In this how OKRs help managing projects episode, Chris discusses the value he places on OKRs, objectives and key results. For him, if something is not measurable it is not worth the time and money to pursue. Chris talks about the various methods of measuring key results that he uses at Juhll, including systems like JIRA, Confluence, BigTime, Quick Books and Slack. These software systems are implemented with the sole purpose of tracking projects in order to remain as efficient as possible. He also speaks to how he has changed his company’s policy on meetings: they should be concise, straightforward and productive. He likes to put himself in his clients’ shoes in order to put their interests first. To accomplish this, he expects the team to work with a higher level of transparency, sophisticated planning and communication. In the episode "Do you have the right people?", he goes into more detail about recruiting and finding talent for his business.
Welcome back to the Snyder Showdown podcast, where entrepreneur and digital marketer Chris Snyder openly discusses the current trends in digital marketing as well as processes to build a successful business. He’s the President and partner at Juhll.com, a full-service digital marketing agency as well as the founder, operator and investor in Banks.com, a financial online market place aimed to become everyone’s trusted, go-to resource for all things financial on the web.
“I’m a big believer in ‘If you can’t measure it, I don’t wanna do it.’ I don’t wanna touch it. I don’t wanna talk about it. I really don’t want anything to do with it.” (03:42)
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“The way I communicate, that’s my superpower. That’s what I do. So, I’m very specific about what I want and I know what I want works because I’ve being that a long time.” (09:47)
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“Sometimes, since I’m not as involved in the day-to-day as I used to be, I don’t know what’s going on.” (21:14)
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“I expect a higher level of transparency. I expect a higher level of sophistication as it relates to planning. I expect a higher level of communication. I expect a higher level of delegation.” (22:40)
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Chris Snyder: I'm not going to apologize for making a big deal out of being, wanting to be perfect and wanting to be a high quality shop that absolutely can change a business in six to eight weeks with a marketing program that no one else was able to do and it's attention to detail. It's showing up on time, it's doing your job, it's taking notes, it's running the project properly. It's all of it. And if you can't do it and you don't want to do it, I'm sorry, not going to apologize for that. We got to do this thing the right way.
Automated: Welcome to Snyder show down an original jewel agency production. This is the show for unvarnished conversations about what's really happening in the world of digital advertising with stories from the trenches about what's working and what's not. It's your host, president of Jewel Agency and owner of banks.com Chris Snyder.
Chris Snyder: One of the things that I've been thinking hard about, and I think we touched on this a little bit yesterday, is operating the same way with the same behavior in the same attitudes as you've always done or we've always done or any company always does. I think that that's not going to work in in the future. I think that and let me explain that a little bit. So in a previous episode we talked about or shared ideas on how we could potentially get content contributors to think about how they could help consumers that come to banks.com learn more, be more effective with their finances, personal finances and so forth. And I think that getting back to my point, the model traditionally has been paid to play. And I'm only using this one example because it was in my prior episode. The model has always been paid to play. And I think one of the things we closed off on as we closed that episode was, well I don't want to do that model anymore.
We talked a little bit about hiring practices, we talked a little bit about how to manage people. I think, we may have talked about remote work and how people are changing and how attitudes and behaviors are changing. And by the way, it's not just the millennials who want to do remote work. There's, I mean there's 55 year old folks that don't want to go to an office and don't want to deal with the everyday corporate bullshit because they just want to do their work and then they want to spend time with their family, right? Or they want to spend time with their friends or they want to do their little side hustle, which maybe I'm going to talk about that today too. At the end of the day, work is changing so dramatically and the unemployment rate is so low. As a business owner, you really have to figure out how you want to run your ship and not kind of be tossed around by how society is demanding or even how your partners or your integration, and when I say partners, I'm always referring to vendors.
