Ask Me Anything about how to pick yourself back up after your career has been negatively disrupted, or your startup dreams have been crushed!

Rafe Gomez
May 8, 2018

I'm Rafe Gomez, a serial entrepreneur, and my career journey has had some lively ups and downs:

  • From 2003 to 2008, I was the host/DJ/producer of "The Groove Boutique", a nationally syndicated radio mix show that aired across America.  The show was the #1 rated and led to lots of opportunities for me to tour, co-produce music (including a jazz remix of Smokey Robinson's "Quiet Storm" featuring vibes legend Roy Ayers - click to track 8), and appear on TV (including hosting a show on QVC). 
  • As a result of the '08 recession, the radio stations that I worked with changed their music formats, and my DJ days were over.  I had a difficult time finding a new gig because I was following the obsolete guidance and advice of career "experts", but I devised a new job search methodology that helped me and has also helped thousands of other people who were victims of career disruption.  Details here, including info about my audiobook "What's In It For ME?", which was a top-selling career title on iTunes and Amazon.
  • I'm now an award-winning provider of multimedia sales support content creation and PR for organizations around the world.  I also contribute content about business strategy to CNBC, Entrepreneur, PR Daily, MSNBC, and many others.

When it comes to picking yourself up after you've been knocked on your ass, I'm the guy who can hip you to the real deal, no b.s. mindset that you'll need to embrace if you want to jump back in the game.

I look forward to sharing my guidance with everyone/anyone who needs to get their dome tightened, their spirit inspired, and their energy steered in the right direction!

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Conversation (50)

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How did you get your first client when launching your company VC Inc. Marketing?
May 12, 3:34AM EDT1

Reyesmishelyn -

Interestingly, it was via someone who I worked with during my radio career.  He got involved with a music-related startup as the CEO, and he remembered my ability to generate media coverage about my DJ work.  He retained my services, was very happy with the outcomes, and I was off and running.

The moral of the story is that you never know who will take note of the results that you deliver, so keep your network wide and also keep it updated of what you're up to so that someone can possibly look to you as a solution to help their own endeavors.

Thx,

Rafe

May 16, 8:28AM EDT0
What is your work philosophy and how do you combine it with your life philosophy?
May 12, 12:26AM EDT0

Silent -

It's kinda sorta hard to combine the two approaches, b/c while I'm highly disciplined with my work M.O., I sometimes drop the ball with the life stuff (it drives my fam nuts).

So I'll stick to the work stuff for now.

I can sum my philosophy up pretty succinctly:  deliver excellence.  I'll keep going:  develop a unique approach with your products/services that distinguishes you from your competition, and present data-based evidence that it works.  If possible, be the first and only to offer this approach, and be able to to describe the exact benefits that it makes possible clearly, concisely, and convincingly.

Hope that helps!

Rafe

May 16, 8:33AM EDT0
In retrospect, do you now see your setback in 2008 as something positive? Or do you feel nostalgic about that period of your life?
May 11, 6:07PM EDT0

Prerna -

At the time and going through it, it SUUUUUCKED and was so horrific, I can't even.  But if I hadn't been challenged in the way that I was, I wouldn't be where I am now, and I definitely wouldn't be in a position to share what I learned with folks who I hopefully can help to avoid/prevent the mayhem that I experienced.

Do I miss it?  Hellz yeah.  I loved bringing my mix to listeners across the country and enhancing their lives with a cool soundtrack of jams.  I also really dug doing it live - it was such a blast.

However, what I DON'T miss it dealing with the personalities whose face palm-inducing incompetence resulted in the destruction of my spin career as well as the livelihoods of many other professionals.  For a deep dive into exactly what happened, check out my case study.

Thx,

Rafe

May 16, 8:39AM EDT0
What are some common misconstructions clients have when trying to market their businesses?
May 11, 3:34AM EDT0

Cenja -

Here's a big one.

