MJH Shelli Taylor | CEO

Shelli Taylor: CEO Of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

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CEOs who take the reins of running a company from the founder know that the transition can be challenging. It takes a lot of patience on both sides and alignment. Shelli Taylor, the CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, knows this to be true. In this episode, she joins David Metz to tell us her experience, along with her thoughts and dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. Shelli then shares her thoughts about the movie industry, the challenges it’s facing, and how they are creating great experiences in their theater. What is more, she lets us in on the importance of adversity to successful people and leadership.

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Shelli Taylor: CEO Of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

We have the CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Shelli Taylor. Welcome, Shelli.

Thank you, David. I’m excited to be here.                   

I’m excited to have you. The format is pretty simple. I’m going to ask you six questions. Those who are reading can get a sense of you and hopefully learn from your experiences. Question number one, you took over as CEO of Alamo Drafthouse and Cinema from the founder of the company. Taking the reins from a founder versus another outside CEO, do you think that’s an easier or tougher situation to be in?

It’s tougher. For founders, they want someone to come in and take over the day-to-day and the pieces of the business they no longer want to run, but they don’t want to give up their baby. Watching someone come and take over their baby is difficult. It’s a special relationship that takes a lot of patience on both sides.

As a Founder and CEO, I can see that. I often wonder about this. Do you think there’s a difference between an entrepreneur and a CEO? Do you think it’s a different DNA makeup? I always joke. I am more of an entrepreneur than a CEO. I don’t necessarily wake up in the morning, “How do I increase margins by 1%?” I’m much more, “How do I disrupt in scale?” Do you think there’s a difference between the two?


MJH Shelli Taylor | CEO


I hope there are more commonalities, but the difference comes in at the stage of the business. Most founders are excited at the beginning, the stages where it’s all about creativity and what could be. Usually, they’re looking for a CEO who should have some of that in their DNA because it’s a miss if you don’t. They are thinking like, “We’ve got this great idea. How do you scale it without losing its soul and start making that long-term sustainability, whether through profit or the ability to expand?” There are some differences, but there should be some similarities. It’s a miss when there’s not.

Founders are looking for a CEO who should have some creativity in their DNA. Click To Tweet

Do you consider yourself a bit of an entrepreneur?

Yes. I’m always dreaming up and could kick myself for not chasing one of my first early ideas because I still think it would’ve been amazing. I’ve taken the safe path, and I’ve always been great for someone who has a great vision that I can sink my teeth into and help them.

Are you always having new ideas in your head that you have to tamper down and be like, “I’m focused on this, but it would be so cool to do this?”

Yes. My goal is to finish this role. There are goals that we’ve put out there that we want to attain. I am going to take that leap and do my own thing. I’ve got a couple of ideas that are brewing. In the second half of my life, I’m going to be an entrepreneur.

What was that original idea that could have been huge?

Here it is. It sounds simple. For the men out there, you may or may not relate to this, but bras, I don’t care what they say, still don’t fit. People’s bodies are not perfect. They’re not symmetrical. There are all sorts of things that go on. Even in the early days, I was like, “If you could get a photograph and they could customize a bra in a scalable way to your exact body, how amazing would that be?” They’ve gotten closer in some aspects, but the right or left half fits, and the other half doesn’t. There’s always something wrong except for that 1% of perfect bodies. Technology is finally there. There’s something here in getting the perfect fit. Half the world’s women, and 100% want a better bra. It’s a big market.

Would you envision it as when you get fitted for suit measurements? Have you ever done Warby Parker, where they fit you for the glasses? Do you envision something like that?

Probably something in between. There’s technology now where you can go in front of a camera, and it can take a full-scale measurement of your body and shape. You can use that technology for the fitting. You don’t have to have a person. Yes, you can do the Warby Parker, where you start to see the results, but more importantly, it’s getting that measurement down. It’s the ability to say, “I want more lift. I want more of this.” Technology is finally there. The materials for bras and the actual textile part are finally there.

Have you experienced the perfect bra yet?

No. That’s why I still believe in this idea. Back in 1994, I got it in my diary when this came. I wish I had done it. Technology wasn’t there. Now’s the time. No one can go out and take that idea. If you’re working on it, please call me. I’d love to help.

Question number two, the movie industry has faced challenges with companies like Netflix disrupting the status quo. How does the movie industry turn the table and become the one that is disrupting? Do you think there’s an opportunity for that? If there is, what do you see?

I find this such an interesting question because everybody is at extremes, “The movie industry is dead. Streaming is it.” Over the last few weeks, we saw the correction of Netflix. Netflix is not dead. It’s not going away. That, too, is extreme. The question is and will always be, “How do we continue to produce the type of content people want?” Like your show, “How do I do digestible quick hits versus hour-and-a-half commitments?” If you think about content, it’s the same. How do we have this range of content broaden our genres and the way we think about it? Quite frankly, we should have even more vehicles in how we want to consume it.

We should have even more vehicles in how we want to consume content. Click To Tweet

More vehicles help us cut down noise and find what we want. Is it going to be disrupted? I don’t know that it’s disrupted as much as it evolves and starts to figure out and stop the binary conversations, but how do we all serve a need? For us, it’s about creating great experiences, super clean theaters, super friendly people, and projection sound seats that blow you away. That’s what we’re going to continue to double down against, making your night out fantastic.

