IAM675- Writer Serves Individuals and Small Businesses

Podcast Interview with David Leonhardt

David Leonhardt runs THGM Writing services from rural Eastern Ontario. He spent many years in public relations and policy development learning how not to write. Now he leads a team of writers across North America, who serve primarily individuals and small businesses.

  • CEO Hack: The importance of clear communication
  • CEO Nugget: Think about whether you are up to it when starting any venture where you're the person responsible
  • CEO Defined: Taking responsibility for something and being in control



Check out one of our favourite CEO Hack’s Audible. Get your free audiobook and check out more of our favourite CEO Hacks HERE



The full transcription is only available to CBNation Library Members. Sign up today!


Please Note: Our team is using the AI CEO Hacks: Exemplary AI and to support our podcast transcription. While we know it's improving there may be some inaccuracies, we are updating and improving them. Please contact us if you notice any issues, you can also test out Exemplary AI here

[00:00:02.20] – Intro

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.

[00:00:30.19] – Gresham Harkless

Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have David Leonhart of THGM Writing Services. David, it's awesome to have you on the show.

[00:00:40.39] – David Leonhardt

It's awesome to be here, Gresh.

[00:00:42.70] – Gresham Harkless

Super excited to have you on. And before I jump in, I want to read a little bit more about David so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. David runs the Happy Guy Marketing, AKA THGM, writing services from rural Eastern Ontario. He spent many years in public relations and policy development learning how not to write. He now leads a team of writers across North America who serve primarily individuals and small businesses. David, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

[00:01:09.20] – David Leonhardt

Happy to do so.

[00:01:10.79] – Gresham Harkless

Let's do it. So I wanted to jump right in and hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story and what led you to get started with your business.

[00:01:18.70] – David Leonhardt

Everybody has their own story and mine had nothing to do with the business. Actually, it was it was, much more personal, and I was I was working as an employee. I was working out of home, so I was comfortable with working, you know, unsupervised, so to speak. Mhmm. But we're in downtown Toronto, which for those people who don't know, it's kind of like a small Manhattan, for Canada and, a little condo and had a home office, my wife, and, a new baby. There wasn't room really for all of us not to have any kind of lifestyle. So, we wanted to move out to the country, and that really spurred the concept of, well, maybe I should go into business for myself. Maybe I should start something up where, I don't have to wait for someone else, to commute into some office somewhere. And that was really the motivation, to be honest.

[00:02:10.80] – Gresham Harkless

And it is so funny that I think, we always have to leave room for our lives, our personal lives especially, like, we start not only do our businesses evolve and change, but I think we evolve and change as people. And I love, you know, that so many people and yourself included, obviously, you know, have a vision for how they want you want to live your life and you're able to kinda create the business that's right in alignment with it. Because I think sometimes we miss that aspect.

[00:02:35.50] – David Leonhardt

Work-life balance is always challenging. Right? No matter whether you're in business for yourself, whether you're working for someone else, you're, you're you're always going. So it's sometimes you just have to make big decisions too. And, whether you're already in business, whether you're thinking of doing a business, one thing that that I would definitely say needs to be thought of that sometimes is missing is okay if this succeeds, if, if I take this business where I want it to be, what's my life going to be like outside of the business? How long do I put everything on hold because I have to work twenty-four hours a day?

[00:03:10.40] – Gresham Harkless

And I think, you know, just speaking right in alignment with that, I think so many times we forget or we lose sight of, maybe is a better way to say it, of why we started our business. So even, you know, if you have that vision, which I think is a phenomenal exercise to understand exactly what that looks like, what success looks like because I think it could be different for everybody, but also making sure you keep your eye on that target as, you know, the business starts to grow and expand, and you start to grow and expand as well.

See also  IAM604- Trademark Attorney Helps Businesses Distinguish Themselves

[00:03:36.80] – David Leonhardt

Yep. Yep. Awesome. Sometimes the beast you create can hit run away when you want it to buy.

[00:03:43.40] – Gresham Harkless

Very, very true. So, I absolutely love as I told you, before we got started, you know, the name of your company, the Happy Guy Marketing, THGM, writing services. So could you take us through exactly what you're doing for your clients there and exactly, how that process works?

