048: The Profound Pursuit of Problem-Solving with Pinny Gniwisch

C: Podcast

In today’s episode, hear Pinny’s extraordinary journey from Montreal to Harvard, shaped by mentorship, global ventures, and entrepreneurship. Discover the transformative power of an unconventional Rabbi, lessons from a father who survived the Holocaust, and the innovative era of early digital marketing with Ice.com. Join us for a conversation on life’s variety of experiences, business adventures, and the joy of being a “Zadie.”

Key Points + Topics:

  • [01:35] Pinny’s education journey started in Montreal, Canada. Then he went to Los Angeles, California, to attend the Yeshiva (a sort of Jewish “College”). He was transferred to the Yeshiva in London, England. Then, he went to New York to finalize his degree. His Rabbi sent him to Australia on shlichus (a traditional Jewish mission to support local Jewish life). After completing rabbinical school, he pursued a career in digital marketing. He now has two Masters degrees and is currently in a program for another degree in business from Harvard. 
  • [02:40] His Rabbi brought him and his fellow students up to become entrepreneurs who forged their own paths. He gave them the confidence to go against the grain. While in Australia as an emissary, he was placed on the street each Friday morning. He had to ask people who passed if they were Jewish and, if so, if they wanted to put on tefillin with him. It was very impactful on his approach to life and business. 
  • [05:35] A mentor is someone who guides you. Pinny is currently working with a new mentor, a coach assigned to him by Harvard when he started his program. They’ve become close, and it’s already been a year since they started their current arrangement. Weekly, they meet for an hour. For the first half hour, they study Chassidus; the second half hour, Pinny gets coaching on all things business. When Pinny presented a problem recently, he and his coach worked through it together. He didn’t give Pinny the answer or tell him what to do. He guided the decision. To Pinny, a mentor is someone who can give you the glasses to see yourself with clarity, without your ego.
  • [07:45] Pinny’s father is a remarkable man and mentor. He’s a Holocaust survivor who grew up as an orphan and took a ship to America with little but the clothes on his back. When Pinny’s father began dating his mother, he came on a date in a shirt with monogrammed sleeves. She noted the initials were not his own and asked him about it. In his humility, he explained that one of his jobs was to clean the bodies of those who had recently passed away. The widows would often donate their late husbands’ clothing. Pinny, having no money, would often get the first review of the donations. So, every shirt had was someone else’s. At last year’s Passover meal with his father and all the rest of his family, Pinny recalls seeing his father starting to cry. They weren’t tears of sadness, his father noted. His father remembered walking on the plank to board the ship to come to America and thinking how completely alone in the world he was. Now, he sits at a table surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and it’s the best feeling in the world. He’s constantly learning. Just last week, he came to Pinny to lament how no one was using the ChatGPT subscription they’d purchased. An 84-year-old man asking about ChatGPT is quite a remarkable thing. 
  • [11:00] Growing up (and even still), his family always welcomed guests. Today, his parents have built a new house. It’s a few bedrooms upstairs, but the downstairs is all dining room. That’s the whole house. The dining room can seat 250 people. The house’s whole purpose is to have and invite guests. They truly believe, and have passed down to Pinny, that the purpose of having whatever wealth you have is to share it with others. 
  • [12:53] These days, Pinny mentors a few people, some officially, others unofficially. The key, he says, is to let them have their own realizations and not give them the answers. That work of coming to the answer is important. He tries to give examples from his own life. Many times, mentors will use the experiences of others in their stories, and that’s super important. But Pinny has lived so much life and had so many experiences that he has many of his own stories to share with his mentees. Throughout daily life, he’s always thinking about what is happening and how he can use it in a mentoring session. 
  • [17:34] Pinny founded the Postmaster Corporation in 1993. They primarily worked with countries and organizations in the Caribbean and West Africa. It opened his eyes to many of the world’s cultures. He had to deal with each country, learn its customs and etiquette, and work through language and religious barriers. In Africa, there were often political coups. This was a big challenge for the Postmaster Corp, as they would build a relationship with one postmaster, only to learn a week later he’d unfortunately been killed and had been replaced overnight. 
  • [21:10] In 1999, the internet was just a few years old (to the general public). It was an exciting time because the rules were unwritten. He was there at the beginning of digital marketing. His Yeshiva schooling meant his brain was seasoned for a challenge. He could look at the same data and take the same tests as someone else starting in digital marketing and come out with a better result, thanks to his innovative mind. 
  • [23:05] The initial setup of Ice.com in 1999 was insane. Today, if you want to start an online business, you go to Shopify, start a company, and set up your website all for a nominal fee. In those days, starting a website cost millions of dollars. After already launching the original Ice.com brand, they wanted to rebrand and rebuild their website. It cost half a million dollars. Everything was managed in spreadsheets. Idea Lab invested in them and started the first PPC ads. 
  • [24:45] One of the early goals of Ice.com was to brand itself as “everyday jewelry.” As branding and marketing decisions were made at the time, they went to Chicago and held focus groups. They sat with a group of 100 women and asked them questions and got more and more granular with the questions. They crunched all the info and responses and rebranded themselves around what those women told them they wanted out of a jewelry brand. 
  • [28:55] One of Pinny’s (many) jobs these days is helping other jewelry brands optimize their online presence. His first step, when faced with a new client, is to optimize their website. Many come to him with archaic platforms, stale pictures, and navigation, and just a general out-of-date feel. When selling jewelry online, you need to give an aura of “aspirational life.” The second step is to insist they have tracking on their website, be it Google Analytics or another platform of their choice. Often, his customers will say, “We have too many items; we want to pare down our inventory!” This is great! Pinny will respond by asking how many views and clicks a product on the chopping block has gotten. They’ll say it hasn’t gotten a single sale in six months. That’s not one of the KPIs. Just because no one bought it doesn’t mean no one saw it. You need to know many things before the actual purchase before you can make an informed decision about which products to list. 
  • [35:35] As you might have guessed, Pinny has had (and currently has) MANY titles. When asked his favorite, he responded “If you’d asked me this when I was still teaching, I would have said ‘teacher’.” Teaching was extremely powerful for him. Today, though, his favorite title is “grandfather.” Just hearing the word “Zadie” from a little squeaky voice dwarfs everything else he’s ever done. 
  • [38:52] Pinny was “armchair diagnosed” with ADHD by a woman seated next to him on a long flight once. Upon returning from that trip, he went to his hospital and signed up for an adult ADHD testing program. It took three months to get through the first step of the process – diagnosis. He remembers the day he got the letter saying he did, in fact, have ADHD. For some people, that would be horrific, but Pinny only thought, “YES! I finally understand the ‘why’ behind so many things.” He then started doing a lot of reading and research on ADHD and how to work with it. He learned he had many tools at his disposal he’d not known about before. He’s learned to surround himself with people who are good at finishing projects because he’s very good at starting them. He’s often the most creative person in the room. 

