In today’s show, Meghan gets to know Greg Damico, our VP of Membership Development. Greg talks about his background, time spent working washing cars with turpentine and why it might not be a good idea to sneak up on him in a parking lot.
Read the transcript:
So I’m sitting here with Greg Damico today. And Greg is our VP of Membership Development for the enterprise, which means Audigy Group, Audigy Medical, and Stratus, so membership development for all three of those companies, right Greg?
That is correct.
Can you tell us a little bit about what that job entails?
Yeah. It entails a mixture of, I’d say, both strategy as well as working day to day with the team, travel– you know, we host what we refer to as guest summits where we’re recruiting our perspective members. So traveling for that, traveling to visit medical practices on site, we’ve found there’s value in meeting face to face with them. And it’s challenging sometimes to get the physicians, surgeons out of their practices. So mix in some of that travel, our normal fun events that we put on for our members, and then day to day, on a lot of calls, in a lot of meetings, love getting tons of emails– which we all do.
That’s a love hate relationship.
So what’s a typical day for you? Like you said, you know, day to day you’re on a lot of calls. Is that what a typical day is like? Or maybe we should say a typical week.
What’s your week look like this week?
I’d say I’m on, gosh, probably in a typical week, 15 calls with prospective members, meetings, just trying to plan out strategy, and also support the team in their day to day activities.
Sure. OK. What’s the best part of your day?
When we get to that point with either our internal team or a prospective member that we have a kind of a revelation, or we make a breakthrough. We get them, maybe, over a line that we never thought we could. When they start to see that there could be resources out there that can really truly impact their life, I love that.
And of course, being in, quote unquote, “sales,” we love that instant gratification. So when we get a commitment from a perspective member to attend a meeting, we love that.
So what’s the most challenging part? I would imagine that that’s also probably the most challenging, is getting to that point, kind of figuring out the different personalities that you’re working with and maybe what might be meaningful to those individuals, what they might want to pull down from the services, and what would be impactful– what they believe initially would be impactful in their practice. Am I right?
Yeah. I mean, sometimes that’s a challenge, Megan, to get people out of their own way, to recognize that there’s opportunity even if they’re doing really well. You know sometimes, it’s just all the logistics. It’s working with all the different departments and teams and getting all of our dates set and all the communication, coordination. Thankfully, I have a lot of great people that I get to work with every day that help with that, because if it were just me, we wouldn’t be doing very well.
So how did you get here? One of the most interesting things I find doing these podcasts is talking to people about where they currently are, but then looking a little bit further into their history of career and learning where you started and kind of how you ended up where you are today. Are you comfortable doing that? Can we talk about your very first job?
Yeah, of course.
OK. Let’s talk about the very first job that you did for money. What was that?
I’m still waiting for that opportunity. I’m just kidding. The first paid job I had was in a restaurant as a busboy.
How old were you?
15. It was actually here in Vancouver, Washington.
What was the restaurant?
At the Red Lion, and at the Key. Great chowder.
Great learning experience. You know, that’s really where I fell in love with and realized that I like service. I like people. You know, I like that aspect of work.
Sure. So you started as busboy. And then, did you move? Because I know that the natural transition would probably be to move into a server position or maybe– you don’t want to stay as a busboy for too long, right?
So did you move into the kitchen? Or did you move into a server position?
Good question. I moved to server, more the service side. I have done pretty much everything you could imagine in a restaurant, including some dishwashing, some short order cooking.
But mostly on the service side, yeah. So I went to server. And then I went to like, you know, on a training team, helped open a couple of restaurants. It’s actually where I met my wife, was at a restaurant.
So how long did you stay at the Key? And then where did you go from there?
Oh, jeez. I worked there summers for a couple few years. And then I migrated over to Red Lion restaurant, which is now, I believe, a beaches restaurant at the airport.
And so the GM that I worked there, I actually followed him around a little bit in my career. I went and worked for him at the airport. That sucked. That was like 5:30 AM starting shift.
Oh, I can imagine. Yeah.
And I was not a morning person at that time. That was fun.
So you mentioned earlier, before we were recording, that you also had some experience in like culinary school training. Expand on that a little bit more.
Yeah. So it was actually in admissions, which is sales. So it was a very large company. It was here locally, Western Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu Portland now as they call it. But it was owned by a huge, $2.5 billion a year company. So it was basically sales.
