Season 02 / Episode 020
Commerce Content and Working With Wirecutter with Leilani Han
With Leilani Han - Executive Director, Commerce, Wirecutter
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Leilani Han is the Executive Director, Commerce of Wirecutter, a division of the New York Times. Her career path is rather unique: she started out working for several start-ups where she was exposed to affiliate marketing, then found herself at a top tier network, Commission Junction, and then went on to work at Wirecutter. She’s seen the industry from multiple vantage points including affiliate/publisher, advertiser, and network. That perspective brings a lot of enlightening learnings that I think you’ll find super helpful no matter what side of the ball you play on.
In our conversation we cover:
- Commerce Content
- Leadership principles
- Changes to leadership during and after the pandemic
- Employee development, what it is and how she does it
- The importance of intentionality in managing people
- Being a woman and how that has impacted her career and how she coaches women on her team
- How important it is to focus on the audience being served, whether you are an advertiser or a publisher
- How advertisers need to focus on the publishers’ audience when pitching them
- Who and what is Wirecutter
- And how to work with them
And so much more! Leilani thank you so much for your time on this episode!
If you’d like to connect, check her out on LinkedIn.
About Our Guest
Leilani Han is the Executive Director of Commerce at Wirecutter, a New York Times company. In this role, she is focused on driving strategy for affiliate revenue, licensing, programmatic and other strategic partnerships. During her tenure, she has diversified direct partnerships with dozens of brands and strengthened existing core partnerships, while overseeing the success of deal and tentpole events in conjunction with other Wirecutter leaders. This work has helped the product-recommendation company significantly grow affiliate revenue year over year. Leilani has over 15 years of experience, beginning her career at Nielsen’s online division before pivoting to focus on affiliate marketing over the last dozen years. She has specialized in commerce content since 2016.
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Well, hey. This is Jamie Birch. Your host of The Profitable Performance Marketing podcast and the CEO and Founder of JEB Commerce, an award-winning affiliate management agency. We’re actually celebrating our 18th year in existence. Man, I can’t believe how long we’ve been around, and how things have changed, and how things have stayed the same.
We’ve got a really exciting guest for you today. We’ll get that in just a minute. Really excited to talk to her and also get this conversation out to you. But, hey, if you are looking ahead and you want a profitable Q4 and just a crazy successful new customer acquisition season for you, let’s talk about our affiliate management services. You can go to jebcommerce.com and schedule a 15-minute call at your leisure, in your convenience, with our team to talk about how to position your program for success. How to create strategies and campaigns to acquire new customers. And how to do that all in such a drastically different climate post-COVID, or at this end of COVID, or this phase of COVID. And how things have changed. And that’s one of the things we talk about with today’s guest is the customer journey.
Speaking of our guest, Leilani Han is the Executive Director of Commerce at Wirecutter, a commerce content site. And we talk about a whole lot of things. If you are interested in affiliate marketing, if you’re interested in really unique affiliates and content affiliates, top of funnel affiliates, you definitely want to listen to this conversation.
In 2016, Wirecutter was acquired by The New York Times. And Wirecutter is the product recommendation engine for the time. So, Leilani has a ton of experience. She has worked as an advertiser. She has worked at commission junction in multiple capacities. If you want to hear about publisher development, she was the Director of Publisher Business Development at CJ for several years. Ton of experience. Network advertiser now at a publisher. And frankly, a publisher everyone wants to get into. We talk about that as well. We dive right into that.
I’m going to get out of the way so you can listen to my conversation with Leilani Han.
[00:03:23] Jamie Birch: All right. Good morning, Leilani. Thank you so much for joining us on The Profitable Performance Marketing podcast. Welcome to this episode.
[00:03:31] Leilani Han: Thank you so much for having me.
[00:03:33] JB: Yeah. I’ve been really excited. Thank you for your cooperation. I know we’ve had a couple of fits and starts with season two and scheduling. So, I appreciate your flexibility. Generally, how are you doing today?
[00:03:42] LH: You know, I’m doing pretty good. It’s a sunny day in Santa Barbara. So, I can’t complain.
[00:03:46] JB: You know, you’re in Santa Barbara. Isn’t it beautiful there almost all the time?
[00:03:51] LH: It really is. It’s kind of like living in Never-Never Land. It’s kind of perfect.
[00:03:56] JB: Yeah. First time there was at my first CJU many, many years ago. And I used to run. And I’d found that my best mile times were running on the beach in Santa Barbara. And it must just be like the atmosphere, and you’re happy, and the sun is out.
[00:04:14] LH: And you can run year round. I do that run along the beach, that exact same one that you’re describing.
[00:04:18] JB: That was so great. And that’s the one and only time where I saw a dude doing yoga on the beach. And I stopped my run, and I joined him for some yoga on the beach. It was the weirdest, like, spontaneous thing. But it was just a great day. A super cool guy.
[00:04:34] LH: Yeah, it’s very chill and “go-with-the-flow” here.
[00:04:37] JB: Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. Well, I’m excited to dive into a bunch of stuff today with you. But why don’t you kind of share with us your origin story? How did you get to find affiliate marketing?
[00:04:48] LH: Sure. I mean, I kind of fell into it, which was really wonderful. It’s this classic story: I was in my early 20s, I did startups. And when you’re at a startup, you wear a ton of hats. I mean, partially because you don’t really know any better, and you just say yes to everything, which does have its pros and cons. But the pro being I got to really experience affiliate on the advertiser side. And it was a really great stepping stone into this world by having that particular lens in perspective.
But I would say, it was really when I got to the network side, I then went to CJ. And that’s where I really fell in love with this channel. I mean, first of all, going from a startup where you have to do so many things and then going to a place where you get to focus on just one channel and have support was incredible. But I just really fell in love with it. I just love the relationship aspect of it. And that’s why I really got to flex all the skills that I learned in my startup days and pour that energy into my clients. And so, that’s really how I fell into affiliate. And I haven’t left it since.
[00:05:48] JB: That’s awesome. Yeah, the relationships and the strategy have been what kind of kept me here for so long. When you’re kind of navigating your career, were you already familiar with affiliates before you found CJ? And how do you make decisions on where you go throughout your career?
[00:06:04] LH: I mean, I have to be very honest and say that it’s been a very organic path. I think what’s really interesting about affiliate is there are certain aspects of it that are kind of known. But there’s many facets to it, right? Even on the network side, you can work with advertisers, with publishers. You can be in compliance. Marketing, support, what have you. And then there’s the advertiser side and all of the – Or in the publisher side and all the positions that that represents.
And so, I think I just kind of found myself especially being at a place like CJ that did give me exposure to so many pieces of it and working with so many different clients that I was able to transition into being on the publisher development team after spending three years working with advertisers. And that point of view was so important because it helped me to understand what advertisers are looking for once I transitioned over to supporting publishers.
