Q&A With Rob Goodman: Marketer, Storyteller, and Uncharted Minds Panel Moderator

This interview is with Rob Goodman (@therobgoodman), principal at OpenVerse, a brand strategy and content marketing firm. He will be the panel moderator at the next Uncharted Minds event Disruption in Transportation CEO Roundtable featuring Scoop Technologies, Getaround, RideCell, and Faraday Electric Bikes on November 30th. Click here to get 20% off tickets.

Q. What did you study in college?

I’ve been an artist and illustrator my entire life and went to Syracuse University to study illustration and graphic design at their VPA school. I have also always been a die-hard music fan and was looking to build a career that could balance the highs and lows of an artist’s life with the stability of a “nine-to-five” job, so I sought out internships working in the music business. I was lucky enough to get internships at a variety of companies in NYC over the summers—at Rolling Stone, Arista Records, MTV Animation, Live Online (the first live-streaming concert company), and Delsener Slater (later acquired by Live Nation). I like to say I got a real world minor in marketing during college.

Q. Tell us about your first marketing job.

I had heard that Sony Music had a paid position for college students as part of their college marketing program, which is actually the longest-standing college music marketing program in the country—industry greats like Harvey Leeds (former Columbia Records music executive), John Sykes (founder of MTV), and so many more got their starts as Sony Music College Reps. I pursued the position full force and after several rounds of interviews, I scored the job. I worked for two years in upstate New York in what still stands as one of my best jobs. I was the eyes, ears, and marketing muscle for Sony Music in Syracuse and the surrounding areas—my job was to get college students and influencers to check out new music, drive sales and interest, and build audiences for developing artists organically in my market. From listening parties to artist tour support, college press, college radio, lifestyle and retail promotions, and campus music events—that was my gig, while also studying as a full-time student.

Q. What were some early lessons you learned about work?

I went on to work for Nickelodeon, took on a full-time position with Sony Music, dove into digital marketing with Simon & Schuster, and shifted to marketing consumer technology in my role at Google. Early on in my career, I learned it’s important to build strong relationships with the people you work with. I’ve been lucky enough that so many of the people I’ve worked with over the years I now count as lifelong friends. My takeaway would be: work somewhere you can find like-minded, passionate, smart people who you can learn from, take on the world with, and also just grab beers, see a show, or hang with.

Q. Tell us about your company, OpenVerse.

In my role as founder and principal of OpenVerse, I work with a variety of brands and startups focusing on content strategy, writing and content creation, and brand strategy, positioning, and messaging work. I love having an outsized impact with smaller teams and building the kinds of relationships with clients that feel more like working partnerships and collaborations than quick-hit gigs. And I still love music and art. I continue to do illustration (band posters and CD design) and recently started writing about the San Francisco music scene for The Bay Bridged.

Q. How do you find clients today?

Finding clients has mostly been through word of mouth. I’ll get connected with folks, we’ll meet over coffee or I’ll come into the office for a chat, and we’ll get rolling that way. And if I’m not the right fit I always try to help connect dots to someone who might be. The Bay Area really thrives via the connections people have with one another. Most of the people I meet have an openness and curiosity that often leads to great conversation, and opportunities of all kinds can spring forth from that.

Q. What career advice would you give to young people today?

I would build upon a popular line of advice I’ve heard time and time again—“Do what you love.” I’ll add to that and say, “Figure out how to make money doing what you love.” We live in the real world and that means rent, food, family, and all that good stuff. So home in on what you love and what you are passionate about, identify your strengths, and then pursue every avenue that could connect back to those things. And be open and giving with your time and your willingness to help others.

Q. What are you most excited about for the upcoming 'Disruption in Transportation CEO Roundtable' you are moderating?

When it comes to all the innovation we are seeing in the transportation space—I am most enthusiastic about the transformational possibilities for our cities and in the way we work. It’s one of the reasons I was thrilled to recently work with Nauto, a company developing technology that will evolve standard vehicles to smart, autonomous-ready road warriors. The speakers for this roundtable discussion—CEOs from Scoop, RideCell, Getaround, and Faraday Bicycles—are leading this revolution. I can’t wait to get a glimpse into their vision for the future of our cities. I am also interested in understanding the biggest technological advances that are helping us get there and the infrastructural roadblocks that everyday citizens might have a hand in helping to surmount.