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EP.21 Show Runner – Laura Maly

EP.21 Show Runner – Laura Maly

•Agency Founder Specializes in Niche Marketing, SaaS Expert, Winner of SDBJ 40 Under 40 •

Laura is a fascinating entrepreneur that is currently building and scaling 3 digital companies. She takes us into the world of digital marketing and branding for dental practices and shares how her team is helping them grow their patient base using technical innovations, personalization, and results-focused marketing plans.

A Finalist for Business Woman of the Year and winner of the San Diego Business Journal’s 40 under 40, Laura is a visionary with a knack for uncovering a need and developing solutions with SaaS (software as a service) products.

She spent 10 years in the advertising world working on both the agency and client sides – with accounts such as General Motors, Kohl’s Department Stores, Microsoft, and Sony Pictures; and Merger Labs and NOMOS Marketing, are 2 other vertical agencies she owns and is scaling.

You might also find Laura giving back to the community through Junior League of San Diego, the San Diego County Dental Foundation, and hanging with her 4 rescue dogs.

Laura Maly co-founder or Wonderist Agency

Lessons you will learn from this podcast:

  • The behind the scenes look at building and scaling a vertical agency
  • Why NOT seeking work/life balance can be “freeing”!
  • How social media rock stars are creating a social surge
  • SaaS defining, building and scaling
  • Combining SEO, PPC, social media, TV, radio, event marketing, and digital
  • How Grit, dogged commitment to growth and failure lead to success
  • Voice assistance and flexing to social media algorithms
  • How she turned $100 bill and a kitchen table into a thriving business
  • Why delivering critical feedback is the key to mentorship
  • What raccoons and the development of virtual consultation have in common

>> Congratulations! You’ve joined the Show Runner Marketing Podcast. A network of accomplished businesswomen who are running the show. Here you’ll find the inspiration and the inside information you need to take your marketing strategies to the next level. Bringing her thirst for continued learning, and her 25 years of experience as founder and president of ad agency, Advanced Marketing Strategies. Here’s your host, Kathy Cunningham.

>> Hey everybody, it’s Kathy, and today we’re networking with Laura Maly. She’s the co-founder of Wonderist Agency. Wonderist works exclusively with dental practices to help them grow their patient base, their personalize result focused marketing plans. Laura spent 10 years in the advertising world, working on both the agency and the client side. With client such as General Motors, Kohl’s Department Store, Microsoft, and Sony Pictures. Then in 2011, for some reason, she got a crazy idea to jump into the small business ownership. And she uncovered a need and developed a niche marketing business plan with personalized approaches to help being and educating her clients. Merger Labs and Nomost Marketings are two other vertical agencies she owns. And she’s scaling those right now too. Laura is also working on the imminent launch of a new SaaS product, that’s software as a service. And I’m sure she’ll explain to us what that means later on. Here’s a couple of fun facts, Laura was a finalist for the businesswoman of the year. And she won the San Diego business journal 40 Under 40. Aside from her love of building and scaling digital marketing, agencies. You might find Laura giving back to the community through Junior League of San Diego, and the San Diego County Dental Foundation. Or she’s hanging around with her rescue dogs. Laura, welcome to the Showrunner Network.

>> Thanks for having me.

>> It’s great to have you here, I’m so excited to talk to you. I know you’re gonna have some wonderful lessons for our listeners.

>> I hope so.

>> Let’s get started. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your journey in marketing and business?

>> Sure, I realized I wanted to be in marketing when I was in the seventh grade. There was a 17 magazine which I was way too young to be reading 17 magazine. But it had brandy on the cover, and I kind of realized what it meant at that point to be an advertiser sounds like, this is what I wanna do, I wanna do the print ads. And so that was truly the string that led me all the way through high school, and onto college. And I majored in advertising at Florida State, moved out to Los Angeles shortly after that to work with Deutsche, which is one of the big agencies out there.

>> Mm-hm.

>> And got some experience doing, and I spent kind of a few years in Los Angeles, and other places doing local media placement for fortune 500 companies. So if you see for example, the Maus Nissan commercials, we would do some of the group placement for the metro markets for General Motors, Kohl’s Department Stores, Sony Pictures Entertainment, things like that. And then during that time, I had a friend who was a dentist approach me and say, hey listen. I think you do this for big clients but can you work with dentists or me on a small project, or can you make the phone ring for my practices, and I was like well, I guess I could try. And so we work together on it, we got a plan in place, and the big insight he had in that was that she was trying to be, as Dana say. And not run the business and worry about all the different aspects of his business. And so he was like, if for my marketing I have a web person, I have a direct mail person, I have a radio person, I have a person

who helps me with social media. And they’re all doing different things and they all look different. Can you help me consolidate it all and then be more efficient with my money? And try and gauge what the return on investment is for me. And so we started doing that, he’s a fabulous practitioner. He was our original client six years ago, and actually just rejoined us now six years later after he went into the corporate industry for a little while and is now restarting some practices. And so he and I work together great practitioner excellent at the business aspect of dentistry. And then I was kind of running the marketing side, and we made the phone ring like crazy. And we just grew, and grew, and grew, and ultimately he sold to go into the corporate side of dentistry for a bit. And that was really the start, he had nudged me and he was like, I think you’re on to something here, you got to do this for other people. And so, a couple more clients came and at that point, my now husband came on board, and he was like I think you are on to something here. The Center for Entrepreneurship is to find a problem.

>> Yes.

>> And so we found a problem and he was like.

>> Yeah.

