigh and said “C’mon — really!?!”.
Mrs. Pease was not one to take any guff from her students — so she sarcastically asked “Oh my goodness. Mr. Muñoz — do you take issue with my lesson plan for today?”. Foolishly thinking this was my chance to sway Mrs. Pease, I made my case to her.
“Well — ya see. It’s not like this is . . . oh, like, French class. . . or German class. I’ve been speaking English since I could talk . . . and we’ve all been studying it for something like 7 years now. I mean — it’s my native tongue. It’s English. I’ve got it covered”.
Mrs. Pease turned to me, steadied herself and responded. “Mr. Muñoz — why do you bother to speak and write?”
Me: “Well — ummm — because I have something to say.”
JP: “I see. And why speak and/or write? Why bother?”
Me: “Well . . . because I have a point to get across.”
JP: “I see. And you’re getting this point across to whom exactly?”
Me: “Well — you know — it depends . . . but — you know — to other people. I’m trying to get my point across to other people.”
JP: “Ah — I see. So — you speak and write because you have a point that you want other people to understand — correct?”
I nodded my head.
JP: “Mr. Muñoz — how we communicate — the tool that we use to make our point — is a shared, common language. That language — in our case — is English. If your stated goal is to make your point understood — if you wish to state your case to others as strongly as you can — it behooves you to be a master of the shared language.”
It was in that moment that any previous, lingering doubt — however small — had been eliminated. It was clear to me . . . access to education — formal or informal — was to MY benefit. Education and knowledge were to be pursued . . . not only so I could express myself — but to accomplish ANYTHING. To navigate life as best I could, I owed it to myself to be open to and receive any/all education and knowledge — in whatever form it came. That experience laid the foundation for an adult life and a professional career that are focused on ongoing learning and growth.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Someone recently asked me “What’s your favorite business book?” My response was “Encyclopedia Brown — Boy Detective”. It struck her as an odd choice (understandably) — but at a very young age, EB taught me the significance and value of critical thinking. While I went on to study Business in college and have since read countless business books (mainly focused on strategies and tactics), the basic tenets of critical thinking — a self-directed, rational, skeptical, analytical and fact-based approach to problem-solving — serves as my north star and is the foundation of my success and satisfaction in business and in life. The lessons learned have been especially useful during trying times — helping me to remain calm, to see things with a clear head and to make sound decisions.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Following college — with my Marketing degree in hand — I secured an entry-level position in Advertising in New York City.
For 10 years, I moved between consulting and salaried agency roles — culminating with the position of Senior Vice President / Group Director. Throughout — my focus was on helping agencies and clients take an innovative approach to the “where and when” of their advertising campaigns (aka “Media Strategy’’). Clients included Volkswagen, the NYC MTA, Sony, Minolta, Priceline, T-Mobile and GE. I am proud to have simultaneously mentored numerous young professionals while building industry-first tools, systems and best-practices for my clients and their brands.
Near the end of that 10-year run, I noticed that I was repeating myself — and no longer having as much fun. I realized that I had learned just about all I could from that experience and felt I had implemented just about every positive change that I could. So — I sought out my next challenge in the burgeoning world of Web 2.0.
My goal in Web 2.0 was to bridge the gap between blue-chip/Fortune 500 brands (who were far more comfortable working with traditional print and broadcast media) and digital publishers (who were systematically, operationally and strategically ill-prepared to engage major ad agencies and their clients).
Within my first 6 months as a consultant, I established new strategies and tactics that drove 150+ million dollars of incremental annual revenue for my client . . . and knew that I found my new home. Soon thereafter, I joined full-time and turned my attention to my coworkers throughout the editorial, publishing and sales organizations with the goal of helping them make the necessary changes.
Over 7 years, I created and iterated organization-spanning teams, strategies, tactics, tools, and best practices that successfully drove revenue growth from 600 Million dollars to 2 Billion dollars a year. In that time, I was awarded the “President’s Distinguished Performance Award” — an acknowledgment of “those few whose performance is consistently stellar”. It was quite an honor.