It’s like when I go to the grocery store, I can order it through Amazon or many different ways to get my groceries, but there’s an experience when I go to the grocery store. There’s the smell. There’s sound. I get inspired by it. I love movies. I probably go to the movies 4 to 5 times a month. It’s that experience. If I’m going to do a date night, I want to do something different. Sitting on that couch and watching TV is not special. Leaving and sitting and experiencing something is. To be honest, if I’m not in the theater, I’m going to be on my phone or my laptop, and I’m not going to fully enjoy it. The movie theater forces me to get off it. For that, I value that a lot.

If you haven’t seen everything everywhere all at once, it’s a mouthful. It’s a must-see. This is not a spoiler alert, but when you go see that movie and have special hotdogs with hotdog fingers, you can’t do that at home. You’re not even going to know to think about that. We can create these magical moments you do not understand until you’re in the moment. Nothing better than getting off your couch and getting outside.

Question number three, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve met more people who have achieved extreme success. I’ve noticed with many of them that they’ve experienced a ton of adversity in their life, particularly early in their life. How important do you think having experienced some type of adversity is important to successful people and in leadership?



We all have adversity. If we don’t, it seems impossible. The question is, what do you do with that adversity? Adversity along the way teaches you those life lessons. Usually, you don’t learn it at the moment. It’s afterward with hindsight. I can’t imagine having gone through bankruptcy, the challenges of COVID and the pandemic without having had some personal hardships with finances, personal experiences, and professional experiences with health and things like that. The skills we needed during these last couple of years and the interpersonal stamina came from earlier experiences.


MJH Shelli Taylor | CEO


Especially when you’re young, it could be small things. It feels like the end of the world. Think high school or whatever, like, “My life’s over.” If you could look back on your younger self, this is nothing, but you survived it, and you’re fine. This is the worst-case scenario, and I’m okay with it. It strengthens you.

It will pass. That’s the lesson you don’t learn until you’ve been through it a few times. It’s like, “I’ll get through this and be here tomorrow.”

You never know that adversity could spawn a new opportunity you would’ve never had if it wasn’t for that adversity. At Prizeout, the company I’m CEO of, we often say people have either one or a combination of three things. We call it IQ, which is Intelligence, EQ, which is Emotional Intelligence, and BQ, which is Business Intelligence. If you could have 2 of those 3, IQ, BQ, or EQ, what would you choose?


MJH Shelli Taylor | CEO


It’s EQ and BQ.

I am in the same boat. I’d be curious if you went out on the street and asked the common person that. IQ probably would be one of them. I don’t think people realize that going back to your younger years and stuff like schooling is not everything. Mark Twain said, “I never let school get in the way of my education.” There is so much to learn about people in the world and how things operate. That’s important. Question number five, since taking over as CEO, what is the craziest thing that’s happened in one of your theaters? It’s like taking a pet to a theater, which is okay to say on this show. What is one of the craziest things that have happened in your theaters?

There were a lot of crazy things before I arrived. We haven’t been open that long since I’ve been in position. People are on good behavior. The funniest thing is that a gentleman on the East Coast in one of our New York locations decided to rent a private theater and propose to his girlfriend. He cut his own PSA. If you know our theaters, we do the whole no texting and talking before the show. We do a lot of fun around that and try to make it light, but the rule is real. We will kick you out. He did this whole PSA for her and used a lot of curse words. I can’t sing it, but I can send it to you. It’s one of the catchiest darn songs. Everybody in the company was dancing around for about a week going, “We got to hire this guy because he is brilliant.”

It’s more the energy that our guests bring and the creativity. The movies come to us, we add in our self and character and bring the movie up a launch, and then our guests come and take it to that next level. It’s all three combined that make the movies amazing. It’s no one individual or group that owns it. It takes all of us.



Did she say yes?

Yes. Thank God. It was so sweet.

Did he post it on social? Did that go viral?

I’m going to have to look because it’s internally viral. I don’t know if it went to social, but I’ll look. If it does, I’ll send it to you.

That’s probably gold for you as well. “Can we use this? This is pretty amazing.”

We’ve done that. If you haven’t seen one of our PSAs, we had a guest call us and cuss us out for kicking her out. We turn that into our next PSA. It’s frequently played in our movie theaters like, “Don’t text.” We love it. I’ll send it to you. We’re like, “We told you we have rules. They’re for you and everybody. If you don’t like them, that’s okay. There are other theaters that don’t have rules. Go to them.”

When I go to a movie, I want to enjoy and not hear conversations or phones going off. I respect that. Question six, if you could get a ticket to any show or event in history, what would you want a ticket to?

Probably one of the earlier concerts of Elvis Presley that ended in a riot. People don’t understand his story and that he was changing society and how we think about human relations and race and all of that in his own way. I would love to have been at one of those shows. It was sex and exciting songs and all of that, but it was so much bigger.

How do you know that about Elvis? Were there riots that happened at the concert?

There was a protest and an outbreak in the police. I know because I am a fan. I am excited. There was a movie about Elvis coming out on June 24th, 2022. It explores more of his personal ethos and how he showed up in this world, not just as a performer but as a human. He wasn’t perfect, but his story is pretty damn good. It’s inspirational.

Who’s playing Elvis in the movie?

His name is Austin. I should know his last name. He’s new. He’s a singer, first and foremost. He sings all the songs. He is fantastic.

Is it coming out in theaters?

It’s coming to theaters only. It is a big-screen experience. To hear his voice boom, you want to be in a crowded room because you’re going to feel like you were at some of those earlier concerts and in some of his experiences.

That’s exciting. That’s all, Shelli. Hopefully, it wasn’t too tough.