>> And the stuff that I was great at was the stuff I was doing day to day. And the things that I couldn’t do I was farming out to other people. And he’s like, but all the things that you can’t do, I can do. And so it was really a good complement to one another. And so we hunkered down, and with a

$100 bill, and a kitchen table. We scaled to where we are today, which is I believe 22, I think we’re 22 or 23 employees. And we’re gonna be closes to 30 here shortly, and about to be 8,000 sq ft space in the Point Low neighborhood of San Diego. And we serve over 150 dentists just at Wonderist Agency, which is our dental clients, in over 30 states. And it’s been a pleasure, but it’s a hell of a lot of hard work.

>> [LAUGH]

>> Yes, it is, so-

>> Wow, what a wonderful story. So it all started with 17 magazine.

>> It did, there you go, you heard it here first, [LAUGH]

>> Wow, and you knew you wanted to be in marketing way back then, that’s pretty good. I didn’t even know there was marketing when I was that age.

>> Yeah, I think there was a small stint in which I wanted to be a podiatrist, but I quickly went back to the marketing and advertising thing. I think that’s a way better line of work for me.

>> And working at Deutsch with Donny Deutsch, one of the rock stars of advertising.

>> Well, he was the east coast operations, so in New York. I was in the west coast operations, Los Angeles. So I never met him, I never engaged him, but yes certainly, really forward thinking mind in the industry.

>> Yeah, did they some of the Nissan advertising on one time?

>> Yes, I’m actually, I don’t remember, I know Shy Day had it for a while.

>> I know Shy Day did, I was wondering if Deutsch, Deutsch was doing IKEA.

>> We had IKEA and I think that’s was it.

>> Well, you talked about, you used an interesting phrase, where dentists they’re in mouth. Which just mean they’re working, and the way I look at that, they’re working in the business. They’re working in the business, and working on the business is about marketing and other things like that. So tell me how you balance that, what’s it like running a company? How do you balance working in the business and working on the business?

>> Well, the short answer is I don’t, [LAUGH] I work with my husband, which is probably something that is a huge part of our narrative. As you might imagine, working with your spouse is wonderful and amazing, but sometimes no walk in the park. And I think the two big insights we’ve had over the last couple of years is, most people, when they have a bad day at work, they can go home. And their partner will say, hey, they’ll come around, their partner will bring them around. And Michael and I have the same bad days. [LAUGH] So how do we cope with having the same bad days? So if something is difficult at the office, or our clients off the rails, or whatever it is, how do we make sure that we communicate effectively and don’t take that bad day home together. Usually, what we end up doing is just like having a quiet night, so we’ll watch a movie, minimize interaction. But truly, I mean, I would never do anything different. We get so much excitement and pleasure out of it. It’s just been such an honor to do it, and he’s a brilliant, and fun, and charismatic guy, and really has incredible strengths where my strengths are not. So that’s been fun, and I think the other big insight we’ve had in managing our work life is I think he and I for a very long time were like, okay, we’re only gonna talk about work at work. And then at home, we’re gonna talk about our dogs, or our travel plans, or whatever we’re doing. And then we’d be at dinner and then suddenly the conversation would be, Be veering back towards work and be like no, no, no, we can’t do that. And, I think we both came to this point, probably me especially, where I was like but I like work. And I like talking about it to my friends and my family and to Michael, and I like solving the problems that happen every day at our office. And so, then we were finally like well, why do we have to do it this way? And so, taking away this perception of have to have a work/life balance, like my work, my life is messy. Like, Chris comes to my house to watch a game or we all are gonna go out for our whole team has a going away party tomorrow night for one of our members, our employees, that we’re so excited to wish him well on. But like we’re just all messy in the same world together. And I like that, and so I don’t really seek balance so much in that way anymore, if that makes sense.

>> Yeah.

>> I just kind of let it all be a messy pile. [LAUGH]

>> Well, what an interesting insight, because I get what you mean. If you really like what you do, then why do you have to separate that?

>> Yeah, yeah for sure. I mean, that’s kind of the big realization I came to last year and it was very freeing for me, so.

>> Thanks for sharing that, that’s a different perspective, I’ve never thought of it that way. And so having a spouse as a partner is one thing, but also just having a partner in business is great too. So, what’s it like working with a partner in business?

>> It’s awesome, I mean, I could not do it alone, there’s just no way. I have too many flaws, I have too many shortcomings, I have too many blind spots cuz you can only be human. And he’s the same

and so we compliment each other well. I think right now, we’re prepping, we have a big every quarter our team gets together and we do a quarterly event with our team where we review our goals for the year. We review our goals for the future, we talk about our projections. And our team really, Michael and I, had chosen to kinda lay it all out there, so that we win together and we lose together. And then usually, in the later half of the day, if we met our previous quarter’s goals, we usually do something fun and exciting together. Tomorrow we happen to be going to Alpine to go see Lions, Tigers and Bears at the Rescue affair which we’re very excited.

>> Oh, cool.

>> But, we do this big presentation, and it takes a lot of work for Michael and I to pull it all together and our department has to submit their files and slides. And so, some days it’s tough. It’s been a long week, we’ve worked every night this week. I’ve been up very early taking early meetings cuz we’ve got a couple weeks of travel ahead of us so I’m trying to squish it all in on either side so that we can make sure we accommodate all of our clients. And, I think we make a great team. Like today, we had a dog that had to go to the vet in the middle, we’re a dog friendly office. And so one of our dogs had to go to the vet in the middle of the day, but neither of us had planned for that. So what do you do?

It’s the same as a kid. You just somebody’s gotta tag team the front end, somebody’s gotta take the back end and pick her up from the vet later cuz I had to be here. And that’s just kind of how we flex into one another and roll with the punches.

>> Yeah, it makes it easy that way too, in a sort of a yin and a yang, right? If you’re having an off day, hopefully he’s not, and vice-versa.

