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My Altered States Uncovered on the “Altered Geek” Podcast

I had the chance to talk in depth with Steve “Megatron” Phillips, host of the Altered Geek podcast. I really enjoy doing podcast interviews, as each one is a bit different based on the host and questions asked and the mood of the moment when we’re recording. This was a good talk and I think we cover a lot of ground around my tenure at Troma, and the book itself (which Steve clearly had read in advance). We discuss how, while the book is a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes tales to delight the Troma fan, the anecdotes and lessons within also appeal to readers who have never heard of Troma or The Toxic Avenger (yes, such folks exist!). Steve compliments the “short” chapters and I give credit to Steven Pressfield‘s Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, which served as an inspiration to the style of writing I chose for my book.

In addition, we talk about how I got involved with .CLUB Domains and the domain name industry, and the many opportunities that now exist to create relevant and memorable domains using a meaningful extension (as I do by using as a shortcut to the book on We also touch on the documentary series on entrepreneurship I am currently working at

There’s also a good discussion on culture and purpose in business, and… well, instead of my yapping on here, you can click here or on the embed below to listen to the show. Enjoy!

Chapter 13: Embrace your Vision and Culture

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 13 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. In this chapter, I talk about the “c” word – culture, and how Troma taught me what’s really important to pull a team together (hint: it’s not pizza and beer on Fridays). What do you think?

If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 12345 and 67 , 891011 and 12. You can also see me read a few chapters live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon as well as a few chapters I read on Facebook Live. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass


Chapter 13: Embrace your Vision and Culture

“To thine own self—be true.”


“I don’t make crappy movies. I spend two or three years making a film. I don’t take myself seriously, but I take my movies very seriously.”


Willie and Lloyd are both sort of saying the same thing here. Know who you are and embrace it. Self-awareness is as important for a company as it is for each of us as an individual. There is so much talk in the business world today about culture. There are countless books, countless consultants, and countless dollars spent on “culture building” within corporations.

Often these efforts miss the core of what culture really is, what culture really means. Contrary to popular belief, culture is not about pizza and beer on Fridays, or unlimited free snacks in the company dining room (though on a film set of any size or budget, heaven help you if you don’t have a functional craft-services department. The fastest way to throw any film production off course is to fail to feed the crew, and feed them well and often). At its core, culture has more to do with your brand than your office decor.

A great company culture enables and encourages employees to embody and reflect the essence of the brand in their ethic, attitude, and execution of their work. It goes deeper than office environment and is more significant than a list of core values on a whiteboard. A great company culture is one where everyone organically lives and breathes the same brand. A great culture is one where all employees understand and appreciate the DNA of the brand. They don’t have to be it, but they have to believe it.

A great company culture is not a cult (though some of the highly publicized “great-culture” enterprises seem to have lost that distinction) because in a cult the disciples are most often following blindly while in a great company culture the employees are following with purpose. A great culture is created by a shared purpose that will move the company forward toward success.

Defining and communicating that purpose is core to a company’s success. On a film set, the purpose is most often very clear. We are making a movie. The roadmap is the script, literally. The strategy is the production schedule. If the director is a good CEO, then everyone on set knows their role and expected contribution toward the execution of the plan and the fulfillment of the purpose.

In business, the purpose and strategy also need to be clearly defined, and as important, the role each employee plays has to be understood by the employee(s) and management. There needs to be a screenplay and a production schedule for your business.


That’s Chapter 13  –  Another valuable lesson I learned making Troma movies: Having a clearly defined purpose and strategy is the best way to create a great company culture! Stay tuned for “Chapter 14: “Strategic Partners: Burn Houses, Not Bridges,” which explores some “hot” lessons about business development learned from location scouting for Troma films.


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@Gapingvoid: How the movie making model can help drive better business

Many years after my stint in Tromaville, I had the pleasure and opportunity to work with business cartoonist Hugh MacLeod and his business partner Jason Korman at their unique “culture design” agency, Gapingvoid. Hugh has an uncanny talent for looking at complex business problems and distilling them into a simple image and a few words that resonate, connect emotionally, and have the power to instigate real change within an organization. Jason has such a clear vision and understanding of marketing and corporate culture that, combined with Hugh’s artistic insight, the two and their team have attracted some of the world’s biggest and best-known brands as clients, from AT&T, to Microsoft, to the University of Miami, to Zappos, and countless more.

It was a great experience working with Hugh and Jason and we share many of the same views about marketing and culture, which is why I started with them first as a fan of Hugh’s work. The image above is one of my favorites, and reminded me of a particular chapter in my book, Chapter 10: Find Something to Believe In. When I pointed that out to Jason, he was kind enough to share that chapter, along with the above image, in the popular Gapingvoid Daily Newsletter.

If you are not familiar with Hugh and Gapingvoid I encourage you to learn more about the Gapingvoid Culture Design Group and also browse some of the great prints and gift items available at

And you can CLICK HERE to read the newsletter edition with Chapter 10 of my book. Enjoy!