Meet Marc Gutman | Brand Strategist and Entrepreneur

A version of this article was originally published on Shoutout Colorado.

We had the good fortune of connecting with Marc Gutman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Marc, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?

“I can do this for myself!” That’s what I thought when I started my first business, Lighthouse Conferencing a tech communication service provider, that I’ve since sold. Underlying that thought was the idea that I was bored at my job. I was swimming in a single lane and doing the same thing over and over again. This has its advantages but I didn’t feel challenged. And I was I challenged alright! I found out quickly that starting your own business is never easy but it is the most fulfilling thing I’ve done. My business today, Wildstory – I started because I had this knowledge of what it took to start a business. I also learned that you really need to love the work you’re doing because not every day is great. If you don’t love it you’re going have a hard time getting through the low times. I had a first career of sorts as a writer in the movie business. I wanted to get back to that. Telling stories. Creating. But my DNA had also changed. I had this entrepreneurial background and experience and I wanted to keep that going. Brand strategy it turns out is the perfect business because it’s all about business strategy, building businesses, helping entrepreneurs and brands realize their dream, and then telling that story of how they are helping their customers. I’m not so sure I found brand strategy or it found me.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?

Wildstory is a brand consultancy dedicated to those who believe in the Après! We define the Après as the time after the workday. It’s the time we earn to do the things that we love with the people we love. It’s the time we create the moments that really matter. We serve clients who believe this and have businesses that further this idea of the Après. If you’d like to read more about this in detail: https://www.wildstory.com/manifesto/ 

I found out quickly that starting your own business is never easy but it is the most fulfilling thing I’ve done.

- Marc Gutman

What’s different about Wildstory?

Well, I don’t know too many firms that are led by a screenwriter who was mentored by Oliver Stone and founded and successfully exited their own technology business. This unique combination allows me to see both the business side and the story side. We don’t work with clients who just want a logo or a website because that’s not what they NEED. They NEED a holistic analysis of their business and a strategy that’s designed to outmaneuver their competition. Once we have the strategy we can then execute with visual elements, content, etc. Most firms don’t take this approach. They just want to rush to the design stage and give you some creative. The question I’d be asking if I were a client is how will this creative serve my goals and my business.

Was getting here easy?!

I’m laughing. No. Never. It’s always hard work. I think that’s a little bit of an entrepreneurial myth that’s perpetuated because it sounds so romantic and awesome. I just flipped a switch and it was a success! I also host the Baby Got Backstory podcast and I’ve interviewed over 50 entrepreneurs and well-known brands about their journey — never did one say it was easy. But, I will say it’s also incredibly fulfilling. I’ve overcome the challenges by changing my mindset. Everyday I tell myself I chose this. I “get” to do this, versus I “have” to do this. That simple, but major shift has been instrumental in showing up every day and doing the best I can. I’ve also learned there is no finish line. I used to think I was driving toward some big end. Even when I sold my first company I was like “that’s cool, now what?” It sounds cliche, but it really is about the journey. Now finding peace with that… that’s the hard part! I want the world to know that entrepreneurship is not the purpose, it’s the tool. I want the world to know that we only have one life to live and that is why Wildstory is dedicated to the Après! I want the world to know this is all just one big story we’ve decided to agree on and that means you can influence and change it! Business has the power to change the world for the better, forever!

Every day I tell myself I chose this. I “get” to do this, versus I “have” to do this. That simple, but major shift has been instrumental in showing up every day and doing the best I can.

- Marc Gutman

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

I love this question! We’d meet at our studio aka the Happy House and probably go for a quick mountain bike ride on Marshall Mesa. Other areas of focus would be hiking in Boulder in Chautauqua. Sanitas is another amazing hike One of my favorite breweries in Boulder is Sanitas so we’d have to hit that for sure. Take a stroll down Pearl St. in Boulder. We’d drive to Denver and we’d go to Battery 621 (the first co-work space in Denver) and visit with some of the businesses like The Public Works, Weston Snowboards, BW Bacon, and Zenman. After we’d wander over to the Santa Fe arts district and peep in all the galleries. I’d show them Milk Market owned by Jacqueline and Frank Bonanno and introduce them to the celebrity restauranteurs. Milk Market is a big food hall that is super cool and entertaining. We’d also hit Larimer Square area which has closed down the street for outdoor dining. If it weren’t COVID time we’d probably hit either a Rockies, Broncos, or Avalanche game depending on the time of year. After a few days we’d most likely head west into the mountains and depending on time of year hike, snowboard, or whatever the season would give us. Faves include Steamboat, Vail, and Aspen.

We don’t work with clients who just want a logo or a website because that’s not what they NEED. They NEED a holistic analysis of their business and a strategy that’s designed to outmaneuver their competition.

- Marc Gutman

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

Wow, there are actually so many deserving of this shout out! My first thought is to should out Mike Arzt at The Public Works. He’s been a friend, supporter, and confidant and I would not have been able to do this without him, but… if I trace our relationship to the beginning we met through Entrepreneur’s Organization Colorado Chapter (EOCO). EO is an amazing, global organization (14,000+ members world-wide) and it has been a pillar in my entrepreneurial journey. Helping me to get through tough times (like how to handle massive layoffs), how to find my calling (Wildstory), introducing me to my entrepreneurial soul mate, Mike Arzt, providing travel all over the world, and I also have had several board positions both at the local level and currently at the global level, Communications Lead for the MyEO Global Chair.

 

up next:

How to Prioritize What to Do Next

When deciding which “bridge” to finish first, Marc Gutman introduces an easy visual way to map out the spectrum of impact and effort to ensure that we follow the guiding principle: “less is more”.

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