“Building our network is probably the most important thing that has worked for Greenlane.”
Bill Sebald is the founder of Greenlane, a digital marketing company that specialises in enterprise and e-commerce brands. He is also a recognized writer and speaker.
“You have to learn to give your employees control, ownership, and the ability to hurt or help the company. One of the hardest things for me to do was to let go.”
Tune into this episode and find out
– how Bill stumbled into the digital world by accident through his love of music
– the importance of building rapport and relationship in business
– what wealth means to Bill and more
For more tips on starting or running a business, stay tuned to Local SEO Today.
John: Thanks for listening to Local SEO Today. Don’t forget to subscribe and share this episode. Today my guest is Bill Sebald. Bill is the founder of Greenlane, a digital marketing company that specializes in enterprise and e-commerce brands. He is also a recognized writer and speaker. Thanks for joining me today, Bill.
Bill: Oh, thanks for having me, John.
John: So,I’m very delighted. I know we met a couple years ago at the event out in Philly and I just wanted to maybe if you could share with audience members a little bit about your back story, a little bit about how you started your agency and even before then.
Bill: Yeah, so I started doing anything on the internet somewhere around 1990. Well, I know my first ecommerce site was 1996 so before then I was dabbling with web design. I was dabbling with all things internet you know, Google wasn’t even the main search engine at the time. My backstory goes that I had some opportunities to interview some rock stars and do some really cool stuff in the music scene, got me into the music scene, hung out in the music scene until rollingstone.com basically said, “Hey, the internet’s a real thing. We ought to put Rolling Stone on the internet.” Then rollingstone.com came out and kind of killed us so once I couldn’t figure out how to monetize I got out of that game but the marketing side of it was really fascinating to me that’s how I learned search marketing and again 96 started. E-comm…Started working on an E-comm site. This is like back before there was catalog managers we were using excel. There was no shopping cart. People were actually calling and giving us their credit card numbers over the phone because we felt that was more secure but that’s really where my love for SEO took off and you know, I started a company. It was really a self-propriety…It was a sole proprietorship. Did that…Started in 2005 and about the same time I took a job. Well, that was my side gig at a company called GSI commerce so GSI commerce is out here…Was out here in the Philadelphia area and they were a very big econ platform like massive and they weren’t really well known because they were working behind the scenes so they were fulfillment for brands like Petsmart, Toys R Us, NFL shop. There was more than 100 brands there and I got to work on all those brands. It was really like, “Wow, this is trial by fire.” Jump in, figure this stuff out fast. It was really complex problems and I was hooked. I did that for six, seven years then I said, “I want to do consulting again but I want to do it a little bit bigger. I want to do it. I want to do an agency the way that I think an agency should be run that focuses specifically on SEO and driving ROI.” So my partner his name is Keith Urban. Just like the singer. My partner at Greenlane was with me all these years at GSI and he ran the analytics department so he was a perfect partner for this. So we decided, “Why don’t we get together and do real consulting.” Not just, “Hey we’re a group of SEO’s. We throw things over the fence. Good luck. Hope you implement and make a lot of money.” We said, “Why don’t we stay in the entire time, right?” So from building the strategy to making sure that the customers come in and actually convert on the site and we ended up hiring a third person and a fourth person and now we’re a team of 15. We don’t want to be any big. Well, we don’t mind being a little bit bigger but we don’t want to lose that sort of lifestyle feel that we have and we don’t want to lose that ability to also integrate with clients deeply you know, so that true like consulting idea that we came up with we’re still able to do with this team that we have we aren’t so big that we’ve lost control of that.
John: I love hearing that’s awesome.
Bill: I can’t think of…I mean that’s everything in a nutshell. There’s been ups and downs in between and all sorts of different experiences and discoveries and things like that but that’s the basics of the story if I were wikipedia that would be my first paragraph.
John: Amazing, so tell me, how did you transition from school? Did you do like computer development or marketing in school and then how did you get into this digital world?
