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IAM1905 – Attorney Runs a Digital Agency Focused on the Legal Sector

Podcast Interview with Seth Price

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of IAMCEO podcast, Seth Price, founding partner of Price Benowitz LLP and the founder and CEO of BluShark Digital, outlines his journey within the legal sector and digital marketing industry.

Seth successfully scaled a two-person law firm to 40 lawyers in less than a decade and leveraged the digital skills that contributed to this growth to establish a top-tier digital agency, BluShark Digital, focused on serving the legal sector.

As a transformational thought-leader with significant experience, Seth has been a regular speaker and moderator at some of the largest law conferences in the U.S., offering insights on aligning business development strategies with evolving consumer habits in the legal industry. His topics typically range from building a firm, ethics, firm operations best practices, SEO, to digital marketing in general.

Key points from the podcast include:

CEO Hack: Seth underscored the importance of establishing and adhering to processes and systems.

CEO Nugget: Seth mentioned, “You don't know what you don't know,” implying the importance of continuous learning and adapting to changing tides in business.

CEO Defined: Seth described the role of a CEO as being there for their team, suggesting a sense of responsibility, engagement, and support towards the team.

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Seth Price Teaser 00:00

I think the piece that I've gotten to know over time is you don't know what you don't know, and the sooner you get to that point, the better. And so look, there's stuff that I know, but you don't know what you don't know. That happens in life in general on a regular basis.

And that the sooner that you embrace that they're constantly, how do I improve? how do I find expertise that can help me move the ball forward?

Intro 00:25

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the IAMCEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:52

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast, and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 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 business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, or what I like to call CB Nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focused on innovation, disruption, women entrepreneurship, DEI, the gig economy, remote economy, even the cannabis industry. Think about these industries and these disruptive technologies that really sometimes aren't as disruptive, but there are people that are just paying attention to what the market needs and they're providing that. So really think about the things that are quote and quote outside of the norm, but really help entrepreneurship to grow and fully develop.

I think it's an extremely exciting time when you're talking about any type of innovation or disruption, because I think that there's so many opportunities and needs that aren't felt that are starting to be filled by different groups, different organizations, or even different industries. So what I want you to do is sit back and enjoy this special episode of the IAMCEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Seth Price, of BluShark Digital and Price Benowitz. Seth, it's great to have you on the show.

Seth Price 02:16

Great to be here. Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:17

Definitely super excited to have you on. Before we jump in, I want to read a little bit more about Seth so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

He's an accomplished attorney and transformational thought leader. Seth Price is a founding partner in the business backbone of Price Benowitz, as well as the founder and CEO of BluShark Digital.

Seth took a two-person law firm scaled it to 40 lawyers in less than a decade. Now he takes the same digital power that brought the firm to create a best-in-class digital agency focused on the legal sector in BluShark Digital.

Seth, great to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO Community?

Seth Price 02:45

I am ready. I should just bring you everywhere. If I have someone introducing me like that, life would be a lot easier.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:51

Yeah, absolutely. I see all I have to do is just hear about and talk about all the awesome things you're doing. You're doing all the awesome work. So I guess just to kick everything off, I wanted to hear a little bit more on what I call your CEO story.

We'll let you get started with all the awesome work you're doing.

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Seth Price 03:03

So what you said, I was building a law firm. A buddy that I went to college in law school with, he's a lawyer. He loves being in the courtroom. I didn't. So after playing in the 1st dot com bubble in New York where I tried to scale a legal zoom type play, the bubble burst in April 2000 by January 2001 everything was gone. Our company, U. S. Law that had 30 million on the table just disappeared and had to reinvent. That's when we started Price Benowitz, basically self-taught SEO, built a website, hired a lawyer. And as we're doing this, we're like, man, this is great. But like we said, I saw that it was a market beyond the law firm.

Anything else, the classic CEO story is you source, a need in the market. You couldn't find somebody to sell it to. So you did it yourself. Then let's scale it for others. And that was our pitch. I I did it for myself, I could do it for others. We got over 150 law firms, now we got plastic surgeons. We are essentially really expert in the local search for professional services. That's been our niche and we just geek out on it. And it was not just self-fulfilling, but self sustaining. And you could appreciate this, which is it's one thing to create and have employees do something, but in order to keep and retain people, you need to be able to pyramid so that it's much more profitable.

So as we expanded, we were able to keep and retain awesome talent as managers who could then leverage really talented people, homegrown talent that we would train in house to be able to do the different things that are needed in SEO. That's right. It's high quality content, authoritative links, a well coded site, well structured site. And a Google my business strategy and in local search, you do those four things. You're gonna hit out of the park. So when I first started every 2 years, I'd lose my right hand guy or girl and I got sick of it. So I said, look, I want to be able to have this turn from a cost center to a profit center where I could keep and retain that great talent.