It’s super fun. I will love to stay in contact as human to human if you don’t mind.

We do business with you guys already. We’re about $40 billion in money flow. We put merchants in front of the money. Think of it like you’re on Coinbase, and you sold your Dogecoin for $500, and you can withdraw that. You can withdraw it to gift cards or to brands. Those brands acquire those customers. We’re in front of crypto and gaming and banks and payroll. We want an RFP to do jury duty payments in Indiana. All these people have money, and they’re like, “How do I want to withdraw that money?” You can pick PayPal ACH. We take brands, put their gift cards in front of them, and say, “Withdraw your money to this.” We do Alamo, AMC, Fandango, Regal, and all of them. We work with you, which is pretty cool.

Thank you. I’m thinking the next half of my life looking for people to have as my advisors.

Especially deals I know all about. We are looking at a deal, like a breakup fee. If only you had known that two months ago or whatever. I will email you. I’m a big texter and not a big email.

I’m good with text.

I will shoot you my number if you have any questions and if it’s okay if I have questions. Are you based in Texas?

We’re in Austin. Where are you based?


I’m going to be out there. I’ll take you to a movie, you and your family.

That’s amazing. You’re on the South Street Seaport, the theater.

Is that 28 Liberty?


I noticed the Financial District.

Do you like New York?

I love New York. In fact, my son’s going to Syracuse in 2023. I teased until some friends told me I couldn’t do this. I was like, “I’m going to take an apartment for a year, so I can be closer to him.” They’re like, “That’s not cool. Don’t follow your child.” I’m like, “At some point, I’m going to take an apartment in New York because I love it.”

Syracuse is 4 to 5 hours away from New York. You’re not too close. Trust me. I don’t think that’s weird at all. That’s an appropriate amount of distance. What’s he studying at Syracuse?

Here’s what he won’t do. He’s going into Aerospace Engineering. He is smart, and he can do it. It’s not beyond belief. It is so not in his soul. He doesn’t know that yet because he’s had too many teachers who have seen him in action and are like, “This is what you should do.” He loves physics and math. I’m like, “You do, and you are good at it, but you’re way too social. You’re a peacemaker.” I don’t know what he’ll do, but I truly, in my heart, say don’t believe it. I’m like, “Go do your thing. Learn. If you’re not an engineer, no one’s going to be unhappy.”

That’s what college is for. When I was going in my freshman year in college, what I thought I wanted to do was as opposed to what I ended up doing. Night and day, he always has chances to change his major and try different courses and everything like that.

You have to make sure they know that because there’s so much pressure on what success looks like. It’s easy to let yourself get pigeonholed.

Which is strange and is something that burdens younger people these days that I don’t think I have experienced. There’s this notion that if you make this one mistake, it’s going to derail this path to success. That’s so not true. I don’t know where that comes from, but it’s prevalent with young people. That’s why anxiety and everything else are through the roof.

It’s called standardized testing. There’s only one way to be successful.

When I was in high school, if someone got 1,500 on their SATs, it was 3 people in Long Island, which is 6 million people. Now all the parents have hacked it. That is the starting now. Clearly, these tests should be thrown out because it doesn’t show good gauge. You can hire tutors. You figure it out. You gain the system. It was night and day when I was taking the test. This went pretty well.

Thank you. This is a total honor and pleasure. I look forward to seeing you. I will let you know if it works for you and your family when we’re in New York. I’d love to take you to the movies. It would be fun.

We could see the Elvis movie.

It’s opening weekend when we’re going to be there. I’m truly a fan, partly because of my grandparents. It feels true to his story. It’s glamorized.

Have you seen the movie?

I’ve seen about 30 minutes of it. I got back from a conference at CinemaCon, but we got to go in and have some private studio time. That’s one of the things we got to see a part of. I was like, “That’s good.” Glamorized, but there’s truth in it. It’s not too over the top. Some of them are too nice, and you’re like, “That’s not exactly right.”

Where does it start? Does it start in childhood? Does it start when he is famous?

I didn’t see the beginning. We saw the middle. My guess is it bounces back and forth because we saw some childhood and revival gospel singing and church experiences. You then see the middle. We didn’t see anything at the end. I’m curious how they’ll treat that. We saw some of the progression. It was a pretty good cut for 30 minutes, but probably more than we needed. I was like, “I want to see the movie. I don’t want too much ahead.”

I’m excited to see it. Thank you so much, Shelli. I appreciate it. In the meantime, I’ll shoot you that email with my phone number. Feel free to text me with anything.

I’m thankful. I will see you soon.

Take care.


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About Shelli Taylor

MJH Shelli Taylor | CEOShelli Taylor is currently the CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, leading the iconic national theater chain. Her career journey in leading small to large businesses through rapid expansion has spanned brands such as Starbucks Coffee and Disney; diverse geography inside the US and Greater China; varied industries including experiential retail, software development, and fitness; with a diversity of roles in operations, real estate, human resources, brand, and executive management. The connector throughout her career: the love of serving people, and scaling businesses while retaining brand soul.

Shelli is an active for-profit independent board member. But her favorite positions are on non-profits, Habitat for Humanity, and Homebase furthering affordable homeownership for first-time homeowners.

