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Ted Lau is the Founder and CEO of Ballistic Arts, a high-touch lead-generation digital marketing agency with over two decades of experience. Starting in video production, he transitioned to digital marketing to offer established mid-market B2B organizations a path to increased business through marketing efforts. Ted boasts a diverse clientele, from local organizations to prominent companies across North America. He is also co-host of the Marketing News Canada podcast, where he interviews guests from CMOs to astronauts. His entrepreneurial spirit, tenacity, and commitment to core values have helped shape and grow Ballistic Arts into a successful self-managed company.

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

  • [0:22] The evolution of Ted Lau’s career from a video production company to a leading digital marketing agency
  • [5:59] How Ted utilizes cold calling and networking to build his business from the ground up
  • [6:40] How core values have shaped Ted’s hiring process in the agency
  • [11:44] The unique way Ted got started in sales and how it influenced his business approach
  • [18:24] How internal promotions contributed to leadership development within Ballistic Arts
  • [19:35] The significance of project management as a turning point for Ballistic Art’s growth
  • [28:42] How Ted navigated buying out a business partner amidst company turmoil
  • [30:30] The transformation of Ballistic Arts from a service business to a lead gen powerhouse
  • [42:19] How Ballistic Arts helped Eco Raster surpass their B2B lead generation goals

In this episode…

Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom with nowhere to go? Imagine building a business to find it resting on shaky foundations, teetering on the edge of collapse, with the weight of responsibility threatening to break you. What if there was a way out, a strategy that could turn it all around?

Digital marketing expert Ted Lau shares his gripping tale of entrepreneurship resilience. Starting from cold calling out of his parent’s basement, Ted grew his agency through 20 years of industry changes. He shares the critical importance of hiring based on core values, the power of promoting leadership from within, and the transformative impacts of personal development programs on business practices. Ted recounts the painful period of buying out his partner and salvaging Ballistic Arts from near ruin.

In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz interviews Ted Lau, Founder and CEO of Ballistic Arts, about the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship. Ted recounts surviving business hardships, shares the intricacies of transitioning from a project-based business to a formidable lead-generation agency, and offers an intimate look at his personal and professional development, shedding light on what truly matters in business: loyalty, determination, and resilience.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “Until we start making money, it’s not a real business.”
  • “You can have varying interests, but if you have similar core values as humans, you’re going to make a great team.”
  • “Desperate situations make it tempting to compromise, but core values should guide your hiring every time.”
  • “Taking 100% responsibility doesn’t mean shouldering the blame — it’s about making the situation better regardless of its origin.”

Action Steps:

  1. Embrace cold calling and networking as foundational business-building tools: Ted’s story emphasizes that persistence in outreach can build the initial client base crucial for early business survival.
  2. Cultivate an organizational culture based on core values: A strong set of core values guided Ballistic Arts in hiring and team cohesion, proving it’s a blueprint for internal business success.
  3. Promote leadership from within your organization: Encouraging the growth of team members into leadership roles, as Ballistic Arts has done, can foster loyalty and a shared vision for company success.
  4. Engage in personal development programs that empower leadership and self-improvement: Ted Lau’s experience demonstrates the impact of personal growth on business decision-making and conflict resolution.
  5. Develop a clear methodology for your services focused on client success: Ballistic Arts’ goal-oriented lead generation strategy illustrates how aligning agency success with client success leads to mutually beneficial outcomes.

Sponsor for this episode

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The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:15 

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

Jeremy Weisz 0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, founder of I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Ted Lau and Ted founded We’ll talk all about that. And, Ted, before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes of the podcast people should check out. There’s one episode, actually two with Jason Swenk. Jason Swenk built his agency up to eight figures and sold it. And then even buying up agencies. He also has an agency group. And that was just interesting to hear his evolution, the agency space valuations.

