CEO Summit 2019 – Rob Volpe – Ignite 360
Recorded live in Miami, Jamin Brazil interviews Rob Volpe, CEO of Ignite 360. We hope you enjoy this mini series taking you into the minds of some of the most influential CEOs in Market Research.
My guest is Rob, Ignite360. What year did you start Ignite360?
January 2011. So it’s just been over eight years now.
What day in January?
January 1st. 1/1/11.
[laughs] That’s awesome. Super easy to remember.
Very, very easy. Yeah, good anniversary to celebrate.
Yeah, so what exactly do you guys do?
So, we’re a full-service insights and strategy firm as there are so many. What really sets us apart is the depth that we go and bringing empathy between our clients and their consumers or their constituents, and then delivering all of that through compelling story.
Do you use technology? Is it predominantly services around that?
Yes, it’s some tech; a lot of face-to-face, in-person; 101 interview groups. We combine often qualitative and quantitative, depending on what our clients are looking for. I often talk about our clients coming to us for, what I say, are the higher degree of difficulty problems, things that C-Suite might be looking for, those natty problems that they need to really spend some time thinking through. We tend to be their partner to go through and solve that.
CEO Summit 2019, Insights Association – what’s your one big take-away?
First of all, it was amazing. I came in, first time here, came in with no expectations. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. I have a client that here that kind of put it on my radar. And I thought, “Oh, let me go check this out.”
Really appreciated the honesty, the openness, the vulnerability of the other CEOs. Something I went through when I was starting my company is you realize that that saying, “It’s lonely at the top,” is true. It’s very difficult to be CEO of a company. You can’t even… Your most trusted partner in crime does not understand everything that you’re going through. And I’m also the owner of the company, so there’s that added layer there. So being able to network and meet people and hear like, “Yeah, Ok, we’re all going through very similar things.” I’ve been able to talk through some of our business challenges, what we’re thinking about and see how that’s lining up to what other people do. For us, particularly, it’s around business development and what habits and practices other people have to grow their engine.
The business development piece is kind of interesting; I’m pulling that out because in business there’s operational development, there’s HR, there’s legal, there’s all these tranches of expertise. As you know, given your founder status, you have to be an expert in everything.
And we all know that’s really hard. Oh, and you also have to be a really good researcher,
Absolutely. First and foremost, yeah.
Right. So, in that framework, it’s great to be able to pull information from other people who might have more experience in any of these other areas so that we can get shortcuts in our business and not have to go through the 101 learning stage.
We resourced intentionally against that when I brought my COO in. She’s a functioning COO: client-side, agency-side, goes out into field, does research. But she is so brilliant at systems and processes and so when we came in, she joined us in 2013. Pretty much everything before that was like the Wild West. And I look back now, and it’s amazing to me that we got stuff done and that we didn’t have more problems or issues than we did. But Lisa came in and really put systems and processes into place, which we still follow to this day and continue to evolve. There’s no sacred cows in what we do; so we’re always at process improvement. One of our moderators has a very rich background in HR organizational development and 0leadership development. So, he said, “Hey, I can help you with the HR piece; so that also transformed how we were thinking about HR and got us into a great solid place there. I’ve got awesome lawyers. Biz dev is covering that area that’s like…
Kind of the missing piece. My broader point is every CEO has, myself included… I have opportunity to level up different aspects of the organization. What’s nice through these conversations, even like the one with us, I can learn from you and on how you doing I say, “Oh, yeah, I can apply that to my business.” And it’s going to give me some sort of return.
Absolutely, and everybody is taking a slightly different approach and you have to listen to what people are doing and take it in for how can I apply this and what they’re doing for me. Some people are more comfortable saying, “Oh, I can take on the legal stuff myself and just work with an outside lawyer or finance. The person I hired was finance person ‘cause math is not my strong suit. I always believe you play to your strengths. Sitting up writing invoices wasn’t going to be my passion or something, but you need that. And there are people that love doing it.
Are coming back next year?
Oh, hell, yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. South Beach in January is not…
Not the worst place. Even though let’s be honest. I have been in the conference room the whole time. In fact, for those that don’t know, we are literally… Beautiful set of glass doors that open up along the length of the conference room.
And have a sheer curtain drawn so that you can kind of see the pool, but not really.
There might be something blue. There’s a little bit of a shimmer and a light that kind of comes through but it’s, it’s … you know you’re…
Allegedly, there’s an ocean and some crashing of waves.
They told me I had an ocean front room and I had air-conditioners.
You had air-conditioners. I’m looking out on the avenue, and I’m on the third floor, but that’s not why I’m here.
That’s not the point, right? Exactly, exactly. And the value’s so great. A lot of people in conferences, I notice, will sneak out and take advantage of the scenery. Not in this one.
I don’t see people sneaking out. Honestly, it’s been hard to get work done. And I’ve had to let… I didn’t realize… I mean I knew it was small, intimate group, but that makes it really hard to slip out.
Larger research conferences, you can just skip half the day and no one is going to miss you, but here you feel, you know…
And you also…
You want to be in the room; you want to be talking to people.
What about the value?
Alright, great. You’re getting ready to leave today, head back to San Francisco?
No, I’m going on to New York. I’m sitting in on some in-homes tomorrow. I’ll be going home Friday. Then I’m off to QRCA speaking there next week on dismantling judgment.
If someone wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?
You go to our website www.ignite-360.com. And you can reach me directly; I’m Rob@ignite-360.com.
Perfect. Rob, thanks so much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.
Thank you. This has been great.
Thanks so much for tuning in to the Happy Market Research Podcast. We hope you enjoyed these episodes.
If you’d like to get in contact with any of the CEOs that I interviewed at the CEO Summit, the contact information is located in the show notes.
Have a great rest of your day!