Professional Chronicles with Patricia Kathleen

Interview with Lindsay LaShell: Founder of Diamond & Branch Marketing Group

October 18, 2019

Interview with Lindsay LaShell, Founder of Diamond & Branch Marketing Group. Diamond & Branch provides digital marketing services to women owned businesses and purpose-driven organizations of all kinds.

This podcast series is hosted by Patricia Kathleen and Wilde Agency Media. The series interviews women (& women/female-identified & non-binary) entrepreneurs, founders, and gurus across all industries to investigate those voices in business today. Both the platform and discussion are designed to further the global conversation in regards to the changing climate in entrepreneurial and founding roles.



*Please note, this is an automated transcription please excuse any typos or errors


[00:00:07] Hi, my name is Patricia Kathleen, and this podcast series will contain interviews I conduct with female and female identified entrepreneurs, founders, co-founders, business owners and industry gurus. These podcasts speak with women and women, identified individuals across all industries in order to shed light for those just getting into the entrepreneurial game, as well as those deeply embedded within it histories, current companies and lessons learned are explored in the conversations I have with these insightful and talented powerhouses. The series is designed to investigate a female and female identified perspective in what has largely been a male dominated industry in the USA to date. I look forward to contributing to the national dialog about the long overdue change of women in American business arenas and in particular, entrepreneurial roles. You can contact me via my media company website Wild Dot Agency. That's w i l d dot agency or my personal website. Patricia Kathleen, dot com. Thanks for listening. Now let's start the conversation. [00:01:25][77.9]

[00:01:29] Hi, everyone, and welcome back, and this is your host, Patricia. And today I'm sitting down with Lindsay LaShell. Lindsay is founder and director of strategy at her company, Diamond and Branch Marketing Group. Welcome, Lindsay. [00:01:41][11.4]

[00:01:41] Thank you so much for having me. [00:01:43][1.1]

[00:01:43] Thank you. I'm excited to get into your company and some of its philosophies. I'm really behind and I think they're incredibly on trend of the moment as well as politically sound. A quick bio for everyone on Lindsay, as well as a road map for today's podcast so that you guys can follow along or refer back to it. Lindsay LaShell entered the workforce at the peak of the first dot com bubble where she learned about digital mark, digital product management, usability, business management and spending your investors money on bean bags and pizza. Since then, she's worked for funded startups, bootstrap projects, one serial entrepreneur and three marketing agencies with a brief detour into the wilds of public education. In twenty fifteen, she founded Diament and Branch Marketing Group, a digital marketing agency and certified B Corp that provides audience strategy, content creation and analysis to women owned and purpose driven organizations. She's an active member of San Diego Business for Good and a new member of the change. Both organizations designed to use business as a force for good. A quick roadmap of what we will be kind of questioning Lindsay in regards to today. We're going to get into her early professional life and academic background. Then we'll drop straight into the company particulars with Diamond and branch, namely the when, what, who, where and funding. Then we'll get into other organizations that she's involved with. Will, we mentioned before the San Diego business forgood and we the change and then we'll go to Lindsay's goals for herself and her company over the next three years. And we will wrap everything up with advice that Lindsay may have for those looking to mimic what she's done or get involved with her current endeavors and or maybe use her services. So Lindsay would drop a straight into your academic background and early professional life. [00:03:37][113.7]

[00:03:38] Sure, I I was one of those people. [00:03:41][3.2]

[00:03:41] I'm I am terminally curious. And so I was one of those people that changed my major many, many times when I was super young. I think I was probably 12 or 13 when I decided that I wanted to go to Cal to UC Berkeley and was really proud that I was able to make that a reality, especially because I was on full financial aid. So there were there were lots of student loans. I always had at least one job all the way through school, two or three. [00:04:15][33.4]