Another good one was Todd Taskey, Todd Taskey, basically helps pair private equity with agencies. And he helps sell agencies and he has a Second Bite Podcast. So because sometimes he found that people who sold to private equity made more on the second bite than they did on the first bite. So that’s also an interesting episode, and many more on And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream relationships. How do we do that? We do that by helping you run your podcasts are an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast. We do the accountability, the strategy and the fox succussion.

Ted, we call ourselves the magic elves that run around in the background and make it look easy for the host and the company so they can create great content and great 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 have found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world with their work. And so if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should and you have questions, go to

And I’m excited to introduce Ted Lau. He’s the founder and CEO of Ballistic Arts. And they are a high touch lead generation digital marketing agency. He looks young, but a couple decades later, he’s been running this agency for over 20 years. They focus on online lead generation for establish mid-market b2b, across North America. And these people, if you think of who they are, they’ve been frustrated. They’re not getting enough new business from their marketing efforts. And that’s why people called Ted and some people call him Obi Wan Kenobi of this. So past clients include the Business Council of British Columbia Shift IQ, and they’ve like 11 pages of more of clients that they even have on their website. And he’s also the co-host of the podcast, Marketing News Canada. Ted, thanks for joining me.

Ted Lau 2:55 

Yeah, thank you, Jeremy. I know you’re not supposed to call you Dr. J. But I had to do that. Thank you for having me on your show. And yeah, I would love to also just give a shout out to my co-host to Marketing News Canada as well. We have had a few interviews recently the CMO of Indeed, Jessica Jensen was a great interview where we talk about the differences between B2B and B2C marketing. And really, at the end of the day, it’s B2P. Also the CMO over at Fightcamp, which is founded by six Canadians, and a Bostonian and they basically raised $90 million to create a fighting app, fitness app. And that was a really great story about how they went from zero to hero. And we also have one my favorite is interviewing Colonel Chris Hadfield. He’s a Canadian hero, astronaut. And he talks about what he did in space and what his favorite meal was in space. So if you get a chance.

Jeremy Weisz 3:51 

Are you going to reveal? You got to listen. Is it astronaut ice cream?

Ted Lau 3:56 

Is not astronaut ice cream. You’d be surprised what it was. I did not expect that to be the case. But you have to tune in.

Jeremy Weisz 4:03 

I love it. You mentioned we’ll talk about we’re going to talk about B2P for a second. But before we do, just tell people and if they’re your watch or listen to the audio, there is a video version. And so you can check this out but talk just for a second about Ballistic Arts and what you do.

Ted Lau 4:22 

Yeah, thank you. So Ballistic Arts. We are a full-service lead generation digital marketing agency. As you mentioned, we’ve been around for 22 years I started this in the room above my parents as garage. And yes, thank you for saying that. I’m young. You can’t see the gray hairs with my I guess not very good camera but we’ve been around the block and the folks that we service are mid-market B2B companies who are struggling trying to find different people for different parts of marketing.

They’re feeling like they’re not getting guidance on their leads and at the end of the day, they are feeling like their marketing is a waste of money and not getting the ROI and everything that we do is basically running their into hire creative sales marketing funnel from things like top of funnel-like PPC, SEO things like getting your blogs written short form video all the way to middle of funnel landing pages website creation and then the conversion point or the bottom of funnel via email marketing fill in and form remarketing doing word of mouth 2.0, where we get you a ton of reviews.

Ultimately, it’s about hitting your sales goals because our clients, what they care about most is the actual return on investment, how much money they’re making out of their marketing efforts. We’re not here to be fluffy like maybe, Nike or whatnot. Not saying that Nike is fluffed. But they have a lot of money. And maybe they can experiment on a few more things. Our clients are trying to put food on the table, because they’re B2B companies, they just want to see a return.

Jeremy Weisz 5:46 

Love it. And so talk about for a second, why so you’re above your parents, you’re at your parents place, what made you start the agency?