>> Yep.

>> He can see one side of a problem, you can see the other side.

>> Yeah, yeah.

>> That’s fun. What do you see as the most significant challenge or misconception regarding this niche marketing and the specialization that you’ve tapped into?

>> I don’t know. I was thinking about this prior to getting here and I don’t know that I think there’s necessarily a misconception. I think maybe an outsider might think that we have, and the only thing I could come up with is that perhaps we built a business that is so contingent on one industry or one vertical. That if something should happen to the economy, per se, that we would be in a difficult position. I feel very differently, we have built our business brick by brick, and so we are not beholden to our small number of clients that if one goes, half the team goes. And so, I like that part of things personally, but I totally see both sides of the coin on that.

>> So you’re vertical in nature in the industry?

>> Mm-hm.

>> And how about the services that you provide?

>> So we’re full-service within the vertical that we provide. So we’re probably most digital heavy.       So SEO PPC we build websites, we do tracking and analytics, we do social media management, we do social ads, we do TV, radio, newspaper magazine. We do a lot of like event-based off our doctors who wanna come to a health fair, who wanna go talk to an HR department at a corporate company.

So we’re kind of all over the place and if you can dream it, we can generally do it.

>> Wow.

>> Yeah, [LAUGH] Whether or not, doctors take advantage of all of that. It’s mostly I’d say 85% of our business is mostly digital.

>> Gotcha.

>> Yeah.

>> Gotcha, let’s talk about social media a little bit. How is that affecting your approach in marketing for your dentist?

>> Dentistry has a historically been and you guys listeners probably know this. You go to look for a dentist and you go to their website and it’s either a decade old, it has grandma and grandpa in a field holding hands. You can find a photo, a headshot of the dentist but it’s probably a decade old from when they had hair still. Right. [LAUGH]

>> And then, [LAUGH] there’s like maybe random children running through a park on it.

>> [LAUGH]

>> And you’re like, what does this say about, like, who you are? And what do you look like? Is your office beautiful? Is it safe? Is it clean? Am I gonna get the service I should expect out of a dentist? And so one of the big tenets that we have at Wonder’s Agency is that we know people want to do business with people, and Demopress are small businesses. So of course, we wanna put our doctors on display. We wanna connect them with the community, we wanna show off the doctor, perhaps, as family, what he likes to do when he’s not dentisting. His staff, probably the gorgeous office that they have because a lot of our doctors have brand new practices and I think nobody wants to go to the dentist, I’ll just say it. And so, the practices that we work with have these incredibly beautiful offices that look more like homes, and the technology that they have in the offices are incredible. The kind of dentistry, and the quality of dentistry you can get done today, I don’t think most consumers were seeking a dentist even know the level of capabilities that are out there.

>> Right.

>> And so, that’s what we try to connect with the doctors and the community that they’re in. We try to show off their authentic self and the culture they created in their practice. We show off a lot of the services they offer and the technology that they have. And that’s sort of what we lead within our sites. That’s what we lead within our social media, because nobody wants to spend money on a dentist. Nobody wants to go to the dentist. So we have to show off what our assets are to be a point of differentiation and to entice somebody, and say, okay, listen, the dentist doesn’t have to be how you imagine it. It doesn’t have to be painful and we don’t have to be awful, we’re awesome, come check us out.

>> So there’s a lot of great visualization-

>> Oh, yeah.

>> That you’re able to use with that social media so they can see the technology, they can see the doctor. The office, so when I get there, it feels more familiar because it’s just stressful and best as well

>> And totally is.

>> So it’s sound like backing kind of making a little bit easier.

>> Yeah.

>> Now in social media been something that you always used in the mix or are you kind of evolving into that, or is it been always in the front of your mix?

>> I think it’s ebb and flowed. So I think early, it’s always been in our mix, absolutely. I think the  way it’s been used has evolved the same way most business have evolved. I think, dentistry, inherently has just been a little bit behind what I would say most major companies would be. It’s just an industry that has certainly entrepreneurial spirits and forward thinking people. But I think we are bringing kind of the next level to dentistry, which I’m really proud of cuz I think we do that. We do what everybody else is doing and I don’t think dentistry has historically had that, and so that’s cool. I’m trying to think about how I wanna phrase this. We evolved the way we used it over the course of time, because there was a time in which we could just post stock things, and they could be a little vanilla and we could put it up three times a week and then that. Not only check the box but was What was standard at that point and what was affordable for a doctor. And then, I think, as we’ve kind of seen social platforms evolve, and the way people use social media evolve, obviously now we’re looking into Instagram more than we had been historically. We’re trying to mobilize our doctors on video as frequently as we can, to just show off their practices, talk about themselves, talk about something they might hear that’s affecting somebody in the practice, or one of their patients very frequently, or to just educate quickly and easily. So yeah, we’re definitely shifting the way we use things and continue to evolve things, and always trying to be current, just like everyone else is.

>> I bet you are so far in front of this trend for dentists, because they don’t traditionally have a marketing plan. Sure.

>> Because it is, like you say, it’s a small business, and so I bet you were so far out in front of this, that you’re just killing it. Like, no one else but your dentist, your dentist in their area must be killing it.

>> Well, I like to think so. I’ll just take that compliment and gladly accept it. [LAUGH]

>> I mean, becuase it’s wonderful you’ve identified this niche of professionals that really need your help.

>> Yeah.

>> Because they are hands on.

>> Yeah, they’re definitely very hands on, and it’s fun to work with other small business owners, which I really enjoy. It’s a part of what we do, and especially people who, I think, really value the help that we give them, which feels good.