In my experience, I've discovered that lots of businesses (B2B, B2C, products, services) seem to develop their offerings in a vacuum.  They don't know what their competitors are doing, they can't explain why what they're presenting is superior or different, they can't make a clear and fact-based case about why prospective clients/customers need what they're selling, and they seem to be blissfully unaware of why their organization should exist.

Before I begin delivering my stuff, I often need to work with them to figure out and then reinforce these philosophical and existential determinants.  Without them, organizations are flying blind, being reactive rather than proactive, and are dooming themselves to failure!

Thx,

Rafe

May 16, 8:44AM EDT0
There are a lot of businesses have also begun moving towards social media marketing lately, but not all get success at it. Where do you think they go wrong?
May 9, 3:06AM EDT0

Mawaddah -

Businesses that look to social media as a quick and convenient way to promote/sell their products or services will fail.  What they don't grasp is that social media offers an opportunity to connect with, learn about, and dialogue with your customers.  It's about the conversation, not the sell.  This may be frustrating to organizations that are seeking a clear ROI for their social media spends, but if that's their M.O. they'll be hugely frustrated with the entire medium.

If a company is selling B2C, they may be successful if they use their channels to offer occasional limited time discounts, but that should be pursued as a short term exclusive program for their social media users, not an everyday occurrence.

If companies are patient with their social media channels, if they use them to engage their customers, if they don't seek to use their social channels as a pitching free for all, and if they think like their customers ("what do the folks who buy our stuff look for in their interactions with our brand?"), they'll build deep customer loyalty and develop a closer bond with their buyers.

Thx!

Rafe

May 9, 4:19PM EDT0
What do you think is the exact role of social media in marketing? There seems to be a lot of confusion as some try to engage, some try to make sales, while others seem to be doing everything worthless?
May 8, 7:11PM EDT0

Vipulmtr -

Great query and I feel you on your perspectives!  Coincidentally, a similar question came in - and it's right above this one.  Cheggitout.

Thx,

Rafe

May 9, 4:20PM EDT0

Thanks so much for all of your excellent questions!  I hope that my POV has helped.

May 8, 11:21AM EDT0
When launching a new company, what is more important perfection or progress and why?
May 8, 4:04AM EDT0

James -

Perfection isn't possible.  You can strive for it, and that's recommended.   But once you think you've attained it and figured it all out, you're DOOMED, and someone else will come right behind you, eat your lunch, and knock you out the box.

Instead, I recommend that you focus on DOING THE RIGHT THINGS.  This will create sales opportunities and allow you to successfully build your business.  Some folks believe that when launching a new company, it's important to DO THINGS RIGHT - which is kinda sorta the perfection pursuit mentality.  But that is an extremely dangerous way to move, and here's why:

Let's say that you're opening a Mexican restaurant and your burritos are fantastic:  premier ingredients, awesome chef, fantastic interiors, etc.  You're doing things right, right?

BUT... if you're on the same street with 4 other Mexican restaurants, all of which have created well defined niches and have loyal customers, then you're not doing the right thing.  The market doesn't need what you're offering, as superb as it is, because it's saturated, and your days are numbered.

Keep that in mind when you begin your journey with your new company.  If you're doing the right things, even if you don't do them 100% perfectly, you'll always win.

Thx,

Rafe

May 8, 11:17AM EDT0
Has your DJ experience and work in the radio influenced in any way your work in PR and sales? How if so?
May 7, 4:57PM EDT0

MMalahoo -

Hells yeah.  24/7 in fact!

After spending a lot of time around music, I learned to pick up on the elements of a well crafted song, and I was able to see how/why it was catchy.

The best tracks that I worked with got to the point, or the hook, quickly, and they became irresistible ear worms that stayed in my head and pleased the audience (and/or dancefloor).

