Prioritize your employees over your clients. We’ve “fired” several clients over the years who are a**holes to our employees, and I don’t regret it at all. I’m building this company as a safe haven for smart nerds like me, and nobody deserves to work with people who make them uncomfortable.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Zach Boyette.
Zach Boyette is Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Galactic Fed, a multinational, fully-remote marketing agency with employees all around the world. Previously he worked at Google, Toptal, and Procter & Gamble.
Given the remote nature of his work, Zach is a “digital nomad,” living full-time out of Airbnbs, and moving locations every few weeks (with the exception of current COVID lockdowns, of course). In the last 4 years alone he has visited 50+ countries, from western Europe to Morocco to Japan to Colombia and everywhere in between. Zach is also an alumnus of Remote Year, a travel program for working professionals.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve dabbled in a few areas — software engineering, tech startups, big corporate advertising. What I found I liked best, time and time again, was the digital marketing component of making businesses grow. It’s so scalable! And important! I really fell in love with marketing while building my first startup, Recsy, while a junior in college — and carried it through my career at Procter & Gamble, Google, and unicorn tech startup Toptal.
I’ve always agonized about IMPACT — making sure my career produces good things for the world, not just money. Running a digital marketing agency is the most high-impact thing I’ve ever done. We’ve helped so many entrepreneurs get their dreams off the ground, and bigger clients unlock major growth — which has led to hundreds of new hires at our portfolio companies. I find that very cool.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
I’ve been so lucky to meet amazing people along my journey in life so far. We’re all kind of randomly moving through the void in a sense, whether or not you like to admit it, and we are a product of our surroundings. My dad is a brilliant software engineer, remote work advocate, and the kindest man I know. My mom taught me to respect everybody and always have a smile on my face. My colleagues at P&G, Google, and Toptal taught me to buckle down and do the boring, detailed work, because that’s what makes the difference. And my co-founder Irina Papuc has taught me that doing things “the weird way” is way more fun than doing it by the book.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Hire the best people, and hire them early. They’ll define your culture for years to come.
- Prioritize your employees over your clients. We’ve “fired” several clients over the years who are a**holes to our employees, and I don’t regret it at all. I’m building this company as a safe haven for smart nerds like me, and nobody deserves to work with people who make them uncomfortable.
- Remote work is the future. We’ve been able to scale insanely fast and with very smart people because we are remote. It is the ultimate job perk.
- Religiously document everything you do. Our Galactic Fed Way blueprint is the backbone of our company.
- Don’t be cheap when it comes to employee education and learning. We spend months on-boarding new hires to make sure they’re at the top of their game before throwing them in the deep end.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Work remotely. And if you can, travel the world while you work. Why not? Nothing makes me feel more alive than firing up my laptop in an exotic cafe in a new country.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My co-founder, Irina Papuc, is the smartest person I know and one of my best friends in the world. We bonded so much in the early days of Galactic Fed doing all sorts of zany adventures — roadtripping around Tennessee, facetiming from Brazil, plotting trips to Antarctica, biking around Chicago. It’s so important to be friends with your co-founder(s), I think.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Irina and I are working on a new non-profit initiative that will have a scaled impact similar to the one we have at Galactic Fed. It’s a secret for now, but I’m excited to share more later.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
A life of critical thinking and a legacy of socially-oriented outcomes. I want to build things that make peoples’ lives better.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
I’d love to see more entrepreneurs and founders focus on building companies that have a social purpose or positive mission. That has been my biggest focus lately.
How can our readers follow you on social media?