For this edition of People of Ptex, I sat down with lifecycle marketing maven Nathan Weill to talk about the journey that led him to discover the power of automation, what he loves most about his work at Ptex, and the creative hobbies that keep him busy when he’s not at work.
Meet Nathan (aka Tuli) Weill.
Always on the pulse of the latest technology, Nathan is Ptex Group’s token early tech adopter and go-to guru on the latest and greatest gadgets. In his spare time, he is also a talented lifestyle photographer and composer. As part of our continuing “People of Ptex” series, I sat down with Nathan to talk about what drives his passion for his work, the future of the automation industry, and the hobbies that keep his creative fire burning.
Let’s start with the basics. What do you do at Ptex Group?
I head Ptex Group’s Lifecycle Marketing department, where we design workflow automation that allows businesses to automate repetitive tasks and streamline their operations and marketing, so they can free up their time and money to focus on long-term growth.
Was there any particular path or philosophy that led you to this type of work?
When I came into Ptex, I was assisting with operations, and eventually became the Director of Operations. As part of that role, I was managing external communications and automating processes at a time when most companies weren’t doing so. We realized that the tools we were using internally for ourselves could be incredibly valuable for businesses in all kinds of industries, and so we founded a new division: the Lifecycle Marketing division.
That answers the path question. What about a philosophy that guides your work?
Bill Gates has a famous saying: “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” —Bill Gates
While I wouldn’t necessarily call myself lazy, I strongly believe that we, collectively as a society and especially in the business world, are doing way too many unnecessary, cumbersome, and (frankly) annoying tasks every single day. If you’re a business owner, think about all those mundane, time-wasting tasks that keep you so busy. They’re not why you come to work every morning. They’re not why you created your business. They’re not why you became an entrepreneur. In fact, they weigh you down and suck your energy and prevent you from growing. However, in order to run a business, these things have to get done. The good news is that today, 80% of these tasks can be automated, which frees business owners up to focus on the parts of their work that they actually do love and that really move the needle forward. And we’re just at the cusp of the potential that automation has to impact the business world.
For those not familiar with automation, can you give an example of how it can improve someone’s business—or life in general?
The latest software update for iPhones has something called “Siri Shortcuts.” Let’s say that every day on your way home from work, you have a routine: you listen to the same podcast, you open Waze to check the traffic for your commute, and you send a text message to your spouse letting them know you’re on your way with your ETA. Now, you can set it up so that when you say “Siri, take me home,” all of those things happen automatically—the podcast comes on, Waze opens, and the text message is sent with an ETA link. The same type of automation can be applied to businesses on a massive scale, cutting out literally thousands of hours of unnecessary manual work that eats up our time.
Can you give an example of how this works in business?
A simple example: Say you want to schedule a meeting. In this situation, we usually end up emailing back and forth for half a day to figure out when each person is available and schedule the meeting a time that works for both parties. With automation, someone can receive a link to your calendar and in a few clicks, the meeting is scheduled.
Here’s another example: We had a real estate agency client that was getting about 100 leads per day, yet 70% were not qualified to deal with them. Before, agents would respond to each person with the same few questions to determine whether they were qualified. Now, instead of agents spending hours following up with each lead, they have an automated system responding to each inquiry and asking those same questions, saving agents hundreds of hours per week. Now, those agents are out closing more deals instead of wasting valuable time.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in doing your job?
“Workflow automation” is a fairly new concept to a lot of businesses and something a lot of people do not know they need. And whenever you’re introducing something new, people are always hesitant. So that’s probably the most challenging part: educating people about what this whole automation thing is about, how it works, and why it can be a real game-changer for their business. But I find that once they understand the power of automation and its potential for their business—and for themselves, personally—people are very excited about the possibilities.
What do you enjoy most about your everyday work?
Every time I sit down with our team and map out a campaign or design a workflow, it’s meant to solve a very specific problem for a business owner. In essence, I see myself as a problem solver. I love mapping out the customer journey and figuring out how to achieve the end goal, how to drive people to take an action. There’s a lot of psychology involved, a lot of thought that goes into building client relationships through automation in a way that’s natural and personal and drives efficiency.
Interesting you say that because many people believe that automating makes things less personal. But it seems like you’re saying that it can actually be a helpful tool for making communication more personal.
Very true. I think automation makes business more personal in two critical ways: First, because it allows the business owner to be personal when and where it counts. Now that their time is freed up from these repetitive tasks, they have the ability to show up for customers when it matters, in a way they weren’t able to before. Secondly, it creates a possibility for large-scale customization; the system knows certain information about each client, can determine if, when, and how often they should be receiving a certain type of communication, and knows which emails are relevant to which people. That means you can send people things they actually want to receive, rather than irrelevant or generic communication.
Word on the street is that you’re talented way beyond the work you do here at Ptex. Tell me a bit about your hobbies.
I love to listen to music and read books on business and psychology. I also took up lifestyle photography a few years ago and created an Instagram series called #bungalowseries, where I post photos taken in my bungalow colony where my family and I spend our summers. Additionally, I play piano and guitar and I’ve written and composed a few songs. You can listen to one of them here.
What’s a book you recommend?
One of my favorite books is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Version one is better than version none.” —Anonymous.