Personal brand is becoming more ubiquitous in the social media age. But, what if your market is incredibly niche and doesn’t have a lot of public facing content currently? How do you leverage a personal brand in that circumstance? Kyle Kruse of Global Interconnect is on the show this week discussing how to create and leverage a personal brand in just that situation. Developing conversations and excitement around the Medtech industry. Get on your brand game!
Playing the Long Game Through Passion and Personal Brand Transcript:
Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White.
Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how you doing, sir?
Carman Pirie: Doing well. Doing well. How you doing?
Jeff White: I’m doing great. Thanks. It’s a gorgeous Friday afternoon here in sunny Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. Now, people are gonna think that we are paid by the Department of Tourism or something here, because-
Jeff White: We tried that before we were a focused agency, to get work with them, and I recall it didn’t really work out.
Carman Pirie: That’s not why we’re here.
Jeff White: No, it’s not.
Carman Pirie: If we were here just to try to sell Nova Scotia, that would be easy. We’re here to do hard work today.
Jeff White: Exactly right. I think it’s an interesting topic, too. We’ve had a few folks on the show before… Eddie Saunders Jr. comes to mind, Meaghan Ziemba, you know, a couple others, who have really taken this approach that them integrating themselves with the kind of products that their employer manufactures, and becoming a bit of a personal brand within that space, it’s a tough thing to do, and I think you have to have a certain personality type to really be successful with it, as well, but I may just be kind of thinking about it in a biased way.
Carman Pirie: Well, I don’t know. Yeah, and I think people… It seems to me that the people that we’ve seen take this approach, maybe there are some different patterns, but you know, even Mike Nager from Festo has a bit of a personal brand in that space. Of course, I’m trying to remember another previous guest that had claimed that he was… I believe the 48th or so most influential person in the flexible packaging industry. So, people do take different approaches, and I find that’s why it’s interesting to kind of explore, because I don’t think there’s one path to success here.
Jeff White: No. For sure. I mean, if you were going to hold up the example that I think a lot of people in the marketing world would use would be Gary Vaynerchuk, of course, kind of leveraging his personal brand into a bit of an empire, but…
Carman Pirie: I suppose. Yeah.
Jeff White: Yeah.
Carman Pirie: Certainly, that’s an example of personal brand kind of leapfrogging the actual business brand, which is I don’t think what we’re dealing with here, but I don’t… Maybe we are.
Jeff White: I can’t see the future.
Carman Pirie: Exactly.
Jeff White: I don’t know what’s coming.
Carman Pirie: Anyway, let’s jump into it here.
Jeff White: Yeah. Exactly. So, joining us today is Kyle Kruse. Kyle is the VP of Marketing at Global Interconnect. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Kyle.
Kyle Kruse: Awesome, Jeff. Thanks so much, Carman. Appreciate it. It’s great to be here today.
Carman Pirie: It’s awesome to have you on the show, Kyle. Look, tell us a bit about Global Interconnect. Listeners want to know a bit about you and a bit about the firm.
Kyle Kruse: Sure. Absolutely. My pleasure. Global Interconnect is a contract manufacturing partner in the medical device manufacturing industry, and our niche focus is really on energy-driven therapeutic technologies, so helping design, develop, and manufacture medical devices such as catheters, scopes, and probes, and these are all used in lifesaving, life-improving procedures, and our focus within that industry really revolves around custom engineered connectors, cables, and complex electromechanical assemblies that make up the entire device.
Carman Pirie: Well, I’m just gonna… I don’t know that that’s necessarily a category that people typically would associate with, “Oh, I bet there’s a marketer establishing a bit of a personal brand within that space.” It’s very technical.
Jeff White: Very niche.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Very niche. So, Kyle, I guess give us a peek under the hood. What are you doing with this, The Medtech Impact Podcast, and this notion of the Medtech missile personal brand?
