RJ Garbowicz of Webtalk: “Everything good in life has a cost”

The goal of Webtalk is to help the world create more success using innovative technologies that help our members maintain and grow relationships in a way that mimics real life and leads to improved careers, more successful businesses, and a better quality of life. Webtalk is digital networking reinvented to power the gig economy, which […]

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The goal of Webtalk is to help the world create more success using innovative technologies that help our members maintain and grow relationships in a way that mimics real life and leads to improved careers, more successful businesses, and a better quality of life. Webtalk is digital networking reinvented to power the gig economy, which is especially needed in our current situation when real life networking is nearly non-existent and everyone is an “at-home” Gig worker.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing RJ Garbowicz.

RJ Garbowicz is the founder, CEO and Chairman of Webtalk, which he founded in 2011. He is responsible for setting the product strategy, overall direction for the company and leads the design and development of Webtalk’s products and services. RJ is a serial entrepreneur having launched four previous tech companies with two exits.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

After selling out of my last startup in 2010 I began working on Webtalk part time, officially forming the company in 2011. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire career and found that one of the biggest problems I had to deal with was a lack of data management and validation in social media platforms. Networking is such an essential part of creating new relationships that will help your business on the way to success, and there wasn’t a way to efficiently tell if any of the data someone was sharing about themselves was valid, nor an effective way to actually network inside of so-called networking platforms. I spent so much time researching people looking for either ways to validate someone’s background info, or simply trying to locate data to attempt to get to know someone better and grow a relationship. This process took away from the time I should have been spending building up my businesses in other areas.

I quickly realized that I couldn’t just build an app that would validate data from other social media platforms, like LinkedIn. It had to be a brand-new platform that guaranteed access to all the information needed for validation, and gave users full access to their relationship capital, all in one place.

It took four years to architect, design, prototype and file patents before Webtalk was able to begin engineering in 2015 and launch a Beta in 2018. Since then, my team and I have spent a couple years perfecting our contact management technology that powers our networking platform while growing our user base and even establishing a cash rewards program that shares revenue with our users.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The goal of Webtalk is to help the world create more success using innovative technologies that help our members maintain and grow relationships in a way that mimics real life and leads to improved careers, more successful businesses, and a better quality of life. Webtalk is digital networking reinvented to power the gig economy, which is especially needed in our current situation when real life networking is nearly non-existent and everyone is an “at-home” Gig worker.

That is where Webtalk steps in. Webtalk offers a “virtual Rolodex” contact manager, and an all-in-one platform for personal, professional and business relationships. Users can organize their contacts into separate networks, filter their newsfeed by contact group and even syndicate their news to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Slack all at the same time, streamlining the engagement process.

In development is our patent-pending peer-to-peer recommendation search engine, with verified virtual resumes, which will provide the world with due diligence on demand, giving entrepreneurs and gig economy workers more time to focus on their business, rather than vetting their relationships.

This level of data verification will also have the added benefit of helping to establish more trust when attempting to make new friends online.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In business, mistakes tend not to be funny as they happen, but on a rare occasion you’ll get an oops moment that is quite humorous. One of the funniest moments I can recall is when I was on a work call from my cell phone and my wife called in on the other line. After asking to take the call, I clicked over and I answered her, while making one of our usual inside jokes,, only to find out the call never switched over. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of the auto-responder texts options on the iPhone these days, but my colleague, and my wife after I told her, and I all got a kick out of it.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have two very smart and hardworking mentors who have supported me throughout the years. The first is my wife Jennifer, who is an SVP at Bank of America Private Bank. Last year, she made a very successful exit from a wealth management firm, that she helped build, to join the ranks at Bank of America and help them grow the Private Bank in the Tampa Bay region. At the same time, my wife has made an impact on all aspects of the Webtalk business, from holding down the Homefront with our two children, to sitting on my Advisory Board, interviewing management candidates, proofreading emails and everything in between.

The other mentor in my life is Jeff Catherell, a great friend of mine who also happens to be the first angel investor in Webtalk. He later became a member of the founding team. Jeff is my soundboard who I can go to any time for ideas or opinions, when I need to celebrate, or perhaps most importantly when I need to vent. Managing stress while building new companies is critical to your success, sanity and health and Jeff is great for helping me and the rest of the team do just that.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruption is good for business and good for consumers. Innovation is constant and necessary. An industry like social media is constantly evolving, and when companies like Webtalk come in with improved processes and platforms, it only benefits the consumer more

On the other hand, it is important to be conscious that as technology grows, the need for certain jobs and companies could be minimized. While that’s not always a positive aspect of disruption, it is comforting to remember that innovation also drives new opportunities. The growth of the gig economy has opened up job opportunities across industries and talent levels, something that we hope to continue to bolster with our disruptive technology.