Bill: It was…The digital world was just by accident. It was falling into the music world. Yeah, when I got out of school I went to college. I graduated 1999. I graduated slowly because I was doing some things. I was trying to be a rock star so I was basically on tour and doing stuff like that so that the transition really came from my love of music and this new interest that I was…It was developing as I was learning about search engines and getting traffic is what every artist wants. They want visibility so that’s really how I fell into SEO.
John: That’s amazing, man. So in terms of like that transition from consulting to then building your own team, was it very like smooth or has there been like a lot of ups and downs like can you walk us through like some of the major obstacles that you have to endure?
Bill: The first thing that comes to mind is you know, you start to…You run a company, you have a partner you trust your partner 100 percent. You’re basically you know, like a married couple. You read each other’s minds and then it’s you start bringing in new employees and you have to learn how to give them control and give them ownership and give them the ability to you know, hurt the company or help the company. I think one of the hardest things for me to do looking back was to let go and I’d even say that for my partner as well. We’re both very like, “Okay, we’re controlling this. We’re visionaries and we’re implementing as well.” But then we found we…I’m gonna speak for myself. I started to find like, “Wow, I’m really in the weeds and I’m not doing a great job you know, being a visionary if I have all these clients and I’m not willing to let go a lot of this work and let other people make decisions so once we made that change, that evolution inour lives, the company did change and it’s been running even better in these last three months. Three months I can’t believe I said three months, about three years, three or four years than it had the three or four years before so that was a good lesson to learn gotta…You gotta entrust in your team but that means you also have to pick your team very wisely and carefully.
John: Yeah, and I found even myself. I’ve been in the agency world for seven years as well and letting go and being in the weeds is completely different than being outside of business and working on the business. Thinking of strategy and ways to cultivate a good culture altogether, how customers are serviced, what are the multiple touch points. All these other things that you don’t really look at when you’re in it and your brand’s on the line, right? Like you’re it. Yeah, before you start growing your team and cultivating more of a lifestyle like you mentioned, right? Yeah, so how has that been that transition? Are you enjoying the process? Are you enjoying working still on the business or are you still in the weeds sometimes?
Bill: Let me pause real fast and let me close this because I see that the light. The sun has come out. I can’t…Okay, the sun has decided to come out. It’s been…
John: Let me just make sure time wise, we’re about 17 minutes.
Bill: We good? Your question again was?
John: In terms of like now that you’ve built this the last couple years, how have you found working on the business as opposed to in the business?
Bill: That’s a great question so I still do SEO. I still know it. I’m going to be honest. I am not as good as I used to be because I’ve had to focus on you know, things like growth like business, health like you know, making sure you know, the everyday operations. Sales for sure is something that I’m constantly working on and then making sure that our company is top of mind as can be. We’re marketing you know, ourselves which are the areas that I’ve been focusing on so a lot of those things aren’t SEO related so that’s been a little bit of a sore spot for me. It’s like still love doing this but I’m being pulled away from it so I miss it a little bit but I keep a great team around me at all times so anytime something cool happens or anything notable happens with a client or out in the industry like we’re…I’m paying attention to what they’re sharing internally so it’s really kind of cool to be somewhat more of a student of my team instead of the teacher to my team so that’s been a kind of cool change.
John: Yeah and I think that’s the evolution of hiring smart and good people that are willing to take risks and also like willing to learn as much as they can to become experts within your guidance, right? Within your brand and I found like working on your business a lot more difficult, different challenges I would say and…But it’s about you like it’s all about like are you able to transition, are you enjoying the process because it’s not for everyone running a business or agency or anything as opposed to working in the business like when you’re an employee, different mindset completely than running a business.
Bill: Oh, for sure…For sure. It was so much harder than I thought it would be because I ran a department at GSI you know, I started their SEO so I went into it saying it can’t be that different. Yeah, it’s really that different. There’s a lot more things to think about. There’s a whole bunch of things in tax and law that I never do about that I had to become a student in but I enjoy it. I really am proud of where we are. I’m proud of our growth. I’m proud of our you know, gosh everything. This is the happiest I think I’ve ever been not only professionally but in my life.