Kyle Kruse: Sure thing, Carman. Yeah. Well, you know, I kind of stumbled across Global Interconnect a little over eight years ago, and when I found them I saw a really talented company, but to your point, guys, just really small and niche. But a company that could make a huge impact and provide some significant outcomes in an industry. So much potential. And I started on the sales side, and for a very small company, the sales teams are typically small, and at one point when I looked around I was in one of the last man standing types of situations. But it was an incredible experience for me and what I think it takes is a special level of interest, and passion, and patience, and resiliency. I mean, medtech is a really, really tough industry to work in.
And to your point, Carman, yeah, you’ve gotta be pretty technical, but you also have to understand the business side of things. Very important. And for me, I think both of those kind of came together in my favor, and I’m not even an engineer by any means, but my family, and people in my life, and my friends, and my colleagues around me, and immersing myself in this industry. I mean, it’s really… It kind of helped build all the qualities and traits that I think it takes for someone to really succeed, and these eight years really flew by, and it wasn’t until really a couple years ago when the pandemic hit, and cold calling, outreach, people were at home, working from home more than ever. To me, it’s like people were so unsure about the future, where it was going, what was gonna happen even to them and their own jobs, it’s like they were hiding almost in a way, right? It made it almost impossible to really start to have meaningful conversations, and even stand out, and that’s really… You know, my background and interest has always kind of even from a young child growing up, I’ve always been passionate about marketing, sales, and I’ve loved actually the production side of business.
And I always wanted to have my own show. It was a dream to be a late night talk show. Still is today. I’d love to do that. I mean, come on. If I could have my own late night show and be… You know, I grew up with David Letterman, all those guys, and they were the best, and still to this day aspire to be them. But for now, here I am making videos and kind of really what I’m trying to do is create more of an awareness around the medical device industry, what it has to offer, and the incredible technologies that are coming to market. And when you think about it, these companies are developing these products over five, 10, 15 years before they even make it to market.
You know, you think about any business, any industry out there, and typically the path to revenue and success, or ultimate failure, kind of comes a lot quicker, right? In medical device, really not so much. And then after you spend all that time building that business and technology, then it’s kind of like, “Boom. Oh, well, now I can sell my product on the market and actually talk about it, and actually try and sell it to hospitals, and people.” And now that’s like a whole new undertaking, right? Because now you gotta develop this trust, this reputation, this brand. You have to establish rapport with doctors, hospitals. I mean, and then patients. Think about us. You and I. When something happens to you, Carman or Jeff, you go to the doctor and they say, “Oh, this is what’s going on.” What do you say? You say, “Well, what do I need? What do you recommend I do?”
Because us patients, we don’t really know. And at the end of the day, we obviously do need to let the doctor be the one to tell us, right? But we should also know what’s available for us and what’s out there. The latest and the greatest, right? So, for me, my inspiration comes from building awareness, helping companies be seen, technologies to be heard of, and learned about by pretty much everyone. And kind of that is really the main purpose and point of my Missile Medtech Minutes.
Jeff White: So, what kind of things are you doing on there? I mean, I think one of the things that’s interesting about your take on the industry and your passion for it, which is obvious, that sales and kind of quasi-engineering role that you would have had at the beginning there gets you deeply into and understanding what it takes to make these projects come to life, right? So, what are you doing with the videos with the Missile Medtech Minutes to promote the industry and kind of raise awareness of what’s coming? Because I have to think it would be pretty scary to spend 15 years launching something you don’t know the market really needs to buy it.
Kyle Kruse: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Spot on, Jeff. Really, like I said, I kind of initially started back in 2020 focusing primarily on helping and talking specifically about medical devices, very specific devices, the companies, the people that are building them, and you know, obviously as I’ve immersed myself into the industry and learned more and more, now I’m in a position where I can provide some insights. It’s fun to provide and share my perspective and thoughts that are so unique. I am so much more different than anyone you will ever meet in this industry. I’m almost like the black sheep, in a way. It’s like I always take the road less traveled, you know? When people zig, I zag. I spice things up.
