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JP Holecka is the Founder and CEO of Power Shifter Digital, a digital product and service design studio that creates simple and easy-to-use mobile apps, web apps, and websites. He is a digital innovation expert with over 30 years of experience in the industry. As the founder of Power Shifter Digital, JP has successfully guided major brands such as Energizer, Deloitte, Lululemon, and TELUS through the digital landscape. Known for his commitment to enhancing work environments and agency culture, he also co-founded the Trove group of agencies. JP is an expert in creating user-centered digital products and is an advocate for safe creative spaces where ideas prevail.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [3:03] The underlying frustrations that led to founding Power Shifter Digital
  • [8:47] Insights into Power Shifter’s successful project with Zion, a direct-to-consumer brand
  • [12:04] The importance of user-centered design
  • [14:42] Ways startup brands can break into competitive markets by offering radically different experiences
  • [16:11] How an unconventional company is tackling modern piracy with innovative tracking solutions
  • [20:24] Evolving a digital agency team to meet the demands of complex technological solutions
  • [23:53] Common pitfalls that have led to challenges or failures in other agencies
  • [30:25] The transformative impact of AI and generative AI as a force multiplier in agencies
  • [36:13] The key to developing and maintaining a healthy agency culture
  • [41:48] JP Holecka’s experience with mentors and their influence on his journey
  • [48:22] Actionable strategies JP implements to manage dyslexia in a work environment

In this episode…

Are you tired of traditional brand-centric approaches that fail to resonate with your audience? Do you wonder how a deep understanding of customer experiences can revolutionize product design and service delivery? Is there a way to turn digital presence into a robust consumer journey that goes beyond aesthetics?

Serial entrepreneur JP Holecka takes a deep dive into Power Shifter Digital’s transformation journey over the past 15 years, helping household names redefine their online strategies. He highlights the importance of prioritizing user-centered design and research to create digital products that look great while offering exceptional experiences to customers. He shares how they helped Zion, a direct-to-consumer brand, pivot from a conventional branding approach to one that emphasized customer journey and experience, ultimately positioning them for success in a highly competitive market.

In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast , host Dr. Jeremy Weisz and guest JP Holecka discuss the fascinating intersection of innovation and entrepreneurship. JP shares how his frustration with the status quo in marketing agencies led to the formation of Power Shifter Digital — an agency that values creativity and collaboration while maintaining an intense focus on improving customer experiences through technology and design.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “An idea could come from literally anywhere in the company, because the idea should win the day, not who had the idea.”
  • “If we work together, combining our expertise with our clients’, extraordinarily positive things happen.”
  • “Generative AI is a force multiplier for the creative ingenuity necessary for successful agency work.”
  • “The right balance of process removes the chaos tax and lets the team focus on what they’re good at.”
  • “Generative AI can hallucinate, and it’s competent in its hallucinations — you need human spark and quality control.”
  • “Culture isn’t a checkbox; it has to start at the top and be consistent.”
  • “When it comes to dyslexia in the workplace, being transparent is key — it changes the game completely.”

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz  0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today’s different I’ve JP of And JP before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes people should check out of the podcast. Jason Swenk actually had on twice, you know Jason, you’re actually on his podcast before. And Jason one podcast was more about how he built his agency, updated figures and sold it. The other one is kind of what more he’s doing recently, which is buying up agencies. And he also runs an agency group for high-level agency owners as well. So those are great talks about the valuation, the landscape and everything like that. So check that out. Another good one was Todd Taskey.

Todd Taskey kind of pairs agencies with private equity. And he helped sell agencies. And that was also another great conversation about the agency landscape. And he has a Second Bite Podcast because he’s found some of the agencies he sells make more on the Second Bite than they do in the first has to do with being acquired by private equity. So check that one out. It’s very interesting as well, and many more and And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. How do we do that? We actually do that by helping you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast we do the accountability, the strategy and the full execution.

JP, we call ourselves the magic elves that work in the background and make it look easy for the hosts in the company. So they can create great content and build amazing relationships. For me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire on this planet and share with the world with their work in so if you thought about podcasting, you should you have questions go to And I’m excited to introduce JP Holecka.

He’s founder of Power Shifter Digital, you can find it at He has over 30 years of experience driving innovation in digital product design, communication, and helping major brands. Some you’ve heard of like Energizer, Deloitte, Lululemon, TELUS, and many more. He’s been recognized for his advocacy to improving agency work environments, and culture. And we’re going to talk about that he also started Trove group of agencies, it’s teamed up with three agency specialist groups that help other companies, too. So JP, thanks for joining me.

JP Holecka  2:48 

Awesome. Thanks for the intro. And you’ve also given me a list of things that I’m now going to have to add to my starting the year off with a couple of podcasts and whatnot. So thanks for that.

Jeremy Weisz  2:58 

They’re both great for sure. Talk about Power Shifter, a little bit and what you do.

