Episode 8

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Teams, Unlocked

Tim Sanders, Gene Gates

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Teams, Unlocked

In our final episode of this season, we learn why two iconic brands—Budweiser and Amway—both turned to Upwork to tap into a new way of working and how the platform has helped them hire video and design crews on the other side of the world, bring their values to the forefront, and change the way they look at teams moving forward. We also share our biggest takeaways from all of our conversations this season, all of which you can start implementing today to unlock your own potential.

Open Transcript

Jake Vizek: This was something new for us. Opened my eyes to the Upwork platform. The level of customization that we could have for a specific project, we had that flexibility with Upwork. We don't get that when we work with a traditional agency. And then the speed at which we were able to get some things done was amazing, right? So now we have a new go to market strategy.

Gene Gates: That's Jake from Budweiser. You know it's incredible that a brand as iconic as Budweiser would consider changing their go to market strategy, after working with Upwork to redesign a beer can for labor day.

Tim Sanders: In today's episode, you'll hear that amazing story from Budweiser in great detail. And you'll also hear a story about another global brand that found a new way to work, Amway. Imagine their situation. They needed to produce videos that were created all over the world, showcasing Amway business owners. But Gene, how do you do that during the pandemic and when you have a limited budget?

Gene Gates: Well, that's when you lean into the freelance economy and find dependable experts located exactly where you need them to be.

Tim Sanders: This episode, the finale to season one of Work Unlocked features content from our fifth annual Work Without Limits conference, where we brought together business clients and our expert vetted talent to learn best practices of scaling work, using hybrid teams and freelance talent.

Gene Gates: In this episode, we have highlights from panel discussions featuring the leaders from Budweiser and Amway, as they share their remarkable stories of success that exceeded their expectations. And I mean, by a lot.

Tim Sanders: And this episode Gene is for everyone because the panel featured both freelancers and business clients in conversation. Let's start with Adrienne Young from Amway. Tell us more about you.

Adrienne Young: Hi everybody. I'm happy to be here. My name is Adrian and I'm the creative lead for Amway global marketing. And so I do everything from ensure consistency and brand standards for Amway brand, and I lead photography direction and video direction, and I help with our social content. So everything creative to ensure brand consistency from Amway perspective. That's what I do.

Tim Sanders: It's great to have you here, Adrienne. Austin, you're going next. I bet you thought you were third. I just want to keep you on your toes, Austin. Next, tell us a little bit.

Austin Devine: What's up everybody. My name is Austin Devine. I am a freelance filmmaker and photographer based in Bangkok, and I was in charge of the video production on the ground here in Thailand.

Tim Sanders: Ben, finally to you, tell us a little bit about yourself and Hoozens.

Ben Tyson: So hello everyone, I'm Ben Tyson. I'm the co-founder of a small video agency. We're based in Portland, Oregon called Hoozens. So I look after clients and business development and creative strategy, and shooting video and photography and a ton of post-production.

Tim Sanders: Great. Well, all three of you. It's a pleasure to have you here. Adrienne, I want to start with you. Taking a step back, when you look at the workforce that you manage today which is truly hybrid, how has it changed? In other words, how has it transformed for you over the last few years?

Adrienne Young: Yeah, I think I speak for a lot of people in creatives especially, when I say that COVID has really changed the way that we work and approach creative productions. For me at the beginning of 2020, I was tasked specifically with this global production that we had to pull off. And we as a global company, we're located in over 100 countries and territories globally. And in order to get that global representation for our brand, in order to pull that off especially in the midst of a pandemic, we had to really rethink the way that we went into productions and the way that we built teams and the way that we engage with agencies. So for me, I really knew that we needed to approach creative differently at the beginning of 2020. So we knew that the pandemic was ramping up and we knew that we really needed that global representation.

Adrienne Young: So for Amway, our global headquarters, they're located in west Michigan, but some of our biggest markets are actually located in Asia and all across the world in different continents. And so typically one of the challenges that we find is that sometimes when you do creative, even in big cities like New York or Chicago, the big agencies there, the creative would still tend to skew Western. And because we're such a global company, we needed that true representation across the gamut. So for us, Upwork was a great solution because we knew we could tap into talent globally, and we could really truly build that hybrid team of people across the world. And we didn't need to physically be present, that was another huge thing. So from my home office, not even the world headquarters, from my small home office/guest bedroom, how do we pull off global photo and video shoots? So Upwork really came in and helped us to pull that off when it seemed like a huge undertaking at the time. And there's so many uncertainties.

Tim Sanders: Yeah. Yeah. It's crazy. So Adrienne, where did this all start? I want you to put us in a moment in time when you realized I've got to reach out to Upwork, we've absolutely got to solve this problem.

Adrienne Young: Yeah. So just to give a little background on Amway. So sometimes what we say is our special sauce is our Amway business owners. So those are the unique business owners that are on the ground that are selling the products that are building their business. And they're truly what helps us to grow and become the largest direct selling company in the world. And we knew we needed to showcase the stories of our business owners globally. That was something that was a charge that was led by our CMO. And he was wondering from global marketing, how do we tell these stories? And how do we do so in our five major markets, which happened to be Brazil, Russia, Thailand, India, and China. So I had this relatively small budget. I was tasked with going into these five major markets that were not located anywhere near me, and figuring out how do we represent these Amway business owners that are truly amazing examples of great storytelling, and people that are really modernizing the way that they run their Amway business.