>> Yeah, what a great idea. [LAUGH] So speaking of the internet and social media, we have this thing here at our agency and it’s an innovation meeting, we have an innovation meeting once a month, and we talk about all the new innovations in marketing and advertising, cuz things are changing so rapidly. Do you have a favorite marketing innovation? And tell us about maybe how you’re using it?

>> Yeah, well mine’s dorky and dentistry related. So there’s a product called Local Med. And there’s something kind of similar in ZocDoc. I don’t think it’s as user-friendly, but ZocDoc is not as user- friendly in my mind, where you can basically go to your dentist’s website. You click a button and you can just really, literally, port into their schedule, so that you don’t actually have to talk to a human. So if you, like me, at 7:00 PM, remember that you forgot to call the dentist today, you can just go to click the button and you’ll get right on his schedule that time. So, 24/7 online scheduling, which has not historically been a thing for dentists or, frankly, many medical providers at all, or healthcare providers at all. So, that’s really been a pleasure to integrate into our practices and integrate into our metrics, and integrate in to the sites that we’re building for our clients, because, I think, that’s a really awesome, easy of use, especially in young and professional areas, they love that.

>> Wow, so it’s just a plug-in?

>> It’s just a plug-in, yeah.

>> Wow.

>> And, if anybody wants to check it out, cuz they’re looking for a dentist near them, you could just go to, you can type in your area code and you can find a LocalMed dentist and schedule right now, even though it’s after work hours.

>> That is great for someone like us who works all day. Cuz that’s when I usually think of things. It’s usually around 9: 30 at night.

>> Its nerdy that that’s, like, the tech product. I love that product, our clients love that product. It’s just been an awesome tool for us as an agency, but also for our clients that I really value, and I know our clients do too.

>> Well, I think it’s a theme I’m hearing with you, because you’re all about finding a need and filling it.

>> I will do it!

>> Yeah. Talk about finding a need. So you’re doing something that no one’s ever done, but we need that.

>> I know I do.

>> I need to find a dentist like that. [LAUGH]

>> Let’s talk about branding and brands.

>> Sure.

>> Is there a brand out there that you’re following that maybe our listeners can learn from? Somebody that’s doing it right or doing something interesting?

>> I think there is a fitness brand out there called Tone It Up, and it’s two lovely women out of, I think, Huntington Beach. And they have a fitness regimen, and a website, and they’ve got some fitness products, and some protein shakes, and granola bars and all kinds of stuff. And it’s really struck me, because I like the way that they talk to other women about something that is so sensitive, which is body image, and working out and being healthy about working out. And being healthy about your food and what you’re putting in your mouth everyday. But they do it, and it’s just an aesthetically beautiful way. It’s all pinks and blues, and whites, and it just really seems to connect with millennial women. And I like watching what they do. I like their tips and tricks. I like the way they communicate about themselves and show their own vulnerabilities, as people who are female entrepreneurs in a business who are dealing with their body image issues. Who may have thoughts and dreams about what they want to do with their fitness and health in the future. So I really like that brand a lot, I think they’ve got a great digital presence. But I think the thing they have done incredibly well is, they have created such a social surge around their community. These women support each other in meeting their health goals, they go work out together, they have little clubs in cities nationwide that go do walks and runs, and whatever. And I really like the message in that, and I just like how honest it is.

>> Yeah, just really taking advantage of the community, it sounds like, building a community and taking advantage of that.

>> Total social media rockstars, incredibly entrepreneurial women who are very fun to watch.

>> And it’s fun to hear a story about women owners marketing a female product to women, because their insights are spectacular. It sounds like they really tapped in to, again, a need, and that’s great. I was having a meeting today, and we had, I think, five guys in the room. And they were presenting different strategies, and one of them was a strategy that was really targeted towards women’s size. Cuz they’re all kind of like this strategy, and they’re all kind of like, yeah that’s okay. I said, well, let me explain to you where this is coming from, as a personal shopper kind of idea. And it says, you know, when women think of the best shopping experience, it’s a personal shopper, and they have all this stuff ready and they know your size, they know what your name, they know what you want.

>> Oh, totally.

>> So we’re transferring that to this product, it happened to be a car product. And I said so, and I go okay, now we get it. I said, I just want to tell you what angle we’re getting at here, because 50% of your customers are female.

>> Okay.

>> So it’s interesting to look at marketing that way and think about who your end.

>> End user.

>> End user is.

>> Did they grab on to it?

>> They did.

>> Oh good.

>> They did, it’s really exciting, that’s some fun stuff. So that’s a great brand to share, thank you. So let’s talk a little bit more about you Laura, can you describe your personal brand to us?

>> I don’t know if I have a personal brand, what did other people say? [LAUGH]

>> That’s a valid question.

>> This is what’s interesting, because women are challenged when you ask them about themselves. So I like to ask this question, because I think it’s important for us to think about that.

>> Are you asking who I am?

>> What do you stand for? What do you project? How did you get where you are today? What kind of person are you?

>> Grit, I think is the root of everything. I think I’m just a gritty person. I think to own a business    you have to be super gritty, cuz you just got to learn to take punches constantly. That’s just what being a business owner is, just constantly taking punches and then deciding. How am I gonna get up and then how am I never gonna do that again? And then, so I think grit is a huge part of who I am. I think service is a huge part of who I am, I love to give back. Volunteerism is also a huge part of who I I am, it’s been in my life and world since I was in Girl Scouts. The thing that I think, and I sit on the board of directors of the Junior League of San Diego, which I am very honored to do, which is a training organization for women. So I am passionate about that, I sit on the board of directors for the San Diego dental Foundation, which serves veterans who are looking to get back up on their feet and needs dental health care, and then I have for rescue dogs. So obviously I have a love of animals. So volunteerism is certainly a part of all of the things in my life. But in addition to that, wonders agency is built on five Cultural pillars I guess we’ll say. And we have health and wellness, we have social good, we have professional development, we have personal development. And then we have, what am I missing, I’m missing one. I can’t remember it, but the one that I’m gonna point out is social good. And so we do a lot of work with the demo foundation gratis as part of our give back for them, so we help them with all their collateral materials, their website, all that stuff. We also have done a lot of stuff with kids for community this year, which has been really, really fun. So we’ll gather gifts, we gather toiletries cuz obviously we have connections to demo products.

