Goldman Sachs former head of brand marketing Lisa Shalett joins media startup The Odyssey as CMO


By Minda Smiley | Reporter

August 19, 2015 | 4 min read

Lisa Shalett, who helped Goldman Sachs weather the aftermath of the financial crisis as head of brand marketing and digital strategy, is now taking on the role of chief marketing officer (CMO) at digital media startup The Odyssey.

At the social content platform, whose biggest claim to fame to date is the ‘dad bod,’ Shalett will be tasked with helping the startup expand its presence and will work with brands to help them reach their target audiences online.

The Odyssey launched last year and is based in New York and Indianapolis but has ‘communities’ of writers all over the US that are interviewed before joining and are “looked to as thought leaders that come up with ideas that move them to write,” Shalett said.

Its writers are encouraged to disseminate their content organically through their own social channels. According to the company, 90 per cent of its content is viewed because someone the reader knows shared it with them.

It’s largely made up student contributors, writing articles like “Local Ice Cream Shop Coming to Baylor” and “UCF Rec & Wellness Center Accused Of Sexism, Director Responds.”

While it’s unclear exactly how writers are paid for their pieces, a spokesperson for the company said that compensation is based upon two factors: quality, which is measured through its proprietary technology and editing process, and another measure that’s based on engagement with the content in social media.

“We are not trying to be viral,” Shalett said. “What we’re trying to do is create great content through these writers by surfacing perspectives that resonate and find their audience.”

Shalett left Goldman at the beginning of this year and told The Drum that she was “not intending to look for a full time job” at the time but was interested in working with entrepreneurs to collaborate and help brands find ways to resonate with millennials.

Yet she said when she met Evan Burns, chief executive and founder of The Odyssey, she thought he was a “really smart thinker with an innovative approach” who also happened to be looking for a CMO.

“I surprised myself but ended up throwing myself back into it,” she said.

While The Odyssey has already worked with brands including Mountain Dew, Verizon, and Schick, Shalett said she hopes to work with more brands to help them develop personalized content such as native creative content, sponsored posts, and digital banners.

Shalett said her role as head of brand marketing and digital strategy at Goldman Sachs, a position she served in from 2010 to 2014, was about creating transparency and communications efforts at a time when many in the US were distrustful of the firm following the disastrous effects of the financial crisis.

“Goldman is a well-known brand but not a consumer brand,” she said. “We really wanted to be much more proactive in helping people understand who we are and what we do.”

The investment bank worked with agency Y&R to create its ‘Progress is everyone’s business’ campaign that rolled out in 2010.


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