Building a Remote Digital Empire with Tim Kelsey

Episode 116 June 07, 2024 00:57:51
Building a Remote Digital Empire with Tim Kelsey
The Agency Hour
Building a Remote Digital Empire with Tim Kelsey

Jun 07 2024 | 00:57:51


Hosted By

Troy Dean Johnny Flash

Show Notes

In this episode of The Agency Hour Podcast, join Troy as he chats with Tim Kelsey, Managing Director of Pronto Marketing, an expert in remote team management and global agency growth.

Tim’s agency, Pronto Marketing, excels in providing comprehensive digital marketing services from Southeast Asia, allowing clients to benefit from high-quality, affordable solutions. Today, we dive into the nuances of managing a global workforce and the importance of transparency in client relationships.

Tim shares his journey from a one-year adventure in Thailand to leading a successful agency with a 90+ member team spread across Thailand and the Philippines. He discusses the challenges and advantages of operating in Southeast Asia, the significance of cultural understanding, and the strategies for effective remote team management.

Discover how Pronto Marketing leverages time zone differences for operational efficiency and the practical systems they’ve built to ensure seamless communication. Tim also talks about his new role as a coach at Agency Mavericks, offering insights into how agency owners can benefit from community support and shared knowledge.

Learn about the critical importance of having a shared mission and values within your team, and how vulnerability and open communication can strengthen team dynamics and client relationships.

If you’re looking to optimize your remote workforce, enhance your client management strategy, or scale your agency operations, this episode is packed with actionable insights and practical advice. Learn how to harness the potential of global talent and effective management practices to transform your agency and drive sustainable growth.


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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: We created our values. The first time that we needed to fire someone, the values came out of that practical use. It wasn't just like, oh, we got to get everybody on board and, like, excited about the work that we're doing. We go, how do we tell this person they're fired and explain to them why they don't fit in here? [00:00:17] Speaker B: Welcome to the agency hour podcast, where we help web design and digital agency owners create abundance for themselves, their teams, and their communities. This week, we're joined by Tim Kelsey, Maverick's coach and the managing director of pronto marketing. Tim runs a team of almost 100 team members based in Thailand and the Philippines, which keeps me up at night. I don't know how he manages that many people. And so, in this episode, we explore the tyranny of distance between team members, overcoming the fear of being vulnerable with your team, and the secret to managing 90 plus remote staff. We also dive into the rapid expansion of AI, how it's affecting global outsourcing, and how you can leverage it to deliver things more efficiently without being replaced. So you. If you're nervous about the impending robot uprising or you're on the fence about expanding your team to Southeast Asia, then this episode is for you. I'm Troy Dean. Stay with us. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the agency hour podcast, Tim Kelsey from pronto marketing. Hey, Tim. How are you? [00:01:16] Speaker A: Good. How are you, Troy? [00:01:18] Speaker B: I'm good, thank you. Welcome to the show. Now, for those that don't know anything about you, just give us the too long, didn't read version of who you are, what you're doing here on the agency hour podcast, and what you do for are living what you do in your life, and where are you in the world? [00:01:33] Speaker A: Great. Yeah, I can cover all of that. So I'm the managing director of an agency called Pronto Marketing. We're based in Thailand and the Philippines. So I'm coming to you from Bangkok, Thailand, right now. I've been living here for the past 14 years. Kind of thought I was going to have a little adventure in Thailand 14 years ago and came here and then never left. Really enjoyed my time here and working at pronto and all that kind of stuff. I also recently became a coach at Agency Mavericks, which has been super fun and exciting. So, yeah, that's a big part of what I've got going on now. Yeah, I mean, a lot of my life revolves around those two things, running an agency and jumping into this coaching role now. But outside of work, I'm traveling and playing music, too. I play the piano and trying to get some little creative energy in my life as well. All that kind of stuff. [00:02:36] Speaker B: Awesome. And it's like, what is it? 06:00 a.m. where you are now in Bangkok. [00:02:40] Speaker A: 06:00 a.m. so a little bit of an earlier start than I would normally be making, but happy to get out of bed and get the days rolling. [00:02:48] Speaker B: I appreciate you being here at that time, by the way. Thailand is one of my favorite places on the planet. I had my honeymoon on Koh Samui, which is just, you know, just a divine part of the world. I love koh Samui. I've been there about five or six times. And, yeah, love Thailand. Great culture, great people, great food. Just, yeah, I love everything about it. Where are your clients? Mainly for pronto marketing. Where are your clients based? [00:03:12] Speaker A: They're mostly in North America. I would say something like 80% of our clients are in the US and Canada, and the rest are in other english speaking markets around the world. UK, Australia, New Zealand. We have a decent number in Thailand, but we've never really actively gone after thai companies and we've just felt like we've been a better fit for western markets. [00:03:34] Speaker B: And you're obviously transparent with these clients that you're in Bangkok and that your team are in Thailand and the Philippines. I know a lot of agency owners get kind of freaked out about, oh, well, I can't tell my clients in Sydney that my team are all in the Philippines because they'll think I'm ripping them off. Was that ever a consideration for you or what would you advise people if they're in that kind of mindset? [00:03:57] Speaker A: We are definitely transparent about it. I think there's no way to hide it. I feel like that eventually it'll be clear that you have someone on the other side of the world doing the work for you, and it's better to discuss that upfront and make sure people are aware of that rather than being surprised and upset later. The unspoken part that we don't specifically say to our clients, but I think everybody knows, is that we're able to offer more affordable pricing because we're based in Southeast Asia and the labor costs and everything around running a business is much lower here. So I think everybody gets like, okay, that's why pronto is more affordable. But we're still able to back that up with quality work, and we try to earn that trust with our clients as they get involved with us. One of the things that we talk to our clients about is that if they can learn to work with us, it's actually a great system to have someone on the other side of the world that they can drop a task for us at the end of their business day. Our team gets it right when they're starting their day, it gets done while they're sleeping, and they wake up in the morning with a new page ready for them in their inbox. When they think about it that way, it starts to make sense. We also do have