[00:04:16] Two of them I had almost the entire time I was in then third ones would bounce in and out. But in the end, I, I had been working in the answer anthropology department for a little while and got to the point where I sort of needed to graduate and had not really committed to anything yet. And since I knew a bunch of the professors from my work there, it seemed like a natural fit. And looking back, it's just it's a really great sort of critical thinking degree. And I find it really useful as sort of setting context for for the work I do now. But I certainly had no idea that that's what it was going to be at the time. I definitely wasn't. Didn't know I was ambitious. I'll put it that way. I didn't really realize that I wanted some big things for myself until much later in life. So at the time I was just sort of cruising through, doing what made sense, which is how I ended up in startups, because I finished corps in ninety eight in the bay and so I'm sort of riding the wave of the first dotcom boom was a really natural thing to do. So I saw a lot of really interesting businesses, a lot of really interesting management styles. But mostly what I saw was like a lot of waste and entitlement and it was the first thing. It's funny how I went going going to cause like the the heart of the free speech movement and all these other sort of social justice causes. And none of those things really turned me into a progressive or an activist. But once I started to see sort of gender bias in the workplace and my experience of the last and what sort of it sort of breaks my heart is what I thought the startup I work for that had the most potential as that sort of started to fail. What I saw was just like a bunch of rich white dudes moving around, other rich white dudes money. And it was pretty discouraging to me. And that's why I ended up going back to school and. Becoming a fourth grade teacher, so that was that and that I was teaching in first in Oakland Unified and then in West Contra Costa Unified, which is the same demographically as Oakland, but doesn't have the same brand recognition. So they were there were rough, rough schools, rough neighborhoods. They've been just a lot of systemic oppression in those in those places. And it was I was very fortunate. The credential program I attended was also at Cal, and it was specifically about helping white teachers be effective in context where most of the students were not white. Right. So I learned a lot then about privilege and power. And it was tough. And it was also tough because I was single and making a teacher's salary and trying to pay off student loans. And so I lasted. I was the exact average and I lasted five years as the exact burnout rate of school. [00:07:31][195.5]

[00:07:32] That's the average kind of economic situations. Yeah, that's the average. [00:07:35][3.4]

[00:07:36] And my experience, I, I take the my cohort of individuals from my from my credential program, the folks who had either financial resources or emotional resources like a permanent partner. [00:07:54][18.0]

[00:07:55] Those folks managed to last in the classroom much longer. But those of us who were single and also went into debt in order to finance our education, five years was about the cutoff. So, yeah. So in five years, I got recruited back into technology. That was when I worked for the serial entrepreneur. And he had I had worked with him and, you know, a few different I think we met when he had a restaurant and I was a I was in transition from one job to another and I was working for him there and then realized that I was pretty smart and I could learn a lot of stuff. [00:08:32][36.6]

[00:08:33] And so he came back to me and said, I need your help and I'll double your salary and I'll teach you everything you need to know and I'll let you work from anywhere on the planet. Hmm. That sounds nice. Yeah, it's hard to turn that down. [00:08:46][13.1]

[00:08:46] It's hard to turn that down. So that was that was a tremendous experience. [00:08:49][2.9]

[00:08:50] I worked for him for three and a half years and it was an absolutely phenomenal we would build a business, optimize it, measure it, make it better, and then take the money that we made from that business, invested in another one and do it again. And so we just every project was bootstrapped and self financed by him. But I just learned a ton about business models and audience acquisition and product design and content optimization. It was just it was a phenomenal experience. [00:09:19][29.1]

[00:09:20] So did he have a genre or a specific industry that he built these companies in or was it all across the board? [00:09:25][5.1]

[00:09:26] Do you know? We were content farmers, so that sort of tells you what time of the Internet it was. Right. Know, the the I would say I think I work from for him from like oh, four to seven roughly. [00:09:42][16.0]

[00:09:43] And and so. [00:09:46][2.9]

[00:09:46] Yeah. [00:09:46][0.0]

[00:09:47] So we would we had a couple of flagship sites that were very, very broad in scope, but they were just question and answer sites. And you know, when it started it was like such early days of the Internet. We were actually doing click arbitrage. We would I would set up AdWords campaigns that would bring people to our site for three cents a click, and then they would leave our site by clicking, clicking on something that paid us five cents a click. And those were bonkers to think that that was a beautiful time. [00:10:15][28.3]

[00:10:16] Yeah, right. Yeah. [00:10:17][1.3]

[00:10:18] And it's bonkers how much money you can make two cents at a time, you know. So yeah. So my early background was in that kind of stuff. I wasn't super proud of it because it's not really creating any value for anybody except for the business owner. And I even got so far as to not have sat on my resume for many years because, you know, being a good SEO back in those days actually meant creating a bad experience for the user, right? Yeah. The point of it was to get people to find an unsatisfying answer and click on an ad. [00:10:51][33.1]

[00:10:52] And so, yeah, so we had content. We had sites that dealt with verticals here and there. [00:11:00][7.5]