And I share perspectives that are bold and that are the future, and I try to really… You know, create excitement, and inspire people, right? So, that’s really the main focus there in what I’m doing. And the hope here is that I can continue to build upon these videos and these conversations, which is why we started the Medtech Impact Podcast. And it’s a more in-depth kind of intimate conversation with these founders, giving them the opportunity to tell their stories and experiences, and it’s also led me to have the opportunity to be the master of ceremony with the M2-D2 Accelerator incubator program out of UMass Lowell. Hands down, one of the most impressive incubators really in the world, with some of the greatest companies, like Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, CONMED, Hologic, right? Supporting these incubators.
And it allows me to now be the face of some of these competitions and challenges that they put on. And it’s fun watching all of this flourish. And you know, honestly, it’s really a privilege and an honor too at the same time, you know? Because everyone around me, they’re so much smarter. They’re so much more talented. And I’m the hype man.. I’m the excited guy. I’m here to root you on. I know the grind. I see these guys doing it firsthand. There’s companies that are still trying to bring products to market today that I met when I first started in this industry.
I mean, it’s wild.
Carman Pirie: Okay, so everybody loves having a hype man. That’s fine. But not every company is okay with somebody out there maybe sharing contrary points of view, or being a bit provocative, or what have you. I’m curious. How have you gotten the elbow room, if you will, to do this? How have you gotten the permission?
Kyle Kruse: Well, you know, it’s interesting, Carman, and it’s a great question, and something that I have to keep kind of in the front of my mind with everything I do and say. So, one, I don’t work for those companies. Two, I’m not… I’m very open. A lot of these technologies aren’t FDA cleared or FDA approved. And three, when I do talk about them I’m mainly using language that is already on their website today, right? It’s already what they’re talking about. It’s just me in a more entertaining manner and fashion of presenting that information, right?
So, I think I’ve done a good job at kind of navigating through those potential challenges, and roadblocks, and I’ve never had anyone reach out to me and say, “Hey, please take that down. We don’t want you talking about us like that.” Because I do it with, I think a level of respect and professionalism as well as fun.
Jeff White: Probably doesn’t hurt that you’ve developed this somewhat so it’s a little bit more well known, where there may not be that many kind of people taking this tack within the medtech industry. You have an opportunity to stand out and be known, so that’s probably helping your messaging. I’m wondering, though, when you had the genesis of this idea and wanted to talk about these things, what did Global Interconnect say and how did you present it to them? What do they think now?
Kyle Kruse: Well, you know, it’s funny because every… You’re right. Every day I have to really try and help educate my team, my leaders, everyone around me in my company and organization on the importance and the significance a personal brand can have for a company and an industry. And you know, when you’re doing things that aren’t really talking about your product, your solution day in and day out, and you’re talking about mainly what’s going on in the industry, and these devices, and these companies, it’s kind of like, “Well, when are you gonna sell and market connectors and cable assemblies?” And we have our ways of doing that. I do plenty of that and we do plenty of that in the form of blogs, and whitepapers, and posts, and other types of videos, right? Check out Cooking Up Connectors. It will rock your world, okay. You can Google it. You can go on YouTube. You’ve never seen a marketing video that’s educational, information, and entertaining like something like this, right?
But back to personal brand, that’s the long game. That’s where people buy from people at the end of the day. I wholeheartedly believe in that. People want to do business with the person that they’re talking to, that they’re working with, that they’ve learned to know and trust over the years. And that’s what the Missile Medtech Minutes are doing and starting to really create for Global Interconnect. Because again, think about medical device, right?
If you’re gonna change your medical device, you’re gonna invest millions of dollars to do that, and you’re gonna take a chance in whoever that partner is to make sure that they do a great job at the highest quality and they can perform to the level of standards that these leading OEMs kind of hold their partners to. And the reason why is because these are devices, again, that are literally used in lifesaving, life-improving procedures. There’s very little room for error and just changing a connector and cable assembly on a device, that’s a big deal. Because if that goes wrong, and there’s a problem in the field, in the market, there goes sales. There goes people’s lives. There goes jobs and doctor reputations. That’s a big deal.
And you know, they want to know that they’re working with someone who truly cares. As much as they’re great at their craft and what they do, but they genuinely care so much about this industry.