[00:04:01.00] – Gresham Harkless

we're writers. Mostly ghostwriting. We service individuals primarily and small businesses secondarily. And when I say small, I don't mean, under five hundred employees. I mean small. A lot of times, solo, solopreneurs, people with businesses of maybe under twenty-five employees, that kind of thing, but mostly individuals. And we'll do pretty much every kind of writing. I'd say the three big categories, are, screenplays, books, and web content. In books, primarily biography, autobiographies or biographies of a loved one often, and fiction. And to some degree, kind of those miscellaneous business, self-help, how-to, personal and business improvement, success, genre too. But nowhere near as much as there are a lot of people who have a story to tell, either their own story, or, some work of fiction, horror, sci-fi, whatever it may be, and, and they come to

[00:05:09.39] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. That makes so much sense. And I think that I think that the ability, you know, as we kinda talked about when you read your bio, the ability to write and to be able to communicate is something that's huge. And I think so many people are doing phenomenal things, or they have phenomenal kind of ideas or maybe concepts, but may not have the, you know, the talent that you and your team have and being able to kinda communicate

[00:05:31.69] – David Leonhardt

Yeah. And it's one of the things and there's a big misconception with, with fiction, for example, that, you know, you wanna go out by a boat by your favorite writer. But just because someone's an amazing storyteller doesn't mean that they're an amazing writer. And, many times, we have managed to put together a writer on our team with someone who has just this idea, plot developed, characters developed but isn't good at weaving words, and, boom, we're able to help them.

[00:06:04.60] – Gresham Harkless

Absolutely. No. I appreciate you making that, that that that, that that apparent so that we know and understand, like, the difference between the two. Is that you're absolutely right that we can sometimes mold those two things together, but they're not necessarily, always in line. Sometimes it's one or the other, and you being able to kinda provide that opportunity to be able to communicate that is huge. And so now I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce, and it could be for yourself or your business, but what do you feel kinda sets you apart and makes you unique?

[00:06:31.50] – David Leonhardt

there, let's go back to the name, the Happy Guy Marketing. From day one, we recognized that there's an intrinsic value in that name and that our goal really is to make our clients happy, to make them feel good working with us. There's a lot of people that can write. There's a lot of good writers out there. And when assembling our team, there's obviously, being able to write well was a key, element. But the second element and this played very strongly, as I moved down and realized how many writers good writers there were to choose from is, can this writer treat the client when they're working with them like a king or queen and make them feel just happy to have worked with us?

And that's that's really what has distinguished who's on our team and who's not, and that's really been our goal along the way. And everything flows from that such as, you know, flexibility in payment plans, flexibility in just about everything. We have very few rules, that simply are, you know, drop-dead rules that we cannot violate. Everything is custom and, geared toward the customer. I guess that's where the word custom customer comes from maybe. Mhmm. But that's that's to me, that's our secret sauce. And as a result, we do get a fair amount of referrals, and we do get a fair amount of repeat business. And that speaks to, I guess, the fact we've been able to, really translate, that happy guy, into client satisfaction.

See also  IAM038 - Nutrition Coach Overcame Depression & Eating Disorders to Help Others

[00:08:14.80] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. That makes so much sense. So, I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So that could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that

[00:08:25.39] – David Leonhardt

you more effective and efficient? The importance of clear communication. Mhmm. I've worked in organizations at, all different types of organizations in terms of structure, and I've worked, obviously with my own team, and I've had my share of clients. And there's an awful lot of what I would call, either fuzzy or sometimes even passive-aggressive communication where, somebody, will say what they expect, but leave out some information because they bloody well want the other person to just go do it and don't wanna be bothered with the details. And when, whether it's a supplier or an employee or a partner or whatever, comes back and wants the details, the person doesn't necessarily give it all because they're just irritated to have to deal with it again instead of thinking, okay. They didn't understand what I wanted. In order to get what I want, I better communicate clearly. And, I've seen that just that missing too often.

[00:09:28.10] – Gresham Harkless

a great example. And, now I would ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. So that could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. Or if you can happen to a time machine, what might you tell your younger business self?

[00:09:40.00] – David Leonhardt

know, running any organization is a lot of responsibility. Obviously, you're responsible for making a profit because otherwise it fails. You're responsible for your customers. And if you're customer-centric, you're gonna cost if you run a customer-centric organization, that usually is top of mind. As we talked about earlier, we're responsible also for our team members, whether they're, you know, employees or, or partners or whoever we're working with. We're responsible for our family, and when we're running a small business, where, your family time and your business time sometimes overlap and intersect and, mix and mingle, but maybe a little like oil and water, you can sometimes forget you're responsible for them too. There's a lot of responsibility and, before going into a business, it's worth thinking about whether you're up for that, and not everybody is. And some people become, up to that and some people don't. But it's always challenging even if even if you are. So it's definitely something to keep in mind before entering, any venture where you're the person responsible.

