Managing a Large Virtual Team with Ezra Firestone

A team of 40 virtual employees across multiple brands. Sounds like a dream team, but a lot goes into managing a large virtual team. Ezra Firestone of Smart Marketer shows us how he currently manages his businesses and builds his teams virtually, including how he determines who he needs to hire and how he keeps his employees productive and organized.

Ezra weighs in with the current tools and strategies he uses to keep his team efficient and highly-successful.

 

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(With your host Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.com and Ezra Firestone of Smart Marketer

Andrew: Welcome to the eCommerceFuel podcast, the show dedicated to helping high six and seven-figure entrepreneurs build amazing online companies and incredible lives. I’m your host and fellow eCommerce entrepreneur, Andrew Youderian.

Hey guys, Andrew here and welcome to eCommerceFuel podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in today. And today, I have a returning guest on the show. He sort of hasn’t been on for a while. I’ve been just relentlessly going after his PR man. I keep getting turned down over and over and over again. And finally got through, and have the pleasure of introducing Mr. Ezra Firestone back as a guest. Ezra, how you doing man?

Ezra: I’m doing great man, happy to be here. I can be difficult to get a hold of. I’m kind of a hermit. But no, I’m super excited to be back on your show. I think you’ve got the best show in the game so, happy to be here.

eCommerce All-Stars

Andrew: Thanks, man. Your gate keepers are brutal, dude, you know. I’m just kidding. You’ve got an event coming up which I want to talk about off the bat, eCommerce All-Stars?

Ezra: Right off the bat, all right. Thanks, man.

Andrew: Yeah.

Ezra: Yeah. So you know, obviously, we do eCommerce and we love to share what works for us. And so our community has been asking for a long time for us to put together an event where everyone could kind of get together, get to know each other, and we could go in-depth over the course of a couple of days. And my experience has been that there’s really no better way to experience, sort of, a jolt, a boost. What’s that stuff in when they put in cars, like in the movies, and you press the button and you go really fast?

Andrew: Nitro.

Ezra: Yeah. There’s no better way to have that experience in your business, to nitro it, I don’t know if that’s what you call it, but then to kind of let…

Andrew: Maybe that’s probably not nitro. That’s actually probably not the right term.

Ezra: Okay, whatever it is. It’s like…

Andrew: But yeah, all right.

Ezra: We’re internet nerds. We’re not, you know, pop-culturally literate. But to sort of let go of the rest of your world for a little bit, step out of your routine in life and step into a couple of days where you just really focus on your business and the connections that you make and the people that you meet. And it’s just been really beneficial to me over the years. And so we’ve always kind of done events. This is our first one in a while. We’re going to make it a yearly thing. We’re really excited about it.

Andrew: Yeah, and in eCommerce All Stars, you’re doing it in San Diego, I think, and it’s in August. I actually…kind of ironic we’re talking about it because it is already sold out, but you’re doing a live stream of it for people who are interested in just catching the information, right?

Ezra: Yeah. You know, if you want to have that same experience but from home, you can join the live stream which I think is cool. You know, I always love when I can’t make it out to an event or an event sells out, to be able to get the live stream and get access to the content. So we will be doing that. You can check that out at smartmarketer.com/allstars and we’ll do it every year, in San Diego at this time. So hopefully, I’ll catch you at next year’s, live.

Andrew: Nice, man, cool. Good luck with it. And we’re going to be talking today, specifically, about…we hopped on the phone last week and we’re catching up and we started talking about your team and how you’ve grown it and some things that really fascinated me and I wanted to dive into. So let’s go ahead and get into, kind of, the meat of today’s discussion, just talking remote team building, especially, with you. So we’ll get into that now.

Ezra: Yeah, baby.

Ezra’s eCommerce Empire

Andrew: So, Ezra, what size business are you running right now in terms of people, in terms of revenues on your business side? Give us a sense of, before we kind of dissect this, what kind of airplane are you flying and how big is this baby?