Adrienne Young: And for me, I was totally overwhelmed. I'll admit. And one of my colleagues came to me and said, "We have this new platform that's available to us. It's called Upwork. You can tap into talent globally. You can find every type of entrepreneur skill that you could ever want. Let's start there." And I feel like our company is in the perfect place right now because they're really encouraging us to... Don't be afraid to fail, to try something new and to think about the way you approach projects differently. And so it was kind of the perfect storm I would say. So the pandemic is ramping up. We knew we needed these global stories and Upwork had just been available to us from a corporate perspective. So that's when we came to Upwork and we worked with some account reps to say, how do we get started?

Adrienne Young: How do we even position this project? What is the type of talent that we're looking for on the platform? And they really helped us to... We went through our creative brief and they broke it down and they said, "You could really benefit from probably an executive producer and some creative support, and then you'll need videographers on the ground in the markets." And from there, it started to shape up into an actual project for me, where I was like, "Okay, I can see us pulling this off and I don't even have to leave my office." And that's around the time where I first met Ben. And after I met Ben, I had a lot more confidence that we could pull this off logistically.

Tim Sanders: Behind me you see a rocket, it's a little toy rocket from the movie Toy Story and I think a lot about this rocket scientist's thinking. A first principle says, don't be afraid to fail. It's part of the first principle's process. Sounds like you had that mentality which means you could explore something new. And in this case it was a new workforce to execute a really big idea. If you will, a moonshot for Amway to have this global video storytelling narrative. So I think that as you went on that journey, you had to learn a little bit. Just talk about your first experience. You say it was locating and engaging Ben, just talk a little bit about how you use the platform and how you learned a lot through the experience, say of bringing on Ben and then subsequently some videographers.

Adrienne Young: The Upwork team that we work with, our executive account representatives, they really helped us to digest the creative brief and break it down into a project description to attract the right talent on the platform. And that's where the executive producer role was brought up. So they knew logistically it was going to be really complex to have all of these video shoots and photo shoots in different markets, in different countries, different languages. And in order to ensure creative consistency and to pull off a logistics of shoots across the world with our Amway business owners who aren't actually professional talent, they're real people. And so I would say the executive account reps from Upwork, they helped us to write that project description. And that was how we were in touch with Ben and Hoozens. And then we had our first interview with him and we got to know him better where we were able to gauge, have you done this type of work before?

Adrienne Young: Is this intimidating to you? The fact that we have five different markets to potentially engage with and that we have to find five different videographers, but ensure consistency in all of the finished assets. So after talking to Ben, it was very clear that he had experience that lined up with the approach to the project and he was able to help us figure out, how do we get it going? How do we get it going quickly? And he wasn't intimidated at all, he jumped right in, helped us to get started.

Tim Sanders: Just want to stop for a second and talk about this creative brief. So important to be able to create a prototype if you will, even if it's just verbal like a creative brief of what you're looking for, or as Louis Pasture often said, "Luck favors the prepared mind." Ben, it's time to talk to you a little bit. So talk about what goes into a great creative brief? Because you're on the receiving side of it. And even though you're 18 months in on Upwork, this isn't your first corporate rodeo. Talk to me about what's the difference between a really good creative brief, and a creative brief that's just a little bit too general to either price or scope.

Ben Tyson: The number one thing that people do that just baffles me that was missing from so many briefs, is what's the point here? What's the objective? I spent some time in kind of a Hollywood career and every script has a log line, and a brief without a log line or a headline is really tough to sift through. And so I think that's the first thing of really just hit it over the head. This is what we're trying to do here. We're trying to tell stories about five AVOs in Adrian's case. But then also a degree of specificity and a willingness to share, I think is really important. When you think about a bad brief, it's often sort of a thing upon a thing, and you can tell there are multiple people all piling in, and then there's someone in charge of putting the actual document together.

Ben Tyson: And then you see it on our end and I'm sure Austin sees this too. What we want to do is be able to come back with a creative take and a budget take and a scope take in the first round, and then start to have questions. So I think specificity is really, really important. And then also sharing prior work. Like hey, we did this at Amway and we loved this or check out our social channels. That's great in terms of getting our heads in the zone.

Tim Sanders: Absolutely, because it gives you a starting point. One of the things that you point out though is your Hollywood experience. I always think about this fundamental question that any actor should walk in and ask and that's, what's my motivation? So it sounds like Amway did a good job at letting you know what the end goal of the project is. So thanks for unpacking that for us. Austin, we're bringing you into the conversation. Talk a little bit about how you got connected with Ben and Adrian.

Austin Devine: Yeah. So I was first connected with Ben and Sean. They contacted me regarding this project. The specifics were kind of vague at first, but then we hopped on a couple video chats, I think maybe two or three and I really got to understand the project a little bit more. I understood it was Amway and at this time they still hadn't chosen to work with me, but I really wanted to work with them and they decided to move forward with me. And then after that, I was connected with Adrian and the Amway business owner here and the rest of the team.

Tim Sanders: Got you. Got you. So what do you do on the Upwork platform to make it easier for potential clients to discover you?

Austin Devine: That's a good question. I do a good job and I get good reviews. To start on Upwork was actually fairly difficult because it's a very competitive platform. So when I started out, I was taking jobs that were not necessarily what I would usually jump to excitement about, but I would take them because I was confident that I could do them well and build up a reputation...

