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Be Prepared for the Digital Connection Revolution: Business Interview with Matthew Encina

Be Prepared for the Digital Connection Revolution: Business Interview with Matthew Encina

“Be prepared for the digital connection revolution.”

Matthew Encina cuts the bullsh*t, and tells it like it is.

I don’t know what day it is, I don’t know what time it is, but I’m just so able to focus right now, and I’m loving that this is a byproduct of this self-isolation.

It’s a big shift for some people, and some companies.  

I think luckily for us, a lot of our work is digital and a lot of the things we do are online: our community, our courses, our products. Everything that we make is online. We’re one of the fortunate companies that are able to easily transition. So when our CEO Chris Do decided to say, “Hey everybody, work from home,” it wasn’t a problem. We were mostly doing that anyway. 

 Q. Has anything changed for you guys or do you think it feels about the same for you? (Tina Walczak – Chief Brand Officer, Hiilite)

I can’t speak for the whole office, but for me, in particular, my productivity skyrocketed just because I’m an introvert by nature. So just being completely siloed and disconnected from a lot of people (as sad as that might sound) it’s actually quite powerful for me because there are zero distractions. There’s nothing that’s pulling me away.

I can’t go out for something, I can’t go to birthdays, all this stuff. Like, no one’s pulling any strings that could be influencing how I spend my time. All the time right now is spent on work things that are really important to me in this because of my nature again. 

It’s just allowed me to hyper-focus in this time, and I don’t know what day it is, I don’t know what time it is, you know? Like, all these things are all mixed up in my head, but I’m just so able to focus right now, and I’m loving that as a byproduct of this self-isolation. All of my bearings are off, because of the schedule of not breaking it up from going out, or doing the routine, and the commute.

Now, we just wake up and start thinking about stuff, and then I start working, then twelve hours later, ten hours later, whatever time it is, it’s like oh shoot! I gotta go eat and break away from the screen. 

Q. How do you stay focused?

I think that the best tools that I use right now are just like this. This is it. Every day in the morning I’ll just write out a checklist of to-do’s usually whatever can fit on a little sticky note, that’s only about two or three things. That’s all I focus on. And then I write a new one the next day. So that’s for me to help stay focused here when I’m in my space.

But, in terms of what to focus on for the business, now is the most change that’s happened in such a short amount of time. So over the last two or three weeks, we saw obviously culturally, globally, everything change and then us having to shift and adapt—both in the conversations that we’re having online with our content.

Making sure we’re supporting our community, then adapting for what people need right now. For both in things like this, where we’re just having conversations with people to help guide them through the process of being more comfortable being in isolation and creating some kind of digital connection with your people, but then also with our products.

We made a decision very recently to significantly reduce the cost of all of our products sitewide because we know that people are staying indoors. After they reached the end of Netflix, and there’s no more content to watch, what do people want to do? Well, they might learn something new.

And I think we’re seeing a beautiful byproduct of all of this. Where people like me, who have now all this time to focus on something, people are learning things—they’re working out, and they’re learning how to cook. Mario hosted something the other day where people were all cooking together. So, I think you’re seeing beautiful things that otherwise wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have this big gut check that happened to all of us—even though it’s quite unfortunate and there are people who are getting sick and dying. But I think there’s a lot of positivity that’s happening here, which is testing everybody to see how well prepared they are to see if they have the skills, determination, and will to persevere through this. 

When I first graduated in 2007, the economy was booming. It was amazing. Then, the housing market crashed in 2008, and I learned lessons in 2008, 2009, and 2010 that stick with me today. It humbled me, it slapped me in the face and told me, I wasn’t ready to live in this world. But because of that experience, I grew a lot, and I learned a lot of lessons that have persisted with me. 

So, I think this is definitely a period where it’s challenging for many people, but we all will get through this, I mean we’re still here today. We’re very fortunate to be alive here todaythat means we’ve conquered everything that life has thrown us to this point. It means that after this big hump, we’re going to be stronger and better as a result of it, as a society, as individuals, and as people that connect with each other. 

Q. How did you stay focused during the crash in 2008? What did you do? 

I was scrambling, definitely scrambling, because at that time I had opened a business with my friends, and work was just falling in our lap in 2007. It was amazing, there was more work than talent to do it. 

We were experiencing the best of the economic boom in 2007, and then 2008/09 happened. We realized all the things we didn’t know about business: about running a business which is how to get work, how to survive, did we have enough in the bank account? All those answers were, no, no, no, no, no. So we got very, very humbled, and it was very trying and very challenging at the time. But because those were all of us asking questions that I had never asked of myself at the time I realized all the things that I needed to learn. We had to make the hard decision of closing our business, and I had to return to freelancing. 

I was fortunate enough to go back to freelance, but also I was able to release all of the stress that I had which was how do I keep this business running? At the time I was only like 23 or 24 and I wasn’t able to figure it out so I had to walk away from that stuff and simplify my life a bit. 

Q. How will people gain back a greater sense of control during this time? (Cam Schreiner – Graphic Designer, Hiilite)

There are two columns of things that happen in your life. 

There are events that happened to you and you have zero control over, the economy, the pandemic, you have zero control over that. There’s some preventative things that you can do obviously, but you really have zero control over many of the events in your life.

The thing you do have control over is your reaction to it. 

What is your perception of it? How do you intake that information? Because all of this is just raw data that’s being thrown in our face—these are just events that are happening to us every single day, and we have zero control over that. So if you can accept that fact, then think about what are the things that you can control. Ask yourself, how am I going to react in this situation? What am I going to do in this self-isolation? What am I going to do it this time?

Now you are forced—your hand is forced to show and show up and do something with that, because it’s not just a matter of how you feel about it. Now it’s about what actions you’re going to take.

I know this is very challenging for many, many, people and I don’t want to discount that, because some people are losing their jobs, and people are having to make sacrifices to stay open as businesses. All these things are happening and those are necessary. Those are things that have to be done. So the thing that you can control as an individual is your attitude towards it. How do you want to perceive it?

You know you can look at the glass as half empty or half full and you can see all of this economic downturn as something like shoot, I got to buckle up and tighten up. You could say that this is the worst my life is ever going to be, or you could say this is an opportunity because what’s happening here is that all these gaps and opportunities are opening up. All the businesses that have been prepared for the digital connection revolution like we’re doing right now are able to operate in this digital space. They’re thriving. This is an opportunity for them and businesses who haven’t been equipped to do that, now is the time, it’s like this is how quickly can you turn on the dime and react to this. 

I’ve seen some amazing examples of this in my community. One of the restaurants that we go to all the time is called Tender Greens. It’s a brick and mortar business, it’s one hundred percent, you sit down there and you eat. So what have they done? It’s like well they want to pay all their employees. They still want to keep it open and they have all these raw ingredients that they’ve been ordering for four weeks to keep up with supply. So what did they do? Now they’re delivering all of their raw ingredients as boxes. They’ve repackaged all of their ingredients like here’s a veggie box, here’s a poultry box, here is a pantry box, and making that available to customers. 

Even people who are restricted to the brick and mortar physical spaces were able to turn on the dime and still create new opportunities for their business here and survive. You’re going to see a lot of innovation during this time if you’re really open to thinking, this is not a moment of failure for me, this is now an opportunity for me to get challenged. To see what I know, and to adopt a new way of thinking and adopt new practices and new processes. These are all things that you can control. Right now. 


Matthew Encina
Chief Content Officer 

1702 Olympic Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404 



Contributed by: Tina Walczak, and Cam Schreiner @Hiilite


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