Ezra: Okay. Well, so we’ve got BOOM by Cindy Joseph which is an eCommerce brand. It’ll do $16 million to $21 million this year depending on how our holiday sales go. We really are having a hard time projecting, kind of, what we think we’ll do over the holidays. We’ve got BeeFriendly Skincare, do about $1.3 million. Smartmarketer.com will do $2 million to $2 and a half million, and then we have another couple of eCommerce brands that’ll do a couple hundred thousand. So, you know, we’ll be in the neighborhood of $20 million, $25 million with a team…the size of our team, I counted it up beforehand so that I would be ready with actual numbers. I knew we were going to talk about this. Thirty-nine people total at our full-time in-house.

And then we do a little bit of outsourcing, a little bit of design outsourcing, and occasionally, a little bit of development outsourcing. But mostly actually, these days, we kind of are able to handle all of our projects in-house with copywriters, designers, developers. I can actually break down the roles and what people do and all of that kind of stuff. And my approach to team building’s a little different. You know, we’re a virtual company. We’ve gone friends-of-friends…family and friends-of-friends or family-of-friends, essentially, is our entire team, which is really kind of fascinating.

The Employee/Friend Conundrum

Andrew: Yeah. And I want to get into that a little bit because that’s something that…I mean, we’ve had discussions. I think most of the time, the, kind of, traditional advice is stay away from that motto, right? Well, heck, let’s just dive into it right now. Everyone tells you it’s a terrible idea so why did you go down that route?

Ezra: Everyone tells you it’s a bad idea. Okay, so here’s my viewpoint man, is you’re going to spend a good chunk of your life working. And I would much rather work with people I know and love than a bunch of random cranksters, I’m sorry, than a bunch of random people who I don’t know. And the thing is that, like I believe in bringing people up. Now obviously, design and development, you can’t bring those roles up. You’ve got to come into the game with some design work, you know, design chomps and development chomps. But ads manager, copywriter, customer service manager, product educator, video editor, you’ve got to come into the game with that skill set as well. But pretty much every other role, and I can break them down for you, you can bring people up. And the way that I think of it is that you’re purchasing help, okay?

You’re buying help, and the interesting thing about buying help is that it gets better over time. If I’m buying 20 hours a week of help from someone, after six months, that same 20 hours is worth 40 because I’ve invested in them. I’ve given them access to education. I’ve got them enthusiastic and enrolled in my vision. But that’s, sort of, a later point. But back to family and friends, they will challenge me. They’re not afraid to speak up.

Well, you know, I already have these deep relationships with them. It makes it fun. It makes it more intimate, and especially when you’re doing virtual, man, because virtual is tough, obviously. When you’re virtual, it’s a lot harder to keep people accountable, to manage projects. And that’s sort of one of the problems that we can talk about a little bit later. Big one for us, we kind of just had a big breakthrough with that particular issue but I find that a tight-knit group works a lot better for a virtual team, or at least has been in my experience.

On Letting Go of Employees

Andrew: Have you run into the situation yet, where you’ve brought someone on who you’ve had some kind of personal rapport with outside of work, cut into either your family or your social circles, it didn’t work out and you had to let them go?

Ezra: Just happened last week, actually. A woman that I’ve known for 16 years, I had to fire, you know, a reason I won’t get into here. But it was devastating. It was tough. It was heavy. It was heavy for the whole team. It was heavy for the social circle. It was heavy for everyone. And I feel like, you know, you shouldn’t work with friends and family if you’re not willing to draw clear boundaries, if you’re not willing to communicate effectively. Like, if you’re not willing or able or don’t have good communication skills, social skills, as a leader, if you’re going to be the leader of this operation, you have got to be able to communicate clearly. You’ve got to hold your boundaries tight.

And I hold my boundaries tight. And I tell people when they come on, “Business is business. Personal is personal. We’ll still be friends after work, but you’ve got to show up. And if you’re not showing up, I will fire you. I will…” You know, I have that whole conversation. I don’t say it like that, obviously. I’m a little gentler, you know. But yeah, I had to let her go, man. And it was extremely heavy. But hey, that’s part of the game and I’m up for that. I’m up for saying, “You know what? You are not showing up, and you’re not doing a good job, and we’ve worked on it. It’s not happening so, you know, you obviously don’t want this position. You obviously don’t value this position. So see you later.” Hey, you know, I have no problem with that.

Andrew: So really, you’re saying that the increased intimacy, and transparency, and trust, and open lines of communication, and rapport that you have with people in your social circles outweighs any collateral damage you might have to deal with on the back-end if it doesn’t work out?