Austin Devine: ...that I could do them well and build up a reputation on the platform that would then give me the opportunity to work with clients that I wanted to.

Tim Sanders: Yeah. Yeah. And you're in Bangkok. Talk to me about the time difference. What's the time difference between, say Grand Rapids, Michigan and Bangkok? What's that time difference?

Austin Devine: So I believe it's 12 hours and I think it's 14 hours with Ben.

Tim Sanders: This is an important discussion. And we're going to start with you, Austin. How do you solve for those times zone differences? It's literally night and day. How do you solve for that problem? Ben, Adrienne, be on your toes. I'm coming to you next with the same question.

Austin Devine: So nowadays, it's not so difficult actually. There's so many good ways to stay connected with people overseas. However, one thing that stands out is originally, we had a ton of time. From the time that I was being interviewed to the time that we actually started production, I think was around two months. So this was extremely helpful because we have a lot of planning to do. We go back and forth with ideas. So having ample time was something that I think definitely helped this project be successful.

Austin Devine: Obviously there were some late nights for me and some early mornings for them where we were connecting originally just to get a sense of each other and make sure we were a good fit to work together. But after that, we switched to email and to WhatsApp texting actually, which I preferred. It was immediate. It was just a much smoother process than staying up late and hopping on a video chat. Furthermore, Ben actually... I think it was Ben, put together a really awesome production packet for me that was not only visually appealing, but had so much good information in it that I could have probably just done the whole production with just that packet.

Tim Sanders: Wow. Wow. So let's unpack that because you offered three solutions for working across time zones. Solution one is schedule padding. Now this was an important point you make. I've worked across time zones a lot in my previous roles, say at Yahoo or as a consultant. When you've got a lot of time in your schedule, it's not a big deal for it to take a day for the next answer to come from one of your partners across the globe. When your schedule is tighter though, when you don't have that padding, the time difference can be more acute.

Tim Sanders: The second thing you talked about was flexibility. In other words, you're willing to stay up late, like you're doing now. We're willing to get up early, like I'm doing right now. And so that flexibility to adjust to the other is really important.

Tim Sanders: But the third one that you touched on and I'm coming to you on this one in second here, Ben, is asynchronous collaboration. So you moved from real-time collaboration, which requires flexibility to an asynchronous method via email or in this case, WhatsApp texting. And then you were able to really land on that production packet. Those are the three things: pad your schedule, be flexible, work offline. That I think is a really good set of advice points.

Tim Sanders: Ben, to you. I want to start with this creative packet. Talk a little bit about what you put together, what your intentions were, and how that really helps a guy, like Austin working out at Bangkok be successful, regardless of the time zones.

Ben Tyson: Yeah, sure. I think that one of the key elements and aspects of the project is that we wanted to allow... We were telling, I think, five individual stories here in five different countries around the world. But we also have a global brand with standards of quality, with standards in terms of claims people may make about product, and also the experience in these local markets, like in Bangkok where Austin is, for the talent, like the Amway ABO and the filmmaker has to be great. And so how do you take all of that, wrap it up? And also we had a pretty specific and ambitious visual style that we were going for. We wanted these types of photographs, these types of shots. So we put together...

Ben Tyson: And this is something that I've been doing for a while in prior roles of mine too, is this idea of how do we create a production pack that's a guideline that someone... Knowing a lot of people like Austin around the world, how do we send something to Austin that inspires the right questions, inspires the right thoughts, gets their head in the game, for lack of a better phrase, in terms of how they're going to shoot this, how they're going to approach this? And ultimately to get Austin and his team members to really care about telling the story. We're not just hiring a crew, we're hiring the best crew. And we're not just hiring a videographer to capture some content, like you might do in sports or something that. This is a nuanced story. And so by providing a ton of pretty specific visual references and techniques for everything, but without limiting it... It's not a specific shot list of, "You must do this, this, and this" because creatively, that's just as challenging for someone who is super creative is to tell them exactly what to do.

Ben Tyson: So we brought Austin into the project... We all brought Austin into the project because we looked at his work. We also looked at his reviews on Upwork, which were awesome and were a big factor in our decision, by the way. But he gets the visuals. And so how do we make sure that those same visuals that we saw in all of his other work will get in this project?

Tim Sanders: Adrienne, bringing you into the conversation. So you've got a hybrid team, combination of full-time team members, independent partners. What did you have to do internally to support this team?

Adrienne Young: Right now, I would say our company is making strides to encourage us to figure out new ways of thinking when it comes to approaching creative projects and again, not being afraid to fail. So that was one of the perks. When I went into this, is I felt with such a complex project and this being my first major project with Upwork, there's really nothing to lose. There's only anything to gain. And I'll be honest. I went in with low expectations knowing how complex the project was and how we would pull it off and how low of a budget we had.

Adrienne Young: But I will say that when the first video came out, the work spoke for itself internally. And as soon as people were seeing this video that we came up with, is specifically the video in Brazil. And it was starting to be circulated just on its own internally throughout the company. And our CEO wanted to play it at an employee meeting. So it really got out there and it took off wildfire. And everyone was like, "Where did this video come from? We need to be doing more of this. What was the budget for this?" They wanted to dive in and figure out, "How did you pull this off?" And so the work really spoke for itself.

