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Where do video games get their names? A lot of the time they come from branding experts like Renata Amaral Morris and Gabriel Seibel, international trend-setters and co-founders of EAT Design Studios.
This week Louis talks to the dynamic creative team about what it’s like designing and building brands for the next generation of online entrepreneurs — from gamers to content creators, twitch streamers and more.
(Plus: Why Gucci is getting into gaming & other online trends worth watching.)
“Don’t be afraid to ask for examples. Ask for case studies. Ask for the data. Those tell you a lot about the work a studio does.”
🎙 Highlights Include:
- How do design & branding go hand-in-hand?
- How should new startups build a brand narrative?
- What are some of the emerging digital brand trends of 2021?
- Why is the gaming industry gaining so much mainstream attention and money?
- How should startups select a branding and design partner?
- How is building a brand different depending on the country you’re in?
This Week’s Guests
Renata Amaral Morris
CEO @ EAT Design Studio
Renata Amaral Morris (CEO) & Gabriel Seibel (COO/CFO) are co-founders of EAT Design Studios, a design studio that helps develop brands across industries and around the world. Renata and Gabriel are both Brazilian, but relocated after college. Today they run EAT from hubs in Los Angeles and Paris, respectively.
COO & CFO @ EAT Design Studio
Renata Amaral Morris (CEO) & Gabriel Seibel (COO/CFO) are co-founders of EAT Design Studios, a design studio that helps develop brands across industries and around the world. Renata and Gabriel are both Brazilian, but relocated after college. Today they run EAT from hubs in Los Angeles and Paris, respectively.
The Startup Stack’s Host
CEO, Co-Founder of Rocketplace
Rocketplace is a curated marketplace of high quality professional service providers. A 3x founder, investor, and board member, Louis began his tech career as a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. When he’s not working or podcasting, Louis enjoys cooking for his family. His pizza, he’d like you to know, is incredible.
Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00] Louis Beryl: [00:00:00] Social media has completely transformed the way we think about brands. As a term it’s ubiquitous. If you have a phone or an Instagram you can have a brand. They’re everywhere screaming out to us. Look at me and yet getting people to do that is harder than it’s ever been before to understand why we’re talking to branding experts Renata Amaral Morris and Gabriel Siebel. Their branding and design house, EAT Creative Studios counts game-changers like Netflix, RedBull and Twitch among their clients. Renata and Gabriel, join us to talk about their work and to give tips for building a company narrative that people will connect to in this very online age.
[00:00:41] MUSIC FX
[00:00:41] Um, I love this. So I was going to ask you how, what the name of EAT Design Studio. Where did it come from? So it’s the all you can EAT Design Studio, right? It’s the Chinese buffet of design studios, but actually that’s not the case. You guys are, an extremely high end design studio, but [00:01:00] you know, to, I’d love for you to take a step back for a minute. You, you know, you’ve been in business over a decade. I’d love to hear about the beginning. How did you start EAT?