Guest + Episode Links

Full Episode Transcript

Danny Gavin Host  00:05

Hello everyone, I’m Danny Gavin, founder of Optige, marketing professor and the Host  of the Digital Marketing Mentor. I’m really excited to have Pinny Gniwisch with us here today. Pinny is actually one of my mentors and we’ll talk about that in a few, but he’s the president of Delmar Jewelry. He’s a globally recognized thought leader in social media and online marketing. Under his leadership as founder and executive vice president for ICEcom, he revolutionized the way consumers bought jewelry, modernizing industry in an increasingly web-focused landscape. In 2012, Pinny began consulting. He’s worked with world-renowned Cirque du Soleil on their e-commerce strategy. Currently, he’s working with Delmar International to implement their B2B marketing and merchandising strategy. Today, we’re going to talk about digital marketing through the years. How are you doing, Pinny?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 01:08

I’m doing well. Thank you for having me.


Danny Gavin Host 01:11

So just to give people background, so obviously me, 2010,. Finishing Shiva going into the industry in sort of the orthodox global world. Pinny was definitely the guru of marketing growing up speaking at all the different e-commerce conferences, and definitely someone who paved the way for a lot of us who came afterwards. So it’s really exciting to have you on the podcast and be able to talk and share your wisdom with everyone.


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 01:33

Thank you for having me. This is great.


Danny Gavin Host 01:35

All right, so let’s talk about your background. Where did you go to school and what?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 01:38

you studied. So I started out in Montreal, Montreal, Canada, a small little place on the map. After that I studied in Los Angeles in Yeshiva, then I transferred to the Yeshiva in London and then I went to New York to get my degree and I was sent by the rabbit to Sydney, Australia, on Shluchas, where I went, and then, after I graduated from rabbinical school, I pursued my career in digital marketing and marketing and education. So I have an MBA and I have my master’s degree in Jewish education and Israel education, and now I’m getting a degree from Harvard University in business.


Danny Gavin Host 02:30

Some people collect baseball cards, I guess you collect degrees, but obviously that drive for education is amazing. So let’s talk about, when you look back, whether it’s through Yeshiva or maybe some of the more recent things that you’ve done. Are there any experiences both inside and outside of the classroom that you feel like were impactful in directing your path in marketing?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 02:52

Yeah, I think the first thing I would like to talk about when you talk about impact is the Rebbe’s leadership in how he brought us up to become entrepreneurs. He didn’t want us to be chsidim or disciples and just follow. He wanted us all to sort of plow through and create our own path. I remember when Waze started the app many, many years ago, whenever they designed their app, that a lot of the maps were created by the users, and whenever a user would go down a street that wasn’t on the map, there would be this little tractor that would follow you as you pave that road and create a new road, and I thought that was like the coolest thing you know Israeli thinking, and I believe that’s the beauty. The beauty is that they ever gave us the confidence to go up against the grain.