Adrienne Young: And then I got invited to multiple meetings where they were like, "Tell us how you did it. Tell us how you approached the project and how you found the talent and how you accomplished this from Michigan." So I would say that the work, because it was such high caliber and it was something we hadn't really ever been able to pull off before from an authenticity standpoint and from quality, it just really elevated the way that we talk about our Amway business through the lens of the Avios and it really showed that storytelling is a great way of marketing, especially when it comes across as authentic storytelling and not scripted. And it's not the voice of the company, it's the voice of the Amway business owner. So yeah. All of that came together to really prove it's worth.

Tim Sanders: Lead with the work. I think that's really important. And for those of you watching, if you find success through the Upwork platform and it's not only a beautiful product, but also surprisingly affordable, spreading that around, being available to collaborate across the organization, it helps the whole of the company begin to build this new hybrid agile workforce. So thank you very much for doing that.

Tim Sanders: We are entering the lightning round. Now all three of you, here's what I mean. I'm going to ask you all the question and I just want you to just go bullet point with me. Tell me quickly, 1, 2, 3. Okay. Ben, I'm going to start with you. You seem up for the challenge. Ben, what advice would you give other freelancers about being successful with business [crosstalk 00:22:32]?

Ben Tyson: It's so much about communication, I think ultimately. I think even when you're a freelancer on a platform at arms length, even though we're compressing those distances these days, you have to be highly communicative. You have to be responsive, available at odd times. You have to do whatever it takes to develop that relationship however unconventionally it started. Maybe it's not face-to-face I guess, is what I mean. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Tim Sanders: That's it. That's the first and second and third answer. Austin, on to you. What advice would you offer clients and talent for both sides of the table for working together in this new hybrid world?

Austin Devine: Going on what Ben said, communication is really key. It's what's going to be the make or break it if your project will be successful. And I think it's really important to build a team and just being friends and humans to each other. I think that gets lost easily with just text messaging or not taking the time to meet up and chat for 20 minutes.

Tim Sanders: I love that. Dale Carnegie once wrote, "You will accomplish more developing an interest in other people than you will ever accomplish trying to get people interested in you." So you've really underscored this idea that it's not just communication, like words on a screen or words over Zoom. It's that connection. It's that caring, not only about the project or in this case, the outcome, but it's the other person. Adrienne, we're going to finish this lightning round with you. What advice would you give other business clients about how you can be successful working with independent talents, like Ben and Austin?

Adrienne Young: I think it starts with making sure you have a very clear brief and you know what you want and you know what talent you're looking for. And I think when those things marry up, that's when the greatness happens. So if you really understand what you're looking for and you know who you're looking for and you see the work that they've done and it speaks for itself and you get the right team together, that's when you can do great work. So if you get the wrong talent for the wrong brief, that's when things can fall apart.

Tim Sanders: Excellent. Thank you so much. This has been a great discussion. So many takeaways. We've been talking to Adrienne Young, lead art director at Amway, Ben Tyson, co-founder at Hoozens, Austin Devine, independent professional video production specialists operating out of Bangkok, but willing to get up early or stay up late. Adrienne, Ben, Austin, thank you so much.

Adrienne Young: Thank you.

Austin Devine: Thank you.

Ben Tyson: Thank you.

Gene Gates: Tim, that's amazing. I mean, what a complex problem and they solved it with excellent communication from the brief all the way through to the deliverables.

Tim Sanders: It just underscores how important it is to be able to package, conceptualize, and communicate in a brief what you're looking for from a freelance team in this situation. It's also important to pull that through along the lifespan of a project, maintaining that clarity of communication and establishing a very predictable cadence of back and forth so the two can collaborate. I think this just a great example of communication at its finest.

Gene Gates: That is so great, Tim. All right. Let's talk about our next story. I mean, this one really blew my mind. I mean, it's Budweiser, one of the most iconic brands in the world and they decided to go divergent.

Tim Sanders: Yes they did. And we're talking about working way outside the box or the six pack as it were. They turned to Upwork to create a new beer design. Now think about that for a second. The can designs at an iconic brand Budweiser are generally done internally. But in this situation, looking for a different perspective, a different outcome this year, they look to the work marketplace.

Gene Gates:  And how brave is that, to entrust such an important project on a platform they'd never used before? I know they call it CoLab, but what is that, Tim?

Tim Sanders: So the CoLab project was created by Upwork to partner leading brands, just like Budweiser to scour the work marketplace, looking for outstanding talent, in this case, outstanding creative talent, in this case, even the team, Gene. And as we looked across the platform in this CoLab project, but we did find an amazing team, produced an amazing outcome. It just shows that even the most iconic brands can accomplish in collaboration with Upwork. So now, with no further ado, I want to turn it over to Lisa Edwards. She is the head of brand marketing at Upwork and leads the CoLab project. Over to you, Lisa.

Lisa Edwards: Just a few months ago, we launched Upwork CoLab, a brand partnership program that connects freelancers with leading companies to collaborate on dream projects that ultimately help to move both of their businesses forward. We teamed up with Budweiser, helped them find talent to reimagine their legendary beer can, and create a social first contest and campaign that recognizes extraordinary workers for this upcoming Labor Day. Do Studio, who are part of our work marketplace, joined us with a Budweiser brand team to talk about what it's been to rethink...

