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Successful Leadership In A Time of Crisis

Sean: Edwin I want to, I want to know where do you get your target customers for your business, Slingshot, VOIP? How do you generate traffic, interest, views? Because you have a website and I could see that people could just purchase one of your packages from the website straight away. So I’m wondering how do you generate traffic from that one?

Edwin: So we started off originally. It was all word of mouth. It was all strategic partnerships, networking, working with a lot of people. And that was probably one of the main reasons for my podcasts at the time. And then we started doing a little more SEO work and doing digital marketing to drive specific keywords and traffic because our product is, it’s not a sexy product.

It’s an essential business product, but there’s a certain lifetime when people are actually going to make that purchasing decision. It’s very small. So outside of, you know, when someone is Googling and they actually need it, they really need it. Yeah, then you’re, you know, you’re really an SEO world and digital advertising.

You’re really paying a lot for that click. Like you’re going to end, you know, you’re up against the multinationals that have lots of money that they’re throwing at those ad words. So you can’t, you can’t play in that game. You have to really build a good brand and good person within. You know, Toronto within Canada and really know Edwin.

I know that guy, he has his podcast and he also has this tech business. So that was one of my strategies. Now that we brought in, like someone who manages our, our, you know, my VP of sales, you know, he came from a competitor and we’re really targeting companies when they’re growing and expanding. So one of the key things that they’re doing is, moving. 

So companies, when they’re growing, they’re relocating or moving to bigger offices, are they getting a second office, a third office? So it’s really doing more strategic outbound campaigns to companies that are looking to move in the next 6 to 12 months. So that’s, that’s where we’re getting a lot of our ROI and, and very strategic work at that point.

Right now.

Sean: You invested a lot in your digital marketing. SEO, which by the way, I’m in the SEO world. That’s what I do. I just want to ask what is your decision making factor? Because a lot of people right now are going online from the small, from the micro entrepreneur, small entrepreneur, medium entrepreneur, all the way to the enterprise.

And here, at least in the Philippines, when I started my company 2010, no one knew what SEO is about. It’s funny. Cause I would get, I will get inquiries. Literally. There was, Hey Sean, can you come here to my office? I know your company is SEO-Hacker and you do SEO and present. And when I get there in their office and they have their like board members and their marketing team, their first question, they would ask me, this is 2010 right?

So the first question they would ask me, so what’s SEO again, why do I need it again?

And I’m like, you called me dude. So, no one knew what it was way back when, but now everyone knows what it is. And I want to know, like, how do you qualify digital marketing companies who would help you out so that other people who are listening in and who are in that boat right now, where they’re looking for either you know, small social media marketing companies, or SEO companies, or web – website development companies, they would also get some advice from you on, okay, this is what I need to be looking at.

What’s. How do you qualify these companies?

Edwin: I mean, for me, honestly, because for SEO or digital agencies, for any type of service provider, I always go into my network and I ask for a referral. That’s just the way I do it, because otherwise I’m Google searching and I’m, you know, I’m probably gonna find Sean and like, because he does a good job at SEO.

Right. But I don’t know you, so I’d have to create a new relationship. But if I’m asking a trusted circle I have of entrepreneurs or executives, I’m like, Hey, who do you guys use? You know, give me a couple and that’s sort of the way I do it. Yeah. I mean, outside of like doing some VA’s here and there off of work and I that’s a different situation, but yeah, for agencies I usually, or any service provider, I’ll always ask for a referral.

Sean: Most of your traffic from Slingshot, VOIP, especially in the early days, came from word of mouth. And then right now what’s sustaining you. Is the digital traffic, SEO, social media marketing may be for doing that or ad words. I’m wondering. Since you are generating a perpetual amount of leads right now you’re getting business, whether you’re awake or asleep, how big is the team?

And the reason why I’m asking this is I want to know how you lead them.

Edwin: Yeah. So first thing, Sean, we’re actually a small team or we’re about 10 people right now. That’s including things like the tech team and stuff like that because B2B sales, it’s still a slung along sales cycle, even as the lead comes in, because sometimes the move is not in for three months or two months and do that.

So when it comes to leading, we’re actually all, we, we consciously made it a remote company when we launched way before COVID. So when it comes to leadership, it’s all about communication and understanding and trusting everyone to do their job and having all the communication tools to allow for it, right? And having a common goal.

But, yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s it, in a nutshell, I’m not sure if you had a specific question on leadership or managing.

Sean: So I am going to stem from your answer there, a lot of companies right now actually shifted to remote work. You know, it just doesn’t make sense to risk your people coming to the office.