And then I absolutely love my time on the publisher development team. It was so much fun. Really helping publishers kind of get their foot in the door with affiliates. And so when this opportunity of Wirecutter came my way, I just happened to be really starting to focus in on this commerce content space naturally. And so, it was just an opportunity that I really couldn’t turn off at that time.
[00:07:17] JB: That’s awesome. And you talk about a couple things I want to get to today. One is publisher development. But one of the reasons I wanted to bring you on is your unique perspective in the space as you have an interesting career path. You worked as an advertiser at an advertiser network, and now publisher side of things. So you’ve seen pretty much all facets of affiliate marketing from all these different perspectives. How has that changed your perspective on the channel? And what do you think others are missing?
[00:07:45] LH: I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily changed my perspective, per se. I think what I would say is that it’s added so many additional dimensions of knowledge and understanding. And I think it became the most apparent when I came to Wirecutter, right? I have kind of a gross analogy that I like to use a lot simply because I’m not creative enough to think of a better one. But having been on the advertiser and the network side and worked with advertisers and publishers, like, you were pretty familiar with how publishers work.
A lot of commerce content publishers were my clients. So I was pretty familiar with their businesses. But I kind of liken it to being told how the sausage is made, versus actually going inside the factory and seeing how it’s actually made. There’s familiarity, but it’s very different seeing it.
And so, I would say that that level of understanding is so fascinating. Because I think what’s key there is, in terms of what perspective that one other side might be missing, is just the understanding of all of the moving parts within a business. Whether you’re on the network, or the advertising, or the publisher side, and how that all ladders up to the way that that company is going to approach the relationships, and the things that they’re asking for, and the way that they’re trying to fight for getting budgets, or getting spend, or getting placements on somebody’s site.
And so, I think that that has – I suppose that’s the one thing that I was saying, changing my perspective, is actually understanding what goes behind what people will see at the forefront when they’re actually talking to each other.
[00:09:17] JB: Yeah, it makes a huge difference. What do you think publishers should know about working with advertisers, that if they’ve never worked network side or advertiser side, that they don’t know?
[00:09:27] LH: Sure. I would say some of the common challenges that any business has is going to be true for the opposite side. And I think what I would say is to just have the understanding that just as much as you’re trying to grow your own business, the advertisers as well, but they’re also often trying to fight for budgets within their own company. They have their own product, roadmaps that they’re dealing with that may impact the way that they do business with affiliates. They have their own strategic priorities. And they’re really trying to bring all of these pieces together, all of these puzzle pieces, and fit it together in a way that’s going to make sense among the thousands of various publishers that they’re working with to find the best path forward for each individual relationship.
And so, I think, just as much as publishers, the one thing that I will say is that, at least on the publisher side, you have your business and you figure out which way you’re going to go about executing on that with said advertisers. Whereas with the advertiser, they’re trying to do the same, but with a lot of different types of publisher verticals, which can represent a lot of unique challenges.
And so, I think what I would say to a publisher is that there’s – I think this is kind of true for both sides. There’s often a lot of intricacies that can go behind strategic decisions that are made that may not be as apparent to the person when you’re trying to do business with them.
[00:10:48] JB: Yeah, there’s only so much insight that they have. And I’ve always found working on the agency and the advertiser side. And I’ve tried my hand at being a publisher over the 20 some odd years I’ve been doing this, is that even the person you’re working with at the advertiser has a limited view of what’s going on. And a lot of time, decisions are made at a different level of the company. And there’s no discussing it. It’s just this is what I have to deal with.
[00:11:14] LH: That’s such a good point. Yeah, actually, that’s such a good point. And I’m glad that you raised that, because there’s definitely times where – I mean, we’re often working with people who are within the affiliate channel. And sometimes that person will have purview over various digital channels. And then other times we’ll get you know connected to maybe another part of the business.
And it’s so amazing to me, especially with some of these bigger companies, just how siloed certain teams can be. And so, in the best of situations, they’ll have that context and be able to bring that level of understanding to your discussions. But other times, it’s a little bit more opaque for them as well. And so, it might be harder for them to make that connection for you.
[00:11:53] JB: Yeah. And do you think that happens on the publisher side? Take me on the other side of that. Like, what do advertisers, what should they know about publishers?
[00:12:02] LH: That is a really good question. And I think it’s probably going to be really dependent on the publisher themselves. And I’ll speak to Wirecutter, because that’s who I know. I think what’s really unique about Wirecutter is that everything that we do is to support our core mission of serving our readers. Having that singular mission is really helpful for us as a company, because we always know, in whatever decisions that we make, in whatever strategic priorities that we set, it always ladders back up to that North Star.
Speaking about Wirecutter, and then also zooming out a little bit to talk a little bit about commerce content publishers, I think what advertisers need to understand is we’re not just running a business. We also have an audience. We have our readers that we really have to serve. It’s an audience that we need to speak to and grow. And so I think that brings some unique perspectives, but also challenges and how we’re actually trying to work together.
I think the savvier advertisers who are just really in tune with this part of our business or maybe have been around for a while I think have begun to really inherently understand that. But I think that that is just a whole different side that advertisers aren’t really thinking about in a sense. Like, they obviously have their own customers that they’re trying to reach and build a long-term relationship.
And there’s a similarity there with what we’re doing with our readers, but we’re just doing it not through a transactional way of closing the sale on site versus earning their trust through the recommendations that we’re making.
[00:13:33] JB: That’s such a great insight. And I agree. I see our clients sometimes do that too [they might say] “Hey, here’s this affiliate. Go do this thing with them.” And thinking that the affiliate will just want to do it. And it kind of leads to – I did a podcast not too long ago of a power shift. We’re seeing a couple power shifts. One is in the labor market right now. Labor is having way more power post-pandemic than they did. And so, employers are struggling with that.
But what I’ve seen, and I think you’re talking to it now, is affiliates. The power dynamic within this channel, I think, has changed. And that relates to, I think, what you’re talking about [regarding] publishers having an audience. They need to serve that audience. And if the advertiser helps them serve the audience great partnerships can happen. And that ability or the idea that the affiliates have built this audience. And there is as much, if not more sometimes, brand affinity to the affiliate as to the actual retailer, the advertiser, the brand. What do you think about that? Have you seen that, too? Are you seeing it from your end that the shift has happened?
[00:14:40] LH: Yeah. I mean, that’s a great point that you bring up. Because I think that there’s only some brands that can really have the type of brand power where they can really drive business and grow simply on their brand alone. I think what you’re really touching on is the fact that the customer journey has really kind of evolved in really interesting ways and especially over the last few years, especially during COVID.
