CEDAR RAPIDS — Scott Siepker, also known on his many YouTube videos as the Iowa Nice Guy, knows something about struggling to reach a goal, and he gave some advice on striving for success to Eastern Iowa business owners and area employees at the Marion Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting.
Siepker, co-founder of Des Moines-based Iowa Filmmakers, said he wasn’t always the sarcastic voice of the viral Iowa Nice Guy videos that demolished stereotypes about Iowa and were played for two seasons on ESPNU’s “College Football Daily.”
When Siepker was a student at Iowa State University, he said he wanted to be an actor, but didn’t have a lot skill during his first classes.
“I was terrible at acting, but I really wanted to do it,” he said. “I’m sure many of you have been in the situation where you really wanted to be something or do something, but you sucked. In that year, my acting professor said, ‘You need to steal from the best.’”
Siepker said he started to study some of the established comedians and actors while at Iowa State, and Marion business owners should do the same, he said.
“As you’re growing your own business or you’re growing Marion, look around at the other communities around you,” Siepker said. “Study who else is doing it better than you because there’s certainly someone who is better than you.
“And you should be humble enough, as an Iowan, to know that.”
Ackerman said small business owners not only have to compete with international corporations, but they are also must battle e-commerce competition. However, Siepker said there are many things local businesses can do to have a presence in the community and online.
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It’s important not to count Iowa out because the internet has made it possible for business owners to be connected internationally, he said.
And Siepker said he sees his own story of being an actor in Iowa who filmed a viral YouTube video and quickly became popular across the nation as an example of that connectivity.
“The best thing you can do to recruit people to buy here and to stay here is by telling your story,” he said. “Get on social media. I’m an actor in Iowa, and I know that sounds like a punch line, but that’s what’s possible now. I don’t have to move to Los Angeles. I’m committed to staying here.
“It’s the same for businesses. No matter what you’re selling, the whole world can buy it now through the internet.”
Another tip Siepker gave: don’t be too proud to ask for help.
“For far too long, Iowa has been exporting it’s greatest resource, which is it’s people,” he said. “But the great part of that is that there’s a network of Iowans across this country, and Iowans always want to help.”
About 330 people attended the luncheon sponsored by Legacy Manufacturing Co. on Tuesday at the Cedar Rapids Marriott.