CBNationI AM CEO PODCAST

IAM440- President and Founder Helps Businesses Leverage Digital Marketing for Growth

Podcast Interview with Kent Lewis

As President and founder of Anvil Media, Lewis oversees the strategic direction of the company, with a focus on sales and marketing. He speaks internationally, writes for industry publications like SmartBrief, and has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University since 2000. Since transitioning his career into digital marketing in 1996, he’s founded or co-founded four agencies and 2 organizations. He’s been named a Top 40 Under 40, Marketer of the Year by AMA Oregon, and a Top 100 Digital Marketing Influencer by BuzzSumo in 2019. Outside of work, Lewis enjoys consulting with startups and spending time with family.

  • CEO Hack: Hootsuite
  • CEO Nugget: Working in the business not just on the business
  • CEO Defined: (1) Creating a special place for you, the clients, the community and your employees to benefit from the presence of the organization (2) Creating a sense of family

Website: https://www.anvilmediainc.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kentlewis
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kentjlewis
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/KentjLewis
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kentjlewis/


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Transcription

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Intro 0:02

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I Am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:29

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today Kent Lewis of Anvil Media Kit. It's awesome to have you on the show.

Kent Lewis 0:38

My pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless 0:40

No problem. Super excited to have you on and what I wanted to do was just read a little bit more about the kid so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. As the President and Founder of Anvil Media, Lewis oversees the strategic direction of the company with a focus on sales and marketing. Kent speaks internationally writes for industry publications like smartbrief, and has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University since 2000.

Since transitioned his career into digital marketing, I see many sakes, he's founded or co-founded four agencies in two organizations. He's been a top 40 under 40, marketer of the Year by the AMA, Oregon, and a top 100 Digital Marketing influencer by Buzzsumo in 2019. Outside of work, Kent enjoys consulting with startups and spending time with the family. Kent, are you ready to speak to the I Am CEO Community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

Kent Lewis 1:26

Let's do this.

Gresham Harkless 1:27

Awesome, awesome, awesome, what a kick everything off, I wanted to hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story. We'll let you get started with your business.

Kent Lewis 1:33

Alright. My business is Anvil Media. We're a digital marketing agency. I've been running Anvil since 2000. I started my career in digital in 1996, just months after Al Gore invented the internet, I was there doing digital stuff. And that's what I like to say at least. So actually, my entrepreneurial journey was getting fired a few times, within the nine agencies I've worked at some of which I've founded, some I've co-founded, I realized I wasn't very employable by old gray-haired dudes that didn't get what I did. Now I'm an old gray-haired dude, myself.

But I've been in search marketing, specifically for 23 years, and running teams for a little longer than that is about that long, I should say. I decided I better do it myself. Because I've had very high standards. I haven't co-founded an agency having partners with different values, I found that was a challenge. So I might as well just stick to my guns and do the anvil thing and do it as best I can.

Gresham Harkless 2:36

Nice, I definitely appreciate that. Of course me and a gray-haired dude, but you actually get it. So that's the important part, unlike those people that you were working for. So I wanted to hear a little bit more about Anvil Media. Can you take us through exactly how you work with? So what exactly do you do?

Kent Lewis 2:51

Yeah, so I have built teams of search engine marketers, we're doing you know, we were doing SEO before Google was a website or a search engine. We were we started doing paid as soon as it was a viable thing. We'd go to that overture, then Yahoo, then then Google. Now we specialize across all paid platforms. So social, and programmatic retargeting all of that that's probably 50-60% of what we do. We're probably 30 to 40% SEO, search engine optimization, that's my roots, and then just enough social to be dangerous. To round it out. I was doing social for the recording industry back in 98, telling kids not to rip music on Napster. Yet Pearl Jam publicly said it was cool. They were definitely saying this was not cool to the producers and the record labels.

So we were trying to tell make kids believe it was cool not to do that. But it took Steve Jobs and iTunes to make that happen, where kids are actually paying for music. So anyway, I've been doing social Bigfoot since before. These platforms we use today were a thing. So my goal with Anvil and with my journey was to make our services, digital marketing services, approachable, and affordable, to work with companies that knew who they were and knew where they wanted to go. That we would be the amplifier to help get them there. That's our specialization.