The Concept of Virtual Local

Ezra: That’s right. I think it does and I think it actually makes us significantly more productive because we’re all working together and we have this history beyond just working together. We’re all virtual. Everyone lives in different places. I mean, I’m now starting to do the sort of virtual local where I’m trying to kind of have people who are local, like little pods. Like, my copywriters are in LA and they all meet up. My customer service advocates are in New York, they all meet up. So that’s kind of like virtual local, where you get a little bit of people, you know, little pods of people. And that’s been really fun and a kind of cool way to do it.

But yeah, I think that, especially with the virtual team, it helps if you have some, you know, some sort of pre-built relational things going on. But I will say that you have to have the luxury of being willing to bring people up. Like, if you’re in a spot where you need to bring someone in with a certain skill set, you don’t have the same luxury that I had of being willing to invest in someone and bring them up and give them access to education, and give them blogs to read, and give them courses to go through, and give them events to…you know what I mean? Like, you’ve got to be able to have the surplus to be able to train somebody.

Project Managers on a Virtual Team of 40

Andrew: Yeah. How do you manage your team of 40 people? It’s a lot of people to keep track of. How do you manage them maybe from a couple different perspectives? One, from a technology perspective, do you have something like kind of, maybe your philosophy on…do you have like, you know, screen recording software that keeps them on track or are you just more milestone-focused? I’m guessing that you don’t interface directly with all 40 of those people. How does your…Do you have managers, project managers? How does that all shake out so that you can actually keep moving forward and keep a pulse on things?

Ezra: Yeah. Well, we tried a bunch of different project management softwares, Mavenlink, Trello, Basecamp, you know, LeanKit, all these ones. And we found that we were spending more time in the software than actually, you know, than it was bringing us value. And so we gave up visual project management tools because every time I would talk to someone, they would just have a bullet list of what they were supposed to do. So now, for the last several months, our technology stack around actually getting things done is Slack, Evernote, and Google Keep. Google Keep is just, you know, lists. It’s a bullet list that I can assign people stuff and everyone can see it.

And, sort of, one of the problems that we had as we grew was that I was the project manager. I was inherently the project manager because I was hiring everyone and telling everyone what to do. We use zoom.us for our weekly team meetings. We have two team meetings a week. We talk about what everyone needs to do. We take team meeting notes in Evernote. We assign tasks to people in Google Keep and then we communicate in Slack about getting those things done. And we’re very project and action-oriented rather than like, you know, clock in, clock out. It’s like, are you getting your stuff done? And me being the project manager was a really big bottleneck for us because everyone was coming to me. And I’m not a great project manager, you know. That’s not what I like to do. And it was holding me back from being able to create and hold vision and do the things I need to do.

So the big breakthrough we had recently was, you know, I’ve hired only creatives. I’ve brought in people who were creative, who…and I’m a creative and we’re all creative but we’re not particularly well-organized. And so I can talk about our whole technology stack. But basically, the breakthrough that we had was that we need people on the team who are solely focused on organization and project management. So we brought in project managers who are solely focused on organizing the projects. They come to the team meetings. They take the notes. They delegate the tasks. They visually organize.

And because the problem was, that we had, was that we would kind of do it but nobody was 100% responsible for the project management tool and making sure stuff was going, and so like LeanKit or Mavenlink, so they use Basecamp. Our two project managers now are building everything out for us on Basecamp. And having one person 100% responsible for leveraging that software, and interfacing with people, and holding people accountable, and setting deadlines has been a game changer for us. It’s been something that we’ve really needed for a long time. We’ve still got a lot done. But now, we’re probably twice as effective with that with someone who’s full-time responsible for the project management in a way that we never had before.

Andrew: And, Ezra, sorry if I missed…

Ezra: And what we have…Sorry, go ahead.

Andrew: I was going to say, sorry if I missed this, but do you have, for those 40 people, how many project managers do you have for that team of 40?

Ezra: Right now, we only have three project managers and it’s phenomenal. It works, you know. And every one…so we have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals for each role. So it’s like, all customer service tickets get answered every day. Instagram posts goes out every day for BOOM, for BeeFriendly, for SmartMarket, or Facebook posts goes out. Weekly, we produce a new piece of content. We get 500 new leads. We set up five new ads. We run our Facebook contents. Monthly, we do a sales webinar. We create three new split tests. So we have these sort of milestones that each role is, you know, they have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly, sort of, action items, goals for each role.