I took this approach and applied it to my PR and sales - and man oh man does it work.  When I'm pitching or interacting with prospective clients (or journalists, if I'm trying to "sell" a story idea on behalf of my clients), I keep my patter short, tight, and alluring.  I stick with the facts and share the benefits that my services (or client's story) can deliver.

So like an awesome song, I focus on the idea of "don't bore us, get to the chorus!", and this strategy continues to work very very well.

Thx,

Rafe

May 8, 11:11AM EDT0

So many of us identify ourselves with our careers. When we have a major setback or a long-term setback or catastrophe it can damage a person's self-esteem. What advice to you give to help people snap out of such a dark and potentially damaging place?

May 7, 4:28PM EDT0

Kelly -

Yeah, that's a tough situation:  we are what we do, and if we ain't doing it, then - what?  We bash ourselves and plummet.  I was there, and it wasn't fun.

It's easy to philosophize about this when you haven't been dinged.  During those times, you can be kind to yourself and realize that there's much more to you than your vocation.  You're a human with interests, passions, and beliefs, and your job (or company if you're an entrepreneur) absolutely does not define your worth or value.

However, when that job or company is strangled, the immediate go-to is that you suck and you're a failure.  If you've made your job/company the centerpiece of your existence, and - let's face it - most of us have done that, those feelings of defeat are 100% understandable.

While I can't credibly advise on how to boost your self esteem when you get smacked around, I can recommend some prevention measures that will make things less bad if you're on receiving end of a career disruption:

1.  Realize that no matter how good things may be, there's a possibility that things can capsize.  This shouldn't mean that you walk around petrified all day long, but you must be realistic with yourself.  I never saw my tumble coming, and I was crushing it!  The moment of truth may be out of your control if/when it happens, but just know:  it's possible.

2.  You need to develop alternative or secondary revenue streams to your main source of income.  This doesn't mean you should have two or more full time jobs, but you definitely should seek to build different silos that have nothing to do with one another, so if one is smashed to bits, you at least have another one (or a few) to tap.

3.  Keep your network of contacts - both business and professional - fresh and active.  Stay in touch with them and let them know what you're up to.  If there's a capsizing, you'll need to lean on them for help and opportunities.

4.  Raise and fine tune your antennae so that you're hyperaware of the business climate where you work, or in your marketplace if you're an entrepreneur.  You need to be able to - if possible - anticipate tumult before it hits you.  If you sense that things are becoming undone, immediately reach out to your network and let them know that you're in the market!  It's best to do this before everything turns to s**t, since you're always more of a catch when you have a job than when you're unemployed.

Hope that helps!  I didn't learn this stuff until it was too late, but if I could do it all again, I'd be putting all of the above tips into full steam ahead motion!

Thx,

Rafe

May 8, 11:05AM EDT0
What is your signature PR approach or is it different for each project?
May 6, 3:35PM EDT0

Hasan -

My goal with each of my clients is to find, refine, and promote the specific benefits and solutions that they offer to their customers - especially when they're benefits/solutions that are the first and only ones of their kind, and also that are exclusive to the marketplace. 

This methodology has increased my clients' marketplace penetration and prominence.  It has also helped them to sell more of their stuff.

Thx,

Rafe

May 6, 5:22PM EDT0
How hard it was to keep fighting for what you believe in?
May 6, 12:36PM EDT0

Cleo -

When I had my DJ gig, it was an uphill battle to convince folks within the organization that I worked of the benefits that I could deliver.  I hit constant resistance, and rather than trying to find a way to work though those walls, I should have recognized that it would be impossible to make any headway.  The organization was dysfunctional and the personnel who held sway over my career were never going to budge in their limited worldviews.

If I had come to terms with this intransigence earlier, I could have made contingency plans, and when the s**t eventually hit the fan, I wouldn't have fallen as hard as I did.

Thx,

Rafe

May 6, 5:18PM EDT0
What industries do you work with? Do you have a preference for some? Are there topics you would rather avoid?
May 6, 9:46AM EDT0

Harykaur -

I work in a bunch of different industries (hospitality, education, sustainability, tech, health/wellness), and my goal is the same:  to help any organization with an awesome product or service to sell more of it.

