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Ep. 15 — Zach Stepek, CEO of Mighty Swarm, on lessening the burden of being an agency owner

Digital Agency Owners Podcast
Ep. 15 — Zach Stepek, CEO of Mighty Swarm, on lessening the burden of being an agency owner
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On our latest episode of the GoWP Digital Agency Owners Podcast, we welcome Zach Stepek! CEO of Mighty Swarm. We talk about the origin of Mighty Swarm, the elements to lessen the burden of being an agency owner, partnership, solving e-commerce complex problems, and much more.  

Read the transcript:

Morayo: [00:00:00] Welcome to GoWP digital agency podcast. I’m Morayo Orija director of creative services with GoWP.

Joanne: [00:00:11] And I’m Joanne Torres. Before we welcome our guests, I would like to say a few words about GoWP in case anyone listening, isn’t familiar with us and our WordPress services. So at GoWP we create happiness for digital agencies and help them become more profitable.

Whether it’s joining in our incredibly valuable weekly calls, our happiness hour calls, or if you’re looking to grow your team with a developer, a copywriter, a designer, or a project manager. We got you covered. So we also have services like case studies, blogging, website, maintenance, content edits, and page builds that you can completely outsource to our team. And I would recommend everyone who’s listening, who’s so curious to check out our social media or our gowp.com and on Twitter, we’re GoWP support and everywhere else. We’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and yeah, follow us there so you can receive any kind of update you’re looking for and just to see what’s going on.

So let’s go ahead and welcome our guest Morayo

Morayo: [00:01:19] Thank you, Joanne. Yes, we are welcoming today’s guest, Mr. Zach. He’s a man of very diverse experiences in the field and other fields that we’ll talk about today, and currently, he is the CEO of Mighty Swarm and we are so welcome and honored to have him here today in our presence.

Welcome, Zach.

Zach: [00:01:39] Well, thank you for having me. I’m excited to be guest number seven. I appreciate that.

Morayo: [00:01:44] But you’re so much more than just guest number seven, Zach.

Zach: [00:01:50] I appreciate that

Joanne: [00:01:51] Lucky number seven they say.

Morayo: [00:01:53] Lucky number seven. And you know, as we get started, I would like to start the conversation, exploring the name of mighty swarm and where it came from. And because I know we’ll be talking about music today, when I hear mighty swarm, I can’t stop but think of Wutang Clan, but I’m going to assume that’s not the origin of the name.

Can you enlighten us about the origin of that name?

Zach: [00:02:17] It’s not. So previously I ran another agency, and I founded it, started it, ran it for three and a half years. And and then I left and I left because honestly, running an agency with all of the overhead and six figures of payroll every month. And all of those things was a lot of stress. It was a lot to take on.

And there were a lot of other things going on in life personally at that time, and it just was time for me to separate from that. So in looking at what I wanted to do next, I thought, well, what’s the opposite of an agency? What is something that can accomplish the same goals without the overhead? The structure the complexity, the confusion of an agency. And at the same time, how can I build reliable teams around individual products and projects that I’m working on and produce a reliable output every time by building teams around or swarming around each project. So that’s where it came from. So we are a mighty swarm in that when we come together as a group of experts, as a group of collaborators together, we are stronger than the sum of one.

Morayo: [00:03:51] Also the reason that Wutang clan was formed on that same philosophy. I just wanna put that out there. I’m totally kidding. But you know, like we might skip around a little bit with the questions, and if that’s okay, just as we converse organically,

Zach: [00:04:05] Ofcourse

Morayo: [00:04:05] You know, speaking on that, looking at your experiences in my research of you, just a lot of impressive responsibilities you’ve had. And so I’m very curious, as you know, I know that you talked about, you wanted to lessen some of the burdens of being an agency owner, but what elements of your past responsibilities, even in the artistic realms?

