The fourth child of Vietnamese immigrants to Canada, John is very familiar with hard work. He was born and raised in Hamilton, and worked from a young age to help his family while also having some pocket money to have fun.
John has had almost too many jobs to count, starting when he was ten helping out on paper routes. Through all of his work, though, he has focused on a single thing – building relationships.
Whether it was collecting money and making sales on his paper route, shelving books at his local library, or manning the fryer at a stadium, he loved meeting new people and getting to know them. He connected by listening to others’ stories and sharing his own.
At University in London, Ontario, he studied finance. He quickly learned that living on your own in residence doesn’t mean you can procrastinate and coast – he got 20% below his usual grades on his first exams. He quickly learned to buckle down and work hard to get the results he wanted.
One of the defining events of his life was when he was accepted into an exchange student program in his 3rd year of university. He travelled to Lancaster, England for a year and learned a whole new culture and approach. He loved meeting new people, whether students or locals.
After graduation, he wanted to continue travelling and was accepted into a program to teach in Japan. However, his brother spoke to him about settling down and handling his finances responsibly, so he chose to get a job in Toronto.
His adventure in sales began at Red Pages, a startup that wanted to follow Yellow Pages and create a printed directory, only of websites instead of phone numbers. This was 2003, when Google was in its infancy and everyone was still trying to understand what the internet would be. Yellow Pages was a major player and everyone invested in print ads.
John did an excellent job building relationships with local businesses and selling ads for Red Pages, but the product wasn’t used the way Yellow Pages was and the startup did not succeed.
John’s next job taught him that building relationships was so important he wasn’t happy if he couldn’t do it every day. He was with an affiliate online marketing company that got customers for big businesses that were paying per acquisition. He found the job very transactional and didn’t stay long. His passion for building relationships was not possible there.
The next five years saw John doing outside sales for Yellow Pages and enjoying the connections he made with business owners and coworkers. However, near the end of his time there the company was faltering. Businesses weren’t getting the returns they used to on their ads. Print was declining, and Google was taking over. John wanted to serve his customers more fully, so he started to explore online marketing.
The founding of Local SEO Search was an adventure. He got his first customer when he didn’t yet have a laptop – he was showing prospects Google search results on his phone. However, his first six-month contract got the ball rolling and it’s been doing well ever since.
His primary passion in his business is to help small business owners succeed. He loves to see his clients grow and see the tangible results of his work every day. Giving small businesses a leg up so they can compete with more established companies is something John enjoys a great deal.
Over time, he’s refined what verticals he’s interested in serving and made the processes at Local SEO Search more efficient. He focuses on working hard, being honest, transparent, and good to staff and clients. That’s when the good stuff really happens.
John believes in education and continuous learning. That’s why he started his own podcast, Local SEO Today, in 2018. He wanted to provide a tool for business owners and entrepreneurs to help them succeed. Originally, the podcast focused on the expertise of himself and Roger Murphy, Local SEO Search’s Vice President of Sales. But in 2019 he began interviewing other business owners and entrepreneurs and has found a wealth of knowledge to share with his audience.
In his personal life, John has a wife and a four year old son who are the center of his world. He loves to watch his son grow, learn, and interact with the world. He works hard during work hours but at a certain time of day the phone goes off and he focuses on his family. They do a lot together: travelling, skiing, swimming and going to live events.
Life is short, so embrace it and take on the adventure. You can run a business the way you want and do it well so that you can spend time with family and friends, which is what really matters.