team members who work us business hours, so if they want to talk in real time with someone, they can get on the phone. We have live chat, all that kind of stuff. So we've built these systems that help build in that reassurance that you're not going to throw this into the void and not hear from us for a day or two until it pops up in your inbox again. There's always ways to check in with a team member that has that task or with other team members who can jump in on that task if it becomes urgent at some point. Yeah, we try to be really open and honest about all of that and make sure that our clients are aware of all the different ways they can get in contact with our team whenever anything comes up. And they never feel like, oh, I have to deal with this huge time zone difference or anything like that. [00:06:03] Speaker B: The other thing that I think is worth mentioning, right, is I just had a quick Google search of the population of Thailand, right? And we're looking at 71 million in Thailand. And in the Philippines, 115 million. I'll just do a quick search of the population of India, 1.4 billion. Right now, there's about 26 million in Australia. So Thailand is three times the size of Australia. The Philippines is, you know, four or five times the size of Australia. And India makes Australia look like a pimple in terms of population, right? So if you just look at the talent pool on pure maths, there's going to be more talent in across. You know, if you looked at India, if you just restricted your talent pool to India, Philippines and Thailand, you're going to be exposed to, you know, 1.4 billion, 1.51, over 1.6 billion people, versus 26 million in Australia. Right. Or 350 million in America or whatever it is. So your talent pool is bigger. The other thing is that I don't know what it's like in the state. Well, I kind of do know what it's like in the states, but I think it's worse in Australia. And I mean this with all respect, in Australia, not only to employ, you know, a full time developer is going to be costing you $80 to $100,000 a year, plus the, you know, whatever they're entitled to in terms of annual leave and personal leave and public holidays and superannuations, another 10% on top of that. Right. And then there's also just this, and I mean this, and I know I'm going to get flamed for this, but I mean this because I've seen this happen, particularly post Covid. It was, it happened, it was, it existed pre Covid. The work ethic and the sense of entitlement. And I mean, this, it's not. I'm not blaming anyone here, I'm just. The reality is we live in Australia, we have this incredible lifestyle. We are a very lucky country. We haven't. We've never really had to work very hard to survive. Right? So we take a lot of stuff for granted and we're also not geared up. Like, in my experience, the Philippines, particularly, where we have had a lot of staff in the past and we still have staff there now, they are geared up and they are actually skilling up and learning how to serve companies in Australia, in the US and Canada and the UK in terms of doing back office work like admin tasks, development, design, video editing, all that kind of stuff. Right, Australia, we're not interested in doing that. There's not a generation of kids growing up in Australia who are like, I want to be admin support for a marketing agency or I want to be a developer or. Right, there's a generation of Australians growing up who want to be entrepreneurs and want to be business owners and they're drinking the Gary Vee call aid or they're drinking the Tim Ferriss four hour workweek collide and they're living at home until they're 25 and mum's still making them lunch. And. And I mean this respectfully, but I'm just. This is just the economic fact, kind of sociological fact of the situation is that not only is the talent pool bigger in Southeast Asia, but they are more focused on developing those skills. So what I find is that even if that. Even if the population of Australia was 150 million, the percentage of that population that want to fill those roles is very small. Right. And so not only does it make economic sense to look to Southeast Asia for numbers sense, because there are more people in the talent pool who are skilled up to do those kind of roles. Does that make sense? Is that, is that what, is that what you find as well? And again, I know people are going to burn me alive for saying this and that's fine. I've got, you know, broad shoulders. I'm a grown up, I can take it. [00:09:49] Speaker A: Yeah, I do think there's a lot of western workers who would look at the types of roles that we have and say, oh, that's beneath me. And I don't want to do sort of the grunt work and work my way up from there. Where what we found through our team members is that, yeah, they're happy to jump on board and take the roles that might feel like they're repetitive and boring to western team member, but they take that, do it with enthusiasm, learn new skills along the way, and eventually grow out of that role. And I think one of the things that people assume about hiring in Southeast Asia is that you'll be able to find a doer there, someone who can do those repetitive, process based tasks. But I think people assume that's the limit of what they're going to do. And that to a certain extent, yeah, you're always going to need those doers and you'll be able to find people who are happy to do that sort of work. But I think you can also find those critical thinkers and problem solvers and great communicators as well. It just takes time to sort through all the candidates that are coming in, or it takes time to grow that individual within your organization and help them achieve what their full potential is. And then you can end up with really fantastic team members that cost you a fraction of what they would to have. We have a senior manager in the Philippines now who oversees, I want to say, like 18 people or something like that. And she is easily one of our best managers and costs us a fraction of what it would to hire a senior manager in the US or Australia or anywhere in the west to do that, that exact same role. And so it is absolutely possible to find those people who are appreciative of the, what others would call menial tasks, but also have them grow into these great team members who are contributing to the success of your business beyond just processing back end admin tasks. They're solving problems for clients and getting on the phone with clients and all the things that you would expect from an australian or american employee as well. [00:12:19] Speaker B: Yeah, and I think there is, and again, I'm not saying, I'm not bashing a generation going, there's this sense of entitlement. I think the way that we grow up in Australia is that we are fed all this information through the media and, you know, social media and the Internet and, you know, conferences and, you know, all the stuff that we see that we feel like we're going to go to school, we might, we might go to university, but event like we're just going to. In our early twenties, we're going to land in a management role, right? And we're going to have all this status and the people working for us and all this respect, right, which is horseshit. I mean, you have to work your way up the ranks. Whereas in my experience, employing people in the Philippines and India, we've never had staff in Thailand, but certainly India and the Philippines and Indonesia, is that there's this sense of gratitude that they're super, super grateful for the opportunity, super loyal, happy to work up the