Like what elements did you hold onto that you said no, but I want this, you know, with mighty swarm, I want this to be a part of my everyday experience when I work, and as I build those teams that you mentioned that swarm?

Zach: [00:04:44] So I like leading people. I like helping website owners, in general, to navigate complexity and simplify their lives. I enjoy the challenge that comes from taking on difficult problems, such as scaling a website to deal with millions of dollars worth of orders an hour.

 That’s a challenge I would like and stretching the tools to accomplish those goals, and the beauty of working in a platform like WordPress with WooCommerce, where things are open source, is that we can do things that are outside of the box. Right. And so I enjoy architecting and helping to build a plan for how to make things that seem crazy to some people work and work well.

So, my former agency was focused on much the same area of expertise, but in this case, I’ve taken it a step further and I can turn to the direct experts rather than just the staff I have on hand. Right. And I find that a lot of times I see agencies that try to shoehorn resources into a project simply because they need to book their time.

Morayo: [00:06:05] Mm-hmm

Zach: [00:06:06] I don’t have to do that ever.

And I’m not saying every agency does it, but I’ve seen it happen. And so I can build a specialist team and sure that costs me more per hour for those resources. And that’s fine, but I can also augment that team. Right. And so I can augment that team using things like the dedicated developer service from GoWP.

There are things that there are things that don’t require that level of very specific laser-focused expertise in a certain area. I can bring in other resources to fill the gaps in between. And that’s all part of the swarm. Just like in a beehive, there are bees that have different roles, right? In our swarm, there are people who have different roles and they fit those roles perfectly.

And we don’t expect them to run outside of those roles. So, you know, I partner with Mint virtual with Jay on doing project management because while I can do it, I don’t want to do it. It’s not what brings me life.

Joanne: [00:07:25] You want to spend more time growing your business essentially.

Zach: [00:07:29] Yeah.

Joanne: [00:07:30] And keep finding opportunities?

Zach: [00:07:32] And Jay loves that work. And the other thing he loves is helping agency owners grow their agencies. So it’s a perfect partnership in that regard. You know, we get to work together to build each other’s companies. I.

Joanne: [00:07:45] That’s such a good example of partnership within our WordPress community, because every time I hear about it, I’m always so kinda like warms my heart in a way because there’s so many synergies between what you do, what J does, what we do, and what most people in our community do.

So it’s so great to hear every time that people are taking, I wanna say, taking advantage of that, but that sounds kind of like as if you’re abusing it or something, but it’s not, it’s just kind of like you using the tools that you have and in terms of using the tools that, that you have, I kind of wanna take a step back to the beginning of what you were saying, that you were interested in more solving complex problems and in terms of solving problems for your customers.

So could you give us an example of like what is an ideal, not an ideal Complex problem, but what is a complex problem that you have solved and that has resulted in a happy customer in the sense of, oh, I was able to scale my, I don’t know my eCommerce from 500 to 5,000.

Zach: [00:08:56] Well, let’s let’s just talk about two things at once here. So I can answer two questions, the one you just asked and what led me to eCommerce all at the same time. So there’s a story that I very frequently tell and it’s about a company that I’ve done a lot of work with that runs a foundation. And as we’re recording this on giving Tuesday, this is kind of a good time to talk about it as well because I just donated to them again. But I got a call from my friend, Noah and Noah is the founder of an organization called Oscar Mike. And it was on Thanksgiving day. I was sitting down with family and I saw that Noah was calling and I thought, why is Noah calling me on Thanksgiving? Does he wanna say thank-happy Thanksgiving to me? Is that why he’s calling? Is that what he wants? And no, he wasn’t calling for that. Okay well, what’s going on? Well, our website is down. Oh, okay.

Now I hadn’t been working with him up until this point. So he calls me on Thanksgiving knowing that he can turn to me. Right. Knowing that as his friend, I’m gonna take care of the situation as best I can. And I start digging into what’s going on, sight is down, okay we need to restart the server, where’s the site located?

