DMV CEOI AM CEO PODCAST

IAM749- Business Owner Runs Creative Marketing Agency

Podcast Interview with Brandt Ricca

Brandt Ricca hails from Tappahannock, VA via Gonzales, Louisiana, and has been in Washington D.C. for nine years. With a background in events and marketing, two years ago he launched Nora Lee by Brandt Ricca, Nora Lee being his grandmother who was a Louisiana socialite and business owner. Starting solely as an events company, Brandt has traveled the road most business owners do in the beginning and has constantly evolved (and has been noticed many times in the media for it), and it's led him to what now is a creative marketing agency, Nora Lee by Brandt Ricca.

  • CEO Hack: Practising daily habits
  • CEO Nugget: Just relax
  • CEO Defined: Getting to a point where you're in a relationship with another version of yourself

Website: http://www.noraleedc.com/

Instagram: @noraleedc
@sieffstudios


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Transcription

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[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.

[00:00:30.50] – Gresham Harkless

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gretch from the I AM CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Brent Rekha of Norley. Brent, it's awesome to have you on the show.

[00:00:39.10] – Brandt Ricca

Great to be here.

[00:00:40.10] – Gresham Harkless

No problem. Super excited to have you on. Before we jump in, I wanted to read a little bit more about Brent so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. Brent hails from the Topahannock, Virginia area via Gonzales, Louisiana, and he has been in Washington DC for nine years. With a background in events and marketing. Two years ago, he launched Norley by Brent Ricker. Norley was his grandmother, who was a Louisiana socialite and a business owner herself. Starting solely as an events company, Brent has traveled the road most business owners do in the beginning and has constantly evolved and has been noticed many times in the media for it. And it's led him to what is now a creative marketing agency, not led by Brent Ricca. Brent, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

[00:01:09.40] – Brandt Ricca

Of course. Awesome. Let's do it.

[00:01:11.10] – Gresham Harkless

So to kick everything off, I wanted to kind of rewind the clock a little bit, and hear a little bit more about what led you to get started with your business and all the awesome things that you're doing.

[00:01:29.40] – Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely. So like you said, I've been in DC for nine years, and I moved here for a a job. And over the course of working there, I made a bunch of connections in the community. I was a chair for the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. I was a chair for the Seventeenth Street Festival, which then led to all these connections in the events world. And then from there, I formed the Allison Gala, four years ago, which is a memory of a family friend, Allison Ryan, who passed the triple-negative breast cancer at the age of twenty-eight. Mhmm. So I created the gala, and I didn't know what I was doing. I was very transparent with everyone who came on board that first year to help me with that.

This is my first time building an event from the ground up. And there were a lot of mistakes and a lot of, failing fast and learning from those mistakes. And then it was covered, in the media the first year by Washingtonian. And then the second year and that was just this passion project on the side while working full time. Then second year, I decided to create my own events company because I was always doing events in some capacity or the other in a volunteer endeavor. And so I gave you Norley at the second annual Allison Gala, which was also covered again by the media that year as well. And then here we are today, which is kind of led down this crazy path of marketing and all the craziness that comes with being creative.

[00:02:56.59] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, definitely, obviously, you know, sorry to hear all that, but I appreciate you, and I respect you for being, like, that true entrepreneurial person that takes something, sometimes the difficulties that happen in life, but can kind of make it into something that isn't remembered. So somebody like that and to be able to kinda create a whole business around it as well too. So it's awesome.

[00:03:15.59] – Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely. And the Allison Gala is, not gonna be happening this year with everything that's been going on, but, they'll be in his fourth year next year. Awesome. And, this past year was at the Four Seasons, and that was covered by Modern Industry magazine. So next year will be happening again in September, so year four.

[00:03:32.19] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, no. Definitely. Everybody's looking forward to that. And I know with the events company, you mentioned that, you know, you you went through a lot of, like, ups and downs in the very beginning trying to figure out what to do and not to do. And I'm sure when people come to the events, they don't see all the things that brought up into being that. So could you take us through a little bit more on, exactly, like, how you serve your clients, exactly what you do, and then how exactly some of those behind-the-scenes things come to fruition?

