Search Interviews:

Lisa Larson-Kelley 3:25

that goes way back? You’re dating me now. But I specialized in video, specifically back in the day. And a little known feature of flash back then was that it could stream live video. And he had this whole suite of media server capabilities that just a small segment of people were really working with at the time. So I became part of the slack. I think it might have been many Usenet group, I don’t know. But it was this chat group of developers that that worked with Flash Media Server. And this was Macromedia days before they were bought. And then they were bought by Adobe. So I kind of followed that through and I built an app back then for like a very early nanny cam, but didn’t work out. It was a little performance time, fortunately. But I became an expert in that so that opened the door to a bunch of conferences that I wanted to attend, but couldn’t afford to at the time, just like I could speak so that worked out great. And and then I started Yeah, I was just on the on the speaking circuit for for flash and for streaming media as well.

Jeremy Weisz 4:34

You’re basically working on Zoom before it existed, essentially, right? I mean, resume days, many more many years, we presume? Um, so your background is also as developer?

Lisa Larson-Kelley 4:46

Yes. Yep. That’s where I started out actually as a graphic designer. And then just really, I’ve always been fascinated by technology and, and coding and all that I kind of did it back in high school before it was a thing was ain’t really a career, especially for women. So I was like, Oh, I’ll be a graphic designer. And then, as I was doing that, all these clients started saying, well, we want to put up a brochure on this on the worldwide web. So So I learned how to do that, and then found flash. And then that was that was it, I was back into coding again.

Jeremy Weisz 5:19

I’d love to talk about emerging technology, because you’ve kind of been even before your time on some of these technologies, even like we talked about with streaming video, I mean, right back in the day, it like a normal person couldn’t stream video, you needed someone technical like you to actually do things like that. And even Skype was was glitchy back then it’s gotten a lot better

Lisa Larson-Kelley 5:41

streaming have a little player, you know, that kind of thing back then,

Jeremy Weisz 5:45

what are you seeing? You know, I know, maybe with clients or just in general with I mean, you work with meta and Oculus? And what are some of the things you’re seeing with AR and the metaverse and maybe just talk about a little bit about, you know, what you’re seeing, but also, for the layperson, like myself, what what that actually means.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 6:07

Yeah, there’s so much hype around it right now. And

Jeremy Weisz 6:11

demystify it for us. Yeah.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 6:15

So it’s really about, you know, capturing, we’ve got VR, right virtual reality, which has been around for a while. And it requires big headsets. And a lot of, you know, it’s slimmed down a bit, but it’s still cumbersome for most people. And it started did get some traction, of course, in gaming and all that. And Oculus has made great strides now that it’s not wired, to have people use it, but it’s just not really getting the traction that I believe AR is going to have, because augmented reality. We have it on our phones, and everyone has access to it to augmented reality, when you change your face to a dog, you know, on Snapchat or use any of those filters. That’s augmented reality you’re taking, you’re looking at what’s there, and you’re adding a lender layer to it. So that’s all fun and games, and it’s getting people excited about it, which is good. But then the next stage is really how do we add value? How do we make that actually useful to people and Google’s made some big strides in that, you know, just with maps, getting you around, and wayfinding, and things like that. But I don’t know if you saw Jeremy, the latest thing that came out of their, their conference a couple of weeks ago, I think they had this demo video of glasses that you put on and you’re speaking to someone who speaks Spanish who don’t speak Spanish. And it will translate in real time right next to their face what they’re saying. That’s the kind of thing that I’m that I see. Augmented reality, really helping humanity for one thing, helping us all connect and be more connected. But also just not trying to sell something like it’s great makeup, try on. Awesome. Great, you know, but I see potential in these emerging technologies for more meaningful connection.

Jeremy Weisz 8:19

What are some of the potential you see? So like, you know, you’re saying, you know, people can use this sell stuff, right? Of course. What else? Are you seeing it? How do you see it being used in the future? Because I think when I hear that it gets at least the brainstorming juices flowing of maybe how someone could use this in their business or with their customers. So one thing you’ve seen is that translation. You know, real time what else? How else do you see it being used in the future?

Lisa Larson-Kelley 8:51

We can imagine new ways of really communicating and connecting and building things that we can’t build in the real world. In the metaverse, for example. You know, I’m thinking utopian.