Carman Pirie: I think you’re doing a pretty good job of selling me on this. I’m trying to put myself in the position of being the CEO there and kind of thinking about how I would feel about this initiative, and I think you’re right. This notion of playing the long game and people buy from people, this all makes sense to me. I’m curious, however. Is there any concern or has there ever been any mention about what happens if Kyle leaves?
Kyle Kruse: I think as a leader, I’m so blessed because Stephen Bates our owner, founder, CEO, he started the business almost 30 years ago, and if you guys knew my story, and there’s this really cool… I was blessed to be on the Sales Success Stories with Scott Ingram, an amazing guy. I got to share my story on how I got into sales, my background, and really how I got into Global Interconnect, which is definitely a story for another time, but Stephen ultimately gave me a chance. And you know, he was like, “You know what? Let’s see what happens here.” Right?
But he always kind of inspired me to make decisions on my own, and take action, take initiative, and then over the years I was able to kind of build this go-to-market strategy, build process, implement tools, and then most importantly build a team around me to go out and recruit some of the most incredible people, the most capable people, that I truly believe… I have two sales guys that work at Global Interconnect right now. Both of them are 10 times better at selling than I am. So, is Global Interconnect in a bad place if Kyle ever leaves? Absolutely not, because you know what? They got a team behind them that can absolutely keep that business thriving, right?
But now my goal is to take it to that next level. To think really about long-term bigger picture vision. And so, I don’t think Stephen, and I don’t think the company or the organization… In a good way, right? I don’t think that… They might miss me, for sure. They would miss me maybe, but they’d be alright.
Carman Pirie: It doesn’t sound like they’re too worried about it. It just sounds like it’s just not the kind of thing that the company is particularly concerned about, that maybe it boils down to just that. Is it in your DNA to be concerned about something like this or not? Do you typically encourage your employees to-
Jeff White: Think a little broader.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. And to kind of develop their own point of view and their own personal brand. Are you the kind of leader that’s okay with that or does everything have to be done in lock step and done for the company? Kind of in that… You know, in almost a white label sense. And yeah, I think in your answer, I think it kind of just tells me that maybe it just boils down to that kind of CEO attitude, and it sounds like you have a pretty strong connection there.
Jeff White: I think there’s an element of you can’t discount this element of trust, you know, that Stephen obviously has in what you’re building, and also I think there’s a certain amount of rigor in allowing you to build a team around you that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts so that there’s redundancy, and there’s knowledge, and they’re seeing what you’re doing, and my guess is it kind of encourages people to want… You know, who have the right personality, but generally if sales guys are really good they would have that type of personality a lot of times, but to kind of follow in your footsteps a little bit and help to grow on what you’re building and using this strategy. So, I think it’s pretty interesting, and it’s inspiring to hear about a CEO willing to take those kinds of risks and put the trust in you.
Kyle Kruse: Yeah. Jeff, thanks. And if I could add to that too, people are obviously the number one asset for pretty much any company or organization, right? Everyone always says that. So, I think that’s another reason why it’s like, “You know, well then if you value people so much and you’re really proud, and you believe so much in the people that you have, well, then give them a voice. Give them a presence within the industry. Put them out there. Expose them. Let people know.” Because again, like I said earlier, people want to do business with not just great companies, but making sure that great people at these companies, and while not everyone’s going to be open to creating a personal brand, or they don’t really see it, they don’t understand it, they don’t see it, I think someone like me and what my mission is now at this juncture is I want to help highlight and showcase people throughout our organization even more than ever by leveraging the , and by also, outside of just the , but creating content that is inspired by all the people at Global Interconnect, and in all of these different departments.
Because yes, we do a great job at designing and building cables and connectors, right? But the logistics side of our business is rock solid, and that’s so important. On-time deliveries, having really efficient logistics, and supporting companies on annual purchase orders of hundreds of thousands if not millions of components a year, knowing that the deliveries can’t be late because that’s revenue. All of that, right? So, I create content about the investments that our director of procurement, our chief operating officer and president, what they’re doing for the company and how they’re looking to drive improvements throughout the organization. And if I can put them in the spotlight and show how great they are, and what they’re bringing to Global, and how they’re making Global better for our customers, that’s also a big opportunity I see.