[00:03:55.30] – Brandt Ricca

Yeah. So when the events company started, it was strictly just events. And the shtick was I would create my own events that were a Norley-produced event. So I have full creative control over what happened there and ticketed to the public, and I did and it always benefited some form of a nonprofit. And then I was also hired to do events by clients. So whether it be a holiday party or I did a wedding, for Eric Fanning, the first openly gay secretary of the army that was my first event when I started. Nice. And, yes. Was a huge learning curve and, kind of adjusting to the fast pace of DC with which is, you know, events. But, yeah. So I enjoyed more so the events I created myself. Just because those were events where I had full control over everything, and but it was, like I said, a lot of work, especially because they were always benefiting a nonprofit, having to raise sponsorships, you know, to pay for the services from vendors and then just make sure ticket sales were also, hitting expected goals.

[00:04:54.69] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. That makes so much sense. And I think, yeah, like I said, you know, so many times you don't see everything that it takes to get to that event. Right. Yeah. And kind of that process in in which it it takes. But, I think it's kind of a reminder, at least to me, and I feel like everybody who's listening to this as well too, is that a lot of times you may not have or know all the steps that it takes to get to where you wanna be, but it's kudos to you and to every entrepreneur that really does phenomenal things to be able to just kinda take those steps and go forward.

[00:05:17.60] – Brandt Ricca

Yeah. And I was very you can ask everyone who I worked with right in the beginning. I told all of them. I said, I don't know what what what what I'm doing. So, like, just say, if you have any advice or if I was speaking to, say, a caterer or another vendor that I've never worked with before, I felt like what went in my favor was being just very transparent about this is my first time doing this. Right. So bear with me while I figure it out.

[00:05:38.80] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. And I think that's, again, a kind of a great reminder because I don't think that so many times being an entrepreneur and starting something, you kinda have to have a balance between having the ego and wanting to start something. Believe me, you can create something great. But at the same time, understanding to have that humility and to be able to say, hey. This may be my first time or, hey. I'm building this. So, you know, bear with me. So I think that having that balance definitely helps out as far as being.

[00:05:59.30] – Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely.

[00:06:00.69] – Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So I wanted to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. This could be for yourself or your business or a combination of both, but what do you feel kinda sets you apart and makes you unique? As a business or as an individual? A little bit of both.

[00:06:13.19] – Brandt Ricca

Okay. Well, I will say, as a business, I feel like this compares to my personal life. I'm always trying to, better myself in terms of evolving just because we as people change, like, who we are at I'm thirty-three. It's not who I was at thirty. I feel like every year is just different. So I look as I've grown up and changed personally, I kinda carry that over to my professional life as well because as people change who are business owners, their needs change. Right. So you kinda have to keep up with that and roll with the punches so to speak.

[00:06:46.80] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. It's something that we come to kinda forget that we evolve as people. I'm thirty-three as well too, so thank god I'm not who I was at thirty or at twenty-five or so on and making the same kind of mistakes. But I think it's it's beautiful to kinda see that and kinda make sure you focus on that. But I think that also our businesses evolve too and kinda respecting that and as that evolves and changes.

[00:07:04.80] – Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely. And I've, you know, I heard not too long ago that the secret to success is to, just be open to where life takes you rather than go against it. So because success is a process.

[00:07:16.80] – Gresham Harkless

Right.

[00:07:17.39] – Brandt Ricca

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So it's kinda just kind of maintaining that mentality. Right? Because when you start a business like I did for sure, and as most likely every single business owner has as well, you have this idea in your head of what it's going to be. And it's almost like I compare it to, like, a new apartment sometimes. Like, you move into your apartment, your apartment's not how you want it till maybe, like, six months later or, like, a year later in terms of getting to know the space. And you're kind of having to know yourself while you're in this business and evolve with kinda where the business takes you because where Norley stands today is not at all what I thought it would be, and I wouldn't have thought I would ever be doing this in terms of a creative marketing agency.

[00:07:55.80] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. And I think that it speaks to a lot of the evolution process as we talked about ourselves as individuals without the business and being open to that evolution. Because I think so many times, if you're hard pressed, this is what I'm gonna do, there's a time and place for that to be able to kinda push through. But I think also understanding, like, I've always heard, like, the true sign of power is not the rock, It's water. Because water is formless. It can move around and do all those things. So it kinda seems like that's what you've had as your experience with the business.

