Where Are They Now? – Steve Cody, Peppercomm

“History is written by the winners.”

By Sarah Achler August 7, 2015

Steve Cody is the co-founder and CEO of Peppercomm, a strategic communications firm headquartered in NYC, and with offices in San Francisco, Boulder, and London. Peppercomm was named NYC’s top workplace by Crain’s New York Business in 2012, beating 930 organizations in the process. This recognition provided them with their 2013 rallying cry, “Nowhere to go but down.” Steve writes a column for Inc.com, publishes a daily blog called RepMan and has appeared on CNBC, MSNBC, NPR and a host of other top-tier media over the years.

We catch up with Steve to find out how his entrepreneurial journey has evolved in our latest installment of “Where Are They Now?”.

steve cody

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced since being featured on Trep Life: Season 2?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced since being featured on Trep Life is trying to stay one step ahead of the incredibly fast changes in the social and digital worlds. Our raison d’etre is helping clients see around the corner and anticipate what’s next. Staying current with the latest developments is one thing. Analyzing the new tools, technologies and channels, uncovering insights and then guiding clients on what strategic moves to make is a huge, ongoing challenge.

How has the Grind evolved since then?

The Grind has evolved in terms of our locating, hiring and retaining a whole new type of employee. We’ve rapidly evolved from a public relations-centric firm to a fully integrated strategic communications agency. As such, we’ve needed to hire programmers, project managers, designers, analysts, etc. It’s one thing to find those people, but it’s a real grind to figure out exactly what questions to ask in the interview process since I have no direct experience in any of these areas of specialization. Needless to say, I’ve had to educate myself at Mach speed (something I didn’t anticipate two years ago).

How has the Hustle evolved? Where were you spending your time then vs now…

The Hustle has changed in a fundamental way: Two years ago, I was focused solely on making sure Peppercomm was perceived as one of the top PR firms. Today, I’ve had to hustle to meet new influencers, new reporters, etc., and re-position us as a leading integrated communications firm. So, I’m striving to identify and engage with a whole new set of influencers.

BIG Picture: What are you Hustling to make happen right now?

I’m hustling right now to figure out what’s next, making sure we’re investing in the right technology to keep one step ahead of market trends and assuring that our new set of services are seamlessly aligned. That’s a tall order when our business is speeding along at 100 miles per hour.

What’s the biggest Payoff you’ve experienced since being featured?

I’ve been able to establish myself as a solid subject matter expert on the DNA of the entrepreneur. That’s critical since so many of our larger clients/prospects are desperately trying to connect with the entrepreneurial world. The Trep Life series provides us with huge credibility in new business pitches.

steve cody

What’s the biggest change/evolution that’s occurred (both personally and professionally)?

The biggest change personally is working even harder to create a work/life balance. Our business model has changed so dramatically that I need to keep a very close eye on what we’re doing well and where we need to improve. So, I have less time to decompress. The biggest change professionally is establishing credibility as an integrated communications thought leader. It’s required a crash course in which I’ve had countless subject matter experts within my firm educate me on our new offerings. That’s never, ever happened in the past.

Who inspires you and why?

I’ve always been inspired by Sir Winston Churchill since he consistently rose to the occasion, demonstrated fearless leadership yet mixed easily with the common man. He also possessed an amazing wit. I can’t say that any one individual today inspires me.

If you were a character on Breaking Bad who would you be and why?

I’d definitely be Saul, the lawyer (as in “Better call Saul”). I chose Saul because, although he’s one sleazy individual, he invariably provides Jessy and Walter with spot-on advice and genuinely enjoys his line of work. I’d like to think that, sleaziness aside, I’m pretty good at doing just that: providing clients with sound advice while having a blast doing so.

What’s your current theme song?

Don’t Stop Believing.” It gets me through the toughest times and motivates me to try even harder to succeed each, and every, day.

Recent/favorite quote (Words of Wisdom):

I’d have to revert to Churchill again. He said, “History is written by the winners.” That’s so true. If entrepreneurs want to create a lasting business and create a legacy, they need to stay focused on winning at all times. No one remembers Blackberry or MySpace. Nor do they pay attention to statements made by me-too players in any field.