ranks and elevate themselves. I will also say that, you know, I've hired plenty of people in Australia before who are doers and are not thinkers, right, and are not strategists and don't have a strategic bone in their body. I think making the grand statement of, well, you know, we have thinkers and strategists here in Australia and the implementers and the doers that do the grunt work, which is a term I don't like, but I understand that that's what a lot of western companies and entrepreneurs think is we'll just get someone offshore to do the grunt work. I think that's a misnomer. I think it's a misunderstanding. I think you. But you living in Thailand probably gives you an advantage that you can develop those workers, those team members into those roles, right? Because I think the tyranny of distance does make it difficult. I know when I went to the Philippines and met my team for the first time, it was life changing. It was a, you know, all of it. We went out for lunch and we learned about each other's families and stories. And then all of a sudden you just care a lot more about the team members because you know them. So I think you living there probably gives you that advantage. It takes time to develop a team member regardless of where they live, right? And I know a lot of agencies have been burnt in the past with remote workers, you know, ghosting them or, you know, outsourcing the work to another agency or their cousins or whatever. And I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of bad experiences, you know, once bitten, twice shy kind of thing where agencies get a bit fruity about doing it again. But the economics, as I said, the economics and the talent pool just make it such a viable proposition. I mean, you know, if you've got a smartphone in your pocket, these things are all made in China, right? If you've got, if you deal with any bank or telco or insurance company, you're talking to someone in the Philippines in a call center, right? I don't know how long this is going to last. I mean, this is a whole other conversation that you're probably not ready for. But with the advent of AI and what's coming down the pipeline, do you think western companies employing team in Southeast Asia at a cost benefit? Do you think that's going to be around for the next 5000 years? [00:15:26] Speaker A: It's hard to say in timelines like that. [00:15:29] Speaker B: I do think Tim wasn't prepped for this, by the way. I haven't given Tim a script in advance, so I'm completely throwing a curveball at you, brother. I'm sorry. [00:15:38] Speaker A: That's all right. I mean, obviously AI is already changing the way that we work and we're starting to experiment with it within our agency and we talked to our team members about it and are trying to get the point across to them that, hey, AI, it's not that it's necessarily coming for your job, but if you're just the clock in, clock out, do my checklist every day kind of person, it will come for your job eventually and you need to be able to do that level of critical thinking. On top of what, I was listening to this video that one of our team members made about how we could be leveraging AI to produce better content for our clients, or at least better outlines for homepages and blog articles. Made a really good point in that video saying that AI is the tool and you are the pilot and it's really the pilot that determines the outcome. But the pilot has to be thinking about what does that business need? What are we trying to accomplish with this blog article? What keywords are important that we want to be ranking for in the broader SEO strategy that we're going after? And that's what makes the output from AI better. But if you're not able to start seeing those bigger picture things, or at least start working towards it now, there will be a day where, yeah, if you see your job as right words on page published blog article, you're done. And like, I mean, AI can already do that and can reflect to that extent. Um, but if, if your job is understand, communicate with, with the business owner, understand their goals, understand what's achievable within their market, and leverage AI as a tool to help you accomplish things more efficiently, then you're in a great position to be a person who can deliver value to that end client, sort of, regardless of location. So I guess to answer your question, in the long run of what this all leads to for global outsourcing, I mean, I think it'll still exist and it will just force everyone, regardless of where they are or what their role is, to step their game up into that critical thinking. But in 50 years from now, AI is, maybe we're all just going to be the people from Wally, just in our little floating chairs. AI is doing everything for us and we just sit back and relax all day. [00:18:21] Speaker B: Yeah, just watch it unfold. It's interesting, isn't? It's a fascinating time to be alive. I'm super grateful that I'm here to experience this and I don't know where it's going to go. It's going to be a lot of fun and I think things are going to get pretty weird. How many on your team now? [00:18:35] Speaker A: At pronto, we have about 90 people. So I think 60% to 70% in Thailand, the rest in the Philippines. We also just started hiring in Central and South America as well, just sort of expanding. We found that, I mean, there's a lot of night shift people you can find in the Philippines, and it's like, there's actually a support system around working the night shift and like, all the call center stuff that goes on there. But we've also found that it's hard for people to sustain that still, even if they have come in and said, oh, yeah, I'm totally fine working the night shift. I've worked the night shift in the past. It's sort of like two to three years into their time with pronto, they go, okay, is there any chance I could get off the night shift? And we don't want to lose great people just because they're burnt out from the night shift. I totally understand that. So were starting to hire in Central and South America as well. Its a more sustainable, long term way of serving us business hours. So, yeah, were starting to turn into a pretty large global workforce. [00:19:39] Speaker B: Great. Well, congratulations. I mean, 90, I mean, that just gives me hives thinking about it. So well done. Now, before we pivot and talk about mavericks, whats the secret to getting 90 odd people all moving in relatively the same direction, doing hopefully the right thing on the right day at the right time for the right client? [00:19:59] Speaker A: Yeah, I think it's. Well, there's a ton of stuff. If I were going to distill it into one thing, I think it's repeating. Why your overall message and mission and purpose repeating it over and over again to the point where you're sick of saying it. Like, I kind of imagine, you know, that the rockstar band that has to play their hit, and they probably hate it years down the road because they're tired of doing it. It's like you should feel that way about repeating your values and your mission. And it should be in company meetings, it should be in videos, it should be in systems that you run. Like our performance reviews, the questions that team members are answering or in peer feedback are based on our values. So there's a reminder built into our system with every review. These are the criteria your performance is being judged by. So it's ingraining that not only into the way you talk, but into the systems that you run every day with your team members that help them buy into what you're doing and what you're