[00:08:22.80] – Brandt Ricca

Yes. Definitely. It's definitely been a gravel road. A Fritz Morley.

[00:08:29.30] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. And I know you mentioned that kind of creative agency as well too. Could you speak more to that for people who may not be familiar with exactly what that is and what that looks like?

[00:08:37.20] – Brandt Ricca

Yeah. So, when I started the company, I started it full-time in September twenty eighteen. In December twenty eighteen, I launched a tab on the Norley website called Norley NDC. Mhmm. And it was a blog. Mhmm. Every month, I would feature someone that I was working with or maybe a client who was like a nonprofit that maybe they wanted to garner awareness. And I had a journalist who wrote for the blog, so she would interview these people. And we just and photographers went along with her. And the photos were just very, like, stock photos, like, just, you know, pose, almost like headshot type. Yeah. And I did that for a few months and then so that was December twenty eighteen. In April twenty nineteen, I got super bored with just the photography. Yeah. And so I was gonna be featuring a colleague of mine who draws renderings for interior designers.

Alright. And he was also, going to be, drawing a picture of an event I was gonna do to kind of show guests what the event would look like. And so I really want to kind of get creative with his photo shoot. So we met at the Carnegie Institute for Science and, the vibe and theme were running on creativity. And he was behind me jumping back and forth, I think, fifty times. And we got an amazing shot to where the Carnegie actually messaged our Instagrams because they were watching from the security camera and, complimented Matt on his mad hops. They are not. So from that photo shoot though, I had people coming up to me at the gym in the grocery store. Literally on DuPont Circle, someone stopped me. And so then I started doing that every month, the blog. I would do it for whoever I was featuring, we would get creative about it and have it tailored to them, and who they were.

And then after getting more and more attention for these, I was like, I actually turned this into a service for the company. So then I started, whenever media would cover an event I was doing, I actually would style my photo shoots and then submit those to the magazine rather than just giving them, stock photos of previous years or things like that. So photo shoots became a thing that became a passion I didn't know that I had. Right. And I really throw myself into them. So for example, I Norley's is like classic styles. Mhmm. So I'm constantly, like, reading, like, Vintage Life magazines and old bones and, old movies. I feel like I heard once and it was from, David Bowie, and his quote was that, you know, if you find yourself lost or stuck, just go forget about it and just go immerse yourself in the culture.

Go see a live jazz band. Go to another concert. Go to a great restaurant. Just live your life. Yeah. And then just wait to be inspired. And so from that hearing that years ago, I remember I was in an Uber when I heard that. Yeah. And, so I've kinda taken that with these photo shoots. So whenever I'm stuck on something, I just kinda go get lost somewhere, and you gotta do some of those random things. Yeah. So photo shoots so then clients start taking note of this, and then, businesses hired me on retainer to do their marketing. So to create content for their brand, which are these photoshoots, and then to help them with the social media execution on top of doing their events for them, like their, you know, New Year's Eve gala or their holiday party or their company anniversary party.

And then COVID, I dropped the social media execution service just because social media is a lot of work. Admittedly, not my forte. So, and, also dropped the events. So, I did lose all my clients like most business owners did when COVID happened. Mhmm. But then I think seven days, I lost everyone. Oh, wow. But those were mainly, so tell us from our clients, doctor's offices, law firms, real estate brokerages, which I like because I feel like I'm working all over the spectrum with different people. Yeah. So then during COVID, I used the time, like most business owners did, to kind of revisit my plan and kind of figure out what I enjoyed about Norley, and what did I not enjoy about the company. And while events are what got a lot of the notoriety and what launched the company, it just wasn't where my heart was.

Like you said, it's a lot of work. Mhmm. Financially, also, it was not a huge ROI Okay. Because you have to pay vendors and things like that. And, I realized that photo shoots were really where my passion was. And I remember a colleague of mine telling me that I was crazy, And she was like, I don't know anyone who makes a living off of just doing photo shoots, like other than photographers, but like I'm not a photographer. Right. And so I was like, well, I feel like if I crash and burn, I'll crash and burn. Right. And so I made that shift during quarantine. And then during quarantine, I had a bunch of new clients reach out to me. I didn't even there was no, like, big fish I was going after. And so since then, I've made the shift. I feel like, the way everything just kind of evolves so seamlessly just means I'm on the right path with it all.

