David Reiss is a Dallas-based Founder and CEO. He is a dynamic entrepreneur, marketing consultant, business owner, writer, and teacher.
With over 100 companies in his lexicon of experience, including businesses he owned either exclusively or with partners, Reiss fulfilled his desire to help others. His passion is to help upcoming entrepreneurs prevail over their project roadblocks, find answers to their most pressing business questions and win professional success.
Known for always finding a solution, Reiss is noted for applying his innovative thinking and often divergent skillset to help countless businesses successfully scale.
While a student at SUNY at Stony Brook, Reiss’s successful career as a photographer earned him the role as the Director of Photographic Curriculum for the University’s continuing education program.
During this time, Reiss earned a double bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology, and completed two master’s degrees — one in education from Stony Brook, and another in TV and Film studies from the University of Michigan. Reiss capped his academic journey with a Ph.D., ABD, in TV and Film, from the University of Michigan.
Reiss later moved to Los Angeles to begin a career in journalism, where he would go on to write over 400 magazine articles on the entertainment industry. He spent three years on the set of the popular American comedy-drama TV series M*A*S*H.
Today, David Reiss continues to launch and foster new companies, help entrepreneurs develop their skills and succeed, all while consulting with mid-size companies in need of marketing innovation. Always on the verge of a new idea, Reiss’ goal and lifetime accomplishment was to help others think outside their boxes — and he continues to inspire many through his unique experience and forward-thinking techniques.
Our Interview with David Reiss
Question: Name the most impactful lesson you learned from failure.
David Reiss: Years ago, I created a specialized marketing program for auto dealers and made the mistake of overlooking the technical ineptitude, fear, and insecurity that most of my target users held. The few who embraced the early product, they shattered record. For the other 99.99% who could not understand it, wouldn’t listen to explanations, and didn’t care in any case, it never sold.
Frustrated by the shortfall, I ultimately simplified the product. I took away ever feature that wasn’t a “shiny object” and rewrote the instructions to suit an eighth grade reading level. Lo and behold, it sold and became a standard within the industry.
Question: What did you waste the most time on when you were first starting your career?
David Reiss: I’ve never been a time waster. Honestly, the idea of whiling away my time on something meaningless irritates me. I’d rather be doing something, anything, else, so long as it had purpose.
So, if you don’t mind me pivoting the question a bit, I’d say that the worst flaw in my early approach was forgetting to enjoy the ride. As a young professional, I had a tendency to sprint from project to project, barely stopping for breath in between. It’s all a bit of a blur, in retrospect.
But then I lost a friend, and the shock of it forced me to take a look at my own mortality. I spent the next several weeks slowing down, occasionally “stopping to smell the whiteout.” Once I did, the change to my perspective was remarkable. Everything was better, easier, more fulfilling; even the food tasted better. It was my epiphany.
Now I make a point to tell any young entrepreneurs who ask for advice to remember to slow down and enjoy the ride. No sense in pushing yourself so hard that you don’t have time to enjoy your successes.
Question: Name a tool you use for work that you can’t live without.
David Reiss: A few years ago, it used to be a contact management program called “ACT!” But as you can probably guess, it was outmoded pretty quickly as communication software progressed. Now, my most-used tool is probably WhatsApp. In my view, if you want to do business at the speed of light, there’s nothing better.
WhatsApp can handle almost anything — although I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have a few critiques. That said, it’s one of the most reliable and versatile communication apps on the market. When I cross-reference it with a notes program, it keeps me in touch with people across the globe. Who needs email these days?
Question: What excites you the most about your industry right now?
David Reiss: Fair warning, my answer to this question comes with a caveat.
Artificial intelligence both excites and scares the living hell out of me. Even a shortlist of the potential gains are compelling; with AI, we could develop new medicines and the ability to better-cure disease, programs that write themselves and become smarter, advanced robotics, extreme automation and personalization.
But that’s in a perfect world. With bias and political agendas considered, it could be the end of freedom as we know it. The worst iteration of AI might lead to the Orwellian control of all though, word, and deed — a dystopic future wherein we become the robots.
(Personally, I’d prefer the former.)
Question: Name one small habit that positively impacts your productivity.
David Reiss: As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never really had an issue with productivity. But I could share a habit that relates to my efficacy.
It’s a bit of a mindset warp. When I look at an idea, I consider it in four dimensions. First, I view it through the three dimensions that we all know and appreciate — but then, I shift to the fourth. I mentally travel through time to live and troubleshoot the idea. I gain an understanding of how it relates to the world we live in, interacts with other concepts, reality, and even fantasy.
I find that once I push an idea to the extreme, my mind opens to a near-infinite pool of possibilities. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to teach this time-travelling process to thousands of people across the globe.
Question: What tips do you have for getting a seat at the table?
David Reiss: Don’t shut the door on yourself.
It’s so intuitive that it feels ridiculous to even write. But you would be shocked at how many entrepreneurs allow insecurity, fear, and imposter syndrome keep them from getting to where they want to be. These people worry that they aren’t qualified enough, experienced enough, well-spoken enough…the list goes on. The irony is that they probably would have gotten somewhere if they had only gotten out of their own way.
I’ve been putting myself out there since I was a teenager. I graduated early from high school, opened my own photography studio in New York, started running businesses as a college student. No one gave me opportunities after recognizing how smart and talented I was — I had to take what I wanted. There is always a way, a back door, a compromise, or a compromise. Never, ever give up on yourself; once you do, you self-destruct your success.
Question: What book has made the biggest impact on your life?
David Reiss: In my experience, business (and most everything else in life) is a series of gives and takes. With that in mind, I need to recommend “Never Split the Difference,” by Chris Voss, the former head of Hostage Negotiations for the FBI. Don’t be fooled by the countless other books claiming to be the last word on negotiation — this is it.
Hostage negotiators need to make the most of every word, inflection, and inference they make; when they speak, lives are literally on the line. I view it as the ultimate form of negotiation, and see Voss as a master. Why would you try to learn from anyone less?
Question: Do you value intelligence or common sense more? Why?
David Reiss: I’ll be honest, this question made me roll my eyes a bit. You need both. I don’t care what industry you’re in — you need both.
Here’s the issue. You can be the most intelligent person in the world, a regular Einstein, but if you don’t know how to best apply your innate talents, you’re going to fall flat. If you apply them incorrectly, your going to fall flat and waste time. Conversely, if you have common sense but few academic smarts, you’ll probably have dozens of great ideas — but never know how to take the next step.
In either case, you fall short of your potential. You need both!
Question: What would you consider to be the perfect day?
David Reiss: Any day that I learn something new…which, given how much I read, is most days. Any day that makes you feel excited for the next is a good one, in my book.