[00:01:11] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:01:11] So it’s, uh, was started out of the perfect combination of necessity, um, a book and, uh, in a vision. And also of course, like I saw an opportunity to create a business in a different country. So the necessity part is, um, you know, uh, I moved here to take my masters in the doors were not really open at the time. Like I spent more than a year, uh, you know, sending resumes to tons of different companies in, in, in I was, I, I was never fortunate enough to get hired, which, you know, it is this beautiful silver lining that sometimes we think that, oh, this is the worst thing that could have happened to me and it was the actual [00:02:00] opposite. Because thanks to that, I was propelled to start my own business. So kind of like building the door that wasn’t open from the ground up. And so it wasn’t that same year 2008-2009 that, uh, I was giving this book called Funky Business, which is written by this two Swedish economists. Um, this is a really, really revolutionary book. I remember reading this book on the flight back. I was working on a project in Brazil and I went on my flight back I was reading this book and it really in the book talks about creating a different kind of corporation, creating a different kind of company where, um, where it’s more talent-based than competition-based. And, and what you do is just that you, if you have the best talent, you are going to have the best product and, and they talk about, uh, just the different kind of business, a funky kind of business and, and so I started having all these ideas and, and, and, [00:03:00] and being triggered by the fact that we could create something different, which helped me to create the vision that I had for the company, which is to create a company that truly elevates and enhance people’s lives, which is until this day is something that we live by. And our goal is to continue to, to elevating both our clients and our, our team members lives, making sure that people are, that they have a better life for, for our team members, especially that they, that they are living a better life because they’re working with us, uh, and so much more than having beer kegs at the office or ping pong tables. It’s just to really listen to people and making sure they were really present and really there for them. And, and I can give you an example of now to the pandemic, um, you know, we sat Gabby and I, as we saw the things were crumbling, um, and we, we thought, what can we do right now? What did we think that the team really needs? And so we were like, well, we need mental health. Cause we’re all gonna be locked up and having to work. We didn’t stop [00:04:00] working. So we had paid therapy for everyone that wanted to. To, uh, you know, take advantage of that. We, we thought about okay sports. We need to keep active cause otherwise we’re going to go crazy. So we gave them budget. Each person had a budget to be able to buy whatever they wanted, bike weights, yoga classes. We got memberships from a bunch of different, um, like Masterclass, a bunch of different yoga studios that people could, Headspace meditation so that we could use it. And, and that’s a, that’s a perfect example of, you know, instead of just following the trend of having a very sick office that has all these things that people are the majority of times, not even using, we try to be very specific and very thoughtful about how we think about people in general. So…
[00:04:46] Louis Beryl: [00:04:46] Yeah, I mean, and I love this idea of how do you know, as the world has changed, more of us are working remote. EAT is a great example of that. You know, Renata, you’re speaking to me right now from LA, Gabby you’re speaking to me right now from [00:05:00] Paris. Right. Um, and so how we build our companies and the types of benefits we bring to people has to change. 1Um, and I, so I love this idea of, you know, the budget for mental health and the budget for exercise. I think that’s great. But I, but I, I want to, um, I want to come back to this question .Maybe Gabby, Gabriel you can tell me what was it like at the beginning? How were you, how was EAT finding clients? What was really hard about starting the design studio?
[00:05:36] Gabriel Seibel: [00:05:36] I think there, there are several challenges involved in starting a company and creating a product from scratch. And I think the first one is really establishing, uh, which product are you offering and what exactly are you doing? Uh, we started as a full service. So back in the day, we’re doing a variety of different projects from social media to websites, to actual like event activations and brand development. And at that point, I think we were trying to test the market and most [00:06:00] importantly, try to understand what type of service and what type of product we wanted to develop, and we want to choose to ultimately offer to our clients. Uh…
[00:06:08] Louis Beryl: [00:06:08] And what do you mean by full service? Is full service like we would basically do whatever our clients asked is that full service?
[00:06:14] Gabriel Seibel: [00:06:14] When it comes to communication, advertising, marketing, yeah that would be the scenario. Like you have a need, we’ll try to find a way to produce it and we’ll produce it. So 360 kind of like covering all fields of activity yet from a communication.
[00:06:26] Louis Beryl: [00:06:26] But then how would you describe it today?