JP Holecka  3:03 

Now with Power Shifter, we’re actually celebrating as it was last September 15 years of being in business. And it was started as many agencies are started, which is just, disgruntled or don’t like the way in which something is working at a current agency, and we go off to do it our own way. I had been working in advertising in the agency space for several years, and was really frustrated with the how you think of the madmen movie series, TV series. Not a lot, it’s really changed. Honestly, in a lot of the typical advertising and large marketing firms, a lot of the is still top-down, driven down a creative director driven, a lot of fear a lot of overworked employees and whatnot, it’s not so much in the digital space, a lot more progressive stuff there.

But when I started in 2008, I thought I wanted to try and create something where a safe place for ideas to foster and an idea could come from literally anywhere in the company, because it was the idea should win the day. Not who had the idea. But that was really the genesis for it. And I had been a client as well as working in commercials in with agencies. I’d also been a client at a large corporation working with one of the big WPP agencies, and had been the recipient of what I don’t know it was a not an awesome experience working with agencies and offices and it was a lot of awesome them. But we know best being an agency. And so I thought I wanted to change that having been a client. I was like they’re not tapping into what we know here. And there’s a lot if we work together.

So those are the two real big principles, which I found. It’s something we call direct to expert here, which is our experts and our clients experts co-creating together we really knocked down the barriers, traditional barriers of where Account Services fits in, and then something that was Before agile, which we called early and often and sometimes ugly, and by that I mean, napkin sketches, anything we could get in front of our clients. And because we were working so closely with them without the bottlenecks, we could say, look, we this is an idea that we’ve got, we’re gonna going to skip this Tada moment where we work on a PowerPoint deck for weeks to show you something, let’s get you buy in quickly.

So those two founding principles are lived and breathed here every day. And the outcomes that we’ve seen for our clients and their customers ultimately, have been phenomenal. And our relationships with our clients have been very strong. And the growth within the organization, and the lack of churn here, and engagements have been high. So those are the really big founding principles, which do all those things. But ultimately, we look after our clients customers, through user-centered design, and development of these digital products and services and websites, we would be doing the right thing, 15 years later, as I just shared with a year-end video for our team, the other week, it’s been our best year, ever.

And it’s not just, the KPIs or various, it’s not just revenue, but they look at all of the things from what we’ve learned, and where we’re at in moo rolling into 2024. We are doubling down and all those things that were our founding principles, because we have recognized that they’re working.

Jeremy Weisz  6:26 

I want to talk about, we’ll talk about culture. Right. And I, you speak a lot and have over the years on that. But I want to touch on services in niche for a second. And on the services side, talk about the evolution of services when you first started, what did you decide you were going to offer and how has it evolved?

JP Holecka  6:47 

Yeah, when I first started, it was in the mid to late 2000s. And Flash is just a year or two before Apple and then you know, created the iPhone and essentially killed Flash. So a lot of marketing sites were very narrative-driven, brand-driven, and a lot of animations and visual storytelling. So we started in that space, which was smaller websites, very ephemeral around for a couple of months, very campaign-driven. And as things progressed, and as we grew, we started to see that there was a bigger difference we could make by making products and services, and software, ultimately, which is what digital products are just under a different name that were user-centered, that would work well on mobile.

So we really doubled down on going responsive with this in the early days, and decided that we’re going to be design-driven research-driven, so that our clients could create things for their customers that were easy to use. And it took a long time to get there. A lot of people still wanted what they come rolling the door and wanted a website, even though they were referring to something much more complex. And it took a while for us to get ourselves positioned to be known for it. Happy to say that we have so that’s services in the digital agency space has become used to be a digital agency was you just had digital agencies.

Now it’s such a large umbrella that you’ve got so many specialties within digital, I think that’s the biggest thing that’s changed since we started, you can’t just be one digital agency and do all things well because there’s just so many things that can be done. And so I think that then niching down as you say, has become a bigger piece of it, which has meant also fragmentation for clients having to go to different agencies to get the digital smorgasbord of things that they need done.

Jeremy Weisz  8:47 

I want to highlight this a little bit. I’m going to just for the people listening to the audio only I’m going to post pull up the screen so there’s a video version of this but you can see we’re at and I went to their work so we could just kind of understand a little bit more and you can see they have a bunch of companies here Angel Oak Home Loans Luxi five by five Delta controls, BC ones but this one stuck out which is Zion Yeah. Talk about what you did there just to highlight what about the services a little bit?

JP Holecka  9:21 

Well, this was an interesting one they came to us as a start startup they sit in the space of a haircare and other things they would be a competitor to keeps and likes those…

Jeremy Weisz  9:36 

Oh yeah I see their commercials everywhere. Following me everywhere. Yes, I may target market.

JP Holecka  9:47 

Actually use the product. I’d like to I like these guys so much that I actually use the product. So they came to us very preconceived notion of what they needed. And we took a look at it and said we think we need something different for direct consumer where they were focused on a traditional brand sense of what their brand meant to be. And what I’m really proud of is they, the CEO was really ready to listen and ready to make adjustments to their strategy, startups have a very finite amount of resources, they have got to get a market fit quickly.

