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Dickson Lam of EFFYDESK: “Know your industry”

Know your industry. Before you start anything at all, ask yourself what kind of authority you want to be. Even if your industry isn’t competitive, make sure you do your research. You wouldn’t get into the furniture industry and pay athletes to become your brand ambassadors. Knowing your industry also means knowing what you’re up against. […]

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Know your industry. Before you start anything at all, ask yourself what kind of authority you want to be.

Even if your industry isn’t competitive, make sure you do your research. You wouldn’t get into the furniture industry and pay athletes to become your brand ambassadors. Knowing your industry also means knowing what you’re up against. At EFFYDESK, we understand that your desk needs to last over ten years, at least! We’ve done our research, and we know that many models on the market only have a single motor. Though a single motor is almost half the price of a dual motor, it’s not durable and won’t stand the test of time. That’s why we opt for dual motors, which are guaranteed to last over 13 years with daily use.


As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dickson Lam.

EFFYDESK believes that the most important investment in ones life is their lifestyle. They are a Vancouver, BC based start-up that has dedicated their business model in promoting and selling health-minded products. We will be exclusively finding out 5 things you need to know to create a successful lifestyle brand.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I’ve always believed in the importance of a healthy lifestyle, even as a child. My life was filled with sports, whether indoors or outdoors, and I was constantly motivated by my favourite athletes. Seeing them on billboards or on television gave me that extra push I needed to work a little harder and practice a little longer. My life really changed when I was about 13, and the Adidas brand won me over. From there on out, I lived and breathed Adidas. Shirts, pants, shoes — you name it, and my eager teen self just had to have it. It was then that I truly understood the meaning of having a “lifestyle” and how important it was to my everyday life.

Since my teen days, I’ve grown more conscious of how other lifestyle brands have affected me, and how they affect our society today. With EFFYDESK, I wanted to embody these lifestyles and represent this type of culture with our brand. Just as Adidas motivated me when I was younger, I strive to create EFFYDESK into a brand that empowers and betters others.

Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?

When I was young, I used to go on ride-alongs with my mother on her business trips. She would often tell me how invigorating, challenging, and fulfilling it was to manage her own business. It was inspiring to see her help, motivate, and influence others with her own ideas, and ever since I was young, I wanted to do the same.

As I started my first business venture, the most challenging part was coming up with a way to help others with my ideas. The idea for EFFYDESK came from my own life — I’ve lived with back pain since I was young, as I was born with back issues. I could never sit or stand for too long, which was a real problem for me as I practically live in front of a computer! This prompted me to invest in a standing desk.

Since day one at my sit-stand desk, my life has changed for the better. Having my chronic pain relieved by these desks motivated me to help others who might experience similar issues. Now, I’ve become an advocate for ergonomic furniture, and I want to share my success story through my business.

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?

At EFFYDESK, we’re always trying to find ways to better our products. One improvement we made was to pre-drill our table tops, which allows customers to assemble their desk without a drill.

During this transition, I approved a table top which we had custom-made for an influencer. The only problem was that the table top I’d approved had the keypad pre-drilled hole on the opposite side of where it was supposed to be! The influencer didn’t know better and shot professional photos using the desk with the grommet hole on the wrong end of the table and thought it was normal. Now I know better — double and triple check everything, and make sure to let the influencer know which side is which!

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Forrest Gump has always been such an inspiration to me. The story of an autistic main character who succeeds through all of his hardships just reminds me that life is only as complicated as we make it. Forrest doesn’t overthink; he just follows the steps to his goal and does the job as well as he can. He wasn’t the smartest guy in town, but as long as he kept it simple and worked hard at it, he achieved his goals.

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

A quote I’ve always lived by is “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” This reminds me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself as I continue on my journey. After all, we all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day! I tell myself that any seeds I plant count towards my overall progress, even if my “harvest” doesn’t seem as big as I would like. My productivity depends on putting in a constant amount of work each day, not on the results of just one day. Patience is key!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?

To me, a lifestyle brand has a goal to influence people for the better. Lifestyle brands often gain a following, which is what sets it apart from regular brands. Rather than just pushing products, it’s about how the company makes their customers feel, and how it motivates them.

Lifestyle brands also take that extra step in showing customers how to maximize use of their products. Regular brands are a solution or a fix, and lifestyle brands are a culture.

What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?

From a business perspective, creating a lifestyle brand is so much better for the company long-term. Once the brand gains a following of fans, you bet you’ll have a higher retention rate of customers. You’ll even get some lifelong customers who swear by your brand. From there, your brand will start getting recognition — locally, nationally, and then globally! As the owner or founder of the company, you then become the face of authority for that specific lifestyle culture, and this gives your lifestyle brand a stronger influence.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

“Just Do It”

If you recognize that phrase, you already know that the incredibly successful lifestyle brand I’m referring to it Nike. It’s the first lifestyle brand that comes to mind when it comes to building a brand and creating a culture around their products. People all over the world purchase Nike products, whether they’re pro athletes or recreational speed-walkers. Nike is everywhere. They sponsor so many major athletes and these people sport jackets, shoes, and bags with the iconic Nike swoosh. In my opinion, they are the #1 brand in the sporting-goods world and the ultimate authority in sports culture.

Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?

A goal of mine is to create a fanbase for EFFYDESK. So far, we’ve promoted the hashtag #effysetup and encourage everyone who posts pictures of their desks to tag their photos with it. This allows other standing-desk users to see and use these pictures for inspiration. With our desk as the centrepiece, potential new customers can visualize how they want to set up their EFFEYDESK for their own workspace.