[00:11:01] We had really, really broad question and answer sites. I mean, our flagship, we went from like I think it was about five thousand uniques a month. When I started to three and a half years later, we were up to like five million uniques a month, like it was massive. Wow is a really, really significant growth. And we saw obviously, like I learned a ton and yeah, it was really, really fascinating. Time to be on the Internet. [00:11:25][24.2]

[00:11:26] Did you outgrow him? [00:11:26][0.7]

[00:11:28] No, do you know it, when the economy tanked, it correlated very strongly with some Google updates that really, really punished content farmers. And so I actually ended up getting laid off. [00:11:44][15.9]

[00:11:46] And did some freelancing and bounced around and honestly didn't even know what a marketing agency was, didn't know what they did like, had no idea really where to, I was sort of thinking I was going to stay in startups because that was the main thing that I had done aside from teaching. But I was really involved in a bunch of different community stuff then bar camp and startup weekend and all kinds of places where like people who just like to build the and use the Internet to build cool things would get together for days or weeks at a time and do some stuff. And so through I had a pretty, pretty solid network of of creative engaged technologists. And one of them recognized that my skills that would be really, really good for a marketing agency and recruited me into the one where he was working. And that was how I got to agency life. And I I loved it right away because the you know, the work of understanding each new clients, audience and opportunity and offering the work of understanding where the optimization sort of entry points are and how to make it better, how to make it great and how to make it better. Just really always excited me to that gelled with you. [00:13:03][77.1]

[00:13:03] And then what was the impetus? When did you decide that you were going to branch off on your own and create Diamond and Branch? [00:13:09][6.4]

[00:13:10] Yeah, that was that was a lot about me discovering that I was ambitious. Right. Like I worked for for two different agencies and they were both like pretty small agencies. Something on the order of 15 people run run by the agency owner who was a man. And in both places, I just found that I I was doing great work and I really, really wanted to grow and be able to do more. [00:13:35][24.5]

[00:13:36] And in both cases, they had hesitations about giving me more authority, more control, more sort of clout within the organization. [00:13:46][10.6]

[00:13:47] And so even the last one, like I went to him and I pitched him as like, I want to build a content marketing department. I want to I can hire the people, I can train the people, I can land the clients. Like, you know, at that point, I was writing client pitches in the room when we were pitching new projects. And so really participating on a pretty high level of the agency, but not being paid in a way that reflected that, not having a title that reflected that. And so when he said he didn't want me basically to use my talents to make him more money, that was assigned to me that that I had outgrown him. [00:14:24][36.8]

[00:14:25] Do you think that that was attributable to other factors or do you think it was to you, you being a woman, a self identified woman? [00:14:34][9.3]

[00:14:35] Like, do you have any clear view as to. Because it's asinine, right. Every good business owner wants to make more money and let someone utilize or let somebody else do the work, right? [00:14:44][9.8]

[00:14:45] Yeah. Uh, yeah, yeah. Frankly, I think there's that agency had quite. [00:14:53][8.0]

[00:14:55] Micro aggressions and passive sexism was very prevalent in that agency. So it was tough, I was on reflection, you know, it's one of those things where you're like you're like a frog in a pot where you don't even realize how stressed out you are or how how tense or sort of miserable the situation is until you get out of it. [00:15:19][23.9]

[00:15:19] And then you realize, oh, I've been having the same stress dream five times a night for the last 10 months. And, oh, my gosh, I don't need to take out of an every day just to get out of bed. [00:15:28][9.2]

[00:15:29] And it was really, really tremendous how starting my own company at a time when my my husband at the time was unemployed, says the only thing that I had to do was quit my job and start my own company. [00:15:46][17.3]

[00:15:48] It it feels bonkers. It feels like somebody else's life. [00:15:50][2.8]

[00:15:51] Well, it sounds like it was absolutely necessary. I mean, the concept of being held back for just wanting to provide good to a company, I think that a lot of times when people picture any type of sexism or oppression in the workforce, it's this very open and closed moment of someone doing something for a sexual advantage or something like that. But the idea that you're not able to simply do better for the business because of a held personal opinion is it doesn't work well for the business in general. Like if you remove both attributes and both genders involved in the scenario, it doesn't make logical sense. [00:16:30][38.5]

[00:16:30] It doesn't make good business sense. I always tell people beyond being just wrong, oppression in the workforce is bad for business and it's bad for the bottom line. It is. [00:16:40][9.1]