And they, it took some convincing at the onset to say, don’t focus so much on traditional branding, that is, of course important. But when you’re starting a direct consumer company, you really need to make sure that the brand experience ultimately goes beyond the look and feel. It has to be how you act and how the experiences for someone to in this instance, someone’s you know, you’re already emotionally probably tied up with this, you’re worried about your you know, how you look, that’s an emotional piece, it’s not cheap, it’s very expensive barrier to entry. And then there’s Dr. beers that are involved online, you send pictures, like, it’s very complicated to get the product into the hands.

And if you just focused on the look and feel, and not on the actual journey to get the product into the hands, it’s not going to happen. So a lot of friction, rethink the way in which they’ve removed the friction and really focus on once they got to the site. That’s where two-thirds of the brand really takes off, especially for a DTC brand like this. And again, it took a little convincing, but once we really showed them what it could be, we really reconsidered all of their strategy and double down on that experience. And we actually just after just over two years, because we continue to work with them just finished up our contract with them. And they are well on their way.

And it turns out to be they came to us for one thing, and left with something else, but super satisfied that they did listen to what we had to say, and actually helped implement them. So they’re well on their way. And so that one I think was really good. Because it isn’t just about how something looks, which is important, of course, but it’s how you act as a brand.

Jeremy Weisz  12:04 

So what they thought JP, they thought they just wanted maybe like a website redesign or something and you gave them kind of a full from a customer-centric, how to improve the customer experience and the delivery through the platform. Is that accurate?

JP Holecka  12:21 

Yes, they had all those in place, but they weren’t as emphasized in their program. And so we’ve flipped it on the minute became a much more medical-looking site, in a good way to help confidence for buyers, again, lots of barriers to entry, I’m pleased to say that they’re well on the way and this is, again, a very happy customer for us.

Jeremy Weisz  12:51 

Talk about the research that goes into it. Obviously, you don’t just talk to them once and you just plop up this stuff, what’s the kind of the research phase that you have to do to come up with this journey apparently?

JP Holecka  13:08 

Well, with user-centered design, our job is to put ourselves into the shoes of ultimately our clients customers. And when we do that, and we shed all of what we think we know. And we go in and do a ton of research, we do primary research, which we interview those we go out and actually interview those that could be potential buyers, what are the blockers that they’ve had in the past why they chose to play with other brands? Then we work into doing high-level prototypes to check to see the messaging and do user testing.

So to see the messaging that’s working to see the you interaction design that’s working, what are the barriers? How can we streamline it before we even get to any code. And then when we know that we’ve tested it, it’s working theoretically, we’ve seen the prototypes, testing, the user research is showing that the messaging the design is aligned, then we get into the coding and finish it up. So there’s a lot of upfront research that we do, sometimes months and months. And if something doesn’t test, well, then we need to go and make adjustments. We’ll make those adjustments in the prototypes, and then test again until we’re ready.

And clients are ready to say you know what, we’re ready for the bigger commitment because ultimately, when you start the coding and doing the technology, that is the bigger piece of an investment that is also harder to pivot out of or make changes down that road. So that’s the big piece of where we specialize in and making sure that the design and the research is as important as the technology that’s going to drive the platform when it’s finished.

Jeremy Weisz  14:42 

I’m curious on some of the common questions or obstacles that you had to learn and handle through the website right because in a direct-to-consumer, they may not be talking to anyone what were some of the from the research were the common challenges or obstacle holes that you’ve overcome.

JP Holecka  15:03 

I think the biggest one for this is that it’s a sensitive topic for many, while people don’t like to say that they’re potentially using this product. So trying to find those that when they actually step up to answer questions, and it is also an area that their competitors are well, well-funded, and are also well entrenched with advertising, as you’ve, as you’ve noted, have large, large budgets. And so some of the challenges for this year to get in a new company into this market, as a challenger brand, was to help them really, how can they be radically different with their experience versus the competition, because it is a competitive and crowded space.

And when I mean, crowded, there’s like three or four. But that’s all it really takes, especially as well capitalized as the competitors are in a space to try to break in for a startup that is fledgling, the key here was they had their IP is a very, very unique approach. So you know, being able to have the consumer understand that this is a different way of doing things.

Jeremy Weisz  16:11 

So I can see, from the standpoint a little about the services, there was another type of company, which is interesting, which is a pirate tracker.

JP Holecka  16:24 

Yeah, it’s not on our site yet. But as we get into the space of doing again, more services, as I was mentioning to you, we are working with an international organization that is going to be helping navies, various navies, and pull different types of law enforcement globally, to be able to do a better job of tracking and monitoring piracy at sea. And as you may or may not be aware of it right now, in the Red Sea, there’s a lot of stuff going on, US Navy’s being attacked by various Houthi militias and whatnot, that’s just part of it.

But this will be an integral piece to helping those that are Merchant Navy and merchant ships navigating around hot areas, hotbed areas and for law enforcement to again, to better control and track monitor, and ultimately suppress and do the best I can to eradicate it. So I think it’s really cool. You don’t get to do a lot of things, like our job at an agency like this get to do many different things. I think that’s one of the reasons why we all love it is every day you do how often you get to tell people, you’re building an empire tracker.

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