Gresham Harkless 4:14

Nice. I appreciate that. Especially that word amplifier, because a lot of times people have a certain expertise or thing that they do. They don't necessarily know how to get it out there and how to amplify their message so that everybody can hear exactly what it is that they do. So it's great to hear in that day and age, you also have those roots. But at the same time, you guys are still growing and developing kind of innovative ways for these businesses and organizations.

Kent Lewis 4:34

Yes, yeah. That's right. Summary.

Gresham Harkless 4:36

Nice, nice, nice. So now I want to ask you for what I call your secret sauce, it could be for you personally, or it could be for your organization, but what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you?

Kent Lewis 4:45

Well, I think I alluded earlier to having a business partner in the past that had different standards, and I feel like you shouldn't I guess we're a no half-assed shop. You know, I think it's easy to learn what we do and do it reasonably well, I forget which is it Verizon, that's a problem with with advertising these days, good enough, isn't good enough. That's kind of thing. So our reputation within the industry, with our clients is all about doing the best we can do.  The other part is, as an entrepreneur, I think what differentiates what we do, or could say my hybrid secret sauce plus handles us is caring about the business and who they are and moving the goalposts or whatever the metaphors you want to use, helping them win.

So whereas my team is really good at optimizing sites to rank and driving really targeted ads at qualified prospects for our clients, I'm really good at like, you need to talk to these people. Let me make an introduction. Have you thought about this and really, when at all possible using our clients' products, not just cashing cheques? So I think that that's a I've found having been at nine agencies is a bit of a differentiator for us.

Gresham Harkless 5:56

Yeah, absolutely. I think it kind of speaks to and definitely correct me if I'm wrong, kind of having that partnership type feel where it's not just somebody that is, like you said, cashing those cheques. But it's somebody that actually wants to see not just your business succeed today, but also sounds like yours in the future as well, too.

Kent Lewis 6:11

Yeah. I think one litmus test, is the way to evaluate that as we have a client right now, in the big home and ranch retail chain, that our contractor has been my client, five different companies in the last 20 years. So wherever we go, he goes.  There's another CEO in town, the most recently sold e-bags, and is now on to the next thing that has worked with me and hardly fought four times in the last 15 years. So the goal is to be that reliable MVP that they trust, and it's easier said than done. It does take a lot of work.

Gresham Harkless 6:45

Yeah, absolutely. But once you build that trust, you can definitely be the MVP, which is what everybody is looking for in their industry. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit.  I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an apple book or habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Kent Lewis 7:01

Well, I would say, so I'm OCD.  I do not, I like things organized. I'm also a high-output kind of guy. So I mean, a lot of people that know me ask if I ever sleep, they asked, you know, they assume that I am driving hard all the time. There's a lot of truth to that. But I'm really just painfully efficient. So one of my critical tools, having started in social media platforms was thing I've been on HootSuite for over a decade because I was already at one point managing about 12, Twitter handles.  I've heard that down to three, plus my LinkedIn personally, my team handles the Anvil-related social platforms. But every morning I check in on my HootSuite app and schedule ahead, content for the day, I check in weekly to look at trends and data across the different platforms.

So because social has been a key part of my personal marketing and branding, as a thought leader in the digital space, I rely on it. I'd say a metric there was Buzzsumo named me a top 100 Digital Marketing influencer for this year. that's after really, you know, probably 12 years of consistent updates.  I'm talking about Hourly updates on Twitter and LinkedIn for the last five to 10 years. But there's ideally there's some additional benefit there. I have a PR background. So it's all about staying in front of people. So the way that I've been able to do that in less than a half-hour day is definitely HootSuite.

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Gresham Harkless 8:32

Nice, I definitely appreciate that. A lot of times the name of the game is found and visible,  allowing people to be aware. So you've been able to do that. I think another nugget that's within that is that it didn't take it wasn't an overnight success. You put in the five to 10 hours, as you said, I think a lot of times people forget that. You just put out one tweet, you just put out one update, and all of a sudden you are the influencer in your space. But that doesn't always happen like that.