So I remember one very impactful thing was when I was sent to Australia as an emissary.



I was placed on the street and I would have to ask people every Friday if they were Jewish and if they would like to put on the film, and that in itself gave me an amazing amount of confidence and innovation because, as I tested different marketing tactics to get people to say, yes, you know, and every week I would have all these different lines that I would try.



You know I look at them today as email headlines, right, you know, openers to get people to say yes or to get people not to just openly reject me for my look. And I think that was my challenge and that was the foundation that gave me the future confidence to do things. That, and I believe you know, digital marketing was. You know, in its infancy, when I started, it wasn’t even, you know, we created it, and I think the only reason why we were so successful was because it was going up against the grain. And that all started from, you know, being in the street, being in front of people, challenging people, and then, you know, reworking it the next week and trying different tactics.


Danny Gavin Host 05:10

Yeah, and I know from my own experiences, like we don’t realize the gift of, like you know, going to a law office and knocking on the door and people think you’re crazy, and you know, and you asked you want to put on to fill in today? Like no, I don’t have time, but then coming back again the next week and trying again and maybe the third week and then, yeah, maybe after 12 times they actually listened. But just that determination and that training, I mean I don’t think you get it anywhere else. Moving down to mentorship so, Pinny, how would you define a mentor?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 05:41

Someone who guides you. And I’ll tell you, last night I had an experience my new mentor, he’s my coach. Actually, harvard sort of gives you a coach while you’re in Harvard during the three weeks at the program. But I became very close to my coach. It’s already a year that we study a half an hour of Hasidus, for we study Tanya, and the other half hour he coaches me, and this is the arrangement that we created right after I left Harvard.



And last night I had a question that we worked through and he didn’t tell me what to do, but he guided me to my decision. And I think the key to a mentor, a true mentor, is for them to give you the glasses to see the clarity that’s out there that you in your own bubble cannot see, because we’re all full of our ego and we don’t always see what’s right in front of us. So I think a mentor, a true mentor, is bringing out the best and challenging you to uncover the best in you, even though sometimes it’s painful and sometimes the decisions are not just much important where you wanted to go initially.


Danny Gavin Host 06:55

And I’m sure that relationship with that coach slash mentor like the first half hour in some ways you’re mentoring him and then the second half hour 100% and he’s so thankful to me for giving him the half hour.


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 07:12

You know, like he charges like 8.50 an hour and I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m getting like this great coach because I’m giving him chassidus and I feel kind of, you know, like normally when we teach chassidus, where we feel, you know, empowered, that we’re sharing, you know, this great wisdom, but we feel great that we have the ability to influence somebody else with chassidus, and here I’m getting this reward. It’s kind of a little weird, but it’s great.


Danny Gavin Host 07:42

Yeah, it’s amazing. So let’s talk about your father. So you’ve mentioned that he is one of your most influential mentors. Obviously, he is just a remarkable man with so much wisdom, so much youthfulness. Let’s talk about him.


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 07:56

So my father is a Holocaust survivor. He grew up as an orphan, came to America, had nothing. I love this story, which I tell over all the time, where when he was dating my mom my mother came to the date with a shirt that had an insignia on it with initials that were engraved in the shirt and my mom was super impressed with the fact that he had a shirt. But when she looked closely she saw that it wasn’t his initials. So she questioned him and you know, in his boldness and his humility, he said well, I’m so poor that I have no clothing. So when one of my jobs I do is I work. I clean dead bodies after it’s a little morbid, but I clean the bodies and the wives of the people that have passed away. They leave the shirts of the clothing as a donation to the Yashiva, so I get first dibs. So therefore I’m wearing somebody else’s shirt and all my shirts are that. So I think that humility that my father had, having come from such poverty into the success that he has, and to stay grounded in his humility and wisdom, that I think is the greatest quality that I try to instill in myself, where, you know, whatever successes that I have had or will have, that I try to stay grounded and remind myself of my father’s growth and where he is today.



And I remember that Passover last year we were sitting together at the Seder with the whole family and he just started to cry. And he was just sitting there looking at the table and I’m like Ta, what’s going on? Why are you crying? And he says this is not tears of sadness, this is tears of joy. He says I came to this country.



