Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz  16:34 

It’s interesting, Travis, because the tough part about doing web design is it really touches everything. So it’s very hard, at least in the beginning, you probably naturally got pulled into these things like, okay, we’re doing our website, we got to thinking of the design and the conversion. And the next question is like, okay, well, how do we get people there? Okay, well, you need the content, you need to pay traffic. So like, you put your clients are like pulling you into this realm, when in sounds like maybe you resisted. And then you’re like, you kind of gave in to the clients asking you these questions and solving it, right.

Travis McAshan  17:54 

So we 100% gave in. And it’s funny, because we had a handful of PPC clients. And I wanted to kill that business. I literally wanted to, like stop doing PVC, because I’m like, I don’t like it. To me. It’s like if you have an army, and they only they’re only loyalty when you pay them I either mercenaries like i That’s how I look at PPC because the second you stop paying for PPC you get nothing from it, right. But with SEO, if you work hard, basically authentically marketing yourself creating great authoritative, relevant content, that content will be found for years to come. Right, hopefully, if it’s continued to be optimized. And so like, I just like, I don’t want to do PPC, but then we looked at the data, we looked at the numbers, and we said wow, to have our clients that have been with us the longest that have the highest Lifetime Customer Value, we’re both doing PPC, and here I was trying to kill it. And so I just kind of like I had to give in, the this is important, and it works. And we hired a really talented PPC expert to come in and kind of take over that. And it’s been gangbusters for us, you know, it’s still one big challenge that we’re trying to solve. And I think maybe for the listeners of the podcast, anybody that’s trying to like move into new business areas, offering new services and products, we’re in an identity shift because we have been so like, our like literal identity of who we are as a company and how we think and how we act and operate is a creative agency, we design stuff. But all of these marketing services were like a marketing company that market stuff like it’s all about, like performance. And so we are like, when you look at our marketing site, when you when there are proposals or legal structures, everything was geared around creative design and creative and so I think that what a lot of people don’t understand is that you can’t just slap on a new service even if it generates revenue. Because in the marketplace, you’re not known for that, right? You don’t have credibility. You don’t have testimonials. You don’t have client tell you about customer case studies and so you start to realize, like, it’s an identity shift that is like full stack, like it goes all the way from how people perceive you, and where your trust and credibility is in the marketplace, all the way through customer satisfaction and follow up, and that service needs to permeate all of those areas, you know. So that’s the journey we’re on right now.

Jeremy Weisz  20:16 

How do you decide to build out the departments? Versus have a specific partner, that maybe you have a really close partnership with, let’s say, for SEO or some other service?

Travis McAshan  20:31 

That’s a great question. Well, I think that I mean, if you’re doing things the right way, I think you would go back and look at your purpose and your values, right, and say, what is true to us? Because value, your purpose is, why do you exist, and it’s something that you should be manifesting on a daily basis, every day, more than the day before, your values are the lens that you look through and say, this is what’s most important to us. And so I think, if you start with your values, and if your values are clear, I’ve been on some podcasts, and I feel like, if anyone hears more than one, they’re gonna be like, oh, my God, he’s talking about values. Like, there’s so important, right. And so, for example, we have a value called build meaningful relationships. And to me, I feel like if we just grab a partner company, and just outsource that entire department, then we’re not really one we’re not really doing a service to our clients. Because we’re not really owning that outcome. And well, the inputs and the outputs, but, and, like, also, like, a lot of times, when you have this black box of mystery that’s outsourced, you don’t really have relationships with these people, like you do when they’re an employee, or a long term retain contractor. And so I think it was really important to me to roll out these services more thoughtfully, and make sure that they were integrated into our identity, even though it’s been a Herky jerky ride, versus we probably could have executed at a higher level at a lower cost, with a vendor partner. And we still we have intrapreneurs, I don’t want to say that we don’t like in different ways and development and support and stuff like that applied, but like, offering a whole new service just didn’t feel authentic, because I’ve had people say, oh, well, you can start doing marketing automation through HubSpot, just like contract us. And we’ll do all the work for you. But that just doesn’t feel authentic to me. One of our other core values is delivering faithfully and I just felt like whenever you outsource the entire responsibility relationship, it’s a little bit difficult to deliver faithfully, I think.