I was working on recruitment. I started as an admissions representative, which is essentially a sales rep. So we’d get these–
So recruiting students.
Yes. Exactly. So you know, I worked more on the business side. I wasn’t in the kitchen with the instructors, although I found myself in there frequently. I was working to help recruit and influence potential students to come work at the school, come attend the school. And I worked my little way up to a director of admissions position.
I learned a lot there about sales, about marketing, about myself. It was an interesting time because I went from, at one point, peer to supervisor, and learned a lot about leadership, about myself, about what not to do through that process.
You came from that industry directly to Audigy?
Yeah. So kind of a fun story. My dad has his own tax firm. And he had an office in the Park Plaza, a different building, just around the corner from–
We were just around the corner from a little company called Audigy Group, a little startup. And he kept telling me he had met Brandon and Mason. He kept telling me, I don’t know exactly what they do. It has something to do with hearing aids. But they drive nice cars. And they seem like nice guys. You should get to know them.
So that was appealing.
Exactly. And you know, at the time, I was still doing my thing, working my little way up the corporate ladder at this other company. But then I started to get frustrated. And I did not care for my boss. You know that statistic. 75% of people leave people, not their companies. That was true for me.
So I came and met with Mason. And the rest was history. I mean, I fell in love with the business model, the people. And back then, the model was pretty much just a glimmer in the eye of a few individuals.
What year was it? Because you worked at Audigy when I joined Audigy in November of 2008. So you were an early hire.
Couple years prior to that. Yeah. So I started training in October of 2006. And then full time in November.
Wow. Wow. So you were a very early– Can you talk to us a little bit about what was your role when you first started. And you were working from, you know, you came from a very established, large company that obviously had a lot of systems and processes already in place and built out, I would imagine, to a company that was very new and young and in startup mode, and probably a little bit more nimble. So that was exciting. But talk to us a little bit about that transition, and kind of what your experience was there.
It was definitely a transition. My girlfriend at the time, now wife, I believe her exact words, “Are you crazy? You’re going to leave–” I was 93% match for a vice president position at this company. I’d been there for a while. I had great mentors at the corporate office, great benefits. You know, I was doing pretty well financially. “And you want to step back? Like, you want to take a reduction in pay and not guaranteed benefits? You get a stipend for your insurance?” She didn’t think it was the greatest idea at first. And it was more of a gut level type, you know, this feels right.
And it was different. There were a lot of systems. And there were very little, in those days, in Audigy Group. But I got excited about the opportunity to help contribute meaningfully and help build those out.
Also, the work we do, impacting small businesses, is really important to me.
So what was your job title when you started? Do you remember that?
Business Development Manager. I was the first outside hire BDM. Mason was my boss. And he was also want one of the BDMs. And then there were a couple of other individuals who have since gone on to do other things.
So you stayed in a very similar line. Your line of work has maintained, correct?
It has, really. I mean, you know I started back in those days, when we were walking uphill in the snow barefoot both ways– we recruited the practices. We onboarded them. And then we worked directly with them. So we were kind of a wannabe SBU.
OK. So BDM, you didn’t transition the relationships.
No, we held on to them.
The relationships stayed because there wasn’t the person to transition to, right?
Yeah. We would run and beg Misty for last minute marketing initiatives. You know, some things never change. But it was us. We were doing the training of the front office staff, building the budgets. And we recognized we bootstrapped in those days, right? We recognized, though, that at a point, we needed to round out our services. And that’s where the SBU structure was born.
Yeah. Yeah. No, that makes sense. I’m learning something new about you. Now we know your work persona, Greg. Can we ask you a little bit about your life outside of work? Are you willing to share any–
Absolutely not. No, I’m just kidding.
Well I’m going to. I’m going to move forward because I do know that you’re– I know some things about you just from being in the same building with you and being friendly with you for all of these years and being your Facebook friend. You know, I learn about people that way, obviously. I know that you are into some type of– I know that there’s a name for it, but some type of organized fighting. What is that called?
Yes. Usually it’s me fighting many things mentally, now. It’s called Krav Maga.
Got it. OK. So tell us about, what is that?
It’s a Israeli self defense system. So it was originally designed by a captain in the Israeli special forces to be more– they call it urban combat. They don’t call it martial arts. It’s kind of similar. It’s like mixed martial arts, essentially.