I remember walking on the plank to go on the boat and I thought I was, you know, I was the most lonely person, the only person in the world. No one, no one there I had nobody. And I was coming to a new world. And look at what I’ve created, you know children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, all surrounding me at the Seder and for me that was like a moment. It was a moment to see true, deep joy that led to, you know, led to the crying, that tears of joy. So for me he is the greatest person in the world. He’s humble, smart, he has a great sense of humor and he’s always, always learning. He never stops. You know, last week he came over to me and he’s like. You know we bought the membership for ChatGPT. Why isn’t everybody using it at the year? An 84 year old man talk about ChatGPT. It’s inspirational, it’s exciting.


Danny Gavin Host 10:55

So I’ve spoken to your children before and I know a big part of their education is the fact that you making such an effort, like by your Shabbos table, inviting Guest s and for bringing and like interacting with people, and I know that well. I don’t know, but I can envision growing up in your house. That was amazing. How is it growing up at your parents’ Shabbos table? Was it similar? Is it something that you gained from your mother and father?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 11:20

There’s no question, and we had always had Guest s and have Guest s. You know this. My parents built a home most recently. That is a bedroom and a dining room. That’s the whole house. The bedroom is upstairs and the house seats 250 people. The dining room, wow. And that’s the home.



So you can get an idea of what kind of hachnas, usurkhim or what kind of guest I mean. The whole purpose of their existence is to give and to have guest and to invite guests and to make them feel at home. And just three weeks ago we had a guest  in their home that came to sleep. But the beauty of it was that he felt comfortable enough to bring another guest. 



And the other Guest  was surprised when he arrived because he felt so weird that the Guest  was inviting him and he didn’t even anticipate how they, how my parents, would receive him as being some bit one of the Guest s Guest s and he was nervous. The whole eight hour drive he was coming Like, okay, the Guest  invited me what is, what is, what is it gonna be? And he had the most beautiful Shabbos. So, yes, seeing it in my parents’ home inspired me and hopefully my children are gonna be inspired to be the same, where you know where the whole purpose of having whatever wealth you have is to share it and and make somebody else feel as comfortable as you and your own home.


Danny Gavin Host 12:48

Love it so pivoting to how you mentor others. So obviously you you’ve mentored a lot of people, whether that’s directly, indirectly, people in in your company, youth that you’ve also been involved in. So what are your keys to mentoring success and how you mentor others?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 13:03

I have a few people that I mentor, and it’s some of them officially, some of them unofficially. I think the key metric, as I mentioned before, is for them to have their own realization not to give them the answers, because the work is important and that they realize the direction they need to go or the decision they need to make needs to come from them. I think that’s number one in mentoring. It’s the art of the pause. There’s a book out there I’m coaching. I can’t remember the name now, but it’s a fantastic book where the whole book is based on the pause. It’s not jumping to the answer, but allowing them to find the answer. Another thing is trying to give them examples of my own life. I think a lot of times, mentors use stories from other people and that’s super important, but I’ve had many experiences in life and those experiences have given me the ability to wade through dark times and difficult decisions, and using my own experiences to guide them is super important because they can relate to the. It’s not a story, it’s not one step removed, it’s for me. So I always try to find something in my own life that they can relate to. That has happened to me, and I’m always thinking when things are happening how I can use that in my mentoring sessions. So just the other day I was. I always look at opportunities that happen and see how I can take that opportunity to the next level. So a lot of people have opportunities where they see the opportunity and they don’t look at it, they don’t see it as an opportunity and they just walk straight by. So the other day I saw this. I was in Miami yesterday at a jewelry show.



There was an elderly gentleman who saw me and I walked by him and I said hello and I saw that he wouldn’t because I was wearing a Yamaha. He wanted to tell me something. Right, I saw that. So normally, if you don’t see that, you would have walked by hello, goodbye, nothing. And that stopped and that pause of me asking him how he’s doing, what’s his experience in the industry, and then he went on to tell me this extraordinary story that happened to him. That was so mind-boggling and he was so excited to tell me and he just came back to me later and every morning after that he stopped by my booth.



But the point is that when we walk by that situation and we don’t see the person’s eyes and we don’t see and we don’t read the situation, we don’t see the opportunity, we lose the opportunity to have a great experience, and I think that’s, in general, that’s been my motto in life. And people say, how do you have so many stories or how do you? For me, it’s all about seizing the opportunity and not walking away. And the funny thing is that I was working all day and I went to a wedding and I came back. I walked by a table at the bar towards my room and there were four guys sitting there.



One of them saw me walk by and they said happy New Year. And I said happy New Year and I gave them a blessing, but I was so zonked that I went to sleep and then I realized that’s what happens to the average person, right, the average person did what I did and went to bed and I felt more the next morning. I felt so terrible because it could have been another story, right? And I was thinking at that moment, you know, in the morning I woke up and I said that’s what happens to everybody else and for me that was a perfect moment, you know, to catch myself.