Jeremy Weisz  22:31 

I want to talk before we hit record, we are talking about your mentioned uncanny valley. And I’d love for you to talk about that.

Travis McAshan  22:42 

Sure, wow. So I’m sure I don’t know, like the demographic of your podcasts and how many people are listening that they’re trying to get to above a million dollars in their business, or maybe they’re aiming for five or $10 million in their business, gross revenue for the year. And we’re in that journey between one and $5 million. You know, we’re kind of like midway through that journey, you know, or a little more and, and what we have found and Greg Travis Crabtree, financial author talks about this in his book, Simple Numbers, but is that you’re going through this journey to this valley. And you’re too big not to have the administration infrastructure, and systems that support the business, but you’re too small to really, truly be able to afford them all. So like, a good example is like an HR person, like most companies went 10 to 15, employees probably can’t afford a full-time HR person, it just falls on the managing director or some other person. But we decided early on, we had a project manager who was just fantastic at dealing with people, she’s the most empathetic person she’s got, she has life coaching and a side business, and she had a passion for people. So we are very early on took her career trajectory to people culture advocate recently, we promoted her to People Operations Manager, and she’s essentially exited a billable role of project manager that would create revenue for the company to a non-billable role that supports our people, that’s expensive, it’s like, oh, let’s pay, you know, 50 to $100,000, to help our people, every year, most companies don’t always prioritize that, so, and then other roles of the company. So, we leveled up, we had, you know, project managers, you have too many project managers, Senior Project Manager lead, then you have, and then you have too many services and people delivering the services needed director plan services, and then the organization gets to a level where you almost have mid-management, you need kind of like a CEO or a VP and now, all of a sudden, you know, you have all of these people in these roles that are no longer direct, basically creating billable revenue for the company. They’re just there to support the people doing the billable revenue. And so we’re in that journey, but it’s interesting because we had our leadership meeting. And I was like, you know what, between here and $5 million, between here and $10 million, we’re not going to have to hire another VP. We’re not going to have to hire another Director Client Services. We’re not going to have to hire another People Operations Manager. So if we can just get to the other side of this valley, we’re gonna get to where that profitability is where it should be. And then we can, we don’t have to kind of make these hard decisions about what to do and how to achieve our financial goals.

Jeremy Weisz  25:15 

it sounds like the first step in this was creating a middle management layer. And even that is taking people a little bit, I guess I kind of put it into maybe a player-coach scenario, and then they graduate to really just a coach scenario, like a head of whatever, right? So even the middle management layer, sometimes you’re still taking them out of that utilization. Right. So when was maybe for the HR example? Or a different one? What were you metrics or things were you looking at to move them up? Or is it more like, this is painful, we need someone helping with the management piece?

Travis McAshan  26:00 

You know what, that’s interesting. So I never even heard the term player-coach until I hired an EOS implementer. And we’re going to the EOS process of if you’re familiar.

Jeremy Weisz  26:10 

I had Gino Wickman on the podcast. Yep.

Travis McAshan  26:12 

Okay, well, I wish I could meet with him introduce me to him. I’ve read all his books. He’s awesome. But the concept of us are Entrepreneurial Operating systems really core Adler use that term player coach and I love when people say something, and it’s just gonna ring a truth. And you’re like, okay, yeah, now I can describe something easily that I couldn’t before. And that’s what player coach did to me is like, oh, okay, some employees need to be a player, some employees need to be a coach, some employees need to split their time between both, and I would say it was pretty early on, we didn’t really have any coaches, everybody was players. In fact, if I look at our billable rates, like from three or four years ago, it’s like, 80 plus percent, which is like very high, but now we have a lot of like, coaches, like, Coach Ollie’s, and then we have a lot of player coaches, and now our billable rates are like, much lower.

