A Day In The Life of Eric Thomas of Startup Saga MKTGBy Benjamin Seidman on May 19th, 2016 /
Captivating. Controversial. Visionary.
Fair words to illustrate Eric Thomas, Senior Partner at Saga Marketing, a marketing agency in Detroit with an emphasis on telling their clients’ epic stories. Eric begins his day with a 45-minute westbound walk to the office. Marcus Burrell, also Senior Partner at Saga, has been awake since for 3 or 4 hours already. The duo’s operation is headquartered from In The Black Suites, which overlooks much of Downtown Detroit.
When Eric gets to work “everything is in flames” with e-mail blowing up from clients and team members. How do they do it? Eric works from about 9am-midnight, sometimes 1:00am, sometimes 4:30am, usually 6 days a week. Eric’s humor and love of his craft appear to mask the stress that come with the job.
Every day is noticeably different. But some things about Eric and Marcus remain constant. Eric dons vintage suits, frameless glasses, and in the winter, a hat and scarf to match. Marcus sports the freshest and latest Detroit apparel and a straight face that quickly turns to a wide smile once the conversation gets going.
What separates Saga from any other marketing company in Michigan or around the world is their knack to dream and love what they do whole-heartedly. “I have fun pretty much everywhere. I don’t like to do things I don’t enjoy,” says Eric. This stubborn preference for love of work is one of their ingredients for success.
Eric creates designs and ideas for campaigns “faster than anybody ever or should ever have to.” When not working, Eric watches shows, browses Facebook, and downloads information. It’s his creative process, which allows him to pull from his headspace rather than taking a crazy dive for every project. Because he has so many thoughts floating around, Eric cleverly taking what he has consumed recently and relates it to his clients “in a way that matters.” Simple, right? Think again.
Eric’s understanding of the world is concurrently sublime and effortless.
“Humans are interconnected,” he sighs. “We all receive information in the same way for the most part, regardless of industry.”
We consume and even give selfishly, Eric admits, “for that burst of dopamine.” What separates Saga is their focus on the “Why” people are doing things.
On that note Eric contends that American’s are essentially disconnected between what they say they enjoy versus what they actually do. “Americans hate sex out of wedlock. But we all do that. Why do we hate things that we really enjoy?” These are the pressing questions Eric thinks about on a daily, hourly, and almost constant basis. Big questions. While half of Eric’s day is spent figuring out the “Why,” the other half is working with a team of designers, crafting messages, copy, and working on blogs.
But it’s Saga’s vision for telling great stories infused in marketing that sets them apart.
“I see an empire. A marketing agency is the ultimate training ground by learning industries, what makes them tick, why people make decisions and how to influence people,” he said. “We’ll bring the full motivation of human understanding to any project.”
What motivates Eric and Marcus besides Saga? Creating opportunity for Detroiters. Their approach the problem is unique.
“We want to build things without barrier, like Elon Musk. We want to change the world in the way we think is best. We want to move the needle on opportunity, level the playing field,” he said. “We see a lot of young poor African-American children who have all of the aptitude and none of the access. After years of being beaten down and doors closed in their face, they stop trying. Event old wealthy white men stop changing and settle into grooves. Imagine if that happened to you at 10 years old.”
The solution to this? Eric thinks it could be simple, but it needs to be a product that builds an ecosystem. Eric argues that high crime rates don’t demonstrate high violence but instead lack of opportunity. Opportunity cost is what gets Eric and keeps Eric going.
“The people out here hustling these streets are orators, poets, people who have ideas, and who understand distribution, mechanism and leadership,” he said. Eric wants to transfer those opportunities to other opportunities, creating a whole new industry.
At the end of our day, Eric left me with a short quote: “Tell people I was tall.”
The question still remains, how do they do it?
Well, on Sunday, Eric only works 8 hours.