[00:16:41] And I think it's also it's good because it pushes I think it's good to recognize that it pushes people to extreme limits. Who knows if it hadn't been for that, if you would have come off and launched your company. I think it's interesting that you kind of crawled through your background thus far and you've had this heavy emphasis your entire life, even starting with the anthropological lenses that you drove into Berkeley, like this concept of ultimate communication, spanning genres. And it's starting off with the anthropological lenses and then even the public education and really having those hard sectors. Then the marriage of training teachers to communicate in some of those communities is is based on transparent and open communication, simplistic dialog and communicating skills and ideas and then climbing. [00:17:27][46.7]

[00:17:28] It seems like marketing would have been like a really brilliant fit for you. So you decided to launch it in this very brave and inhospitable landscape of just after the crash and having not have a dual income in your household. [00:17:41][13.8]

[00:17:42] What was that like? Did you take on a partner? What was that you founded it in? Was it twenty? Fifteen. [00:17:48][5.8]

[00:17:50] Yeah, that's right. How did that go so I. [00:17:55][5.3]

[00:17:57] Had a few champions, right, there was a there was a client that I had landed for the first agency that I worked for, who I had been doing some freelancing work for and sort of told him privately thing about going out on my own. And he was like, I'll be your first client. He is, in fact, still my client today, which is wonderful. [00:18:20][22.5]

[00:18:23] And so I knew that there would be a little bit of income. [00:18:25][2.2]

[00:18:28] I had paid off my 2010 Toyota Matrix and put that up as collateral for a personal loan. [00:18:41][13.0]

[00:18:42] So I had a few thousand dollars in the bank as a little cushion. [00:18:45][3.4]

[00:18:48] And just did the thing it was, it was, yeah, I honestly like I didn't. [00:18:55][7.1]

[00:18:58] I had a lot of good luck or really made some bad choices early. [00:19:02][3.7]

[00:19:03] You learn really hard lessons about overpromising. You learn really hard lessons about signing around clients. I've I've become a huge advocate of this position that, like you never regret the clients you don't sign, right? No. Nobody walks away from a deal being like, oh, I should have signed that. [00:19:27][24.1]

[00:19:29] So I think. [00:19:30][1.6]

[00:19:32] I think, yeah, it was it was tough and it was I always say it was like so I turned twenty fourteen was the year that I turned 40 and it was my I had the best mid-life crisis ever because I started a company. I actually ended up divorcing my husband and I got a BMW Slainte basically like the trifecta. And it was I paid off, paid off some a bunch of personal debt over time and yeah, it sounds awesome. It was it was honestly like it was the hardest, best thing I've ever done. [00:20:21][48.8]

[00:20:22] Yeah, well, Everest never comes easy. Right. Right. Do you. So you bootstrap the entire thing. [00:20:28][6.0]

[00:20:28] You had this original kind of flagship client that's still with you this year. We could go through it. Did you have a partner right off the bat? And also, I want to get into this woman dohnt business and purpose driven. You have like these populations you represent. Was that part of your original push when you went into it or did that form kind of organically as the company blossomed? [00:20:49][20.7]

[00:20:51] That was that was more organic. So it was it was true that when I started the company being able to pick my own clients was important. And I would say that, like, I don't want to work with anybody. I'm not going to be super proud to be successful. Right. And that that came from, you know, agency work is agency work. And it's hard to sometimes do your best work if you're not values aligned with the people that you're trying to promote. But so, so selfishly, I came into it with, like. I don't want to work with anybody I don't want to work with and then also always, you know, since since I was a teacher, I always sort of looking for like where is where is the way that I am going to contribute to making the world a better place? Like, how how what does that look like to me? And it was like, well, meaning people are like, oh, you're going to teach technology or you're going to try to like mash up my careers or whatever. And like, none of us felt right to me until I realized that. So the thing that's really, really like gets me super fired up. The thing that is so precious to me about our business is that if we're helping women owned businesses and purpose driven organizations like if their marketing gets better, then their ability to create good and create impact, create power and wealth for women and those that's its own good. So it's like the thing that I've built is actually an engine that creates it's like compounding good. It's not just that. Yeah, it's cool. Werb. And the thing I'm most proud of in my life is that I am a job creator. Right. Like those things are cool. But this other element of like actually creating cascading good by empowering others to do more good is that that's just that's why I get out of bed. [00:22:45][114.0]

