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Growing as a Data Analyst, questions to ask stakeholders, and personal development

MindSpeaking Podcast Episode 3 - Jason Krantz, CEO Strategy Titan, expert in Data & Analytics

▶️ Watch the podcast with video on YouTube:


0:00 Introduction

0:24 Introduction of Guest

2:55 Who was Jason Krantz in High School

6:37 Motivation in Life

9:44 The process of Jason’s mountain and how it changed

14:48 How to Create a Data-Driven Culture

19:52 Organizing Data Teams

25:19 Jason’s Tactical Recommendation

38:37 Combing All His Activities

45:12 Meaning behind “Make it a Great Day”

49:24 Scariest Decision Jason has taken

55:50 Jason’s company: Strategy Titan

58:13 Rapid Fire Questions

01:12:19 Closing

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Introducing Jason Krantz

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: I'm excited for today because today we have Jason Krantz as a guest on the show. And Jason is the founder and CEO of strategy Titan. It's a data analytics company that helps organizations grow their top and bottom line with data. He earned his MBA from the University of Notre DOM and he has more than 10 years of experience in business analytics, data science, and strategic leadership. He was recognized as a top 40 under 40 in 2017. And so you should be excited for this episode because Jason has some great insights you will hear about how to build a data-driven culture, how to communicate to business stakeholders, how to deal with change and setbacks, and also three powerful reframes. To summarize lots of lessons for your career, and even for your personal life. So I hope you enjoy this episode. Enjoy. Jason, welcome. I'm so excited to talk to you again.

Who was Jason Krantz in High School

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: I noticed something that that you're passionate about as well. And if we're talking about development, we're talking about a process from start to the end and here you are the kind of end product or not add product tomorrow you will be different, but I will also want to go back to back to your earlier life. So I'm very curious to hear who was Jason Krantz in high school?

Jason Krantz: Yeah, Jason Krantz in High School was an interesting individual. Most of us, looking back and like who is that person but there were a number of attributes that really crystallized at that time. In my life. And for me, the sport was a massive impact on my life. It actually is the foundation for kind of my growth mindset today. In a quick story on that, I was when I was in high school, I did all sports, you know, cross country football. NFL ball track, just everything basketball. And then the track was one of my favorites. And I did the half mile in the mile because my dad did that. So one day, we had a meet the coach goes, Hey, do whatever you want. I'm like, Oh, I'm gonna do the 100 200 400 and I never ran those races before. And then went to random and essentially a reinstate qualifying times the first time ever running. Because it's like Jason, where the heck did that come from? Like, I don't know. I don't know where it came from. No clue. So it goes okay, you're done running the half-mile we're putting in the 100 200. And so what I realized is, and this is one of the things I talk about a lot, and beginners try a lot of things to see what you're good at because you might find you're really good at something naturally. And for me, what it was is I'm like, Well, I really liked this, this race matches like it's exciting. It's fun. good at it. Let's keep training for that. And I kept wanting to get better and better and better and better. But the thing was, I didn't know how to train. I had no idea how to train. So long story short, I went and I reached out to some college coaches that were like, Hey, by NCAA rules, we can't give you a tech program, and here's a program that we share. If you execute on this program, this is the same program as college teams, Olympians will execute. But you got to do it you just got to do it. So I had a plan. And they're like, you just got to do it. But as you know, just doing it is often the hardest part. And so what I did was at this early juncture in my life, I realized that if getting the plan is the first perfect you got to do the day in day out stuff that's really mundane and really boring. To get good so that when championship season shows up, you're ready. You're ready physically, mentally, emotionally, you walk to the line knowing I've done the work that I need to do to be prepared for this and then that mindset just taught me that if you get a good plan, execute, and you do it on a consistent basis and seek constant improvement. That's the central theme, constant improvement. You'll naturally hit your limit but you can realize your maximum potential and that forms the foundation of my attitude in life, just constant growth constantly seeking how do we get better getting guidance from others working with people like you to refine certain aspects of you know, in this case, communication or leadership or whatever it may be. And the thing is, is that that was a valuable life lesson. transcends work. It applies to sport, your personal life, your professional life, really any area of life, that core idea can be applied in pretty much any environment. So for me, that was the Foundation Young Jason, it did certain things that are principles I still use 20 years later.