And we also have each person’s, sort of, like what they do. You know, like we’ve got…I’ll just pull open my thing. Give me just a second here. Ah, here we go. So it’s called SmartMarketer goals and roles, e-friendly goals and roles. We have a spreadsheet for each person. So Samantha is responsible for video editing, standard operating procedures, creating PDFs of all of our videos. Boris is responsible for Facebook ads, Pinterest ads, podcasts, etc., and consuming one hour of blog content per day. Rubin is responsible for all the emails, the weekly newsletters, the Mastermind reminders, the week-in-review emails, the CRL, and the split test.

So each individual person has these sections or things that they are responsible for and they know what those are and they know…The problem is that if, you know, “Hey, I tried to hire a virtual assistant,” or, “I’ve tried to hire someone and they didn’t work out. They weren’t good.” No. You weren’t good at telling them what to do and holding them accountable for getting it done. You didn’t give them clearly-defined objectives and ways to win. People just want to win. You’ve got to give them that way to win. You’ve got to make it a party, make it fun, have it be, you know, like have them feel inspired. So I feel like scale can only come from outside of you and delegation is really the ability to buy help effectively. So clarifying the roles, deciding who has the final say on what parts of the company, incentivizing people to do well, you know, all that kind of stuff comes in handy.

Andrew: You mentioned deadlines in there. That’s something I’ve always had a little bit of a, always struggled with to some extent because you want to hold people accountable and you want to make sure that, you know, you’re not giving them an excuse. Like you said, almost everyone wants to win if you give them the tools and the right environment. And deadlines are something where you want to try to keep people accountable but at the same time, you want to have grace when stuff comes up that you really couldn’t have anticipated. So do you have a frame, or what’s your philosophy on deadlines in terms of really sticking to them, being hard-nosed to them, and also letting them slip? Do you just look at it on a case by case basis, or how do you do that?

Why Deadlines Are Arbitrary

Ezra: Well, they’re 100% arbitrary because, as you said, stuff comes up and that you can’t account for that pushes a deadline. So you set them and you try to meet them, but you also know that they’re going to be flexible. And this comes with my, you know, sort of desire to give people autonomy. I don’t want to micromanage. If I’m going to micromanage, I might as well do it myself. I want to trust their decision-making. I want them to become experts. I want them to be better than I am in that area, which is why I give them access to education. I give them access to a comfortable work environment. I tell them from the beginning that I want them to come up and become an expert in x, y, z area. I, you know, get at least a 12-month commitment from them.

And the thing is you’ve got to invest in them. You’ve got to hold the vision for them and you’ve got to constantly repeat your expectations and goals for them and constantly repeat the company purpose, what you do and why you do it. Every team meeting, I say, “This is my expectations and goals. Here’s what we do and here’s why we do it,” twice a week.

Andrew: When you say that, “Here’s what we do and here’s why we do it,” what is that?

Ezra: So if you want to help like, BOOM by Cindy Joseph, right? Everyone out there is telling women that aging is bad. They need to stop it. They need to anti-age, anti-wrinkle. Your life is over at 35, when you start to look like a person who is aging, and you’ve got to stop this and it’s bad. And like, we are sending a different message. You’re beautiful at any age. Our goal is beyond selling products, to let people know that there’s nothing wrong with them when they age, to inspire them, to have them feel good about themselves, to have them feel beautiful. And so that would be like, you know, Cindy usually does the spiel for BOOM.

But for SmartMarketer, our goal is to help people grow their businesses with integrity. What we want to do is share what’s working for us in a way that has people be able to replicate that easily. We want to support people in the growth of their business and also inspire them to work with integrity, not just to sell another crappy product but to do something that means something, to have a story, to have something beyond, something that drives their business beyond just trying to sell some shit, you know? And so I talk about that, you know, “Here’s what we do, here’s why we do it,” that kind of thing.

I think, again, with deadlines, you know obviously, I’m not a great project manager so I would let these things slide and whatever. But our new project manager is a little bit stricter than I am. I think I held too loose of a container and I think she holds a tighter container, and I think there’s a balance to be struck between loose and tight containers.