Danny Gavin Host 16:49

No, no, no, don’t ever do that again right and you know it’s kind of the story of Zusha, but like Pinny, you got to be Pinny, right, you can’t lose, don’t lose who you are. I mean, I don’t know if you remember this story, but we were at IRC in Chicago once. I think you were going for dinner with Steven Spencer and like with another guy, and I think I was just around, like Danny, come with me and like we hop into the uber, we go. It was like the most wonderful experience and naturally I would have just gone to my room, maybe ordered some food, but like it’s just so cool how you grab those opportunities and I’ve been a part of it it’s very magical. Yeah, it is so cool. Don’t, yeah, don’t lose that.


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 17:23

I guess, I guess, as you get older, you got it.


Danny Gavin Host 17:27

Pace yourself right. There you go. So let’s move into all things digital marketing. So kind of turning the clock back. You founded postmaster corp in 1993 and the next 10 years you helped build this business that worked with developing countries postal organizations. How is it working with so many different countries, regions and cultures around the world?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 17:47

Oh my gosh, we work primarily with the Caribbean and Western Africa, and I tell you one thing first of all, culturally, it was the most eye-opening Education I ever got, dealing with each country individually and learning the customs of what is proper and what isn’t, etiquette. And then and then there was just stuff like, you know, language barriers and religious barriers. You know, like a lot of these countries in the Caribbean, the people are Extremely religious and very respectful of your religion. I remember, you know, the postmaster general of Barbados was so respectful and made sure I had kosher food and always asked me if I, you know, if I needed anything and that was in trend of that as well. So the culture sort of Clash, coming from the ghetto, coming from, you know, my small Orthodox community, and being open and was right after I got married. So being open to this whole World, world actually world, I mean the world, it was, it was, it was amazing and traveling to all these countries and and and dealing and, and and I think one of the biggest challenges was that as you build relationships with the postmaster general, there would be a coup and and a new government would come in and and you would call up and you’d be like like where is you know? You know Where’s the basil Reese? Oh, he was killed in the last administration. Oh my god, so, so, so for me that was so mind-boggling that you know the changeovers and and the violence in some of these countries, and then also, you know just it was. It was very weird and it was before the internet, so Communication was difficult.



Having to travel to third world countries, I remember one time I went to Kotobar, which is a country in Western Africa. We get to the airport and I’m about to leave and the security guard, you know two guys with machine guns, stopped me and they’re like, you know, do you have any currency to To declare? And I’m like, yeah, and and his eyes lit, you know, light up, and he says, show me, and. And he’s talking in French and my French is not great, but so I take out the money, he starts counting it and the plane is leaving and I’m stressed and everything.



And then you know like he takes my passport and I’m getting nervous and I’m starting to get agitated and the guy next behind me says, hey, you better relax. You know, don’t get so agitated because they’ll keep you here. After a while he says you know, you have to pay whatever excess. And I pay. And then he says poor moi, what about me? And so I give him, you know, one, two, three, and, and after I finish, you know, I give him $500. He gives me my password back, he smiles and lets me go. So there were these, all these different experiences that were insane.


Danny Gavin Host 21:05

So your time span there bridged the gap from regular snail mail, commerce and communications to the world of email and e-commerce. How is it watching the evolution of global communication in such a way?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 21:15

well, the beauty was that we were in. We were on the cusp of. You know, in 1999, the internet was maybe three years old and e-commerce was just starting To pick up. It was super, super exciting because the rules weren’t written. Everybody was starting at the same point.



You know, if I would have went into Traditional marketing, I would have had to had a good degree, I would have had to go to school, I would have had to follow the path of everybody else, which was that path where you know, you go and there’s, you know, there’s a linear path where you need to just Go from here to there, to there to there.



And when we started digital marketing, I was there in the beginning.



So, if I was as smart as everybody else, I can succeed.



And, being that, I had my Yeshiva background, where the brain was seasoned For challenge, and we created the rules. So, just like someone who was working for any other e-commerce company who didn’t know how digital marketing, how to use digital marketing, I could be just like them, do the same tests and come out with the, with the same results and and using my say hello, coming out with better results and and that I felt I was. I was the luckiest person in the world to be there at that moment, to be able to start with everybody else, and because of my innovative mind and the brothers that were giving me the support that I had in founding that in our company, ice calm, we were able to leapfrog ahead of everybody else because we were Entrepreneurs, we were innovators, just you know, and we had the opportunity to be there when innovation was happening and that, and I’m super thankful for, so with founding ice calm in 1999 and like kind of going back there, what sort of a just go set up was involved back then, like with any commerce company?



