Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
Hi everyone my name is Claude Zdanow. I am the founder and CEO of Stadiumred Group, a marketing and communications holding company, which owns and operates agencies in the United States and Amsterdam. I grew the Stadiumred brand from its first business Stadiumred Studios (associated with 30 Grammy Nominated Projects and 22 Awards) to now a powerhouse in the marketing and advertising world. My passion lies in helping effect positive change in all those with whom I work with. I was born and raised in New York, spending most of my time traveling to and from New York and Los Angeles, CA, but I consider myself a citizen of the world. I started my first music production studio when I was 15 years old, in the basement of my parents’ home in Long Island, and have since grown into the global serial entrepreneur I am today. From classical music with Yo-Yo Ma and The Chicago Symphony to hip-hop and rap working with Drake and Eminem, I have had the honor of working with amazing artists ranging across all genres.
What exactly does your company do?
What first started as Stadiumred Studios, has since expanded to Stadiumred Group, the holding company for multiple successful businesses within the Stadiumred brand. These include Stadiumred Music Publishing, Stadiumred Life & Stadiumred Europe.
I think the biggest thing that makes us stand out is the intersectional thinking that is a result of having such a diverse team across our companies combined with how we leverage our relationships to help our mission of making positive change happen for our clients. I’m not formally trained in marketing and many of our team members come from non-agency backgrounds. This combined with a traditional agency approach to the other parts of our team really brings a unique approach to what we do. We like to create win-win marketing situations where there is a ton of value extracting from a relationship or tactic that is unique to us for our clients.
An example of this was when we were able to create an alignment where DropCar started offering FIJI home delivery for sale through their app and in people’s cars when they were getting them back. FIJI was looking to promote and support their home delivery service of water in New York City and DropCar had customers throughout New York City who were paying a monthly fee to park their cars with them. The synergy we created by leveraging both brands to help one another resulted in a huge uplift for FIJI, as well as a talked about value-add experience for DropCar Customers.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
There have been many big challenges in my career, but I think the biggest one was the transition from music to marketing. Saying goodbye to Stadiumred Studios was one of the most bittersweet moments in my life. It was incredibly hard, but also the right thing to do it in the end. It took a lot of time to accept that it was right because I loved that place, what we had, and the people who worked there. Eventually, I just realized that it would always be a part of who I am and what the Stadiumred brand is, but it did not have to define it. It was when I realized that, that I was about to move forward.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
I think my biggest piece of advice would be to set an ostentatious goal, but then focus on the steps in front of you. It’s not about having a straight line to get there, but it is about taking the first step.
I don’t think any entrepreneur would say they would have known they would be where they are today so many years ago. Building a business is about taking punches, moving left or right, hitting back, and then seeing where you land. Then you figure out where to go from there. I look at much of my life as an organic progression and because it is your life, there will always be a string and connection between all the things you’ve done and how they have helped get you to where you are. Bottomline is, you just have to go out and do it. The rest will fall into place if you have perseverance, if you are humble, and you surround yourself with people who are smarter and more successful than you because let me tell you something, there always is someone smarter and/or more successful than you.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
I admire many people and I am influenced by almost everyone I meet. I was on a panel once with Hal Gregersen from MIT who said that some people innovate by taking the bits and pieces they learn from those around them and combine them to create something better and new. I really believe that to be the case and to be the source of my success.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
There are so many, but particularly I have to call out my father, my family, my wife, and many friends. Especially Ben Kaufman, Joshua Sason, Matthew Feldman, and Jared Yerian.
There is something to be said about putting your energy into the world and visualizing where you want to go. In general, I think success is achieved mostly through hard work with an element of humility and a desire to learn. Connections are so important, but it takes hard work to nurture those relationships, build them, to begin with, and they know how to capitalize on them. I’d say that hard work is at the center of everything with a true openness and willingness to always be learning and trying to be better. The rest follows.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
So far, that I’m still here! ha. In all seriousness, the fact that I can do what I love every day and live a great life is what drives me. There will always be awards and accolades, but success is loving what you do and the life you have every single day.
How can people contact you?
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