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“Ultimately, my mistake was not communicating my business as something bigger than just myself” With Kean Graham

Ultimately, my mistake was not communicating my business as something bigger than just myself. I could have avoided that re-negotiation because it’s reasonable for a larger company to receive large commissions to pay for overhead, technology and employees. Ever since that mistake, I always communicated my business as “we” rather than “I” even when it […]



Ultimately, my mistake was not communicating my business as something bigger than just myself. I could have avoided that re-negotiation because it’s reasonable for a larger company to receive large commissions to pay for overhead, technology and employees. Ever since that mistake, I always communicated my business as “we” rather than “I” even when it was just me.

As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kean Graham, the CEO of MonetizeMore, an 8-figure ad tech company that is a Google Certified Partner with 100+ full-time team members remotely based across the planet. MonetizeMore was conceived in the mountains of Machu Picchu and has grown to $20M in revenues. Graham has traveled to over 90 countries during the 9 years that he has been growing MonetizeMore.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I originally fell in love with the online industry when working for a large online classified network. The job was an immense learning experience but once the recession hit, the company decided to lay off the marketing department. I lost the best job I ever had but I was determined to turn the bad into something great.

Five days later, I’m on a plane to South America to go on a life changing trip. Four months into my backpacking trip I was on a four-day trek through the incredible Inca trail towards Machu Picchu. By the end of it, I was sitting on top of Wayna Picchu reflecting on my experiences throughout my trip. I have had the most fulfilling time of my life and it finally clicked:

I will work and travel when I want, where I want.

I have to start a digital business to enable this autonomous lifestyle. I came back to Canada with the goal to create a business that would offer value via increasing revenues for businesses in a measurable way using digital means.

I decided to use my old employer as a case study. There largest revenue source was Google AdSense. When I realized Google had a monopoly over their ad inventory, I saw the opportunity. I came up with a proposal to increase their ad revenues by initiating and optimizing an auction that would compete Google against other ad networks. I offered to charge them only on a percentage of their increased ad revenues. Since there was no risk on their side, they happily tried it out.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

A digital nomad friend and I were on a safari in Okavango, Botswana during our digital nomad trip about a week ago. We were lucky enough to come across a pride of mother lions and their cubs feasting on a water buffalo they killed the previous night. The driver brought us dangerously close to them as you can see from this photo. As we got close, the lions stared right at us and got into pouncing position. One even got up and starting pacing.

We knew if we made any sudden movements or sounds, we could become lion lunch. I had my phone in my pocket and I couldn’t remember if the ringer was off. I was one impromptu client call away from being the next kill for that pride. Luckily, I had no calls during those moments that felt like hours and we got away safely.

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 started the business it was challenging and exciting. I was able to break-even by month five. My first client was an employer that laid me off a year before. I offered them a percentage of the ad revenue increase and was able to make them additional millions. At the time, I was a one-person company and communicated myself as such. Since I communicated the business as just myself, they looked at my company as just an ex-employee. As a result, when I was increasing their ad revenues by over 300% and earning strong commissions, the executives saw this as unjust that an ex-employee was making 4x more than what he used to earn. As a result, they strong-armed a deal with much less commission.

Ultimately, my mistake was not communicating my business as something bigger than just myself. I could have avoided that re-negotiation because it’s reasonable for a larger company to receive large commissions to pay for overhead, technology and employees. Ever since that mistake, I always communicated my business as “we” rather than “I” even when it was just me.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

LinkedIn is important for our business. Of all the major social media channels, it’s the most business focused. Users are most likely to make important career or business decisions when on LinkedIn vs. any other social media channel. For example, we have been successful sourcing talent, finding new clientele and establishing new partnerships via LinkedIn.

In terms of outreach, LinkedIn has been the second most successful channel. We have established partnerships with some of our largest premium publisher partners via LinkedIn.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Of all the major social media channels, it’s the most business-to-business (B2B) focused. Users are most likely to make important career or business decisions when on LinkedIn vs. any other social media channel. For example, the below are the biggest contributors that have led to LinkedIn to grow MonetizeMore:

Sourcing Talent: LinkedIn is the best platform to find the top ad tech experts in the industry. Their work history, connections, recommendations and contributions are easy to find via each LinkedIn profile.

Finding New Clientele: LinkedIn is a great platform to find the decision makers of each publisher that is a good fit for our offering. It is also a great tool for due diligence before the first call to make sure we customize our offering to help them achieve their long-term goals.

Promoting Pillar Articles: LinkedIn is one of the leading websites for B2B thought leader posts. We post our pillar articles to relevant groups and get a lot of shares on LinkedIn.

Establishing New Partnerships: There are many companies that have a similar audience to MonetizeMore with complimentary offerings. Since we are dedicated to maximize the value for our publishers, we recommend partners to help add more value.

Keeping Up to Date With Industry News: The LinkedIn homepage is a great source for latest news in the ad tech industry that are shared by fellow colleagues in ad tech. We also find out when colleagues have made big career moves which is useful to find out on a timely basis.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. 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. 🙂

MonetizeMore is one of the pioneers of location independent businesses. We have proven that it is possible to run an effective business without any offices and over 120 full-time team members. Location and schedule freedom has shown to be competitive advantages for MonetizeMore in an industry where that is rarely offered. As a result, MonetizeMore has been able to acquire incredible talent, minimize turnover, out-innovate competitors and better tailor to international publisher partners.

We can already see effect of the influence of location independent business pioneers like MonetizeMore has had on the technology industry. The trend of remote working has been trending as expectations for in-office work has decreased. I believe in the next ten years when someone mentions a new business, the next common question is: “Is that business location dependent or independent?”

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 🙂

Antonio García Martínez: He is a true pioneer in the ad tech industry within his own startups and several influential companies. The innovation that he drove is impressive and his level of versatility between small startups and large tech organizations is incredible. If I could sit down with Antonio, I could learn more about the inner-workings of ad tech publishers like Facebook and learn how to better spur technology development and innovation. I would love to pick his brain on how to better navigate the political tendencies of some of the largest ad tech companies in the World.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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