Q&A with Zack Yanger:
Tell me a little bit about yourself, who you are and where you are from.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had somewhat of an entrepreneurial addiction. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that anyone, at any age, can become successful by finding creative solutions to everyday problems.
When I was a kid growing up in Florida, I would get my fix by detailing cars, mowing lawns and selling candy bars for 1 dollar that I would buy in bulk for 10 cents each from Sam’s Club.
In high school, I made money by renting event spaces and throwing huge themed parties that I would promote to all of the schools in town, and then collect entrance fees at the door.
While in college at the University of Florida, I started my first legitimate business after a snow skiing trip with my fraternity brothers. During the trip, many of us were experiencing major shin pains from the poor quality ski boots we had rented. After searching high and low, we realized there was no real solution to this problem. About a month later, myself and one other friend launched our first product “Shinnies” (www.shinnies.com), a foam shin pad for ski boots that we developed and manufactured in China. Six months later, Shinnies were on the shelves in over 30 ski shops across North Carolina, Colorado, Utah and California.
After college, I moved to NYC and worked for some of the largest ad agencies in the world, including Ogilvy and mcgarrybowen, where I directly managed digitally driven global campaigns for largescale brands like Marriott, Kraft and Chevron Energy. During my time at these agencies, I built long lasting relationships and gained valuable insights into the needs and struggles of big global brands in todays new digital world.
Long gone are the days where brands can create a few big TV campaigns per year and still maintain the support of their Millennial followers. Brands must now be interacting with their followers on a daily basis, and creating content that ads real value to their lives. In order to accomplish this efficiently, a new production model was needed.
And so Break Content was born. A content marketing studio with a completely new production model that allows us to create exciting and engaging content, anywhere in the world, much faster and cheaper than ever before seen in the industry.
How do you describe type of work you do at Break Content?
At Break Content, we’re all about helping brands and agencies create the type of work that will engage Millennials. To understand what this means, you need to know how Millennials work. Millennials are completely different than any of the generations before us. We question everything, we challenge the norm and we don’t deal with the Bull$%&#. In order to truly engage us, you need to create content that adds real value to our lives. The key is to create content that puts the importance of entertainment far before the importance of brand or product promotion. Millennials don’t pay attention to your typical product heavy advertising. In fact, it annoys us. The minute your video starts touting your brand and telling us how great you are, is the minute that us Millennials tune out and move on. On the flip side, if your video adds real value (makes us laugh, makes us smarter, makes us feel something real), then we might just watch for long enough to see that your brand is involved and has similar values. We’ll also be far more likely to share the content with our friends and family.
As the Founder and CEO of Break Content, what does your job entail?
1) Managing & growing the global network: At Break Content, we’re able to offer extremely competitive pricing because our production model is so efficient. We’ve built a global network of talented Millennial content creators all over the world that we can tap into at any time to help us create content for our clients. Now over 400 Millennials strong (spread across 100+ countries) the Break Content global network consists of filmmakers, directors, producers, writers, designers and technical specialists…AKA: everything needed to pull off any size production, anywhere in the world. By tapping into the top local talent around the world, we’re able to eliminate certain expenses like travel, which signiificantly reduces costs overall. We’re also able to operate much more efficiently because we use local crews who already know their way around town, and understand the local rules and regulations. This local knowledge is crucial to getting things done as efficiently as possible. As Founder and CEO of Break Content, one of my biggest roles is the ongoing management of this global network. I’m constantly adding new content creators to our network, and working to ensure that these relationships continue to grow and prosper.
2) Building the right teams: Each project that we do is different than the next, and it’s crucial that I’m able to put the right teams together for each unique project that we take on in order to ensure the best results possible for our clients. Our network of content creators is very diverse. Some of our filmmakers are amazing at documentary projects, some are better for comedy/humor projects, and some are perfect for more produced commercial projects. Our ability to match up our filmmakers with the types of projects that they do best, is one of our biggest competitive advantages.
3) New Business Pitches: A major part of running a successful business is making sure there is always a pipeline of new business opportunities coming in. For a company like Break Content, where we are trying to get brands and agencies on board with a completely new approach than what they are used to, it’s really important that the company is explained and pitched in the right way. In my opinion, nobody is going to be able to pitch a company’s services better, and with more passion, than the founder.
What are you currently working on?
A client of ours owns a group of well known hotel resorts in Cancun and Cabo. Over the last few years, Mexico has become known as a pretty violent place to travel. Because of this, the amount of young Millennial spring breakers visiting the resorts has been steadily declining. We’ve now been tasked with creating a video series about these resorts that will paint Cancun and Cabo as the perfect spring break destination and re-ignite Millennials’ interest in traveling to these resorts.
Where/when are you most creative? Where do your best ideas come to you?
As much as I like to deny being a “morning person”, I always tend to think of my best ideas when I first wake up. Whether it’s during my morning shower, or my morning subway ride, I always seem to spark my most creative thinking in the first few hours of my day. It could definitely have something to do with the 32 ounce ice coffee that I get from Brooklyn Roasting Company each morning, but I always feel that the most productive hours of my day happen right when I get to work. Because of this, I always try to schedule any important meetings as early in the day as possible.
What is your creative process for conceptualizing and starting to work on a new project?
First and foremost, I always start my creative process by educating myself with as much relevant information as I can find. Having a true understanding of your product, your target market, your competition and what sorts of things have worked and failed in the past is a crucial step to coming up with the perfect idea. I’m also a huge believer in teamwork and collaboration when it comes to brainstorming potential ideas. In my opinion, the more minds you have involved thinking of ideas, the better chance you have of hitting the nail on the head. Each person has has different life experiences that will impact their thought process and the ideas they are coming up with, and so the more smart people you can get involved, the better.
Who inspires you? Where do you get inspiration?
Ever since I was a little kid, I have always been inspired by music. In particular, musicians that are very passionate about what they do. The types of musicians that sound amazing on your iPod, but that truly blow you away when you see them live. When every single person in the room can literally FEEL the passion behind every single word. The movements, the facial expressions, the sweat dripping off their foreheads. Nothing inspires me more than seeing a real musician telling the true stories of their lives through their lyrics and melodies. Musicians that truly practice what they preach and believe in what they say. When it comes to passionate musicians, two bands immediately come to mind: The Avett Brothers & The Lone Bellow.
Are you working on anything creative outside of Break Content?
I recently started working on a piece called “Through Our Eyes”, which will be a global collaboration of more than 50 filmmakers in 50 different countries showing what a day in their life looks like. The final video will be a fast paced compilation of beautiful/interesting settings and situations around the world that could only be encountered by locals. We’re hoping to launch “Through Our Eyes” sometime this summer.
What advice would you give to someone in a creative field, or someone interested in following in your path?
In the words of the Avett Brothers, “Decide what to be and go be it”. These are words that I truly believe in and try to live my life by each day. Anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it and don’t give up. You want to be a filmmaker? Start making films! You want to be a doctor? Start studying medicine. You want to start your own company and be your own boss? Go out and do it! It’s just a matter of trusting your gut, believing in yourself, and not taking no for an answer. You only live once, so go for it!
Check out the Break Content site here to learn more: www.breakcontent.com