[00:06:28] Gabriel Seibel: [00:06:28] Uh, we’re extremely focused. We do branding and graphic design, and this is the process we’ve been through. Exactly. This is the journey we’ve been through and how we evolved and ultimately got to the point where we are. So at that point, we were offering a plethora and a variety, a big range of services to clients, very focused in the music industry, which was an industry that Renada knew well. And then she was working, uh, with. Since the beginning since before EAT. Uh, and then over time we started focusing and funneling our services more towards the graphic and branding design aspect [00:07:00] of it, which is more visual. It’s more of like the written narrative, the bridge story, the brandphilosophy and how that is represented from a design and visual standpoint. Uh, and with that focus on a service, the industry started broadening. So we started working with, uh, different brands from different fields. Uh, we started working with, uh, global bigger brands, such as, uh, RedBull, such as Amazon, such as Netflix, uh, and then just really defining in a very specific way, the services that we offer. So to give you an example, nowadays, we offer three main services. Uh, the main and first services, branding and brand development. So we design brands and we define brand narratives for brands. So, uh, take, for example, the word that we did for, uh, Ubisoft, uh, which is one of the biggest, uh, gaming publishers and producers in the world, uh, we’re currently helping them develop. Uh, the brand identity and the brand design for an upcoming new game that’s confidential and that it cannot share, but how [00:08:00] do we name that game and how do we design, uh, the aesthetic and the logo of that, of the game. And will the game…
[00:08:06] Louis Beryl: [00:08:06] Tell me more about that. Let’s just stay there for a second. How do you name, how do you name a game?
[00:08:12] Gabriel Seibel: [00:08:12] It’s, it’s just so fun. I think first before actually getting into the naming process, you need to understand, uh, the brand you’re creating. So, uh, what is the story you’re trying to tell, who you’re communicating with, what are the elements from the game that we need to understand? What is the game about? Is this a shooting game? Is this a personal game? Is it a strategy game? Uh, so I think first step is like collecting all of the information you have available. And most importantly, outlining the information that you still don’t have. What are the questions that you have? What are the challenges that we need to solve through the process? So this is step number one. Step number two is the actual production, the actual creation. So this is pure fun. Uh, we get a group of creative copywriters together from our team. Uh, we share a very detailed brief with them, and then we have individual brainstorm [00:09:00] exercises. Group brainstorm exercises and we’re just, free-flowing all types of like informations and ideas and just name options that we can without any boundaries. Uh, and then we start selecting them and curating them and polishing them and, uh, creating defenses for them. And so we get you around like top 10, top 15, no more than that. So not to overwhelm the client with options and those options are cleared from a trademark standpoint, they’re available on social media, they’re ready to go. So we present them, uh, and we bring them to the client.
[00:09:33] Louis Beryl: [00:09:33] And is this your special, would you say that, that this is your specialty? Your sweet spot is to, um, start with, you know, companies and projects that are like “pre name” or is that just an example of one type of project?
[00:09:47] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:09:47] Not necessarily. Um, sometimes we, we, we, we start the project or from, from the, from the very beginning from creating the name and conceiving from scratch. But a [00:10:00] lot of the times we’re here just to create a brand for a company that already has a name. Um, sometimes, sometimes we’re here to create a so brand. And that’s usually what happens with the global brands that we work with because they, as you guys know, they already have their brands. So we’re there to create, you know, a brand for one of their games or one of their divisions or one of their new events and, and you name it. And sometimes we’re hired to rebrand. So let’s say a company needs, feels like there’s a need to, to, to come up with something that is more modern or something that is more representative of who they are right now, because maybe they haven’t gone through this exercise for the past five or 10 years. We, we always think that the sweet spot is, uh, is around that like, uh, every five to 10 years to review it what you have.
[00:10:57] MUSIC INTERLUDE
Louis Beryl: [00:10:57] Hey, do you like our show? I do too. If you [00:11:00] want to support The Startup Stack, the best way to do that is by subscribing and rating us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to us. Also send Dad jokes or if you have them actual good jokes to email@example.com. Feel free to send us feedback there too. Do you have an example of a, a project, whether that’s a, uh, an initial naming or rebranding that you know, you and the team are really proud of that you can kind of describe for us? Why was it challenging? Why was it fun?
