Drew is a marketer and cyclist
Drew Chambers is a former ‘wall-streeter’ turned marketer and has owned a national process outsourcing company for 8 years before starting work with a startup! He is currently the VP of Marketing of Corus.
Drew tells John about his experiences in different work cultures from working on wall-street, to his own startup business. They also discuss how cycling helps with his team-building skills in the office and how it feels to be the only cyclist in an office full of basketball players.
• Getting into cycling
• Why he enjoys creating a community through cycling
• Skills he has gained in cycling that he can use in the office
• Working as a team in cycling and the office
• Being a cyclist in an office of basketball players
• Being open about cycling in the office
• Cultural difference from wall-street to startup
• Why it’s both on the individual and the organization to create a culture of sharing in the office
• When ‘being open can be misconstrued and affect productivity
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Hello. This is John Garrett and welcome to Episode 191 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. Just by being that and sharing that, it makes them stand out like a green apple in a pretty stereotypical red apple world.
I’m always so fascinated how we usually try to stand out with our technical expertise. I’m here to shine a light each week on someone who understands that expertise isn’t always earned in degrees and certifications; sometimes, it’s experiences from your passions outside of work that will make you better at your job but only if you share them.
Really quickly, I’m doing some research. It’s a super short one-minute anonymous survey about corporate culture and how the green apple message might apply in your world so if you’ve got just 60 seconds, please head to greenapplepodcast.com, click that big green button there and answer a few quick questions. Again, it’s totally anonymous and I really appreciate the help for the book that I’m releasing later this year.
Thanks so much to everyone for subscribing to the show so you don’t miss any of the cool guests like this week’s Drew Chambers. He’s the VP of Marketing at Corus in Denver, Colorado. Drew, thanks so much for taking time to be with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.
Andrew: Thanks for having me, John.
John: I’m super excited and I mean we’ve hung out many times. Every time, I’m like dude, we got to get you on the Green Apple Podcast, so I’m excited that this is happening.
Andrew: Well, I’ve made it certainly very difficult for you to track me down and get me on. Episode 191. I want to say we started talking probably around Episode 91 so it’s been a bit.
John: I’m starting to think that you’re actually more of a spy than a marketer but either way, it’s all good. I like it. But I do start out every episode, as you know, with my 17 rapid-fire questions. Get to know Drew on a new level here. The first one is are you a spy? No, I’m kidding. That’s not the first one.
Andrew: You know, I have to answer yes if you ask. It’s the rule. You have to say yes.
John: It’s not Fight Club, John. This is being a spy. But here we go. I’ll start you out with a super easy one, super easy one. Favorite color.
John: Nice, okay. How about a least favorite color?
John: Oh, yeah. That’s a good answer. Good answer. All right. This is an easy one too for you. Cats or dogs?
John: What kind of dogs do you have?
Andrew: We have two vizslas. They’re Hungarian bird dogs. They kind of look like a Weimaraner but they have red hair and they’re a little bit smaller.
John: They’re all over your Instagram, man. They’re awesome.
Andrew: Yes, yes, they are celebrities.
John: Yes. Absolutely, absolutely. How about do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Andrew: That’s a good one. I love anything that Jeff Bridges has done.
John: Oh, man, yeah. Good answer, good answer. How about more chocolate or vanilla?
John: Okay, all right. How about a favorite band or musician?
Andrew: My favorite band is The War on Drugs. It’s the band out of Philly, Adam Granduciel. Actually, I got to meet him at the Whole Foods in Union Station here in Denver.
Andrew: He was just walking around. I’m like, nobody knows who that guy is. I went up and I fanboyed pretty hard. It was good.
John: That’s so great, man. That’s really cool. Awesome. When it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: All right. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Andrew: Star Wars all the way.
John: All the way, all the way. Computers, PC or a Mac?
Andrew: I’m a Mac guy.
John: Yeah. I figured, I figured. How about when it comes to an ice cream? Favorite ice cream flavor?
Andrew: Cookie dough.
John: Yeah, good answer. Here’s a good one. Movie that makes you cry.
Andrew: Oh, I’m pretty detached emotionally as my family and wife will tell you. It’s hard for a movie to make me cry. I did get pretty close at the end of Marley & Me, I will say, as a big dog guy.
John: Right. That’s hilarious on all levels in that answer right there. What’s a typical breakfast?
Andrew: I am a big fan of vafels. I guess we’ll probably get into this a little bit deeper later. But they’re out of Boulder and they’re very big in the cycling culture. It’s like Belgian Liège waffles. So it’s V-A-F-E-L-S. I have no ties to them professionally. I just love what they’re doing. They’re awesome.