>> [LAUGH]

>> Which is super helpful. And so services is a huge, huge part of what we do at Wonderist Agency and it’s a heartbeat of every single employee we have. We feel very commited to that. And then I think in terms of other personal brand things. Probably just a dogged, dogged commitment to excellence and growth. I read a tremendous amount of books. I listen to podcasts incessantly. I listen to audio books. If I can pick somebody’s brain I will. I love international travel. So I think all of those things are kinda who I am as a person, my brand.

>> Yeah, fantastic. And I love how you tied that all back into the pillars of your company. So your company really reflects your brand-

>> It does, it totally does, yeah.

>> You can tell. Can you talk about a learning experience? A time or a situation in you career where you faced a professional obstacle, and how you overcame it.

>> Well, I have about a million of those because [LAUGH] I fail about a 100 times a day. So, I think it certainly have one and you will appreciate it cuz it’s when I was in my automotive days. I misplaced $70,000 in a TV buy, and I pretty much thought my job was gonna be on the line. But suffice it to say, the big, big, big lesson learned was that I learned to double-check my work. And I know that sounds so silly and so basic and 101, but when you were dealing with multi-million dollar buys, you can’t lose money. And so I double check my work, that is a habit I have to this day. And I’d say that is certainly one but I think professional obstacles will always continue to present themselves to you no matter what you’re doing or where you are. And so finding a way to move around and finding a way to be comfortable with change, be comfortable with flexibility, be comfortable with not liking to be stagnant. That is kinda of what has helped me move around things as I’ve encountered them. And just thinking thoughtfully about things and having the end objective in mind or the best interest of the other person as opposed to my best interest at heart. Does that make sense?

>> Yeah, well I think that’s a great lesson, thanks for sharing that. That’s a good one and I like how the lessons learned from making a mistake, that’s actually something I like to ask in interviews. I like for people, cuz sometimes you are talking to someone that could be right out of college or only has a year or two under their belt. And I like to say, let’s talk about some mistakes you made and what did you learn from them? Because I find if I hire people that are too green, they hadn’t made enough mistakes to know better, because you learn so much from your mistakes. And you will never misplace money in a media buy again once you do that. [LAUGH]

>> No, but getting comfortable with failure is probably the overarching theme of that like I’m very comfortable failing. I don’t like it, I will never like it, but I’m comfortable in that space now if that makes sense. I have to assume you feel the same way.

>> Yeah, you have to be. You have to be comfortable in failing and you have to know that it’s coming. [LAUGH] Like you said, you know it’s around the corner, you just don’t know which corner it’s gonna be so you gotta be ready for it. And then you got to pick yourself up and keep going, that’s great, learning that. As a leader in marketing and media, what obstacles and challenges are you addressing in 2019? You got a new year here, any advice you have for our listeners?

>> I think some of the obstacles and challenges we’re going to be addressing in 2019, and I don’t know if it’s gonna come to fruition in 2019, but I think it’s something we’re gonna have to learn and talk about a lot in 2019, is voice assistance in the home. And how that is gonna affect people searching for dentists, or potentially searching for dentists. And so I’m very curious to see the direction that that moves with consumers, and then also with our clients in seeing how creative we can get with that. That is something I am definitely looking forward to this year in terms of, I can’t really think of anything else off the top of my head to be honest with you. I am very interested in voice, I am consistently interested in watching the social media algorithms change and flexing to those, seeing what new products roll out on social media platforms and seeing how we can leverage those to our best interest for our clients. That kinda stuff I guess.

>> And do you guys do annual plans for your dentists?

>> Some we do, what we have found is dentists really like the opportunity to be flexible. So, what I’ve historically been used to is annual contracts that get concreted in December and then we roll it out over the course of the year. Dentists liked to be much more nimble based on the needs of their practices. And so we have some consistent things that we do, but we are always flexible to scale up or down based on their needs, or scale into things that they want to do, or if they say, hey listen, I really want to get into TV and radio. We’ll mobilize that really quickly. So we do, do planning for our clients, but it’s almost a little bit more top level than what I would say would be for a traditional agency if that makes sense.

>> Yeah, that does.

>> It’s not inked.

>> While we’re talking about 2019, tell us a little bit about this sash that you’re working on?

>> Oh, we are-

>> Explain to our listeners what that is.

>> So I talk mainly about Wonderist Agency but in addition to Wonderist Agency, my husband and I with some partners also own two other verticalized agencies. One that serves lawyers, called Nomos Marketing and then one that serves the mergers and acquisitions and private equity space called Merger Labs. And so with some insights from all three of those but mostly peppered from our Wonderist clients in 2019 you will see a product called your virtual consult roll out which is going to allow doctors to have a little bit of face time with prospective patients via the computer. Prior to a patient deciding to come and sit in the chair because as we’ve already discussed, nobody wants to come to the dentist unless they have to. And yet, people still have questions about their smiles, so what’s going on with this tooth? Do I need Invis-align? Can I brighten my smile? Do I need veneers? A lot of cosmetic based stuff. But having an opportunity for a patient to send a couple photos in and do a video capture that they can send to the doctor and then the doctor can volley back with some information and insight. It’s not a consult, it’s not a patient, it’s simply an introduction. Obviously the doctor needs to see the patient to make any sort of prognosis, certainly sell our treatment plan. But we’re really excited for that to roll out and test it out with some of our clients and roll it out wide in 2019.