John: So that’s a really good event that’s happened over the last couple years like that transition of being less stressed because early days when you’re starting an agency or running your own business you’re in so much. You’re in so deep you don’t even know where your customers are coming from and you don’t know how to train, you don’t know how to hire, you don’t know what the systems and processes. There’s so much going on that until you get that sorted and there’s more consistency, more predictable income, I would say. Predictable sales and then the lifestyle, right? Where you can pick and choose your hours as opposed to the business dictates when you work and I think you’re in a way different stage than I am because you’ve been in it for a lot longer but I’m always learning as well like I’m always curious and that’s the one thing as a business owner I feel like I had the luxury of doing while working at Yellow Pages. Meeting thousands of business owners they were one hour mentor sessions for me and I love that, right? So for me I was always trying to absorb as much as I can even though I was like 20s, right? Just learning. They were open to you know, sharing as much insight as possible because I actually wanted to learn like I was you know, a sponge at that time, right? So what would some of the things that you’ve learned over the years like would you be able to share some of the knowledge or failures or mistakes that you would have done differently?
Bill: Yeah, what would I have done differently? You know, if I went back to it I think I’d probably…I like what you said about using those…The people you talk towards mentor sessions. I think we tried to figure a lot of it out on our own so we made a lot of mistakes. We didn’t have a whole lot of mentors and we could have, you know, spent some money on some consultants to guide us. We didn’t so that probably made our growth a little bit more you know, there was probably a bit more friction for us so yeah, maybe in hindsight that I would have probably sought out a little bit more you know, wisdom so…
John: Yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing as a business owner you feel like you need to do everything your way, the right way and the only way and once you start opening up to ask and there’s a huge community of givers out there. And I was the same thing, right? When I first started I thought I had to work crazy hours, learn everything the right way before I deploy anything and it was frustrating because everything takes longer, costs a lot more and it’s gonna fail the first time, right? And then you learned over the years that it’s okay, it’s not the end of the world, mistakes happen. There’s gonna be a lot of dips, valleys and peaks and valleys and that’s the continuum of the business journey, right? Gotta move ahead, right? Along as you’re focused on like growth or whatever stage you’re at in terms of business, right? And it has to mode your lifestyle, don’t get stressed on these little things and then…
Bill: Yeah, my partner and I we’re a great match because we have two totally different approaches to things that we’ve learned how to sort of meet in the middle so my partner he’s a lot smarter than me. He’s just…he’s brilliant. He takes a lot of time to think things through and come to a conclusion and half of the time his conclusion and that’s a loose number half the time his conclusion is dead on. I’m the opposite. I’m a little like I have a kernel of an idea. It’s build the boat while it’s sailing, throw it in. Let’s see if somebody can sink it while we try to repair it and make it as strong as it can be and you know, what my approach works about 50 percent of the time so it’s not necessarily like one is better than the other. It’s one works better for him, one works better for me. Now because we work together you know, I speed him up, he slows me down and we find our sweet spot but yeah, there’s…I think both approaches can work.
John: And I love the fact that at least you have a partner to throw things around like I kind of did this my way and I thought. I was the only one like I’m it, right? So for me have no one that challenges me and I feel like that’s what’s missing in a business if you don’t have a mentor or coach in which I still probably am at fault for not reaching out to more mentors and coaches because I’m doing it and have no idea what I’m doing majority of the time and it’s frustrating, it’s lonely and you know, but I’m enjoying the experience, right? And so it has to mode your lifestyle. I feel like I am okay with making mistakes. Time is not of the essence for me because it’s a long journey of life, right? And it’s okay to make mistakes and it may be years of mistakes I have to unfold and…But it’s a part of it, right?
Bill: It is absolutely part of it. I totally believe you learn from your mistakes so don’t be afraid to make them.
John: Yeah, so in terms of like tips. I know you’ve mentioned some of the not reaching out to coaches or mentors but from the consulting aspect versus running your own agency how can you like a lot…Because there’s I know there’s a lot of people listening that might be a freelancer or thinking of starting a business as opposed to being in business already. What can you advise them in terms of tips, mindset wise because you’ve lived both of these worlds.
Bill: For starting a business or for consulting in general?