John: Wow. I’m coming over tomorrow morning. This is great.
Andrew: Yeah, there you go. Café Drew.
John: Right. I’ll Yelp review, five stars. When it comes to your bike frame, titanium, aluminum, or steel?
Andrew: None. I’m a carbon fiber guy.
John: Oh, look at you. Fancy, fancy.
Andrew: Yeah. But titanium of the choices that you laid out.
John: No, no, carbon fiber it is, man. Next level. See, I didn’t even know that existed. That’s how bad my research was before this episode. Favorite place you’ve been on vacation?
Andrew: I love Paris, France and then we were in Malpaís, Costa Rica actually for a little bit. That was super, super cool.
John: Fantastic. Three more. Do you have a favorite number?
John: Why is that?
Andrew: I have no idea. That was my number when I played hockey as a kid.
John: That’s all you need, man. That’s all you need. This one’s super important. Toilet paper roll, over or under?
Andrew: I guess under if I’m thinking about it correctly because then it’s easier to one hand it.
John: Under against the wall.
Andrew: Yes, yeah.
John: All right, and the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have.
Andrew: That’s a great question. I mean I do love my bike and I also have a really special watch collection so one of my watches. I assume we’re talking about physical goods here, not like —
John: Yeah, yeah. I love, memories.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly. I’m just a very materialistic guy here, I guess.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s very cool. Very cool. All right. Just jump right in here to the fun is just I mean when it comes to the cycling, how did you get into it? I mean is it just something that you learned to ride a bike when you were a kid and just never stopped?
Andrew: Yeah. I grew up originally Downstate New York so Long Island and by the city, and then my family moved upstate when I was a kid. Where we moved upstate was not really rural but this little suburban town outside of Rochester called Pittsford and there’s tons of corn fields and little trails to the forest and so I used to ride my mountain bike.
This was the time, I don’t know if this is still the case, but we would ride our bikes to meet up with friends and go get ice cream and stuff like that. Our parents are like, yeah, just be home by dinner. We used to do that a ton.
I remember one of my early memories. There was a big hill back behind my house and they were building a new house like two houses down from my house and it was just the foundation. It was just the basement. We used to ride down this hill, trying to hit tree stumps.
Andrew: There were a lot of like scrapes and bruises so I love to ride my bike, just kept riding my bike. I mountain biked a ton. Yeah, probably about ten plus years ago, really started getting into the road cycling and yeah, it’s just an incredible passion, it’s an incredible community, and being able to get involved in a lot of cool, different ways.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome. I mean I remember when I was a kid. Yeah, I mean you just have a Huffy or some sort of BMX bike or something then eventually, when you get bigger, you get a mountain bike. But yeah, just doing all kinds of crazy stuff. I mean we were invincible.
Andrew: Just dumb stuff, yeah.
John: Totally, yeah. Since you’ve done the road cycling, I mean is there any cooler memory that you have or most rewarding experience from doing that?
Andrew: I took it pretty seriously for a while and I definitely backed off that and so now, I do a lot of stuff with there’s a group out of Boulder where I’ll lead rides and really just get involved with the community.
I think the big thing, I definitely believe and maybe this is the marketer in me but I think that cycling has a real image problem. I think it’s a very — it’s an alpha centric sport. The barriers to entry are pretty high. It’s an expensive sport. There’s all kinds of weird rules that the Velominati will come up with. It needs to be more welcoming.
I think for me, the most rewarding stuff has been just getting people of all abilities involved. I’ve ridden with World Tour pro cyclists. I’ve ridden with somebody that gets out on their bike three times a year. It could be just as much fun and as rewarding.
I’d say there’s a lot of events that I’ve done that have really special memories for me but just the overall experience and the brand that I work with is called Rapha and they’ve done an incredible job just making the sport I think more welcoming and building a community around it. That to me is really rewarding and exciting.
John: Yeah. That’s awesome, man. I think the click-y shoes and the uncomfortable seats are probably the barriers for me.
Andrew: Yeah, but I mean come on, I think you would look so good in those bike shorts. Come one.
John: Right. We should just all wear them around, I mean just right into the office.
Andrew: Got to put yourself out there.
John: What is it? Casual Friday? Of course. I rode my bike. No. That’s great, man. That’s really cool. It’s also really cool how you’re looking at it from a different perspective, the marketer in you like you said. It’s interesting how they marry together there and one affects the other and vice versa which is interesting, which I guess leads me to do you feel like the cycling at all gives you a skill that you bring to the office or to your work?