>> Oh my gosh, that sounds like an amazing product.

>> Yeah, well and I think it will be so useful across other verticals as well. Like dentistry, sure, but like my parents had raccoons under their deck this summer.

>> [LAUGH]

>> We’re from Wisconsin. And they had to pay somebody to come out to assess the raccoon situation. It was like, well let me just take five pictures and show you what’s going on. And you can see their little eyes under the deck. And so, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to just have a quick assessment via video, or via photos that will save everybody the time, and theoretically money on both sides. So that’s kind of what we’re hoping to do.

>> So you seem like such a visionary, like you’re looking to the future and what’s happening, and how can you tap into that?

>> That’s generous, I appreciate that.

>> [LAUGH]

>> I will take it, but [LAUGH] I will let you think that. Go ahead.

>> [LAUGH]

>> No, it’s great because again, that’s fantastic. That’s something we’re not doing right now but you’re taking advantage of the technology and obviously in the backend of how you build these things. Is part of what you’re bringing to this too.

>> Sure.

>> And then you’re working within your vertical and saying how can I apply this to my client’s situation and bring a new product to them.

>> Yeah.

>> So that’s how you’re growing. You’re really growing horizontally too. [CROSSTALK] I’d like to turn the conversation to mentoring. What has that meant to you over your career? Are there any lessons that you learned and that you’ve applied?. Has it helped you become the successful business woman you are today?

>> Yeah, certainly so, I don’t think I naturally am inclined to ask for help. I think I like to do things alone but I think that that’s a mistake because I think relying on the expertise of people around you is the best way to get to a solution fast. So sometimes I like to tinker on my own and sometimes I’m wised up and I’ll just ask somebody right away. But, I certainly have had a number of really awesome mentors. My mentor at a job I had in San Francisco, a guy named Greg Fisher has been very integral to who I have wanted to become as a leader. Whether I’m succeeding at that it remains to be seen.

But I really loved the way he worked with me, taught me things, got me to learn things. Gave me enough space to do things the way I wanted to do them, but then knew exactly when to swoop in and say, hey, let’s change direction on this. Or hey, I’d like to give you some feedback, which I really appreciated about him. I had another mentor who is a billboard god out of LA, his name is Rick Robinson. He has been really integral in helping me start and scale Wonderist in the early days, I just really relied on his sage advice. Some of the more emotional parts of the business when I was still doing things on my own. Before Michael had joined the crew I had just relied on his consistent presence. And to kind of fish for answers with me together, which I really loved. So those are probably two of the big mentors in my life. And I think in terms of how I’m trying to give that to   other people, I’ve been working on resumes a lot with some women in my life right now who are searching for new roles. And I think that that has been very gratifying for me cuz we see so many resumes at One Hurst Agency, and I so I know what and why I want what I want. I think in terms of leadership within the office, I try to be somebody who gives advice when it’s needed and when it’s wanted I should say. Instead of needed and try to kinda, I think going back to our pillars, Michael and I feel very, very passionate about developing everybody in all aspects of their life. So while we run the business and our employees are our family. And so, how can we give back to them both professionally in the workplace through training, and seminars, and our own dedicated time. How can we also put them in a place to succeed in life for the long term?. Which is super important to us as well. So I try to certainly incorporate that into what we do as much as I can.

>> Mm-hm, is that processed, do you have a process for that, or is it just organic the mentoring within your company?

>> I think everybody really is very thoughtful of one another. Like, I don’t think Michael and I are, we jokingly call ourselves mom and dad sometimes. But truly I think everybody mentors one another. Like, there’s certain people on the team that I will go to when I’m looking for an opinion on something or I feel like I’m not in a place to answer it in a objective way. And so I wanna go seek the insights of other people, and I kind of think that’s mentorship in a lot of ways, too, and I’ve learned how to shift the way that I speak to people on the team who need to receive information in different ways. Some people are really visual learners. Some people are really auditory learners, and I know some people like to receive feedback this way, some people like to receive feedback that way. So how do I kind of tailor? How I feel, or how I need to go about our day-to-day lives to flex to them? And I think vice-versa for many people on our team too. I’m very short, to the point, and can probably be interpreted as curt a lot of the time, and that’s just how I function, because I’m just always in the zone. And so people have flexed me to give information to me that way. And I guess in my mind, all that’s kinda mentorship in a weird way. It’s all personal growth, it’s all sort of figuring out a way to work together in our weird little world that we’ve created [LAUGH].

>> Sure, mentorship comes in many different flavors and in the way that people absorb information or seek help. And it sounds like you had a couple of really good mentors along the way that helped you with some business challenges and thinking through things. So that’s really how you used mentioning. You know hey I got a challenge of can I bounce this off you.

>> I think that delivering critical feedback in a way that somebody can receive it is such an art  form. And that is something that I’m absolutely working to perfect. Somedays I ace it. Probably most days I don’t. But I that is really a good key to mentorship, because it opens a door to a person and it opens a door to you that can let conversation flow in a very intimate way, if that make sense.

>> Yeah, did you said that one of your mentors taught you how to learn?

>> She taught, that’s an interesting phrase.

>> Did I say that?

>> That’s an interesting phrase.

>> I think I have learned a lot of the approaches to checking my work.

>> Mm hm.