It was insane because you know today, if you want to start a company, you go to Shopify, you start your company and you build your website in 15 minutes you have everything up in those days. The initial costs of setting up a website we’re in the millions. I remember we, we, we wanted to rebrand our company and we needed to rebuild our website and it was half a million dollars a in in those days and thank God we had VC money that we were able to afford it. But the whole infrastructure Was not there. So everything from distribution to e-commerce website, to marketing, to Software to manage marketing, and I mean everything we managed in those days was on Excel.



So if we had a campaign, we put it into Excel and then we would have to Optimize the campaign in Excel. There was no HubSpot, there was no you know back end of a Facebook. Even even Google AdWords wasn’t there when we started. You know we had the. You know the company that did it was the company that invested in us, idealab that created the first cost per click campaigns, and managing that was, you know, was a cumbersome Thing and today I feel sort of jealous from anybody starting an e-commerce company. But the beauty that we had was that we were able to make mistakes and create the rules, and that I’m very proud of and excited for to be there at that time.


Danny Gavin Host 24:43

So you’ve mentioned one of your goals and I believe successfully achieved was to brand Icecom as everyday jewelry. What sort of market research did you do to help determine how to best make that positioning move?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 24:54

So we went to Chicago and we had focus groups. Today you can do it online, but when we started, the capabilities to do it online weren’t there and we sat with a group of 100 women to ask them what they were looking for in an online jewelry company or in any jewelry company. We had a series of questions and then we reformatted the questions. We, as we, got more granular into understanding what that customer was looking for online from features to navigation, to what things were extremely important to them while searching for jewelry, what kind of designs and we took that information. We crunched whatever information we got based on the questions, and then we started. We went to the drawing board and we designed the brand around that after the brand was already doing business. So rebranding the logo, the site, the features on the site, the shopping cart.



One of the things that came out from there was today, the buy now, pay later companies like all the guys that are out there, from Square to Afterpay. So Afterpay was founded by a guy who worked for Icecom. He ran Icecom in Australia and we started the five-payment process and he got the idea from working there. So I mean, I’m not going to say he got the idea from there, but that’s where he worked and we were the one of the few companies that had the five-payment and that was one of the things we got out of the focus group. When we asked them to purchase such a large, you know what things can we do to alleviate your stress, to buy, you know, the 30-day money back guarantee and the five-payment was very important to them.


Danny Gavin Host 26:44

So cool and just to have that number one listening to people but then having the insight to actually implement it and now that’s like normal, but so cool that you actually were one of the first to do that. At various businesses you’ve founded, worked with or consulted, you’ve helped increase revenue and shift target markets and audiences. How do you approach picking the right platform media type budget for any given audience?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 27:05

I think the key is, first of all, to understand the audience, right. Where are they at? You know, I remember a great mushel by the Dubin Amagad where someone is looking for his keys under a lamp in the old shtetl and the Dubin Amagad, you know, somebody asks him where did you lose your keys? He says I lost them there. And he says why are you looking here? He says because here’s where the lamp is. Right, you know, this is where the light is, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to find them here, right? So because everybody’s running to certain platforms.



The problem is that people tend to go to the platforms that are the most spoken about or have the most buzz surrounding them.



But if your customer, your target customer, is not there, then you’re wasting your time. So I think the first thing is to understand who your target customer is, then knowing where do they hang out. So if your target customer hangs out on Snap versus on Facebook versus on Insta, then you got to go to Snap. If your target customer is on TikTok, then you got to go to TikTok. And then in your own, in the platform that you do choose, then you need to find the content that that platform responds to. So if it’s short reels or versus stories, versus you know pins, then you know you need to create the content. But just by saying, oh, I’m going to create content for social media and then having HubSpot posted to all your platforms and not speaking the language of that specific platform, then you’re missing out on the point. So again, it’s finding the right place where you can amplify your message to your customers and using the right content that fits that platform.


Danny Gavin Host 28:49

So now at Delmar, you help Fortune 1000 businesses develop online jewelry businesses. When someone comes to you with the hope of starting a business like this, what’s your first step in getting them started?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 28:59

I think the first step for us is to optimize their website right. So a lot of jewelers that come to us are on archaic platforms. Their sites are stale when it comes to the pictures and the navigation is awful and the shopping cart is generally very basic. And when you’re buying such an exquisite item as jewelry online, you need to give that aura of elegance, luxury and aspiration right. You’re buying something that people are aspiring to. They want to have a certain feeling, and if your website is dead, no one’s going to buy. So that’s number one. Number two I insist that they have tracking on their website, right. So Google Analytics or whatever other analytics they want to use, they need to have that. So a lot of times I’ll have our customers come to me and say, hey, we have too many items online. We want to pare down our product catalog and I’m like 100%. The paradox of choice too many products. Great book, by the way. Paradox of choice. Professor in, I think, the University of Chicago, schwartz. So he wrote this book and it’s a great book. So, yes, the endless aisle was what everybody thought about in the beginning of the web. Today, having thousands of pages of product is not good, I think. In my opinion, I think there’s a combination of analytics to find the right product and then merchandising to have the human touch. As you combine both of them together, you’ll get the perfect product mix.



