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Dean DeCarlo of Mission Disrupt: “Invest “

Invest In The Right Employees. The people in your company are your most important assets. It’s important you seek out the right people who compliment your weaknesses. When it comes to hiring, know that cheaper talent will almost always cost you more money and more importantly take you longer to reach your goals. I learned […]

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Invest In The Right Employees. The people in your company are your most important assets. It’s important you seek out the right people who compliment your weaknesses. When it comes to hiring, know that cheaper talent will almost always cost you more money and more importantly take you longer to reach your goals. I learned this the hard way when I hired a junior level programmer to work with us, within a few weeks we knew it was a bad hire. Ultimately it cost us a month of productivity and over 10k in expenses.


As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dean DeCarlo.

Dean DeCarlo is the Founder and President of Mission Disrupt, an industry-leading digital marketing agency providing services in digital strategy, Google Management, Facebook, and Tik Tok ads as well as user experience design. Mission Disrupt is headquartered in New York, offering digital marketing services nationwide, and is dedicated to assisting large to mid-sized companies captivate users with dynamic experiences, targeted digital advertising, and engaging creative design.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

My childhood was spent growing up in the suburbs of New York, son to a salesman. My father taught me that personality and customer service were the two keys of success in any business. I applied these lessons to the jobs I had, first as a janitor when I was fourteen and later throughout highschool working in retail. During high school I had my first experience with entrepreneurship, as I purchased used RayBans and resold them across Ebay and third party marketplaces. It was a great business lesson and that later helped with buying my first car.

What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

During my senior year of college I decided to stop working a part-time job for the first time since being fourteen. Instead I opted to start freelancing for companies assisting with Google Ad Management. I spent most of my last year working with two clients. At the end of the year when no job offers came my way, I realized that I didn’t need a traditional job, I just needed more freelance work. In May of 2016 I graduated and that same month I stopped my full-time job search to focus on freelancing full-time. Five years later that same freelance gig turned into an award winning digital marketing agency, consisting of seven employees and fortune 500 clients.

I’m excited to be able to use our expertise in paid media and user experience to launch other digital-first brands. With this goal in mind it allows me to keep building and pivoting.

There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

The best advice for translating an idea into an actual business, is to just dive in. There’s never going to be the right time to test an idea out, nor will conditions ever be perfect. If you get started with one small step you’ll find the next one comes easier. What turned into a leap of faith for me over five years ago has now become a company I’m proud of.

What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?

Ask yourself, are you happy with this just being a hobby? Remember that a business is a 24/7 gig, if your hobby is something you do to destress, you may not enjoy it as a business. However, if you know turning your hobby into a business is something you’d like to explore, I’d say to start by testing the water. Offer your product/services online with the goal of understanding what the market thinks of your product.

It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?

The nature of marketing is a constant evolution of change, so for me I’m lucky to be in an industry where change is inevitable on almost a quarterly basis.

However many of the processes remain the same, but I keep it enjoyable by making five year goals for myself that require me to try new things within my business and present new challenges to overcome.

What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?

My favorite part of owning a business is building a company that lives up to my vision. That vision is one where we care deeply about the results we drive to our clients, building a work environment that excites our employees, and benefits our local community by giving back.

In the beginning, the downside of owning your business is that no one will be there to necessarily guide you, it’s important to seek out advisors or trusted mentors that you can bounce ideas off of.

Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

The biggest difference between an actual job and running a company is spending time on items that aren’t as fun. For instance hiring, payroll, and other administrative activities are not tasks you foresee yourself doing, but this quickly changes as you grow. This surprises most people because they have to switch the hat of executing their jobs, to operating the company to ensure they can actually grow.

Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so, how did you overcome it?

I think every entrepreneur goes through this feeling. Entrepreneurship comes with many ups and downs. When you hit those lows it can be very tough, but always remember your “why”. Why you started this business and where you are trying to take it. Remember, stress is temporary and in time this low will be a distant memory.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started I made the mistake of taking on anyone I could as clients. I quickly realized this was a big mistake. First, it becomes hard to become an expert in one area.

Second, I noticed the people who paid 100 dollars for a service would command the same attention as someone willing to pay 1,000 dollars. Many people will try to discount your work or value, it’s important to find the right people who will get the maximum value out of your work.

Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?

I take inspiration from so many business leaders around the world, as social media makes it easy to follow them. I look at executives like Dany Garcia of Garcia Companies and I am amazed by the brands her and Dwayne Johnson have built. Seeing people push through new categories gives me motivation to take my work to the next level.

The local entrepreneurs around me inspire me greatly as well, having a close knit relationship with a group of entrepreneurs is very important. You have to build a circle of people around you who you can turn for advice to make things happen.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We are in the process of pledging 1% of our profits to community initiatives, this will allow us to give back to causes we care deeply about. In addition to making a difference as we build our business.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Hustler Culture Is Toxic, hard work is important in business but a toxic “hustler culture” has been created in the entrepreneur world, where people believe they need to work obscene hours to be successful. When I first started my company it was typical for me to work 14+ hour days 5 or 6 days a week. I did this for months with no breaks and it caught up to me fast, I was tired, unhealthy and the quality of my work suffered greatly. When I took a step back and started to put clear boundaries of when I would start and stop work, I saw an increase in my productivity and health.

Invest In The Right Employees. The people in your company are your most important assets. It’s important you seek out the right people who compliment your weaknesses. When it comes to hiring, know that cheaper talent will almost always cost you more money and more importantly take you longer to reach your goals. I learned this the hard way when I hired a junior level programmer to work with us, within a few weeks we knew it was a bad hire. Ultimately it cost us a month of productivity and over 10k in expenses.

Live Below Your Means. It’s important that as you begin to make more money you don’t get pressured into taking on more personal expenses. Remember, there may be a time an emergency happens and it’s important you have capital within the company to support increased investment. The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example as many businesses were not able to keep up with expenses. We had two months where we had to float payroll costs, we had savings, and luckily were able to keep all employees on staff. Which in return then led to more growth.

Hard Work Is Like Interest. When you put your money in a bank, you do it with the expectation that your savings will grow because of compounding interest. Hard work works the same way, the longer period of time you put in your dues, the higher the chances you will grow from it and be successful. Do not underestimate the time it takes to be successful.

It’s Never The Perfect Time. Before going full-time into my business I was valeting cars in the Hamptons, the cash was great but the time it took away from my business was large. The truth is, I wasn’t making enough money yet in the business to support myself. With having a little in savings I knew I had to make the jump or I would never grow. The timing may not ever be exactly how you planned before you make a decision, so know that sometimes you just have to trust your gut and dive in.

What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Acceptance of diversified ideas is a movement that I feel the world needs right now. When we open ourselves up to ideas to cultures that are different from our own we can build a better world to live and do business in.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.”

The quote resonates with me because it takes years to build your vision into something great. I’m excited to be on the entrepreneurial journey.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

A business executive I admire right now is Dany Garcia (@danygarciaco) of Garcia Companies. Not only does she have an impressive career as a producer in Hollywood but has also launched successful brands. Brands being alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, she has successfully launched brands like Teramana Tequila, ZOA energy, and partnered with countless others to grow their brands.

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