I don't call vendors, vendors, I call them partners because I feel like they're our partners. So if we work with an outsource firm for analytics, they're our business partners, right? If we work with an outsource firm to buy Facebook paid media and we manage that process, those guys are our partners. So when I say partners, that's what I'm referring to. Not referring to like a business partner at this agency. But I guess what I'm getting at is you have to be really confident in who you are and what you're trying to do in the mission that you are trying to achieve. And you really need to take a chance and set that course and then you need to invite people to join your way of doing things. Does that make sense?
Harry: Could you elaborate on that a little bit?
Chris Snyder: Yeah, because, I would say that over the last, I've been doing this since 2008 so it's been 10 and a half years now, since August of 2008 I've been doing this. Being an entrepreneur, having my own company, my business partner and I have done a lot of really neat and interesting things together, but it's always been self sustainable. We've never had to rely on anyone or depend on anyone but ourselves. What I found in reflection of the last 10 years and I'm going to do something different this year, I found that we pretty much would look outside to what the trends are that's going in hiring or what are the trends that are going on in employee management or what are the trends that are going on in vendor management or whatever you want, what are the going rates for this kind of person or that kind of person as it relates to employment or is it okay for some folks to come into the office and some folks to work from home.
Like we always looked outside to what everyone else was doing to kind of get our guidance and this year I'm not going to look outside at all. I mean honestly, and I'm going to bring this all together by saying, look, get on the bus or get off the bus, but it's my bus and you know what? It's not for everybody. This bus ain't for everybody.
Harry: When you say you're looking in the past, you are looking to others for outside guidance? What do that look like?
Chris Snyder: I would say others, not individuals. I wouldn't say specifically individuals. I would say my business partner and I, we have a sounding board. We have a strategic coach. He's an amazing human being and he knows us. He's known us for about 15 years. So when shit really hits the fan and we're about to make a decision, we would use him as a sounding board and he always gave what I believe to be great advice. But at the end of the day, you're the captain of the ship. You have to make these decisions, you have to be very decisive, and at the end of the day you got to go with your gut.
So when I say I'm going to stop looking externally as much for the way that I want to do things, I think it's good to be aware. Of course, I think it's good to read. I read a lot. I think it's good to know what Elon Musk is doing, but honestly it's not helpful because here's the difference between someone like that or someone who has an agency that might be the same size as ours or someone who's building a business from scratch, like banks.com or like my business partner's business lifetime wishes.
It's impossible to be in their context in the exact moment of their life to listen to that advice and really say, oh, it worked for you. It's going to work for me. That's not true. I would actually suggest that is rarely true, that whatever they're experiencing in that moment is exactly what you need to do for your business in your moment because it's completely out of context. There's no framework for historicals and there's no framework for any of the different dimensions that, that entrepreneur is dealing with. And I can guarantee you if they're talking on a podcast or if they're writing in a blog, I can guarantee you they're not being completely open about everything that got them to that decision because there's just some things that you have to keep private, right? Maybe for political reasons, maybe you don't want to hurt someone's feelings, whatever.
And I've read a lot of business books, and I use that term, on the bus or off the bus. That's a famous, Jack Welch saying I believe. But at the end of the day, I've always kind of pulled the bus over and I've said, hey, I got a bus. It's not the best bus on the planet. And I'm not sure if you would accept a ride on my bus. And it would be okay if you got on the bus and sort of just, I would appreciate it if you kind of followed the direction of the rules of the bus. But in general, if you want to do whatever you want on this bus, go ahead. Because I'm afraid that if you get off the bus, then I won't have enough people on the bus. Does that make sense?
Harry: Yeah there's a conversations you've had in the past with just your employees or partners as well.
Chris Snyder: No, I haven't had this conversation with anyone and so I'm having this conversation with myself. In my mind, I'm having this conversation with my business partner and we've had these conversations for years and years and years, but here's the point. The point is from a macro, and this is not about employees and this is not about vendors. This is not about, this is about my path and choosing the bus and choosing, like who gets on that bus and who gets off that bus and not being so worried about am I doing the right thing from a macro? Am I, Oh, before I make a decision, let me call my business coach. Oh, let me send out a survey to all my vendors and ask them how they would feel about not getting Christmas cards this year. Like, seriously, why are we so overly concerned with everything going on around us when everything going on around us is irrelevant to our current situation right here and right now?