I mean, I think this is kind of all happening at the same time, thinking back to the years that I spent on the publisher development team, is I think as more and more businesses realize that affiliate is actually a really great channel to diversify their revenue, which meant a lot of different types of companies were coming in to become affiliates. Whereas, historically, if you think back 25 plus years ago, there were just a couple of verticals, really.
And so, I think between that and the way e-commerce has really evolved, I think people have just become a lot more savvy to the fact that there’s a lot of different touch points in that journey. And I think that these advertisers are recognizing that in order to reach them effectively, they do need to be able to become true partners to affiliates of all different types to actually make a meaningful connection.
And it has been really interesting to see this shift, especially since when I first moved to the network side, I was managing different types of advertisers. And I think the attitude with some, certainly, was kind of like, “Well, we’re this big brand. And this is kind of what it is,” right? I mean, that was even present before commerce content really started to take off with direct advertisers, which was around maybe 2016, really, 2017 I would say. Advertisers used to go to content publishers and be like, “Here’s my program. And this is my default term. And guess what? I have a product feed and content –” You’d be like, “I don’t care about this. You’re not speaking my language.”
And so, it has been interesting to see that shift into this effort to better understand individual publisher businesses to figure out how can I meaningfully connect with your audience so that I can gain this valuable distribution that I’m looking for through you?
[00:16:54] JB: Yeah. I love that. How can I meaningfully connect with your audience? I was just thinking, as you were talking about the brands coming in, “And here’s my data feed and all this.” I was thinking – I don’t know if you have kids. I do. We watch The LEGO Movie 2 often. But I think of Mr. Business or Big Business, and coming in and just kind of talking like that. And I’ve seen that happen.
One thing you mentioned is the customer’s path has changed, especially in COVID. And we’re not going back. That’s not going to change. But they have a lot of touch points now in their journey. Do you see advertisers struggling with coming to that realization?
In the labor market, a lot of employers are struggling with that. It’s changed. This is different now. And they’re going to throw a fit for a little bit. Do you see advertisers really, like, the affiliate channel has always – It’s kind of either loved it or hated it. But it seems like we’re definitely moving into a role where it doesn’t matter how you feel about it, or a realm where it doesn’t matter how you feel about it. The customer is the priority here. And they’re using it. And you need to be there. Do you agree with that statement? And do you think advertisers, have you seen them kind of struggle to come to this reality?
[00:18:02] LH: I do see it, and I don’t think that advertisers are struggling to recognize that reality, because I think they’ve also been a part of this journey as well. I mean, if you think about some of – There’s a lot of brands that are also evolving and innovating in the way that they’re reaching their own customers directly. And so, I think that that piece of it actually is what’s helping them to make that connection and figuring out how to work with the different types of affiliates who are innovating in their own ways and reaching customers.
And so, I think that there’s a bit of understanding there as far as, “Okay, we are, to a degree, speaking that same language.” Now, those are kind of like broad strokes, like, thoughts.
I think once we actually get down to the mechanics of it and how that actually works out operationally with an affiliate, I think can present some unique challenges. It’s been really interesting to kind of view the landscape and see how others have been trying to close their own gap in the customer journey. There are some peers of Wirecutter who are doing that. And I think that’s so fascinating.
And I don’t know that anyone has figured out the perfect way to do it. I think that, because of certain things, such as the way affiliate has been built on a last click attribution model, and we know that the customer journey is very fluid and kind of goes all over the place before they end up transacting. I think trying to figure out the connection between closing that gap versus where customers are, I don’t think is perfect. And I think sometimes that’s where the disparity might exist between publishers and advertisers and trying to figure out how to bridge that gap.
But to go back to your original question, I think everybody is recognizing where consumers are going and are trying to meet them there as quickly as they can and in ways that are very innovative.
[00:19:51] JB: Yeah, yeah. We’re seeing a lot of capital come into the channel. A lot of acquisitions and things like that. And I think that all leads to how important the channel is.
I love what you said about diversification. And it got me thinking of that added benefit. I always looked at it and I thought about it as an innovative tool. A tool for innovation. You’re an advertiser, and you manage your paid search channel, and your email, and maybe display, and maybe a few other things, programmatically. But you only have four or five arrows to test, really, when it comes to it. But you’re working with affiliates, and they get to try – They’re all trying a million different things. And you’re working with a thousand partners, maybe more. But the idea of diversifying your revenue stream, that was really a unique take on it. I appreciate you bringing that up.
One thing you have mentioned a couple times is publisher development. So you, at one point in your career, we’re the Director of Publisher Business Development at CJ. Talk to me, what is publisher development? And why is it so important?
[00:20:51] LH: Sure. I mean, why is it important? I mean, just going back to the diversification. It’s helping to diversify the channel in general, right? Just to be very candid here. Like, let’s be real. Advertisers might pay the bills. They do. But distribution is a lifeblood of actually reaching an audience.
And advertisers, they’re always looking for growth, right? They need to grow top-line revenue. But they have all these other KPIs that they’re looking for this channel to answer to. And so, in order to do that, they need new publishers to diversify their programs.
And again, going back to that customer journey, it’s evolved so much. And so it’s just a great way to be able to get into those touch points, especially if, to your point, maybe an advertiser isn’t doing some of these innovative things themselves. It’s a great way to be able to tap into it when maybe you don’t have a resource internally to be able to launch some of these types of campaigns.
And so, I think if an advertiser actually wants to stay relevant and competitive, they do have to have a solid recruitment strategy. And so, publisher development is necessary so that we can help to answer those needs.
And as far as what is publisher development. I have to say, this is actually one of my most favorite jobs that I’ve ever had. But just to kind of break it down. It’s really about taking a partner, somebody who’s got a pretty distinct audience, a distinct business model, and helping them to figure out like where does affiliate fit into their business, their priorities and their revenue goals?
I think that like just to dumb it down, sometimes a publisher, you’ll see come into a network for one reason or another. I think that there’s sort of this kind of basic understanding. Like, “Oh, affiliate is so easy. Just like put up an affiliate link and then like you earn commissions,” which, yeah, in its simplest form, that is what it is. But I think you and I know, it’s a lot more complex than that.
I think when you can back it into “where does it fit in strategically,” you can actually help to create a very meaningful channel for this partner. And it’s not just about making the connections. Publisher development is about helping them make the right connections. Like, really honing in on the advertisers that fit into said strategic priorities and then helping those advertisers and their account teams to understand the unique value proposition that they have not only to their audience, but to the advertiser’s business.
And it also entails advocating for them and being, honestly, a strategic consultant so that they can take what starts out as a pretty nascent program and develop it into that meaningful channel so that this channel ends up having a seat at the executive table.
And so, I think that’s what was so exciting for me when I was in that role, is just getting really creative and figuring out “how do I turn this into something meaningful for you?” How can I help you win internally and make this like a really exciting opportunity for your company?