Andrew: Yeah. I’d say absolutely. I think one, your ability to relate to people of all different backgrounds and cycling is a very international sport so there’s a lot of people from different cultures and different countries that I’ll meet on the ride for the first time so you have to really learn how to talk with different people, you need to know how to adapt your social skills and really just again, you have to put yourself out there.
You have to be a lot more vulnerable than I think most people necessarily want to be because it could be a different group every time you go and ride. Plus on top of that, you’re challenging yourself in a lot of cases, you know, to just ride stronger, faster, or whatever it is. I think all of those skills are really beneficial when you get into the office as you were.
John: Have you ever done any of those where like in the Tour de France where they kind of draft off each other sort of a thing?
Andrew: Oh, yeah. For sure. I used to race quite a bit. I’m a climber by trade. That means that hills are my thing. I’m not the guy with the huge quads that’s able to sprint at the west a hundred meters, I’m the guy that’s more going to put a lot of time into it by climbing pretty quick.
It’s a different riding style but certainly, if you watch the Tour de France, you’ll see that the guys that win are generally the guys that could do very well on the mountain stages so Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome who have won several of the previous tours. They really made their gaps in the mountain stages. I’ve done some of the stages actually over there which is really cool.
John: Oh, nice.
Andrew: I was not in the tour.
John: Right, yeah. Not in the tour. Of course, right. That would be awesome on ESPN like, “And who was this random guy out there in jean cutoffs and Converse chucks? What’s going on?
Andrew: So you know my biking outfit. That’s good.
John: That’s great, man. That’s really cool though to get out there and yeah, just do those parts. I wonder if that’s similar to being in the office where you have the team going and then everyone’s kind of drafting off each other and then someone else takes the lead for a piece or whatever.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s interesting. I currently work at a startup. Prior to this, I worked for a much larger company where actually, I was one of the owners of the business. It was a very different environment and certainly, in a small startup where we’re six people, very much have to work with each other, you definitely have to play off each other’s strengths. You have to kind of cover the gaps and certainly, I have many, so big shout out to my team for covering me there but for sure, it’s very similar. That’s a great analogy.
John: Yeah, no. I think that’s great and really cool that it’s such a part of you and also just how the business side of you comes to the cycling as well which I think is neat. Is this something that you talk about at work and that others know about?
Andrew: Yeah. They like to make fun of me obviously as the cyclist. There’s a lot of basketball players on our team like a lot of guys that play Division I, one of our guys played professionally, one of our guys is married to a woman that played in the WMBA. There’s a lot of basketball fever. I’m a really tall guy. Obviously, I’m a tall guy so people assume that I also play basketball which I think is a bit cooler than cycling.
John: Well, it depends. If you’re in Europe, maybe not.
Andrew: Yeah. They do like to point it out and certainly, I was in a pretty intense crash about two years ago. It was actually caught on film. One of the first things that the team did is send out around that we’re like look at our guy that can withstand a hit from a Subaru and still be kicking.
John: Yeah, exactly. That’s not getting dumped on. All of the sudden, you’re a lot tougher than any basketball player.
Andrew: Yeah. I was posterized in a way.
John: By a Subaru. No, man. I remember when you showed me that video when we’re getting coffee. I was like holy cow, man, that’s insane.
Andrew: Yes. It was pretty intense.
John: But that’s cool that you’re able to just talk about that. Was there ever a part of you in your career ever from when you were younger even where it was like talking about the cycling’s probably not something I want to do or have you always been pretty open about it?
Andrew: Yeah. I mean I think as obviously, you know, and hopefully you can tell to this point already, and I’m a pretty open book. I’m a pretty transparent guy. I’m not very guarded with much of anything so I do try to bring that stuff in.
I think I started my career on Wall Street and that’s a place where it’s kind of, I don’t want to say frowned upon or looked down on, but certainly there’s not a lot of sharing of your personal life. It’s a lot of like, hey, if your dog died, you should come in to the office with a smile on and not talk about it kind of thing. It was never my style and I figured that people will like me for who I am and if they don’t, then whatever.
John: Right, yeah. No, totally.
Andrew: At least in my experience, I think people appreciate it. I think people like to see that there’s more than just I don’t know, a great sales guy or marketer or whatever that it’s actually a real person.
John: Yeah, because I mean you can be both easily and it’s not like one takes away from the other. If anything, the work takes away from the human side.
Andrew: Yeah. If that’s all you are then it just becomes a lot more difficult for people to kind of — or for you to let people in and for people to feel like you want them to be let in so I don’t know.
John: I agree totally because I fell prey to it too because we just get in and we start modelling the behavior in front of us and then before you know it, you’re like, “What the hell am I doing? This is ridiculous.” Has anyone stopped for 60 seconds and gone, “Why are we acting this way?”