Jeremy Weisz 9:06

But we are what would be an example. Yeah,

Lisa Larson-Kelley 9:09

just, you know, a place where you can meet with people from all over the world without any barriers, that you’re really in that space with them, you’re building things, you’re creating things, you’re exchanging ideas in ways that we can’t do here on Zoom, for example.

Jeremy Weisz 9:28

So does that look like? I guess I’m picturing are you you’re in it, and you’re actually a kind of whiteboard drawing or you’re at the table together? Like,

Lisa Larson-Kelley 9:36

yeah, or even. You can create things with your hands, you know, like build things and, and you can collaborate in ways that you can’t just do on a 2d whiteboard. You can actually be physically building things together. And they’re doing that right now with with cars, for example, and Ford is doing a lot with virtual reality augmented reality. In engineering, the new new generation of electric cars are using a lot of this kind of technology to, to work with people around the world and bring all that knowledge together.

Jeremy Weisz 10:11

So people or companies are using that stuff right now.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 10:14

Yeah, yeah, it’s it’s, you know, on the edge, there’s a lot of still a lot to learn, the technology has to catch up to make it really seamless. But some companies are using it today. All right.

Jeremy Weisz 10:28

How do you see it using using it in your business? Because you’re helping actually some of the companies that are on the cutting edge and actually working with this or inventing it as they go, how do you see yourself using it?

Lisa Larson-Kelley 10:42

Yeah, I mean, I’m, I’m looking forward to in the next year, having our all our team meetings in VR, for example, I would love to have AR, but we’re not quite there yet, with the technology, where you just put on a pair of glasses, and you’re sitting around a table with everybody, you have to start to put the VR headset on, you’re in a virtual environment. But I’ve done this on several occasions with metta. We’ve had meetings and work rooms is the the app that they have on Oculus. And it’s remarkably even though you’re sitting there you have a it’s an avatar, so you’re kind of cartoony, right, and you don’t have any legs. But other than that, you’re sitting at this table, and you can configure the room however you want. You’ve got a whiteboard, you’ve got people who don’t have VR headsets are up on a screen, like in a video conference, so they can see you in the environment, all of the people that are characters. And then you can, you can customize the room however you want. And it really remarkably feels real. I was in a meeting, for example. And I had a person next to me, and I was talking to them. And I went to cross my leg in real life. And I felt like I had to go like this so that I didn’t kick them across my lap, like they were really there. And it’s like, wow, this really does feel real. And the spatial audio also makes it. So if the person if the avatars over here, they sound like they’re over there, you know. So all of those little elements really come together to make it feel real. And I’m I really would like to have our, our team meetings once a week and in that setting, because that is one of our big challenges, which is working remotely. Yeah,

Jeremy Weisz 12:36

we’ll get to that in a second. Cuz I think this is everyone’s thinking about this, which is they used to be more in person. I mean, there are some companies that were always remote but but that’s probably less percentage wise, you know, there’s a hybrid there. And so we’ll talk about when some of the things you’ve done. But so just let me paint this picture. So everyone who’s going as meeting who’s virtual will have like an Oculus quest done. Like, I mean, I got one, actually during the pandemic, because I couldn’t really go to work out like I wanted to, I needed something at home, that was fun. And I would play basketball. And that wasn’t happening. So I got an Oculus quest to, to do some of the boxing games and like things that I thought were fine, because I’m not going to work out unless there’s like a ball or this fun involved. And so

Lisa Larson-Kelley 13:26

that’s what I use mine for most of the time. But so everyone

Jeremy Weisz 13:29

at this in the meeting had an Oculus quest to. And

Lisa Larson-Kelley 13:35

there were two people that didn’t have them that they were on the screen. So they were saw them as on a virtual screen in front of us. Yeah.