I also share many of Elon Musk’s opinions on the future of major disruptions, as I truly believe Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS) will be the biggest “positive” global disruption, and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) will be the biggest “negative” disruption. However, you can’t have the positive without the negative.

The same applies in my industry, as I truly believe Augmented Reality (A.R.) devices are the future of personal computing that will replace smartphones, and the amount of data collected on these devices will need a significant data organization and validation infrastructure, which is where Webtalk will shine. While that is a positive, the negative aspect to be conscious of is that the level of the data that will be collected on these devices will remove layers of privacy, in favor of trust and transparency. There’s always a tradeoff.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Every day since my children were two years old, my oldest now 10, I have taught them the most important lessons I have learned in my life that have brought me success and happiness, which in my opinion is the ultimate success. Every morning I ask my kids “What are you going to do today?” and every day they respond with the rehearsed reply, “Make People Happy. Learn Something. Have Fun. Be Excellent.” Before bedtime, I ask them how they have accomplished these goals so I can help them interpret the power of these four daily acts.

It’s these four acts repeated daily that are responsible for my success and below are the quotes I have written for my children that follow these four acts.

  1. Kindness and politeness have the biggest impact on your own happiness both in short-term and long-term. You can’t control how others act, but you can control how you act and react.
  2. Education is the strength and tools to get you up the mountain, sharing what you learned and helping others is the private helicopter that will take you anywhere you want to go once you reach a summit.
  3. Everything good in life has a cost, and knowing half your life will be hard work to achieve your goals, be sure to make time for fun to enjoy your journey and stay healthy.
  4. Never do anything if you aren’t willing to give it 110% because no one, including yourself, will ever know if you are truly good at it, and no one in the end will truly benefit from it.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Lead generation strategies vary widely by industry and products because they all target different demographics. For example, if you are trying to reach an older demographic for nursing care or motorized wheelchairs, you aren’t going to get your best results online. Direct mail using purchased targeted mailing lists will be your best option to draw up leads. Direct mail is also good for money related services such as credit cards and loans that appeal to all ages.

Selling consumer products and services to audiences aged 40 and under is best through targeted social media campaigns and targeted influencer and/or affiliate marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, selling professional services is best through targeted LinkedIn ads with integrated lead generation, which is a service Webtalk will be offering soon as well. Search engine ads are great for both enterprise lead generation and self-help, if you have a high converting landing page funnel linked to the search engine ad. The list goes on and on, and can narrow significantly based on the product being sold and the target audience.

The best advice is if you are not a professional marketer to hire a top-rated firm that specializes in marketing. You will pay a premium for the education, but once you have figured out a process that works with them, you can then duplicate it with your own team for a fraction of the price.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We are constantly working to improve our platform to provide a world class experience that helps everyone who joins create more success in their lives, both personally and professionally.

Over the next few months, we are on track to launch several key improvements, including the new Discover service to help users track what’s trending and discover other members with similar interests, and a new profile design. We are also getting ready to launch our iOS and Android apps to the public. Our work doesn’t stop once the beta launch ends and Webtalk becomes available to the public. Users can expect to eventually see a self-service ad platform, blogs, pages for business and a big upgrade to our rewards program that will payout even more cash rewards to members for engagement, content creation and referrals.

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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Webtalk is that idea, and it is why I have dedicated my life to it. Our relationships are our lives. They determine our success, our happiness, our love, our longevity, our health, our sanity, and everything in between. They determine how much money we will make, how much money we will spend, how much time we will spend working, and how much time we will spend having fun.

This is because we naturally turn to the advice of others to help guide us down the right path for nearly every decision in our lives. Even when we don’t have someone in our network to help, we count on online reviews from others to make up our decisions, ultimately taking advice from strangers.

The problem is most of the “advice” we get is either false or misleading because –

A) There is a profit motive for the person giving the advice or review, or for the person selling their time,

B) The caliber of expectations and standards are not all equal, or

C) The person is grossly misinformed sharing non-valid third-party information

Webtalk was built with the goal to unite the world under a single community that will ultimately help the users, not only showcase their talents, but also help validate them. In this way, those who have something great to offer can be found, and those out to harm others will be pushed out of the platform. We want to help the world find the best of everything using real reviews from people you know and trust. This will help you save and make more money, while creating better, stronger and lasting relationships, all of which will lead to a better quality of life.

At the same time, we are giving away up to 50% of all of revenue back to our members for simply making the switch to Webtalk and inviting your friends to do the same as our way of directly participating in our member’s success. Webtalk is also donating 10% of all profits to charity.

Webtalk is on a mission to help the world create more success with a goal to lead the way for positive change. Our hope is that our success will create a new standard of giving back across all industries.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me at my Webtalk profile — You can also find me on LinkedIn and Instagram.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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