selling and how you're doing it and start making that a part of how they work. There's never a perfect solution. Of course, we have problems at 90 people still, and someone goes off track or has issues with performance and you deal with that person. But I would say for me, that's the biggest thing I've noticed that's had an impact on people kind of buying into that and living it as they start working on whatever we need to do. [00:21:36] Speaker B: I'm going to play devil's advocate for a bit because I get it and I agree with you 100%. I've experienced it myself. It took me a long time to get there. For the first, I don't know, ten years of my entrepreneurial journey, I thought all that was a bunch of corporate woo woo crap. And I can hear people that I know in our email list and in our Facebook group and listening to this podcast right now, that would be going, that's a bunch of corporate woo woo crap. Where you want me to put my mission statement up on the wall and have those, you know, inspirational photos of people rowing boats down the river with, you know, determination written on it. You want me to, like, is that. Is that where we're going with this? Like, how would you. A young agency comes to you and says, there's me and four developers in the Philippines somewhere and you want me to start talking about values and mission? Like, this is a bunch of crap. How do we. And I get it, but how do we quantify that? This is actually the only thing we have to align humans and get them behaving in the right way. What would you say to the cynic? [00:22:36] Speaker A: I'm a reformed cynic. As well. Yeah. I always thought, like, well, why would, wouldn't people just do their jobs and do it as well as I do and be great like that? Isn't that what everybody wants? And you have to get in the mindset that people view their work differently than you. I mean, I think if you're an agency owner or someone who's, like, senior within, within your job role, there's something about the way you motivate yourself and drive yourself to push forward that not everybody thinks in that. That same mindset as you. And so all that, the. The values and mission and all that kind of stuff is, is really a communication tool rather than, like, a motivational tool. It gives you a structure for talking about the things that you need people to be understanding. But one really practical thing that I think the skeptics can take away is that we created our values when we, the first time that we needed to fire someone. And we were thinking, like, how do we even tell, like, we know this person's not a good fit. And it. It was, like, partially a performance issue, but partially a culture fit also. And we need to be able to explain to them why you don't fit in with pronto and, like, what makes you, I mean, sure, you could be kind of cool and just say you're out of here, but we wanted to have a reason behind it. Or, like, make sure when we're making those bigger decisions internally that we have a process that we're thinking through, and our managers, or even amongst our senior leaders, have, like, a shared communication, a shared language that can be used to talk about why this person isn't fitting in. The values when we first wrote them came out of that practical use. It wasn't just like, oh, we got to get everybody on board and, like, excited about the work that we're doing. We go, how do we tell this person they're fired and explain to them why they don't fit in here? So I think there are very practical uses for it that aren't necessarily apparent at first. And it does. You read a book about it and you go, yeah, that sounds nice, but shouldn't we just be doing the actual work for our clients instead of spending time talking about who we are and what we do? And I think maybe at a very small level, it's not totally necessary to have values and mission, but once you get to ten people or something, I think you already start to notice the communication pitfalls that start appearing, or especially if the team is international and you have remote employees in the Philippines. It takes that extra effort to get them to understand what the work culture is and what the expectations are of them. So I would encourage people to not just see the like motivational kind of let's get excited part of it, but also see the practical outcomes that can come out of having all these things defined and shared and understood by everybody. It even helps when, like at this point when a team has an underperformer, that it's not even necessarily the manager who has to call things out. There's a team member who will talk about how that underperformer is not meeting the values they're not following or make things better value, or they're not being somebody that people can count on. Like I said, that shared language just makes it easier for that team member to speak up and say, hey, I'm worried about this other team members performance. And then the manager jumps in and starts working with that person. So it just makes all the communication when there are problems so much easier for everybody to understand and get on the same page about. [00:26:29] Speaker B: Yeah, there's two things I want to mention here. One is it's a great podcast. Can't remember what it was, maybe the entre leadership. But anyway, if you take someone who's only ever earned $50,000 a year and you pay them $80,000 a year, and you take them out the back end of the car park and say, here's a bunch of bricks, your job is to build a brick wall on this side of the car park, and when you've built it, knock it down and then take all the bricks over the other side of the car park and build a brick wall. And then when you've done that, knock it down and then bring all the bricks back over here and build a brick wall again after two weeks, they will quit. Doesn't matter how much you pay them because the work they are doing is completely meaningless and mind numbing and it doesn't matter, right? So people actually want to know why they're doing what they're doing matters. Why does this matter right? Now? They might not know that consciously, but subconsciously they're seeking out that kind of meaning in their work. Which is why the people that work in primary care in most countries around the world, nurses, teachers, early education workers, are the worst paid people on the planet. They work harder than anyone, but they get such meaning out of their work. They put up with the shitty pay and the conditions because, you know, they get so much intrinsic meaning out of their work. Now, I'm not suggesting they should put up with it. I think we should pay them better. But you get my point. It's also the reason that people will get out of bed in the middle of the night and go door knocking to raise money for a charity or give out, you know, care bags to homeless people, or they'll also spend their weekends door knocking to raise money or raise awareness for a political party because it matters to them. Right. Now, having said that, the problem, I think, is to have this conversation as a leader, right. As a business owner requires you to be vulnerable. It requires you to open up your heart and soul to your team and say, hey, this is what's important to me. We're not talking about ones and zeros here. This is a right brain conversation. None of this makes sense. It's not logical, but this is how I feel, and this is why we do what we do for our clients. And this is, we want to have this conversation, and it requires you to be vulnerable, which is hard. A lot of people are scared of being vulnerable, particularly