But they don’t call it martial arts. They say it’s more martial than art because, in most karate or kung fu or jujitsu, even, there are a lot of rules. And it’s very much oriented to tournament style fighting. And a lot of it can be practically applied, but in a real world situation you’re not going to say, hold on. Time out. You didn’t approach me in the right way.
You know, if someone attacks you, what do you do? The basic and intermediate levels, you’re learning a lot of mixed martial arts, proper groundwork, how to escape from certain chokes, holds, how to strike properly. But then once you get to the advanced levels– you ever see some of those action movies where one person’s holding a gun, on the other end. All of the sudden, the person who would be the victim has the gun.
That’s advanced level Krav Maga at close range.
OK. Where are you right now?
I’m not quite there yet. I’m intermediate. So I just got my orange belt with a green stripe. And I’ll be testing for my green belt here in September.
I do have one other question. So you said that it’s like, you know, because the testing, or because of it’s not meant for tournament, how does the testing work, then? Because how do you create a structure where there’s that like element of surprise that it sounds like is really necessary for a real world situation, how would you test somebody?
Does somebody just like follow you and randomly attack you in a parking lot?
No. But that’d be kind of cool.
No. People could probably get hurt doing that. So the test is actually– they hold them quarterly. And you have to hit a certain number of classes. But they’re five hours long.
A test is five hours long?
It’s one of the more physically grueling things I’ve ever done. Five hours. And what they do is, they don’t really simulate too much real world. You’re in a group with a bunch of other people, right? And so, if you’re working on certain defenses, like you’ll have to stand there. One person stands there. And there’s a whole line of people in front of you.
You close your eyes. And they walk up to you. And they simulate one of the attacks, whether it be a choke from behind with a push or something like that. And you have to demonstrate that you know what you’re doing.
And then we split off into groups. And you’ll have a partner. And you’re just going back and forth, like demonstrating that you know the technical aspects. So it’s not always like live stress tests.
And then we’ll spar for what seems like forever. So you’ve got your full gear on. And you’re going at it. You’re, you know, punching, kicking, going after it.
It’s pretty gruelling.
My partner wore a Fitbit last time. We moved six miles with no running. During that five hours, we’d moved six miles, burned 3,600 calories. It was pretty intense.
So I think it’s pretty interesting that you’re someone who I would consider, in a workplace environment, to be really calm and even keeled. Like that’s my impression of you, Greg, is that you’re somebody who is very– you’re thoughtful. You’re calm. You’re collected. I mean, I guess that would probably be consistent with somebody who is into a martial art that’s not a martial art.
But I’m curious where your R3 ties in here. I wonder if we can make some type of connection. What is your R3?
We might. Driver influencer. My one term, I know we might be getting away from that, is chancellor, which I think sounds really cool.
Yeah. It does. It sounds really important.
Doesn’t it? I think so. And then I have enough analyzer to be dangerous. Very little stabilizer, believe it not, which surprises most people
Yeah. Yeah. That does surprise– well, I don’t know, though. I can see the driver influencer.
We’ve talked about your career. And we’ve also learned a little bit about what you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working. One of the things that I always really enjoy asking people is like, worst job. Do you have a worst job story that you can share with us?
Without hesitation. So I was, gosh, maybe 18, 19. And I was in between jobs. I was at a temp agency.
And I was like, you know, what could be so bad about moving cars? So this job was like shagging brand new cars. So the longshoreman would take cars off the boats that would come into the port of Portland. And then here’s where me and my unsuspecting colleagues came in.
So I respond to this job add. I was like, I love cars. All I have to do is move a car from point A to point B. And you’re going to pay me.
So wait. Wait. Wait. So a car or a group of cars, probably– it’s probably not one at a time, right– comes off of a big boat.
Yeah. Huge boat loads. You know, like all these Hyundais, let’s say, would come in from Korea or Japan or wherever they’re coming from.
OK. And it’s sitting at a port.
Sitting at the port.
How many of them?
Oh, I don’t know. There’s thousands of cars that are coming off these boats. And maybe at any given time during the day there were probably hundreds.
And so the longshoremen would be the ones that would drive them off the actual boat, like out of the containers. And they would park them. And then we had to stage them, like move them from, literally, point A to point B. That’s what was in the job description.
Where was point B?