What to Look for in a Project Manager

Andrew: Project manager, I mean, that sounds like something amazing for a lot of organizations, myself included, because that’s something that…I can do that and fill that role but it’s not something I necessarily enjoy doing. So for someone like myself, maybe someone’s listening, wants to bring someone like that into their organization, what do you look for in a great project manager?

Ezra: You want the person who took notes color-coded in high school and college. You want that person who, when they open up their notebook, all their notes from their classes were color coded, you know. Super type-A personality, analytical, like organized, almost obsessive with their organization because it’s really about organization. Because you, the business owner, will be telling everyone what the tasks are. You know what needs to be done.

So all the project manager is doing is documenting those tasks, finding out who is doing them, and then finding out if they need anything to get them done. And if they need anything to get them done, they come to you and ask you for the resources or whatever it is that the person needs to get that thing done and they just guarantee the operation. It’s not like they’re coming up with what needs to happen. They’re just guaranteeing it happens by being that communication between you and your team and creating a visual cue and spreadsheets for what’s going on. So you really just want someone who’s passionate about organization. And you can tell by the way they email you. You can tell by the way that they dress. You know, you can tell a lot about someone by how they present and how they be in the world and…

I want to talk a little bit more about our technology stacks. So we use Slack. We have a different channel for each project. So we’ve got an ad strategy channel, an approvals channel, where things that need to be approved by me go in. We’ve got a BeeFriendly channel, Blue Ribbon Mastermind channel, a BOOM channel, a BOOM support channel, a design channel, a conversion channel, a copywriting channel, all these channels where these different conversations happen, and that’s our, sort of, organization routine.

And we also have all of our stuff getting posted to Slack. Every post-purchase customer survey gets posted to a channel in Slack. All of our reports get posted to a channel in Slack. So we never have to leave Slack. We don’t email. We don’t text. We don’t Skype. We’re always on Slack. And then we have our team meetings on Zoom so we don’t get taken off-track. And as I said, we have our team meetings. We document those in Evernote. We make bullets of what’s discussed. We make action items based on those. Those get transferred over to the task management system, which for us, has just been Google Keep until we brought in project managers who preferred to use Evernote.

Dropbox, obviously, to organize everything, and we make standard operating procedures so that anything that’s getting done that is replicatable, that happens on a repeatable basis, creating ads, setting up ads in Facebook, doing our customer service routines, setting up split tests, anything, sending out emails, that happens consistently is documented in an Evernote. We actually switched to Google Drive because Evernote’s a little buggy. Standard operating procedure with images and texts that shows how it’s done so that anyone could do that task at any time.

Solving Problems as a Team

Andrew: What problems are you running into? I mean, you’ve got 40 people scattered all across the U.S., I’m guessing maybe even the globe, and what are the biggest problems that you’re running into even today?

Ezra: You know, I think that the biggest issue for us was keeping track of all the different things we were doing and all the moving parts, and also getting people communicating, feeling comfortable talking to one another. So the big theme for me over the last several months was talk to someone else on the team first. Do not come to me with a problem. Go and try to solve it with someone else on the team. And if you can’t solve it together, then you can come to me or then you go to the project manager now and the project manager can come to me. But like, figure out how to solve it yourself instead of just running to Ezra every time you’ve got a problem.

That really was a big issue for us because everyone’s always coming to me with everything. It’s like, “No, you’ve got amazing resource. You’ve got this whole team. Use them.” So getting people feeling comfortable, you know, talking to one another and solving problems on their own.

Know What You Want To Get Done Every Day

Andrew: I’ve heard you mention this in the past and recently, you know…and actually, when we were talking last week, I was like, how do you get all this done? Are you just working, you know, 14 hours a day? And your response was, “No. Like, I have a fairly realistic, reasonable, you know, six, eight-hour day schedule.” Talk about that. You also think most people work too much so keep…

Ezra: No, I was talking too much.

Andrew: Especially me, you’re on my show. Talk about that a little bit. Like, what’s your work schedule look like day-to-day to manage a team of 40 people and how do you manage to make it reasonable?