Andrew: Right, right. That’s a good point.
John: But there isn’t a charge code for that so shut up, John. It’s really crazy. Do you feel like — because I mean no business school tells you to go be a cyclist or have a cool watch collection or whatever because it’ll make you better at your job, but do you feel like it has benefited your career?
Andrew: For sure, yeah. I think I would say all the little things that make up who I am I think have helped me. I think that the most important part of being successful in marketing — and I think it’s probably the case in a lot of things whether you’re an accountant or a lawyer, banker, whatever, but being able to relate to people on a variety of different levels is so important.
I really strive to not only cherish the things like cycling that make me who I am but also try to explore all sorts of other pieces that will enable me to connect with people on a deeper level.
I love reading. I’m a big reader and I always try not to look at whether it’s an argument or a topical issue from a different perspective or whether it’s a historical piece that I think has an application to today’s world. I think all of those things just help you be more relatable and connect with people on a deeper level which inevitably makes you better. Certainly, my field at marketing, because you understand what people want to hear and what they want to see.
I don’t know if that’s a good answer but that’s kind of how I look at it.
John: That’s the only right answer. No, there’s all kinds of answers, man, absolutely. But from your perspective, that’s great, that’s great. Yeah, exactly. Ding, ding, ding. But even if someone’s not in marketing, it’s still a human to human transaction that happens here. It’s called B2B but it’s really human to human so there’s still a person behind both sides.
If you’re able to create that connection and create that deeper relationship, then that only enhances everything else that you’re doing. It’s just shining a brighter light or pouring gas on this fire that’s already burning then making it really cool and great which is awesome.
How much do you feel like — I mean because in your transition, it’s been interesting going from Wall Street to smaller companies to a startup now. How much do you feel like it’s on the organization to create this atmosphere where it’s totally cool and encouraged to share your passions versus how much is it on the individual to maybe step up and create their little circle or to be a part of that?
Andrew: Yeah. I mean I think that’s a really great question. I’ve heard a lot of case studies about there’s a lot of material around managing up, managing your manager kind of thing.
John: I was an expert at that by the way.
Andrew: Disrupting the manager.
John: Exactly, totally. Yes.
Andrew: I, too, was pretty good at that. I do think that there is some onus on the individual to say you know, these are things that I would like to see within my organization but at the same time, it’s definitely on management to be listening and to make themselves available to the employees to say, if this is the type of culture that we want to build and this is the type of environment that we want to have.
I’ve been a part of organizations where that was not really made clear by the management. Myself and some of my close colleagues and friends, we would build little things into our daily routine. I remember when I first started working, we would do this thing called Music Friday where we would send around — we would pick a theme for the day and send around different songs to each other and just like little things to celebrate a Friday, it’s almost a weekend kind of thing but that was not necessarily encouraged.
Most of us are not at that firm anymore. In fact, none of us are at that firm anymore because that was not really what they wanted. They didn’t want you to be outside of this little box which that’s fine if that’s what they want to be but it’s not what we wanted them to be.
Again, as long as management is listening and open and willing to try those things, I think it brings a huge advantage to the organization. I think you get people that are more excited to go into work and that’s key.
I have a motto that I kind of tell anybody that works for me which is if you ever wake up and you’re thinking about calling in sick and you’re not sick but if you just want to call in sick because you don’t want to be at work, come to me and let’s find something else for you to do because this clearly isn’t driving you the way that it should. I think more organizations can be like that.
John: Yeah, yeah, and that’s cool that you’re so open about it because you’re like look, don’t hide it because what will happen? I mean the alternative is they just get disgruntled and then the work suffers and then they just quit out of nowhere and it’s tense and it’s weird.
Andrew: Spiral of diminishing returns for both sides. It just doesn’t suit anybody. I think that that’s really important.
John: Yeah. I love that. I mean I love how open you are about it. I think that the more open that we can all be about things then the better it is because maybe you have no cool that this person’s frustrated or this person’s whatever because if you never say anything then it’s like well, you know, it’s a little bit on you too to speak up but you also have to create that atmosphere where hey, it’s totally cool if you come here and say something like that. I’m not going to get angry and fire you. I’m going to help you.
Andrew: I think a lot of individuals and organizations certainly struggle with what being open looks like. I think as you practice it, you actually get better at it, right? Being open is not just saying whatever pops into your head and the no filter, and I think I don’t want to veer too far into the political spectrum but I think we have a problem with people saying well, I’m just being honest and I’m just saying what I think and there is an art to it, there is some tack that needs to be done.