Jeremy Weisz 13:43

And if you don’t know like, because of course he was just looking up it’s like it’s it’s a wireless, almost like goggle headset thing. Almost looks like I guess a scuba diving mask except closed. And so you were on an app, like you said an app like work room within Oculus quest.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 14:01

Yep. Yeah, it’s a it’s a meta product called work rooms. And it just came out of beta. So they’re really working hard on

Jeremy Weisz 14:09

that was like, I don’t remember seeing that. Because maybe I wasn’t looking for it’s all to check it out. And can you record inside the workroom? Like record the meeting? Yes or no? Okay, so I could do an interview inside we should have done the interview inside a workroom, right. Let’s do a little I don’t know if that works. Is that is that technology there to record? It is. Okay. The Checkout worker so back to you know, I love how you’ve to hear how you’ve navigated remote right because I know before we hit record you’re like, you know you went from 10% remote to completely remote and some of the challenges opportunities there. So how did you make that transition from you know your team from in person to Remote.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 15:01

Yeah, like most of us, it was kind of overnight, we, you know, we were we heard about the pandemic. And most of us were in our office in Nyack at the time, and we were only about seven people at the time, and the office was getting full. Now I was starting to think, Okay, we’re gonna have to make a bigger investment in a bigger space, had to add people. So we’re kind of at that bursting at the seams of stage anyway, and then started hearing about a lot of cases in our area. And so we just middle of March 2020, we were done, everybody worked from home, we already on laptops, you know, it wasn’t that huge of a deal. Some of the people were working remotely like working from home once a week, you know, once a week or every now and then. But it was just overnight, we are now remote. So that was a, you know, a bit of a struggle in 2020. Everybody was, you know, trying to homeschool kids or, you know, do all the Zoom stuff. And it was stressful. So as that started, as everybody started getting into a groove, the work didn’t stop. For us, we’ve kept getting busier. So, you know, we’re workplace for example, one of our clients is that this is an enterprise product that meta as hidden lets people or like company, you know, companies, enterprises have their own version of Facebook. So all of a sudden, there was a little bit of interest in that, because everybody’s remote. So that business got busier. And we started hiring more people. And I realized, well, we can hire from anywhere. I don’t know when this is going to end, we don’t want to have to be limited to the New York area. So we started hiring a person in Florida, so I’m going to New Mexico, different places, and just kind of gradually realize, okay, I don’t need to get a bigger office space. I do have to manage people across different states, but we have, you know, a partner that helps us do that. And it’s really enriched our, just our work, I think, day to day, the quality of the work. And the challenge has been keeping everybody connected and feel. And we have a lot of spent a lot of energy on that. We have regular meetings, we’re on Slack all day, we have a real good gift game, you know, always trying to keep things light, and have a little fun, as well. And so it’s really been an investment in that. And we have a whole area of the business that is just keeping the team happy. Team connected.

Jeremy Weisz 17:49

Yeah, I want to talk about that gift game because I want to hear what you do to keep everyone connected. So it sounds like you know, you may do think, you know, Slack and maybe you all put the Oculus Oculus quest on and have an in person, you know, meet in person, quote, unquote, meeting in one of the work rooms. And but I like to talk about the what do you do like some of the other things like gift games? And what else do you do?

Lisa Larson-Kelley 18:19

We have every other week, we’ve started having some sort of teaser, we’ve got a little theme. So like teaser Tuesday. This week, I volunteered to run a wordle competition. So we’ve all competed against each other and Myrtle, just 20 minutes, you know, just in the middle of the day just to connect, have a little bit of fun. And we also just started using Gousto Gu U S to to give gifts. All the managers have a budget and so that person who won the tournament for a word all got a $10 gift certificate, just little things. I just feel like those kind and then we always celebrate birthdays, we celebrate Kwanzaa bursaries, people who’ve been with us, you know, there and quanti us anniversary. And, you know, give them a little gift, but also just have a little appreciation circle, sort of, as you know, touchy feely as that might be what we appreciate about that person. And so, things like that, we just really try to be conscious that they’re humans, everybody’s a human and we need to connect their spending, people are spending a vast majority of their lives sitting in front of the computer working. And we want to make sure that they get something back out of that, that time now and we invest a lot in professional development. Everybody gets a stipend every year to take some sort of class or it doesn’t even have to be directly related their job they want to take a pottery class pay for anything that’s going to keep the creative juices flowing

Jeremy Weisz 20:05

and efficient. So G u u Sto.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 20:09

Yes. We also use Gastel for all those things for payroll and everything a little confusing, but yes, it’s Gousto and gusto gusto payroll?

