“Finding people that align with your culture and values is key to success” With Grayson Lafrenz
Finding people that align with your culture and values is key to success.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Grayson Lafrenz: CEO of Power Digital Marketing.
Yitzi: What is your “backstory”?
My business partners and I founded several companies prior to Power Digital Marketing. While these endeavors ultimately failed, the experience we gained had a huge impact on our future success. In our early business pursuits, we had a hard time finding a good agency partner and were continuously let down. We found that the larger agencies weren’t willing to work with us and problem solve, while the smaller agencies would tell us what we wanted to hear instead of the truth. We also found that most agencies were focused on brand positioning and strategy, but were lacking when it came to execution. Ultimately, we were looking for an agency that could help us drive revenue and acquire clients and what we saw was a huge gap. We jumped on this opportunity and started to help friends who needed assistance when it came to execution. It took off from there!
Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
A couple of years ago I came into the office early to find that all my desk drawers were opened and rummaged through. I quickly realized that we had been robbed. Several company credit cards and laptops had been taken, amounting to over $80,000. One of the computers contained an extremely valuable client file that we weren’t willing to lose, so we decided to take action. We used the “find my Mac” feature, and to our surprise, one of the laptops pinged. It wasn’t far, so we decided to drive over to the area and check it out. When we got there, we found a couple hiding one of the computers under a blanket. We confronted them and found out that it was, in fact, one of our computers. We called the cops, and within minutes, a helicopter and 15 cop cars were surrounding the area. It turned out that the robbery was part of a huge string of burglaries in San Diego. In the end, we got our laptops back, including the extremely valuable client file! This just goes to show how far we are willing to go for a client.
Yitzi: Are you working on any meaningful nonprofit projects? How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Yes, we have a program called emPower Digital, which focuses on us giving back to the community. This program was started by one of our former employees who actually ended up moving on to work at a nonprofit. Some of the ways we give back include participating in blood drives, volunteering at Meals on Wheels, collecting clothing donations for local nonprofits and doing free PR for nonprofits. Giving back is something that is important to our team because it helps us to take a step back and remember what truly matters.
Yitzi: Wow! Can you tell me a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
During our annual clothing drive last year, we had the opportunity to personally drop off the clothes and meet some of the people we were helping. People of all ages came and were trying on clothes and it was the greatest feeling. The atmosphere was amazing because we were able to see the immediate impact this clothing drive had on the community. It can be easy to forget how lucky we are just to have the clothes on our backs. This experience was a humbling reminder of how much we have to be grateful for and our duty to share this good fortune.
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.
1. Finding people that align with your culture and values is key to success
Of Power Digital’s first four employees, only one is still with the company today and that’s because only one aligned with our core values. The other three employees were very talented but ultimately, they did not align with our culture and that’s why they aren’t with us anymore. Today, we have over 50 employees that do align with our core values and we are more successful than ever.
2. Assume that you are going to be successful and structure your organization in a way that allows for this
When we originally structured the operating agreement between the partners, we structured it in a way that ended up causing conflict down the road. At the time, we had no idea how successful we would end up being. When success did come, certain people felt entitled to different things and there were some feelings of bitterness. If we had assumed we were going to be successful from the beginning; we could’ve avoided some of those feelings.
3. Don’t over-plan or overthink things, go and DO
Just because you plan things out, doesn’t mean that it will always work out, so spend your time wisely! In my early years, I spent hundreds of hours creating an entire detailed business plan that never came to fruition. If I had spent that time trying to get the business off the ground instead of writing the business plan, the story could’ve ended differently.
4. There will be big highs and low lows, learn how to ride the roller coaster and you will be successful
Just a few weeks ago I was having a hard day and thinking to myself whether or not all this is worth it. Then a week later, I’m as high as ever and feel so blessed to be able to do what I do. These highs and lows are something that happens to every entrepreneur. The key to success is remembering that both the highs and lows are temporary. When you’re high, don’t let yourself get cocky and when you’re low, don’t give up.
5. Take time each morning to practice gratitude so that you can show up every day and be the person you want to be
There was a period during the second half of 2017 where business was great, but I wasn’t happy for a number of reasons. I wasn’t being the person I wanted to be when I showed up for work and I wasn’t treating my clients and coworkers with the level of respect and friendship that they deserved. I decided to start approaching my days with positivity by setting an intention every morning. This simple practice has made a world of difference and keeps me focused on everything I have to be grateful for.
Yitzi: Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.
I am a huge fan of Ben Horowitz, the author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things. He has had a huge impact on my life and the trajectory of Power Digital as a company. I connect with the way he looks at things and would love to have the opportunity to meet him and potentially work with him someday.