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What’s your backstory?
I come from very humble beginnings in the UK. I was raised by a single parent who somehow managed to make ends meet but we definitely didn’t have a lot. No one in my family has ever really been successful or created any wealth, and nobody has ever been an entrepreneur. One thing I excelled at when I was younger was sports; it was my passion.
At the age of 7, I started training in the Korean martial art of Taekwondo and that became my life. By my teenage years, was already winning at multiple European and World Championships for England. One time I won a silver medal at a World Championship in Belarus. All of this was a huge part of how I realized that I could really win big when I get older.
Then again, I had to go to school, but like a winner, I didn’t merely accept my situation. Simply because I wanted to make more money, I did some Ebay buy-and-sell with clothing and accessories. It wasn’t long until I realized that university wasn’t for me. I left school and landed my first sales role for an engineering supplier firm. I helped significantly increase the revenue of that small business and I was approached about a role within recruitment (headhunting).
I eventually joined that recruitment firm and delivered stellar results. During my first years I was already billing 6-figures, but I absolutely hated that job. It was so old-school, and they only cared about the calls and the number of hours you did on the phone. You can get fired easily, and the managers didn’t even make us feel like anything more than a call center. I started experimenting with social media and realized that I could be way more productive using its tools to close more deals but make less calls.
When I discovered social media, I made it to a point to apply to LinkedIn or Hootsuite. I jumped through hoops, did several interviews, and finally landed a job at Hootsuite. I was able to improve my social media skills, rub elbows with executives of Fortune 500 companies, and most of all, destroyed my sales targets while I worked there. Such a life-changing experience, if you ask me.
Not long after that, I was approached by Leadfeeder. They were a Helsinki-based SaaS company who wanted someone to lead their growth in the UK and European markets. I accepted the job because it felt exciting and challenging to work for a very promising startup. I contributed to the growth of Leadfeeder too–taking a team of 16 to 40, and hiring employees from LinkedIn, Salesforce, Hootsuite, Google, and Dropbox.
When these results got into several talks around the SaaS world, my name got more traction and I also started doing growth marketing work for other SaaS companies. Then it hit me: it’s time to go solo. Left Leadfeeder in May 2018, and set out to build Hey Digital, my own growth marketing agency that helps other SaaS businesses grow.
Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?
It wasn’t easy for me to decide to build my own brand and my own business. These past few months showed that it has been a success, challenge, and most of all, a major responsibility.
Around the time I was seeing success at Leadfeeder I also started to experiment with growing my own personal brand. I built my Facebook group from 0-1000+ members in less than 6 months and my personal brand really started to pick up traction on LinkedIn. My content there has been seen by well over 1M people in the last couple of months. I also have my own podcast, The Social Media Growth Show which landed at number 11 within the iTunes business chart on its release. I’m also an international speaker as I was booked for a speaking gig in Belgrade, Serbia earlier this year.
Most of these successes and responsibilities have turned over positive results because of a constant string of challenges, too. Like everyone else, I underwent a lot of trial-and-error, especially in building my own team. I found out–the long and hard way– that it requires a lot of work, effective time distribution, putting other people’s welfare over mine, and most of all, just be a damn good CEO. Making sure every member of my team is happy is one of the most important things for me in business.
- Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
To tell you the truth, I am so far into my purpose that I really didn’t have a single moment where I thought that I would just give up. However, I remember I had an issue on my first month in business where I agreed to do 2 days of consulting work for a business in another country. This is a brand new client and even though they agreed to pay me upfront, they still decided that they wanted to wait until after I had delivered the training. Because I was still a newbie and I was truly excited to get it going, I booked my flight and accommodations, and flew out to conduct the workshop. Took me over a month to chase them and this set back the growth of my agency slightly because during this crucial time, it was a significant amount of revenue that I was banking on.
I took it as a learning experience and I decided to never work with someone who doesn’t align with my core values. Moreover, I also commit to never subjecting myself to that situation of feeling nervous if I’m going to make it the next month IF I don’t receive the funds. I also chose to look into the plus side of this event, where I was able to be an international consultant, travel the world and teach other people things that I am truly passionate about.