Ezra: Yeah, so you know, obviously, you’re not going to start with a team of 40. You’re going to start with one person. It’s amazing how much you can get out of one person if you really invest in them. Eight hours a day is so much time and energy. And there’s a law and it says, “Work expands to fill the time that you give it.” So if you set boundaries around your work hours, you will get everything that you need to get done within those work hours. Anything that you can’t get done within that amount of time, you shouldn’t be doing, period.

And it’s so fascinating. When I really started getting structured around my routine about a year and a half ago and really started setting strong boundaries around my work, I started producing a lot more. So I wake up. You know, I meditate. I move my body. I make an espresso. I actually just produced a really fun post about how I make my coffee in the morning and I’m gonna post next week on Smartmarketer.com. And then I put in, you know, a three, four-hour work blog and then I stop. I have lunch. I go outside, whatever. And I put in another two, three hours.

I’m generally working between five and eight hours in a day, four days a week, sometimes, five days a week. And that’s it, man. And it’s really, really about knowing what you want to get done and not doing any operations. So I have gotten to the point where I’m not doing any operations. All I am doing is figuring out what we should be doing and then checking other people’s work. That’s pretty much what I do now. I’m like, “All right. Here’s what we need to do. Here’s why I spend time, you know, consuming content, you know, strategizing.”

And then there’s one thing that only I can do in our company, and nobody else can do this for me. I’m the only guy that can create the way that we need for SmartMarketer. I am the face of that. I am the brand of that. I’m the voice of it. I need to be creating and that’s what I love to do. And then I’m also the only guy who can really create the strategy base because I’ve been in the industry the longest. I’ve got the experience. I know this…it’s like my life. So I focus on the vision, the strategy, holding the container, and then I have my team meetings where I tell everyone what to do. And then I kind of see what happens, basically.

I just think about what needs to be done and then I delegate it. And that’s really my business model and it’s really worked well for me. I got people who are smart, who are better than I am in all these areas because I really invested them and brought them up. And I got people who were enthusiastic, who wanted to be doing this. You don’t want people who are working because they feel like they have to. You want people who are actually excited about the work they’re doing rather than people you’re just dragging along, you know.

So I think it’s really about setting really, really clear container around your work hours and then doing the best you can to not be in operations. Like, if you’re still doing your own customer service, hang up right now and go figure out how to get someone to do your customer service. Like, that’s number one, right? And I’ve got a list of who I think you should bring on when that I’d like to bring up as far as building your team. I’m going to pull that out and I’m going to tell you who I think you should bring on your team and when I think you should do it. Give me just a second.

Andrew: Yeah, of course, man. Go for it.

What to Outsource – And What to Never Outsource

Ezra: Here it is. So capabilities you need and then knowing what’s in-house and what’s outsource. So you’ve got design, development, your chief platform officer, customer service, ads management, content creation, syndication and copy writing, conversion rate optimization, video editing, bookkeeping, strategy, vision, direction. So those are kind of the roles that I have laid out here. Now, strategy, vision, direction, you’re never going to outsource. But you’re going to take advisement but you’re ever going to outsource that, okay?

Customer service, definitely the first thing that you outsource, you should not be doing that. Platforms, that’s the second thing you outsource. So if you’re still messing around in WordPress, and Shopify, and LeadPages, and Zipify apps, and all that kind of stuff, get someone else doing all of that, it’s super easy to outsource that and it’s such an amazing freedom. It brings so much freedom when you’re not digging around in platforms anymore and you’re saying, “Hey, here’s what we need to get done,” and then having people get done. And by the way, when you’re outsourcing platforms, chief platform officer was my second big role that I outsourced, you give the people access to the tools you want them to learn. You have them consume the entire knowledge base. You have them consume every post that that platform puts out. You have them become experts on those platforms.

Third thing that you outsource, content creation, syndication, and copy writing, so someone who’s going to manage your social media, your copywriting, all that kind of stuff. That’s been a really big one for us. Ads management would be the fourth thing that you bring in-house. Conversion rate optimization would be the fifth thing that you bring in-house. And then you’re probably always going to outsource design to some degree, unless you want to bring a designer in-house to get big enough to bring designer in-house. The second to last thing that you bring in-house is development. The last thing that you bring in-house is video editing. Design is the third to last thing we bring in-house, development’s the second to last thing, and then video editing is the third to last thing. We bring everything else in-house.