Lisa Edwards: And [inaudible 00:28:00] us with the Budweiser brand team to talk about what it's been like to rethink one of the most iconic designs in the world in honor of workers today. So welcome and thank you, Jake and Justin from Budweiser and Richard, Matt, and Johnny from Deuce Studio for joining us today.

Jake Vizek: Hi.

Lisa Edwards: Jake and Justin, Budweiser's been around for over a hundred years, yet your brand is highly relevant and part of culture. Can you share why Labor Day is so important to Budweiser?

Jake Vizek: Yeah. Budweiser was founded in 1876 and the beer company was built by immigrants who came to America and through hard work and grit and determination, they built the biggest beer company in the world. So the idea of labor and rugged individualism that's part of America's DNA is also part of our origin story at Budweiser. But when we look at modern times, we have a lot of labor intensive blue collar jobs at our company. Our drivers. Our brewers in the chip tanks. Even the sales rep going into the account. We create a lot of jobs and have deep respect for the everyday American worker. It was very important for us to take a pause, take a second, and work with the Deuce team to celebrate this day and what it means to people.

Lisa Edwards: That's awesome. A lot of brands leverage kind of these moments in time or what some actually refer to as cultural moments. What has been your approach to this? Does it help you better connect with your customers? Can you share a little bit of your magic sauce?

Jake Vizek: Yeah. And of course, cultural moments always mean different things to different people and who you talk to. For us, we kind of separated into two different ways and viewpoints of looking at it. We have moments in culture that are more like holidays. July 4th, for example, and then other cultural moments that are more spontaneous. The ones that are followed by a lot of press and, and social conversation. So we tap into the moments like July 4th or regular holidays to kind of promote our always on equity marketing campaigns. And then the ones that are more spontaneous, we really use for earned media. And we want to make sure that they're... We're there and relevant within culture because if these moments are important to the American people, we want to be there and talk to our consumers as well.

Lisa Edwards: That makes sense. So I'm sure you have a really rigorous and thought out process when it comes to design releasing and bringing our cans to market. How does that typically work?

Jake Vizek: Yeah, for, for us, each project either starts with an insight or it's a historically relevant campaign. So we've done a lot of projects in the past that we don't want to question. They work for us and we, we don't want to screw them up. But if it's a new project, we want to make sure it's rooted in a consumer insight. We want to start with the consumer and why it's important for, for them. From there, we either brief an external agency, one that we've worked with in the past or a new group. A new group, like Upwork. And we also have an internal design team.

Jake Vizek: So we, we have three routes to really get this project done. And depending on the design project, if it's historical or if it's new and the team that we need to get it done, we'll choose a partner. And once we choose a partner, we brief them in just like any other advertising campaign or creative project. And we work through rounds and iterations to finalize the, the can. And then once the package is finalized, it's all about an integrated marketing campaign to make sure the consumer sees the can and all of our marketing kind of ladders back and is talking about the can in the same way.

Lisa Edwards: So you clearly have the process down. What prompted you to partner with Upwork freelancers to design for this year's Labor Day?

Jake Vizek: We were introduced to Upwork from one of our most recent VPs in the company. They, they thought, "Hey, let's check out Upwork." They had a mutual connection. So we were very interested in trying out new approaches. We never want to have a, a one trick pony and we never want to get too siloed into the way that we're working. And we know that a lot of times, freelancers are the best talent in the business because they've found a way to work for themselves and be their own boss. So we were interested in trying this, this out and working with Upwork, and we had a bunch of projects that were really interesting that we wanted to leverage the Upwork team. And then we were super surprised with kind of the diversity in candidates that, that Upwork brought versus what we would see in our normal agency model.

Lisa Edwards: Did you have any worries or doubts at the onset of the project?

Justin Avis: I can answer that. I would say the biggest worry we had was will we be able to achieve this campaign in the amount of time that we had to get to Labor Day. And we had a couple of things to do. We had to lock can creative, which takes a really long time usually. And we had to actually get a social plan. So if we were working on this internally with our creative team, six weeks is about how long we had to achieve this campaign. That's a long time. However, we also had to onboard a new, new group of creatives to Budweiser Anheuser-Busch and kind of meld our creative styles and ways of thinking and ways of working. So it was a little bit worrisome at first. We were... Okay, how are we going to get this achieved by Labor Day? But everything worked out for the good. The campaign looks amazing. So all of our worries and trepidation was set free.

Lisa Edwards: Thank goodness. Yeah. So given those trepidations and worries and what have you, what were the considerations you took into account before really entrusting something this important to talent that you've never worked with in the past?

Jake Vizek: Some big factors for us are skill level, capabilities, experience of the team. When you've never worked with someone in the past, you kind of look at their past experience and who they've worked with, what kind of projects. So those were all big factors. And then we were really looking for flexibility and versatility. So within... We have a billion dollar brand. There's a lot of shift, a lot of politics that come into play. So we wanted to work with people who were flexible and versatile, that can pivot and shift as the campaign evolved over time.

Lisa Edwards: I know the ability to, to shift and pivot is, is really needed. Justin, were there any boxes that you were looking to check off?

Justin Avis: Yeah, I would say from a design perspective we were looking for really strong first preliminary designs. We wanted to make sure... Is there a good base that we can eventually build off of and iterate off of? And so that was the first thing that we were looking for from a design perspective. And we wanted to also ensure that our can creative actually made sense with whatever we were going to launch on digital, social, out-of-home, whatever was going to correspond with it. Storytelling is super important for Budweiser, for marketing in general. So we wanted to make sure that your design, your can told a story that translated into all platforms regardless of where we wanted to take the campaign.

