© Digital Storyteller 2020
© Digital Storyteller 2020
Today we’re sitting down with Digital Storyteller CEO, Andrew Marr, to talk about his experience running a digital marketing agency and how he inspires change within the company. As a previous PGA golf professional and payroll sales executive, Andrew comes from a unique background in leadership and management.
In just over a year Andrew and his wife, co-owner, and CMO Amanda Rogers, have built the Digital Storyteller brand into more than they imagined possible in such a short time period. What started off as a two-person team has now blossomed to more than 10 and continues adding new teammates monthly.
As many know, starting a business is no easy feat, especially not in the midst of a global pandemic. We’re talking to Andrew about how he’s supported the growth of Digital Storyteller and how he continues to inspire change within the team.
A: That’s a good question. Well, when Amanda and I sat down and discussed what we wanted from this business, it was to be the best marketing agency in San Diego. Not the biggest, but the best, so that was number one. Also, for us to create a life for ourselves that we could be extremely flexible, have the freedom to do what we want, raise our family, be with our family, travel to Scotland with my family, and have that time to do that. Then third of all was to really allow our employees to be the best version of themselves. So, hire great people, inspire them to be the best versions of themselves, and watch them grow and manage the business, so we don’t have to.
A: How do we facilitate productivity? I don’t know. We’re a virtual company. I have no idea if anyone does anything. But in all seriousness, the way that we do that from a virtual perspective is that we set project deadlines every week. Right? Amanda and I are not in the business of micromanaging. It’s not something that we liked in our careers. It’s certainly not something that we’re going to do at Digital Storytellers. So if we manage based on projects, rather than based on time, we feel like that is a better way to inspire our workers or our employees to be better, and it also gives us a clear path to success with our clients. So every week, we will have deliverables that we have to meet with our clients, and if they’re not met, then we need to meet them. Project-based time is maybe my answer to that.
Take-Two: Uhh, bribery, that’s number one. Always buying expensive gifts and lots of Fireball … just kidding. Maybe a little bit. Fireball is certainly important, but that’s at the end of the day. I think rewarding staff for doing things well. We may not do it by the book, but we certainly send our staff Venmo payments and different types of amounts when they do well. That’s one thing. Swag is another thing. We have terrific shirts here, like a brand new lulu with the little logo on it. It’s fantastic. And what else did we do? Oh, Skrewball? Cheers. [Takes shot of Skreball] This is how we motivate and inspire.
A: Hiring people that have high levels of emotional intelligence is important to us. We actually provide a prep test with a local company that we use here. And every potential employee goes through this test so that we can understand their level of skill from where they’re at right now, where they like to spend their time, which is incredibly important to us, and how they’re inspired and motivated, which becomes the most important thing to Amanda and I. Because then we can challenge our staff and foster that ability for them to be the best versions of themselves and go from there. So emotional intelligence is certainly number one and probably the most important.
A: Positive company culture with a remote workforce. Laughter, humor, vulnerability. We meet every morning at 9:00 to 10:00 in the morning as a team. We come together, and Amanda and I share a lot. Sometimes we overshare. We encourage our staff to also overshare because it allows us to connect with them more, especially because we’re not seeing them every day in an office setting. So vulnerability, openness, and humor is very important to us.
A: Listen. Listen to your employees. Make sure that they’re heard every single day. Make sure you catch your employees doing things well. I think we foster a mentality in the Western world of trying to make sure that people are always doing the things that we think they’re supposed to do. We don’t like that. We like to make sure that our employees are rewarded verbally when they do things. So Amanda’s ears and my ears and both of our eyes are open to when our staff are doing things good, and making sure that when those things happen, that we tell them that they are good things.
A: I mean, it comes back to listening, right? I think that emotional intelligence starts with understanding what people are trying to say. If we can stay present and really hear what our employees are saying, or what their employees are saying. Hear what they’re saying, not just the words, because sometimes the words that people say are not really what they mean. So that extreme level of listening, I think, will allow leaders to understand what the actual situation is and not what the words would present it to be.
Thanks so much for sharing your insight on leadership and brand development Andrew! For more “secret sauce” from CEO Andrew Marr on leadership and inspiring change, check out his Leadership Series videos!
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