[00:22:46] Yeah. And I think it's the completed system or piece of the final life cycle of that. I've actually had a lot of conversations with women, VCs and angels lately who talk about coming up with their original company as founders and getting investment from other women and how it's I think that some people view it in these past pieces. [00:23:08][22.3]

[00:23:08] And it's really important to understand that the most powerful thing for a lot of people involved in the system where people have kind of sat back and marinated in the entire structure and philosophy of change is that, you know, you start off getting help from women and then you go on to become the idea is, is that one day those women who are they're investing in will go on to become investors and therefore fulfilling the full life cycle of change. It's becoming that final factor, which it sounds like you're kind of describing here as well, which I think is really powerful. And we need to really consider when we when we talk about change in our environment and especially in the business landscape. So yours came about organically when you launched. Were you a single person team or did you have a couple of people with you? How quickly was your employee acquisition? [00:23:53][44.3]

[00:23:54] So I had a few people in my network that were they were they were supporters. And they basically came to me and said, I know you're thinking about doing this and I want to be a part of it. And one of them was a friend of mine from high school who has who herself was an entrepreneur and had helped other friends of hers launch businesses. And the other one was a young woman who had just finished her undergrad. And so I had that. So they were they were my first team and they were both part time contractors. And they sort of Kerry helped me with the sort of operations piece and setting up the LLC and all that kind of stuff. And Mia helped with executing some of the client work and stuff like that. I've had tremendous luck over my over over this experience of having really smart, wonderful, motivated people who are available to me part time so that I didn't need to jump in with a full salary right away, which really allowed me to scale so that we could build I could build the clients. Of course, at that time I was still doing quite a lot of client work. [00:25:15][81.1]

[00:25:16] And so I was able to sort of build the team, increase the clients, build the team, increase the clients, build the team. My first full time employee started on May 5th. Twenty fifth. Twenty fifteen. Oh well sorry. Twenty sixteen. That's right. [00:25:35][19.2]

[00:25:36] And and he still works for me and he's about to get his third title bump and his third raise and I'm super proud of him and his growth. And employee number two is right behind him. She started just a couple of months later and she still works for me too and nice. [00:25:54][18.2]

[00:25:55] So yeah. [00:25:56][0.6]

[00:25:56] So that's good retention. That's good marketing. I always tell people, you know, there's internal marketing that companies will do if you're interviewing for a good position and someone's going to start quoting like, you know, we've got people who have been on since the beginning. And that's, I think, really powerful because it's for inherent reasons. It's it's built into especially with small teams, people who want to be there and want to function. That's awesome. [00:26:20][24.0]

[00:26:21] So as you grow and as you have grown and you've kind of come into this woman doing business, how are you finding those clients? How are you guys? Are they all finding you? Do you have client acquisition where you go out and find these companies that are looking? [00:26:36][14.7]

[00:26:37] And also, do you have a niche? Do you have a specific area of marketing that you specialize in? Because marketing is like branding. It's one of those terms that's just started to include the kitchen sink, like everything. So can you kind of specify what you guys do and how you're finding your specific niche audience? [00:26:53][16.2]

[00:26:54] Yeah, so so I'll tell you, my goal for the thing I am actively engaged in right now is actually increasing my sales abilities because that's a thing that I never learned and never did. So most of our client acquisition up until this point has been referrals, it's been networking, it's been events. I have tremendous luck. I love to speak at events. And so I have really good luck being at events and happening to sit next to somebody that then turns out to be a wonderful client. So and that's that's happened many times, which is bonkers because that doesn't scale so. So the thing I'm trying to do right now is learn how to be better at the top of funnel marketing and also the sort of client qualification and and sales process. But so the work we do and this is this is one of the reasons why these are all the things I'm learning. Right. [00:27:59][65.9]

[00:28:00] Because the work we do is a really bottom line. It's about using digital channels to increase audience access and and engagement for our clients. [00:28:14][13.8]

[00:28:15] So so like that comes in three parts, right. Part one is strategy. So we dig in really hard on who are your people? Why would they or would they not engage with your organization? What does it mean to them to be a part of this audience, sort of really, really figure out like what makes them tick and what's the unique opportunity for the for the organization to reach them? [00:28:40][25.3]

[00:28:42] And then the second part is basically the execution piece of that. Where will we write ongoing content? We do very few projects. We're almost all monthly recurring retainers. [00:28:52][10.6]