>> And how to structure a work flow. And how to service a client in a way that they feel really really heard, and that they feel paid attention to. I think all of that stuff has been things I’ve picked up over the course of time from people who I’ve seen doing it well, and I just kind of wanted to siphon off of that and see how I could integrate it myself.

>> Mm-hm.

>> So yeah, I think so.

>> And I think in running a business we really need mentors too because it’s so multifaceted like you say. And there’s some things that are right in your wheel house. And then there’s some things like hey, you know [LAUGH]

>> Yeah.

>> This is interesting. Yeah, if there’s any listeners what would like to mentor me, I’m now accepting.

>> Now accepting. [LAUGH]

>> I’m accepting mentors. [LAUGH]

>> Sorry. [LAUGH] Well being successful as you are and I heard you say that your life is kind of messy. [LAUGH]

>> That’s fair.

>> But I’d like to know if you could share with us maybe a daily habit or two that you have that you feel like’s contributed to your success?

>> I would love to tell you about my daily habits because it’s a personal point of pride for me. I like to set New Year’s intentions, goals, whatever you wanna call them. And I set maybe ten a year. I generally will accomplish 50% of them or more, which I feel is pretty darn good. And two that have been really helpful for me is I’m actually a super big yogi I’m not super heavy in my practice right now, but I have gone through 500 hours of teacher training, and have done travel with it. And I’ve done quite a bit of teaching when I lived in Japan. And in that time I was getting trained, they challenged us to start a journal. And I thought to myself, well, I really wanna do this. And in the first few weeks, I was really like writing, and writing, and writing, and I was like, this is just so laborious and not that much fun stuff happens to me in a day.

>> [LAUGH]

>> And so, I was like, well, what if I just commit to like two sentences? And so six years later, I still write two sentences in my in my journal, every single morning. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up. It’s part of my ritual. And i committed to it that year, six years ago. And I was like, I’m gonna do this. It’s gonna be really beneficial for me. And it’s really panned out. It’s two sentences on gratitude in my life, and I like that It’s my time in the morning to do it, if I don’t do it I don’t beat myself up  over it. And I love to beat myself up about things I don’t accomplish. And then the other thing is that I have suffered from anxiety since college, it has been a brutal path. And it shows its ugly face in moments, and then sometimes it’ll lie dormant for a really long time. And so I was going through a particularly rough patch. And I was not eating healthy, I wasn’t taking care of myself, wasn’t sleeping well. And so I really wanted to commit to a vitamin regimen that I felt was gonna serve me in my anxiety. And I did that, and I still do that, and that has been a huge game changer for me.

>> Ahh.

>> I commit to reading a lot of books, so I try to read at least a little bit every single day, even if it’s a couple pages before I close my eyes. And so those are like the three big ones, I would say, are the gratitude journal for sure, my vitamins for sure, and then trying to pick up a book every day to some extent.

>> Well that’s really interesting. The anxiety, I’m sure that there’s a lot of people listening that may wanna know, what kind of vitamin regimen are you talking about?

>> I can’t assume the original one is, good golly, I can’t remember it. It was A, B, C, D, folic acid And three other things. It was like seven to ten horse pills a day. It was like not fun.

>> Wow! [LAUGH]

>> And then I slowly like kind of turned the dial down as I started feeling better. Now I just take a multivitamin.

>> Mm-hm.

>> And if I’m getting sick I’ll take zinc or whatever and I’ll sub some stuff in and out. But yeah,  that’s been the bulk of it. But the key to setting your intentions and keeping them is to consistently check up on them. And I check up on my every single week, I do a quick evaluation. It takes me no more than two minutes, like, how am I doing this week? Okay, how did I do this week? What can I change for next week? How can I shift this? And then we talk about this, Mike and I talk about this a lot, I talk about it at a lot is once we get something settled then it needs to turn to habit. So how do you transition the goal to a habit? So like one of the challenges we have at one hurst agency, together as a group was how do we get 65 Google reviews. Well I will tell you the answer is tell everybody they can get a nitro colder machine at the office.

>> [LAUGH]

>> And it will happen within two months.

>> [LAUGH]

>> [LAUGH] But now it’s like, okay, we baked that. We know how to ask for it in our process flow, we know when to ask our doctors for it, and then how do we make that habit moving forward. So that every time we wanna meet a goal now we don’t have to like do that. Does that make sense?

>> Yes, yes, turning a goal into a habit, absolutely.

>> Yep. Right. You seem very goal oriented, and I really like the piece about this journaling that you were doing. And if you couldn’t do a page or two or whatever, you cut it down to what you could do, so that you could accomplish it.

>> Yep.

>> Accomplish it and get the benefit and move on, instead of beating yourself up. But I can’t write two pages a day.

>> I think the thing I’ve learned is, I would love to set a big might goal, but then that just feels overwhelming for me. So if I can just make one tweak, and then make the tweak a commitment. But I know I can make one more tweak, and then make that tweak a commitment. Some.

>> I think that’s a great lesson for our listeners, to just put those goals in bite-sized pieces, and then checking in on yourself, too. How am I doing?

>> Yep.

>> Once a week you’re doing that.

>> Yep. The other one I did?

>> Yeah.

>> Clearly-

>> I love it.

>> The other was committing to drinking way more water, so I started to bring a water bottle around wherever.

>> Yes.

>> And six years later, I still do that every day.

>> Right.

>> Dorky.

>> Well you got to take care of yourself. You have to take care of yourself. This is-

>> Stresful.

>> You’re doing a lot. This is stressful business, and I think that’s really good tips for us because we need to know that. Oh, here’s my new question about zero based thinking, if you just zero everything out and start over. Knowing what you know now about business and what you’re doing. Is there anything that you wouldn’t have gotten into?