[00:13:38.89] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. I wanted to switch gears a little bit Yeah. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

[00:13:49.50] – Brandt Ricca

So I actually, practice daily habits, which is kind of a common denominator that you'll find most business owners or, entrepreneurs do is to have consistent daily for me, it's quite structured. Right. Especially the marketing agency, you know, you can be all over the place one day. I'm sure you as well. So for me, I need daily habits.

[00:14:10.39] – Gresham Harkless

Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. So this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be a piece of marketing advice you would tell a client, or if you hopped into a time machine, you would tell your younger business self.

[00:14:21.60] – Brandt Ricca

I would tell myself to just relax.

[00:14:24.50] – Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So now I wanna ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So, Brad, what does being a CEO mean to you?

[00:14:34.70] – Brandt Ricca

I think being a CEO just means that you're chasing a dream. Mhmm. And trying to, you know, get to that point that we all wanna get to you, but it's not I feel like we can see it as almost like being in a relationship with yourself, which we all obviously should be. But it's like being in a relationship with, like, another version of yourself to a certain point and, I don't think that there's anything about getting it like, a certain point and, like, touring that up. I think when you get to maybe another level of that version of yourself, it's just kind of to keep evolving with it because I did most certainly personally myself this last year of the business have learned so much about myself in terms of because there's gonna be things you don't like about being a CDO. Like, I am not great at managing people in terms I wanted I want everyone to like me, and I wanna be everyone's best friend. And you can't do that all the time.

[00:15:26.50] – Gresham Harkless

Truly appreciate that definition. Appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is patch it on the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know, and, of course, how best they can find, everything you're doing and get a hold of you.

[00:15:38.20] – Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely. So you can find us on social at noralee d c, n o r a l e e d c. Our website is currently under construction right now. So you can find us a lot on social and kind of with all of our clients all over the Internet right now. And you can look for us, in Modern Laundry Washingtonian and, occasionally Middleburg Life magazine. And fingers crossed, you eventually see in the post. There we go. That's my goal. this year, the post.

[00:16:03.60] – Gresham Harkless

I got them crossed too as well too, and we'll speak it into existence. But I truly appreciate that, Brandon, all the awesome things you're doing. We will have the links and information that show notes as well. But, definitely, we're all works in progress, and we're all trying to get better. So I thank you I thank you for reminding us of how we take those steps to do that and do that in an authentic and true way. So truly appreciate you, my friend, and hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

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[00:16:22.60] – Outro

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.

Title: Transcript - Fri, 03 May 2024 08:37:25 GMT

Date: Fri, 03 May 2024 08:37:25 GMT, Duration: [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.

[00:00:30.50] - Gresham Harkless

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gretch from the I AM CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Brent Rekha of Norley. Brent, it's awesome to have you on the show.

[00:00:39.10] - Brandt Ricca

Great to be here.

[00:00:40.10] - Gresham Harkless

No problem. Super excited to have you on. Before we jump in, I wanted to read a little bit more about Brent so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. Brent hails from the Topahannock, Virginia area via Gonzales, Louisiana, and he has been in Washington DC for nine years. With a background in events and marketing. Two years ago, he launched Norley by Brent Ricker. Norley was his grandmother, who was a Louisiana socialite and a business owner herself. Starting solely as an events company, Brent has traveled the road most business owners do in the beginning and has constantly evolved and has been noticed many times in the media for it. And it's led him to what is now a creative marketing agency, not led by Brent Ricca. Brent, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[00:01:09.40] - Brandt Ricca

Of course. Awesome. Let's do it.

[00:01:11.10] - Gresham Harkless

So to kick everything off, I wanted to kind of rewind the clock a little bit, and hear a little bit more about what led you to get started with your business and all the awesome things that you're doing.

[00:01:29.40] - Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely. So like you said, I've been in DC for nine years, and I moved here for a a job. And over the course of working there, I made a bunch of connections in the community. I was a chair for the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. I was a chair for the Seventeenth Street Festival, which then led to all these connections in the events world. And then from there, I formed the Allison Gala, four years ago, which is a memory of a family friend, Allison Ryan, who passed the triple-negative breast cancer at the age of twenty-eight. Mhmm. So I created the gala, and I didn't know what I was doing. I was very transparent with everyone who came on board that first year to help me with that.