[00:28:54] And that work is content creation on basically any digital channel. So we run paid ads, search social and native video. We run, you know, write articles for our clients. We manage their social media content and engagement, email newsletter subscriptions, like all of those things all the way down to like the optimization, sales optimization, stuff like that. And then the third piece is the measurement and optimization, which that's the thing that I'm super passionate about, because one of the things I always blew me away in the agency work that I did before was that like especially relative to the the work that I had done with the serial entrepreneur was this question of accountability. [00:29:42][48.0]

[00:29:42] Like agencies just like take money and then put ads out in the world and then are like, cool, thanks, client. That was fun. And it just baffles me how nobody's being held accountable, like there's it's digital. We can measure it and we can make it better. [00:29:58][15.8]

[00:29:59] And so this is one of the reasons why nonprofits and small, like small and new organizations really, really benefit from us because that strategy makes things so much more efficient. [00:30:09][10.5]

[00:30:11] You can get a lot more bang for your buck that way. And so we end up doing come back in the in the search engine optimization land now. And we do all kinds of run big campaigns for clients where we're constantly optimizing to be testing, run small campaigns for clients, or we're just trying to get a little bit more brand awareness across their social media channels like everything. [00:30:38][26.9]

[00:30:39] That's interesting. So when you talk about digital channels, are you talking about mainly social media channels? [00:30:43][3.9]

[00:30:44] Yeah, I mean, also Web. We write lots of evergreen content for websites, Wheelwright website copy too. But mostly it's about the ongoing engagement. So it's articles, social media newsletters, the stuff that it's really about. Because, you know, one of my philosophies is and this isn't like novel, but like your cheapest new customer is an old customer. Right. And the cheapest new customer is actually a friend of your old customer. [00:31:12][27.9]

[00:31:13] So if you get those to that messaging right, then it can really loosen up a lot of opportunity in other places. [00:31:20][6.9]

[00:31:21] Absolutely, yeah, a thousand percent, and I like that that continuity, I mean, I think that there's a lot even I see like kind of a beautiful form of nepotism built into if you're servicing women owned businesses, their clients would likely be at least largely women owned as well. [00:31:39][17.8]

[00:31:39] There's this kind of chain effect that could be going on with the things that you're doing. As far as the content creation, I have a question for you here. I was talking to a founder recently, and she has a niche genre that she's involved in. And she said, I have marketing teams that I work with, but none of them can create. She's this high, high level Silicon Valley exec. And she said, I don't trust that the content writing for the marketing firms was more based on how she wanted to be represented. And I'm wondering, do you run across that? Do you have people that have like these nature genre specific marketing areas to write to you? Because when you're writing content and you're writing it for a plethora of different fields and depending on who your clients are, you ever run into just not having an expert enough voice or when that happens, do you outsource to somebody else? [00:32:34][54.9]

[00:32:35] Yeah, that's such a good question, because that's that is that's often the thing. Right. And. So there's a few there's a few different things, it's funny that you describe that because we we do have a client that is, as you described, a very opinionated, successful Silicon Valley SAS leader. And but her her product is still like consumer facing. It's its niche, but pretty, pretty broad audience. And we couldn't read content that satisfied her. Some some clients, they just any anything that's not exactly as they would have done. It isn't satisfying. And I get that it doesn't happen to us very often because we are so focused on strategy and because we spend so much time making sure that we understand the audience and the brand messages and how they align in order to move who whoever's reading it to do the thing. [00:33:45][69.9]

[00:33:47] So we find that with new clients, we spend a lot more time on strategy and nailing down the briefs and stuff like that. But we write for some pretty complicated situations. [00:33:57][10.4]

[00:33:58] You know, we're working with an impact investor right now that has a real tricky situation because their borrower audiences are mom and pop shops on Main Street, mostly, especially in San Diego, mostly immigrant communities and stuff like that. And they they need to they're like struggling with how to put an authentic and consistent brand message in front of those audiences at the same time that they're doing it in front of accredited investors and finance managers and stuff like that. [00:34:34][36.0]

[00:34:34] And so that's where that's where we really shine, because that's the authenticity, you know, that that whole picture of what we go for, that's that's what the diamond and branches. Right. The transparency and the connectedness and the multifaceted all at the same time, right? [00:34:50][15.9]

