On September 13, 2020, Trinity Founder and CEO Craig Smith participated on a nationally broadcast radio talk show local to Philadelphia! Executive Leaders Radio is the number one business radio show in the mid-Atlantic states, featuring interviews with CEOs, CFOs, and company presidents from the Pennsylvania and D.C. metro area. Host Herb Cohen has interviewed more than 700 influential businessmen and women since the show’s 2004 debut, and we were elated to have Craig among them.
Replay the Show
The Executive Leaders Radio show is broadcast locally and nationally on Sundays. Interviews span 10-25 minutes, during which time guests are asked about their educational background, experiences early in their careers, and who may have served as their mentor. Craig and Herb covered a lot of ground, getting into everything from Craig’s first money-generating activity (selling baseball cards!), to family and relationships outside of work. All questions give the audience a more intimate introduction to some of the area’s most successful movers and shakers.
The hosts of the Executive Leaders Radio show kindly record every show, and make them available for replay. If you missed it, (or want to hear it again) you can listen to the show below! It’s also available on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, SoundCloud, iHeart, and the Executive Leaders Radio website.
Craig’s interview starts at 41:40 minutes in. The transcript for his portion of the interview is below!
Engage with the Professionals at Trinity
Craig Smith is a recurring speaker at eCommerce and B2B events around the globe. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and in articles from Practical eCommerce and Stores Magazine, and a guest lecturer at Villanova University and New York University. If you would like to schedule an interview or other appearance with Craig or our leadership team, get in touch!
Transcript of the Show
HC: We’re back! You’re listening to Executive Leaders Radio, this is your host, Herb Cohen, and we’d like to introduce Craig Smith, Founder and CEO of an organization known as Trinity. Craig, what do you guys do at Trinity? What is Trinity?
CS: Trinity is a company that helps businesses improve their digital sales and performance. We help them drive traffic to their websites, and make their experience better, so they ultimately can grow and gain more customers from the Internet.
HC: And I wonder how small is this team?
CS: The team is 31 people.
HC: Oh, great. And how did you get a job with this company?
CS: I actually founded it back in 2006 when I saw that there was an opportunity related to eCommerce with the lower middle market.
HC: Where are you from originally?
CS: From the Philadelphia suburbs.
HC: And how many brothers and sisters, and where are you in the pecking order?
CS: Yeah, I have one sister and I am the youngest.
HC: So tell me a little bit about um…What kind of sports did you play as a kid? What kind of sports were you interested in?
CS: I loved soccer, basketball, football. Probably the most I love watching football and playing basketball.
HC: And basketball, what was your role on the team?
CS: I was kinda like the grinder. You know, I was always defending, rebounding, and just hustling, trying to spark and give us some energy.
HC: So you were the guy that was trying to add energy to the team? You were the guy that was hustling, trying to make things happen?
CS: Yeah I wasn’t the best driller, wasn’t the best shooter, but definitely put in the most effort.
HC: What does “definitely the most effort” have to do with this organization known as Trinity?
CS: You know, that’s a great question. What I would say is, we’re really focused every day on getting better internally, and helping our customers get better. And that’s really what’s great about eCommerce and the digital market, is that it’s so measurable, we can do that in each month, and see “Hey, we’re making progress towards our goal”.
HC: How young were you when you started money? What were you doing to make money as a kid?
CS: In order to make money, when I was 10 years old, I was buying and selling baseball and football cards at the local conventions. And then from there, I—
HC: Whoa whoa, wait, who’s idea was it to buy and sell the baseball cards?
CS: Well back then, baseball cards—and they’re actually gaining in popularity now—it was just really big in mainstream America, and I really enjoyed getting the cards, opening the packs, seeing what you get, going to shows, buying and selling… It was fun! It was a little bit of a marketplace as a kid.
HC: Uh huh… How many years or how long did you do that for?
CS: Oh, I’d say three to four years, maybe.
HC: What’d you do with the money you made?
CS: Ah, I probably spent it on toys. [Laughs] Or some other stuff, I don’t know what it was.
HC: Did you reinvest that money?
CS: I don’t think I did.
HC: Oh. And uh, tell me a little bit about… What was the next job you had after you were 10 years old, buying and selling cards?
CS: Yeah, so then I worked, when I was 13, for Prudential Insurance. My mom was an associate there and she aligned me with one of the employees there as their assistant, making cold calls at night. And basically the cold calls were introducing the value prop of Prudential and I would try to set meetings, and I would get reimbursed or get paid based on the meetings I scheduled. So it was a good taste of a performance-based job.
HC: Uh huh, and you were 13 when you were doing that? Making phone calls at night, talking to adults, huh?
CS: Yeah. I had a script, but I could ask questions.
HC: Uh huh. Tell me a little bit about what happened at 14?
CS: You know, then I left Prudential for the summer, I got a summer job all day, working in a warehouse putting O-rings into little, tiny envelopes… for 8 hours. So, in a day I’d probably do, you know, a thousand or more of these O-ring envelopes, just crankin’ them out, they were all in a big barrel.
HC: So when you did that job, it’s interesting, you said you were crankin’ ‘em out. As opposed to goofing off, you just really nailed it, you just did it, didn’t ya?
CS: You know, one time I did get caught watching TV in the warehouse, and I got yelled at, and I never did it again!
HC: What’s that hustle, putting the O-rings in those envelopes? What’s that have to do with building this thing called Trinity?