[00:11:30] Gabriel Seibel: [00:11:30] So for, so for RevelMode the challenge was, uh, Disney acquired Maker Studios which was a big startup working with influencer marketing back in the beginning of, uh, of the influencer marketing, everything. Um, and they had the biggest YouTuber in the world, PewDiePie. So PewDiePie got together with a bunch of other YouTube, uh, creators, and he decided to form a network, uh, and he wanted the network to live, uh, under maker, under Disney. So we were hired, uh, to create the name [00:12:00] and the brand for that network. Uh, and it was an amazing project because we got in touch with a bunch of. Business people who are actually bloggers and content creators, very young, but with a very sharp business comprehension and understanding of everything, uh, they desired everything they wanted this project to be. Uh, and the challenge that we had before because this brand wouldn’t be followed by any suffix would only be the brand not like brand at Disney Studio or brand at Disney. So I think we needed to create a name that would be unique enough for it to be trademarkable. As you could imagine, pretty much all of the words that have four or five letters are already taken. So it’s pretty tough for you to find Instagram handles or .com domains of like shorter words. So we need to come up with a word. And that was the, the amazing brief we were, we were given back in the day. Uh, so come up with a word that would represent the idea of like fun and excitement and like something that is very enticing and alive and playful, which was. Ultimately what they wanted the network to, to [00:13:00] convey, to represent the message they wanted to get across. So we’ve been back and forth. We had several brainstorms with them. Um, we’ve been through a long legal process. Uh, and yeah, and the name that we, that we created with them was RevelMode, uh, which represents this idea of something that is like very fun and funky. And, uh, and the brain project as a whole, as this was such a success within design, the plug in that plug was called RevelMode then the plug would have a different styling,depending on, uh, each YouTube or each creator, it would represent. Uh it’s uh, it’s a project that has a big place in our hearts. Yeah it was one of the first gaming projects that we got back in the day.
[00:13:39] Louis Beryl: [00:13:39] I mean, it sounds like, you know, this was a success, you know, right from the word go, but I wonder whether this project or maybe other projects, you know, you and your team must work on them maybe you’re presenting to the client. You’re really excited, right? About, oh my [00:14:00] God, we’ve got it. We’ve figured out these things, but then maybe the client doesn’t get it or it falls flat. How do you navigate, how do you navigate that, that back and forth or that disappointment?
[00:14:12] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:14:12] Oh, that really happens. Um, that’s a lot of the work that I do, which is more of the emotional side of the clients. And, uh, I think my answer to you is this, I, I feel a lot of compassion and I, I, I can easily put myself into the client’s shoes. And so instead of, uh, protecting our work too much, which don’t get me wrong. I get really excited and also very frustrating. We are so in love with what we’re creating and then all of a sudden, how dare you come here and say that you don’t like it. But yeah, I think there are parts within this. Like, first of all, we have a team of people that care about the project and care about the client. Uh, just as much as they care about their craft, which is really important to us. It’s like, we don’t really [00:15:00] work with people that are too egocentric or they’re going to throw a fuss because something didn’t go as, as, as they expected. And then, like I said, the second part is like, I have a lot of compassion for what the client’s feeling and what is it that they think and what, and that’s because that’s their truth. And, and, and I respect that. So, um, you know, understand that maybe who knows, like they have their past, their history is maybe like it’s happened before, like, oh, we had a client saying that they, their wife has seen that in a magazine. And because of that, which throws them off, who am I to judge why they’re not satisfied with it. So we humbly, you know, listen to them. uh, we do have an opinion, so we will share with them and it’s happened before. uH, like, but guys, we still think that this is the best, the best name or the best brand for the project, we’ll fight for the project. There’s been like lots of different experiences where the client pushes back and then [00:16:00] it’s back to it. And they said, yeah, you guys are right or the opposite. But at the end of the day, I think there’s knowledge that we’re there for the same reason. And for the success of the project is what helps the most with the frustration that we could feel, and, and then I try to like, bring that feeling to the team as well, guys, it’s okay. You know, we’re going to work, we’re going to do it again. And it’s going to be great. Or it’s just managing expectations and emotions, which I really love.