Creating a brand that people are really “crazy about” means we have to contribute to our customers in a really meaningful way. This is why we want to help create a workspace they’ll absolutely adore. With just a simple hashtag, we can bring EFFYDESK users together to share what they’ve done with their desk! This forms a fanbase, which we can formulate our future ideas around.

Another tool we’ve used to create our brand is our ambassador/affiliate program. We’ve sourced out some major influencers to actively promote our brand in their blog posts or videos. The people we chose to represent our brand are often “power people” and voices of authority in their field — gamers, interior designers, work-from-home bloggers, you name it! This sets our brand apart and creates a sort of elite “club” for people who use EFFYDESK. An EFFY family, so to speak!

What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?

A huge mistake I’ve seen people make is to start their business and rush straight in without thoroughly thinking about the image and mission statement of their company. For example, I’ve seen some ideas similar to the hashtag #effysetup that we’re using, but the images used to promote their brand and hashtag were poor quality. These photos were associated with the brand, which probably deterred customers who thought their poor-quality images were representative of the company. Make sure your lifestyle brand has a clear mission and style to follow, and stick with it as you navigate social media promotions.

When you start a lifestyle brand, it’s also important to make sure the product and customer service lives up to the lifestyle you’re trying to portray. You may have the best branding and top-of-the-line products, but at the end of the day, if your customer service doesn’t live up to the hype, your company won’t do well. One particular example I can think of is the FYRE festival, which was an exclusive luxury music festival that was hyped up across social media. Though it was the talk of the town, the festival ended up falling through due to poor management.

Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Make sure you know your industry. Research specifics and know the market! For example, we at EFFYDESK are trying to be authorities in the ergonomic space. We want to be a brand customers can rely on for all their office ergonomic needs.

In other industries, Coca-Cola is aiming to be the “treat” drink available at any occasion, and Underarmor is going for a reputable sports athletic clothing brand.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Know your industry.

Before you start anything at all, ask yourself what kind of authority you want to be.

Even if your industry isn’t competitive, make sure you do your research. You wouldn’t get into the furniture industry and pay athletes to become your brand ambassadors. Knowing your industry also means knowing what you’re up against. At EFFYDESK, we understand that your desk needs to last over ten years, at least! We’ve done our research, and we know that many models on the market only have a single motor. Though a single motor is almost half the price of a dual motor, it’s not durable and won’t stand the test of time. That’s why we opt for dual motors, which are guaranteed to last over 13 years with daily use.

2. Branding Guide

Once you’ve decided on the direction you’re going to take with your branding, create a branding guide for your company. This series of colours, logos, and fonts allows consumers to recognize your brand quickly, as all your products and packaging will have the same general “look.” Pick a colour scheme and stick with it! For example, IKEA has their recognizable yellow-and-blue paint scheme. Nike’s iconic swoosh — all you need to see is a checkmark on any article of clothing, and you know exactly what brand it is.

3. Quality product

Make sure that your product is solving more problems than it’s creating! If customers have problems with your product and don’t receive adequate customer service, this will reflect badly on your brand. Your product has to “live up to the hype.” I’ve seen many companies fail in our industry because their desks didn’t live up to their promises. The desks they advertised as “easy-to-assemble” didn’t come with pre-drilled holes on the table tops, and lacked simple necessities like cable-management trays. As you can imagine, the negative reviews made an awful impact on the company!

4. Execution

Everyone would be successful if starting a company was just about thinking and planning ideas, but unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way. 99% of the work is in the execution. Planning and preparing is crucial, but it only matters if you actually follow through with your planned-out strategies. During the early stages of EFFYDESK, we had hired a marketing contractor that had laid out a year’s worth of planning regarding brand awareness and strengthening. It was brilliant — on paper, that is. We left him alone to execute everything, and asked him to contact us when he needed to. After a few months, we realized he was delegating all his work to another contractor, and his brilliant marketing strategies were all over the place! Execution is THE most important step and needs to be scrutinized.

5. Consistency

Once you have everything in place, make sure you stick with it. Like everything else in life, consistency is key. After you have started executing your plan and strategy, keep at it, and keep growing on top of it. Make notes of what’s working and what isn’t, and weed out the ideas that haven’t been performing well. Don’t be afraid to scrap parts of the strategy that looked good on paper but aren’t practical! If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Keep at it. Business is a bicycle — if you aren’t moving, you’ll fall off!

Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an 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.

I’ve always been a big advocate of mental health alongside physical health, hence the industry that I’m focused on. Mental health is one of the most important investments you can make for yourself, and many people aren’t aware how this affects their everyday life. If I was an authority and able to inspire a movement, it would be promoting mental health awareness. I’d even bring it up to par with physical health! EFFYDESK office accessories aren’t just about relieving physical pain, but about promoting a stress-free environment as well. I want to make sure that people are evaluating and prioritizing their mental health as well as their physical health, especially in periods of crisis and stress.

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, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.I would love to have breakfast with David Goggins, the famous Navy SEAL turned ultramarathon runner. His astounding accomplishments have been an integral part in shaping who I am today. I’ve been so inspired by his stories, and I’ve adopted many of the quotes he lives by and I act on them daily. At breakfast with him, I’d genuinely thank him for all he’s done for his audience. He’s inspired and motivated so many people — myself especially. He’s truly someone I look up to and I strive to be as dedicated and determined as he is. “If you’re willing to suffer, and I mean suffer, your brain and body, once connected together, can do anything” — David Goggins

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


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