Because my situation here is unique and so is yours and so are a lot of other peoples, right? That doesn't mean we can't learn from other people's contextually unique situations. All it means is for me this year I am going to, and I've said this over the years, like I got to get tougher. I got to get tougher. I feel, I mean you probably ask, a lot of people are like, dude, you're probably just fine in that department. I'm not. You talk to any venture capitalists, you talk to any private equity person. You talk to anybody who is hardcore entrepreneurial, and they've built a lot of businesses. They're a hell of a lot tougher as the years go on and so that doesn't mean that they're not fair. It doesn't mean that they're not patient.
It doesn't mean that they're not capable of mentoring. It just means that guess what? They have a very specific vision and they have a very specific path they're going to take and they are going to take it and for right or wrong for failure or not. That's the deal. My point to this is this year I am committed to creating that path, not looking so much at the macro in getting tossed around by every single little thing that that society says or that business says we are supposed to be doing. Forget that. That's not what got us here, so I'm not doing that anymore. What got us here is taking risks, having an opinion, having a point of view and working really, really fucking hard and getting the shit done that no one else can get done or doesn't want to get done and not only doing it but doing it at a really high level.
If outside forces want to suggest, well that bus is too bouncy or those seats are too hard or that compensation package isn't big enough or those pink pong tables aren't big enough, then fuck it. I'm done. Like I'm done with that stuff. I don't care. Getting in the priorities of our business, having vision, having principles, having some moral compass to do the right things that we believe is the right things. That's what we're going to do.
Harry: So to make this more tangible for the listener, I think it might be helpful if you can, the irony is that like people are listening and they're going to have an idea of what they might want their business to look like based on this conversation, right? So in effect, they're probably not taking your advice to run their own bus. But I think it'd be helpful because they may be at the point where you were five years ago, 10 years ago. So I think it's helpful for them to understand what you've gone through and why you feel that now is the time that you need to stop listening to advice or guidance or articles or videos about how other people are running their business. Because you now know enough. I've learned enough and have gone through the ups and downs and suffered the bruises. You now know exactly what you need to do to execute. And you don't need any other outside influences to do that.
Chris Snyder: Yeah. You know, I may have given this advice in a prior episode, you have to be brave and if you feel like there's something that needs to be done, a very specific in certain way, whether it be a compensation package, whether it be a benefits package for your staff, whatever it is. 401K's I mean name it, there's a litany of very specific things that an entrepreneur has to put in place to attract and retain talent. So that's only one use case where you know, you're getting pulled because there's a fear of, hey, if I don't go out on the market and act like all my competitors and my competitors are like Google and Facebook and startups that have $100 million in funding, right? So that's the macro environment. And what I'm suggesting is, you know what, you need to figure out how to be bold and be brave and do what you're good at, which is probably selling your vision and how your bus operates.
And it's not for everyone, but there are people out there that will get on that bus. The compensation packages might not be as good. The benefits packages might not be as good. The pay time off might suck, the office space might suck or it might be nonexistent. There might not be a company Christmas party. These are all things that attract, supposedly, supposedly attract and retain top talent. I can tell you for sure that is not what attracts and retains top talent that might entice top talent. So come there and explore this vision that you've put in front of them, but if you're a jerk boss or you don't have vision or you don't have a great product or you guys aren't doing a good job with your business and the business kind of sucks and it's failing and things aren't going well and guess what? People aren't going to want to be there regardless of the compensation package.
Harry: Can you talk a little bit about how you're doing that now with the agency and the conversations that you're having now that are different than the ones used to have or you maybe would try to entice people to come in with the flashy stuff and why you realize that that doesn't work and how that's changed now, the messaging that you give to people that you want on your team.