[00:16:24] Louis Beryl: [00:16:24] You guys clearly work with some enormous companies, Amazon, Netflix, Disney, New York Times but you also work with startups. Tell me a little bit about how the work changes when you’re working with a smaller company.
[00:16:39] Gabriel Seibel: [00:16:39] Uh, so I think that there are a variety of, uh, of different elements that could be taken into consideration. And when we approached that, I think usually when we’re working with smaller companies, usually the decision-making process is not necessarily faster, but it has less people involved. So the startups and all of that you’re working directly with the founders or the [00:17:00] CMO or the CEO. Uh, so you have a shorter team of people and most likely you’re handling the decision-maker directly. So in the presentation and that helps alot.
[00:17:10] Louis Beryl: [00:17:10] Versus, versus with the larger companies there’s all sorts of like politics.
[00:17:14] Gabriel Seibel: [00:17:14] Exactly.
[00:17:15] Louis Beryl: [00:17:15] Presentations.
[00:17:16] Gabriel Seibel: [00:17:16] Yeah. And the big companies are actually your help. You’re serving as the team of that department to, for them to use you, to get you a bigger meeting with a C-level executive that will then give them the go. So we need to prepare the presentations for them and train with them how they will present. So that’s definitely one point that changes a lot. Uh, there is the, the emotional attachment to the project too. Uh, I think when it comes to a startup, when it comes to a smaller company it’s usually your baby. It’s usually your project that you created from, it’s an ambition, it’s a passion. It’s something that you nurtured for a long time. So making a decision of a name or a logo has a lot of like personal feelings of aggressions involved. And that’s a beautiful process. It’s really like, we call it [00:18:00] brand therapy sometimes because we get to learn a lot about the clients. And sometimes people cry in meetings and we like, we really, we embrace all of that. And when it comes to the bigger corporations they’re making decisions. They have a variety of decisions to make and those decisions are fast-paced so they’re pushing forward. Uh, so usually it is even if they have more, here are like, you have more levels of approval. Uh, the decisions might be taken, uh, in a faster manner, uh, than, uh, than in a startup. Uh, and then everything that goes around it, like the complexity of the project, the need of like technical explanation, the amount of the size of the budgets. For example, when, ah, other, like intricacies in, uh, in the elements of, of, of each project, but the deliverable by itself is the same. We create brand narratives. We create brand stories. We create logos or presentation decks. We design things, uh, and those things serve both the startups and the global brains. It’s more like the philosophy and the company culture and the size that really [00:19:00] impacts the project and changes the process.
[00:19:02] Louis Beryl: [00:19:02] So I want to ask you to wear a different hat for a minute as an advisor. Imagine I’m asking you for advice and I’m saying, “Hey, when should my company be working with an outside design studio? Like, what is the right time? When is it too late?” what are the questions I should even be asking when I’m meeting these design studios?
[00:19:29] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:19:29] We start by asking the client to ask themselves: What do they need? That might sound not as important, but it is if you’re going to choose the company that you will work with. Depending on what is it that you’re looking for. And maybe you’re looking for a specific style and then you’re going to have to find a company that matches the style that you’re looking for. Or maybe you were looking for a company that is [00:20:00] global because for the brand you want to launch. You want a company that has a thorough understanding of what it is to launch something here and then in Paris and in New Zealand, for example, which is completely different. If you think about it, right? Or. You were a company that is small enough that can fit within the structure that you already have, which might be that you have a creative team in-house. But maybe the creative team is really busy or you want a specialist, like you want an EAT that is a specialist in branding and design. And even if you have a big agency working with you, or you have an entire creative team, it’s very hard to cover all the different aspects that a company needs. For example, like a company that does PR is completely different from a company that does design, which is completely different from a company that is doing a website. So we help you to help yourself [00:21:00] by asking you to ask yourself the right questions so that you can give us the answers that we need to see how we can be helpful.
[00:21:08] Louis Beryl: [00:21:08] When you work on these…it may be Gabriel for you. How do you judge the success of a project?
