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IAM1798 – CEO of Award Winning Agency Serves Both Startups and Global Brands

Podcast Interview with Laurel Mintz

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, host Gresham Harkless Jr. interviews Laurel Mintz, the CEO and founder of Elevate My Brand, an award-winning marketing agency that serves both startups and blue-chip global brands. Laurel shares her journey in entrepreneurship, including taking over her dad's company at the age of 26 and eventually starting her own digital marketing company that has worked with over 250 brands.

She also discusses the services provided by Elevate My Brand, including web content, social advertising creative, launch events, trade shows, conferences, and national field marketing.

Additionally, Laurel shares her “secret sauce” of being inspired by creatives but truly driven by data, and the importance of ensuring that marketing lands on different channels with proper messaging, positioning, and targeting. She also provides practical tips and advice for entrepreneurs, including the importance of building relationships and not letting anyone intimidate you.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights and inspiration for anyone looking to start or grow a successful marketing agency that serves both startups and global brands.

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Laurel Mintz Teaser 00:00

And what I think really differentiates us as an agency is that we consider ourselves to be what we call center-brained, which means we are really inspired by creativity, but truly driven by data.

Intro 00:13

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 00:41

Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit over 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on the visibility game a.k.a. Marketing, Advertising, PR, and Sales. I often say the name of the game is being found in these tools will help you to do that. We have heard the philosophical question, if the tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? If there's a really, really great product or service and no one knows about it, how great is it? Really? What impact does it ultimately make? This is where we will go into this month, looking at visibility, branding, marketing, public relations, sales, being the lifeblood of businesses, building media companies, and so much more.

This is probably one of the most exciting and probably the most excruciating topics, but we hope this month to demystify and maybe even vanquish the fear and help and arm you with the tools to be able to increase your visibility. So buckle up and sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Laurel Mintz of Elevate My Brand. Laurel, it's great to have you on the show.

Laurel Mintz 02:09

Thank you so much for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:11

Yes, super excited to have you on. Before we jump into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Laurel so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing.

Laurel is the CEO and founder of the award-winning marketing agency Elevate My Brand. Laurel has created an agency family serving both startups and blue-chip global brands like Facebook, Verizon Digital Media Group, Paw Patrol, and Zendesk. Laurel's favorite saying is F. I. O. G. I. D. Figure it out, get it done and that's exactly what brought the agency top talent and accolades since 2009.

Laurel, super excited to have you on the show. I think you said this is an episode like number 3000 that you've been on the podcast. So you're doing so many awesome things. Everybody's clamoring to speak with you. So are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Laurel Mintz 02:53

I was born ready.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:55

Awesome. Let's do it then. So to kick everything off. I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit and hear a little bit more on how you got started what I call your CEO story.

Laurel Mintz 03:02

Yeah. So my CEO story is interesting. I always thought I was going to be a lawyer. So I went to law school, hated it, and ended up going and getting my MBA. At the same time, I still went past the bar and when you're a Jewish girl growing up in LA, you're a doctor or a lawyer. Those are really your only two options. And so I was practicing and my dad got sick. He's healthy now. So it's a story with a happy ending.

But basically at 26, I had to step in and run his company, which was the West Coast company for this large organization called Bassett Furniture. So at 26, I had a staff of 60, I was doing all the marketing, merchandising, buying, training, and sales. I was the youngest person in the company, not to mention the youngest woman. I had total imposter syndrome. I did not know what the heck I was doing, but I figured it out.

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Gresham Harkless 03:49


Laurel Mintz 03:49

When he stepped back in, I went out and started the agency, cause I knew that was definitely not my world and neither was being a lawyer. So, now 13 years and over 250 brands later.

Gresham Harkless 04:00

Nice. I definitely appreciate you sharing that and hearing, it sounds like where the seeds of the F.I.O.G.I.D. was planted, to make sure I get that. It sounded like when you were thrown into those opportunities, you just took the bull by reign, so to speak, and decided that you could make a way sometimes out of no way.

Laurel Mintz 04:13

Yeah, you have to. And luckily, the team that I was running, they knew that I wasn't trying to come in and be some hot shit kid. I was there to make sure my family could survive and make sure the business could survive during that really challenging time. So for that, I was really grateful.

But it was certainly a school of hard knocks thrown to the fire. But I do think it's what has allowed me to pivot quickly, and really be a problem-solving solution-oriented leader. I think my team really appreciates that.

Gresham Harkless 04:39

Yeah. I imagine probably the brands that you represent as well too. Because I think, especially during these times, there are so many pivots and changes and so much kind of uncertainty about what tomorrow brings. I feel like you have to have a lot of those integral skills in order to succeed in the future. And of course, like sometimes reinvent yourself in order for that to happen.

Laurel Mintz 04:55

Yeah, absolutely.

Gresham Harkless 04:56

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So I know you touched a little bit upon where you landed and how you work with your clients. Could you drill down a little bit more? Tell us a little bit more on how you work with your clients through Elevate My Brand.

Laurel Mintz 05:06

Sure. So Elevate is what we call a full-service marketing agency. So that means we do the full digital suite, web content, social advertising, creative, basically all of the ways that a brand would talk to their customers online.