John: Both I would say.
Bill: Well, consulting you know, a lot of things come right down to who you’re working with and building rapport with those people you know, consulting for me the success has been…I have been able to demonstrate that I have confidence and experience in what I’m doing even if I don’t have an answer. I don’t mind saying to a client, “Listen I will get the answer.” Because I’m going to get it a heck of a lot faster than somebody without that confidence and experience so I’m proud of what I have built behind me you know, so it’s really building that trust and that rapport with your client. They say, “Alright, you are the right one for this job.” I don’t see consulting any different than being a doctor you know, if I went in if I was a smoker and I sat down. My doctor said, “Well, you got to quit smoking.” And then I didn’t take his recommendation and then I go back six months later. He goes, “Did you quit smoking?” “No, well you’re getting sicker.” Like the best he can do is tell me what he thinks. His personal belief, what that is and then it’s up to me to take it and you know, I can keep on going back to him for a little bit more pointers and things like that so what I always try to do is you know, I have an opinion with SEO. Others might have their own opinion but I was chosen because I’ve built a good rapport because I’ve shown confidence. I mean that’s key to a good relationship. These are relationships you’re building when you have a client it’s not just, “Alright it’s a customer. I’m going to, you know ring them up at target.” And that’s the experience like, “No, we’re being hired because of the wisdom that we have because of the experience that we’ve had.” And we want to bring that forward and share with the client with starting a business you know, it’s still rapport, still about who you know. I’m sorry it’s not about who you know so much as it’s about you know, working well with the people you do know and that’s from the employees to again the clients to even the people that you work with in your in legal. In tax like I mentioned earlier like you want to have good people around you and have a good network of people that you can rely on but you have to you know, you have to be likable, you have to put in your half of the work and then things work a lot smoothly. Building your network is probably the most important thing that has worked for Greenlane. When I mentioned GSI earlier a lot of those people left when GSI disbanded. Ebay came in and bought it. Everybody went somewhere. Well, they knew me and even if they only knew me by name within this big company they said, “He has a good reputation. People I know have liked him. I’ll reach out to him. I’ll reach out to Greenlane.” So without that network we would have had a much slower start.
John: I think you nailed it right there. Relationships is key to success in any business and not just that it’s like people trust people when they are authentic, right? You gotta be yourself and if you’re out there to screw people all day long it’s gonna come back and bite you in the ass, right? It’s gonna really hurt you in the long term especially if you’re starting off if you’re a consultant or a business owner, right? Like people will see right through you if you’re ethical if you are in it for the right reasons and if you really care about them or not and you know, it’s your brand name. In the end of the day like now that you’re building a business and you know, lifestyle or whatnot. People…It’s your reputation and it means everything and I’d rather say no to people if I can’t fit what they’re looking for then try to fake it, right? Like we’re at a different stage I think like you know, me doing it for seven years and you’ve done it many more years you kind of know who is your ideal type of client, who would fit best for your type of agency, right? Who can get good results and who you want to work with too because we get to pick who we want to work with which is the best luxury of all, right? When you’re working for someone else they bring on the clients and you’re stuck with them even if they’re good or bad clients and they might be like the worst people in general. You still gotta eat it and work with them right?
Bill: Absolutely. My salesperson promised you what? I gotta do what?
Bill: That’s not possible. Don’t get out with me. I didn’t sell this to you.
John: And they’re over promising, they’re like guaranteeing everything and you’re like, “Huh? How is that possible? Get him to do it.” And you’re like you know?
Bill: I had a great experience this morning. I mean my 11 a.m call was a was a brand new business that came in and as we were talking and I don’t have a sales team you know, we’re pretty much doing inbound or word of mouth or you know, the reasons we’re known is sometimes we put out things in the space and people hear about us that way like tools, SEO tools but I never needed a sales team so I get these calls like I had this morning and right away I could tell like you know, they’re not ready for us yet. I’m not gonna try to work them into a deal so instead I was like listen you know, let’s keep talking. I’m happy to give you some tips and some things that might help you get off the ground a little bit faster but you’re not really ready for us for another six months maybe a year. I mean come back and as we were talking and I can’t go into too much but as we were talking I found out something he’s connected to which I’m very interested in business-wise so if I were a salesperson saying, “Oh, buy this.” For you know, trying to force this down his throat and he felt cold to that idea. I would have never been able to open up this other conversation and that’s gonna probably be a more fruitful endeavor for either…Even him and I down the line and all this happened in a one-hour conversation and all I just did was try to build rapport and see how I can be helpful.