I think the more that you practice it, certainly as an organization, the better you can get at what is the balance, how can you be open and empathetic and understanding but also not frightening, right? If you’re the CEO and you’re coming in you’re like, okay, here’s the deal. We got this law suit, we got this blah, blah, blah, now you’ve probably scared the troops a little bit. Yeah, it’s something where I think practice makes perfect and much like cycling, the more time you spend with it, the better you get at these niche skills.
John: Look at that, man. Look at you —
Andrew: Full circle, full circle.
John: Look at you. You’re like a pro. You should be hosting this show. What am I doing?
Andrew: No, that’s all.
John: That’s truly fantastic, man. Truly fantastic. I agree. I think that up until it causes drama, it’s cool to share. We all know things that cause drama and things that cause awkward feelings. There’s a being honest and then there’s disrupting productivity. It’s like, you know, just don’t be stupid.
It’s sharing your true passions. It’s not sharing that you broke up with the seventh girl this week. We don’t need to hear all of this. It’s just what really drives you, what’s inside you that goes from job to job to job or from title to title to title is always cycling. It’s always there. That’s the thing.
Cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks that well, my passion has nothing to do with my job so no one will care?
Andrew: That’s a great question. I mean I would say you don’t know until you try. Open yourself up, talk to some people and I think you’ll be surprised at what you find. I often joke with my friends and my friends will joke with me that I don’t present myself as this huge nerd that I really am.
I love the Lord of the Rings and I love Star Wars. That was a great question earlier. I read tons of historical non-fiction books. I’m a huge, huge nerd. When I open that up to people, it’s amazing how often you’ll find that somebody’s like oh, my gosh. I just read that same book or yeah, I love that band or yes, I go to Comic-Con or whatever it is.
Again, people are guarded and unsure. If you take that first step, I think you’d be surprised with the results. If the person’s a jerk then they’re a jerk, you don’t want them in your life anyways.
John: Right. There you go. You just sped up the process.
Andrew: Exactly. Just made it easier. Like all right, I’ll never talk to you again. Have a good one.
John: Exactly. One less Facebook friend. Delete. That’s so true. I think that it’s really funny how — I remember when I was working at PwC, no one talks about anything so we all just assume that no one does anything.
It’s the opposite. It’s like people are doing cool stuff all around us. Some which even overlaps directly with what I’m doing and yet, no one knows because we’ll never bring it up because we’re scared of being judged or what’s someone’s going to say and 99.9% of the time, it’s not judging at all, they’re celebrating and thinking it’s cool.
That’s great, man. That’s so great to hear your experiences with that as well. Before I bring this in for a landing though, I think it’s only fair that since I started out with the rapid fire questions of you to turn the tables. I don’t know if you have any to rapid fire question me?
Andrew: Yeah. I can come up with a couple here. Actually, I had dogs and cats written down so that’s kind of a bummer that you stole one.
John: I’m a dog person as well.
Andrew: Okay, good, good. I was going to say. Conversation over, if you say.
John: We should’ve done that early on.
Andrew: Cats are adorable. Sorry to anybody that has —
John: No, they’re not. They’re creepy and they take your breath away when you’re sleeping.
Andrew: Very sketchy, always miscalculating. All right. Podcast or music?
Andrew: Interesting. As a host of a podcast, I’m surprised. That’s a good answer.
John: I don’t really listen to other podcasts to be honest which is probably evident by this show.
Andrew: That’s great. All right. Magazines or books?
John: I mean Mad magazine or — like what are we talking here? Yeah, I’ll go books. I’ll go books. I’ll go books.
Andrew: All right. Then fiction or non-fiction?
John: Non-fiction, yeah. I’m kind of a nerd on that stuff. That whole business process, all that, everything.
Andrew: Very cool.
John: Ever since The Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program stopped because of my age group, I stopped reading the Judy Blume fiction books.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah.
John: Right, exactly.
Andrew: All right. Noodles or spaghetti?
John: Oh, man. That’s a tough one. I’m going to go noodles. I think I’m going to go noodles.
Andrew: Interesting. Any particular kind of noodle?
John: Man, this is a tough. I got to know names of noodles.
John: The homemade kind.
John: Well, that’s awesome, man. Well, thank you so much, Drew. This was really, really great. Thanks for taking time to be with me on the Green Apple Podcast.
Andrew: Yeah. Thank you so much. This was really enjoyable.
John: If you like to see some pictures of Drew on the road or maybe connect with him on social media, I’m not joking he’s got killer pictures of his dogs on Instagram, be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com, all the links are there. While you’re on that page, please click that big green button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing to the show and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread which is to go out and be a green apple.