Jeremy Weisz 20:19

You know, it’s funny, because if you were to ask me, Lisa, what’s your prediction on Lisa, and their staff, if they’re virtual in person, I would have said, Oh, they’ve always been 100%. Virtual just because that’s the nature of the work. So you must have found it important to be in an office with people around you, even though all of your stuff has always been remote. Did you think where do you see balancing that? As we hopefully step out of, you know, COVID? Do you see, you know, a hybrid? Or what do you what do you see?

Lisa Larson-Kelley 20:53

I mean, especially in the tech world, there’s a real, you know, push and pull happening, or a lot of friction around going back to the office, you know, Apple? I don’t know if they said everybody’s going back to the office. And then like, one of their top engineers said, No, I’m out. And then they now they’ve reconsidered it, supposedly, because cases are up, but I could be other pressures. It’s just, it’s, it’s so ingrained in people of a certain generation, that that’s what you do, you go back to the office, like back to normal, we gotta be, you know, be together, there are some benefits running into each other at the watercooler or grabbing a coffee, those spontaneous conversations are really important. So trying to give opportunities for those remotely is off, but important. That’s why we’re on Slack all day. That’s why we have these, you know, little impromptu meetings and games and things like that. And we try to meet, we just, we also use the Hangout feature, the feature on Slack, where you can just pop in and have a audio chat really quickly. A channel, we use that a lot. Just so we can have those little conversations. And it’s, you know, there’s that part. And then there’s the whole, like, you remember, open floor plan with cubicles? Who the hell wants that? Nobody wants that. That’s not not so productive. So there’s, there’s benefits to just stepping back and reimagining how we work, and trying to make the best and reinventing.

Jeremy Weisz 22:35

What do you see the opportunity, so I could definitely see challenges, you know, removing that what are the opportunities we should be looking at in the future for, you know, being more remote and having the remote team.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 22:49

I think just really, it’s the diversity and, and add, of not just times, while there’s diversity of time zones, which helps us a lot, because a lot of our clients are in London, and everybody kind of has their own schedule, some people are really up early, some people are like to work later. And really kind of crafting a team that covers all of that just logistically is great, right. But just even differences of of location, there’s, you know, people in the metro New York metro area, you know, we have a lot in common, there’s a lot of diversity here. But it’s also we have a certain view of the world, right. And someone in New Mexico, is going to have different ideas and a different view. And so I really feel like having that diversity is, is helpful, especially in marketing. We are all part of the global community.

Jeremy Weisz 23:52

Lisa, you know, when we’re first chatting before we hit record, I was like, you know, what’s top of mind for you? And you said sustainability?

Lisa Larson-Kelley 24:00

What did you mean by that? A big element of that is, you know, having a workforce that is happy, engaged, productive, enjoying the work, and producing great results, and sort of crafting that for the long term. But the other is, is the work itself. You know, the environments changing, you know, with Apple’s changes to privacy laws, all of all the great marketing stuff we used to do now is different. We have to come up with new creative ways to find audiences. And, you know, part of that is, I see emerging technologies as being just another channel in that in a way what we really need to, at least for our business, we need to also diversify and bring all the great learnings that we had working with Meta for seven years and You know, we’ve learned a lot. We’ve been through a lot of reorg, and a lot. And we just imagine from where Facebook came from, to where they are now. And all the setbacks and all of that we’ve kind of weathered all of those reorg and everything. So taking all of those learnings and bringing them to the other companies to start ups to know other companies that could use that, that knowledge. That is the kind of sustainability that I’m thinking about, really not just focusing on one area, and mastering that, but then taking those learnings out to everybody else.

Jeremy Weisz 25:39

What’s been important to you, Lisa, as you’ve grown, like I mentioned, you know, you went from a two person operation to over 15. And growing, what’s been some important decisions or hires that have allowed you to to grow.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 25:56

Biggest thing that has made most impact by far is letting go and hiring a VP.