John: Exactly and that’s the biggest thing, right? Like add value, keep building strong relationships and ask questions, the right questions. Keep probing, right? And the more you give…And these are like little things I’ve learned over the years in sales and I’ve been doing sales for like 15 plus years, right? And I’m so grateful to have that skill set and not a lot of business owners have that and I think that if you’re not good in sales or even relationship building you’re gonna have a very hard time building a business, right? Like people will not want to work with someone that has…Doesn’t have good communication skills or even like empathy and like small things, right? Like you take for granted but it’s the invaluable assets of it all. Intangibles I would say.
Bill: Totally get it. Yeah, a 100% agree.
John: Yeah, so now that you’ve been in it for so long where do you see yourself going for the next couple years? Where do you see Greenlane? Like I know you’re enjoying this right now and it’s been the best years of your life, the last couple years. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Bill: I mean my goal coming up when I was at GSI like I was high growth minded. I was like work harder 60 hours a week. That’s you know, every night I was home studying this stuff. I’m 45 now. I’m glad Greenlane isn’t one of those high growth companies. I may not be as rich as I dreamed of being when I was a kid but you know, I really do as I’ve gotten older I think wealth isn’t just money. It is happiness and it is peace and it is you know, being stress-free. It’s being comfortable and that’s what I really enjoy having. I can’t say I don’t ever get stressed but you know, four years ago you could ask my wife. She was like, “Oh, my God. I think you made a bad decision here going into business for yourself.” But it paid off you know, I was maybe a little bit not the right mindset. I was letting myself get too stressed but yeah, it’s paid off so where does it go? I hope it doesn’t go south. I hope it’s just more of this you know, I’m okay getting a little bit bigger sure but I don’t want to lose this result. That’s what I’m most afraid of losing is this result so people will sometimes say like, “Hey, you want to sell your company. I’m like, no, I don’t wanna boss again.” I mean. No, this is great where we are right now as a company. We’re all happy. I just worry so much about upsetting that apple cart.
John: I love that attitude, Bill. Like honestly, I resonate completely with you so I just turned 40 this year as myself and life…I’ve seen great people get super stressed even though they’re ultra wealthy and they don’t realize what wealth is all about or money, right? People think and they have these visions of like money’s gonna buy happiness. You buy the stuff and you’re gonna be like ultra happy but inside they don’t have good relationships. There’s no one in their family that actually wants to spend time with them because they’re working all day long and they’re frustrated because you can tell by the interactions that they’re miserable people so who wants to gravitate towards people that are like unlikable, right? So, I love that your attitude on perspective of life because those are the people that you want to gravitate more towards in the grand scheme of that life journey. From business journey to relationships and people that you want to surround yourself with. You’re the average of five people you spend the most time with, right? People always say that and it’s true, right? Like you want to surround yourself if you want are you or if you’re a go lucky, happy kind of guy, go find those people, right? If you are just in it for money, sure. There’s other people that are also in it for money, go find them. If you’re in it for happiness and lifestyle and you know, and I’m a business owner, you’re now a business owner and we’ll probably connect more now that I know you deeper and you resonate with me. It’s where like you’re a good guy. I want to really help you do whatever you know, pursuits you have and I’m sure things will come back and forth, right? Because that’s what it’s all about life is about relationships and experiences.
Bill: Sure I totally agree.
John: And I love going to you know, different concerts as well and I love meeting great people and if it doesn’t resonate with me, fine it’s a time that I spend but it’s not the end of the world because I’m never gonna want to engage with them, right? But people who you want to surround yourself with you stay in touch because you something connected when we met a couple years ago because I was like look we didn’t oversell each other. We just wanted to say hi and got to know each other that’s it that’s all it took.