This is my first time building an event from the ground up. And there were a lot of mistakes and a lot of, failing fast and learning from those mistakes. And then it was covered, in the media the first year by Washingtonian. And then the second year and that was just this passion project on the side while working full time. Then second year, I decided to create my own events company because I was always doing events in some capacity or the other in a volunteer endeavor. And so I gave you Norley at the second annual Allison Gala, which was also covered again by the media that year as well. And then here we are today, which is kind of led down this crazy path of marketing and all the craziness that comes with being creative.

[00:02:56.59] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, definitely, obviously, you know, sorry to hear all that, but I appreciate you, and I respect you for being, like, that true entrepreneurial person that takes something, sometimes the difficulties that happen in life, but can kind of make it into something that isn't remembered. So somebody like that and to be able to kinda create a whole business around it as well too. So it's awesome.

[00:03:15.59] - Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely. And the Allison Gala is, not gonna be happening this year with everything that's been going on, but, they'll be in his fourth year next year. Awesome. And, this past year was at the Four Seasons, and that was covered by Modern Industry magazine. So next year will be happening again in September, so year four.

[00:03:32.19] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, no. Definitely. Everybody's looking forward to that. And I know with the events company, you mentioned that, you know, you you went through a lot of, like, ups and downs in the very beginning trying to figure out what to do and not to do. And I'm sure when people come to the events, they don't see all the things that brought up into being that. So could you take us through a little bit more on, exactly, like, how you serve your clients, exactly what you do, and then how exactly some of those behind-the-scenes things come to fruition?

[00:03:55.30] - Brandt Ricca

Yeah. So when the events company started, it was strictly just events. And the shtick was I would create my own events that were a Norley-produced event. So I have full creative control over what happened there and ticketed to the public, and I did and it always benefited some form of a nonprofit. And then I was also hired to do events by clients. So whether it be a holiday party or I did a wedding, for Eric Fanning, the first openly gay secretary of the army that was my first event when I started. Nice. And, yes. Was a huge learning curve and, kind of adjusting to the fast pace of DC with which is, you know, events. But, yeah. So I enjoyed more so the events I created myself Mhmm. Just because those were events where I had full control over everything, and but it was, like I said, a lot of work, especially because they were always benefiting a nonprofit, having to raise sponsorships, you know, to pay for the services from vendors and then just make sure ticket sales were also, hitting expected goals.

[00:04:54.69] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. That makes so much sense. And I think, yeah, like I said, you know, so many times you don't see everything that it takes to get to that event. Right. Yeah. And kind of that process in in which it it takes. But, I think it's kind of a reminder, at least to me, and I feel like everybody who's listening to this as well too, is that a lot of times you may not have or know all the steps that it takes to get to where you wanna be, but it's kudos to you and to every entrepreneur that really does phenomenal things to be able to just kinda take those steps and go forward. Yeah.

[00:05:17.60] - Brandt Ricca

And I was very you can ask everyone who I worked with right in the beginning. I told all of them. I said, I don't know what what what what I'm doing. So, like, just say, if you have any advice or if I was speaking to, say, a caterer or another vendor that I've never worked with before, I felt like what went in my favor was being just very transparent about this is my first time doing this. Right. So bear with me while I figure it out.

[00:05:38.80] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. And I think that's, again, a kind of a great reminder because I don't think that so many times being an entrepreneur and starting something, you kinda have to have a balance between having the ego and wanting to start something. Believe me, you can create something great. But at the same time, understanding to have that humility and to be able to say, hey. This may be my first time or, hey. I'm building this. So, you know, bear with me. So I think that having that balance definitely helps out as far as being.

[00:05:59.30] - Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely.

[00:06:00.69] - Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So I wanted to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. This could be for yourself or your business or a combination of both, but what do you feel kinda sets you apart and makes you unique? As a business or as an individual? A little bit of both.

[00:06:13.19] - Brandt Ricca

Okay. Well, I will say, as a business, I feel like this compares to my personal life. I'm always trying to, better myself in terms of evolving just because we as people change, like, who we are at I'm thirty-three. It's not who I was at thirty. I feel like every year is just different. So I look as I've grown up and changed personally, I kinda carry that over to my professional life as well because as people change who are business owners, their needs change. Right. So you kinda have to keep up with that and roll with the punches so to speak.