Well, it’s on a VPS in Chicago. Okay. So what happened that brought the site down? Well, I did an interview with the voice of the Chicago bears from the Chicago bears locker room set about Oscar Mike that aired during the Thanksgiving day game between the Bears and the Packers in the Chicago market to everybody watching the game.

Oh, okay. So you got a little bit of traffic from that? Yeah. Yeah. A little bit. We got like 14 orders in before the site stopped working. Okay. So is anybody working at the company that’s hosting it today? No, they’re closed for the holiday. Oh, do you know how to log into the server? I don’t know that I have those detail.

Okay. Well, we’re gonna need those details and once you have them, I can reboot the server and we can start to diagnose and do a root cause analysis on what exactly is going on here. And so four hours later, I had login information, rebooted the server and the server was back up and running and we found out what had happened and The person who had configured the website had configured the email server to live on the same VPS on the same server as the website and WooCommerce sends a few emails every time that an order comes through one to the admin, one to the customer, right?

There’s like four or five different emails that it could possibly send at the end of an order. And those emails went into the mail queue all at once for this server. It had never had that many emails to send all at one time. And the mail server, the mail queue ran the server out of memory. Running the server out of memory, took the site down and the queue never finished because the server was out of memory so it didn’t know how to finish. The mail queue and never cleared that memory. So the, the server was just sitting there, hung with nothing it could do until we rebooted it. So that led me to join Oscar Mike as an employee for a little over a year working with Noah and the team there to build a new version of the website.

In a different hosting environment that didn’t have those same issues. We used a transactional email provider so that email wasn’t coming from the server at all. We moved their email over to Google so that it wasn’t even being served from the same server and really worked on re-architecting and, and digging into how we could build a better e-commerce site. And as part of that, I got to work with the great folks over at WP Engine. They were running something called mercury at the time, which was using the Facebook-based hip-hop virtual machine or HH VM as a replacement for standard PHP to serve WordPress, something that’s not really necessary anymore with the advent of PHP seven and later, but at the time it was a huge boost in performance for running an e-commerce store.

And we had Oscar Mike running as the first e-commerce store on WP engine’s mercury platform. That’s what started me down this path of how do we figure out this performance thing? How do we figure out how to make things faster and how do we get things to run incredibly quickly? Like what, what does an e-commerce store need to know? And what does a store owner need to target in order to optimize their conversions? So that’s what started it all.

Morayo: [00:14:25] 2 comments I have I did wanna pivot back to the Oscar Mike Foundation. I know today is giving Tuesday and I don’t know when exactly we’ll air this, but in researching you, I did come across your affiliation with Oscar Mike and I did wanna point out because it’s such an admirable organization and their mission is something that I would like to publicly share for our listeners.

Oscar Mike Foundation is a 501C3 organization. They, their apparel sales provide support to injured veterans, looking for an opportunity to stay active. And by focusing on the arena of adaptive sports, like Oscar Mike Foundation, and offering an outlet for an ongoing competitive lifestyle to thousands of American veterans who have sacrificed for the defense of our country.

I’m sorry to sort of go off script, but I think an organization with a mission like that, serving constituents like that who have served us repeatedly, I just wanted to take a pause there and recognize their efforts in the work of Oscar Mike.

And then pivoting back again to one, some of the things that you discovered through that work with Oscar, Mike does lead into another question on your mighty swarm website, your organization points out that you emphasize simplicity. And that really brings true with us at GoWP too. It’s one of our values too. Keeping things simple finding simple solutions. So the question that I wanna ask, I actually want to draw some of your words from a word camp that where you spoke in 2016, and you said in relation to eCommerce, you said in eCommerce speed is the most important metric.

Mere milliseconds can mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart. Now to a lay person like myself, that sounds obvious, however, I’m going to assume it’s not obvious in the everyday operations for retail companies and other companies that you engage with. So even though it sounds simple, I guess my question is are enough businesses embracing this stem for rule, and if not, what common errors or missteps do you see limiting their growth?

