My First Month As Vice President At The Link Builders By Shaun Groomes January 29, 2016
In December of 2015, Nick Cuttonaro called me one Saturday afternoon. We talked about where this industry is going and how it’s changed over the past eight years or more. It was a good conversation. I charged my phone twice and sat through two football games on ESPN. After a seven hour phone call, Nick offered me the position of Vice President with The Link Builders.
I was shocked and grateful at the same time. We lined up how we’d work together and what I’d bring in terms of value. I offered some insight on my background and experience coming from the military.
While shooting weapons and hiking up mountains with 70 lbs of ammunition on my back didn’t directly translate to Internet marketing (much of which I’ve learned on my own somehow), it was clear that I had a few military skills to bring to the office.
An Organized Team Is An Effective Team.
I knew what effective teams looked like and how they were organized. There were a few missions where we had the privilege to work with SEALs, Secret Service CS, and ERT teams, and US Army Special Forces. We lucked out. These organizations’ demeanor rubs off on you fairy quickly. Especially, when sharing a mountain for a month or sitting on the rooftop of the American Embassy in Islamabad.
You see how they work with each other, how they communicate, and how they accomplish their mission without fault. I was just an Army paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. We did a lot of grunt work day in and day out, but those experiences with the “cool guys” made an impression on me when I was 21 years old.
All you have to do is recruit the right people, arm them with with reliable tools, lay out an effective strategy each week and you dominate the battlefield. It’s pretty straight forward.
“Nick, let’s do it,” I told him at 1:34 AM.
“Sounds good, catch up tomorrow. I’m wiped,” he said.
The next week, I was on a plane to check out the office in Baltimore and meet the team: fly in, fly out.
Total time in town, not even 24 hours. There was no sightseeing, no checking out the local “Triple D” eats, or trying to catch up with Steve Smith Sr. of the Baltimore Ravens.
Getting Down To Business.
I met everyone in the office and got an overview of how the company works day to day. It was clean, established, and purposeful.
However, somehow Nick had ran a successful business for five years off a vast complex of white boards along each wall. I love white boards as much as the next guy, but Christ, this was nuts!
I looked at a client list scribbled on one board, “What happens when you take on a few new clients? There’s no room on this board.”
“I guess we’d erase some bits to make room, make the font smaller … or get another one!” Nick laughed.
“Well, we’ll need to find a better solution to organize all of this.”
Nick nodded in agreement.
Now, stepping in on my visit in December I never wanted to come across as a ball buster. I was just introducing myself to everyone. But from my perspective, we needed some kind of client management software. Something that could organize every single white board in the office and place it on the Internet where everyone on the team could have access and see changes being made in real-time.
There was no time to build what we needed, so the only choice was to buy it.
Luckily, I came across daPulse. It’s a funny sounding name, but it is, by far, the best team management software I’ve ever seen. Again, it’s called “daPulse”. Check it out!
We enthusiastically opted-in and whipped out the AMEX by the end of the week. Familiarizing ourselves with dragging “pulses” all over the place and creating “sharable boards”, it made me think of something from the movies. Like that CGI scene in Mission Impossible where Tom Cruise is looking at a graphical layout to a bomb shelter. It’s made communication much easier. Everyone is in the know and the entire team is notified in real-time of any changes to their responsibilities.
It’s Not Reality Unless It’s Shared.
The buzz was in the air at the right time and “Congrats!” was the first thing a lot of people said to me. It felt good, but I knew I had to deliver. You can’t just sit back in a leadership position and wait for things to happen, as so many do in this industry.
I had gone to these conferences in the past either looking for offers to run as an Affiliate or searching for traffic to our offers as an Affiliate Manager when I worked at Stealth Media. All of which was followed by a nightclub each night, bottle service, and getting back to the room at 7:00 AM.
ASW16 was much different than any conference I had been to before. I would wake up at 6:00 or 7:00 AM, walk through the casino to the spa at the Aria with our team and clear our heads before the day started as everyone else at the conference was just getting back from a night out.
I barely drank on this Vegas trip and was in bed by midnight, every night. I had a different mission this time around. Jeopardizing business meetings during the day for a bottle of Goose and some RedBull doesn’t cut it anymore. Not in this line of work.
Saving The Celebrations For Later.
As January of 2016 comes to a close we’ve doubled our sales since the beginning of December 2015.
In fact, we’re now at the highest monthly recurring revenue The Link Builders has ever seen in 5 years.
We’ve brought on some new talent: Jeff Tobias is now on board and already proving himself to be incredibly valuable and reliable. Taylor Seidel, our Marketing Strategist and consistent self-learner, just started in August of 2015. These guys are incredible at what they do and proactive.
It makes my job much easier and Nick’s life less stressful. But more important, it makes our team more effective than all of our competitors. Hands down.
No one has the resources we have, the relationships we’ve developed, the repeat clients who love what we do, or the skills, experience, and work ethic to pull it all off.
I haven’t even been on the job for 30 days, but I know this year will be big.
We’re moving faster than we anticipated. Everyone here is passionate about what they do. No one just collects a paycheck and complains about work later with their buddies over a beer.
No one does the minimum. There’s no room for it. It’s a disservice to ourselves and to our clients.
Focusing On What’s Essential.
All that matters is the mission, the team, and how I can make a difference here.
If I’m not improving myself, I can’t expect anyone else to do the same.
The Link Builders isn’t a startup as they’ve established a piece of the market of their own over the past 5 years, long before I ever accepted this executive role.
I look forward to taking this company to new heights, helping new and existing clients, leading our team to overcome new challenges, and scaling what was once a small boutique agency into a powerhouse which sets industry standards. Cheers!