Bill: We hung out on the couch in a lobby in Philly. Yeah.
John: Yeah and then my son and we were just about to go for dinner and you 15 minutes we got to know each other and that’s it, right? That’s all it took and now you know, if you’re in Toronto I’ll take you out. That’s how it is.
Bill: I love Toronto. Alright, I’m coming up.
John: But that’s what I mean like relationships are built by small things that people over or try too hard sometimes, right? And they’re like you know, you can tell when they’re as a business owner you can tell when they’re spending too much time or they’re pushing you like pushy sales people, right? Versus the ones that you actually…Whenever you need something or because time is scarce, right? You know, that we know that we have to devote time with family, staff clients and then all the other stuff like hobbies that you want to involve in, right? So you just have to pick it and choose how much time, who you want to devote time with.
Bill: And also to the you know, rolling back to the point from earlier; time is so scarce that you have to empower other people to sometimes handle the stuff that you just can’t get to. I mean everybody has a plate when the plate gets full that’s what you can handle when it becomes over full no matter who you are you can’t handle the stuff that’s falling off the plate so my goal is trying not to get the plate that full to where it starts to fall over because you still need some buffer, you still need some space to think to create and try new things so you know, it’s also I think you know, counting on the people that are on your in your team.
John: So how does your day start? I’m just curious.
Bill: I don’t have really good morning ethics. I’ve always been a night person ever since the music world so I usually get more done. I have two trips, right? So I get up, it’s usually about 9:30. I start my day. I work usually through till five and then I’ll probably do another hour or two that day at night because those are the…I swear to God at eight o’clock nine o’clock I want to do less of it as I get older but I really like doing that late night, later night work. I’m just a little bit more clear, a little bit more creative. Yeah, just always been a more of an evening person.
John: Yeah, it all depends on your lifestyle, right? So if that is where your good sweet spot, keep doing it because things aren’t gonna change right away and if you enjoy it go for it, right? I’m like the same way like I’m a morning person. It’s not for everyone. My wife wakes up late. Totally cool, right? Like I’m cool with that. She stays up late. I go to bed early. Totally cool, right? And our son is like he wakes me up early. I wait. We spend our time together and then you know, it all depends, right? You just got to figure out what is important in your life so it looks like you have a lot of hobbies. Can you share with some of the audience members like what do you do for fun besides SEO?
Bill: Oh, I have a lot of hobbies. Yeah, so music has always been my passion. Still writing songs, recording. This is my jam room. This is also my podcast room. I have a podcast called Deluxe Edition, has nothing to do with search marketing and we interview famous people from 80s and 90s and you know, you guys listen to or like old 80s cheesy movies. You probably like my podcast. I do a lot of photography. I’m very interested in that. I love creating things. I like building things. I have affiliate sites on the side. I have just always have some little project brewing, just little hobbies and when I lose interest in them I move on to another one. That’s it I like just exploring hobbies.
John: But that’s the curiosity in people, right? As a business owner that’s how you have to be , right? And it looks…It sounds like you are enjoying life in general. That’s more important, right? Like as a business owner it’s stressful, don’t get me wrong at the beginning you don’t even know if you want to be doing it like I had so many sleepless nights and questions. I’m like why did I leave up a decent salary job to do this like why? Who would want to do this, right?
Bill: That was a scary time. I remember like, “Oh, this could ruin me.” Yes, this could you know, I don’t know save me but like be the greatest thing ever and I’m so thankful that it paid off but you’re right that…Those first couple of years are terrifying. I don’t think people realize how scary that can be like your house and everything you’ve built you know, is technically on the line. That’s a pretty big investment.
John: And then the relationship, if your wife…If you’re not spending time and it’s stressful too or you know, the people that surround yourself. They can feel the toxicity of it alright. Like they can feel the tension and they want to leave you alone but they want to help you, right? And you’re like I got to do this. I gotta figure it out. Let me do my thing and when I have time I’ll talk to you guys. But we feel it. Like I feel like we’ve turned the curve, right? Like yourself and myself it’s been a good ride the last couple years.