Then we also do the full experiential suite, although that's been rather quiet lately. We're starting to see that pick back up. So that's launch events, trade shows, conferences, and national field marketing. What I think really differentiates us as an agency is that we consider ourselves to be what we call center-brained, which means we are really inspired by creativity, but truly driven by data.

Gresham Harkless 05:40

Nice. I love that and especially that secret sauce and being able to understand this is what kind of sets you apart. Because I almost feel and I don't know if you would feel the same way that sometimes the most creativity and innovation comes from being able to blend both sides of the coin in so many different ways.

So it sounds like you and your agency have been able to do that as well.

Laurel Mintz 05:56

Yeah, that's really part of our ethos as a brand is making sure that we have those creative juices and honestly, it's a combination of my loves, right? My passion. So I had that very analytical, very lawyer-like brain and then I have the MBA side, which is more of that problem-solving creative.

It was an MBA with an emphasis on marketing. So I already had that kind of creative mindset and I'm a Gemini on top of it. So for me, I needed both of those pieces and that's really what gets me out of bed every day. I love the work that we do.

Gresham Harkless 06:24

Nice. I absolutely love that and as a fellow Gemini, it's always Gemini season, so I definitely want to echo that, yes, we are very creative. We are able to meld both of those sides. So I absolutely love how that's taking root in your company.

Do you feel like a lot of that ability to balance that side has also helped you with being able to come up with those solutions for your clients as well?

Laurel Mintz 06:44

Definitely. I think that we'll come up with a concept, but we also want to make sure that it actually has legs, right? You can make things beautiful and interesting and dynamic visually, but if it doesn't actually move the needle for the client, then it's just a pretty picture.

I think gone are those days where marketing can just be things being beautiful, right? We need to make sure that it lands on different channels of the messaging, the positioning, the targeting is all proper on the right digital and offline channels for the client.

So I definitely think that duality of thought process and the team that I have also had that in their nature as well. It's really important when we hire. So, yeah, I think it's absolutely been integral to the success of the agency.

Gresham Harkless 07:23

Yeah and it makes so much sense. I think as you said, like so many times, I guess I don't want to call it shiny object syndrome, but it can sometimes feel that way because it looks really good.

Exactly. Exactly. And it looks really great. But I think really drilling down and understanding like, okay, this is the strategy, this is why you're doing it, this is what the goal is, hoping to be and being able to meld those things together for a client is absolutely huge.

Laurel Mintz 07:44

Yeah. Also making sure that you're on the same page, right? That's a big issue with a lot of service-based businesses. Everyone gets really excited in the beginning and then you start to execute it and things fall off the rails. So making sure that everyone agrees on what success really looks like, and what you're tracking to ensure success so that when a client comes back and they say I didn't like X, Y, and Z, or this didn't land, you're like, actually, it did because here are the metrics that show.

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So while you may think and feel something, I always say I don't really care what your thoughts are. I don't really care what your feelings are, right? Feelings don't really matter to me. They do, of course, but I like to back it up with data. So show me the proof that something didn't do or didn't work. And we can start the conversation from there.

Gresham Harkless 08:21

Yeah, and I feel like that's one of the big advantages of digital marketing is that you don't have that data to lean on to say this is what success looks like and then be able to steer the ship towards that.

I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I want 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?

Laurel Mintz 08:40

First of all, those are my two favorite words on the planet. Honestly, I love those words. So I think, I'm in business development all day, every day. While I am certainly running the team and running the clients and all of that, my major CEO hack is running the top-line revenue business. So for me, that's all straight-up business development, which is relationship building. So it's from the best hack I can actually offer and I speak a ton on this topic as well is what we call orbiting the universe.

So what it looks like is you come across someone who you think you can help or who can help you or who might be a client right in your day-to-day life. You always have that one experience with them like that phone call, that Zoom meeting, that IRL experience cocktails, whatever. And then things fall apart, you like never see that person again and then three or eight months later, you see them at an event you're like, Oh, I should have really followed up with you.

Follow-up is the most important thing to success for, I think, any company. So what we do or what I do is I orbit the universe. So as soon as I have that first meeting, I will schedule within that meeting, the next touch point. I don't care if it's two months out, six months out, whatever that is, even if you have to move it because some schedules get messed up, you at least always have a touch point with that person so you can check in and continue to orbit each other until you can support each other. Whatever that means for that relationship.

Gresham Harkless 09:56

Nice. I love that. I love the practicality of that because I think so many times for one, having business dev and understanding how important that is integral to every business and making sure that you are paying attention to that to make sure you are able to stay in business and continue to serve the clients that you work with.

But I think having that actionable way that you can build those relationships is huge. Because like you said, sometimes we try to get that first kind of conversation, and that isn't necessarily what builds that relationship, it's the consistency of the following up, of checking in and understanding what somebody is going through, what they're looking for.

Just all of those questions that we can ask as we're constantly orbiting their universe and our universe as well. It sounds like.