Chris Snyder: Yeah, and you know, it's interesting everyone on our team now obviously in digital, I think the average tenure for an employee or a staff member just in general is probably like 18 months. So I think that I've probably seen 50 or so people over the last 10 years come in and out of here, right? It might be more it's probably more. If you think about contractors and, part time employees and things of that nature. I think to answer your question, my behavior historically has been how do we do more, how do we do more? How do we, someone comes in to my office and says, Hey, I want more. And my immediate reaction is, okay, how do we do more? And so getting really super specific about it is, I'm not going to do more anymore. I'm not.
Harry: Just let's clarify here. Because when they're coming in and your employee comes in and they want more, they want more salary, they want more compensation, is that what you mean?
Chris Snyder: No, I mean I'm being general on generalizing. It can be in the form of salary, it can be in the form of extra days off. It can be in the form of additional packages or what have you. And again, I would say historically from a macro, my business partner and I have actually been overly, overly generous and we've done that because we've been so focused on reading and listening and following, trying to fast follow companies that can afford to support that type of behavior and can afford to support those types of folks working there. And we are not them. We are not that company. We're not that company. And although we've always done really well and we've always compensated, you know, our employees, our vendors like I mean, we pay everybody extremely well. And so what I'm getting at is a mindset thing.
As a founder, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, what I want to focus on this year is really trying to figure out how to give our people the message that this is a very entrepreneurial environment and by the way, all of our people know that or else they wouldn't be here because all of our people that are here now except for one have been here for over three years. All of them. So at the end of the day, getting back to the bus and what it looks like and how it goes and how it drives, we only want to attract and then subsequently retain people that aren't coming here for those types of perks. They're coming here because they want to take a risk and it's not a full risk, but you're going to get a lot of responsibility. You're going to get a lot of rope, you're probably going to be put in charge of some very large stuff.
You're going to be working side by side with me with high level executives and business contacts and when you screw that up, it is not good. That's what this place is and when people call us, they really, really do need those people that can provide that kind of help and that kind of service and it's not the kind of people that are kind of kicking back in waiting to see if their 401k is growing. That's not the kind of organization we are and I'm going to, I'm not going to try to be that organization anymore. There's no, absolutely no apologies for it. None.
Harry: It seems like that would be a race to the bottom because if that type of person comes to your company and they have that mindset about just, I'm just trying to get the best deal. I'm just trying to get the best package, the best compensation, 401k to your point as quick as possible. They're just looking at it I think from a monetary perspective and a paycheck. So they just coming in, checking in, checking out. I do what Chris has asked me to do and he pays me what he promised to pay me.
Chris Snyder: That's right.
Harry: Continuing to push people and asking people earlier on if they have that entrepreneurial spirit. I've heard it described as intrepreneurial, which is with an, i as opposed to e, but it's for people who have that entrepreneurial spirit, but they're working within the confines of a company.
Chris Snyder: And you know what? Honestly, it's really, really hard to find because I was always that person. Like I always went above and beyond. I always gave 100% of my attention to my job. There are people out there that want the stability and the safety and security of that paycheck and that, whatever else comes along with it, but at the same time, every free minute they have, they're giving their time to other companies so they can make more money and fulfill some other need that they have. You're not being honest, you're not being honest with yourself. You're certainly not being honest with the person who's paying your paycheck and if you don't like it, leave. Don't just stay there as you can get your paycheck. That's just not being forthright at all, and it's really difficult to move an organization forward if you have people like that, that are working there, and I've had clients, and I've walked through those halls and I've seen firsthand all of the side gigs and the side jobs and the this and the that.
It's really frustrating to watch that. I think for me this year I really want to hone in on deflecting the macro trends because there's a lot of noise in our society right now from many levels. I'm not just talking about marketing macro trends buy Facebook, don't buy Facebook, buy google, don't buy google, look from a macro, it's so noisy out there. So what I want to do actually is eliminate all this noise, create my own environment and just do that. Just try that because I've tried really evaluating and being thoughtful about what's going on around me as I communicate with our team, and our vendors/business partners and everybody else and I'm just, I'm just kind of over it because all I'm really doing is taking a message from the macro trying to apply it to my contextual situation, which is not irrelevant and inaccurate and it's not brave, and it's not bold, and it doesn't work.