That's been the run we've had at BluShark.

Gresham Harkless 05:03

Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. I think that's when you really start to hum and reach a different level when you're able to do that consistently on a regular basis. And you guys have been able to do that, it's great.

Seth Price 05:12

No, it's been fun. And it's funny because, with owning two businesses law firm has a lot of legacy issues. Like I said, it's been over around over a decade and there's communications, there are different departments and law firms in general are not an ideal business by any stretch of the imagination. We have ethics rules we got to deal with, we have non-competes that we're not allowed to use. There are all sorts of issues that go on in a law firm and it's just not really sellable the way a non-law firm business is. In the real world, you have some multiple EBITDA and somebody else will take your business. Legal world, that doesn't really work that way.

So, in building BluShark from scratch and having an amazing copilot in the form of David Brenton, who was our intern at the law firm and is now president and shareholder of BluShark, the idea was that we can basically build the things from scratch and do many of the things I couldn't do at the law firm. I don't know if you're familiar with Vern Harnish scaling up. He was a guest on my podcast a few weeks back. And, after reading the book, I was like at the law firm, I always get upset because there's so much stuff I know I should be doing, but I can't get done based on personalities and business structure and everything. Whereas I turned around BluShark I'm like, man, this president who's never even read scaling up is freaking doing most of what's in there.

We have our teams, we have our team culture, we're hitting the ground running with all these different things. That has been part of what I've loved most. Part of it has been and apropos for your podcast as the CEO or founder, taking a step back, not getting in the weeds. And until recently, much of our employee force were millennials, everybody's aging now, so they're getting older. But many of the people we hired were people I couldn't connect with. There were people when I spoke, I think that psychosomatic shock, they thought their dad was talking to them. And I found that if I could rather than speak directly to them, speak to managers and let those managers handle stuff, it really created a structure and a culture.

And there's stuff where, you know, somebody who in my world, yeah, ‘fire this guy tomorrow'. They'd be like, no, you can't do that. This person is connected to these people. Let's do this and this. And so I've allowed them and given them the rope, to be able to connect and create a culture that as the CEO, I'd like to say, yes, I cannot take credit for the awesome culture. Because my instincts and gut wouldn't comport as well with the millennial culture. I feel like that the people that we have in place have done an exceptional job of creating that environment that allows us to row in the same direction, learned a lot, I think from the people working with us and I could not have done that alone.

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Gresham Harkless 07:51

Yeah, that makes so much sense. And however, that might be termed is really what makes things go and we can get out of our own way, which a lot of times can happen. So I know you touched a little bit upon both of the businesses.

Could you tell us a little bit more on each and how you serve the clients that you work with and what you would consider to be either your personal or even the businesses' what I like to call secret sauce or thing that you feel sets you apart.

Seth Price 08:11

Sure. So on the law firm side, we're a business-to-consumer law firm. If somebody's been injured, they're arrested, somebody has died, all different personal life, divorce, these are things where we can help. And I think that our secret sauce is, I very early on, from a mentor of mine took on the philosophy that we are a plumbing service, not a law firm. In the sense that the hot water heater in your basement explodes, what do you do? You pick up the phone, you search. So you need to be found because before we entered the market, the marketing firms were not great. There are many good ones now, but when we first entered the internet space, people were not mixing great marketing and great practice of law. So that's the first piece.

The second is having an intake team that can slice and dice and figure out what is viable and get them the help they need. So the law firm, that's been our one to punch. And so for entrepreneurs, I like you to have extensive network, if anybody has questions in the legal space, even if we don't do it, we're happy to figure out where we can get you the help you need. On the digital space we've stayed in our lane. We don't do e-commerce. We've focused on search and even local search professional services, and that's where we've dug deep. We're really good at it and what I feel is that by creating an environment where we've scaled to the point where there's a division that does links, a division that does content, not just a person and that as being in the space, there's so many people that will sell SEO without doing the heavy lifting that's needed to execute.

Because, you get this, you get somebody comes to us, wants to be a client and we run a set of reports and we're like, Oh, my God, this guy hasn't had a link built in a year. Like, what The F or their content package has regurgitated news blogs that went out the door seven years ago. So the idea is, by providing that value, as it's not as sexy a game SEO because they've done right. The margins are okay, but they're not tremendous. It's not a SAS based model. There's a lot of SAS-based model coming into the SEO space. I feel that at least for the time being, there is still this need for higher-level SEO to be done, which can't be done in an automated fashion.

It takes actual labor, domestic labor that's going to sit and do strip. Not that you can't layer different tasks from overseas, but you want to make sure that Google is looking for authority and that you want to make sure that the authority that you're demonstrating is not cringy. It's not broken English, but it's instead actual authority that demonstrates this person's the best answer for a question.