[00:06:46.80] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. It's something that we come to kinda forget that we evolve as people. I'm thirty-three as well too, so thank god I'm not who I was at thirty or at twenty-five or so on and making the same kind of mistakes. But I think it's it's beautiful to kinda see that and kinda make sure you focus on that. But I think that also our businesses evolve too and kinda respecting that and as that evolves and changes.

[00:07:04.80] - Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely. And I've, you know, I heard not too long ago that the secret to success is to, just be open to where life takes you rather than go against it. So because success is a process.

[00:07:16.80] - Gresham Harkless

Right. 

[00:07:17.39] - Brandt Ricca

So it's kinda just kind of maintaining that mentality. Right? Because when you start a business like I did for sure, and as most likely every single business owner has as well, you have this idea in your head of what it's going to be. And it's almost like I compare it to, like, a new apartment sometimes. Like, you move into your apartment, your apartment's not how you want it till maybe, like, six months later or, like, a year later in terms of getting to know the space. And you're kind of having to know yourself while you're in this business and evolve with kinda where the business takes you because where Norley stands today is not at all what I thought it would be, and I wouldn't have thought I would ever be doing this in terms of a creative marketing agency. 

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[00:07:55.80] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. And I think that it speaks to a lot of the evolution process as we talked about ourselves as individuals without the business and being open to that evolution. Because I think so many times, if you're hard pressed, this is what I'm gonna do, there's a time and place for that to be able to kinda push through. But I think also understanding, like, I've always heard, like, the true sign of power is not the rock, It's water. Because water is formless. It can move around and do all those things. So it kinda seems like that's what you've had as your experience with the business.

[00:08:22.80] - Brandt Ricca

Yes. Definitely. It's definitely been a gravel road. Yeah. Yeah. A Fritz Morley. So yeah.

[00:08:29.30] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. And I know you mentioned that kind of creative agency as well too. Could you speak more to that for people who may not be familiar with exactly what that is and what that looks like?

[00:08:37.20] - Brandt Ricca

Yeah. So, when I started the company, I started it full-time in September twenty eighteen. In December twenty eighteen, I launched a tab on the Norley website called Norley NDC. Mhmm. And it was a blog. Mhmm. Every month, I would feature someone that I was working with or maybe a client who was like a nonprofit that maybe they wanted to garner awareness. And I had a journalist who wrote for the blog, so she would interview these people. And we just and photographers went along with her. And the photos were just very, like, stock photos, like, just, you know, pose, almost like headshot type. Yeah. And I did that for a few months and then so that was December twenty eighteen. In April twenty nineteen, I got super bored with just the photography. Yeah. And so I was gonna be featuring a colleague of mine who draws renderings for interior designers.

Alright. And he was also, going to be, drawing a picture of an event I was gonna do to kind of show guests what the event would look like. And so I really want to kind of get creative with his photo shoot. So we met at the Carnegie Institute for Science and, the vibe and theme were running on creativity. And he was behind me jumping back and forth, I think, fifty times. And we got an amazing shot to where the Carnegie actually messaged our Instagrams because they were watching from the security camera and, complimented Matt on his mad hops. They are not. So from that photo shoot though, I had people coming up to me at the gym in the grocery store. Literally on DuPont Circle, someone stopped me. And so then I started doing that every month, the blog. I would do it for whoever I was featuring, we would get creative about it and have it tailored to them, and who they were.

And then after getting more and more attention for these, I was like, I actually turned this into a service for the company. So then I started, whenever media would cover an event I was doing, I actually would style my photo shoots and then submit those to the magazine rather than just giving them, stock photos of previous years or things like that. So photo shoots became a thing that became a passion I didn't know that I had. Right. And I really throw myself into them. So for example, I Norley's is like classic styles. Mhmm. So I'm constantly, like, reading, like, Vintage Life magazines and old bones and, old movies. I feel like I heard once and it was from, David Bowie, and his quote was that, you know, if you find yourself lost or stuck, just go forget about it and just go immerse yourself in the culture.