So I’m like, I got this. I’m good. I’m solid. Like this is dream job, actually, or close to it.
So then we get there. Day one. My employment lasted one day with this company. By choice. I voluntarily terminated my employment.
What they didn’t tell us was the car wash. So I’m like, OK. That’s not too bad. Like we just have to wash these cars, right? I guess they get a bunch of like, you know, sea salt and stuff during the boat ride.
So we’re all lined up. And we’ve got our materials to wash the cars. I’d picked out my sponge. And what they didn’t tell us is that we have to watch these cars with turpentine. Turpentine.
So I’m looking around like this is a joke, like, did you know about this? Because there were a bunch of other temp workers there, too. Turpentine. You know I’m talking about, like the pine smelling nasty remove chemical– turpentine.
Well, is it healthy to be–
What is it? I mean, I guess I just know turpentine in concept.
It’s super nasty smelling like pine– It’s watery, but in between, maybe. The consistency of, you know, maybe not quite syrup. But maybe between water and syrup.
Like really hot syrup?
Totally. Yeah. But smells like death, you know, like you got impaled by a pine tree.
Yeah. And then mix some other chemicals in there. It was nasty. I quit that.
And you were just supposed to put this on the car with a sponge?
Yeah. Totally. You know, they gave us gloves. But I mean, it was just like getting everywhere. That day I realized that I’m probably not a manual laborer. I should probably finish school and get some form of a white collar job.
So how many cars did you wash?
Oh, with the turpen– there were a lot. I probably blocked that part out of my memory. I at least finished the day. I didn’t walk off the job.
So Greg, let’s talk to you a little bit about your perfect day. Let’s say there are no restrictions here. It’s not your perfect day at work or, you know, your perfect day off. It’s just your perfect day in theory. You wake up. What happens?
I wake up. I maybe do some meditation.
What time is it?
Do some stretching.
When you wake up?
You know, I’ve become somewhat of a morning person, unfortunately. But you know, in this perfect scenario it’d probably– I don’t know. I’d wake up with the sun. How about that? I’d wake up when my natural circadian rhythm told me to wake up.
And then I would get ready for a speaking engagement. I’m picturing somewhere tropical, maybe, at a resort. I was paid to be there as a motivational speaker. And I would handle that. I would rock it. Multiple people would come up after, saying I’m the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to them.
Yeah. Of course.
You know, I’m fighting off women and dudes that want to get my autograph.
And then I go to play a nice round of golf, maybe with some friends or some people in the organization that hired me. And then meet up with my wife and have a lovely dinner.
What do you eat for dinner?
And do that over again. I’m picturing, because I’m in a tropical environment, I’m thinking seafood. I’m thinking some kind of fresh seafood, you know, maybe some oysters and some nice seafood.
Little wine, of course, in there.
OK. So you first do something where you get a lot of attention for how intelligent and motivational you are. Then you go to do something a little bit more physical and fun. And then you eat something.
That’s right. Yeah. I might eat before that. But you know, that’s the gist of it, for sure.
Yes. Gotcha. And what about, what if you had to make a career change? And I’m not going to give you any type of circumstance under which you would need to do that.
Let’s say you weren’t working at Audigy. And you were going to do something completely different. Like, you weren’t going to go and look for some type of membership development role for a different company, but you were going to completely change the focus of what it is that you do every day for work. What might that be?
It would be that speaker. I love coaching. I love mentoring. I love helping other people be their best, you know, like get as much out of themselves in life as they possibly can. So I would do just that. Who knows what exact topic I would speak on.
Yeah. Well, that could change, too depending on who you were talking to, right?
I think you’d be really good at that. I do. I think you’d be really good at that. I think you’d be really good at that on like a–
Or a Nathan Miller.
Or a Nathan Miller. Yeah. Yeah, I don’t know if you could be Nathan Miller. There’s only one Nathan Miller.
There he is.
Greg, this is really, really fun. And I’m glad we had this conversation. I was going to maybe assault you in the parking lot. And I’m going to think twice before I do that.
Yes, thank you. I don’t want to risk my life. But in all seriousness, it was really, really interesting chatting with you today. And I learned a lot about you. And I think you’re a really great, well-rounded person. And I look forward to having these types of conversations with you in the future.
Thank you, Megan. I appreciate that. You’re like, perfectly suited for this.