Ted Lau 5:59 

Well, that story is a little bit, let’s dial it back. So it was, oh, six months after 911 or so. I just came out of school. And I was in video production. I actually went to a local school in Vancouver, Canada, where our head offices. And I wanted to get into film production movies, being a child of immigrants, you’re supposed to be a doctor or lawyer or accountant, whatever that is. And I’m like, I’m not doing that. I’m gonna chase my dreams. What did your parents do? My dad worked at the bank. My mother was a at first stay-at-home mother and then became a real estate agent.

Jeremy Weisz 6:39 

So some entrepreneurial?

Ted Lau 6:40 

Well, actually, yeah, I think I had a friend of mine, actually, client of mine asked me when I first started the business, he was like, you seem pretty dialed in on business. Is it in the blood? And at the time, I didn’t even realize but I look back and especially on my mother’s side, she has there’s nine siblings, and eight out of the nine ended up running their own business. Now they were all sole proprietors, right? A tailor, counselor, import exporter, those kinds of folks. So they kind of just worked for themselves and were self-employed. But I guess I just always knew that I was going to work for myself.

In fact, a few years ago, I went to see a counselor and he got me to do this exercise. And ask people close around me and said, you know, just to figure out, did they think that you were ever going to be an entrepreneur and what qualities and traits that you needed? And I remember asking my dad, like, dad, did you ever think when I was growing up, I’d be running my own business? And he’s like, no, but I knew that you couldn’t work for somebody.

Jeremy Weisz 7:52 

He’s like, you never listen to me growing up.

Ted Lau 7:54 

Exactly, never gonna work for me like, so it’s either become living on the streets or run my own business. And he’s like, yeah, pretty much, right. And so that was kind of what happened. But to do your point, why did I start the business, I always knew I wanted to start a business, but I was trying to get a job in Vancouver, it’s kind of deemed Hollywood north, a lot of production happens, like Deadpool is filmed in Vancouver, X Files and those kinds of bigger shows. And I wanted to get into that. But 911 happened and everyone lost their jobs. There’s not a lot of production, all the production went back to LA. And I was just trying to make a living I met, I started doing a lot of volunteering.

And I met my former business partner on set, and an indie film shoot. And we work really well together. And he’s like, hey, do you want to start a business? And I was like, Sure, how hard could it be? Like, literally, was my thought, like how hard yeah, we’ll just do that. And we kind of played business. For the first five, six months we built. We tried to find a name, then chose a logo, then built a website. And when we built the website, we were so naive, and ignorant about this is the internet back in the early 2000s. Right? We sat back business come, business did not come, no business to be had. And so we had to figure out how we’re going to do this. Actually it was me, him and another partner, those two guys were working full-time at the mall at a local photo development shop.

And I said, look, if we really want to do this, someone’s going to have to do sales. And the both of them said not it. I guess I’m doing it. And I literally just use the Yellow Pages and the book, Yellow Pages and just started cold calling, Mondays was restaurants, Tuesdays was plumbing, Wednesdays was with automotive Thursdays was, I don’t know law firms or something like that. And we just was dialing for dollars and got hung up a lot and knows and all that and one brick at a time.

Jeremy Weisz 9:52 

Ted, what was working at the time because you learn really quickly right? What people are responding to. What was the niche that you found was working in what you were saying what was working? Because that’s not easy, right? There’s a lot of things that have to happen in a cold call,

Ted Lau 10:10 

I guess so, I think so a few things that I would, I would say, being a child of immigrants growing up in North America, all my friends were white, and they grew up with allowances, this thing called allowances. I never got such a thing called an allowance. And so I was always kind of scrounging for extra dollars, just to, buy a pair of sneakers or whatnot. And early, early on, I begged and pleaded my parents to, I wanted to get a job. But the legal working age in British Columbia at the time was 15. So I couldn’t work. And so my mother, who we talked earlier, is a realtor, she ended up getting a job for herself in her name, and giving it to me, and the job was a cold calling job, for a place called Fabric Land, where middle-aged to older ladies are buying reams of fabric, and then sewing dresses, curtains, drapes, whatever they want to do.