[00:23:41] JB: That’s great. Again, I hear these themes of partnership. Really understanding each other on both of those sides. Talk to me about the time frame. One of the things that we see is this – And you’re not in your head. You probably already know what I’m going to ask. But we see this misconception of if you build it, they will come. And it’s a channel you can turn on and off. And it can happen rather quickly. But publisher development – Talk to me about the time frame. From the start, to having them produce revenue for a partner, what does that really look like in reality?
[00:24:12] LH: That is such a great question. And I would actually argue that it’s not too dissimilar to an advertiser who’s starting up an affiliate program on their own. I mean, I don’t think that you can expect that anybody coming in fresh to this business is going to be able to turn on and like the spigot of revenue just starts to flow. It does take time.
And just to be candid, there’s even times like internally where you’d have to really try to explain that this is the long game here, right? And in terms of time frame, it could really run the gamut. But I think what it really boils down to, just like any organization, is how much support you’re going to have from the leadership team as well as the resources that you’re able to garner. That was actually one of the things that I would help to consult on with the clients when I was in the publisher development side, is to how to gain buy-in.
And so, that’s such a critical piece. Because as you know, as any business owner knows, like, if you don’t have the resources, there’s only so much you can do. And so, it would really kind of vary. You’d have some publishers who would come in who had already prioritized this channel and knew that they’re going to invest in it and were ready to make those connections. And from there, maybe it would be a few months. But for a lot of others, it was like maybe six months to a year before you would actually see something start to become meaningful.
And just thinking back on my time at CJ, there’s some publishers that I had helped to develop to bring into a place of, “Oh, okay. Now we’re going to prioritize affiliate [marketing].” Where, during my time there, they probably were pretty small. And they’re absolutely big players now.
I think, suffice to say, as with anything that’s worth spending time on, you really just have to be cognizant of, again, the internal struggles that a publisher might have in order to gain the attention and the support that they need. But all that to say, when it’s worth it, and you take that proper time and care, and you are making those right connections, it does pay off in the long term.
[00:26:20] JB: That’s great. One of your points of being long-term, there are a number of affiliates that, in the last seven, eight years, have sold their business and acquired that I remember working with them and teaching them what a data feed was, or advanced linking techniques, because they were just starting out. It is a really long-term play.
One thing you mentioned was, in your role in publisher development, you helped people get buy-in. Are there any sort of concepts or – And I didn’t include this in the questions, but I throw this out there on the fly. Are there any key concepts, or strategies, or things that you found to be useful to help them get buy-in from other people, other stakeholders in their organization?
[00:27:02] LH: Honestly, it goes back to understanding like, “Okay, what are your company’s priorities? What are the KPIs that you’re trying to hit? And why are you even in this channel in the first place?” And I think once you actually start to have that understanding, then you can actually start to make the connections into where affiliate [marketing] can fit in. And I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about this channel. It can actually help to accomplish so many different goals.
And so, I think it’s really just a matter of trying to figure out where those priorities are. But, also, where are your pain points? Helping them to bridge that gap between where affiliate [marketing] is just seen as an experiment to something that can be truly additive and really augment your business.
I think from there, sometimes there’s some other tensions that are happening. I think here’s a great example, again, talking specifically about commerce content publishers. I think on the one side at the publishers, you may have some internal tensions between this small little nascent team who’s trying to get affiliate [marketing] up and running. And then there’s like the advertising sales team who are feeling very territorial about what this could mean for their book of business.
And then even on the flip side, too, this happens far less now, because the industry has evolved. But what year is it? 2022? Like, five, six years ago, even when we’re trying to talk to people about getting these publishers onboarded and running campaigns with them, sometimes there would be a struggle on the advertiser side between who gets credit? PR or affiliate? That was a really interesting one to kind of work through.
But I think, ultimately, once you can actually understand where the concerns are coming from and, again, how it ladders up into the strategic priorities, that’s where you need, as a publisher development person, or even a person internally who’s trying to advocate for the channel, how affiliate actually helps to answer to these challenges.
For example, on the publisher side, and the struggle between the advertising team versus the affiliate team, they’re concerned about what this might mean for the deals that they’re trying to close on. And I think there’s a lot of creative ways that you can actually help to make it a more holistic approach. And I think advertisers actually end up really appreciating that.
I mean, you do have to make sure that you have all the right people in the room. Because, again, they are probably talking to a very different team versus who the affiliate team is talking to. But I think the ones who are savvier, the ones who get it, recognize that it’s such a unique opportunity to, again, bring the different types of customer touch points together into a partnership that ends up becoming a lot more robust versus what you might have thought about from the outset.
[00:29:46] JB: Yeah. And I think I’ve found, the more siloed the organization is, the more difficult it is and the more political infighting. And really, sometimes outright refusal to even have those discussions if they’re real siloed.
[00:29:58] LH: Yeah, which is really unfortunate.
[00:30:01] JB: Yeah.
[00:30:03] JB: Are you enjoying the show so far? One of the things we discuss often on The Profitable Performance Marketing podcast is the importance of driving incremental sales in your affiliate program. But this topic can be very difficult to get your hands around by yourself. How do you know what an incremental sale is? And how do you know whether your affiliate program is set up to drive incremental sales?
Well, we set up a tool that allows you to benchmark your affiliate program against the best programs in the industry and the strategies that lead to incremental sales. You can access and use this free tool at jebcommerce.com/incremental.
This tool covers seven different aspects of your affiliate program, such as technology, your publishers, your promotion strategy, the internal resources available to you, your commission structure, available data, profitability measurements, and more. They’re all covered in this free tool.
And I want you to be able to access this tool and find out exactly how your program stacks up all for free simply for being a listener of this podcast. And once you fill out this tool, you’ll get an email outlining where you stand, including recommendations in all those areas for what you need to do to drive more incremental sales. You can access this tool at jebcommerce.com/incremental.
Now, back to our show.
[00:31:34] JB: One of the things that I wanted to talk about was leadership. You’ve led teams for many years. And leadership has surely been tested over the last two years. How have you navigated that as a leader? And what leadership principles have you seen that really proved valuable? And then what has changed?
[00:31:54] LH: Yeah. I mean, the last two years, as we all know, have been really tough. And if there’s anything that that’s taught me is that you can’t assume what’s happening with a person, or how they are, or how they should be reacting to a situation.
I think the last couple of years has made it really apparent. But you have to just be really conscious of an individual’s personal experience. And that everyone has different needs in processing adverse situations and like what they need to stay motivated and focused. I think that’s just, like, first and foremost, the thing that comes top of mind as far as what’s come out of the last couple of years.
I guess, for me, I try to be the type of leader who really emulates the type of behavior that you want to encourage. And I do try to lean into being as empathetic as possible and trying to give them the space that they need to be in a difficult situation while making it known that I’m there to support them in whatever manner that they need.