Bill: Yeah, for sure absolutely.
John: So how have you and your team been doing during this pandemic? How has business been? How have you been taking care of clients?
Bill: We have been lucky, business has been actually we’re doing really well. Definitely had a few losses some of our local clients you know, they had to take a break I think everybody came back except two and one seems like it’s coming back so we’ve had a pretty good…Yeah, I mean we did pretty good through that and business didn’t stop for us since we’re doing a lot of online work you know, a lot of E-comm companies have been doing great through this pandemic. So we’ve seen you know, growths there. It’s been very strange. The team, everyone’s working from home, we’re not looking to go back to the office. We actually…We started a five-year lease for an office in February that we haven’t even gone to. It’s just there and we’re not going back until everybody feels comfortable and everybody’s like, “Alright, it’s time to go back.” We always worked from home two days a week anyway because one of the things that we wanted to do at Greenlane is I want to make sure that we always have the best people you could…We could possibly find so you don’t know the Pennsylvania geography but you know, Philadelphia is about 40 minutes this way. I have an employee’s about 20 minutes that way I have employees on the other side of Philadelphia so it’s not always easy for us all to keep going every day to work so we decided we’re going to have this place we’re gonna do it a few days a week and for those other days work from home that was a good decision because when the pandemic hit we were already prepared and capable of doing everything from home.
John: Yeah, I think we’re very grateful ultimately as digital marketing agencies because it’s like a need, a requirement for a lot of business owners because they have to pivot anyways a lot of these bricks and mortars they either go E-comm or they gotta change their strategy around, right? To target different unique keywords and unique online selling, right? So we had to be pivotal with that transition for a lot of business owners so I’m ultra grateful for my team, the company, the business and the industry we’re in because if we were in hospitality or tourism I don’t think we would have this discussion right now.
Bill: Well, I mean we’re not dealing with a recession per se but yeah, we say marketing is recession-proof, right? So marketing is something proof. Everybody always needs marketing so yeah, we are pretty lucky.
John: So what drives you today in terms of like what motivates you to do and continue pursuing? What your ultimate goal is like? What’s your ultimate motivator?
Bill: You know, just the pursuit of happiness and it’s not…I really enjoy making other people happy and if even if that’s the you know, an associate market…Digital marketing associate at a big company who’s just kind of been thrown to us or whatever you know, and they’re just trying to move their way up their company. I love supporting that. I love supporting the CMO who just made a lot more money because of us. The same with my employees you know, they seem very happy. I hope they’re. I hope I’m reading them right but you know, seeing them happy every day when we do our daily hangouts you know, those things motivate me. So creating new things I still have passion for a lot of things so exploring those passions and yeah, building, creating passion you know, those are the things that make me want to get up every day.
John: Passion projects, happiness. I love it Bill you know, we resonate I mean I take care of my team. I take with my family and I’m like just gotta live and living means different for a lot of people like we’re fortunate to be doing something we love and get paid to do it.
Bill: Yeah, well, I’ll tell you something you said earlier reminded me of something that’s really changed in my world to the point where we are now. You and I are now…When I worked for a high growth company before I remember somebody had gotten fired. One of the directors had gotten fired because they didn’t show up at this meeting at 6:30 and we found out he didn’t show up the meeting because he thought it was more important to have dinner with his family and at the time I went, “Well, you know what he knew what he was getting into he should be here.” 10 years later he was right. That was more important than what we were doing. We were high growth minded, we were crazy, we were burning ourselves out. It was too much and now I see what he did and respect his decision way more than you know, what the company’s decision was.
John: So it’s the culture that you build, right? We’re in control right now. We understand what is the true value of time, right? How do you allocate it and with a high growth SaaS company or any large fortune 500 company they’re all about like dedicated to really grow their top line revenue or growth, right? Profitability. As a lifestyle business or agency we’re more concerned about like you know, taking care of our team, taking care of our people you know, making them become whatever their goals and aspirations are, support them along the way, right? Guide them, give them inspiration on helping them succeed, right? And people…All it is a little push, right? In the right direction and you’ve already helped them a lot more than you think, right? So I love that man. Corporate? I saw so many people crash and burn and then when they’re like 50 or 60 they didn’t know where to go, who to go…Turn to because that’s all they knew.