[00:10:56.00] – Gresham Harkless

And I think so many times, I always say, you know, even, you know, if you're working with clients, you wanna make sure that everything's kinda laid out on the table. You have those expectations. You have this understanding of what it is. And I think as you kinda spoke to, and said so eloquently, like, when you are running a business and thinking about running a business or actually doing it or, you know, could even be making a change within your business, It's important to kinda understand exactly what that is as much as possible because I think that a lot of, kind of frustration might come from not having those that clear understanding and expectation of what exactly we're doing.

[00:11:32.00] – David Leonhardt


[00:11:33.60] – Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Awesome. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, and I know you touched on this a little bit, but it's the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different CEOs on this show. So, David, what does being a CEO mean to you?

[00:11:47.79] – David Leonhardt

It means taking responsibility for something. It's it's your baby. And, that doesn't mean being a tyrant, obviously. In fact, quite the opposite because taking responsibility means that you're aware of everybody else's needs, both in order to do a good job and, of course, their own work-life balance, and everything. But to be a CEO really does mean, taking responsibility for something. You're building that you're building that beast. It can run away with you. But like any Bronco, you wanna bust it. I think I'm mixing too many metaphors here.

[00:12:24.79] – Gresham Harkless

You're fine.

[00:12:26.20] – David Leonhardt

You wanna make sure that it's that what you build isn't really a beast, that it's time to the extent that you're in control and you're able to take responsibility. Yeah.

[00:12:39.29] – Gresham Harkless

No. I love that, you know, kind of perspective, and I think so many times that, we or we kinda forget that we are supposed to be servant leaders. And I think understanding that even though you're the, quote, quote, CEO or whatever title, you know, someone might have, you know, being of service is really the most and best kind of form of leadership, I believe, because you start to put those people first. You start to put, you know, the clients first and the team members first, and then you start to really see some phenomenal things happen when people know that you care for them, and you will kinda make sure that their needs are fulfilled as well.

See also  IAM1831 - Reverend and Author Makes Impact by Leading People to Christ

[00:13:10.70] – David Leonhardt

Yeah. And it's not easy. Yeah. And there are many times and, you know, it's okay to fail sometimes. Just get back up. And, I mean, there's plenty of times when my work-life balance has gone all skewy in one direction or the other and looks more like, you know, the wibbly wobbly, timey wimey thing from Doctor Who. But, if you have a beacon, if you have kind of a, you have a recognition of the need to take responsibility for everything, then, it's okay to sometimes trip. We just gotta get back up and keep that, as one of our values.

[00:13:48.60] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. It's so important, as you said, to have that beacon to kinda understand, like, what success looks like or what you wanna try to accomplish, but understanding that we're all human. So we do have those times where things kinda ebb and flow and just be aware of that and not see it as final or as a failure unless we absolutely throw in the tower and quit.

[00:14:07.50] – David Leonhardt

You haven't lived until you failed and gotten back up.

[00:14:10.89] – Gresham Harkless

True. Very, very true. And, David, truly appreciate that perspective, and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is 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 over you and, find out about all the awesome things your team is working on.

[00:14:27.70] – David Leonhardt

You know, the only other thing that kind of jumped into my head as we were talking here, if, you know, we're talking to new entrepreneurs, people thinking about building a business. Give a lot of thought to what you wanna do based on maybe what your skill sets or knowledge is or what you think will make money. But as we've spoken a bit here, it's also important to think about how you wanna do it so that you're building a business that's going to reflect your values. Because at the end of the day, you're going to someday sell that business or somehow decommission it, and you're going to look back and you're gonna ask, what did I do with my life? And do I do something that I spend my life in a way that I'm gonna feel good about?

And maybe it's just that I'm, you know, a little older in my fifties, and maybe in my twenties, I might not be thinking of that, but it's something worth, worth thinking about. Will people have appreciated what I've done, or will it just have, you know, been basically a job, got me money? And, so, other than that, I just say I'd love it if people would come and if they have anything they need written, come to t h t m writers dot com. Fill in the yellow query form that floats on the page, and so we'll be happy to help.

[00:15:48.79] – Gresham Harkless

Thank you so much again, David. We will have the link and information in the show notes, but, I definitely, don't know. Some people have described me as an asshole as well. So I definitely think anytime, you begin within the mind, as they say, in the seven habits of highly effective people, that's not a bad way to run a business and to run a life on an even deeper level. So I definitely appreciate that reminder and that, you know, a reminder of the legacy and how important that is and how we can do that as well.

[00:16:15.39] – David Leonhardt

Souls are great people, Gresh. Thank you so much for having me on the show. It's been fun.

[00:16:20.50] – Gresham Harkless

Welcome. Have a great rest of the day.

[00:16:22.79] – Outro

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at 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 This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

[fusebox transcript]


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(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button