For example, there’s some people that just need the time to talk about their feelings and their difficulties. And for others, they just need the flexibility to be able to step away from their work for a few hours when there’s really terrible news in the world that’s been going on so that they can process that.
And so, those are some of the things that I’ve tried to be conscious of. But I think as well, I’ve also just tried to be better to just be really critical about what does or doesn’t support our team’s goals and priorities so that I can be really clear with them about where we can have that flexibility to give them that space, but also where we can’t lose that focus.
And so, I think it’s just having that flexibility so that we’re not straying from the most impactful work that needs to get done, but just trying to be caring about the person. Because, ultimately, especially now with where we are, everything is so intertwined and you can’t really escape. And it’s so hard to escape and separate work from personal versus like what’s going on externally, you know?
[00:33:54] JB: Yeah. I listened to a Brene Brown podcast on her podcast, Dare to Lead, yesterday that kind of talks about this, too. And just like everyone’s kind of worn out. Anxiety levels are super high. I think where I’m trying to find the balance is allowing for everyone to kind of work through their own things that are going on. Not only we all are in the same ocean of pandemic and all the things are going on in the world and in our country. But everyone also has their own pressures as relationships get stressed in this environment and things like that.
I think the balance that I’m trying, continually trying to find the right area to sit on, is allowing for that flexibility, but also the accountability of this organization is here for a reason. Our clients are expecting certain results. Have you found that to be a dance that you’re doing as well? Have you found anything that helps you manage your team in both of those areas?
[00:34:52] LH: Well, I will say this, that I think that’s just kind of that’s always been the approach that I’ve had in general, which is really trusting my team to get the work that they’re responsible for done. I hired them for a reason. They’re there because they’re very capable. And we’re all adults. I’m not a micromanager.
And so, I think that’s just really kind of manifested itself during COVID. And I think that’s where it is really important to be crystal clear and laser-focused on what matters versus what’s a nice-to-have. If it’s not going to end up having a meaningful impact on our revenue, one of our strategic priorities, this is not something that we need to be as focused on. This is something that’s a nice-to-have.
And so, I think because that’s always been my approach, to be honest, I think it hasn’t necessarily been as much of an issue, because I’ve always trusted my team to get their work done and to do it well. And I think that also just comes as part of the fact that Wirecutter has always been a distributed company. And so, it sort of has already forced us to have that level of trust in our team. And I’m really grateful for that because, again, as things have become really difficult over the last couple of years, we had some of those best practices already in place to know how we can work with each other in those moments where we do have to have that flexibility.
[00:36:11] JB: Gotcha. Gotcha. I appreciate that. One of the things, in my prep for this call, is I look at everyone’s LinkedIn and their recommendations. One thing came up about you and several of yours was inspiration, a leader, an inspiring leader. What does that mean to you? And what do you think that you do as a leader that is inspiring to your staff?
[00:36:32] LH: That was something really interesting for me to think about, because I i can’t say that I’m actually all that deliberate about it. But when I gave it some thought, I would have to say that, honestly, empathy and a true desire to see the people around you succeed I think is really what drives that. It honestly brings me joy when that happens, and knowing that I had a part in that. I think that’s one of the things that gives me the biggest satisfaction in any of the roles that I’ve ever had and why I’m so passionate about career development for the people that I work with on my team. I think that inspiration can honestly manifest itself in different ways. It depends on that person and the relationship that you have with them.
I think, for some people, it’s really like walking the walk. Leading by example. For others, for some that are just very naturally motivated, it’s about giving them the stretch goals that they need so that they can visualize what’s possible for them in their careers and working with them along that path for growth.
One thing that I do actually do with the people that I work with when I gave it some thought, that I did observe about myself, is I actually find myself giving pep talks a lot to the people on my team. And it’s honestly not just lip service. I think it’s just something that is a part of my style of coaching that comes along with mentorship, is to give that type of encouragement to a person that’ll give them the motivation that they need, and sometimes when they might be lacking that confidence in themselves. And I think that is a forte of mine.
[00:38:05] JB: That’s great. Now, have you seen the importance of that, those pep talks, or the frequency change with kind of what everyone’s been going through and moving out? Or you’ve just been solid on that? That’s been an important thing for you, and it continues to be?
[00:38:19] LH: It’s something that I’ve always incorporated in just the way that I work with my team. And we’re also just very deliberate about having those regular check-ins with your team members. And I have skipped levels with my direct reports’ direct reports. And so, we do have the opportunity to be speaking to each other regularly and for me to be able to do that consistently.
[00:38:42] JB: I love that. And we’re kind of going into this next topic that I wanted to talk about that I know is important to you: career development of your team members. How do you define what career development is? And what’s your process that you follow to help your team members advance?
[00:38:56] LH: Yeah. I mean, in terms of its definition, it’s really taking an individual and looking at their overall career path? And how do you help to get them to that end goal relative to the needs of the company and the individual person’s – Their desires of where they want to be?
I think with Wirecutter, we’re so fortunate. The company has been very thoughtful about making sure that there’s career lattices that are set up for every single team. And what this career lattice does, it gives transparency across all of the teams for anyone within the company to have visibility into each role and level so that a person can very easily understand what are the expectations set forth and what defines success in that role that they’re in as well as like the levels that are above them or even laterally so that they know what they need to do to get there.
And so, we really base our career development plans on this foundation. But we also make sure to take into account the actual work that’s being done, as well as their particular skill sets for an individual so that we can take a look at things like, “Okay, where now is there opportunity for growth?”
I’ve always really tried to combine all those things so that the team can build on their practical knowledge of a skill while providing guidance and coaching that’s relevant to their tasks and responsibilities. We’re kind of combining those two things together.
And, like many companies, Wirecutter, and The Times, also emphasizes goal-setting and regular check-ins with managers that I just mentioned. And we really do take that to heart. And my goal is to make sure that, at the end of the day, or mid-year review, or end of the year review, there’s no surprises for anyone on my team with where they are in their performance and where they’re tracking their development. They are very well aware at any given time how they’re doing.
And then we also just try to find those opportunities that align with their interest in the process. Again, we’re so lucky. We work for a company that provides the time, the space, to do that, but also learning and development. And there’s a dedicated team at The Times who really owns that. As well as things such as tuition reimbursement.
For example, I had a person on my team who does more of the backend operation of the affiliate processes, but they are really interested in kind of flexing their skill sets in the analytics side and learning a little bit more about what the product is doing. And so, we’re able to find ways to explore that. And so, that’s my personal approach and also some of the things that Wirecutter does.