Jeremy Weisz 26:05

See that again, hiring, what letting go

Lisa Larson-Kelley 26:07

and hiring a VP of operations. The company I was handling both, I was sitting in both seats for a very long time. We did grow from like, you know, as you said, from two people, so it’s been very organic. So I feel like that was the big milestone when, Okay, I’m ready to let go of this stuff. I don’t I don’t need to be involved in question. I’m ready to, to think bigger, and be that connective tissue to the outside world, and then have somebody else handling everything else. And Sarah Hampton will rejoin the team back in just October, probably transformed the business in my eyes. What was the

Jeremy Weisz 26:56

process, like for hiring that person? Because it’s it’s a huge decision, right? This is stuff that you’re probably doing the day to day on, and you want someone that is going to maintain your same level of detail and all of the other elements? Yeah, talk about from the beginning that decision to actually the process of hiring. I mean, I would say it was

Lisa Larson-Kelley 27:19

probably a year of me being ready. And documenting, okay, these are all the things I’m doing that I don’t want to do anymore, or that I’m not the best at, and really taking the time to document those things. And doing that over over time, and slowly delegating things out that I could and realizing, okay, I need, there’s nobody on the team right now that can really take on this level of responsibility. So that goes in BP comm. Right. And so, you know, over that time, I developed, you know, job description based on that. And then I worked with a recruiter who specialized we are built on Eos, or, you know, we’ve implemented EOS Entrepreneurial Operating system over the past two years now. And so we worked with a recruiter who specializes in finding people for that integrator position, basically is what it is. And, and they started the search. And it took a while to find the right person. But, you know, they found Sara I went down we kind of met halfway in, she’s from Baltimore. So we met halfway in Jersey, and had a great meeting really connected. And she joined the team so and since then, like she really just gets it and I got that sense from the very beginning that she understood what my values were in building the company and that she was you know, supporting those but also bringing it on in her own experience to the table Yeah,

Jeremy Weisz 29:03

I love that so it’s like you’d made the decision then you documented it then you delegated things you could delegate then you create a job description of anything left over you found a recruiter who specializes in this because this is important enough that they this is what they do for the integrator position. And then you made sure the values matched up because obviously hopefully the recruiter find someone who’s the skill set is there so you wanted to make sure the values were there yeah, thanks for sharing that and in everyone’s check out I did an episode with Mark winters of rocket fuel. Check that out and of Gino Wickman separately, because you know, Lisa mentioned EOS and both of those kind of the they did a book together rocket fuel Gino and Mark and rocket fuel which is the visionary and integrator and so that you know everyone needs that integrator to like, take the wake of tasks that the visionary leaves in the wake of themselves and actually execute on them. Would you say That’s that’s about accurate.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 30:01

exactly true. Yep. Um, so,

Jeremy Weisz 30:05

you know, I want to kind of highlight and talk about some of the work that you do. And just talk about Time Square billboard.

Lisa Larson-Kelley 30:14

Yeah, that was a fun one. You know, we do specialize in marketing services, right? Well, what does that mean? We basically solve problems. So we work really closely with their marketing department and fill in any gaps that they have. So they were doing a huge rebrand of workplace last year. And they had many moving parts. And the CMO of workers had this vision, like, really wanted to, and we want to go big, I want to go in Times Square. There’s always this thing like, okay, all right, maybe. And so they were building out all these other pieces. And the branding work was beautiful, and and then all of a sudden is the end of the year. And someone up the chain says, Oh, we have some budget leftover, we got to spend this or we’re not going to you know, you’re familiar with this, but a big companies they have, they don’t spend their budget for the year, they don’t get it next year. So they said, Oh, we’ve got this big budget, we got to clear this out. Can we is there any way we can do that time square bill. And the marketing team is like, Oh, can we onto this can you help. And it turns out, we have on our team, someone who used to work for Disney and has done a million reviews. So she had all the specs, she knew what to do, she had the animator, and we were able to pull this thing together and get it up there in like four weeks. So it was up in Time Square, like from December through the beginning of February this year. And that was exciting to actually have something out in the wild, because so much of the stuff that we do is behind the scenes, or we can’t talk about it. This was the biggest place you could put it. So I got a great, great reception. That’s great. Solve that problem.

Jeremy Weisz 32:01

The sales enablement, one of the things you do is you help with sales, a male woman and specifically sales enablement for for workplaces. Talk about what workplace is, you know, because I know it’s for enterprise. And then what are the things that you did for on the sales enablement side?