[00:21:16] Gabriel Seibel: [00:21:16] So yeah, that’s definitely what I was going to say to compliment Renata’s answer. I think at the end of the day, there are two ways for you to judge quality. One way would be the appreciation and just how it feel for you and what we would call tastes. And taste would be a super personal arbitrary judgment of me saying “it looks good.” It is quality material or it is not, which is extremely personal. And it’s definitely not the same way that YOU THINK because we have a different emotional language and we learn things differently. Say we have different heritage of things that we like or dislike. The second way for you to judge quality is results. As in: Does the communication system that you put in place and that you created get the message across? Are you connecting with your audience? Are you generating results? Are you [00:22:00] getting the action or any behavior that you were expecting from that communication? Are you able to create a sincere deep link with your target? And that for us is the measure of success. We also work with focus groups, so we create designs and we run those designs by focus groups that are comprised of people who are an example of the target audience we’re creating that for. And we’re making sure that that focus group is saying, “This is a go. This resonates with me. This makes sense. You can move forward with that. It will be too ambitious for us to put us in a position where we can be any type of target of all types of clients, because we’re not. We have certain tastes, the first portion of it because we’ve been working with design for such a long time that I can look at a logo and say this has taken hours and hours of work. Or definitely not. But that’s just my personal opinion.
[00:22:56] And then there’s actually like, what does this generate? What are the [00:23:00] results that this communication piece generates? So just to link back to your previous questions, I think when you’re looking for an agency try to understand what’s thire record, what’s the history of that agency?
[00:23:11] Who have they worked with? What are the results they generated? And is the size of that studio or agency good for you? Are you working with a 500-person agency and your Startup is you and two or three people? Like that doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t match. So just make sure that there is a link between the structure and the philosophy and also the results they got.
[00:23:33] And don’t be afraid to ask questions. To ask, for example, for case studies. Ask for the data. I think that’s very key for you to be able to make your decision.
[00:23:42] Louis Beryl: [00:23:42] I want to shift to trends a little bit. 2021 is here. We got through 2020. The world has changed. Your business has changed, or at least how you operated, as we discussed.
[00:23:56] What are you seeing [00:24:00] out there right now? Where do you think we’re headed in 2020, 2021? What are the types of things that your clients are asking you for right now?
[00:24:10] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:24:10] We’ve been seeing two really clear types of trends out there. We’ve been seeing lots of fashion brands that are turning to the gaming world as well as the rest of the world is.
[00:24:24] I don’t know if you guys had a chance to see the Balenciaga launched a game and an entire clothing line based on gaming characters that they created. We’ve been working with the gaming industry for so long and watching every little step of it, and watching this born where gaming became culture. Became something so popular that it’s not your usual idea of [00:25:00] who’s behind this controllers anymore. It’s not just the so-called nerds or the people who are inside of the house. You’re talking about girls, talking about all sorts of different ages playing and are involved with like social games and playing against each other in teams. So there’s a thing.
[00:25:22] And then Adidas just came out with something similar to it, not a game, but a collection. And so it’s interesting when you see that culture starts to touch high-end fashion brands. It’s pretty interesting. And I think the turning point was in the global opening ceremony for the League of Legends that happened in Paris.
[00:25:46] It’s been that long. But Louis Vuitton created the bag that would serve to keep the trophy for the national final of League of Legends. [00:26:00] And we were lucky to work with the company that created this massive opening ceremony.
[00:26:07] Louis Beryl: [00:26:07] But you’re right that these are two groups that I wouldn’t really associate with each other. People who are following or playing at a League of Legends championship and high-end fashion.
[00:26:22] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:26:22] And that’s kind of the feeling that we got as well. But those are very pivotal moments where we should all be aware to see something that is already, it’s been in our face for awhile. And we’re getting this confirmation and confirmation and confirmation. And then, to your point, let’s say we’re past 2020 and in 2021. Eighty-five percent of the projects we worked on last year were in the gaming industry. Which means, you know, it’s definitely not stopping anytime soon.