At the end of those 7 years, I once again had the sense that I accomplished everything I had set out to do . . . so I set my sites on my next challenge — becoming an entrepreneur.
I first partnered with a friend from my ad agency days. Our idea was to rent out internet-connected tablets to patients during overnight hospital stays. At that same time, I also launched a boutique recording studio focused on music engineering and production (an easy transition — since my side-hustle has always been as a working musician and music producer).
Over time, it became clear that the tablet-rental concept wasn’t sustainable — so we fazed it out. However, the studio business continued to grow — both in terms of the services we offered and the types of clients we handled.
I now own three businesses in the audio/sound-design arena (the recording studio, a live-stream production company and a podcast production company).
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
The vast majority of my music and audio work has been done in close collaboration with my clients — very much an elbow-to-elbow endeavor. By mid-March of 2020, New York City was on lock-down — so most projects had to be placed on indefinite hold.
At this point, countless artists (including many of my clients) turned to live-streaming through their social media accounts . . . but the audio and video quality ranged from passable to poor. Meanwhile, artists had no direct means of getting paid for their work (while the social media channels benefitted from the traffic).
I hoped to find a better solution — a better experience for the fans as well as for the artists . . . and to help artists generate revenue.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
In early April, I heard from my friend Pete (a concert promoter) about an idea he was developing with another friend of his. As I mentioned earlier, artists were already live-streaming through their smartphone or laptop to their social media accounts — but the mic and camera on a laptop/smartphone don’t do a great job of making an artist sound or look good and (most importantly) the artists weren’t getting paid (outside of — perhaps — a “virtual tip jar”).
My friend and his partner had a solution in mind — and asked if I would help them make their idea a reality.
The idea is a combination product and service for artists and their fans. The product (shipped to the artist’s home) includes all the hardware, software and gear for the artist to send out a hi-definition, hi-fidelity broadcast (a massive improvement upon playing through their laptop or smartphone). The service includes promotion, a remote “front of house” engineer to handle their video feed & audio mix, a dedicated live-streaming platform and ticketing (so the artists can get paid!).
This was exactly what I had in mind. I knew that — with a few tweaks — we could have a great service on our hands.
How are things going with this new initiative?
It’s going extremely well. Our service is in high demand and is very successful for our clients. In some cases, 60-minute shows have generated ticket sales upwards of 20,000 dollars — the vast majority of which goes directly to the artist.
While we continue to provide these services directly to artists, we are expanding our offerings. Specifically, we are developing partnerships with venues (churches, clubs, coffee shops, etc.) across the country and around the world. Through these partnerships, venues are serving as virtual performance venues for the artists in their local communities. The local artists can then broadcast their ticketed, hi-def, hi-fi, live-stream shows from these venues — allowing the venues to also generate revenue through a share of those ticket sales.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Immediately following my college graduation, I threw my cap and gown in the back seat of my already-packed car and began the 10-hour drive to New York City. Within a week, I accomplished my goal — I landed a job in advertising on Madison Avenue. I was to become a “Mad Man”!
Given my small-town, midwest roots — I quickly felt like a fish out of water . . . especially in the workplace. Many of my peers and superiors were born, raised and educated on the east coast — so they all shared a common bond — while I felt like an outsider. Additionally, many of my coworkers had larger than life personalities — while I was relatively quiet and shy.
I had accomplished my goal — I was living and working in advertising in NYC . . . but I found myself unsure if it was the right place for me. I decided to give it a year and then reevaluate.
Within 6 months on the job, I received my first performance review — and I was happy to hear I was being promoted!
The man who had hired me and led my team, Peter Gardiner, sent a memo out to the company announcing the news. The memo opened with:
“The next time you see him, please congratulate Glen Muñoz on his promotion to Senior Media Planner. Now, be forewarned — he’ll likely be modest and downplay the whole thing . . . but you should know that in his brief time with us, Glen has calmly and quietly gone about . . . . “
. . . followed by a list of accomplishments in my first 6 months in the biz.