Motivation in Life

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: How do you think those people that don't have those experiences still can still adopt the mindset or can still motivate themselves to get going to execute like you're saying?

Jason Krantz: Absolutely. So you're absolutely correct. My story is unique to me. But that's the great thing is that the core theme is challenging. You're trying to climb a mountain. All of us have a mountain we're trying to climb. For you. It might be a technical proficiency or speaking with a skill you want to develop a relationship you want to cultivate whatever it is, all of us have won and if we don't, we should have. Because being complacent with the status quo is a very dangerous thing. And there's nothing wrong with that. But at least for me, the type of people I like to surround myself with are people that are striving for better and not complacent with the status quo. Now to bring it back to your original question, yeah, the sprinting is unique and new. Few people get to that level but all of us have something we want to do either now or in the future. We've got that vision and so it becomes okay, I've got that vision does not only do we have one now we probably have one in the past that even if we failed in it, you can still learn from I actually I'm a firm believer, I wouldn't have believed this even 10 years ago. I have found as a mature in life, that the best learning experiences genuinely come from losing and failing. The key is that we actually take the time to look back at why did that happen? What could I have done better? What did I learn? What can I change for the future? For me, failure is actually a very critical set. The key is we got to be willing to learn. This is one of the things that I see even in the entrepreneurial. I did this myself. You want to mitigate risk so much that you don't actually do it. And then you just sit there, right? There's nothing. I did it myself. I still do it. But it's looking at saying that like let's be smart to be systematic. Let's mitigate as much risk as possible. Let's also accept the reality. Things might go. But that's not the end. It's not as long as we learn from it, because it's just one step closer, one step closer.

Culture & Data-Driven Culture

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: It's it's much easier to make decisions that are leading to short-term comfort instead of long-term discomfort. And that's why I believe this is so difficult but also rewarding to climb the mountain the first device defined once your mountain that you want to climb, and you also touch upon culture, something that you talk about, and what have you learned about the culture and creating a data-driven culture. Do you have any thoughts on how other leaders in the industry can achieve that?