Kent Lewis 8:54

Right. Exactly, exactly. So that's been my key hack.

Gresham Harkless 8:57

Yes, I love that. So now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. This could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. Or if you could happen to be a time machine, what would you tell your younger business?

Kent Lewis 9:07

One of my most expensive lessons, that's a double-edged sword lesson is I've been a part of a group called Entrepreneur Organization, EO.  I don't know if you've heard of that. But there are 13,500 business owners worldwide who are a member of the 140-150 chapters. I've been in the Portland chapter since 2007. It's a group of peers who want to learn and grow together as entrepreneurs. it's a nonprofit. So I've got a ton of tools from there. But one of the early workshops we did was the concept of the E Myth Entrepreneurial myth that most entrepreneurs started with a discipline whether they love it, or they're just good at it, and then they fall into doing it on their own because clients or customers say why don't you just do it on your own.

So they go from being a graphic designer to owning an agency or from being a carpenter for somebody else to running their own carpentry business. They often are working in the business, not in the business. that makes a whole lot of sense for E Myth as a juggernaut consultancy. He had a set of books and all that is work on the business, not in the business. The problem was early on in my EO journey, 2007-08, when I started working I literally was like dropped any accounts I was on. I still continue to do sales, but basically, on the business. The downside and I've written about this is, if you're not working somewhat in the business, like 95 580 20, where you're at least 25 to 20% in the business, you forget why you're even in business, who your customers are, what they care about more and more importantly, the employees what they're going through.

So I'd lost touch with my clients, our services, and my team. In 13, I had to blow my company up and rebuild it as an agency that was modern and relevant, because I was making too much money to see the problems by the time had I been in the business, I probably would have saved key talent, kept the business relevant, not having to blow it up and lose half my employees in the process.

So I would say, work in the business just enough to stay attached to what it was originally created, as well as your employees, as well as your customers, your clients. That's, I think, an invaluable lesson, I wish I would have gone back and told myself, so I didn't kind of lose my way, being a business owner instead of a digital marketing professional who happens to run a business reasonably well. It didn't work out exactly how I thought and I think can all be done with a grain of salt. And a little perspective.

Gresham Harkless 11:24

Yeah, that makes so much sense.  I appreciate you are talking about that. Because I think a lot of times you weren't here, you know, work on the business, not in the business, but you never hear any percentages behind it. So you're always like you're either one or the other. But just like you said, if you're not necessarily in the business, at least a little bit, you don't have that idea of like culture, or what your clients are looking for maybe for thinking things. So you want to be able to have a little bit of both. So that'll help you work on, you know, on the business even better.

Kent Lewis 11:49

Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I appreciate that.

Gresham Harkless 11:51

No problem. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote-unquote, CEOs on the show. So Kent, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Kent Lewis 12:01

Being a CEO, to me means creating a special place where you and your employees or coworkers, your partners and clients, and the local community all benefit from the presence of that organization, and you as a leader, so I don't believe that Andrew would have been as successful automatically anywhere in the country, I think the Portland community has helped me and helped us be successful. So we give back quite a bit, a lot of charitable giving, and a lot of hours.  I think that's just one example of as a CEO, I get to control how this team deploys. So part of the reason I hired employees in the first place was so I could do more charitable work and nonprofit and pro bono and unkind work. And it's been very fulfilling to me, the other is creating a sense of family.

But another lesson if we'd had more time would be, don't think you're don't mistake building a business or building a family, because, I'm still not quite over having the same core employees for five to 10 years up until about 2013. With this vision of all retiring together, and equity owners, and it was all happening from intern to VP, all these great people. They were just like the early 30s, peace out Portlandia moment. I'm sure I played a key role in in them deciding this isn't what I'm interested in anymore, I didn't maybe lead the right way, or I just got disconnected working on the business, perhaps. But whatever it was, we drifted apart, and it was soul-crushing to me to lose my family. Basically, I could say my kids grew up and went to college.