[00:26:58] Gabriel Seibel: [00:26:58] Just to compliment what you’re saying, it’s [00:27:00] not necessarily for only gaming companies, but also companies that are not related to gaming but who are trying to get into the gaming universe or to understand a little bit more about this universe or create actions and events that are related to it.
[00:27:13] Because it has gone beyond being its own thing. It became like a mainstream phenomenon. It became something bigger. So everyone is trying to be part of the conversation that is very current.
[00:27:24] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:27:24] And then there’s another trend that I think is extremely important, which is authentic representation.
[00:27:35] We haven’t mentioned here, but we are a women, LGBTQ+, immigrant-owned company. And it was through the silver lining of this very tough year that we had that now we feel comfortable enough to share that outloud. And so as part of that feeling of [00:28:00] being proud of who we really are and feeling finally comfortable to share who we are, I think authentic representation is the least that we can do to help the world to continue to shift forward to a more inclusive place.
[00:28:14] Louis Beryl: [00:28:14] Do you think about that in your designs? Like when a company comes to you and they want a new brand or a rebrand, or you’re designing one of your unique experiences.
[00:28:28] How do you integrate these ideas of inclusion into your work?
[00:28:33] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:28:33] We’re very sensitive and respectful, Louis, to the different projects and clients. Right? We’re going to have clients that are deeply sensitive about it already. We’re going to have clients that are so far from it. And we’re welcome to everyone.
[00:28:52] So for us it’s intrinsic to the company that we are always thinking about it and proposing [00:29:00] it, but that doesn’t mean the clients are always going to go for it. But the way that we think for our designs, if you were creating or designing, you know, the user interface design for a website, and you’re going to be showcasing cartoon figures. We are definitely going to be thinking about representing as many different people as we can. Right.
[00:29:20] That being said, that does not mean that every project will allow us to showcase that, which is fine for now. But, that’s the least that we can do.
[00:29:31] Louis Beryl: [00:29:31] Well and I imagine — your global team, your global perspective, your multicultural perspective — it helps you bring that to the table every day, actually, without even thinking about it. Which is probably one of the reasons that your clients love working with you.
[00:29:50] I know that EAT has been through some difficult times and I was wondering…you know, you’re clearly doing extremely well at this point. You’ve been through the [00:30:00] difficult times.
[00:30:01] If you could look back over the last 10 plus years of building the studio, what would be some advice that you would give to yourself?
[00:30:11] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:30:11] I have five quick ones.
[00:30:15] So I think first — and this is the main and most important advice that I really wish people gave to me — I wish I had not carried stress as a badge of honor, the way that society is so used to.
[00:30:34] As in: “Oh, how are you?” “Oh, I’m so busy.” As if, if you don’t say that you’re so busy, you’re not doing good enough. And that is not a good thing. Stress is a pretty real thing that can lead into pretty reversible health issues.
[00:30:50] Louis Beryl: [00:30:50] I’m writing that down. That’s a good one.
[00:30:56] Renata Amaral Morris: [00:30:56] The second one [00:31:00] is that to own a business requires much more than the passion that we have for our craft. I think that’s not always an assumption. I think that’s something that the majority of creatives that start their companies — they have a passion for what they do — and then all of a sudden, you are crushed by the different realities and things that you never thought that you would have to learn about.
[00:31:30] The left and right side of the brain. And you’re just having to struggle to figure it out, things that you never thought, or like I did, tried to push it away. To not have to see it.
[00:31:45] And then all of a sudden those things — I mean — those things are not going anywhere. You’re going to have to face them one day or the other. So you rather, surround yourself with people that you trust. And establish a really good way [00:32:00] to get reports to you every week and make sure that you understand what these reports are about.
[00:32:06] Just getting the reports, it’s not enough because at the end of the day, you’re going to be calling the shots and if things go wrong, it’s your company that is not going to be there anymore. So that’s number two.
