Intro

In upcoming posts I’ll be sharing some lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur, business partner, and owner of a growing digital marketing agency.
We’ll start here…

Expect Greatness

In a little over 3 years, my partner, my team, and I have built a multi-million dollar digital marketing agency. We started just the two of us, Josh and myself, and now we have about 22 full time employees, offices in the US, Hong Kong, and China, and an awesome, growing company. I knew from the moment that Josh and I started discussing the possibility of working together that we were going to create something special. It started with long phone conversations bouncing ideas around. We had, and I hate to use the word because it is SO very overused, synergy. We saw the world the same way. We wanted to make a difference through the work that we did. We cared deeply about helping other people and building a company with a rich culture where our people came first. We saw one another’s strengths and found that we communicated together very, very well. We were open with one another about our weaknesses and strived sincerely to help one another become better; leaving ego at the door. We did all of these things, and like I said, I knew we were onto something special, but there was one underlying principle in all of this. One theme that drove us and pushed us to what we knew would be great heights. We expected greatness. That’s it. We expected greatness from ourselves. We expected greatness from each other. We expected greatness from the future team we would build, the processes we would create, the partners we would work with and so on. We expected greatness and were not willing to settle for anything less; we still aren’t.

Hustle 

In the beginning when it was just the two of us, I lived in Hawaii (as a starving student pursuing a Liberal Arts degree, with my amazing wife and first child), and Josh had just packed up and moved his family to Hong Kong to adopt a child from China. When Josh and I first connected, MWI had one (maybe two) clients. Josh had been running MWI since 1999 and it had seen many highs and lows, and at the moment we began working together it was definitely at a low. Josh had had poor partnership experience in the past, and he wasn’t too interested in bringing on a partner at MWI again, but as a result of some advice from one of his closest friends, his mind and heart had been opened to the potential good that could come from another partnership at the company. He had looked for well over a year, interviewing many potential candidates to come on as a partner, but to no avail. Then we hooked up and started talking business.

It Started With Pokemon Cards

My background was in sales and management. Over the previous 10 years before we met I had sold everything from pest control door to door, to mattresses, to cell phones, to artwork. You name it, there’s a good chance I had either sold it or thought about selling it at some point. I was an entrepreneur and hustler at heart and loved the art of closing a deal. When I was 10 I opened a business in my backyard selling Pokemon cards in the backyard of my apartment building to kids (and their parents). I never cared too much for the cards, but when I saw that if I I could pay $2 dollars for a pack of cards, then turn around and sell some of those cards (you know, the Charizards, Blastoise, MewTwo’s,) for upwards of $30, I fell in love. Every day I would set up my table, and hustle around the neighborhood slinging my Pokemon cards. I found that if cased the cards up nice, a small investment, the value of the cards went up. On one excursion to buy some new cards to sell, I saw an ad on the bulletin board of the Shoppette where I’d buy my cards for a Japanese woman selling authentic Pokemon cards, shipped to her from family in Japan. I saw an opportunity and rode my bike to her apartment to check out what she had to offer. Sure enough, her cards were straight from Japan, and they looked cooler than any of the cards the other kids were trading. Sure, she sold the cards for $8 dollars a pack which was much higher than the cost of the cards we had, but I figured I could sell them for a whole lot more. Exclusivity sells at a higher price, right? Right. She was my new source (which I kept top secret, not even my closest friends knew where I was getting these cards), and my sales sky-rocketed. I had older kids coming up to me at the playground asking what they had to do to get some real Japanese Pokemon cards; it got to the point where my supplier couldn’t keep up with my demand.

Oh man, to be young again, those were great times.

To be continued…