But I feel like they grew up in went to community college, they didn't know, I don't mean to insult Community College in any way. I mean, their potential was something greater than I think what they have achieved since they left Danville, I don't want to have to be the apex of everybody's career, I want to be the start. But I also want to keep people. So I think being a CEO is building a friendly, familiar like environment where you don't get you don't feel personally burned when people leave and grow up and move on, which is what I have personally been dealing with.

Gresham Harkless 14:02

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I think a lot of times when you have a certain vision, you want to make sure that vision becomes exactly as much as possible, exactly what you wanted to see, just like an artist has a vision for whatever painting they create, you want it to be exactly like that. So anytime. It's not necessarily in alignment, it definitely always hurts a little bit. But you know, I appreciate you for sharing that with us. I appreciate that definition. I appreciate, of course, your time even more. So I wanted to pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know and then of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things you guys are working on.

Kent Lewis 14:33

Yeah, so I would say my advice to entrepreneurs out there business owners, startups, and aspiring business owners have a thirst for learning never give up learning, try to read you know, maybe it's a business book a month or my ratio went from three business books to one personal to it's probably one business book two or three personal being, you know, getting closer and closer to 50 years old. I feel like I've been there and done that, but I still attend learning events every day. I'm flying out to Vegas. So to speak at a conference and actually want to attend sessions and see what I can learn.

So thirst for learning that commitment and passion to your practice your discipline to the people that helped you get there, your employees, your partners. I think that's important. EO Entrepreneur Organization has been very helpful for me, meeting people all over the world that say, share my same frustrations and challenges has been a lifesaver, I highly recommend checking out you know, and just, you know, we have a ton of resources on our website.

So if, if you're in a business where marketing is going to be a component, but it's not what you do for a living, or even if it is, at handle media inc.com.  We have an insight section full of articles, blog posts, webinars, ebooks, guides, case studies, you name it, anything you would need to build or refine your digital marketing, it's all free. Now we get paid for a living to do what we do in the digital dark arts but I believe in education. I've been an adjunct professor at a local university here for 19 years. We want to teach people to fish and the ones that prefer we do the fishing for them are great, but I enjoy helping others build a career or build their business by giving away a bunch of free assets.

Gresham Harkless 16:06

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Well, thank you so much, can I truly appreciate you appreciate all that you know about the giving that you've given? Not just today, but obviously in all the work that you do? Well, we will make sure to have all those links and information in the show notes so that everybody can follow up with you. But I again, appreciate you and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 16:22

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

Intro 0:02

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Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I Am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:29

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today Kent Lewis of Anvil Media Kit. It's awesome to have you on the show.

Kent Lewis 0:38

My pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless 0:40

No problem. Super excited to have you on and what I wanted to do was just read a little bit more about the kid so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. As the President and Founder of Anvil Media, Lewis oversees the strategic direction of the company with a focus on sales and marketing. Kent speaks internationally writes for industry publications like smartbrief, and has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University since 2000.

Since transitioned his career into digital marketing, I see many sakes, he's founded or co-founded four agencies in two organizations. He's been a top 40 under 40, marketer of the Year by the AMA, Oregon, and a top 100 Digital Marketing influencer by Buzzsumo in 2019. Outside of work, Kent enjoys consulting with startups and spending time with the family. Kent, are you ready to speak to the I Am CEO Community?

Kent Lewis 1:26

Let's do this.

Gresham Harkless 1:27

Awesome, awesome, awesome, what a kick everything off, I wanted to hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story. We'll let you get started with your business.

Kent Lewis 1:33

Alright. My business is Anvil Media. We're a digital marketing agency. I've been running Anvil since 2000. I started my career in digital in 1996, just months after Al Gore invented the internet, I was there doing digital stuff. And that's what I like to say at least. So actually, my entrepreneurial journey was getting fired a few times, within the nine agencies I've worked at some of which I've founded, some I've co-founded, I realized I wasn't very employable by old gray-haired dudes that didn't get what I did. Now I'm an old gray-haired dude, myself.