Jason Krantz: I feel very passionately about is that it's for being blunt, I'd say it's impossible really influenced truly influence culture, as a CEO or something like that. If you're sitting on the sidelines, you got to be front and center. With their business. They gotta be able to trust you know, how are you going to make my life better, easier helped me make better decisions faster with more confidence, things like that because I started out my career in an IT realm technical realm, data engineering, architecture, things like that. And I'll never forget this. There was like one time I was sitting down with the VP of sales at this organization, and he wanted things a certain way. And you know what this gentleman comes to me says, Listen, you're the technical guy. Focus on the technical stuff and what that taught me was, nobody's ever going to listen to me, I cannot influence the change that I want to see if I'm sitting here on the sideline and a technical really need to get in front of the business. And that's where I really made a strong commitment to getting whatever we were doing with that analytics and being anchored in the business or being a very close business. partner to where they consider appearing equal in somebody that should be consulted when trying to make decisions. And we're just saying, Hey, we're here to help. And so, as we get to this theme of culture, it's still something that I fundamentally believe my personal perspective is, I'm general management professional. I run businesses to help improve the p&l, you know, those key general management objectives. Just like me and my team just happen to be really good with that and analytics. And that's a reframe, of being done analytics to drive decision-making. What I'm saying are no more business professionals who are really good at this stuff. What that does is that simple reframe. I found that business people tend to look at us as peers. Now immediately, because we're talking business. We're talking p&l, we're talking sales growth. And marketing, supply chain operations, all the things that they talked about, but then we bring in the data stuff when it's needed. So it's a language shift, that we're not talking about all the technical stuff because they don't, they don't care. Frankly, they don't care. They want results. It's like the analogy I use and I use really stupid analogies on purpose. Because people remember them. When people are focusing on dad I go, Hey, you know, you ever order play the sausage or something like that? When you ordered you ask them how they make it. Like, why would I do that? I know exactly why you tell people about how your data solution works. They don't care to think they really don't care. They just want the sausage. They just want the application. They just want to make better decisions faster, or with more confidence. And that simple reframe is like I when I'm coaching people, it's like, don't tell them how the sausage is made, don't care. And so as we get to the theme of culture, this is what I coach my team on is horrible clients in advising them solutions, solution solutions, like one other quick story, I had this brilliant young applied mathematician who was doing a pricing program and so I had and practices and I'm the Executive kitchen you say well, the R squared has been and blah, blah, blah, blah, just trying to get well the flux capacitor is the like, again. You've got two sentences to tell me business sense what this means if you know me, this is a panther this is part of the culture we have right I make fun but it's in good spirits. Like you're almost there. I got executives, it's like you can take price increases and mitigate your customer, your customer risk of like losing customers to price increases because their strategic pricing policy like now you have my attention. Now, walk me through why you got the hook that you're holding. Now it now feeds me and lets me ask the questions because now you're doing that in my turn. So rather, and this is a core concept I've talked about a lot, right like when I teach my teams don't push the rope, create that end demand and let them pull towards you. So create something that resonates in their language for the CEO, margin, and revenue but with minimal risk. I'm interested in how you're going to do that. Then you walk into the next step. Okay, well, how are you going to do that? So so it's, it's something you talked about in your book too, which is being very strategic and sequential, and how you choose to deliver the information.

Organizing Data Professionals or Teams in Wider Business Context

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: It's important to speak their language because otherwise, you've got such a big gap between the business view data, and how should we organize organizations organize data professional data teams or individual data professionals in the wider business companies. Do you believe in centralization decentralization what's your view?

Jason Krantz: I would say it depends, as always, it totally depends. For me, the biggest variable is company size and the maturity of bigger companies. That has more resources that give you more capabilities for small organizations, and small and mid-sized organizations tend to be lighter in resources. That centralized model where you just got, you know, an extension of the IT team, but they're, they're based in the business I think, is very to me. If I'm putting a team together, you've got to have some core technical capabilities in terms of data engineering, or whatever it is, but you can outsource those reliably. What I think is a lot harder to find is somebody who's business savvy enough to be able to speak and interact with the business, but then also knows what to do with it. So like you know, whenever I'm building teams, the first person I'm looking for is a really good business analyst. I'm looking for that lower and mid-level. A really good business analyst. I actually really like working with finance professionals, FPA professionals, because a lot of times they already have the business and financial knowledge, which is the foundation for executive communication. And they're already ingrained in so many components of the strategic planning process that I can usually quickly teach them or my team can usually quickly teach them the technical stuff, especially with the plethora of tools we have today. Where 10 years ago you had not programmed all this stuff today. There are so many tools that just make it plug and play. And then for the really heavy stuff, either, you know, if push comes to shove, I can do it. But usually, it's my team and or working with like some external resource where it's you know, it's somebody brought in to do a very specific challenge we have to deal with architecture, you know, architecture for a client, who they use in house talent, are you somebody that we've used before that we know and trust that gets, you know, we know how they operate and that cadence. So that's all that long-winded run around to get to whenever I do it because I am a very firm believer that even with the best infrastructure and visualizations and blah, blah, blah, the breakdown happens if you can't connect with the business and get them to see the value of it. So I make my first bets in building those relationships and communication channels. And trust the business because that takes a long time. It can take a long time to earn that trust. And this is all the soft stuff that a lot of people don't talk about in the technical world. They think the tech solution alone in we've talked about a lot bridges the gap that's in my mind, the essence of that is that we're trying to work on building that gap by taking our team into going to their site because that's all that we can control. Right talk all day about data literacy and they need Yes, that is a completely legitimate point. We can't control it. So we're looking at the fundamental relationship, human relationships, one on one, I want to make the first out of each. I want to show that we're here to help you do better now when we extend that branch. Chances are if we do it, right, they're gonna want to meet us in the middle. Most people do. And now what we can do is say listen, we can help you or really accelerate this, as we build up a little bit more data literacy. Here are some ways that we can do that or whatever it is. But rather than saying you need to be that literate, yawn and push the blame when and it's easy to do. It's really easy to do. But this is where it's back to the theme of reflection. And this stuff again, that I talked about because I think it's really important. A lot of us don't do it, myself included. I'm the first one. I'll say I'm the first one but I'm working at getting better with it. And I found that by doing this, it improves all the other stuff that we're doing along the way and that's why to bring it back to kind of life lessons, right. These are general life lessons, but they apply in the business world. But to get back to your point of where do we deploy people we've gotten all over the place is that's kind of the logic in the line. Because there's a deeper way and I think the understanding of the logic there when you really peel back the onion, I think a lot of people could relate to it. And also, by clearly communicating that we're doing this to help you in this way. People naturally gravitate towards you building trust and when trust comes honest communication to me, that's been the backbone of my personal and professional success.

