Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Well, I had always dreamed of working in the business world and I got my start in the fast-paced world of retail sales for Verizon Wireless. Over 15 years, I worked my way through the ranks from sales rep to general manager of one of the busiest retail locations in the country. But I felt I needed a new challenge, one that was geared toward the future. Internet marketing was just starting to really boom about 10 years ago and I noticed A LOT of inefficiencies in how agencies delivered their services. So I combined my expertise in client management with my new marketing skills, and things really started to take off.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
I’d be happy too. When I first started out I really needed a way to prove my skills to potential clients. SEO is a “show me” business. People want to see what you’ve done and who you’ve helped more than anything. So when I was first making a name for myself, I had to show people I knew how to rank….so, I ranked myself as “the best looking guy in Miami” just to prove I could rank anyone for any term (though I don’t think my rank is wrong 😉 ). Now I show clients that as a fun ice breaker and it really helps me seal the deal.
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?
I think the biggest mistake I made was one that all successful business people learn: it’s not about money, it’s about helping people. Sounds cliche, but it’s 100% true. When you focus on making money, you never focus on the people that matter most: your clients. Once I started focusing on helping people and putting them first, my results SKYROCKETED. The best part was that clients started sending me referrals in droves. That’s the #1 lesson you have to learn in business if you want to be successful.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My agency focuses on long-term relationships with our clients. They view us as partners in the growth of their company and not just a bottom line expense. We demonstrate how we are bringing value to our clients every month, especially when building and executing their digital marketing plans. A lot of our clients come to us without an online presence and see their business really booms when we get them started.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Burn out is easy in any fast-paced industry, but especially this one. Google updates the algorithm hundreds of times or more each year and you never know what’s coming. I’d say stay on top of current trends and set new, higher goals for yourself. Never stop meeting new people and networking. Oh, and also, never feel guilty about taking time to enjoy the things in life that make you happy like family and vacations. We work hard so we deserve it!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I would say it’s my best friend and business partner, Matt Brandenburg. The guy is a genius and has been in this industry since he was a kid. He helped get into the business, guided me in the right direction, and supported me along the way. I wouldn’t be here without him!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I truly believe that we have to be the good we want to see in the world. That’s why I try to give back as much as I can and help anyone who asks. I know I wouldn’t be here without help from others in my life, so I never hesitate to give someone advice or point someone in the right direction. If you try to help others, then people will want to help you. It’s that easy.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s not a full quote per se, but the quote that “life is a succession of lessons” really speaks to me in my life and in my business. Business is hard and entrepreneurship is NOTHING like the final result we see. There are peaks, valleys, hardship, more valleys, some steep and rocky hills to climb up, and then success…and it doesn’t stop there. Falling down is easy but when you’re going up, gravity is working against you.
You’ve got to take your lessons and not dwell on them. If you make a mistake, it was a lesson learned. Now move on and get better. If you don’t have that attitude, you won’t last.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Business isn’t about money, it’s about people – Like I said before, I didn’t start really making money until I focused on helping people.
Good employees are hard to find – Just having someone you can rely on is half the battle. Someone that’s good AND reliable is a relationship you have to keep. I can’t tell you how much easier it is to run a successful business when I’m surrounded by good people and vice versa, how hard it is when I have people I can’t rely on.
Business doesn’t care who you are. It cares what you can do: Business doesn’t care what degree you have or your past. It’s all about what you can do now. When I was first starting out I tried to sell people on my credentials and my love of marketing. Didn’t work. I had to show people I knew what I was doing. It’s all about results.
You’ve got to get good at wearing multiple hats: My experience in management and retail really helped me in the beginning. I realized that even though I was an SEO expert, I was spending a lot of time doing everything else associated with the business and not as much on SEO as I had thought. As a business owner, I’m doing sales, managing clients, recruiting, accounting, etc. Be prepared to be someone new every day :).
You’ve got to take your “me time”: There’s so much pressure to get things done as quickly as possible in business. Everyone needs everything immediately. You have to learn how to always work with urgency without getting burnt out. You can’t be successful without having balance. Take your time, be honest and urgent about turn around times, and never feel guilty about taking well-deserved time off. Business is a big part of my life, but it’s not everything. If you don’t take time for yourself you will eventually lose your competitive edge.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
Thanks for the compliment! I’m not sure how much influence I have or how I could start a movement, but I really believe that kids are better off learning business with boots on the ground rather than in a classroom. I wish kids spent more time with local business owners so it could pique their curiosity and teach them business skills rather than reading books. That stuff just makes them fall asleep. I’d like to help as many local students learn about online marketing as I can. There are so many skills that students never learn in class that are useful in the real world….and so many skills that they do learn that aren’t useful at all!
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