engineers or developers who work very left brain. They're not great at being, you know, talking about how they feel. Feel. And so then it's just easier to say, well, I had this conversation with a maverick club member the other day. It's easier to say, well, you're not working out. I don't know why, but you're just not working out. So you're fired. I'm going to hire someone else. The problem with that is it costs time and money to hire people and recruit them and train them up and get them into your culture. So having the conversation about values and why we're here and all that kind of stuff, while it's an awkward conversation, pays dividends down the track, because you generally, and I can look at an agency, and if they've got a problem with their team and I start asking the questions about vision, values, mission, and the agent stares at me blankly, I'm like, well, here's an easy fix. You know, we just got to get people on the same page. But how do you overcome that fear of being vulnerable with your team? Because as leaders, we're supposed to be strong, right? We're supposed to be the ones following the flag and, you know, leading them into the. Into the. Charging the troops into battle. How do you be vulnerable? [00:29:45] Speaker A: I would say I still struggle with that sometimes, especially, like, when I'm addressing the whole company in a meeting or something like that. I feel like I need to put on this brave, positive face about everything. And I would say, I become much more vulnerable when I'm in a one on one with someone or a subset of our team, or even more vulnerable when I meet them face to face. Like, you talked about flying out to the Philippines, and you go out to dinner with them and just the conversation's going. Everybody gets a few beers. All of a sudden you're talking about like, oh, yeah, I've been burned out and I'm worried about this kind of stuff. And, like, you start being way more honest. And I think that's when, I mean, they start seeing you as a human and someone that they care about and, like, buy into, like, the place you're trying to take the company to. So I would say, like, yeah, there's different approaches to how you communicate in sort of what I would call, like, your official company communication in a meeting or a video that addresses the whole company. But I would encourage agency owners to just spend some time getting to know their employees on a personal level. Or I've done things like, we get together for outings, we bring the whole company together for a team retreat once a year, and everyone gets settled into their own little clicks, and I make my rounds and I go, all right, ask me anything. And by that point, everybody's a few beers deep and they're just like, what do you want out of pronto marketing? Or why are you doing this? And I have this really honest conversation with them, not trying to say everybody needs to get drunk to be vulnerable and build that. But that sort of idea where, like, you have you put yourself in a situation where you're just talking about your life outside of work and how you feel about what you're doing and what you're worried about, what you're happy about, and ask those same questions of your team members. I think if you take the lead and show that vulnerability first, then it makes it so much easier for another team member later to come to you and talk about why they're feeling burned out or if they don't understand something you're trying to communicate to the team. I think it builds this deeper level of trust when you can open up a bit. The other thing I'll say is that we've done specifically within teams, we've had them do kind of more open sharing. This sounds so cheesy, and I was mad when, when it happened that our team members suggested it, but we've done, like, little sharing sessions where we talk about our lives and we did. I remember one in particular. We did this thing sort of like, what's on your plate. And it sounds so cheesy to describe this, but it was actually great. Everybody got a paper plate, and we all, like, kind of drew the things that are going on in our life and what we're worried about and all this kind of stuff, and kind of made a little pie chart out of the plate and had these different things. And it's both things from work and outside of work. And then everybody shared that. And you learn so much about those team members and you realize, oh, wow, you actually do have a life outside of, like, the Zoom meetings I have with you. And, I mean, we all know that, like, when you think about it, but it doesn't sink into, you hear someone talk about they're working because their parents are getting older and they want to be able to take care of them, and that's why they are so motivated, because they know that their parents retired for health reasons or something, and that's their source of motivation. And you go, wow, that's a great, incredible thing to be motivated by. And it makes you appreciate those team members so much more, and it builds this sense of honesty within everybody that now you, like, you understand each other as people and not just as employees of the same company. [00:33:55] Speaker B: Totally. And, you know, human first, work colleague second. Since doing this as well, we know when we onboard a client who's not a good fit, we know, like, we can tell within a couple of weeks, sometimes we can tell within half an hour. It's like, oh, God, this is not going to work because this client just doesn't have the same belief system that we do, which is fine. Nothing wrong with that. We're just not a good fit. We know that our team is not going to work well with this client because this client, for whatever reason, you know, they might treat their team differently. They might not give a shit about the human element of the team, or they might just be driven by other things. Right. I always kind of think it's weird, like, what is a company? Right? A company, like, if you look at the word company is like a collection of people. It's like, you and I hang out, we're in good company, we're keeping each other company. What is a company? A company is a collection of people. One person is a solo preneur, a freelancer, a contractor, or whatever. You know, once you start working with a group of people, you become a company. And I think it's easy to kind of just. It's particularly in the west, I think it's easier to say, well, it's just business. And it's not personal. I think it is personal. I mean, I spend most of my waking life working. You know, Monday to Friday, I have a couple of days. I mean, Mondays and Fridays are pretty lazy for me. But even when I'm not working, I'm thinking about work because I own my own business. And so how can this not be personal? I don't understand. Like, I can't do this. I can't spend this amount of time doing this. And it not be personal. It's 100% personal. Right. And so I can't work on a team with people I don't gel with or who don't have similar beliefs or similar values. And I have had people like that in the past and, you know, I don't work with them anymore. And so I think what, what it requires, I think, is a sense of self awareness to be able to say to yourself, this is who I am and this is who I want to work with. And this is the kind of work I want to do and the kind of impact I want to have. And it's okay if I meet people on my journey who don't share that, it's totally fine. We'll part ways as friends, but we're probably just not going to collaborate because we're not a good fit. And I love the paper plate exercise. It's a great way of getting to know