[00:32:18] Number three is very important. Know who your company is in your company’s DNA so that when you hire, you’re hiring the right hires.
[00:32:33] Especially with the tendency of working remotely, you need to hire better because you’re not going to be there to check everyone’s computers and see. Micromanaging while working remotely is pretty much impossible. So you need to hire very well. And to hire very well you go back to that question that you asked before. You need to know who you are, what you want this company to be, how you want to be represented.
[00:32:59] Number [00:33:00] four is that teams need real leadership. I was always kind of weirded out by the idea of being a boss. Cause I’ve always… I learned from Brene Brown that power over people is not the right way to go.
[00:33:14] And it was always hard for me to see myself as that person that could be using the power that way, because that was never the way that I want to be perceived by people. But still people need leadership. And leadership is something that is built with trust, where you have a team that trusts you, and that are there because they want to be there, because you’re providing them with an amazing company, an amazing platform for them to be the best version of themselves.
[00:33:46] Last and final I love this guy, Ben Horewitz. I read his book called “The Hard Thing About Hard Things.” He says that at the end of the day, when things [00:34:00] go wrong, it’s always the CEO’s fault. And I remember when I read that, I thought for a good while, it’s so true. At the end of the day the hardest thing is for a CEO to be able to deal with their own psychological issues. Because you’re going to need to be there, and to be a really good CEO you need to not quit. And a lot of times you’re alone, then you’re like, “Oh, I have to keep calling the final shots.”
[00:34:33] I love that you brought up Ben. Ben’s my old boss. I swear. And one of the things that he’s really big on is, as you talked about, around responsibility.
[00:34:48] He’s given me some great advice over the years. One piece of advice that he gave me when I was starting my first company was around [00:35:00] this idea of responsibility. He said, you know, there’s going to be days when it’s really, really tough and you’re going to go home and maybe you’re going to be really stressed out.
[00:35:12] Maybe you’re going to be working long hours. Maybe that’s going to stress your wife out. Maybe you have a fight with your wife. And he said to me: Don’t ever say something like, “You know, I’m doing this for you! So why are you giving me such a hard time for working so long?”
[00:35:33] “I’m doing this for you. I’m doing this for the family.” And he said, you have to own all of that. Instead of ever saying you’re doing this for them, the truth is you’re doing this for you, Louis. Right. And so actually what you should do when you go home is you should just say, thank you so much for supporting [00:36:00] me to do this crazy, stupid, impossible thing that forces me to work all these extra hours, et cetera, et cetera. And allowing me to pursue my passion and my dreams. And I was actually listening to him on Clubhouse last night. And he was saying something very similar: No matter what argument you get in with somebody, if you really want to build a long-lasting relationship with that person, ask yourself — what did you do?
[00:36:35] Maybe something to make that argument worse? Maybe it was an eye roll. Maybe it was how you responded to something? Because no matter how right you think you are, there’s always something that you did to make things worse. A hundred percent of the time. And then if you come from that place of taking responsibility and trying to apologize, then you can build real relationships and trust.
[00:36:59] Ben’s a smart [00:37:00] guy. I agree with you. It’s “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” his book.
[00:37:04] I read that book all the time. Yeah.
[00:37:08] Gabriel! Renata! It’s been really exciting to learn more about EAT Studios. I’ve loved having you on today. Thank you so much for telling me about your agency and your story.
[00:37:22] I really appreciate the time.
[00:37:24] Nice. Thank you for putting the time and bearing with us and all the technical issues that we’ve had. But this has been so pleasant.
[00:37:32] Louis Beryl: [00:37:32] For more on our conversation today visit www.rocketplace.com/podcast. We upload a new episode every week. So if you haven’t yet make sure to subscribe to The Startup Stack in Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to them.
[00:37:47] Thanks again for joining us. See you next week.
[00:37:50] Announcer: The Startup Stack written and edited by Hannah Levy produced by Leah Jackson.