Laurel Mintz 10:32

Yeah, it's about building relationships. I do think that one of my true gifts is being able to understand people's pain points but relate to them on a human level. At the end of the day people want to work with people that they like, and that can deliver, but both are, I think, equally as important, right?

You want to work with people that you really appreciate, who understand you and who know when you're going through something and they need a little extra support and love and things like that. So, we're a small team, and we only take on a certain number of clients every year for that very reason so that we can be really integrated and all, and almost very much family life with our clients.

Gresham Harkless 11:05

Yeah, I love that. There's the saying of going deep instead of going wide and being able to deepen those relationships, even those connections. I imagine deep in those results as well, too, when you are able to really understand what I like to call the human aspect of business and of life that we often can sometimes zoom over because we're going from this thing to that thing.

I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. This is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice. It might be something you would tell your favorite client, or if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business.

Laurel Mintz 11:32

So I do a lot of coaching and mentoring. I sit on the board for a network for teaching entrepreneurship, because I think that these conversations are so important and I really wish that I had someone that could tell me those words of wisdom to my 26-year-old self. I tell them everyone's fucking faking it. Everyone.

So don't let anyone intimidate you. They don't know. They haven't had it figured out much longer than you have and they might not even have it figured out. They're just better at faking it. So don't let anyone intimidate you. I don't care what kind of room you're in.

Gresham Harkless 12:00

Nice. I absolutely love that. I love the word that you said earlier when we were speaking that imposter syndrome, because I think so many times when we feel like we're faking it or know that sometimes we don't have it all together, we feel like we're the only one and we feel like we're the only one that has imposter syndrome, the only one who doesn't have it all figured out.

But I love that because you start to realize that the people that succeed are those people that understand that maybe they don't have it all together, but they just take one step in front of the other and continue to do that on a regular basis. They get knocked down, but they continue to get back up.

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Laurel Mintz 12:27

Also that vulnerability and that transparency, honestly, is so critical to that human experience. I think it really helps you connect both with your team and with your clients with just the universe as a whole and I'm getting a little blue.

But when I got to a point where I could say, I don't know something, or I'm scared, or that level of vulnerability, I think is really quite beautiful. That was that's been the hardest thing for me as a CEO, because in your mind, you think a CEO has to be this badass boss bitch, and that's actually not well as well received as that vulnerability human element.

Gresham Harkless 13:01

Yeah, absolutely. Because I think and I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like it provides a connection piece. I think once we realize that we don't have it all figured out when we raise our hand and say that we are nervous, we are scared, we don't know if we're gonna be able to accomplish this, that or the third, we start to realize that other people have those same fears and it starts to connect you because we start to realize the human aspect of all of us.

Laurel Mintz 13:22

Absolutely. And also, for me and for a lot of CEOs, I think the fear actually drives you, right? So the fear of failure, the fear of not delivering on time, the fear of all these things you take that fear. For me, it actually empowers me and makes me run faster.

So it's not always the healthiest. I think that there's a balance right in the fear factor, but there is a moment. There is a need for that, at least for me, and it helps to drive me to be a better business leader and better for my team, and better for my family.

Gresham Harkless 13:51

Yes, absolutely. 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 and quote CEOs on the show.

So, Laurel, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Laurel Mintz 14:02

Being a CEO means standing for something and showing up for your team, for your clients, and for your community.

Gresham Harkless 14:09

I absolutely love that, especially that standing up for something because I think so many times we forget that what we're doing is an extension of a lot of times our beliefs, our values, the things, and how we even see the world.

So I love that you said standing for something, how that extends to the people that are around us.

Laurel Mintz 14:23

Early in my career, I always had a really diverse team and I never really thought about it. And in the last few years, obviously, that conversation has become so much more important. I realized that it was actually a core value that I didn't even realize was a part of the agency and now we really do stand for that. So standing up for my community, making sure that even during the pandemic, when people couldn't afford some of our services, we would offer them for free in exchange for them paying it forward to a nonprofit, three nonprofits that we've picked.

So just making sure that we are connecting all those dots and that human element and doing what's right for the world, really. Again, I know it's woo, but I really do feel like we are all cosmically connected and we're all energy. It's my duty to show up and be the best version of myself as you said, and stand for something really honest and true. I'm really honored to say that we have a team that really believes that as well.

Gresham Harkless 15:12

Yeah, I absolutely love that. I appreciate you so much and sharing that, of course, and doing that, especially during the pandemic. But really, if we think creatively, we can truly make that being in the universe, so to speak.

Laurel, truly appreciate that definition. I, of course, appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

Laurel Mintz 15:35

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It's always an honor to be able to have these really enlightening conversations and you ask really good questions. I've been on a lot of these, so I appreciate that.

If you want to get in touch we're at Of course, all the social channels. I always put my personal email out there for anyone that wants these mentorships or wants to understand what this world looks like, I always make time for anyone who is in need, on any level.

Gresham Harkless 15:59

Nice. I absolutely love that. We will definitely have the links and information in the show notes as well so that everybody can follow up with you. Thank you of course, for doing that and for giving it to us today and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Laurel Mintz 16:09

Thank you so much for having me.

Outro 16:13

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 www.ceogear.Co. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

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.

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