people, but in a fun, kind of non threatening environment, which I think is the key, is to allow people to open up and feel safe about opening up, particularly culturally. Also like Southeast Asia, it's very much about saving face. Right. Their culture. And so you have to work, I think you have to work even harder to get staff in that culture to open up and be vulnerable because they're very proud and they see us as the western employer in a position of power or status. Right. And so you have to make it. You have to work really hard to make it okay for them to open up and be human. And I think the easiest, well, the fastest way to do that is for you to open up and be vulnerable and be human first, because then you give them permission to do the same. [00:36:46] Speaker A: Yeah, 100% agree. And, yeah, I think there are some cultural barriers that get in the way there that you have to work a little extra to overcome. I mean, just sort of like a surface level example is that we'll sometimes hire someone new or be on an interview with a candidate, and they go, hello, sir Tim. And I'm like, okay, not Sir Tim, just Tim. It's fine. But that's sort of the business culture that is set for them. Your boss is like, oh, this really high authority figure who should not be questioned is referred to as sir. But it's like, hey, no, man, let's take a step back here. Just relax. Let me tell you about my day and you can tell me about your day and then we can get into the interview. You don't need to be so tense about. [00:37:34] Speaker B: Yeah, how come you're so weird? I spent, I had staff in the Philippines for about ten years who called me boss every single time. They could be bought in an email, in slack on Zoom calls. And after about three years of saying don't call me boss, I was like, you know what, you want to call me boss, you can call me boss. That's fine, you can call me boss. Because they were never going to stop calling me boss. It's like, all right, fine, you can call me boss. Hey, I want to just pivot the conversation a little bit. First of all, you're not the owner of pronto marketing, arent you? [00:38:01] Speaker A: Right? Yeah. So the company was founded by an american father and son team who the father was already living out here in Thailand. The son moved over to help. I went to university with the son. Hes one of my best friends and he kind of roped me into what I thought was a one year adventure. It was 14 years ago. My poor parents thought I was just moving away for a year or something and now ive set up my life here. But the father has since retired. The sun is running a software company that spun out of the agency a few years ago. So I stepped in to lead the agency going forward. [00:38:37] Speaker B: So your general manager. Oh, sorry, managing director. [00:38:40] Speaker A: Yes, managing director. [00:38:41] Speaker B: Great. Just quickly, before we talk about mavericks, you do offer a wide range of services to direct clients and also white label. Can you talk a bit about that? [00:38:50] Speaker A: Yeah, so we focus a lot on website builds, website, WordPress care plans. Everything we do is on WordPress. And we also offer SEO, PPC, blogging and yeah, all that is available to our retail clients. And over the last year and a half or so we've been offering it to agencies as well in a white label environment and that's been going really well. I've really enjoyed working with agencies and I think we're in a position to help agencies who are in that awkward phase where they're maybe not ready to hire a full time employee to manage a couple of ad campaigns for them or something like that, where it makes sense to say, hey, come in and help. And I feel like there's this awkward transition period for some agencies where it's cost prohibitive to hire a full time person to do something when there's not enough work to justify all that so we can help them get through that. And if they graduate to having a full time employee do the work that we've been doing for them, then I think we've helped them succeed and grow and achieved our goal that we had for them. [00:39:59] Speaker B: Yeah. And it's not just the cost of hiring someone, it's the infrastructure that you need to build and the processes and the slack channels and getting them onboarded and getting them trained up in your way of doing things with your favorite page builder and your tech stack and all that kind of stuff. If you've as an agency, if you've solved a lot of those problems already, then kind of like almost renting your team and your infrastructure out to another agency just allows them to move quicker. I've done this in the past where we hired a sales agency. I knew the sales process that I wanted to build, which is completely pivoted now, but that's a whole other conversation. Thank you, AI. But I hired a sales agency for nine months and I watched everything they did and I ignored about 80% of what they did because I didn't like it. But I picked out the cherries of what they did and I added it to my process. And eventually we hired our own sales team internally. So I think there is some merit with working with the white label agency, watching what they do, watching how they do it, looking at their efficiencies and kind of modeling what they do before you're ready to hire your own team, because a bad hire or a good hire with bad support can actually send you back three months, but also really, really damage your confidence. I know plenty of agent owners who are like, I'm just going to do everything myself because I've tried to hire people and they're all useless. Right. And of course, that's, you know, a problem usually exists between the keyboard and the chair. Right. Not, not, not on the other side of the Zoom call. So I want to talk a little bit about Mavericks. How did you, first of all, I mean, you were a very successful agency, big team, before you joined Mavericks club. Why did you join Mavericks club when you did, which was over a year ago now, what were you looking for and why did you join and how did you find us? And why did you join us? [00:41:40] Speaker A: I think we had been living in our own bubble for too long and we, I mean, we did a decent job of figuring things out on our own and making decisions and deciding what industries to go after and what services to offer. But as I stepped into the, it was around 2020 that I stepped into the managing director role and I realized, like, I was struggling to feel confident about the decision I was making in my new leadership role. And I felt like there was likely a ton of great advice out there that we could learn from, even though we had been around for, for over a decade. And we also wanted to start working offering white label solutions. And I thought that was a great specific goal. Rather than just saying, lets go learn things, we had a specific goal of we want to launch white label solutions for other agencies. We actually dont know that much about other agencies and lets go talk to them and get advice from coaches and be a part of a community that can help us out. So that was the big catalyst where we had been in this bubble. And I felt kind of alone personally as I stepped into this leadership role. I went from having a bunch of peers that I could talk to and be honest about a lot of things to being a leader of a company where, yeah, I was still honest and vulnerable with them. But there's also a lot of weight on your shoulders as a leader. And I mean, the owners were there to support me for sure, but I felt like I needed a place where I could just talk to other agency