On this 235th episode of “Marketing Today,” I speak with Steve Schlesinger, founder and CEO of Schlesinger Group, a market research company. Schlesinger has been a part of the family business for over 35 years, working to take the company to greater heights than it has ever seen!

We start our conversation with the history of Schlesinger Group and how Schlesinger’s mother’s affinity for hard work set the foundation for years to come. Over the last 35 years, Schlesinger Group has experienced multiple chapters of growth. “The goal for us is really to maintain a nimble and agile approach to how we run the business and how we build the business,” Schlesinger says regarding that growth. Schlesinger then dives into the recent partnership with the private equity firm Gauge Capital and how that has led to the company doubling in size in just the last 14 months. Schlesinger talks about the best ways to ensure success when growing a business and how it’s vitally important to “make sure you have a great team around you.”

We then talk about Schlesinger’s angel and private investments. When I ask what Schlesinger’s criteria are when deciding what businesses to invest in, he says, “at the end of the day, I actually look at the people first, then the idea.” Schlesinger knows that people, whether they be employees or clients, are a critical component to any business’s success!

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Steve lives in New York City and had COVID back in March, but he didn’t find out until his knee surgery in May. 1:31
  • Taking a year off from grad school at Georgetown, Steve worked in project management for his mother’s research company. 2:36
  • Steve’s mom was a hard worker and really enjoyed talking to people, but that didn’t necessarily make her a natural entrepreneur. 4:13
  • Growing up in the depression helped Steve’s mom set the foundation for her company and her family. 5:10
  • In his youth, Steve and his siblings always did what they could to contribute to the business whenever they could. 5:42
  • Over the last 35 years, there have been multiple chapters in the family business that has seen drastic change and growth. 6:47
  • Bringing in Gauge Capital as a private equity partner helps set the business up for its next chapter as more digitally focused. 7:45
  • Finding a private equity partner helped Steve and his partner further craft their strategy moving into the future. 8:29
  • Quantitative and online qualitative sectors saw massive growth after partnering with Gauge. 9:40
  • Massive growth to different markets all over the world has left gaps that present an opportunity to make the process more seamless. 11:15
  • Steve looks at the time horizon in two ways regarding Gauge Capital and the business itself. 12:30
  • To help your business grow significantly, make sure you have the right team around you. 13:26
  • Keep a good handle on the market and what your clients think of you at all times. 13:55
  • Don’t let that desire slip away. It’s only going to become more challenging as you grow. 14:15
  • The Insight industry’s future consists of brands utilizing technology to have a greater understanding of consumer demands. 15:13
  • After acquiring Market Cube, Steve’s business has transformed from a user to a developer. 17:30
  • Many industries are trying to leverage tech and create products but have left the critical people component behind. 18:56
  • There are a multitude of roles and asks with the types of work that clients do for their internal clients. 20:38
  • Steve has a handful of successful side businesses that help him support other people’s entrepreneurial journeys. 22:08
  • Being the executive for other businesses has allowed Steve to reflect on his journey as an entrepreneur. 23:10
  • A few of Steve’s favorite side businesses lie in the Spirits, Tech, and HR Management industries. 24:00
  • Having the right team and people involved in a company is Steve’s guiding principle when investing in a business. 26:31
  • The encouragement to work and hustle from his parents shaped who Steve is as an entrepreneur and a man today. 28:00
  • It is incredibly important to be reflective of your experiences as you are going through them. 29:05
  • Tech businesses are successfully changing the world right in front of our eyes. 32:00
  • Knowing how to work with the wealth of information available today presents both an opportunity and a threat to marketers today. 34:56

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.