What stuck with me wasn’t so much that I received a promotion or that everyone knew about it. Rather — it was Peter’s way of letting ME know that he “saw” me for who I was — that I didn’t have to change my personality to be successful. The message was “I could stay true to myself and STILL succeed in the big city”.
That first year was going to be a make-or-break for me. Six months in, Peter let me know that I had what it took to make it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
When I began working on the live-stream solution, I knew it had great potential . . . but I wasn’t sure if we could properly explain the value to artists and venues — let alone get their buy-in. I am pleasantly surprised by how many artists and venues have quickly embraced the idea. Even more significantly — I have been overwhelmed by the positive impact we have been making.
Artists and performing-arts venues have been taking a beating during this pandemic. With doors shuttered and social distancing a necessity, these folks have been cut off from their livelihood. Time and again I am struck and how grateful our clients are. Our service is allowing them to keep their leases, pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads.
I am so very proud to be a part of this endeavor. Not only have we quickly built a successful, profitable business — but I’m pleased that our success is directly benefiting others every day.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1) “Delays will happen.” — Yes, planning and preparation are essential. But it’s nearly inevitable . . . an issue with a vendor, a slow-down in R&D, an unforeseen internal conflict . . . these things happen. So when they do — see it for what it is, accept it, take the hit, adjust and move forward.
2) “Ask for help — constantly.” — Foolish pride led me to believe that I had all the answers (or if I didn’t, I could surely figure them out). But it wasn’t until I turned to others — former bosses, mentors, old co-workers, industry groups, trade orgs . . . that I began benefiting from the perspective and insight of others. It’s remarkable how many people want to truly be of service — and help you avoid mistakes and see the opportunities that you might otherwise be blind to.
3) “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough.” I was so fearful of failure that I constantly tweaked and adjusted before going “live”. As a result — I missed out on opportunities. Now I know — get it good enough, launch and then adjust based on what you learn.
4) “Be nimble, be quick.” — If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that everything can chance — and change quickly. So — no matter how successful you are, always be looking out to the horizon. Always be asking “In what direction can we pivot next” — because you never know when you may have to,
5) “Hire for growth.” It’s tempting to hire mainly for skills . . . but skills can be taught. So — I look for candidates that 1) do well with people and 2) show an innate curiosity. These folks make for good problem-solvers . . . and problem-solvers grow orgs while also growing with the org. When interviewing, I 1) walk and talk . . . this helps candidates relax and become more of their natural selves. 2) get them into situations where they have to engage others on the fly . . . get coffee at a local coffee shop, poke our heads into someone’s office or a mtg, etc. . . . and watch how they handle it. 3) note the quantity and quality of their questions. If during the interview they’re already doing the legwork to determine how they can make things better, imagine what they’ll do once they have the job.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I rely on three basic tools to keep me grounded and centered. 1) When I watch/read/listen to the news, I am careful to delineate fact from opinion. 2) I rely on my liberal-arts education — which taught me how to think analytically . . . how to gather information, weigh it and draw my own conclusions. 3) Finally, I am a fan of studying history — so an understanding of human-kinds’ long and tumultuous arc provides a valuable perspective.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I believe that creating wealth is a fairly limited endeavor. Once we have the means to address our own basic needs and the needs of those that rely on us, generating additional wealth is little more than a sugar-high for the ego. I believe it’s important to generate value instead. When we generate value, the benefits of our labor radiate outward to people well beyond ourselves.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
My father’s father’s mother was an impressive force. She had a large hand in raising two generations and guiding her family through tumultuous times in Cuba. My father’s generation has great reverence and respect for her — and speak of her fondly. I would love to have known her.
How can our readers follow you online?
The best place to follow and contact me is on LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/glenmunoz/. Be sure to mention this article when reaching out.
Your readers are also welcome to contact me via:
– my live-stream production service — https://www.concordiasound.com/
– my podcast production business — https://podproaudio.com/
– my recording studio — https://www.duesouthstudios.com/
– my business consulting business — https://www.glenmunoz.com/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!