owners who were in the same situation I was, where I could be really honest about problems I have with team members or running the business, or making big strategic decisions where I maybe don't want to be that vulnerable with one of our team members because I don't want to have them lose confidence in the direction that we're going, or see me feeling unsure about a decision that I'm planning to make. And that's where I found a lot of value in agency mavericks or the idea of having a coach in a community to be a part of. I found Mavericks just through a bunch of searches and talked to some other similar coaching companies. But what I loved about Mavericks was there's two things. One, I really liked that it came from WordPress roots. Like WordPress is in our roots and WP elevation is the roots of mavericks. And there was one other thing that came up on my call with Damien. When I was first learning about mavericks, I asked, well, what do all these people get out of it? Why would people be honest about things? Or why are these coaches who run their own agencies? Like, why would they share their secrets? Are we all competitors in a sense. And Damian said something great to me, that you come from this mindset. You specifically mentioned you in this, Troy, that you come from this mindset of abundance, that theres more than enough work out there for all of us and were so much better off as a group if we are honest with each other and share and learn things together. And, I mean, I've never come across a maverick in, like, a competitive setting where I've had to bid against them or anything like that. And if I did, I would feel totally comfortable going to that Maverick and say, hey, let's talk about how we're going to approach this and make sure we're not hurting each other's feelings or anything like that. But that was the thing that convinced me, like, okay, this is, like, actually the right place for me, that it's this positive mindset and not like, oh, we got to go get him and we got to fight each other for whatever's out there. It's like, no, there's so much work out there. Like, there's never going to be, like, this shortage of work that we have to fight over. And if that's the case, we might as well help each other and share and do what we can to make each other's agencies better. [00:46:04] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm glad that came through. You know, I've been in many masterminds and programs myself over the years, and, you know, spent a house deposit, really, on professional and in Australia, that's a lot of money. And on professional development over the years, and most of them end up like a pissing contest or, you know, some kind of war room mentality where you're in there to, like, you know, I mean, I mean, some of the conversations I've seen in other slack channels are just disgusting, to be honest. Like the way that people talk about clients and, you know, and it's very much a kind of a caveman, like, let's get out there and kill the pig and drag it home to the cave kind of mentality. And that is, I mean, it just, I just, that's not where I come from. That's not how, that's not who I am. And so maybe that's why I was attracted to the WordPress movement when I first found it in 2007, 2008 is that open source mentality. It blew me away. When I've discovered the plugin repository for the first time, I'm like, hang on a second. I feel like I'm cheating. This is a backdoor that I've found where I can access all these plugins for free. And I can ask a question in the support forum, and other developers come in and help me for free. Why are they doing this for free? But then being immersed in that world, I think just really helped shape my business mentality as well. You know, very much. We're a commercial, for profit organization. I make no bones about that. But I also think of everyone in mavericks as coopetition. You know, we're in the same space. We're doing similar work for similar types of clients, but we're all cooperating and helping each other, and, you know, a rising tide lifts all boats kind of mentality. And, you know, I know a lot of people on the outside, and even some people on the inside kind of think, well, it kind of looks and feels a bit like a cult, and that's okay. There's no dangerous Kool Aid to drink here. No one's doing anything weird. I think of it as, like, a big family, you know, and you've been to Mavcon. You know what it's like. I love hanging out at Mavcon and getting to know these agency owners and hearing their stories and hearing, you know, their struggles and their successes. It's not all rainbows and unicorns. And so I'm glad that came across in our marketing and our sales conversation, and I'm glad that you joined. And. And then. And then how did you. How did the conversation start for you to become a coach? Because I wasn't. It was just. I think Johnny reached out and said, I think Tim Kelsey should be our next coach. I'm like, okay, who's Tim Kelsey again? And I kind of had to dig in and learn about you because I'm. I don't. I don't interact with everyone here, but. So how did that come? How did the conversation with you and Johnny start? [00:48:47] Speaker A: Yeah, he just. I mean, he just came out and said it there. There wasn't a lot of, like, lead up to it. He scheduled call and just said he wanted to talk about some stuff, and he sort of said, hey, I think you'd be great at this coaching role. You've been a huge help within the squadron that was in with him. Johnny was my coach. I mean, my first thought was, well, why me? Like, who am I to be a coach and guide these other agencies? But after talking about it with Johnny a bit more. Yeah, I realized that I have a lot of experience and have gone through a lot of the things that other mavericks members are experiencing and that it's less about, like, coming across as I'm the expert who knows everything, but I'm the person who can share my advice and also point them in a direction to get advice from other experts. So, yeah, as Johnny and I talked about that a bit more and what it's like to be a coach, I thought it was an opportunity that I could be excited about and enjoy doing. I mean, I've always enjoyed coaching people within pronto, and, like, I work closely with all of our managers, and we've promoted a lot of our managers from within. So I coach them through the process of becoming a manager, and I've enjoyed that aspect of my role at pronto. So it was just, it felt like a natural step to take that into coaching agency owners. So, yeah, Johnny just came out and said it, and then he had to do a little convincing that to me that I could actually do the job, but I'm glad he did. Jeff. [00:50:29] Speaker B: Yeah. And it's not, it's like, I find it's more kind of a. Johnny and I've spoken about this a lot. It's more kind of the role of a shepherd, really. It's like, you know, clear the way, get rid of the obstacles, kind of guide you on the path. We're not without our imperfections. Right. Coaches are not. We don't, we don't have all the answers. We're just here to help you figure out what you should do next. I think that's probably our biggest job, really, is to help the client, help the agency to figure out, and I think with, as agencies as well. I think it's our job as consultants with our clients is to help them figure out what they should do next, what the strategy is, and then keep them accountable, get them connected with all the resources. And I think a lot of it is just believing in them, just saying, well, you wouldn't be here if you didn't believe in yourself. We