I mean, SEO-Hacker, we used to have an office here in, where I live in Paranaque and all 50 of us would be there. But, when COVID hit January, me and the Execom, we decided let’s just make everyone work from home because it doesn’t make sense to risk them. Like this is what they’re getting in their salary and, you know, hospitalization, this is what they’ll be paying for one, one day in the hospital, leading remotely is, is now an essential skill.

How do you lead? You mentioned a couple of things earlier. I want to deep dive on that communication tools. How do you use it? How do you communicate? How often should you communicate with them? What do you talk with them about what are the tools you use in your, in your team to be able to do that? And we want to learn from you because you mentioned that you’ve been doing this way before COVID so we want to know how you’re making your company work and grow by leading remotely?

Edwin: Yeah. So, I mean, with the execs and my partners, we meet once a week, cause we are all do different responsibility things. And the way we work is, you know, we use Slack channels and we zoom, literally. I mean, that’s it and then  we always have our weekly meetups, but when it comes to the sales organization, I meet daily.

I do like daily calls with my sales organization just to see what,where we are? What could we work on together? What do you need my help on and do those types of things? Cause I think that’s, that’s important in terms of us when it comes to that tools. And we also it’s, it’s the same things we use Slack and we use zoom and we also have a tool we’re partnering with another organization.

That’s building out a lot of our collaboration tools – that’s integrated with Slingshot, that’s coming out and building on more so, but that’s it. I mean, when it comes to customer service, there’s not much management on that side. I just check in and see how things are going on there, but that I think.

I mean that, that’s it like, that’s literally our cadences when it comes to that, when it comes to it. So my time is mostly on, on the sales side. And then I meet, I meet weekly with the rest of the execs. 

Sean: There are problems that I’ve encountered leading remotely, and I want to run by –  run them by you to learn from you.

There are times when people aren’t producing as you would expect them to. And actually this is not uncommon. A lot of people who transitioned to remote work suddenly because of COVID have this problem where they tell me, you know, Sean, my team isn’t producing at all are like, they’re not, they’re nowhere near when we were in the office.

Has it ever happened to you and how do you deal with that?

 

Edwin: Well, I, I know I have a lot of colleagues and friends that has experienced that. And ultimately it comes down to I think having the right processes in place. But I think what you’ve experienced, if it’s personal to your company, Sean, is because they, it’s everything is new for them. We’re going through a pandemic. That’s new. You’re going to work from home. That’s new. So I know that six months in now, or eight months, depending on, I guess it’s nine months now for you, for your organization. And it’s really having those one-to-one talks and seeing how you could coach these people.

Cause you have to remember most of these folks have never worked from home before. So someone like myself and my team where a lot of the team has accustomed to working in being proficient at home, I think it’s having these like, maybe it’s not the management. Maybe it’s like little mastermind groups of subgroups who you’ll find that one team member that is very good at working from home.

They should be sharing with the other teams are putting together, hey, who’s having trouble at the office right now, working from home and staying efficient? Why don’t we talk it to each other? Because that’s, that’s very important and not having the management team in there and having peer-peer coaching; peer coaching is huge and finding that person that could spearhead that because I’m sure in your organization, Sean, you have the superstars that are working at home still.

And I think their, you know, their colleagues will say, we’ll listen to them. If there’s a nice channel for them to talk and be open and say, listen, I was challenged being proficient. It took me three months, but this is what I did to overcome that. And why don’t, you know, I’m here to support you and have that coach and internal coach or that peer coach, right? That’s the, you know, that’s, that’s the way I would work it.

Sean: Peer coaching is super important. I got to go find that person in my team.

Edwin: And they would love that responsibility.

Right? Because now you’re going to empower one of your superstars and give them recognition whether you announce it publicly or not, they’re going to feel that. They’re going to say, Oh my God, Sean asked me to do this. You know, you know, even if you sort of interview them, right. There’s so much, you know, what is moving that person to be proficient at home and it’s, and it you’ll never know.

Right. And, and, and then also they may find out that someone so-and-so the reason why they went down, like they’re really having a personal issue at home. Didn’t arise, right? And that’s something that may not come up. You’re on all calls. Right? So, it’s just, it’s, it’s just really getting opening up different channels.

And, and I don’t know how that works in the Philippine culture, but, in the Philippines.

Sean: Filipinos are very reserved compared to the Western world. So I know that we’re more open  here when it comes to mental health problems compared to the Western world. So we know who are, who the people are, who have mental health problems.

We help them out. But in terms of just sharing their heart and stuff, that’s happening at home, I find that a lot of people do that, especially to the management. This one, when you mentioned peer coaching, actually that’s good stuff right there, because they’re a lot more comfortable in sharing these things with their peers, than their leaders.

I wish it wasn’t that way. Yeah. I wish it wasn’t that way because we can definitely help them as your leaders. But I don’t know, like there’s just some barrier there. Right.