Andrew: How hard was it for you? You’re such a…I mean, paid traffic is your thing. That’s your wheel house. Was that tough to bring on people for that role?

Hiring Employees in Your Own Area of Expertise

Ezra: Such a bottleneck for us. I was the only guy…you know, we manage $15,000 to $20,000 a day in ads spent. Huge numbers, a half a million dollars a month, if not more on some months. And I was the only guy who could really, really manage a scaled paid media campaign and it bogged me down. I had to spend, you know, 20 hours a week doing it across our businesses. And so I finally, finally spent the six months it took me to bring someone up in that role and it’s been freedom.

And the thing is, I was talking to Clay Collins of LeadPages about this, just on Boxer before this, that the experience we had was we really tried to go with agencies. But the problem with agencies is they are people of many masters. They’ve got so many different customers. And you talk to an account manager and the account manager gets you all juiced up, but then they just give the work to the lowest common denominator and they don’t do a good job. And we went through a number of agencies and we finally figured, “Nobody’s going to do this as well as we are. We’ve got to bring this skill set in-house.”

And that’s actually where my traffic course came from. It came from me training my ads manager. I have one ads manager. He manages $15,000 to $20,000 a day in ads spend across Pinterest, Facebook, Google, and Instagram. And now, we’re bringing up a second ads manager. But really, you only need one. One person part to full-time can very easily manage all your ads spend, no problem.

Andrew: Man, Ezra, it’s so great to have you. I have to convince you to let me fly out to New York and be one of those people over your shoulder for a couple of days because it’s pretty cool.

Ezra: Come on out, baby.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s pretty cool to see what you’ve built up and how you’ve managed it. Good to have you back on the show. It’s been a while and it’s fun to have you back on the mic, man. And you’ve got the new…

Ezra:: Thanks, man.

Andrew: You give me a hard time before we got on because I’ve got the lowly, lowly Rode Podcaster USB mic, and you’re rolling with a much higher mic these days. You got that…get out of here with that thing man.

Ezra: Yeah, I’m rolling on XLR. I’ve got my Cloudlifter. I’ve got my Skylet 2I12 and I’m happy with it. I just want to say also that like, you know, you’ve got this down, Andrew, really well, that enjoying your life is the biggest payday. Like, I see all these people who are going after wealth creation just for the sake of wealth creation. It’s like, dude, money by itself is void if you’ve got a shitty life and no intimacy or connection or a good partnership. It’s like, what’s the point, man? Like, figure out how to have some fun now. Don’t work yourself into the ground. Then you’re making money but you’re miserable and you’re tied to these golden shackles. You gotta keep up this operation that you don’t even want to run because it’s not fun. Like, I don’t know, I feel like that’s a big thing.

Andrew: No, it’s interesting. I’m reading a book on happiness right now. I think a lot of people have been picking this up recently, but kind of the whole thesis of it is the traditional formula people follow, that you become successful then you become happy, is actually not true scientifically. It’s completely tipped on its head with you want to become successful, being happy with where you are, being appreciative, all these different things that kind of tie into happiness. It’s kind of a vague term but happiness in general makes you so much more productive and successful in the long run.

Ezra: I love it. I like to read that book if you could send me a link.

Andrew: “The Happiness Advantage” is what it’s called. We’ll link up to it in the show notes. Only about a third in but so far so good. Ezra, good to catch up, man. Excited for your event this summer, and thanks for taking the time to come on.

Ezra: All right. Well, thank you eCommerceFuel. And see you soon.

Andrew: Want to connect with and learn from other proven eCommerce entrepreneurs, join us in the eCommerceFuel private community. It’s our tight-knit embedded group for store owners with at least a quarter million dollars in annual sales. You can learn more and apply for membership at eCommerceFuel.com. Thanks so much to our podcast producer, Laura Serino, for all of her hard work in making the show possible and to you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. That will be it for this week but looking forward to seeing you again next Friday.

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Post tagged in: Entrepreneur Profiles, Lifestyle & Growth, Podcast

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Andrew and thank you Ezra, it was very interesting learning about managing virtual teams. I have got a question, is it possible to still run a virtual team when you are selling products that requires in-person sales call? And, what about your order fulfillment for the beauty products, do you outsource that to a third party logistics company or is that done in-house?

    Thanks once again for the fantastic interview!