Captain’s Quarters: Chapter 20 – 1 Year Anniversary
Author: Keith Tomatore
Posted On: August 18, 2020
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August 19th, 2020 is a critically important date in my life. It represents my 1 year anniversary at the helm of iFrog. Being CEO of iFrog is not just a job for me, but rather a mission and my “why.” I thought this important milestone would be a great time to explain how I became CEO of iFrog. In order to fully understand that journey, one must understand the relationship between the pirate and the frog. The relationship of the pirate and the frog really started 5 years ago, although it seems like a lifetime.
At GTB, in my role of SVP Retail Marketing, I would often be asked to attend FDAF meetings to either facilitate live war rooms or to discuss the latest in digital marketing. About 5 years ago, I was asked to attend the Baltimore Washington (BAWA) FDAF in Bethesda. The Chairman of that FDAF was Dave Wilson and after the meeting he and I hit it off and he said he enjoyed the presentation. I liked Dave, but wasn’t certain if I would see him again, but hoped that I would.
The next month, Dave asked me to visit his office. I met his team and we enjoyed a great dinner. After that, every 6 weeks or so I would get a request that Dave wanted to see me, and we would work on digital marketing together for the BAWA FDAF and war rooms. Our friendship began discussing our mutual admiration of Alan Mulally as well as our love for service. Dave began asking about my background and learned that over my long career, I built many businesses. I also told Dave of my pirate mentality that I have embraced throughout my career. We spoke about leveraging the latest technology to create a sustainable competitive advantage for clients and really transform their businesses.
I learned a lot about Dave during this time. I learned he had built one of the most successful auto dealer groups nationwide in a town of 706 people. He also was a serial entrepreneur and he loved helping people in addition to serving employees and clients. I learned that this incredibly successful man actually cared deeply about the people and his community around him. Whether it was knowing an anniversary date, a spouse’s birthday, a staff win, or just letting someone know that he cares, Dave constantly took the extra step. At that point, Dave and I started sending each other a simple “Rise and Grind Brother” text every morning. Folks, I am talking about 4 years of daily “Rise and Grind” messages. For the record, I almost always get up before Dave, but late for the two of us is 6:30am.
This close friendship between the two of us was created and now it feels much more like family. Dave is the older brother I have always wanted, but never had. I feel like his younger brother he’ll proudly boast about in public – as long as I’m not there! Dave was at the helm at iFrog, but he felt that they needed a more technical leader as he wanted the company to reach new heights. At this point, iFrog was an outstanding boutique agency serving automotive dealers at a Tier 3 level, but without an emphasis on technology. Dave was selflessly thinking of the future and decided I was the perfect fit for iFrog.
It takes an extremely strong person to hire a CEO who has different, but complementary strengths. Our common ground rooted in our commitment to service, our commitment to clients, our commitment to staff, and our drive to build out a global billion dollar company propelled this partnership.
One year ago, I left a position and a group of folks who I loved at GTB to join my brother running iFrog. Dave stepped down as CEO and moved into the Chairman role and I took over as the CEO of iFrog. That, my friends, is how the pirate and frog came together to build a great franchise.
During the past year, we have completely transformed the iFrog business from a boutique agency to a national (soon-to-be global) marketing solutions company. We have implemented a single technology stack that is driven by A.I. and machine learning. On August 3rd, we officially rebranded from iFrog Digital Marketing to iFrog Marketing Solutions. We have marketing solutions today that are driven by constant optimizations and predictive modeling. We continue to reimagine marketing solutions for our clients and the industry. We are building proprietary software in our SaaS (Software as a Service) area that we build out in our Labs area.
Today we have a vision, a mission, core values, and a 3 year roadmap that I am actively managing daily. To be completely honest, I have a 5 year plan for iFrog and my active roadmap keeps everyone on track. We truly are one team, one mission. And, it’s a beautiful mission.
So, I get to run a company and work with my brother, Dave. It is the story of how the pirate and the frog came together to disrupt and service the marketing technology industry. It is the story of the pirate who leverages the best and most compelling technology to help transform our clients’ businesses. His friend the frog has devoted his life to building businesses with the gold standard of service. These two brothers coming together have built something special.
Together, not only is iFrog better – but anything we touch is better. As the pirate and frog get ready for their second year together and another 365 of “rise and grind brother” texts, we will build out a billion-dollar global business and help our clients transform their businesses.
Drop me a line and tell me one of your stories that exemplifies one team, one mission 24/7 @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be a pirate, have a great day and take time to reflect on powerful partnerships in your life! #ifrogmarketing, #ifrogtechnology, #pirates, #PiratesForChange