And I think that the company is starting to see that, but this all takes work, right? And you’re always gonna get concern, and some frustration, and you know what? Listen. It hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies trying to do this. I’ve gotten my pushback. But it also takes someone who is gonna be able to make a decision, and be decisive, and say, “You know what? I understand your concern. But I know this is for the greater good and I’m gonna keep doing it.” And although maybe sometimes they don’t entirely agree, what they do agree with is someone who isn’t afraid to take action and make it happen, right?
Carman Pirie: I think that characteristic is probably the one that in some ways to me defines the folks that have been most successful at this strategy. There seems to be a… Folks that are really good at this have a level of optimism and determination that maybe is a few levels higher than the average person. So, I guess my message to the listeners is if you’re thinking about heading down this path, if you check the determination and optimism box, you’re probably well on your way.
Kyle Kruse: I would agree with that.
Jeff White: Kyle, what are you thinking… What’s coming next for the MedTech Missile?
Kyle Kruse: Well, as I mentioned, more events, and the podcast, and being on podcasts like this, too. Very important. Just finding new and unique ways of putting yourself out there but staying true to the brand, too. And you know, I just got back from DeviceTalks Boston. I was there the last couple days. And I want to give a shoutout to Tom, I think his last name is Salemi, but this guy, he is just an inspiration. The types of conversations and information he brought to the industry through conversations with Mike Mahoney, CEO of Boston Scientific, Tom Polen, the CEO of Becton, Dickinson. I mean, these are real intimate stories, but with these big, massive visions, and it’s like what he’s doing, that’s kind of… I want to join him in this mission.
You know, because the medtech industry is still very small, and there’s so much room for growth. I think this actually could… Medtech and medical device, these energy-driven therapeutic devices, bioelectronic medicine, right? Imagine taking a drug every day to treat atrial fibrillation, or COPD, right? Or being able to have an outpatient procedure done where they go in and they deliver an energy to a part of your lung, or a part of your heart that might mitigate or even eliminate the need to take a daily medication. I mean, that’s something to be excited about. The impact and the outcomes that are on the verge of happening in this world are just remarkable, so I just want to continue to just put myself out there and I’m open to it all.
Carman Pirie: Kyle, it’s been awesome to have you on the show. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and frankly for making me more excited about where the medtech industry is going. I’m more excited now for what devices are going to be released in the coming years than I ever thought I would be, so that’s very cool.
Jeff White: You mean when you need them.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Well, I don’t know, man. I feel like I’m well past my expiry at this point anyway, but we’ll see. We’ll see.
Kyle Kruse: Carman, thank you so much. It really was a pleasure, and Jeff, this is awesome. I just hope I can help inspire others to pursue trying to build out and execute on a personal brand. And of course, if anyone, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, if anyone ever has any questions on maybe how to do that, or they want some ideas, they want to brainstorm, whatever it is, I’m around. I’m available. Reach out to me on LinkedIn. Kyle Kruse. The MedTech Missile on Instagram. And we’ll talk.
Jeff White: Sounds good. We’ll make sure to link up your profiles in the show notes. Thanks for joining us, Kyle.
Kyle Kruse: Jeff, thank you. Carman, thanks again.
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Kyle KruseVP of Marketing at Global Interconnect
Kyle Kruse is a highly accomplished professional with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and double minors in Marketing and Advertising from Franklin Pierce University (FPU). He excelled as a member of FPU’s NCAA Division II Men’s Ice Hockey and Lacrosse Teams. Kyle launched his career in sales, specializing in contract office furniture, technology, and strategic marketing campaigns. Joining Global Interconnect, Inc (Gii) as a Business Development Executive in 2015, he now serves as the Vice President of Marketing. Kyle’s transformative efforts have reshaped Gii’s go-to-market strategy, resulting in unprecedented customer growth and revenue. His focus is on executing strategic inbound and outbound campaigns while positioning Gii as a top contract manufacturing partner for energy-driven medical devices. In his free time, Kyle enjoys playing hockey and golf and spending quality time with his family and friends.