Edwin: Barrier. And I mean, it comes back to all that cultural situations that we’ve all grown up to and having that, I guess that boss that you don’t want to share with, it’s going to make you look weak.

You don’t want to see a weakness. So I mean, there’s a lot to do work there, but  it’s opening those communication somehow, right? And providing that safe space, right? Because it may be one small thing. You just don’t know what’s affecting that person. And then if you do know what it is, as an organization, as a leader, as a manager, like a direct manager, you’ll know how to provide support for that person or these people. All right. And then you could also forgive them if it’s not at a hundred percent, but they’re at 80 now, which is good still. But if they’re at, if they’re at 50, at least, you know these open communications, but also allow for ways for the organization to move away from someone or, or them to improve, right? Like it’s just putting those checks and balances in place.

Sean: Edwin, I could see that your, your, your company’s almost eight years now, really? Congratulations. That is something that is super awesome. Not a lot of entrepreneurs look at it that way, but really the startup journey, I mean, nine out of 10 businesses fail.

You’re at the eight year mark, which is really, really good. I want to know like how you’re doing all of these other things. So you’re running an eight year old company, which is pretty tough because you’re still scaling it up now with a 10 man team leading them, coaching them. And you’re, you’re, you’re doing Flashpoint Global, which is your company for your public speaking thought leadership.

And then you’re doing the podcast, which is the Business Leadership podcast. A lot of people will tell you, and how do you do these, this, this is just so much stuff for some people, just one business takes all of them, their time, even chumps up some of their family time, but you’re doing a lot of things.

And the question is, how are you able to do all of these things in spite of running a company full time?

Edwin: Yeah, that’s a great question. I get it a lot. Actually. Sean, the podcast, I love podcast is networking. Like I, I remove networking out of my mix when the podcast came, because networking came to me.

So that, that eliminated, that’s a personal development thing as well. So that’s an investment for me, which I turned it around and it became a profit center as well, which is good. So that’s the good news on that stuff, but it’s having teams, Sean, it’s like really understanding why you want to do this.

So my podcasts, I have teams, I never did it myself. I just had some people produce it right away and had people focus on that stuff and building those processes quickly. I think by my third episode, I already had like 53 steps, how I do a podcast. Right. So I could outsource it right away. So I, you know, thinking, thinking process driven, right.

I was always like that. And then when it comes to like Flashpoint, this is for me. Now, it’s more like my long game, like who do I want to grow to be now or build and make impact, you know. A startup, a tech startup, it’s amazing. It’s great for building yourself up, making some income, making some Intellectual property.

But I think I have this calling where I’m like, I could teach and I could inspire and I could learn, and I could grow like that and share things. And this is, you know, this is why I love to be on your show and learn from you and also talk about it. But I’m realizing those Sean. With some of the work I’ve been doing over the last year as I work with other coaches and people that has been working with me to build out, you know, sort of Flashpoint in which way I want to build this.

Like I have been that person who’s always been doing multiple things. I never realized that. But you know, like you said, entrepreneurs, people are like, no, you got to do one thing. That’s it only one thing. And, but I’ve always been that person ever since I was young that had multiple projects and I think that’s what gets me working optimally, because if I’m only doing one thing, I’m bored and I’m like, this is it. I’ll just do it later. I’ll do it later, and so when I look back at the time of my life, when I only had one main thing and nothing really going on, I was really not performing optimally because I thought I had so much time.

Right. So you just keep pushing it away. So that’s just me, that’s just knowing who I am. And I, and I’ve been really doing a lot of work on that type of stuff, but yeah. I dunno if I answered your question, I just babbled them.

Sean: Yeah, you did. And actually it is quite comforting for me to know that there is someone like that.

I call myself an urgency junkie. Like I like urgent stuff. I like deadlines. And I’m sure you, you work that way as well. Hearing it from me now that you, you, you like to juggle a lot of projects. I’m surprised that you don’t have another business that you started up, but I guess like the podcast and in Flashpoint Global, it’s like another business that you need to start up.

Right.

Edwin: They’re all different businesses and it depends how you want to fit it in. And  you know, what’s gonna, you know, realistically take all your time. Right. So when it comes to Slingshot, we have all the processes in place. I’m not doing a lot of the sales. I’m not doing a lot of the things. I’m doing a lot of the brand management now.

So it almost makes sense to build my speaker business and my podcasts now. Right. So it puts more SEO work. Like if I’m going to say tactical is actually puts like I’m getting links everywhere because of my podcasts. Yeah, that comes back to Slingshot. Right. And I’m sure this is what, you know, one of your benefits for yourself as well, right?

Outside of learning from people and connecting from people, but digitally, it’s just like how many pieces of content can you create from our conversation today. Like lots, right?

Sean: It’s a lot.


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