Jeremy Weisz  27:10 

If you take one of those, and you take the evolution up person, I’m wondering, what made you to just make the decision to okay, they’re a player, now their player-coach, now they went from player coach to only coach?

Travis McAshan  27:24 

Yeah, I think it’s the need, like, and it’s the prioritization of the need, right? Because there’s a lot of companies that are dealing with burnout issues, there’s a lot of companies that are dealing with high turnover, there’s a lot of companies, they’re dealing with low employee engagement, but they’re still not doing anything about it, right, they’re still not investing time and resources and energy to improve it. And I think it just goes back to your values, right? Like, here’s the thing, almost every company has values, but the values aren’t values, if you just made a list,  like, and a lot of times, and you just make a list that’s created values, but creative values don’t exist, you have to uncover your values. And so if you really, truly value your people, then you would prioritize that. And if you prioritize that need, you would just look at that need every time and say we need to, okay, here’s how much we need to invest, or whether we have the ability to invest into it now. So I’d say like, pretty early on, you know, like, for this HR example, it was like she had a passion for it, one of our core values is love what you do. So one of my desires was always to look at people and never forced them to be in a position that they didn’t love, but at the same time, we got to have people do their jobs. And so it’s like, if I would say, it’s probably we literally formulated about a two-year roadmap for this person, to exit, and she’s still supporting that old player role that she was using before, occasionally, but less and less over time. And so, I think that the more intentional you can be about anything, the more likely you’re going to be to achieve it. And when you make something important, then you look at it a lot in the new achievement.

Jeremy Weisz  29:03 

I’m just showing here on the screen. tro so we see if you go to You could find on the team, the company piece, you can see what we believe build the meaningful relationship, love what you do deliver faithfully better every day. And just a couple of those explanations. You could check that out on the Glide Design. It’s interesting, young people can check out there’s the Gino Wickman interview and also Dan Zawacki the lobster man. He started Lobster Gram, he is an EOS implementer we had him on he talked about some of these concepts that Travis was talking about. I want to talk about you know, sometimes it’s a hard decision you probably think it’s not because it’s unnecessary decision to focus on purpose. And so I love to hear how you how you think about purpose and when you say purpose, I know it’s the world also internally?

Travis McAshan  30:00 

Yeah, yeah, so purpose. Here. I’ve done a lot of research about this. And there’s it’s so interchangeable. I mean, a lot of people interchange purpose with vision with mission. And I think these can I mean, if you really want to get nuanced, there are differences, right? I see purpose as the best way I can describe that is why do you exist? And like, there’s a question I’m reading a book called CEO Excellence is really good as by the senior partners of Kinsey, McKenzie. And there was a question in there that said, like, the question was basically like, for a CEO to answer, which is like, why should you exist in 10 years? And it’s like, oh, because we need to, because I got to pay my mortgage, or whatever, like, we sell things, so it’s like, what’s the meaningful reason that this company should exist? Right? You know, so that’s the purpose. The vision is the opposite of that. It’s not why do you get out of bed? And why does this company exist? The vision is the hopeful future, like, what does it look like, if you were to close your eyes, and in vivid detail, describe a future state that you have achieved, and then a mission is like, in the military, it’s like, Hey, here’s this hill, I want to go capture this hill. So mission is what do you do every day to achieve the vision? So you can kind of see the difference between those three. Purpose is why do we exist? And why did we get out of bed every day? Why are we even here? The mission is, what are we doing on a daily basis, and then the vision is to achieve what, like, what’s the end state. And so you can use all of those. Now, it’s tough with Glide, it’s tough with any company, because, if you start throwing all these things out to your employees, they’re gonna get confused, I get confused, so, a lot of times, we stick to our purpose, because it’s easy, and it’s memorable, and people align with it, and I think, from a retention perspective, you know, that’s the area where we get the most excited because it’s like, when I look at a client, and let’s say that they are fighting to stop the use of animal testing, you know, so they’re standing up for the little guy, in this case, the little guys, animals that don’t deserve to be tortured and killed. If I help that company, then I’m helping people who help others, and versus let’s say, another company comes along, and they’re a machine learning AI insurance platform. And they stiff people of their rightful insurance, because they can figure out because big companies can use data to their advantage, right. And so like, I’m looking at these two companies to work with, and let’s say this machine learning AI company has five times the budget, well, it’s like, it’s a real hard choice, because you got to pay your bills, so ideally, we’re finding clients that align more with our purpose, and that’s how you would use your purpose to make a simple decision, like, which client should we work with?