But I've been in search marketing, specifically for 23 years, and running teams for a little longer than that is about that long, I should say. I decided I better do it myself. Because I've had very high standards. I haven't co-founded an agency having partners with different values, I found that was a challenge. So I might as well just stick to my guns and do the anvil thing and do it as best I can.

Gresham Harkless 2:36

Nice, I definitely appreciate that. Of course me and a gray-haired dude, but you actually get it. So that's the important part, unlike those people that you were working for. So I wanted to hear a little bit more about Anvil Media. Can you take us through exactly how you work with? So what exactly do you do?

Kent Lewis 2:51

Yeah, so I have built teams of search engine marketers, we're doing you know, we were doing SEO before Google was a website or a search engine. We were we started doing paid as soon as it was a viable thing. We'd go to that overture, then Yahoo, then then Google. Now we specialize across all paid platforms. So social, and programmatic retargeting all of that that's probably 50-60% of what we do. We're probably 30 to 40% SEO, search engine optimization, that's my roots, and then just enough social to be dangerous. To round it out. I was doing social for the recording industry back in 98, telling kids not to rip music on Napster. Yet Pearl Jam publicly said it was cool. They were definitely saying this was not cool to the producers and the record labels.

So we were trying to tell make kids believe it was cool not to do that. But it took Steve Jobs and iTunes to make that happen, where kids are actually paying for music. So anyway, I've been doing social Bigfoot since before. These platforms we use today were a thing. So my goal with Anvil and with my journey was to make our services, digital marketing services, approachable, and affordable, to work with companies that knew who they were and knew where they wanted to go. That we would be the amplifier to help get them there. That's our specialization.

Gresham Harkless 4:14

Nice. I appreciate that. Especially that word amplifier, because a lot of times people have a certain expertise or thing that they do. They don't necessarily know how to get it out there and how to amplify their message so that everybody can hear exactly what it is that they do. So it's great to hear in that day and age, you also have those roots. But at the same time, you guys are still growing and developing kind of innovative ways for these businesses and organizations.

Kent Lewis 4:34

Yes, yeah. That's right. Summary.

Gresham Harkless 4:36

Nice, nice, nice. So now I want to ask you for what I call your secret sauce, it could be for you personally, or it could be for your organization, but what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you?

Kent Lewis 4:45

Well, I think I alluded earlier to having a business partner in the past that had different standards, and I feel like you shouldn't I guess we're a no half-assed shop. You know, I think it's easy to learn what we do and do it reasonably well, I forget which is it Verizon, that's a problem with with advertising these days, good enough, isn't good enough. That's kind of thing. So our reputation within the industry, with our clients is all about doing the best we can do.� The other part is, as an entrepreneur, I think what differentiates what we do, or could say my hybrid secret sauce plus handles us is caring about the business and who they are and moving the goalposts or whatever the metaphors you want to use, helping them win.

So whereas my team is really good at optimizing sites to rank and driving really targeted ads at qualified prospects for our clients, I'm really good at like, you need to talk to these people. Let me make an introduction. Have you thought about this and really, when at all possible using our clients' products, not just cashing cheques? So I think that that's a I've found having been at nine agencies is a bit of a differentiator for us.

Gresham Harkless 5:56

Yeah, absolutely. I think it kind of speaks to and definitely correct me if I'm wrong, kind of having that partnership type feel where it's not just somebody that is, like you said, cashing those cheques. But it's somebody that actually wants to see not just your business succeed today, but also sounds like yours in the future as well, too.

Kent Lewis 6:11

Yeah. I think one litmus test, is the way to evaluate that as we have a client right now, in the big home and ranch retail chain, that our contractor has been my client, five different companies in the last 20 years. So wherever we go, he goes.� There's another CEO in town, the most recently sold e-bags, and is now on to the next thing that has worked with me and hardly fought four times in the last 15 years. So the goal is to be that reliable MVP that they trust, and it's easier said than done. It does take a lot of work.