Lisa Edwards: Makes sense. Richard, Matt and Johnny, I would love to bring you into the conversation. Can you tell us about Deuce Studio? What's the story behind your name? How did you guys get started?

Jonny Aldrich: Yeah, absolutely. I can take that one. Our name is sort of very much inspired by the reason why we wanted to actually set up the design agency. So we used to work out of sort of larger branding agencies like most people do. We worked for big clients, Capris, HSBC, Cancer Research UK, all sorts of different people like that, which we really enjoyed. But then the process was a little bit different, sort of working through layers of account managers. We didn't really think it made sense to us. So we wanted to set up Deuce Studio for a more kind of personal approach, kind of a, more of a, a one-to-one kind of relationship. You get to work direc-, directly with us, the designers. Me, Rich, and Matt, we're all designers, and we all sort of know how to do that type of stuff. But it's, it's... That's very much where our, kind of, our name kind of came from.

Jonny Aldrich: So Deuce means equal in points and that's what we wanted to be with our clients. We wanted to be equal with them. We wanted to collaborate with them, and that's why we kind of set up the agency. And, and the reason sort of where it kind of came from was I was doing a lot of freelance work on the side and it kind of got to a point where it was too much for one person. And I kind of needed to make a decision, either sack off the freelance or carry on sort of with the agency. So then I decided that I didn't really want to go freelance on my own. And so I managed to rope my two friends into starting an agency. They foolishly agreed. And yeah, we've never looked back since now. And we... Yeah, we're doing quite well. We're quite happy with the clients we've got and even happier that we've now got Budweiser. So it's awesome.

Lisa Edwards: I love that. What client doesn't want more attention and to work directly with the people that actually are making the magic.

Jonny Aldrich: Absolutely.

Lisa Edwards: Rich, what is, what is it about Budweiser in the project that prompted you to apply?

Rich Patrick: Yeah, so we first heard about the CoLab on Instagram. It was just through a design blog that we follow and we actually saw it quite late. We didn't have much time left to apply. So we, we basically just got together and did some brainstorming and got something out as quickly as possible. I think any branding agency would jump at the chance to work with a global icon like Budweiser and to get your ideas in front of them doesn't present itself very often. So we just threw our hat in the ring and obviously I'm gl-, very glad that we did.

Lisa Edwards: Yeah, I heard you say there's really no other way for you to have a chance to work with such a notable brand which... It's one of the reasons why we actually launched Upwork CoLab. We're really excited to kind of offer these sorts of opportunities to talent within our marketplace. But I will say we certainly couldn't do it without brands like Budweiser who are constantly innovating, super open-minded and leading new charters. So, so thank you again, Bud. Jake, what was it that put Deuce Studio over the top for you? Why did you select them?

Jake Vizek: Lots of reasons but I think that they had a very solid pitch. And I think we see a ton of creative ideas and where we see a lot of candidates fall short is thinking through creative without thinking through the execution. And they have amazing impactful ideas, but they don't have a, the vision to really bring it to life in a simple way. That was something that really stuck out w-, with the Deuce team is they had a creative idea, but it was simple. And we can envision execution all the way through into market.

Jake Vizek: And then the team had capabilities, creativity, experience. So we, we had a level of comfort bringing them into our, our ways of working in our art team and that we knew we could create a campaign that we were going to be proud of, but also we were going to be able to execute it on time, which is very important for us.

Lisa Edwards: Yeah, I... Yeah, I'd say so. Justin, what would you say gave Deuce Studio the edge for you?

Justin Avis: I would say with Deuce Studios again, strong, preliminary work is so important when you're looking at a pitch because it will dictate the timelines to get to market. So the can creative that they brought forward was very strong and although it was...We manipulated it and moved it to kind of what we wanted to eventually go into market, it was very strong. So we knew, okay, when we do eventually brief them on the full Labor Day insight and campaign, they're going to execute it flawlessly. And that's exactly what happened. We had very minimal rounds of creative. The most of the tweaks were just getting them aligned on our brand voice, our brand colors, our brand fonts. It was mostly just tweaking and refining as far as... It wasn't less composition, we need to just completely change this. So I would say the prior work that they've done with packaging, although it wasn't beer per se, it was just like super awesome. And then the actual labels that they brought forward to potentially bring for this Labor Day campaign, it was amazing.

Lisa Edwards: That's great.

Lisa Edwards: Johnny, can you tell us what it's like to work with such a legendary brand like Bud?

Jonny Aldrich: Budweiser's great. I mean, we've worked with them for a little bit now. It's been a pleasure working with them. It's, it's the exact kind of brand that you want to work with. There's not too many global brands out there that everybody's heard of. You think of Nike. You think of all these others. And Budweiser's up there with all these big brands and another type of brand that, that they like to sort of challenge. And they like to do different things and they sort of, really kind of break the norm to a certain degree. And that's the kind of brands that we really want to work with, is somebody that's going to get a trust us to take on a project and really kind of run with it. It's an absolute pleasure being able to design a limited edition Budweiser can. Not many people can say that. Not, not many big branding agencies can say that either. So it's the exact type of work that we want to work with and it's the exact type of brand. And hopefully, we can get more of that type of work in future.