Jeremy Weisz  32:57 

I know we have a few more minutes. I don’t know if you do, or if you have to hop off.

Travis McAshan  33:04 

I mean, as long as people are listening.

Jeremy Weisz  33:08 

You have big goals, right. 5% donating 5% top line, we mentioned, you’re applying for the B Corp. But also another one is we’re talking about a four-day workweek. Yeah. So talk about that, because you went through a pilot on that.

Travis McAshan  33:25 

Yeah. So I had been a vision for about five years, and we had been traversing this goal, I had just been doing it myself. Maybe about 2017 2018, I had this idea. And it’s not unique, but and so I started hey, let’s just try, not having Friday’s through the summer, let’s try not having Friday, every one Friday, a week for an entire quarter. So 13 weeks in a row. And different other things like throughout the year, we tried having no meetings on Fridays, and things like that. And so we had just slowly eroded our accountabilities and responsibilities on Fridays. And so we were ready to make the leap. So I think it was 2021. And I said, guys, we’re going to do it. We’re going to try it. We’re going to pilot a four-day work week. And everyone’s like, this is crazy. How are we gonna get all our work done? And we didn’t know how we’re going to do it. And I literally just Googled, how do you do a four-day workweek, and boom, up pops And I realized there’s a guy who’s running an organization, doing pilots around the world who wrote a book called The 4-day Workweek. I didn’t know any of this, right? And we reach out and we literally were the last candidate that they accepted for the official US pilot, and they were doing major publicized pilots in the UK in the Ireland, and we made the cut. And they were they were doing everything for free. You know, it was the last one that they started now. They’re like charging for all this. But so we joined this pilot is really cool. We were in there with Kickstarter and some other companies and we have a lot of resources and help and they had data scientists that were reviewing the metrics to have only released a study on this. And so, like it was exciting for us. And so having that support was great. We did a six-month pilot from April 1, so 2022 through cute the end of q2, which is, I guess us into September. And we looked at it, we said, Okay, well, this is good enough for us. Let’s just go ahead and keep going. And so we there it is, yeah.

Jeremy Weisz  35:23, we’re looking at here.

Travis McAshan  35:27 

Now, there you go. I know, that’s the UK version. But they probably have the pilot results for the US pilot as well. Which we were part of, but like, there’s some anecdotal results of this, that like employees, we know that everyone loves it. I mean, who wouldn’t love a four-day work week, right? So that’s obvious. But some of the other results that I already knew, but I’m starting to see is like hiring. So like, when you put a job out, and you say this is a four-day work week, one company was getting 10 times more applicants to their job listings in the pilot, that was a piece of evidence, and I already knew that this was going to make the job more attractive. And the nice thing is, if you’re still paying kind of commensurate salaries, then you essentially are like giving people I mean, the construct for a 40-hour work week is a significant amount of less work in a year, being in the office. And so, I think that from a salary perspective, you know, you start to attract people that care more about work-life balance than they do about making money. And those are the kind of people that I want working in my company anyway. You know, like, I mean, I, I want to pay people, well, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want people to get the job and Glide because of the money. I want them to get the job at Glide because they agree with the purpose. They love what the company is doing. And that yes, the pay is good. And so I think it allows you to not like have to fight so much on the salary stuff, because the kinds of people that are going to be interested in that are prioritizing their life over their revenue, which is important to me is one of our core values, again, is love what you do I really want to attract people that enjoy what they do more than I’m only taking this job because it pays me the most money.