But when we get the question, hey, we need to pare down and we need to siphon off some of your products, I always ask the vendor can you tell me how many views this product got and how many clicks this product got before you remove it from the website? And they don’t know the answer to that oh, it hasn’t gotten a sale in six months. That is not one of the KPIs. You can’t use that KPIs. Nobody saw the product. Oh well, if nobody saw the product, no one searched for it.



No, half of your viewers are coming to the website and using your navigation to get to the page. Some of them are using the search box, but a lot of them are going through navigation and past the third page and they’re not going. So the question is did they ever see this product? You worked really hard to upload this product onto your website and now you’re just going to delete the product without any investigation that anybody see the product. So the third thing I say to my clients is do you have analytics to tell me are these products working or not and why. And then we go into the whole marketing. So we ask them what kind of banners are you using? We can supply you, if you like, with branded banners that fit your color scheme and all your branding, the font that you use and all that. We’ll supply that to you and we’ll supply you any type of reels or education you need to get the customer over the hump and get them to buy.


Danny Gavin Host 32:17

As you’ve seen, marketing in general, especially digital marketing, change over the years. Is there anything you miss about the good old days before PPC and social media advertising?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 32:25

I miss the creative aspect of it. There was a time when we would put a lot of emphasis on the creativity of the ads and today, with AI, you can utilize tools that do it for you. So you can have AB Test managed by AI and optimizing the words and optimizing the creative and doing all that for you. So that I miss a little bit, even though the optimization is so much greater and the results are so much greater and they’re happening so quickly in real time, which is mind boggling. And digital marketers might be out of a job one day, I don’t know. But yeah, that side of it I miss. I miss the power of the banner ad. Today, banner ads don’t get any respect. They’re utilized in very different ways and I always love the ability to use those for not only for branding but for a CPA model, and I think today the banner ad is even more ignored than before. In the early days that was the only thing that was there, so for me, I’m a little nostalgic to that.


Danny Gavin Host 33:35

Do you have an anecdote or favorite digital ad experience, either as a marketer or as a consumer, that you can think about?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 33:41

We had an ad. I remember we bought the front page of MSN In the olden days. Msn was one of the number one websites. They were getting the most traffic and we spent about $150,000 in one day on one ad on 24-hour ad, and when we booked the ad we didn’t realize that the ad was being served on Yom Kippur. The ad was for a very specific bracelet that had an extremely high perceived value. It was 25 carats of sapphires created sapphires and I remember clearly that after the event, yom Kippur was over and I had 100 missed calls. It was from my digital.


The person who ran our website, non-jewish, and he was calling me a whole Yom Kippur, not knowing that on a random Tuesday it was Yom Kippur and we couldn’t answer the call. So when I come back on Yom Kippur we go into the back end and we see that we did over $1 million in sales in one day. That was crazy. And the crazy thing was that at a certain point the inventory ran out, I think at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and that’s why you kept on calling us because there was no inventory. So that was a very unique experience and it was an exciting day. It could have been much greater. But the point is to look at when you’re advertising and make sure that you can somewhat anticipate what you need and how the respond. We didn’t know what the response was. Our first time we were that much guilty of that we did have $1 million of one item, so that’s a lot to invest in.


Danny Gavin Host 35:36

You’ve been a founder, co-founder, consultant, producer, marketing expert, speaker and a teacher, not to mention a family man. Of all those titles and roles, is there one you find most exciting? Not necessarily the most fun or most rewarding, but the one that’s got the most energy to offer?


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 35:51

Well, if you would ask me this question while I was still teaching at McGill, I would have told you the teaching I just found. I was teaching at McGill for 10 years and I found that as the time went on, the students became less and less interested or engaged, and that’s why I stopped teaching. I found a lot of people came to the courses for the glitziness of the course and in the beginning I had like real digital marketers that today are running big, big companies in Canada. You know, based on the course that they’ve taken. And later on people took the course because it was part of a whole. You know they were becoming something and they needed to take the course. And you know, I remember very clearly seeing you with your earphones.



I remember the last year I taught, one of the students came in the class and was wearing a pair of those earphones and sat right in front of me looking at his computer, watching a movie, and I was like, okay, and it was. It wasn’t like he knew if I was a good professor or not. Right, it was the first class, and and, and he didn’t know any. You just sat down and then that’s when I said okay, so for me, teaching was extremely powerful the response, the energy, the creativity that the students had. What they taught me, you know, the projects that they did that I had in class, was extremely exciting for me.



