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Meet Nate Desmond: the Growth Hacker Apprentice

Posted by Brad Voeller on June 2, 2015

Growth Hacker Nate Desmond

An apprentice is someone who experiences exponential growth as a result of their commitment to transformational and continuous learning. That sounds great in theory, but how does it translate to real life? Meet Nate Desmond, a 22-year-old growth hacker.

After stumbling upon Ryan Holiday’s book “Growth Hacker Marketing” about data-driven marketing, Nate Desmond jumped at the possibilities of combining his love for numbers and creativity to learn digital marketing skills. Since high school, Nate has been a self-starting entrepreneur from owning his own lawn care business to writing various blogs. In an accelerated college program, Nate started out with accounting then shifted to marketing where he continues to use his apprenticeship mindset to further his knowledge and skillset.

Overview of Nate’s experiences:

  • Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google

  • Marketing Analyst at YouTube

  • Financial Analyst and SpeedyPrep Product Manager at CollegePlus

We asked Nate a few questions to better understand what it looks like to use the apprenticeship learning style to develop skills.

Brad: What do you look for in a work opportunity?

Nate: First, I look for the role; I want something that is challenging to me but also within the realm that I can excel in it. Second, I look for something that involves working in a team or with an individual that I want to be working with. Studies found that your happiness is dependent on the teams you are working with. If you enjoy the people you work with everyday, you are going to be happier than if you don’t—it seems obvious but sometimes that is missed. The teams you working with early in your career are the people that will be with you throughout your whole career and so it matters a lot to connect with other people who share your similar goals and visions. (Tweet this)

Brad: Can you dig a little deeper into one of your experiences and recount something that was especially memorable or had an impact on you?

Nate: Working with Noah Kagan on AppSumo. It came about through taking random actions: writing blog posts, seeking out mentors by actually emailing them and then pursuing that by coming up with ideas of ways I could give value to them-- rather than just saying ‘yes I’m interested in a job and tell me what to do’.  Ultimately when I got the job, it was a lot of work and a lot of fun. The difference was that I had been doing a lot of this stuff on my own, but doing this sort of thing for Noah Kagan gave me the opportunity to get feedback—and that really helped me to learn much more quickly.

The advantage of having a coach is that the coach can say ‘you’re good at this skill but your form is a little bit off here and you need to go learn this other skill’ and give you a better, well-rounded perspective—and that’s what this apprenticeship is to me: what I couldn’t get by myself.

Brad: What are some of the benefits you are experiencing from the approach you took with Noah Kagan and other people you worked with?

Growth hacker apprentice

Nate: I’ve seen a lot of cases where I will get direct opportunities that somewhere I’ve worked for has a position that has opened up and they email me and say ‘hey I’m hiring, are you interested or do you know someone else’ and that is really helpful. Also, just the random stuff that comes a few years down the road where a person is at a different company or doing something different and they find someway that your work could match together. 

Brad: Any specific pointers or recommendations that you would offer to a recent grad or to talent that maybe for the first time is venturing into this realm of growth and digital marketing?

Nate: Taking action. Just going out and publishing your first blog post is really helpful. The biggest thing that I’ve found helpful for me is taking that first step then the other step will follow eventually. Just taking action-- even if you don’t see the direct consequence immediately-- leads to good results. (Tweet this)

Are you interested in adopting the apprenticeship mindset and launching your career in digital marketing like Nate? Download the free ebook “Breaking Into Digital Marketing” to learn more about the marketing skills and strategies required for success.

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Topics: For Recent Grads