Go see a live jazz band. Go to another concert. Go to a great restaurant. Just live your life. Yeah. And then just wait to be inspired. And so from that hearing that years ago, I remember I was in an Uber when I heard that. Yeah. And, so I've kinda taken that with these photo shoots. So whenever I'm stuck on something, I just kinda go get lost somewhere, and you gotta do some of those random things. Yeah. So photo shoots so then clients start taking note of this, and then, businesses hired me on retainer to do their marketing. So to create content for their brand, which are these photoshoots, and then to help them with the social media execution on top of doing their events for them, like their, you know, New Year's Eve gala or their holiday party or their company anniversary party.

And then COVID, I dropped the social media execution service just because social media is a lot of work. Admittedly, not my forte. So, and, also dropped the events. So, I did lose all my clients like most business owners did when COVID happened. Mhmm. But then I think seven days, I lost everyone. Oh, wow. But those were mainly, so tell us from our clients, doctor's offices, law firms, real estate brokerages, which I like because I feel like I'm working all over the spectrum with different people. Yeah. So then during COVID, I used the time, like most business owners did, to kind of revisit my plan and kind of figure out what I enjoyed about Norley, and what did I not enjoy about the company. And while events are what got a lot of the notoriety and what launched the company, it just wasn't where my heart was.

Like you said, it's a lot of work. Mhmm. Financially, also, it was not a huge ROI Okay. Because you have to pay vendors and things like that. And, I realized that photo shoots were really where my passion was. And I remember a colleague of mine telling me that I was crazy, And she was like, I don't know anyone who makes a living off of just doing photo shoots, like other than photographers, but like I'm not a photographer. Right. And so I was like, well, I feel like if I crash and burn, I'll crash and burn. Right. And so I made that shift during quarantine. And then during quarantine, I had a bunch of new clients reach out to me. I didn't even there was no, like, big fish I was going after. And so since then, I've made the shift. I feel like, the way everything just kind of evolves so seamlessly just means I'm on the right path with it all.

[00:13:38.89] - Gresham Harkless

Yeah. I wanted to switch gears a little bit Yeah. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

[00:13:49.50] - Brandt Ricca

So I actually, practice daily habits, which is kind of a common denominator that you'll find most business owners or, entrepreneurs do is to have consistent daily for me, it's quite structured. Right. Especially the marketing agency, you know, you can be all over the place one day. I'm sure you as well. So for me, I need daily habits.

[00:14:10.39] - Gresham Harkless

Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. So this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be a piece of marketing advice you would tell a client, or if you hopped into a time machine, you would tell your younger business self.

[00:14:21.60] - Brandt Ricca

I would tell myself to just relax.

[00:14:24.50] - Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So now I wanna ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So, Brad, what does being a CEO mean to you?

[00:14:34.70] - Brandt Ricca

I think being a CEO just means that you're chasing a dream. Mhmm. And trying to, you know, get to that point that we all wanna get to you, but it's not I feel like we can see it as almost like being in a relationship with yourself, which we all obviously should be. But it's like being in a relationship with, like, another version of yourself to a certain point and, I don't think that there's anything about getting it like, a certain point and, like, touring that up. I think when you get to maybe another level of that version of yourself, it's just kind of to keep evolving with it because I did most certainly personally myself this last year of the business have learned so much about myself in terms of because there's gonna be things you don't like about being a CDO. Like, I am not great at managing people in terms I wanted I want everyone to like me, and I wanna be everyone's best friend. And you can't do that all the time.

[00:15:26.50] - Gresham Harkless

Truly appreciate that definition. Appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is patch it on the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know, and, of course, how best they can find, everything you're doing and get a hold of you.

[00:15:38.20] - Brandt Ricca

Yeah. Definitely. So you can find us on social at noralee d c, n o r a l e e d c. Our website is currently under construction right now. So you can find us a lot on social and kind of with all of our clients all over the Internet right now. And you can look for us, in Modern Laundry Washingtonian and, occasionally Middleburg Life magazine. And fingers crossed, you eventually see in the post. There we go. That's my goal. this year, the post.

[00:16:03.60] - Gresham Harkless

 I got them crossed too as well too, and we'll speak it into existence. But I truly appreciate that, Brandon, all the awesome things you're doing. We will have the links and information that show notes as well. But, definitely, we're all works in progress, and we're all trying to get better. So I thank you I thank you for reminding us of how we take those steps to do that and do that in an authentic and true way. So truly appreciate you, my friend, and hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

[00:16:22.60] - Outro

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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