Zach: [00:16:29] Yeah, first just let me expand a little bit. On what we’re talking about here. There is a metric that multiple studies have pointed to now that shows that you have three seconds to make an impression on a visitor, to your website. And one in four visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than four seconds to load.

So three seconds is your target. Four seconds is the, we lose a whole bunch of potential business. Right. 46% of people will never come back. If the website performs badly, when they get to your site, 64% of shoppers are who are dissatisfied with their visit to a site shop somewhere else the next time. And every one-second delay reduces customer satisfaction by 16%.

In the area where I’ve focused, where I’ve honed expertise over the last decade, it’s incredibly important website speed, it becomes money. Right. It directly impacts your bottom line. If every one-second delay results in a reduction in conversion, and you’re making millions of dollars on your e-commerce site, you could be talking about throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars just by having a badly performing website. So, that is a huge, huge piece. And the average page load time is different on desktop and mobile, right? Desktop, we have bigger processors, we have more computing power and we generally on desktop, we’re either on wifi and very fast wifi generally, or we’re on an ethernet connection. And I don’t know if you have a phone that you can plug into ethernet, but I don’t.

So, you know, we are more reliant on wireless communication, wireless technologies for that. So, you know, those load times become even more important on mobile. And we have to be careful about the size of the resources we’re using and other things. And that’s all part of what we focus on is, you know, just making sure that we are laser-focused on even milliseconds of optimization because that’s the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.

Morayo: [00:19:03] And if I could just quickly interject a quote from a philosopher, a late philosopher, who’s pretty important in my family. His name was Tom Maverick Cruz. He once said these words, I feel the need, the need for speed.

Zach: [00:19:20] He did. Didn’t he?

Joanne: [00:19:21] I thought for a moment, I was like, wait, Tom Maverick Cruz? She’s not going there. Like, she’s not going there.

Zach: [00:19:27] She went there

Joanne: [00:19:27] And then you went there and you went there.

Morayo: [00:19:30] I committed to that. I committed

Joanne: [00:19:32] I love it. I love it. But, wow. And just the way you chose Tom Cruz over Keanu when making a speed analogy, very, very disappointed. Anyway,

Zach: [00:19:44] You know, I think that we were pandering to the, the Troy Dean demographic there, the people who are obsessed with yes. Mavericks. Yes.

Morayo: [00:19:55] Or I’m just gen X, I’m just gen X. And I relate more easily to those 80 Tom Cruz films but before this call started and, you know, viewers and listeners won’t know, but we were just talking about the diminishing attention span of our society. So I concur absolutely what you just said.

Joanne: [00:20:10] Yeah. Speed and mobile first is because every time everything Zach was saying, just now I was just, not that my mind was elsewhere, but I did kind of like a quick run-through of each time that I’ve just closed a website because it’s too slow and yeah. If you can’t apply the best use cases of an ideal customer onto your whatever it is that you’re offering, whether it’s a service or a product or a productized service, it’s not, what are we doing here? I can I say this a lot? whether it’s on a webinar, on a podcast, if things are not working and if they don’t have a purpose to become profitable, what is the point? What are we doing here? Are we just like running, doing this for fun? If we’re doing this fun, go have your fun. But people are actually running businesses here.

So time is money and speed is money and speed is a better movie than need for speed. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Morayo: [00:21:14] A quick aside. I love Keanu res. I think he’s amazing, but I’ve never seen speed. I’ve never seen it.

Zach: [00:21:20] Really

Morayo: [00:21:21] Yeah. I’ve never seen speed.

Joanne: [00:21:22] Wow.

Morayo: [00:21:23] I’ve seen parts of it, you know.