Jason’s Tactical Recommendation

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Many data professionals are frustrated because they see that business people are not using their dashboard or their insights. But not everyone has asked themselves What Can I Do you know what can I change what's within my circle of influence? I like what you said about that.

Jason Krantz: Here's a tactical recommendation I made for people that are experiencing it. I'm actually doing it right now with a new product. I've created some dashboards, whatever it is, take it to your customer. say like, Hey, you would really mean a lot to me to keep working on this and give them permission to eat it up. Like I want you to stress this now what you've done this you've opened the door for their honest feedback and non-conflict centric with that, they're gonna be like Why asking for my opinion? Okay, I'll do that. Right. It's a simple reframe, to reframe dance. But again, what you're doing is you're giving them permission you're asking for permission. And then if they agree to do it, they know that they can give you the honest feedback, because if you don't give them that permission to go back, oh, yeah, it's good. Like this is crap. Ask for permission, ask for it and be willing to accept the feedback. Not the negative tone, but think about it. This is the voice of the customer is the customer telling me how I can make my product or my solution better for them.

Jason’s company: Strategy Titan

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: I'm very happy to see I've seen your growth with strategy Titan. And I'm also curious what's going to be what's on that list? What's going to be the future for strategy Tyson and yourself

Jason Krantz: We got some good stuff coming. So we got a number of things that are coming out with strategy Titan. The first one is the educational platform that we had originally slated for mid this year. It got pushed back for a number of reasons and we're preparing to release that probably in q1 of this year. Additionally, I cannot disclose

specifically many things we've talked about here leadership, communication, data strategy, business strategy, and how all of these things like labor. We also have our labor can save products labor type coming out. This was our original business model, and I'm not gonna lie it's really good. I'm biased but everybody we showed it to in our betas like there's how weird this like I was this is what we do. It gets to the theme of making this information, incredibly easy to access, very easy to understand if you can actually do something with it. Right. That's one of the big problems with labor data. A lot of great stuff out there but there's a lot of friction to consume now. We're gonna solve that problem. Then there are just a plethora of other things in terms of partnerships that we're working on, and relationships that we're looking to develop, you know, individuals like yourself that are well known and respected and very good. But we've got a lot of stuff cooking in the thing. Is, is we're obsessed with customers. So this is customers telling us that paying customers right? Because one thing for somebody to tell you if you had a paying customer telling you this and you got something pretty good so it's just exciting to see what we had originally. envisioned. coming to life during the pandemic was put off, but now coming to life, it's immensely exciting in unbelievably invigorating, I wake up every day like ready to run through walls.

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