Gresham Harkless 6:45

Yeah, absolutely. But once you build that trust, you can definitely be the MVP, which is what everybody is looking for in their industry. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit.� I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an apple book or habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Kent Lewis 7:01

Well, I would say, so I'm OCD.� I do not, I like things organized. I'm also a high-output kind of guy. So I mean, a lot of people that know me ask if I ever sleep, they asked, you know, they assume that I am driving hard all the time. There's a lot of truth to that. But I'm really just painfully efficient. So one of my critical tools, having started in social media platforms was thing I've been on HootSuite for over a decade because I was already at one point managing about 12, Twitter handles.� I've heard that down to three, plus my LinkedIn personally, my team handles the Anvil-related social platforms. But every morning I check in on my HootSuite app and schedule ahead, content for the day, I check in weekly to look at trends and data across the different platforms.

So because social has been a key part of my personal marketing and branding, as a thought leader in the digital space, I rely on it. I'd say a metric there was Buzzsumo named me a top 100 Digital Marketing influencer for this year. that's after really, you know, probably 12 years of consistent updates.� I'm talking about Hourly updates on Twitter and LinkedIn for the last five to 10 years. But there's ideally there's some additional benefit there. I have a PR background. So it's all about staying in front of people. So the way that I've been able to do that in less than a half-hour day is definitely HootSuite.

Gresham Harkless 8:32

Nice, I definitely appreciate that. A lot of times the name of the game is found and visible,� allowing people to be aware. So you've been able to do that. I think another nugget that's within that is that it didn't take it wasn't an overnight success. You put in the five to 10 hours, as you said, I think a lot of times people forget that. You just put out one tweet, you just put out one update, and all of a sudden you are the influencer in your space. But that doesn't always happen like that.

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Kent Lewis 8:54

Right. Exactly, exactly. So that's been my key hack.

Gresham Harkless 8:57

Yes, I love that. So now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. This could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. Or if you could happen to be a time machine, what would you tell your younger business?

Kent Lewis 9:07

One of my most expensive lessons, that's a double-edged sword lesson is I've been a part of a group called Entrepreneur Organization, EO.� I don't know if you've heard of that. But there are 13,500 business owners worldwide who are a member of the 140-150 chapters. I've been in the Portland chapter since 2007. It's a group of peers who want to learn and grow together as entrepreneurs. it's a nonprofit. So I've got a ton of tools from there. But one of the early workshops we did was the concept of the E Myth Entrepreneurial myth that most entrepreneurs started with a discipline whether they love it, or they're just good at it, and then they fall into doing it on their own because clients or customers say why don't you just do it on your own.

So they go from being a graphic designer to owning an agency or from being a carpenter for somebody else to running their own carpentry business. They often are working in the business, not in the business. that makes a whole lot of sense for E Myth as a juggernaut consultancy. He had a set of books and all that is work on the business, not in the business. The problem was early on in my EO journey, 2007-08, when I started working I literally was like dropped any accounts I was on. I still continue to do sales, but basically, on the business. The downside and I've written about this is, if you're not working somewhat in the business, like 95 580 20, where you're at least 25 to 20% in the business, you forget why you're even in business, who your customers are, what they care about more and more importantly, the employees what they're going through.

So I'd lost touch with my clients, our services, and my team. In 13, I had to blow my company up and rebuild it as an agency that was modern and relevant, because I was making too much money to see the problems by the time had I been in the business, I probably would have saved key talent, kept the business relevant, not having to blow it up and lose half my employees in the process.

So I would say, work in the business just enough to stay attached to what it was originally created, as well as your employees, as well as your customers, your clients. That's, I think, an invaluable lesson, I wish I would have gone back and told myself, so I didn't kind of lose my way, being a business owner instead of a digital marketing professional who happens to run a business reasonably well. It didn't work out exactly how I thought and I think can all be done with a grain of salt. And a little perspective.

Gresham Harkless 11:24

Yeah, that makes so much sense.� I appreciate you are talking about that. Because I think a lot of times you weren't here, you know, work on the business, not in the business, but you never hear any percentages behind it. So you're always like you're either one or the other. But just like you said, if you're not necessarily in the business, at least a little bit, you don't have that idea of like culture, or what your clients are looking for maybe for thinking things. So you want to be able to have a little bit of both. So that'll help you work on, you know, on the business even better.