MJH Nick Miaritis | VaynerMedia

Nick Miaritis: EVP At VaynerMedia And Co-Founder Of Fleetwit

MJH Nick Miaritis | VaynerMedia


There is a massive difference between working for a traditional media agency versus working with a new media startup. When Nick Miaritis made the jump from his 10-year career at Saatchi to join VaynerMedia, so many things were surprising to him. Thankfully almost all of those surprises have been absolutely friendly to creativity and career growth. Nick thrived in this founder-led startup environment and soon found himself up the ranks as the company’s executive vice president. In this episode, he shares with us some details of his work at VaynerMedia, particularly their work around Super Bowl commercials. He also shares his predictions on how the media industry is going with all these buzzwords like Web3 and the metaverse. Join in and get a load of Nick’s refreshing insights plus a bit of behind-the-scenes of his TikTok alter-ego, The Omelette King.

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Nick Miaritis: EVP At VaynerMedia And Co-Founder Of Fleetwit

We got the Executive Vice President of VaynerMedia, Nick Miaritis here. Nick, thanks for joining.

It’s great to be with you.

This is a pretty simple format. I’m going to ask you six questions so everyone reading can get a better sense of you and hopefully learn some things about you and your experiences. Does that sound good?

Super cool. Let’s do it.

Question number one, you went from Saatchi. You were there for ten-plus years to VaynerMedia. What was the biggest surprise for you going from a traditional media agency to Vayner?


MJH Nick Miaritis | VaynerMedia


I grew up as an entrepreneur’s kid in Long Island where my family owned and operated three village inn restaurant hotels in North Shore in Stony Brook. I grew up in an entrepreneurial environment. When my parents exited that business, I got the gig at Saatchi which was the first real job I ever had in life. I was thrown into Corporate America having no clue what that was, but it was so many people, processes, bureaucracy, and good stuff like creativity losing out of every office everywhere. It was the best learning experience of all time on how to generate ideas and how to work collaboratively with people so different than the restaurant business, but its bigness and scale over time.

We were in 88 markets. If you wanted to make a change or operationalize that change, it took years. It took 200 meetings and had to be factored into every 90-day window and how things were being reported for Wall Street, M&A deals, and all of those types of things. In many ways, it was awesome, but there were things about it that I didn’t love. After twelve years of that life is the biggest single change when you go to an independently-owned communication shop like the one Gary created several years ago. We’re now 1,600 plus at VaynerX. The people are so at the center of everything because the entrepreneur has put humanity in how we treat each other, how we care for each other, and how we build the culture above everything else.

The P&L, driving for every 90 days, keeping this client because they pay the bills to keep the lights on, things that we would do in the publicly traded sphere are wildly different. At first, I was like, “Is this real?” We are going to talk about this and not that. You don’t want to review this or that. It was an awesome change all up for me because when you can do what in many ways is the right thing, that’s not always about the dollar and cent.

The culture especially in an industry like ours, in which the industry is made up of people on Zoom and in rooms thinking of ideas, there is no fear. You don’t have to do things for the wrong reasons, and therefore the company accelerates almost much faster than any other company could in the space, which is why as an independent shop, now is one of the biggest on the planet.

We have been growing so quickly. It liberates you to grow faster when you don’t have to focus on so many of those things. The funny part about it is that a lot of those things that we had to focus on, who has this around, how money was made, counting the money, and global expansion are all happening here, but we are not focused on that in the same way. That, for one, was wildly different. The second thing is having an awesome entrepreneur at the top of all of it who is in the dirt on being a practitioner of all things in the communications field, but especially social media.

First for him, Web1, Web2, and now Web3. Being a practitioner has been awesome as well. I got to a point in my old world where I was doing a lot of airplane rides, big meetings, and PowerPoint decks. Here, it’s like, “How many TikToks did we make? How many tweets did I write? What did I learn? How hands-on keyboard are we with media?” Physically making the stuff again was wildly different from many of the years I spent within Saatchi purposes. That is so much fun. It is so different from what most people who are senior in the ad business end up doing. It’s more making fewer meetings that are profound and super fun.

How many people are at Vayner when you joined?

I have to think we were in the 700 to 800. I feel like maybe a little less at that point. In the past few years, we have expanded to have many hundreds of people in our APAC office. In 25 plus markets through COVID grew without much square footage physically, but we are able to operate the business remotely in 25-plus markets.

We opened up Mexico City this 2022. Our London office has been growing a ton. In LA, we rebooted and have a lot of new business, a lot of new faces there, and our team is growing fast. VaynerX all up. We are 1,600 plus people now, but it’s cool though. There are still people here who have their number because they were 1 of the first 50 or 100. There’s still the essence and the core of what it was on day one. It’s still going through the company even as we grow, which is pretty rad.

Did it feel like at that time that you were joining a startup?

In many ways, yes. You and I have done a few things together now. I would say that my favorite part of startup life is that everything is possible. That’s been a remarkable thing these past years. If you can dream it, you can do it, and then why not us? That energy is contagious, and it’s a reason why people come here and then they stay for a long time on top of how we all treat each other and strive to treat each other each day.


MJH Nick Miaritis | VaynerMedia


It’s funny. It’s not a day one startup whereas some of those problems are hard problems like, “How are we going to get through the next week?” They are next-level problems, but we still solve them the way that a startup would. There’s less formality and less rigidity around the process. Things that bigger companies would start doing that are very rigid around the process, we strive to break so that we don’t become that thing, which doesn’t resemble startup life. We are more in that camp still, even though several years later, here we are.



When does a startup cease to be a startup? Do you feel like having your company still be founder-led is important?