And my job was they printed the stack of dot matrix paper, in each line had a name and a phone number. And then if every call I made was 25 cents, and I thought, oh, man, I’m gonna be rich, right. And the great thing about that was, you’re calling little old ladies in the 90s. There was no internet, there’s 13 channels on television. So they’re kind of lonely. And it was great. They were super friendly. Oh, so nice young man calling me. And in fact, we got on so well, with a lot of these calls. I had to tell them oh, I have to go now because I’m making a quarter a call.

Jeremy Weisz 11:44 

You should have been charging them. And I think there’s a business there. I was talking to someone like having a, like an elderly person having a friend. You could have been charging them actually, after five minutes, I’m charging you $1 amount.

Ted Lau 11:58 

Exactly. I should have done that. But it was a really warm experience, I have to say it was very friendly. And I made a bit of money on it.

Jeremy Weisz 12:06 

So you associated it with positive experiences not negative. And did they give you any training? Or do they just hand you a ream of paper, and go.

Ted Lau 12:14 

A ream of paper, and then there was on a piece of paper, they gave you a script that you had to read, like, hey, next Saturday is our Fabric land spring sale, I’m better than that and say stuff. But because it was kind of boring, I’m a creative type and I get bored with the same all the time, if I just said the thing, 80,000 times I’d get bored. So I’d make stuff up or not make stuff up like it’s a different sale. But I would just put a little bit of flour on it or whatever flourish and just had a little bit more fun. And it was an enjoyable experience. And I just I think for the fact that, oh man, I can make money doing this.

This is fantastic. I don’t have to do hard labor, I’m just literally picking up the phone and using my mouth in saying words, and now I’m getting paid. And then my subsequent jobs in high school, were selling computers at staples, or printers at Staples and selling sneakers at Sport Check and stuff like that. That’s really kind of my experience with sales. And so when those two guys, my former partner said, I don’t want to do sales, because scary sales. I was like, I’ll do it. And at the end of the day, starting the business, anyone can start a business.

But that’s a hobby until you make money. And so that was the, I guess, thought process that I had in my head, even our name people ask me all the time, why is your company called Ballistic Arts. Being a creative company, it’s not a very good, creative story. It was, we were sitting around for months, trying to come up with the name, how would this name now have this name, all this kind of stuff. And I just got sick of it. I’m like, again, until we start making money. It’s not a real business. So one of the guys had an email handle that was ballistic, with a Zed arts of disaster isn’t like [email protected] I’m like, screw it, we’re just going to use that name. And if we don’t like it, we’ll change it later.

If we make any money, I’m not gonna waste any more time trying to figure out a name and let’s just go. Same thing with our logo and whatnot. It was just we’re going to figure it out as we go. Kind of building the plane while you fly it. That’s kind of been my motto my whole career.

Jeremy Weisz 13:44 

Was there any milestone of a client, maybe it was early on first client that you’re doing all these calls. Yeah, go ahead.

Ted Lau 14:36 

I have two. One was a restaurant chain, an Italian restaurant chain that no longer exists, but they were fairly big in the suburbs of Vancouver. They had five or six different restaurants. And I remember going to one of their establishments and it was actually a spin off. It wasn’t a traditional Italian restaurant. It was a fusion that was really big back then. So there was a Italian Asian fusion restaurant and I went there in my early 20s, having drinks and food with some friends. I really liked the food and might have had a few drinks. So I gave my business card to the man, the guy at the door, like, hey, tell the manager, I really liked the food. That’s it. And I found out nine months later that that doorman person was actually the younger brother of the owner.

And he had been following our website and seeing our progress. And he called me I remember I was getting into an elevator at what I was doing, like I would do door-to-door cold calling to like knocking on doors, going to office buildings, just going from like, the 20th floor and walking all the way down and down and down and just knocking on doors. And I remember getting into the elevator, and I get a phone call. And I didn’t know who this was. But I saw the name of the restaurant like what? So I picked up the phone because like, hey, I need some help that so I go down to meet them. And this was you’re asking me like, how do you get started? We started as a video production company, this client was like, I don’t need video I only have TVs in my restaurants. But I need some menus designed and I liked your design work. Can you design the menus and brochures and whatnot?