Lisa Larson-Kelley 32:20

So workplaces, it’s basically your own private Facebook. So even a small company could use it. But big companies, you know, like retail companies, and food and beverage, and even like McDonald’s, for example, would use it. And that way, they can all stay in contact globally, in their own private and secure version of Facebook. They the salespeople for workplace, always struggled with showing this to really show how you can you know, it really connects people, right. And so they would make a fake account or a sample account for a big client, and they would go in and be empty, be like, Okay, well what this is fine, like they don’t see any value here. So they asked us to come in and create fictional companies. So we got to make up people’s names, a profile pictures, and don’t really pictures of their pets and, you know, different groups and knowledge bases and things and just build out a whole fake company for different verticals. So it had a huge impact on their sales. And like, we got all sorts of shout outs from the sales teams wanting more verticals and more examples, but they were really made a difference to the sales.

Jeremy Weisz 33:44

So someone like McDonald’s wants to use kind of their own white label version of Facebook for community and keeping in touch and, and so you’ll go in and kind of create these maybe specific what it could look like for that particular niche

Lisa Larson-Kelley 34:02

of a competence rest restaurant chain, for example, in a fictional large restaurant chain, or a fictional large apparel company, those kinds of things. So,

Jeremy Weisz 34:14

you know, I know one of the companies that you worked with, in the e-commerce sector is Shopify me, Shopify has grown tremendously over the past, you know, many years. And I know the specifics of what you do for them are probably private, but you know, but what are some of the the general things that you work with? In a company like that? Yeah, we

Lisa Larson-Kelley 34:36

provide that same sort of support for the product marketing team specifically. So again, like sales enablement, copywriting, messaging for new features, things like that would come out and we’re actually working with them on a go to market plan right now for a new feature, really building out the whole campaign. And then the creative as well as they are just, they’re hiring a lot, but not fast enough. And they really need that, that help to just come in and solve these immediate problems. And that’s what we’re doing for them.

Jeremy Weisz 35:13

And so it sounds like, correct me if I’m wrong, Lisa, when you come into these big companies, someone would think, well, they already have their publicly traded, they already have a whole marketing team. But really, one of the functions that you have is you fill in the gaps, because these companies are constantly growing. So they have this kind of stable outsource team to fill in the gaps. And also, if they’re transitioning, and also people are going from one company to another, so there is some type of turnover there. And so you fill in the gaps. And also, not only that, but like you also bridge the gap of someone who’s leaving and coming in and kind of train is that am I getting it? Right?

Lisa Larson-Kelley 35:52

Yes, we do a lot of onboarding and documentation and processes, and helping sort of being being that touchstone for someone new coming in to get source of truth and guidance about where to get started. We do a lot of that, as well. And, yeah, it’s really they find it really helpful. Loyalty, which I like, because it’s all about relationships, you know, we are We exist to make them shine. We don’t need the you know, to be in the spotlight, you don’t need to take the credit for anything. We make them look. So that’s why these relationships continue. What’s the

Jeremy Weisz 36:36

best is that you’ve been, you know, agency owner for ages, but for a while, and what some of the best advice you’ve gotten, either, you know, distant, maybe it was from a book or maybe from a mentor, or maybe from a group I know, we know each other through the Jason Swenk group, what’s some of the best advice you’ve gotten? As an agency owner?

Lisa Larson-Kelley 37:03

Yeah, there’s a lot of good advice through the years, but I think the biggest thing that hasn’t had the most impact for me, and my biggest struggle is letting people go when it’s time to go. Don’t hold on, like, and expect, you know, give them three, four or five chances to do better. It’s, it’s you’re holding them back, you’re actually keeping them from doing something that they’re going to excel at. And you’re holding back your your, what your company can accomplish and the quality of work, and also hurting your morale because everybody else. And, you know, because we grew so small, we had some people that were with us for a very long time, it was very hard to recognize, Okay, it’s time to move on. If for the good of the company and the good of you as an individual. So that that’s been the hardest thing for me, but the sooner you can do it that, you know, that’s personnel wise. That has been, I think, the biggest lesson for me. And other than that, it’s really letting go of having to do everything yourself. Recognizing what you’re good at, what you’re not. And honing in on your value as a leader and trusting the people that you are delegating to, to live up to that vision. Lisa,

Jeremy Weisz 38:39

I want to be the first one to thank you. Thank you so much everyone, check out That’s And thanks, Lisa. Thanks everyone. Thank you.