Absolutely, and that it’s because of his energy, tenacity, values, and principles. If anybody’s out there, read Gary Vee’s book, Twelve and a Half which came out this 2022. It’s a good consolidated version of the principles behind much of what VaynerMedia is as well because we are founder-led. His speed and agility as an entrepreneur are in every part of our business. I was listening to something that Zac is talking about moving fast and breaking stuff. They have gotten rid of the broken stuff. It’s moving fast and making sustainable growth or something. There’s a new line that they are all saying on Facebook.

We are in that space where it’s like moving fast but building with integrity, kindness, and compassion. There’s a definite brand of how we are as a startup. It would be interesting if someone walked in right now who’d been here several years ago and they would be like, “We are doing pretty much the same thing that we talked about.”

Move fast, but build with integrity, kindness, and compassion. Click To Tweet

We have gone back because of the emergence of things like TikTok, the maker mentality, and having so many creators now who are at home shooting, editing, getting their own lighting, props, and wardrobe, and making the things that the consumer sees, also has brought us back to what Gary and the team did so extraordinarily well several years ago.

It was like, “We are not going to outsource all of this production.” We are not going to outsource it to a studio we are going to pay $3 million to go make these things. We are hiring hundreds of people who make this stuff every single day.” That at its core is the most Vayner of principles and beliefs. If it hadn’t been for TikTok, I don’t think we’d be doing that the same way.

You’ve almost democratized from the world you came from.

The world I came from was like a top-down ego and radical subjectivity on, “This color green is the right one.” When the person across me is like, “That’s not the right color green,” I’d be like, “Look at all the ads that I have done. I’m good at advertising based on all of these trophies. We should go with green, Jeff.”

Here, we call out the world of being right. In our world, because we have a media creative strategy, all the pieces go together as one thing, which we didn’t have back in my Saatchi days. It was just a creative shop. We go from needing to be right with the color green. “Let me try and convince Dave to find what’s right because we can use the internet with media creative strategy and production to do things at a low enough cost to learn and gather insight about what works.

It’s almost like how engineers do it when they are designing products to then scale that. It’s a build on that first question. That was the biggest creative change for me when I was in the “Be Right” business. Now, I only want to find the right because I realize that as a “Be right” person, it’s audacity, ego, and most of the time, I’m wrong. It’s crazy. That’s something every entrepreneur and every creative person has to deal with. It’s like, “I don’t know. You are a great songwriter. Do you think you got a hit song on you? Put it out. Let’s see what the world thinks before it’s declaring this is a hit. You don’t know.”

That’s why it’s democratized because if you think it’s right, create it, put it out there, and let the free market decide.

If you think it's right, create it, put it out there, and let the free market decide. Click To Tweet

That’s what’s cool about our company. A lot of people who don’t have “Creative” in their title have a ton of ideas that get made. They perform well that in an old ad industry world, no one would ever accept that based on the ego of, “That project manager can’t make a TikTok. They are not a creative person.” Sally is pretty good and her stuff outperforms everybody else’s, so let’s do more like Sally’s.

Question number two, you’ve seen several evolutions in advertising since entering the industry. What do you think the next few years looks like? You got TikTok, NFTs, and the metaverse. If you had to make a bet on where you are going to get the most bang for your buck, what are you seeing?

I’m most obsessed as is our company with consumer attention now and where it’s going. What’s funny about life is if you had told me years ago I’d be even reacting to a statement about three letters, NFT, I’d be like, “What’s that?” My first answer is, “I don’t know what I don’t know. I just know in our company studies where the consumer’s attention is going, which is why we have been historically early when Vine comes out or early when TikTok starts to hit. We study where our consumers are shifting towards and try and get there with our brands so that we can find the arbitrage on the underpriced nature of that attention relative to things that may be more expensive because those aren’t that good of a deal anymore.

Things that will continue to proliferate in a big way. One is the TikTok notification of what we had called social media. The product of TikTok vertical video that I don’t need to know anything about Dave the human. I’m being served it because TikTok selects things from strangers whom I don’t need to know about because they know so much about what my tastes are. They are going to keep serving me things that I’m going to like, almost like a TV guide that knows what you want to watch before you even need to start scrolling through the TV guide.

That as a product, the TikTok application is going to happen to everything in what we had called social media. That makes social media feel way more like television in many ways. If you play it out over the course of five years, as that attention keeps going to this device and people go from 2 to 4 hours a day, not looking at the screen up here as much, you could ask interesting questions like, “Does this thing go up to that screen? Do TikTok and the TikTok application, that style of content get to the screen in the living room? What other platforms react and follow what TikTok is doing?”

Already you have the precursor of that, which is Instagram Reels and Facebook Reels. I heard that 20% of all Instagram attention now is in Reels. I expect that to grow to 50%, maybe even more. They may even from a product dev standpoint push people into Reels because they know that that’s where the attention is being consumed on TikTok. The one that’s got me very excited and I’m studying every single day and will play out in a two-year window easily is YouTube Shorts. That’s a fascinating one and most marketers are like, “What is YouTube Shorts? I think I may have heard of that.”

That’s basically what they saw happen at TikTok. Their version of Reels is called YouTube Shorts. It’s good and fascinating because with all the adoption of these technologies, once the first gen is out there, they seem to go fast with the first 2 billion downloads. It’s always faster than it was the generation prior. All things Web3, inclusive of decentralized fill-in-the-blank plus NFT and metaverse, are the buzzwords of the moment.

The consumer won’t get there as fast as the brand marketers, engineers, and tech companies which is natural. I have seen a frothiness and buzz in that world that feels a lot like social media did several years ago. I would say that if you see mass adoption of VR like Oculus continues to grow, the technology gets better over the next several years, where they are able to miniaturize that technology will be telling how much consumer adoption there will be.