Jeremy Weisz  37:14  

Travis, first of all, thank you. I have one last question. But I want to just point people to to learn more about what you guys do. And my last question is, again, you help. We mentioned the National Breast Cancer Foundation, you help companies like the Austin FC, soccer team, pro soccer team circuit of Americas, another company to help is WP Engine. And I love for you to talk about the you got to meet childhood hero but speak so I’d love for you to talk about what you talked about in that experience.

Travis McAshan  37:52 

Super Sure. Yeah. So I was invited to speak at the WP Engines digital innovation summit in 2019. I got to share the stage with a personal hero of mine, Emmitt Smith. He was the keynote speaker. My talk, it was like a David and Goliath. So what they did was they took their agency partner they have an agency partnership program. It’s it’s symbiotic obviously, agencies resell, hosting and hosting company refers us great clients. Well, so they took Edelman so Edelman is one of the world’s largest marketing companies. They have like 6000 they have 60 offices, 6000 employees, they brought their EVP, Executive Vice President of digital to come speak, right. So it’s me, this guy with like, 10 employees total with the executive vice president of digital for Edelman’s 6000 person, you know, 60 agency company. And so, he spoke and then I spoke, and the one thing I want to say about that was that experience was just epic. I think it was about 800 or 1000 people in the room, it was a pretty big room. It was definitely I was nervous in. But I remember they had a short part where we were able to speak we I shared some case studies and clients that we work with, but my favorite part was they did a panel discussion directly after that, where they brought me in the follow-up from Elumynt. Regretfully forgetting his name, but he’s a good guy. And then he asked us some questions. And ahead of time, the panelists are always like, he kind of like, here’s some questions that we might talk about, and all my questions related to people and culture and all his questions related to like data, and like the market and I remember, like being afraid of talking about the things that I’m most passionate about, which related to like, how do I cultivate a culture of gratitude in my company? And that’s like, one of the most important things to me and I remember like, just going in on that like going all in on that I said, I really love to talk about these things, and I can’t tell you how many people reached out to me after that talk, like at the conference, people coming up to me after I spoke but like after for weeks Some weeks people are like, messaging and tweeting and, and I just want to encourage everybody out there, like, be yourself, like, you have something unique that you bring to the world. And I know this is maybe a little cheesy, but like, it’s so true like, if you try to be what people think you should be, it’s going to be met with like, I don’t know, tepid, it’s going to be like, Okay, maybe good to prepare really well, maybe great. But if you’re yourself, you’re going to have a passion for it. And that’s going to come through and people deeply crave authentic passion, like of whatever it is, however quirky, it is. And so I just felt really thankful that I leaned into that. And I think that it resulted in a lot of great new relationships, new opportunities. And I think the video is out there on the web somewhere, if you ever want to look at it, but I just wanted to encourage people that what was Emmitt Smith, like? Amazing. So I don’t know if you knew this, but Emmitt Smith is one of the most gold driven people.

Jeremy Weisz  40:57 

And he always say never meet your sheriff. I don’t know who said that.

Travis McAshan  41:02 

He’s super humble, he’s a man of faith. He’s very kind guy. I have a picture of me with him I was real proud of but he just always inspired me. I mean, he sat down and said, if you go look at like, just Google Emmitt Smith goal setting. I mean, think about someone who was the MVP of the Super Bowl. Right? It has basically every major rushing record in the history of the NFL, essentially he used to have Walter Payton and total rushing yards and all that stuff and he set all these goals he like wrote them down and he like went all the way at them every year and just very impressive to look at the things that he accomplished and how he how intentional he was about accomplishing those things. And I’m very goal-driven person as well. So I think that’s why he inspired me so much.

Jeremy Weisz  41:53 

Travis I’m going to be the first one to thank you. Everyone, check out, more episodes of the podcast and thanks, Travis. Thanks, everyone.

Travis McAshan  42:01 

Thank you.