[00:34:51] Absolutely. Yeah. And I think it's that's interesting. I mean, for me, it feels daunting, but it sounds like you guys have it nailed down. [00:35:00][9.2]

[00:35:00] I mean, writing content, I guess there's just so much different kinds of content out there. Like you said, you're branching with the mom and pop all the way across the board. But with your so the goals that you have really leaning forward the next three years, you said increasing sales ability, kind of leaning away from this very auspiciously gifted moment of bumping into your next client events you speak at when you you have the increasing the sales ability. But and I think it's historically ironic. I do have to point out that, you know, you're this master of communication and giving everyone else's word out there. But your own word out there is is coming into, like, rubbing shoulders with someone at a conference. Yeah, I think that that's awesome. I love that kind of disparity in life. But aside from that and my my reveling in your existence, what is what's your goals for yourself and for the company for the next three years? And do you delineate do you have personal goals that aren't your company or have you guys just fuzed into one? [00:36:02][62.2]

[00:36:04] Yeah, at this point we're pretty we're pretty fuzed into one because even the things that are the goals for the things that I'm working on are somehow related. [00:36:13][8.8]

[00:36:14] Yeah, it's all it's all connected. I have right now of the nine committed team members, four of us are full time. [00:36:28][14.2]

[00:36:30] And my goal is that all eight of us will be well, no, that's not true, there's two who will never be full time. That's their deal. [00:36:37][7.6]

[00:36:38] But so my goal is that the other seven are full time by the end of the year, by the end of next year, because that's a that's a big bump. And then that we add a couple more. So I have eight of us here in San Diego and one is in Portland. I really want to build my business and specifically in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle has the highest density of women entrepreneurs in the country. Obviously, the the culture out there is really progressive. And there's a lot of really good, really good responsible investing and nonprofit activity and stuff like that. So I have I have a wonderful employee there and really looking forward to. [00:37:23][45.0]

[00:37:23] So my actual goal is to also have her and at least one other person in an office in Portland by the end of the year. [00:37:31][7.3]

[00:37:32] Are you worried ever about scaling too quickly? [00:37:34][1.8]

[00:37:34] I mean, champagne problems, but they actually become quite realistic for people like real growth and knowing when to pull back versus when to grow quickly like it's a tenuous dance. [00:37:46][11.3]

[00:37:47] It really is. And the main reason why I'm not is because I'm not taking on partners. I'm not taking on investment. And so we are in right now. We're in a constant, constant tension between what are the client needs, what's in the sales pipeline. And if we if we get that work, who's going to do work? And right now, I am thrilled to say that I have I know who's going to do the work and it's on me to sell the work so that they can do it. So I I'm not worried about it from that point of view because we've been able to sort of step up a little bit at a time. Both sides my spreadsheet says that right around twelve full time employees is when it doesn't have to be so reactive. [00:38:37][50.2]

[00:38:38] Right. It loosens up a little space in the in the margins. But the other thing is that, like I said, like, I'm I'm pretty ambitious and I'm a and I'm good at systems. [00:38:54][16.3]

[00:38:56] So there's a lot of pitfalls that I've seen other agency owners fall into in terms of continuing to stay involved in systems that prevent them from doing other things right. So we have really clear communications guidelines, accountability. We have really clear like I don't do almost any client billable work anymore, like three or four hours a week maybe. And and it's because we've my team is super reliable and they're empowered to get their work done and to solve their own problems. And I think I built this thing to scale. I talk about it all the time with the team that like this is this is how I know that we can grow because you guys don't like the last two summers. I left the office for between four and six weeks to go to the Pacific Northwest to do some networking, attend an event, sort of dig in and see what I can do up there. And my clients don't even know I'm gone because I'm still working from the road. My team is still showing up and getting everything done. I really worked really hard to make sure that the thing is set up to run. [00:40:13][77.3]

[00:40:14] Yeah, I mean, I just spoke with a founder who said that her goal was to make her position obsolete. Yeah. At first I thought that's ridiculous. And then I thought, well, no, that's actually kind of genius, you know? [00:40:26][12.1]

[00:40:27] I mean, at some point to just be the deity over everything is tasting. It probably means you've built the ship to run. I mean, it works well that way. I like that idea. [00:40:37][10.1]