The real thing that’s going to explode more in the next few years is everything related to augmented reality. That’s a big term and it’s hard for us because it’s still so new to so many to understand the practical use case of what we are going to be doing with that first as humans and then as marketers. I believe that the overlay on top of the physical world is going to go way faster than the metaverse part of it, VR will.



That’s my gut feeling on it because there are so many companies snapping one of them, if you watch what they are out after the Snap Summit is like they have made so many strides in AR technology, training people on how to use these lenses. Fun use cases for marketers right now that you’ll see a constant five years from now on for every marketer and anyone who works in retail.

The ability to not just shot the look on a website or social media, but be able to have Dave try on a shirt while sitting there through Snapchat and their phone and get the actual look on your body is going to become the most normal thing for human beings to do. People using their phones like we all got trained like COVID in many ways saved the QR code. Now, because of what happened with restaurants, everyone understands how to point their phone at something and get some piece of content on their phone just by that mechanic.

Companies like Snap, Google, and Apple will use the native camera in their operating system, which is fast and slick to slide over to point at something, to be able to buy something, get information, a recipe, or whatever it is. Any and all objects will be able to be content in the augmented reality world, which is a wild thought if you are a marketer. It’s like the next level. Now, you don’t need a billboard necessarily, physically only. Everything can be a billboard in the augmented sense of the world.

If you could only buy one stock and it’s either a TikTok or LinkedIn, what would you buy?

ByteDance and Microsoft.

Pretend they are separate.

Let’s not do stock. The first thing would be about the fundamentals of these companies. If I had to bet on what would return better in what period in the next several years, I would tell you TikTok.

Is it close?

Not yet. It’s like zebras and giraffes. It’s not a comparison. Given the sheer enormity globally of TikTok, its orders of magnitude differ in terms of usage, adoption, and revenue potential. Things that are already starting to happen now and global the world over in a way that few companies are.

The only reason I ask is that TikTok is social by nature and there’s a cool factor. As we know, cool is fleeting. There’s a next generation that’s going to think TikTok is like Facebook, and they are not going to want to be on it. LinkedIn is a utility. No one thinks LinkedIn is cool. Utilities tend to last longer than cool things.


MJH Nick Miaritis | VaynerMedia


LinkedIn is fantastic. I hope LinkedIn is around as long as consumers find it relevant. I will be all about it in doing things both personally and professionally. The reason I said TikTok so quickly is that it’s hard to wrap your head around to appreciate the scale factor, and then to your point, go with a different example of Facebook, which you would probably be able to argue, “Younger people don’t find Facebook blue to be that cool anymore, this and this. It’s past its prime. People aren’t sharing as much.”

At the same time, for the 55-plus crowd on Facebook, it is art. They’re in it, sharing stuff, debating, and helping each other. My grandmother is on Facebook in a way that I was at Georgetown in 2004. Cool doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not useful. The cool factor changes to whom is it useful. Sometimes like all things in society, the young drive everything. You lose the young instead but not really because there are tons of older people on the planet and other people who may adopt and find new use cases for it.

For those that don’t know Nick, he’s also known as the omelet king. Look him up. When you first started out with the omelet videos like going from Instagram and then going on TikTok and seeing it explode, how impactful was it? I remember you said, “I had 1 million views.” I was like, “What? How is it even possible?”

This is funny. This is like another Vayner story that’s pretty profound for me. Several years ago, I had texted Gary, our Founder, and CEO, “TikTok, what should we be doing?” He texted, “All in.” A few years ago, it was hard to convince anyone, any logo or brand that they should be on this thing called Musical.ly which now became TikTok, ranked with issues, privacy, and the whole Trump administration banning this thing. I remember that whole thing.

Back to the first question you asked me, that practitioner mindset clicked in, and I was like, “If I can’t get Starbucks to be on TikTok, I best as well learned it myself.” This is totally randomly been flipping eggs, who knows why, and omelets with my brother because we grew up in the restaurant business. It was the best job you could have in a restaurant because it’s pretty easy.

You get to stand back there and throw a bunch of things in and then flip it. Breakfast is the worst meal to cook for. It’s like the best job of the worst meal to cook for. Long story short, we did a video, posted it on Facebook, and did a bunch more. We had a little bit of momentum going there. That text happened with Gary on TikTok, and I was like, “I’m going to start posting on TikTok.” I started posting a few. Nothing much is happening, but you had started to see with some other friends and him going on the platform hard that like, “The organic reach is could be off the chart.”

Cut to the holiday season, I get dressed up as Santa as a chef with a Santa apron and a Santa hat. I do a flip to do a 360 spin while the eggs are up in the air. I come down. The eggs just fall to the side and hit the ground. I made a pack with my wife that no matter what, we always have to eat the eggs even when they fall. We had a sheet underneath it. I’m like, “Do I post this thing? No. I don’t want to post bloopers. That’s not what I’m about. I’m the omelet king.”

I post it and I look back at my phone and it’s going nuts in a way I have never seen a phone go nuts because I had notifications on TikTok. The end of the story is it was about a week later, I had 13 million views on this video and I was like, “This is going to be real.” We all have to learn this and this is going to usher in a whole different type of content style creator versus polished Instagram influencers and static images the way that we had done it the past few years.