Gresham Harkless 10:40

I appreciate those secret sauces. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. 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.

Seth Price 10:52

A great question. I think that I have somebody who takes stuff from different sort of sources. We've mentioned Vern Harner scaling up, somebody who spun out of him the whole traction EOS world and the idea of using the huddles, using the touch points, moving rocks. What I try to do is just figure out which of these different things works and leveraging those and I think that anything else, it's having a system. And if you follow the system, great, you may want to make tweaks, but having some sort of process in place to allow yourself to move forward.

It is one of those things that making sure that your team has bought into that so it can be executed. And you can see very clearly, when the team functions and buys into it is great. And we've been really stressed with the pandemic, everybody went virtual, great. But a lot of those touch points that were happening, it demonstrated that if you didn't have the discipline to have the meetings, they weren't going to happen organically. I think that's been probably the biggest lesson for me of this time is making sure that I go back and say, okay, great. I could see a lot of my weaknesses because things that were not happening were because, hey, we didn't see them in front of our face and a year into Covid plus, I'm now starting to see some of those break points.

And so go back to your question, the hack is, I think it's to figure out what your systems are and then follow them.

Gresham Harkless 12:19

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. This could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client if you were to hop into a time machine, or you might tell your younger business self.

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Seth Price 12:30

So I think the piece that I've gotten to know over time is you don't know what you don't know. And the sooner you get to that point, the better. And so look, there are stuff that I know that I know but you don't know what you don't know and that happens in life in general on a regular basis. And that the sooner that you embrace that and are constantly how do I improve? How do I find expertise that can help me move the ball forward?

I think that's the piece that I wish I had personally grasped earlier, but it's something that the longer I live, the more true it is.

Gresham Harkless 13:03

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Seth, truly appreciate that. 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 Seth, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Seth Price 13:15

You know, I think that I'm going to take this back a step. A friend worked for the governor of Maryland a few years ago, and I was always amazed like, what does the governor do? And in one sense, he's like the chief cheerleader for the state. He does trade deals, he opened and cuts ribbons. And I feel like when done at the highest level, you are the person who is just making sure that everybody within your team is there and the outward brand for the world.

There's a lot of e-Myth we had Michael Gerber on my podcast, not that long ago. So there's the idea of where do you want to go next? Yes. That's a huge part, but let's put that aside for a second. I think that in making sure that you're there to solve problems, to be there for your management team, to help motivate and lead the greater organization and be the face outside.

Those are the things that I think are most essential for a great CEO.

Gresham Harkless 14:05

Yeah, I appreciate you for sharing that. And of course, dropping the E myth and having Michael Gerber on your show, because I think that really gives you a full idea of exactly what it means to be a CEO, entrepreneur and business owner. But I think I love how you made that analogy between the governor and being at the ribbon cuttings and being the cheerleader. Because I think so many times we're in the people business and we forget that sometimes we're thinking about analytics and numbers and all of those things.

But sometimes you need to be the cheerleader for the people, the organization, the mission, whatever that might be. But you also may need to be the stern person and that balance beam act that we talked about a little before is a lot of the hats and roles and perspectives we need as leaderships that really take things to the next level.

Seth Price 14:41


Gresham Harkless 14:43

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Seth, truly appreciate that definition. I 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 you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best they can get a whole view here about your podcast. All the awesome things that you and both your businesses.

Seth Price 14:58

I appreciate it. Like I'm easy to reach a Seth@priceBenowitz.com or seth@blusharkdigital.com. I geek out on this stuff, so feel free. It doesn't need to be to purchase something. If I could be of advice, either from the legal or digital space. I have two podcasts that are out there. One is the SEO insider where we geek out on stuff like hardcore SEO stuff with someone like the national thought leaders and the other is Max Growth Live where we talk about law firm growth. So really, the zest to the companion to everything we've talked about here.

We geek out about SEO on one day and on the other day, we talk about what are the things that are needed to build a professional services organization. It's been a fun gride. I really appreciate the opportunity to sit here and chat with you today, got to have a great conversation where you know,  whenever you talk like this and you have a conversation, it makes you think about, Hey, these are the things I'm aspiring to do, which are the ones I may be short on, and what I do, what's my homework based on this conversation?

So I really appreciate that opportunity.

Gresham Harkless 15:53

Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate you for giving us the opportunity to geek out a little bit. And I know we scratched the surface on everything, which is why I love you have your podcast and information and you left yourself open to people being able to reach out as well, too. Because I think as we learn, we become greater by a lot of times the things we take in the environment of things that we have around us.

So I appreciate you for spending some time with us and holding that space and as well, creating so much valuable content. So appreciate you, my friend, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:17

Thank you for listening to the IAMCEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. IAMCEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation@blue16media.com.

This has been the IAMCEO podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.


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(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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