[00:41:17] JB: I love that. One thing that stood out to me, and this is because I’ve had a really horrible experience with it, is no surprises in those reviews. Actually, I’ve had two experiences. But one was that the organization I worked at, they were unhappy with my performance. This is two decades ago. And they let it go and didn’t say a word until the annual review. And I got hammered in it.
And when I said, “Well, why don’t you guys say something? Did this just start?” And they’re like, “No. It’s kind of been going on for the last 12 months.” I’m like, “I’ve literally been pissing you off for 12 months and you let this go?” And I ended up quitting that day and left. And like that felt so awful to leave me sitting there. And so that’s something that we say, too. These reviews, we’re going to be talking about your successes. We’ll be talking about the last plan that you had and your progress on that, and then what’s next for you.
The no surprises thing is super important. Were you taught that from a mentor? Or, I mean, how did you come to that? Is that just something that Wirecutter does?
[00:42:20] LH: Those best practices are in place at Wirecutter, but this is also something that I’ve developed over the years. I have been incredibly fortunate since very early on in my career all the way to the very first internship that I had, where the managers that I had were mentors. Like, true mentors. And they really went out of their way to take me into their wing and to teach me and give me guidance and explain why behind something we were doing.
And so, I think because of that, that sort of just became a part of my style because that’s what I’ve always known. And so, I’ve been very lucky in that regard that I’ve been able to have amazing leaders to emulate.
[00:42:58] JB: Yeah. I love that. Managers were true mentors. There’s a level of intentionality. Like, you can’t mail in managing people, right? In order for people, I think, to advance in their career, get that development, it needs an intentional leader. You have to spend the time to do that.
Now, I don’t know if you guys were remote or hybrid beforehand, but has that – Is this shift to remote during the pandemic and kind of now, has that changed anything about how you lead teams?
I know, for me, I was a real big proponent of management by walking around. When we had an office, and everyone was there, I could tell if someone was struggling. I could also hear if someone was – A couple people were talking about a topic that I could help them with. We don’t have those tools that were in my toolkit. Has anything changed for you and your leadership style and even development with kind of where we’re at now?
[00:43:49] LH: That’s a great question. And I will say that, for the majority of my career, I was in an office. And I do miss those things. I actually started working remotely when I joined Wirecutter four years ago. I was already working from home two years before COVID ahd happened. But I was actually working for a distributed team even before. Because at CJ, there’s different offices. I had team members. And I had people reporting into me from a different office. I had to grow into being a virtual manager while working in an office setting. So I kind of had a little bit of both.
I wouldn’t actually say that being remote has made leadership more difficult, per se. I mean, it certainly has its challenges. And you just called out a couple of really great examples. But, again, going back to intentionality, it just forces you to be very deliberate and have to think proactively about how you connect with your team and make sure that your time spent together is impactful while also personal. And that’s a topic that actually came up the other day in talking to some other people managers at the company. The example that you gave of like you can’t just pop your head in and just observe a person struggling. What are the ways that you can actually have that understanding when you’re not in-person with them?
And on the flip side, how can you actually try to ensure that you’re creating the type of culture and team environment when you just are signing into Slack and saying, “Hello, I’m here.” Getting your work done, putting your head down, and then like signing off for the day. And so, I think if anything, the shift of COVID, I think, especially with all of its difficulties that we just talked about, forces you to think about being a more just mindful manager, which I think is a good thing. I can’t say that I have come up with all the answers to that last bit that I was just speaking to. But we’re getting there.
[00:45:32] JB: Yeah. And, definitely, I think, again, that word of intentionality. You can’t rely on hearing something, because you’re not in the same room anymore, right? Now, sometimes on these podcasts, we get to talk about – And I get to bring to light issues that maybe people don’t know about, or don’t have exposure to, or aren’t thinking about. There’s a lot of social things going on in our country. But what has it been like as a woman to advance in your career? And as a woman leader, how have things been different? What’s that experience been like for you?
[00:46:01] LH: Sure. I’m going to caveat this by saying that my experience is my own, and your mileage may vary. But going back to having amazing managers, I, for some reason, have been incredibly blessed to have incredible female managers throughout a lot of my career. I’ve had some amazing people to really look up to.
Now, all that to say, though. I will say that, just kind of going back to our industry, we’re so relationship-focused, that I do think that there is a bit of an element there that can help to protect a little bit from biases. Because you have to earn the trust of the people that you are working with to get business done.
Now, granted, obviously, everybody’s experience is going to vary for them, as well as even by company. And I just have been very lucky. I’ve had very supportive colleagues and leaders around me who really have advocated for me while, obviously, working very hard to prove my own abilities. But, still, I think microaggressions still happen. Sometimes people will default to the person with a higher title in the room, or somebody who looks older, or even like the male in the room.
And I’ll never forget. I think I shared this story with you before. But I’ll never forget, one time at ASW, there’s a network partner, who was an older man, who turned to one of my team members who was a younger female, and like, “Oh, are you going to take notes for this meeting?” And I was just like – I was kind of taken aback at the time.
[00:47:26] JB: Why would you ask me?
[00:47:27] LH: Yeah, exactly. And the thing is, though, I don’t know that people are necessarily even realizing that it’s happening. It was very – I know that that wasn’t their intent to be offensive in that way. What I try to do is to combat that by coaching my team to be professionally assertive and recognize the small ways in which they can make sure that they are hurt. So it’s like very small things. And in particular, like with the women on my team, but like don’t say sorry arbitrarily. That happens so much with women. It’s like don’t apologize unless there’s a reason to apologize.
And also, stop asking for permission. Do you think it would be okay if we could meet at this time? And I’m like, “No. No. No. Why are we asking for permission?” State your needs, the reason behind it. And ask them to take action. And if they can’t, what are the other options? And so it’s very like small things like that. But my way to make sure that I’m lifting up the minorities around me so that they can have as best of experience as possible.
[00:48:25] JB: I appreciate you sharing those. Those are two things that – Or three things that, as a white male leader, any of us, may not be aware of the inclination to say, “Well, are you going to take notes?” And not realize that there’s an unconscious bias there that the woman is giong to take notes. Default secretary role to use that term.
But also, I think, as leaders, on my end of that, also to recognize what you said, saying sorry and asking for permission. Those are two things that happen that we can be aware of. I appreciate you bringing that up. But the intentionality comes at play here of you pouring into your staff, your female staff, to coach them on those things. Because I think we get into this forever. But how society views women and men, and what we train, and teach each is different. I really commend you for that.
Let’s move on in the last few minutes here to Wirecutter. Give me the ins and outs. What is Wirecutter?
[00:49:26] LH: Sure. In a nutshell, Wirecutter is the product review and recommendation arm of The New York Times. And when we launched back in 2011, we were pretty unique. Because, at the time, nobody was talking about products the way that we did, and still do. Most tech sites at the time, like, when you looked up a product review, they’re covering the specs of a product. And our founder was really frustrated, because he couldn’t find anything practical around the problem that this product is meant to sell for and how people actually use them in real life. He set out to answer that for himself. And that’s how Wirecutter was born.