I posted 3 or 4 TikToks organically a day for the better part of those first 2 or 3 years and continuously hit marks like 21 million views, this and that. I saw the power of it firsthand and then even weird stuff happened like Snap Spotlight came out. It’s like their version of Reels or TikTok. Stuff started blowing up on that. If you go to the Snap website, you will see the omelet king egg flip on the homepage of the Snap website on a desktop or mobile device, unless they have changed it. I haven’t looked.

I’m featured in their ads. I get featured in TikTok ads. The funny thing was that a French culinary magazine called up, “We want to speak to the omelet king.” You can google that. I did a serious interview with a serious culinary magazine about flipping eggs and how I cooked them. It’s like sacrilege to French chefs which was hysterical. A good lesson there is like you sometimes got to do stuff and see what happens, and in doing stuff, you learn a lot.

Sometimes you just need to do stuff and see what happens. And in the doing of stuff, you will learn a lot. Click To Tweet

A mistake created a huge opportunity that took off.

We have someone who said, “You are the first eggfluencer.” That’s accurate, but it’s happening again. Facebook Reels now for anybody who’s out there is looking for practical application from a talk like this. Facebook Reels will be wildly underpriced, underutilized, and won’t seem like the thing. Everyone focuses on Instagram Reels only like YouTube Shorts.

Facebook Reels, start making 3 or 4 of them and get them out. No paid media against it, but it’s a place and it’s a product that is going to explode there because of that scaled audience that they have on that platform, but most people aren’t talking about it too much right now. Most people don’t even know Facebook has Reels at this point.

Next question. You’ve made many Super Bowl commercials in your lifetime. What is your all-time favorite commercial that’s ever been done?

You can’t pick a favorite on Super Bowl ads. I would say that the memories attached to making them are the real prize thing about the Super Bowl because, for anybody who’s not made Super Bowl ads before, you could imagine that it’s the most pressure-induced environment that you could put yourself in the field of advertising because every second costs something like $300,000.

The meters are running when you are buying advertising and I happen to have done a lot of 60-second and 90-second Super Bowl ads, programs, and things like that. It’s a lot of dough. You usually nowhere come November and you are like, “We had August, September, or October to come up with ideas.” November hits like, “We don’t like any of those ideas.” Usually, going through the holiday ideating and then having to find people to help you produce the $20 million Super Bowl program and hope that people like it.

It’s weird because I learned this comparison point which is funny. The audience is usually around 110 million people and that’s the equivalent. They are all watching these things. Everyone’s glued to the camera. It’s like glued to the TV. It’s the equivalent of the opening weekend of the biggest Marvel movie. That’s how many people will see it.

It’s a crazy thing to think about pleasing an audience of 110 million in an ad which from a comedy standpoint just think it through like what you find funny, and what I find funny is super challenging. Things that I think about this all lead up to what my favorite thing would be. The weird one for me would be, because of the memories, the first Super Bowl ad that we did at Vayner.

This was when we jumped the Nut Mobile with Charlie Sheen and A-Rod eating the kale chip. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my favorite spot, but the collective energy of our company doing something back to what we talked about being a startup and an entrepreneurial-led thing, we did things to make that ad that with all the might of what I had done in my past life, we couldn’t have figured out. We produced it ourselves through our own production company. We wrote it and sold it in before even having the business on a screen grab on an iPhone that I showed a client in Chicago. The memory of how it was made was so, from a probability standpoint, low of it happening and being decent.

Because of that, it made it so much fun to make because we were problem-solving in a way that was like, “I don’t know. Can we do that? Figure it out. Can we jump in that mobile? I don’t know. We are going to have to find the right CGI people because the Nut Mobile is going to break once we get it up on the ramp.”

That one for me was special because the company hadn’t done that yet, and that was one of the things that from an ambition standpoint, we wanted to focus on because we love the audience of Super Bowl. One hundred ten million people are glued to a TV and paying attention all at once. It’s like relatively underpriced when you think about the scale. Cut to now, years later, we have done more Super Bowl ads collectively that more than any other agency on the planet.

That’s why I answered that way. It unlocked something for us. I’m so excited each year now because the team here is so awesome that a lot of what we went through there, you could look back and laugh like, “Did we do that? Did we not know how to do this thing?” It was fun but it was also crazy. Now, it’s fun. It’s a little crazy but it’s good and the level of the work has gotten better consistently each year.

Best celebrity you ever work with on a Super Bowl commercial?

I would go with David Harbour from Stranger Things who did our Tide ad commercials. We did seven different ads where everything is a Tide ad because people’s clothes were clean. It’s back in like 2018. The reason why was that he was fantastic to work with. He’s the most chill and coolest person you could have ever hung out with, and we got to know each other. He was into it.

The funny part that I always remember in the first minutes of doing takes when cameras are rolling, he had never done commercial work before. The nuance of when you shoot a film versus shooting a commercial is that every second counts. We have to work to get every scene truncated so that we know what we got so it can edit together for that 30 or 60-second or even 15-second thing.

When you’re shooting a commercial, every second counts. You have to work to get every scene truncated so you can edit them together for that 30 or 60 or even 15-second thing. Click To Tweet

In the first five takes, he was like, “What the F is this? You all do this like this? I can’t do this. I’m an actor. I thought we were going to have like a huge blow-up on the set,” then he was like, “I get it. I understand why,” and he was such the consummate professional and so fun to hang out with. At the time, Stranger Things was the thing in the culture.

It was cool to see him at that moment because he brought to it this gravity because of what he was going through culturally that made the ad, 1 plus 1 equals 50. That casting was funny that it came from our chief creative officer’s daughter. I forget who the lead was. It was supposed to be Kevin Bacon, but he was filming up in Boston and had a mustache or something, some detective show or it was supposed to be Jeff Goldblum.