It doesn't work. You really want to surround yourself with folks that have a personality that is founded in some core values, founded in some principles. Hopefully, they've got a bit of a fire burning inside to really truly own this stuff and to build something and see something grow. And I think I'm going to just get a lot better at trying to recognize who those folks are, so I can bring them here, and we can all do really fun, interesting stuff together because that's what they want to do and that's what I want to do. And if you don't want to do that, there's a lot of jobs out there. The unemployment rate is zero. It's a personality thing, right? It's a personality thing. It's a goal setting thing. It's a deep understanding of what makes people tick thing and then it's also being radically transparent about your expectations.
I honestly expect perfection. I do, and you know what? I'm tired of apologizing for it. I don't care if you don't want to be perfect, or you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. That's not, I can't deal with that, but the macro says, right? The macro says, oh, come on. It's just a thing. It's just, it's not that big of a deal. Why are you making such a big deal out of that? Because I'm not going to apologize for making a big deal out of being, wanting to be perfect and wanting to be a high quality shop that absolutely can change a business in six to eight weeks with the marketing program that no one else was able to do, and it's attention to detail. It's showing up on time. It's doing your job, it's taking notes, it's running the project properly. It's all of it. And if you can't do it and you don't want to do it, I'm sorry, I'm not going to apologize for that. We got to do this thing the right way.
Harry: I think the only thing there would be if you had any guidance for people that want to have these types of conversations with, they want to run a business like this where they're performing at a really high level, and they want to bring on high performers, and they want to manage expectations with these folks. And so is there some guidance in terms of the types of conversations you have with people early on, so they know what they're getting into?
Chris Snyder: Yeah, and I think that the number one thing you need to do is you need to decide who you are and be comfortable with who you are and where your expertise lies and your management style and your path. That's the number one thing you need to do. Before you might insinuate that you're going to start hiring a bunch of superstars and then magically you guys are all going to get along. That ain't going to work. And so for me, I'd rather front load all those really tough discussions. And I'm not talking about being dramatic for effect. I'm talking about when shit really hits the fan, and you know, situations going to get hot. I'm talking about front loading all of that in the interview process and in the relationship building process. Because by the way, this isn't for me, this isn't just about 2019 isn't just about this for my business.
This is about this for my life in general. And so you got to front load and be super clear and radically transparent and honest about who you are and what you want to be. And if you feel like, well, let me think about how I say that and let me nuance it a little and let me, you know that client I went to their Linkedin, and it looks like they have an MBA from Harvard and I better be careful, fuck that. You know what? Fuck that. My advice is be honest with yourself. Be comfortable with yourself. Understand who you are and what you're really good at. And you know what? I hope you're really good at it because if you're not, and you're being dishonest with yourself, and you think you're a bad ass media buyer, and you're really just shitty, or if you think you're a bad ass creative artists, and you're really just shitty, like be honest with yourself, own it.
So I can pull a report, and I can understand if you did what you said you were going to do. I don't have to know Dev to understand. If people are telling me they're going to do shit, and they're not doing shit, right? You don't have to be a dev to figure that out. But my advice is be a bad ass at one thing. Surround yourself with equal bad asses at that thing or people who are better than you at that thing that you get along with really well. So you all can be bad asses together and enjoy your life and just be honest, be transparent. And if it feels uncomfortable to do it or say it, my suggestion is go ahead and do that.
Harry: And know your limitations.
Chris Snyder: Yeah. And know your limitations, right? I'm not suggesting you get on the CNBC squawk box in the morning and say all kinds of ridiculous shit. That's not what I'm saying. You got to take some chances. You got to be willing to take some chances, and I'm taking the chances, and I have been taking the chances. I'm no longer willing to try to refine or flatten how we operate here. I'm not going to do it. It is what it is and you know what, if you don't like it, fine. If you're a client, you don't like it, fine. It's fine. It's totally fine.
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