To say that towards the end I was getting burnt out, based on the interest of the students, and I think the most important thing is a teacher is to have the engagement of the student and sometimes it could be on the teacher. But you know, I saw seven years, seven good years. So I, you know, maybe I became this interested and maybe it was them or maybe both, but but I lost a lot that energy. But the energy in the classroom for me, you know, getting up on stage as a speaker at a conference was, was just for me as someone who has ADHD, the dopamine hit that I would get was very, very powerful and exciting and energizing for me personally. But today, I have to say, being a grandfather Is, is is something that is the most special thing for me. You know, just hearing the words 80 from a little squeaky voice, there is nothing greater in the world than that. So from all my accomplishments, just a little two year old can just totally dwarf anything that I’ve ever done.


Danny Gavin Host 38:33

I love that and I think it’s important for others to realize that at each stage of your life, right, different things are gonna make you tick, and that’s okay. Right, and it’s okay if it changes and morphs and and I think it’s a positive thing overall, 100%. So typically we do a lightning round. But you mentioned ADHD. Why do we talk about that, you know, in conclusion of our conversation today. But, like the power of ADHD, you know something that you’ve had to deal with, right, your life love.


Pinny Gniwisch Guest 39:00

If you could elaborate a little bit, so I was once flying to speak in Singapore at a digital conference and Next to me there was a woman sitting and I ordered a diet coke and she said to me, what are you doing? So I said what do you mean? She goes, do you know what’s in that coke? And I’m like, and she gave me. It was a long flight, so she gave me a whole lesson and I was like, and then she kept on asking me questions and what do I do? And what do what I do? And then, after you know, telling her I, you know, I run a nonprofit for children and I teach at the gill and I run marketing for eyes dot com and I’m your father and you know, and I’m studying to get a master’s in Jewish education. So she said to me, you should get yourself diagnosed. And really, and yeah, that’s just that. To me she said you know, I’ve done a lot of studies on it and you’re your perfect candidate. So I knew, growing up, being in school, I was not. I mean, they didn’t diagnose me then, but I was out of school most of my life In the principal’s office, to the extent that there was a chair in the principal’s office that had my name on it, like you know what are the director chairs right. So I knew there was a problem there in my in growing up in the seventies. They didn’t diagnose you with anything, they just sent you to the principal’s office and gave you the cane being. So you know your parents can Talk to that, being South African, so we had that in Montreal.



When it comes to ADHD, I came back and I went to the general hospital and I signed up for an adult ADHD. They did this whole program when they were doing testing on adults. So first they had to diagnose me and they it took three months and I went through a bunch of tests and they diagnosed me and then they put me through this program. They had three different cohorts, you know one that work with therapy, one that Took a placebo and one that took, you know, not riddling but one of the one of the drugs. So I went through that for six months and you know I remember the day when I received the letter Stay saying that, hey, you know you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and you know, for some people that would have been like horrific and for me it was like Finally I know why. And then I started doing, you know, all this reading on ADHD adult ADHD. You know all kinds of and I have like a whole library shelf books on ADHD and my son, who you know quite well, was diagnosed with ADHD and he went through his own journey with that.



But for me, finding out the diagnosis and then Using the tools that all the professionals tell you to use was so Powerful for me in my own life and has changed my life right. I always had all these tools that I didn’t know that I had. So when it came to reading books, when the Amazon kindle came out, I would read them on on the kindle and it was the only time I can finish a book, because then I realized that people with ADHD start projects and finish that Right. But because it was on the kindle, I didn’t know how big the book was, so gave me it didn’t. If there was no, it didn’t stress me out. Starting a project and not finish is finishing. It gave me the, the ability to surround myself with people who finish projects, people why, I thought, or I think, are boring people. But they’re, you know they’re, they’re my anchor right. So I’m the inspiration, you know, and they run with it and I’m fine with that.



And it took me a long time with my coach To come to the realization that being the spark and not the logs, and not the fire, is alright, because you can beat yourself up and people around you can beat you up for not completing tasks, but I’m fine with that.



Right. I have designed my life for people around me who are extreme, who don’t judge me, who, who understand where I’m at, and they kick in and, thank god, I’m at the stage where I can afford to have those people around me, and that’s a blessing. But coming to the realization that you, that that’s who you are, and accepting that. But then there’s the upside. I’m the most creative person in the room and that’s what I embrace, you know, I’m the guy who comes up with the new idea, I’m the guy who does this and that, so I don’t do that. I’m fine with that. That’s what Navigate does, that’s what Sarah does, that’s what whoever does in my team, and, and you know, that letter gave me the calmness and the excitement to continue in, in, in being creative and doing what I do.


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