No topics are off limits:  hit me with whatever!

Thx,

Rafe

May 6, 5:14PM EDT0
How did you stay motivated when you were at your lowest?
May 6, 6:00AM EDT0

Khushboo -

I ain't gonna lie, it was tough.  I had to go through a long period of mourning, anger, and self-pity before I came out the other end and was ready to do something about it.

At my lowest, I couldn't sleep.  I was kept awake by a merciless loop of fear and fury.  Eventually, I had to take OTC sleep meds so I could become unconscious because I was limping through each day in a sleep deprived stupor.

Not only was I angry at my situation, I was hugely angry at the people whose decisions resulted in my downswing and equally angry at myself for not picking up on the warning signs so I could have done something about it.

It was a messed up period of my life that still affects me.  Even though I'm doing very nicely now, it doesn't take much to remind me of those days, and I hurt for anyone who's going through it.  That's why I do things like this AMA, which I hope can provide some clarity and direction for those who have been dinged and need input from a bro who's been there as well!

Thx,

Rafe

May 6, 5:12PM EDT0
What was the crucial moment when you decided to create your audiobook?
May 6, 2:28AM EDT0

Lianchuy -

I decided to create the audiobook when I saw how effective the job interview approach that I devised was, and how wrong the approach that was being peddled by the "experts" was.

It really pissed me off that these experts were purveying unoriginal, unproductive, and obsolete advice to a desperate populace.  These people were hurting and needed a fresh POV to help them get hired, and it became my goal to offer them an alternative perspective that could successfully reboot and optimize their job search pursuits.

Thx,

Rafe

May 6, 5:05PM EDT0
Was the love for music enough not to give up on your dreams, or did you have something else as a motivation?
May 5, 7:58AM EDT0
So what is in it for you? Are you planing more books? What about if so?
May 5, 7:41AM EDT0

Jenespulgar -

Yes, I'm working on a new book about the organizational business mistakes that led to the loss of my job as a radio mix show DJ.  It will be hugely useful for anyone in any industry who wants to recognize the warning signs that their organization is doomed, and their career is in jeopardy!

Thx,

Rafe

May 6, 4:55PM EDT0
Do you work alone or have a team?
May 5, 6:41AM EDT0

Sarah -

It's me and my partner.  If an assignment requires additional personpower, I have folks who I can tap, but that's been rare.

Thx,

Rafe

May 6, 4:53PM EDT0
How did you get to find your job after all?
May 4, 11:00PM EDT0

Smacarena -

Which job?  My DJ gig?  My rehirement coach stint?  Or my current vocation as a provider of sales support and PR services?

Thx,

Rafe

May 6, 4:52PM EDT0
Now more than ever the world is full of coaches and gurus on just about everything, you’ve had a bad experience with some « experts » yourself, can you tell a good one from a bad one? Or do you think it is more about what works for some people doesn’t work for all?
May 4, 6:36PM EDT0

Allan -

The stuff that didn't work for me might be powerful and revelatory for someone else.  But IMHO, someone should seek to learn the following before buying an expert's book, or paying for their lecture series, or hiring them as a coach:

1.  What is new, different, and original about the expert's approach as compared to the other choices in the marketplace?

2.  Does the expert offer a collection of tactics, or is the expert offering a specific strategy?

3.  Has the expert actually struggled and then used his/her advice to turn his/her situation around, or is the guidance that the expert is selling based on what he/she thinks could work, or should work, if someone used it?

In the case of my audiobook, I'm sharing what I learned, and what got me hired after I lost my career as a DJ.  FYI, I continue to successfully utilize the lessons in the audiobook everyday in my pitches to prospective business clients!

Thx,

Rafe

May 6, 4:52PM EDT0
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