Lisa Edwards: So Richard, how do you bring new ideas and push the envelope when working with a brand whose positioning and look and feel is so well established? Were there initial challenges that you had when you first got started? Or can you talk us, talk us through that a little bit?

Rich Patrick: Yeah. Yeah. That's a really good question. There's, there's definitely an established culture and a, and a sort of prestige surrounding Budweiser as a brand in particular. And that really needs to remain intact and come through in the campaign. And we were very conscious of that when we started. So with our campaign concept, we didn't really want to create anything too radical or too left field, but instead we wanted to kind of double down on the core values of Budweiser like authenticity, patriotism, championing ordinary people doing extraordinary things. In terms of navigating roadblocks, there were some edits to the campaign title made in the very early stages of the project. Initially, we pitched the tagline Blood, Sweat and Beers as the campaign title, which we needed to change the wording of slightly. But even still, the core purpose and the intention behind the campaign remained the same which was the most important thing.

Lisa Edwards: Yeah. I don't think that there's any projects without twists and turns. In fact, I think great talent is not only at great at their cra- craft, but also really great at solving problems, which clearly you guys have navigated quite well. Rich, going a little bit deeper. How do you create a can that celebrates Labor Day, but still plays homage to Budweiser's history?

Rich Patrick: Yeah, so we really wanted to celebrate the workers of America, which was in many ways the same reason Labor Day itself existed in the first place. So we took a lot of inspiration from this era of the first ever Labor Day in 1882 from looking at things like protest posters and vintage...

Rich Patrick: ...from looking at things, like protest posters and vintage sign writing. And then we married that with Budweiser's brand language through the use of color, mirroring certain graphic styles, et cetera. So the can feels like one cohesive piece of design that does both Labor Day and Budweiser justice.

Lisa Edwards: Jake, how has the relationship you fostered [inaudible 00:42:24] different from work you've done with other employees or external agencies, if at all?

Jake Vizek: They're really similar to other partners we work with. It's a new partner so there's a little bit of getting them up to speed on brand standards, tone of voice, fonts, colors, and some onboarding. But once they're onboarded, it's just like working with any other creative internal or external. I will say though, the Deuce Team does have much better accents than our normal partners.

Lisa Edwards: Okay. So Justin, can you share any key learnings you experienced about the project or any surprises for that matter?

Justin Avis: I would say working with the Upwork and working with Deuce Studios definitely changed the way I view freelance; freelance websites, freelance platforms, like Upwork. They delivered everything we needed in a timely manner. Everyone was amicable. The Budweiser team here was thoroughly impressed with the work that they brought forth without a lot of briefing, a lot of handholding. It was just executed very well. And especially given the tight timelines that we had... We were meeting every single week, making those updates and changes were sometimes big and it may take longer, but they brought it back in a week and it was perfect. And they just melded into the team very nicely. And working with our digital manager on the social side and working with Jake and I on the innovation and can creative side.

Justin Avis: And one thing I will say that was very surprising and rewarding for me was that the team knew how to respectfully defend some of their recommendations on the work, which is really important when you're working with creatives because they have a vision and then we have a vision and we have the background brand knowledge. And so we'll come forth with, "Oh, maybe we should do this, maybe we should do that." And I think the Deuce Team was very great at saying, "No, I think we should move forward with this because this." And that's such an important part of the creative process as the creator is defending why this work and why you brought this forth? Because a lot of times as a brand, we may think we know everything and we may think we know what's best, but understanding and listening to that different perspective is so important.

Lisa Edwards: I love that. Jake, do you have anything from your end in terms of key learnings?

Jake Vizek: Yeah. Similar to Justin, it opened my eyes to the Upwork platform. This was something new for us. So every experience we had throughout was new. And the scale at which we were able to see talent pitches interact with freelancers, we don't get that when we work with a traditional agency. We usually get the team that we've worked with before. So the level of customization that we could have for a specific project, big or small, we had that flexibility with Upwork. So opened up my eyes to the platform. And then the speed at which we were able to get some things done was amazing. So now we have a new go-to-market strategy for campaigns can creative. We have another tool in our tool belt to get projects done and to work with amazing freelancers.

Lisa Edwards: That's incredible. Of course, that's music to our ears. So getting back to of the campaign, what does success look for this year's Labor Day campaign? And I would love to hear from all of you.

Speaker 1: Success for us anyway, would be that it engages Bud's audience really well and that it hits the points that they set out when they initially briefed us, what they wanted to do. And then that they're happy with the work that we produced together and that we've collaborated on and worked with. And I think if it ticks those boxes and we've shun a light on some really hard working Americans and shared their incredible stories, then I think that'll have been a big success. But also proving that the small agencies and the freelancers out there can cut it against the big agencies and really show that we have incredible ideas.

Lisa Edwards: That's awesome. Yeah. It sounds you're doing some incredible work. From Bud's perspective, what would you say in terms of what success looks for you?

Justin Avis: I would say success on the Bud side would definitely mean... When we launch this can creative, two things: does this fit into the full Bud brand and bigger picture? Does this successfully just meld in? Are people going to say, "Oh, this something new. This is something very different than what you all typically do." And I think that was very important in our refinement process, making sure this still feels like Bud. So I think success would be consumers understanding and knowing that this is still the same Bud campaign that we know.