John: Alright, so I think you know, running an agency there’s I think…I feel like SEO’ers are great people, the ones that are doing white hat, ethical ones. There’s obviously the bad ones, bad apples. They’re interesting…
Bill: Plenty of great black hat SEO’s. You gotta hang out with them some more.
John: But they’re great people in general like I just found like a lot of great SEO’ers are great people, humans because we’re all givers, right? And that’s who…I love surrounding myself with. And I’m sure you likewise, right? Bill?
Bill: Yeah, you could put anybody in SEO. A black hat, a white hat, a brand new one, an old school that has been doing forever and we all love to sit and share stories and talk. There’s never an ego. I’ll take that back sometimes there’s people with egos but no, I mean that’s been the most amazing thing about this and what other industry has come up online and still lives online, doesn’t live in textbooks, doesn’t live in college classes and you can make six figures like you can go…You can make so much money in this industry and it’s legit but it still lives online. It’s fascinating and it’s the community. It’s a community driven channel, marketing channel it’s like no other.
John: Yeah, it’s shared, right? Economy and everyone wants to support each other and I feel like if you surround yourself with good people. No matter what industry like SEO I mean we’re different but I’m sure there’s good professional industries that have support as well. You just have to find them, right? That’s all.
Bill: Yeah, maybe I’m being a little bit…
Bill: Yeah, but it’s just…It’s been…I have so many friends from this industry that I am so thankful to have. I mean it’s been great. It’s been a real blessing. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done for myself other than my child you know, you know creating a life is…Was pretty good but yeah, I mean working in this industry and building a business in this industry was the best thing I’ve probably done for myself.
John: That’s amazing so aside from business and I know you have a lot of hobbies what is really strong in terms of some of the major pillars in your life that you actually are wanting to mode more of like is it community, is it more spending more time with family, health?
Bill: It’s funny you’re asking me this because I’m still trying to figure it out and I think a lot about this. At 45 I would like to slow down a bit which sounds crazy at 45 there’s no real you know, nobody needs to start slowing down at 45 but I do quite a lot and I really need to learn how to pump the brakes a bit and just relax and be more present which was the big problem when I was starting the company and my wife and I you know, we had a lot of bad times because I just wasn’t there so now that I’m realizing how important it is to be present you know, and everything we talked about I totally agree with but I’m not great at executing it. Not great, I want to be great. I want to be as close to perfect as I can be so that’s really my focus is slowing down in a smart way, in a healthier way for me but not a way that’s gonna take you know, prohibit any of the same joy that I’m still getting out of life.
John: I’ll throw you some books. I’ve been reading a lot from Ray Dalio’s Worklife Principle to a lot you know, just good books. Stress less, I’m all about like business owner mindset, lifestyle mindset so we’ll share some insights on that front.
Bill: I’m terrible. I don’t read. I really…There’s so much good stuff out there.
John: Well I’ll buy it for you, gift it and then hopefully, it’s an audio and you can listen to it.
Bill: That’ll work an audio book. I can get through it.
John: There you go so it’s just finding what you know, piques your interest so I love reading. It’s my slow time and quiet time. It allows me to really reflect and be grateful and be present and it’s different for everyone, right? You just have to find what’s good for yourself so I love that well I really appreciate your time Bill. It’s been a pleasure for you being on our show today, how can some of the listeners get a hold of you or your agency or even your social handles?
Bill: Sure the agency is greenlanemarketing.com. Twitter you can always reach out to me on twitter it’s @billsebald, firstname.lastname@example.org you know, anywhere you can find me. I love chatting about this stuff and I’m always interested in being helpful so I’m on linkedin, I’m on friendster, I’m on myspace.
John: They still still exist?
Bill: I don’t think so.
John: Well, thanks a lot I’m gonna add that on the show notes and it was my pleasure to have you on the show today. Thanks a lot, Bill.
Bill: Thanks John.