Jeff Goldblum peaced out in the last minute and our CCOs daughter was like, “David Harbour.” Everyone was like, “David Harbour. What? Who is that? I don’t know that name. He’s not famous enough.” Perfect casting. That’s why all of us ancient people in the ad agency is supposed to know what’s cool. Literally, a twelve-year-old daughter was like, “David Harbour is the best.” Drop you down a couple of pegs. Don’t get you ahead of yourself. Harbour is a cool factor.

Two more questions. Growing up in the restaurant business, how important was it in the success that you had later in life?

Every day of my life, I’m reminded of some lessons, insights, and something that I witnessed from my dad, my grandfather, and that entire team of people that worked with them because of the patterns once recognized. They are so easy to pull back to like, “When I was six.” My tenure in the restaurant business started when I was six when I was the Easter bunny. I was dressed up. I had a basket of toys and I went around.

Back then, people gave enormous tips. I cleared $126 my first day working, and I was like, “I’m good with school. I want to do more Easter bunny stuff.” What I always take away from that experience is that the restaurant business is hard. It’s labor. Your family grew up doing actual and manual labor as their vocation and mind.

It trains you a certain way that when you are sitting in a conference room in a chair like this, which is super cerebral sometimes, and not as many hands in the dirt type thing is that it gave me a gear, which some people unless you’ve worked in retail, worked as a waiter, or something like that, don’t see around or can model. In the restaurant business, I have always respected what people put into that job so much in a weird way because I never worked anywhere else prior to the Saatchi experience. I only knew what it was like to do an all-in restaurant.

The second thing that’s related to that is that the restaurant business is all about how you treat human beings. I grew up with my grandfather and my dad being like, “People aren’t coming here for a steak. They are coming here because they want to feel good. They have decided to have Christmas Eve with you. This is the most important day of their family’s year, and they want to be with you. What are you giving to them?” it’s not what are we getting in terms of the money we get, because we did so many covers this night.

That notion of giving to get that my grandfather and my dad put me from the time I was five years old is true in every single walk of life and every single professional environment as well, but most of us see it the other way. It’s like, “What’s Dave given me? I’m not giving him anything. What am I going to get? What’s in it for me?” That’s been a real thing that is impossible to forget and awesome. I carry it with me forever.

What’s the one thing about the restaurant business that most people don’t know? We all go to restaurants, but what’s happening behind the scenes?

The hilarity of the restaurant business happens in the kitchen. There were pluses that there were some minuses probably too, of growing up in the restaurant business. The comedy, intensity, and profanity are in the kitchen. You’ve seen it on some of these cooking TV shows like reality shows in restaurants, but it’s like a real culture in there. The front of the house is a nice ambiance, people are polite, and all this. You walk into the kitchen and it is mayhem, especially when we would serve 1,500 covers on Thanksgiving.

There are three seatings where people are coming in and you are trying to get people in and have a great time, but the chefs and everyone in the kitchen are in the mayhem. You’re like, “This is controlled chaos but somehow it produces this beautiful ambiance and this amazing food from this chaos.” Most people who haven’t been in the kitchen would be like, “My food is like coming from that type of energy?” It’s the rest. That’s pretty much universal. If you walk into any kitchen anywhere, it sounds like chaos with profanity.

Last question, the most important question., who would win in a fight, Han Solo or Indiana Jones?

This one’s easy. If you take it literally, Han Solo wins because of the advanced weaponry.

It’s a gun versus a gun. Who draws first?

He’s got a thing that shoots lasers. He’s so far ahead of Indiana Jones and his six-shooter and whip. Before he even gets off the Millennium Falcon, they are going to be like, “What are we doing? We are fighting?” He’s like, “Okay.” He peeks out the bottom and tags him with one of those laser guns that he’s got. He doesn’t stand a chance. The technology is too far ahead for Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones is fantastic, but for his time. There’s no way he can compete against a fully-armed Han Solo and a Chewy maybe who’s behind him because you know that Chewy is not going to be far behind. Whose Indiana got? Nothing.

He’s got Short Round.

He’s got Short Round. He’s got Marcus Brody. He’s lost in his own museum.

He’s got Sean Connery.

He’s got Sean Connery. He’s an old man. He got a Wookiee behind him. Sean Connery would be lining out.

Fair. Nick, I appreciate you taking the time to chat.

It’s the best. I love you, man.

Thanks, bud.


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About Nick Miaritis

MJH Nick Miaritis | VaynerMediaNick Miaritis is EVP, at VaynerMedia, based out of the New York office. He joined the agency in 2018 and is tasked with leading brand partnerships, accelerating growth, and helping build and deploy new agency capabilities. Nick is passionate about creating truly end-to-end, integrated agency models – with media, creative, strategy, analytics, and production working together to transform our partner’s brands & businesses.

Prior to joining Vayner, Nick spent 12 years at Saatchi & Saatchi, where he worked around the globe with many of the agency’s brand partners and led teams that created some of the most recognized campaigns in the industry including the Cannes Grande Prix winning “It’s a Tide Ad” Super Bowl program and Miller High Life’s “One Second Ad.”

Nick is passionate about technology and finding new ways to tell stories on the platforms where consumer attention is shifting towards. He is also a bit of a trivia geek and is the co-founder of the popular trivia app, FleetWit, Adviser to payments platform Prizeout, and Adviser to Pro Sports League, Athletes Unlimited.