CS: You know, the thing about work ethic is that every day, you’re counted on. You need to be accountable, you gotta produce. At Trinity, everybody on our team knows that’s what we expect; we expect everyone to be their best, and focus on helping the customer to reach their goals.
HC: You mentioned that you have an older sister. What did you learn from your older sister that you bring to work every day?
CS: Yeah, what I would say I learn from my older sister is she’s really able to keep a level head in stressful situations. And inevitably in business (especially as an entrepreneur), those times are gonna come up a lot. And when they do, you can’t get too affected emotionally. You have to keep a level head, ‘cause you’re gonna make better decisions.
HC: What’d mom do for a living?
CS: So my mom was a stay at home mom, so she worked part-time, as I mentioned before, but mostly a stay at home mom, and was just absolutely the best mom anyone could have ever asked for.
HC: What do you bring from mom to work every day?
CS: My mom, I would say just a positive attitude and being relatable with people. More than anybody, she’s so good at starting conversation and making people feel at ease. I think, in a sales and marketing role—which is much of my job at Trinity as a leader—it’s important to be able to have that ability to make someone feel at ease. Show that you actually care and are looking out to create a good path forward for them.
HC: What did dad do for a living?
CS: My dad was an entrepreneur as a stay at home—or I should say, work at home—engineer. So, he did engineering for a lot of Philadelphia’s companies, like Rohm and Haas and Gilbane, just helping them with engineering needs that they had.
HC: What did you learn from dad that you’re using nowadays to build this organization known as Trinity?
CS: Focus. He could sit down in his office with his drawings for hours with a deep level of focus that was all pointed to a final goal. For him, that was a deadline. So I learned that ability to focus and just, close the door and put on your strategic hat and… you know…
HC: So you started this organization Trinity how many years ago?
CS: We are celebrating our 15 year anniversary next year, so back in 2006 we started.
HC: So how come you haven’t started something else or done something else? Why are you continuing to do this?
CS: I do have a couple other side ventures. But I continue to do this because the market is growing, we’re growing… Every day, the digital landscape changes, so there’s always ways we can innovate and differentiate in the market. It’s also a lot of fun, it’s exciting. It’s not mundane, that’s for sure. You’re gonna have up months and down months, and deal with a myriad of issues, but… that’s what makes it exciting.
HC: What time do you get started working in the morning? What time do you stop working at night?
CS: Yeah, usually I get up at 6 o’clock, get to the office around 6:45 or so. Handle the early morning communications, get into meetings, conduct outreach when needed, and just build relationships ultimately. Then I usually wrap up around 5:30 to head home with my kiddos, which I have five, and get a quick workout in, if possible.
HC: You have five children?
CS: I do.
HC: How do you balance the building of a business, and these side ventures, with being a dad with five kids? How does that all work out?
CS: You know, it can be difficult, but I’ll say this: In this new economy, post-COVID, it’s become a lot easier. I’m not traveling, I can get really good time in at night versus being on the road, and just make sure that the time I spend is on going outside, playing…
HC: Any of your kids remind you of you?
CS: Uh, my son Aidan for sure, he’s already got the entrepreneurial bug. I kinda planted it, you could say. But we’re talking about “Hey, what things could you do in the next couple of years?”
HC: How old is he?
CS: He is 12.
HC: He’s 12 years old, and does his father know what he was doing at 10, 11, 12, 13, 14?
CS: You know… I gave him a lot of my leftover baseball cards… and I was showing them the values. My Michael Jordan rookie, they’re fascinated by. But he’s not super into doing it yet for money, but I think we’ll get the itch as he gets older.
HC: So at home, who wears the pants in the family: You or your wife?
CS: Oh, my wife for sure. She’s the queen.
HC: And how do you feel about sharing that responsibility?
CS: About wearing the pants? I come in for discipline when they don’t listen to her [laughs].
HC: What’s the best part about your job?
CS: Best part of my job is, honestly, I love sharing positive news with the team because we’re all in this together, in terms of getting better and reaching our goals and, you know, being the best agency we can be in this market.
HC: What’s the similarity between being a dad and being the CEO?
CS: Great question! I would say the ability to listen. As a parent sometimes, you want to push your way of thinking and your desires down the throat of your kids, and you get stonewalled. My daughter Emma is notorious for that. But, if you listen first—and one of my favorite quotes is, “Seek first to understand, then be understood”—and I find that that works better in business and with my family.
HC: What’s the website address to this organization known as Trinity?
CS: You can check us out at Trinity.one, spelled o-n-e.
HC: Say that one more time?
CS: Trinity.one, and it’s spelled o-n-e, as the one.
HC: Alright, we’ve been speaking with Craig Smith, Founder and CEO of Trinity here on Executive Leaders Radio. Don’t forget to visit our website, it’s executiveleadersradio.com. This is your host, Herb Cohen, and we’ve had the opportunity of speaking to Derek Lundsten, President and CEO of LifeGuides.com, Valerie Schlitt, CEO of VSA Prospecting, Tom Azelby, Managing Partner of Bandwave Systems, and again most recently, Craig Smith, Founder and CEO of Trinity. Don’t forget to visit our website, executiveleadersradio.com, to learn more about our executive leaders. We’d like to thank our listening audience for listening, otherwise we wouldn’t have a radio show. Hopefully we delivered to you an educational and entertaining show.