[00:40:37] And it sounds like you've you've done it from a more microscopic standpoint, too. You've taken a really tight, sturdy team and then the idea of raising them all into full time. And then it is at that point, it is built to scale it. Absolutely. Well, I like those goals, too, because they're very there's something that feels very cement about them and less. I think sometimes when we talk about goals, people just have this kind of fantastic idea about I don't know, I think I want to open and I want to grow by 20 percent. What does that mean? This sounds more tangible. You've got seven people want them full time, like I like that idea. So if you ran into someone who today is Thursday, let's say a Saturday hanging out on the street with some coffee somewhere and you bump into as it sounds like you're prone to do, a young woman who says, listen, I just got done with. Barkley did some startup stuff, don't like those cats I played around with a little bit of education, I'm going to go out and start my own thing. I'm going to do marketing. I think I've got a real knack for it. What are the three top pieces of advice that you would give her? [00:41:42][65.2]

[00:41:47] I would tell her. [00:41:48][1.0]

[00:41:52] To be very. [00:41:54][2.1]

[00:41:59] Very clear on what she had to offer an honest with yourself about what she wasn't good at. To avoid overpromising and and ruining client relationships, I would tell her. [00:42:15][16.2]

[00:42:18] That. [00:42:18][0.0]

[00:42:24] If you don't take care of yourself first, you can't take care of anybody else. [00:42:28][3.4]

[00:42:37] And I would tell her not to underestimate. The value of her unique perspective in the work that she was doing. [00:42:48][11.4]

[00:42:53] So be very clear about what she has to offer and what she isn't good at. Mm hmm. Take care of herself, otherwise she can't take care of anyone else. And don't underestimate her unique perspective. Yeah. Those are perfect. I want those on my tombstone, but in reverse. [00:43:12][19.7]

[00:43:13] Patricia was and then these three attributes. How did you come upon finding your unique perspective? [00:43:18][5.5]

[00:43:21] Well, it's hard fought, and I think that's. [00:43:24][2.3]

[00:43:26] That's one of the things I find over and over again that, like, I don't think very much I don't recognize. [00:43:36][9.3]

[00:43:39] Sort of how different my perspective is on marketing when I start talking to people about how we do our work. They're like, wow, I've never heard anybody think of it that way. And that's so, you know, like I talk to other agency owners about our process. I talk to entrepreneurs all the time about our approach. [00:43:55][15.9]

[00:43:56] And it's. It's easy for me to sort of blow it off, but I think the reason why it is what it is, is because there's a little bit of that fourth grade teacher in there, like trying to empower critical thinking and opportunity. [00:44:14][18.1]

[00:44:15] And there's a little bit of that, like, you know, frankly, sort of rejected and tortured, like pre feminist woman. And like all of these different experiences really inform how I manage my company and how we go about our work. And nobody else is walk this path, you know? [00:44:39][24.3]

[00:44:40] Absolutely. Yeah. I think it is baked into your story and the testimony therein. Well, we are out of time today. [00:44:47][7.5]

[00:44:48] I want to say thank you so much to you, Lindsay, for taking the time. I know that founders everyone's busy and founders don't sleep. [00:44:54][6.7]

[00:44:55] And so I appreciate you taking an hour and meeting with me online to discuss you and Diamond and branch marketing. What is your website? [00:45:03][8.0]

[00:45:04] It's Diamond and Branch Dotcom. [00:45:06][1.7]

[00:45:07] Cool. And you guys can locate Lindsay. You can learn all about her. I like the website. [00:45:11][4.3]

[00:45:12] I like that you guys kind of pass out like the distinct core values. I think a lot of people do it, but I really agree with yours. And I like the just the verbiage and the clear, concise words about the values. And I hope Waffles is still around because he looks adorable. [00:45:27][15.6]

[00:45:29] He is. I actually had to say goodbye to Waffles in April of this year, but he was a very good, very good guard dog. Excellent. [00:45:39][10.1]

[00:45:40] Well, hopefully that will be more. But thank you so much for talking with me today. I really appreciate your candor and your story. I just I find it so insightful and the communities that you're serving and I can't wait. I'm going to circle back around and grab you in a year and find out how the Pacific Northwest office is going. [00:46:00][19.7]

[00:46:00] Awesome. You hold me to it. Thank you. [00:46:02][1.9]

[00:46:03] I will. Thank you so much. [00:46:04][1.0]

[00:46:04] And for everyone listening, thank you for lending your ear. And until we speak again next time, remember to always bet on yourself. Slainte. [00:46:04][0.0]


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