Justin Avis: And then obviously our social metrics; our KPIs are met for the Labor Day campaign. And it encourages people to rethink Labor Day and rethink how do we celebrate everyone in America? I think Labor Day has become so commercialized here. And it's really the every day, nine to five or the grinders as you know the Deuce Team would say, that really shape America's labor system and everything that we can do. The reason that we're here is because of people behind the scenes making this happen. And so I think success would really just be reimagining, redefining, and reiterating what labor really looks in America.

Jake Vizek: We want consumers to feel the pause that we tipped our hat to them and then feel proud of the work they do. I mean, it's one time during the year that you can reflect on the work you've put in that year, previous years, and just celebrate hard work in general. So if our consumers feel that pause, it's a success for us.

Lisa Edwards: Jake, Justin, Rich, Matt, Jonny, thank you so much for joining us. And I'm going to pass it back to you, Tim.

Tim Sanders: Thanks, Lisa. That's just so powerful to me that a brand, like Budweiser is so advanced in their thinking when it comes to reimagining the work. And in this case, it helped them reimagine a go-to-market strategy.

Gene Gates: I agree. I mean, how incredible it must have been for the freelancers to learn that they just earned a contract with Budweiser. I mean, you think about how that one job could change their entire trajectory.

Tim Sanders: And in the face of such a significant job, it's amazing, Gene, that they would stand up for themselves when they really believed in a creative direction. And just as remarkable that Budweiser would say, "You know what? They really believe in it. Let's go their direction." I think that's a really interesting facet to this story. Now, as I mentioned earlier, both of these conversations were featured in our recent Work Without Limits annual conference. To watch more of it online, visit upwork.com/WWL.

Tim Sanders: Now Gene, as this is the last episode of season one, we should highlight some takeaways from all of the episodes. Let's start with business clients that hire freelancers. Gene, I'm going to give you three takeaways that I've plucked from the eight episodes. You ready?

Gene Gates: I'm ready.

Tim Sanders: One, when it comes to freelancers or remote workers in general, focus on outcomes. That was something that we heard in episode one from Matthew Mottola who was the author of the book Human Cloud. I love this. You have to change the way you think about the work in a remote environment, in a freelance environment. There is no more management by attendance or walking around. We have to learn how to define, how to resource, how to coach, and how to measure outcomes, not just efforts. So that's the first way that you can really adjust as a business client to this new working model.

Tim Sanders: Okay. Take away number two. Early on in a project, and I mean early, Gene, you should define the deliverable, then break it down into discrete tasks. Some organizations refer this to task-ifying a project. Once you break it down into tasks, then ask yourself which ones can be upworked, meaning which one of those tasks can be delivered by a freelancer? This way your team members can focus on what strategy, execution, and managing outcomes. So that's a really important element to this conversation.

Tim Sanders: Then finally, number three. Create a continuous, always on business by hiring freelancers across global time zones, especially when it comes to service, engineering maintenance, and things like that.

Gene Gates: I love that. That's so great to be able to have this continuous workflow always happening. Even when you're sleeping, business is still going.

Tim Sanders: Yeah.

Gene Gates: So here are my three takeaways from this season for freelancers that are looking to grow their business on Upwork. Number one, develop an interest in your client's future state.

Tim Sanders: There's a quote I used it in an earlier episode, but I want to use it again, Gene. It's from Dale Carnegie. He says, "You will accomplish more developing an interest in others than trying to get others interested in you." It's not just about marketing your skills on the Upwork platform. It's about listening. It's about caring. It's about being a business partner.

Gene Gates: And it is a shift in thought. You're not selling your services, your expertise, what you can do. What you're selling is how you want to solve their problem for them. You've got to get your clients thinking, not yours.

Gene Gates: Number two, set up a business early on. I mean, don't treat it a side hustle. Get a business license, invest in your resources, upskill, set goals for business growth, like you really are a business. You know what? When you start thinking that you are a business, you're going to start behaving like a business and you're going to find clients are willing to pay you more and to hire you to do more jobs. And they're just going to see you in a completely different professional light because that's what you've commanded.

Tim Sanders: Yeah.

Gene Gates: This third one, I really want you to think about this because it's about communications. We all think we know communication. We all think we're good at communication. But as you go back and listen to some of these episodes, you have to be really, really clear and responsive. You got to be a great listener. And you really have to find out... Goes back to number one again, what does your client think is good, clear, consistent communication?

Tim Sanders: Exactly. I mean, if there's one area every freelancer should challenge themselves to improve in every year, that's how you communicate. From the beginning of the process, through the process, even afterwards, you have to ask yourself, was I 100% laser specific? Did I put them through any stress by being unpredictable on when I'd get back to them? Those type of things, Gene, communication is probably the number one soft skill for freelancers to excel with.

Tim Sanders: Well, there are so many takeaways here. Six pack, getting back to Budweiser. And it's been a great season and I've really enjoyed working with you on this season. And for everyone listening, Work Unlocked will be back for season two after the new year. So stay tuned. Never miss an episode of Work Unlocked and get your show alerts when new episodes are published by subscribing to this show wherever you get your podcasts.

Gene Gates: And you can help other freelancers grow their business too by leaving a review and liking this show. That helps them find it and that'll help them grow their business. Until next time, I'm Gene Gates.

Tim Sanders: And I'm Tim Sanders. Keep on building your business.


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