>> There is a lot of things that I wouldn’t have done. But maybe not a lot of things I wouldn’t have gotten into.

>> Okay.

>> I think I would have scaled. I think the only thing I can think of is, we’ve been in business for six years. Like I said we scale brick by brick where totally death free endeavor. And we’ve never taken on any debt and I’m very proud of that.

>> Yes congratulations.

>> And I think we could have scaled a lot faster than we did. But I think the way that we did it ended up serving us even better, because it made us learn how to make tough choices fast. Because you think about the startup world they say, okay well you got $1 million investment. If you got $1 million investment you’re gonna spend the $1 million. If you get a half million dollars you’re gonna spend a half a million dollars. But if you have nothing you can’t spend anything.

>> [LAUGH]

>> And so how do you learn to incrementally get the things you need and cut the things you don’t? Which has kept us a really lean endeavor.

>> Mm-hm.

>> And has also allowed us a lot of flexibility in terms of scaling the way we have. Which I think is probably the thing that I, knowing what I know now, I maybe would have done differently early on. I don’t know. But I don’t know. I like the way it’s ended up. So I’m not sure.

>> Yeah. It’s kinda hard to do that. It’s kinda hard to look back and say, okay, what would I have done differently.

>> [CROSSTALK] I probably, no, I got nothing. I like what I’ve done.

>> Cuz scaling faster, there’s a lot of-

>> Poses some problems.

>> Yeah.

>> Yeah.

>> Yeah. But I do like the piece about not having any money and having to work hard like that, because it makes you smarter, and leaner, and better. And better in the good times too.

>> Yep. Exactly.

>> Can you share with our audience, some of the best ways that women might excel or achieve their goals in business? Any advice you have for our listeners?

>> And I think the best, I got to think about that for a second.

>> How women can excel and achieve their goals in today’s work place?


>> I mean-

>> Is it an unpopular answer to say the same way that men do?

>> You know what, I love it I love it.

>> I don’t know, the same, the best. Okay, ask me the question again.

>> Okay.

>> I’m just gonna say that cuz I think this is, I don’t know. I haven’t done anything, pull my shirt down, I don’t know. [LAUGH]

>> What are the, okay, hold on. I’d like for you to give our listeners some advice. What’s the best way for women to achieve their goals in today’s workplace?

>> I think i’m a heels of what we were just talking about probably in bite-size chunks, so like set the end goal and then figure out what the ladder is to get to that point. If you don’t know or you run into obstacles, employ the people around you, your family, your friends to help you get there. Google, I mean if I don’t know the answer I Google it. If somebody comes to my desk and like, can you help me? I’m like did you Google it first? I think those are the short answers, but I think maybe the answer that is probably the unpopular answer is maybe the same way as men. [LAUGH] I don’t know. I don’t know.

>> I think that’s a great answer. I think that’s great. And when people come to you and ask you a question, you ask them if they checked Google first.

>> I do do that. It’s a true thing.

>> I like that. One of the things I like to do is that when someone comes to me with a question, I like to ask them what their answer is.

>> I do that, too.

>> Because that way they have a chance to think okay, how would I solve this problem? Tell me what you think, and then sometimes if they know I’m gonna ask them that, they’ll ask themselves that and then you only get half the people coming in your office asking a question.

>> Yeah.

>> Because it’s like teaching them to learn, teaching them how to solve problems really.

>> Yeah, we do that a lot too. Or like what’s my good, better, best? What are my options?

>> Yeah.

>> And then which one do you want to do and then which one do you think I should do? I have no shortage of opinions. I’ll have an opinion about anything if you asked me so.

>> Yeah. And sometimes that opens it up to having people ask you stuff all the time. Because if you’re a problem solver and you have opinion about everything and you’re really smart, then people can get a little bit lazy. And so it’s harder when you are a problem solver, to not answer those questions.

>> Sure.

>> And to say, did you check Google?

>> Yeah. [LAUGH] Did you think of an answer yourself. Well Laura, you’ve been a fantastic guest.

>> Thank you.

>> Thank you so much, it’s been fun getting to know you, and learning how you’re starting and scaling these businesses, and finding these needs.

>> I appreciate it, I’m happy to be here.

>> Yeah, so I have one last final question.

>> Sure.

>> Do you have any marketing resources, any books or podcasts that you would recommend to our listeners?

>> Yes, podcasts I love how I built This, which is an NPR podcast. What else do I like? I was binging one recently that I really liked too and I can’t remember the name of it. And then I have three books that I just recently started and finished that are excellent. Them by Ben Sasse. The second one is Essentialism by Greg McAllen or Ben McAllen, something like that. And then the third one is Grit by Angela Duckworth. And all three of those are really, really excellent reads.

>> I’ve read the Grit one.

>> Yeah.

>> [LAUGH] Well thank you again for being our guest. And I wish you the best of luck in the scaling and I can’t wait to see this new product you’re working on.

>> Oh, thanks, my pleasure being, thanks for, huh. My pleasure! Thanks! Thanks for being here! Thank you for being here!

>> No, thank you for being here! [LAUGH]

>> Thanks for having me.

>> No that was great, fantastic. Thanks so much. [LAUGH]

>> That’s our show for today. Our latest interview and show notes have been added to our show runner Hall of Fame. At the Don’t miss an episode by subscribing now to the showrunnermarketingpodcast on iTunes, stitcher, or google play. And to network, motivate, and gain some more wisdom from the top follow advanced strategies on Facebook, twitter, pintrest, Instagram and LinkedIn. Keep learning and growing and thanks for listening

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