And our core mission – And it kind of ties directly to that, has always been to serve readers first. I mentioned that earlier. And also to be as transparent as possible along the way. And we really haven’t strayed from that. And it’s that shared DNA with The Times that they recognized when they made the decision to acquire Wirecutter in 2016. And since then, we’ve really doubled down on that mission, and we’ve really grown the breadth of our coverage to try to be as helpful as possible to our readers.
[00:50:28] JB: It’s awesome. The business model, you make recommendations on products, and you earn an affiliate commission. Anymore an advertiser kind of needs to know about working with you guys specifically?
[00:50:40] LH: Yes. When we say that everything starts and ends with a Wirecutter pick. And if you’re not a Wirecutter pick, it’s a non-starter. They really need to take that to heart and believe that. You can’t buy your way into Wirecutter. And I think that can sometimes be a little bit hard for people to understand, because there are a lot of other commerce content players within this space. And I think everybody does have a separation between church and state between the business side and editorial.
And so, I think because of that, I think some advertisers come to us having worked with some of our peers and trying to employ some of those methods. But with us, we do have the most stringent separation in the industry. And that’s why we have such high-trust with our readers and are so successful.
I think in terms of what they should really know and trying to work with us is, you know, you have to have the Wirecutter pick. But then following closely behind that, I think just being able to have that collaborative conversation around, “Okay, let’s talk about what your goals are within this affiliate space.” And then we’ll talk to you about what our priorities are. Because there are reasons. Kind of going back to what we talked about at the very beginning. There are reasons behind some of the very high-assets that we have. We do command some of the highest rates in the industry. We are going to be asking for you to, on an everyday basis, have best-of-web pricing. And then we’ll ask you to curate even more special deals behind that.
There are times when advertisers will make some changes to their program. And we’ll push back on it. Because, ultimately, we know that in order to be able to support the independent journalism that we’re producing every single day, it’s all based on these relationships with advertisers. And I think the most successful partnerships that we’ve had are the ones who are really trying to understand that part of us and are trying to collaborate so that we can find the best way that we can align on those shared priorities and be able to find the right ways to work together so that we can grow their revenue and, vice versa, meet our revenue and EPC goals.
[00:52:37] JB: Again, while keeping in mind serving the audience, being transparent. All super, super important. You said, it all begins and ends with the Wirecutter pick. If I’ve never worked with Wirecutter, what is a Wirecutter pick?
[00:52:51] LH: Becoming a wire cutter pick is really an indication to our readers that this is a product that we would recommend to our best friends, to our mother. Something that we would recommend personally. And we never recommend anything that we wouldn’t to our personal network.
And so, I think because of that, there is this amazing trust with our readers. They know that a wire cutter pick is something that is going to be not only a great quality product, but something that’s going to actually fit the needs of their life. The one thing that I will say is if you’re ever looking for a recommendation on a product, maybe take the five, ten minutes to read our seven to ten thousand-word reviews. Because what I have actually really come to love about our reviews, now that I’ve been at Wirecutter for four years, is that it will oftentimes get into like not just like, “Okay, this is the toaster oven that you purchased to toast your bread,” or what have you. But actually, it gets into all the other various ways that you use a product. And sometimes brings to light some features or ways that you would use it that you wouldn’t have even thought about. There are so many moments with a Wirecutter pick that surprises and delights the person that ends up purchasing it and using it. I’ve certainly had that experience many, many times.
[00:54:03] JB: Yeah. It sounds like – And tell me if I’m wrong. Traditional affiliate marketing back in the day, it’s pretty simple to communicate with an affiliate. Here’s an offer. Here’s a product. We’re going to work together and move on. But it sounds like, especially with this pick, advertisers need to lean more on maybe what they’ve done in PR by saying, “Hey, I know your audience. Here’s what we think would make a good idea.” And really kind of present it to you in that sort of pitch way instead of like, “Hey, we want to spend money. Let’s go do this thing.”
[00:54:32] LH: I’m so glad that you asked that question, because I do actually want to make a distinction there. What you described, I think, would be very appropriate for other commerce content publishers. And I know a number of them actually really appreciate that type of approach when you actually take the time to understand that connection. It is different with Wirecutter, though.
What I will say is that an advertiser can’t pitch our team, the commerce team. We are truly removed from that editorial process. We are like that strict separation between church and state. And so, I would definitely be clear about that. It’s more so like once the product has been chosen, that’s when we start to go out and take a look at which advertisers carry said product.
And from there, I think where an advertiser can pitch Wirecutter is if they see that we’ve recommended the product already and they come to us saying that like, “I think there’s an opportunity for us to work together. I’d love to gain that share of voice. Here are all of the ways that we can not only work together,” such as from the commission standpoint and the cooking window. But actually, more meaningfully, like how are you creating a great shopping experience on your site?
Because, ultimately, our team, we’re part of the entire Wirecutter experience. We really view ourselves as extending this amazing editorial experience with these great recommendations and extending it to the buying experience. Because at the end of the day, Jamie, like if you go to Wirecutter and you decide to buy something, and I send you to like a third-tier retailer who is only on Wirecutter because they threw a bunch of money at us. And you end up buying it. It takes forever to ship. It ends up coming to you broken. Their customer service is terrible. Are you going to shop through Wirecutter again? Probably not.
And so, we love it when an advertiser comes to us and actually tells us what value props they have for our readers and shopping through them. Because, ultimately, I mean, that ties back to the experience, which has a direct connection to conversion rate.
[00:56:28] JB: Yep. Definitely. So if I’m an advertiser and I want to start working with you guys, what’s that process? We get real good clarity on the pick. Is there another way to get the foot in the door? How does that work?
[00:56:43] LH: You have to harry the Wirecutter pick, first and foremost. That is the only way to get your foot in the door. But outside of that, everything that I just described. Make your case by first telling us how amazing you are for our readers to shop with you. And then, yeah, come up and be as competitive as possible on the rate as well as what you can offer to our readers through other cool perks, like curating a very special deal that only Wirecutter readers can purchase through us for that product.
[00:57:08] JB: Awesome. Again, we’re kind of back to that topic of where the power lies in this relationship. Our listeners, if you’re an advertiser listening, another proof point that the market and the channel is shifting.
Well, I have really enjoyed this conversation, Leilani. Thank you so much for spending the time. We went a little bit over. Really appreciate all the insight on leadership, on content commerce, and employee development, and many other things that we talked about and scrunched in in an hour.
If someone wants to continue that conversation with you, or get more insight from you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
[00:57:46] LH: Sure. You can find me on LinkedIn very easily, Leilani Han. Send me a message.