And I was like, yes, yes, I can. Because I was hungry. I was just trying to get business. And then a couple of months later, it was like, hey, this website thing, it’s not going away? Is it? No, can you build me a website and it was kind of just getting where you fit in. And then there was a lot of networking, but it was just bootstrapping it. And cold calling was the cheapest form of marketing that we could do. That’s why we did it. That was the first one. The second story was one of my, so my sister’s best friend still to this day, her brother worked at a large financial institution. And he gave us a call. And this was when digital video was just starting out. And he wanted to do something different to impress the CEO.

And we did this little video shoot for a grand opening of a branch that they had. And the video is super tiny was like four and a half Meg’s that they put on a website, I don’t know what they did with it, CEO, that guy, the CEO of this institution, he was one of Canada’s most powerful business leaders, he talked to me he was just like, this young guy kind of seems to really want to try things out. And he really liked me. And he had creative ideas. But his marketing team wouldn’t let him do a lot of his crazy side projects and pay their expensive agency. So they’re like, oh, let’s call Ted.

And so I got to basically sit in the boardroom of one of the area’s largest banks, or as a credit union, and learn kind of business. And as I’m interviewing people and whatnot, just getting that and I got to pick his brain all the time asked him like 20 questions. And the fact that I think I was young, and showed enthusiasm. People just wanted to help and just, yeah, and feed me with lots of knowledge. And one thing led to another and here we are today.

Jeremy Weisz 18:03 

Ted, one of the things, I know back then you were focused on different things, and now and now it’s building leaders. It’s building the team, as you’ve grown. Talk about the evolution a little bit of hiring. First, it’s you, you have two co-founders. What happens next?

Ted Lau 18:24 

Oh, man, okay. So first, they were three of us. And within six months, the one guy didn’t want to do it anymore. And so we had $300 in the bank, we gave him $100 and said, say, right, and that was it. That was the buyout if this was the bio, that was the bio there’s no earn-out period at all. And so we on the hiring side, quite frankly, the first, this is gonna sound terrible. The first hire was my girlfriend, who is now my wife, we’ve been married? Well, we’ve been together since ‘99. Good thing that worked out.

Oh, yeah. Well, so we were dating and we went to school together in communication studies. And she did magazine publishing, but as we all know, magazine publishing it while it was still big back then it was the beginning of the end. So she kind of started into the industry as the peak was over. So she was very frustrated and deflated. So she was working for three publications and was barely making more than a barista at Starbucks. And so she was really deflating. I’m like, well, if you’re gonna make garbage money, you might as well work for me. And she was like, okay.

Jeremy Weisz 19:35 

That’s a great sales pitch. I can give you garbage money.

Ted Lau 19:40 

Well, if you’re going to do them as well help me build this thing because I’m a pretty one track minded individual. So I think it just communicated that like I’m here for the long haul. So baby, if you want to play let’s do this. And so she was like, yeah, and so she came on, and basically do all the work that I didn’t want to do. Like web programming I didn’t like doing so we trained on web programming, invoicing and whatnot. So that was the first role. But the first couple of real roles were, I was speaking to my alma mater. And one of the co-op kids came up and said, hey, I’m looking for a job, a co-op job between semesters, are you hiring and we were, in fact, hiring.

So we brought that person on. And then we hired a graphic designer, and we were still working out of the basement in my house, I was married by then, but with to my girlfriend who became my wife. And so he’d knocked on the door, that job and was in my basement and stuff like that. And at the time, he was very much do you know the software program? Do you have a nice portfolio? And will you work for this little money and that was to sit on down. And then I started taking a program called EO accelerator. So Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global organization. I joined their accelerator program many, many, many, many years ago.

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