Kent Lewis 11:49

Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I appreciate that.

Gresham Harkless 11:51

No problem. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote-unquote, CEOs on the show. So Kent, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Kent Lewis 12:01

Being a CEO, to me means creating a special place where you and your employees or coworkers, your partners and clients, and the local community all benefit from the presence of that organization, and you as a leader, so I don't believe that Andrew would have been as successful automatically anywhere in the country, I think the Portland community has helped me and helped us be successful. So we give back quite a bit, a lot of charitable giving, and a lot of hours.� I think that's just one example of as a CEO, I get to control how this team deploys. So part of the reason I hired employees in the first place was so I could do more charitable work and nonprofit and pro bono and unkind work. And it's been very fulfilling to me, the other is creating a sense of family.

But another lesson if we'd had more time would be, don't think you're don't mistake building a business or building a family, because, I'm still not quite over having the same core employees for five to 10 years up until about 2013. With this vision of all retiring together, and equity owners, and it was all happening from intern to VP, all these great people. They were just like the early 30s, peace out Portlandia moment. I'm sure I played a key role in in them deciding this isn't what I'm interested in anymore, I didn't maybe lead the right way, or I just got disconnected working on the business, perhaps. But whatever it was, we drifted apart, and it was soul-crushing to me to lose my family. Basically, I could say my kids grew up and went to college.

But I feel like they grew up in went to community college, they didn't know, I don't mean to insult Community College in any way. I mean, their potential was something greater than I think what they have achieved since they left Danville, I don't want to have to be the apex of everybody's career, I want to be the start. But I also want to keep people. So I think being a CEO is building a friendly, familiar like environment where you don't get you don't feel personally burned when people leave and grow up and move on, which is what I have personally been dealing with.

Gresham Harkless 14:02

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I think a lot of times when you have a certain vision, you want to make sure that vision becomes exactly as much as possible, exactly what you wanted to see, just like an artist has a vision for whatever painting they create, you want it to be exactly like that. So anytime. It's not necessarily in alignment, it definitely always hurts a little bit. But you know, I appreciate you for sharing that with us. I appreciate that definition. I appreciate, of course, your time even more. So I wanted to pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know and then of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things you guys are working on.

Kent Lewis 14:33

Yeah, so I would say my advice to entrepreneurs out there business owners, startups, and aspiring business owners have a thirst for learning never give up learning, try to read you know, maybe it's a business book a month or my ratio went from three business books to one personal to it's probably one business book two or three personal being, you know, getting closer and closer to 50 years old. I feel like I've been there and done that, but I still attend learning events every day. I'm flying out to Vegas. So to speak at a conference and actually want to attend sessions and see what I can learn.

So thirst for learning that commitment and passion to your practice your discipline to the people that helped you get there, your employees, your partners. I think that's important. EO Entrepreneur Organization has been very helpful for me, meeting people all over the world that say, share my same frustrations and challenges has been a lifesaver, I highly recommend checking out you know, and just, you know, we have a ton of resources on our website.

So if, if you're in a business where marketing is going to be a component, but it's not what you do for a living, or even if it is, at handle media inc.com.� We have an insight section full of articles, blog posts, webinars, ebooks, guides, case studies, you name it, anything you would need to build or refine your digital marketing, it's all free. Now we get paid for a living to do what we do in the digital dark arts but I believe in education. I've been an adjunct professor at a local university here for 19 years. We want to teach people to fish and the ones that prefer we do the fishing for them are great, but I enjoy helping others build a career or build their business by giving away a bunch of free assets.

Gresham Harkless 16:06

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Well, thank you so much, can I truly appreciate you appreciate all that you know about the giving that you've given? Not just today, but obviously in all the work that you do? Well, we will make sure to have all those links and information in the show notes so that everybody can follow up with you. But I again, appreciate you and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 16:22

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

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Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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