[00:57:51] JB: All right. Well, we will link to that as well in our show notes. Yeah, thank you so much for joining us. Really a pleasure to get to know you more and talk about all these very important subjects. I know our listeners will benefit greatly from it. Thank you for spending this time today.
[00:58:07] LH: Thank you so much. It’s been really fun.
[00:58:09] JB: Awesome.
[00:58:14] JB: Wow! What a conversation. I hope you guys got as much out of it as I did. Learned a ton. And, always, one of the reasons I do these podcasts, I’d love to meet people and get to know them better. And really enjoyed this conversation. Leilani, thank you so much for your time. You really spoke to so many things that are important to me personally, but also important in our industry. I really appreciate you very much. And looking forward to sharing a drink at one of these next upcoming events.
It’s so nice to say that we’ll be able to see each other. I’m sure you feel that way out there, too. Events are starting to happen. And everyone’s starting to plan. We’ve got Deal Maker coming up. Impact has an event. Commission Junction. There’s CJU in September. We have Affiliate Summit East. There’re so many things happening that we haven’t had for two years. Totally excited to do that. [I’m] a little apprehensive about being around so many people, but aren’t we all?
What a great conversation we had. There are a couple things that I heard that’s important, is to understand your core mission of your company. Everything builds up to that. And there’s serving their audience, and being transparent. Always leading to that North Star. And that the audience needs to be served.
If you’re thinking – If you’re an advertiser and you’re looking at your affiliates and you’re trying to recruit affiliates, you’re trying to optimize for affiliates, the way we used to do this is we would shout, kind of like a drive-by shouting of an offer, or a product, or a commission level. That’s not really the case anymore. You have to think about their audience. And how can you help them serve their audience?
We talked about how things change with all the touch points in the customer’s path to purchase. And how important affiliate marketing is, not only to diversify your revenue streams. It’s been a pretty unpredictable time in our lives. Having a lot of different [streams] and putting your eggs in multiple baskets, that can be really done well through the affiliate program. But also on how important that is for innovation.
We talked about recruitment. Did you know it takes, sometimes, six months to a year to see fruition of partnerships you’re building? I can confirm that. But her experience is the same as mine. There are times when it happens very rapidly. And there are subset categories of affiliates that can move very, very quickly.
But a lot of that innovative work, the new publishers that are coming on board, and new publishers that you want to work with, and maybe new content creators that don’t know much about the channel, that can take a lot of time.
One thing I want you to think about is how can you change that? One is support from leadership team internally. And also, how many resources you provide. If you don’t have the resources, and you don’t have buy-in, you’re not going to be able to do really unique innovative things and reach new segments of your audience. It’s one of the reasons why we only bring in so many clients, because we want to put the right resources in at [JEBCommerce] so our clients can have these partnerships. We talked about that.
We talked about how to lead during these times. And what Leilani brought to the table was just such a clear proof of how, as leaders, we have to be intentional. And she showed that in the mentorship. She provided in her recommendations. You can see it. She’s an inspiring leader. I was inspired by her today. But everything that she’s doing in her development, employee development, it’s all intentional. It doesn’t happen unless you make it happen. And making sure that that happens with the team.
And then one thing that I learned – No surprises. Those reviews, as you’re doing those with your team, there shouldn’t be a time for surprises. If you have a problem with them and their performance, talk to them when you do. Don’t build that up for that time.
Man, there’s so many things that we talked about. But even when we talked about what it’s like for a woman in a professional environment navigating her career, what she demonstrated, we talked about a number of times, the importance of representation. She had the benefit of working for several strong women, as do I. Actually, I look back and I think I’ve only had one male boss in my history. And that’s benefited me greatly. But how important it is for us to see people that look like us, from backgrounds like us, in positions that we want to get to so that we know we can get here? And how intentionally we need to kind of look at this unconscious bias.
If you’re a leader right now. If you lead one person, two people, or a hundred, man, take that step away. Look at what are your unconscious biases? If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Google that. And that shouldn’t be a triggering or a threatening thing for you. If you’re a leader who wants their people to find fulfillment and do great things, you should really want to find out how you are impacting that. Look at those things.
And that example of a one woman in a conference room and one of the men say, “You’re going to be taking notes, right?” It may be appropriate for that person for her to take notes in her role. But we may be doing that because of some unconscious biases. I definitely want to prompt you to look into that. As leaders, it’s our job to make sure that we’re doing a good job of leading our people. And then if you want to work with Wirecutter, she kind of laid it out, you got to have a Wirecutter pick first. And then you can start working with them.
And I love that it talks to one thing we’ve been talking on this podcast for a year or so, is the power dynamic within the affiliate community changing. And that is definitely, definitely happening.
I just want to say, Leilani, thank you so much for your time today. I appreciate all the things that you talked about and your career. And definitely looking forward to seeing you again in-person.
Now, if you want to reach out to Leilani, you can do that on LinkedIn. You can just search for Leilani Han. I’ll include a link to her LinkedIn profile in our show notes as well. And I definitely encourage you to do that. We get to meet some really cool people along the way in our careers. And Leilani is definitely one of those for me.
Now, if you found this podcast helpful – And the recap has been a little long. Sorry. There’s so much we talked about, though. If you found this helpful and insightful, definitely, please, share it on your socials, Facebook, LinkedIn, and anywhere else that you interact that way. If you know someone who would benefit from either hearing about how to work with commerce content affiliates, or leadership, or managing in this remote world, or any of the topics we discussed today, I want to encourage you just to send that on to them. And also, it’d really help us to continue to get the word out so these conversations you know can continue to happen in our space. Please, leave us a five-star review on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, and whatever podcast player that you have.
Now, if you need help. If you’re talking about some of these things, whether it’s leadership, or affiliates, or how do I get commerce content sites? How do I get more top of funnel affiliates? How does all this track? What do we do here? I would love to help you. And there’s two ways you can get help. You can email me at email@example.com. And I’ll get back to you as soon as I possibly can. Or you can go right to Calendly and set up a meeting with me. Go to calendly.com/jamiebirch, and find time. If you need 15 minutes, a half hour, or even an hour, set that up. No cost to you. No obligations for anything. I just love to help. We started doing that during the pandemic. I actually set my whole Fridays aside to help affiliates, publishers, and advertisers, and, really, any business owner that needs anything. We’re continuing that. There are blocks of time available. Don’t hesitate to use those.
Now, we are still looking for season three guests. If you know someone who you’d love to hear me interview, then definitely send that to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you’d like to be a guest on the show, then just email email@example.com.
Thank you, guys, for listening. Hopefully, you’re enjoying these conversations. If there’s any way we can improve anything that you’d like to see, just let us know. Again, firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you guys have a wonderful day. And thank you for listening.