all have doubt. We all have days where we want to, you know, walk off the bridge and, and you've got this community of support here. So it's okay, like, go out there, make some mistakes, fall over, come back. We'll help dust you off and put your wings back on and get back out into the, into the wild, and, and I get the, you know, you would have had a lot of questions before becoming a coach. Like, well, you know, I don't want to get, I don't, I don't want people to think I've got all the answers because I'm not perfect and, you know, and so I'm glad Johnny was able to kind of narrate that for you. He's a fabulous coach, and I think he does a great job of. And I think a big part of our job is actually holding space for each other and letting each other kind of have some space and time to figure things out and work things through and have that sounding board and feel less alone, because it is, you know, you've said it's at the top. It's a lonely existence, isn't it? [00:52:03] Speaker A: Yeah. I agree that a lot of coaching is just, I mean, listening and then kind of processing all that information and providing this outside perspective. I think as agency owners, sometimes we get in our own heads or we're so busy with the day to day work that it's hard to take a step back and see the bigger picture and what that next step should be, because we're worried about that client email that just came in or the employee who's fighting with another team member, and you got to step in and. And mediate that problem. So, yeah, I've found that coaching is often just giving the mavericks members. Yeah, space to talk about what's going on, share the bigger picture, and then often they already have the answer, but they don't see it just yet because they're so worried about everything going on around it. And you'll say, hey, did you think about this? You just pointed out this specific thing that seems like the place you want to focus on. So, yeah, I think it's just. I mean, sometimes an outside perspective is all you need to see things more clearly because this goes for work and for life in general. You're just so focused on the smaller things that, or you're worried about something that actually maybe isn't that big of a deal in the long run. But having someone say, hey, it's okay for you not to worry about that and focus on this other thing instead, because that's what's going to move your business forward. Sort of gives you that permission to say, okay, yeah, you're right. I don't need to worry about this problem client who's causing me headaches. Maybe I should just fire them so I have more time to focus on sales and marketing and growing the business. [00:53:44] Speaker B: Yeah. The other thing that happens, I think, when you coach, is that you become a better agency owner, you become a better leader, because Ed Dale, one of my very early mentors, taught me something that he was taught by someone else, and I can't remember, you know, I mean, look at all. It's all been handed down from the roman empire hasn't it? Is that if you see, if you think you know something, teach it. Because when you teach something, we. We fill in the blanks a lot during the day, right? We just. There's a lot of gaps that we just fill in through instinct or experience or, you know, whatever it is. But when you try and teach something, you have to kind of codify, particularly in the knowledge world that we live in. I mean, we're all knowledge based workers, right? We're not. We're not. We're not manufacturing cars or, you know, iPhones, so we're dealing with kind of ones and zeros and the intangible. And when you have. When you teach particularly, a lot of what we do in Mavericks Club is teach soft skills, right? We're not teaching people how to build websites or how to run SEO campaigns. We're teaching people how to communicate and how to manage other people and how to manage themselves and how to, you know, all those kind of soft skills that in order to codify that, you really have to slow down and think about, what is my process? What is my process to communicate with team members who are underperforming, you know, and. And that actually forces you to refine your process and. And, you know, one of the reasons I love having parenting conversations with other parents is because I think it helps. It makes me a better parent. Every time I talk to other parents about parenting, which is probably the most challenging thing I've ever done, you reflect on what you're doing and go, oh, God, why did I do that this morning? That's a. You idiots. Like, it's just, like, you know, and so the. The talking to other people who aren't where we don't. I mean, it's not. My business is not my responsibility. Even if I was your coach, your business is your responsibility. Right? So I'm all care, but no responsibility. It's your responsibility to run a successful agency. I care about it. But just the fact that I'm talking to you about your challenges in your agency, I then come back to my business and say, yeah, you know what? I just learned something from Tim about the way he approaches this, or, we just solved a problem. I come back to my business and go, why the hell am I doing that? Like, I should just listen to my own advice. So I think it helps us sharpen our saw. Hey, we're almost out of time. I mean, this has been the longest episode we've done for a while. I could do this again, and I will definitely have you back on the podcast. Again, because you were here in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. We went and had lunch, and I just feel like we could talk about this stuff. You've just got such a great energy and a great disposition and a lot of wisdom and a real humility that I really enjoy, man. So I really like being around you, and I'm looking forward to having many more conversations with you, and I'm looking forward to hanging out with you on the Gold coast in a few weeks at Mavcon. I'm really looking forward to that as well. [00:56:21] Speaker A: Yeah. I'm so stoked for. For Mavcon. I can't wait. There's so many mavericks in Australia that I haven't met in person yet because I met all. All the Americans and a few of the Brits in Mavcon us last year, but excited meeting this other half, especially people that I coach. Finally getting to meet them in person and they're not just faces on a screen anymore. [00:56:42] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's gonna be amazing. I'll make sure Max gets lots of video of your facial expressions when you meet people for the first time. Awesome. Hey, Tim, Kelsey, thanks for joining us on the agency, our podcast. I really appreciate you, brother. [00:56:52] Speaker A: Cool. Thank you, Troy. [00:56:54] Speaker B: Hey, thanks for listening to the agency, our podcast, and a huge thanks to Tim for joining us. I always love catching up with Tim, and I can't wait to see him again at Mavcon. Speaking of Mavcon, if you want to get a taste of Mavericks Club and tap into an amazing community of agency owners, Mavcon has been described as life changing. We still have a handful of tickets left for our event on the Gold coast. I'm not sure when this episode goes out, but if you miss the Gold coast, you can also come to our Us event, which will be in San Diego in October. So we'll pop the links in the show notes so that you don't miss out. All right, folks, remember to subscribe and please share this with anyone you think may need to hear it. And remember, Finland has the most metal bands per capita. I'm Troy Dean. Let's get to work.

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