Joanne: [00:21:26] Like, you know, you know the, like the lore surrounding it, Sandra Bullock and

Morayo: [00:21:30] Dennis Hopper, who? Yeah,

Joanne: [00:21:32] It is the best romantic comedy slash it’s a romantic comedy.

Honestly, it’s 2021, if you haven’t seen speed, that’s kind of on you. I mean, it’s like running Titanic at this point.

Zach: [00:21:45] Oh wait. Huh? I’m waiting for the sequel.

Morayo: [00:21:51] Yes, that band is still playing. That band is still, they opened the sequel. They’re still going, shivering that they are.

Joanne: [00:21:58] Well, speaking about pop culture and music and cinema, and cinema goes into photography. So what are some artistic principles, if any, that you apply into your entrepreneurship in running an agency?

Zach: [00:22:13] You know, that’s a very interesting question. So I’ve always had an eye for detail and design but I’m also very logical. So I sit in that space that I guess is called a unicorn in the industry because I both understand design and development.

I understand user experience. I understand, you know, and I’ve worked in all of those spaces. I’ve been a developer, I’ve been a user experience architect, I’ve been a product designer, I’ve worked as a product owner, I’ve been a CEO.

Joanne: [00:22:49] You’ve worn all of that.

Zach: [00:22:51] I’ve, I’ve worn every hat you can. I’ve tried on all the roles. And at this point, I’m in the one that I like. Right. And not just because I’m in charge, but because I feel as though I have the most impact here. Right. So.

Joanne: [00:23:05] Just what we all strive for. Right.

Zach: [00:23:08] Yeah. Exactly.

Joanne: [00:23:09] An impact at some level. Yeah.

Zach: [00:23:11] It’s not just about making money for me. It’s about making an impact and having a legacy. And so I do apply artistic principles. You know, I’m a concert photographer, that’s something I do for fun. I’ve taken pictures of some of the largest rock bands in existence of the big four in the metal scene which is, you know, Metallica, slur, anthrax, and my brain isn’t working Megadeath, Yes.

Joanne: [00:23:40] Very whoa.

Morayo: [00:23:43] This is what I wanted to talk about.

Joanne: [00:23:44] That’s a strong top four.

Zach: [00:23:45] Of the big four Megadeath, Metallica, Slay, and Anthrax. I have photographed all but Metallica and I have actually.

Joanne: [00:23:54] They’re touring soon, aren’t?

Zach: [00:23:55] They actually just hit every major music festival put on by Danny Wimmer Presents or DWP. They played welcome to Rockville about a week and a half ago.

Joanne: [00:24:08] We gotta get you on there. Zach

Zach: [00:24:10] They played two sets. So two different nights, two headlining sets. They’ve done that multiple times over the summer at various Danny Wimmer festivals. So at one of them, they did the black album in its entirety from front to back, which they had never done before.

Joanne: [00:24:31] Hmm.

Zach: [00:24:32] So really, really cool.

But I’ve photographed three of the big four. I have interviewed Dave Mustain.

Morayo: [00:24:39] No stop. Okay. This podcast is over. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.

Joanne: [00:24:42] This is now a pop culture podcast. We’re sorry. we’re pivoting. We’re only gonna talk about music and films now.

Zach: [00:24:50] Well, and

Joanne: [00:24:51] That’s so awesome.

Zach: [00:24:52] When David and I were talking, it was right at the time that the super Collider album had come out and he was doing the last gigantic tour that he did. So we, the tour, the interview was set up for gigantic tour press. So we were talking about the, the tour, and we got to talking about how gigantic tour started and how he had had this idea to bring an unsigned or less known signed band with him on the first tour.

And that’s a tradition. He continued with gigantic tour every year. And the first year he brought out a little known band from West Virginia. Called Boba flex. And it just so happens that I am very close with the members of the band, Boba flex. I met them through the photography world that, that I live in.

And so he and I were talking about them and about whether or not the basis they had that made the goofy faces was still in the band. So Jared, if you end up hearing this Dave was talking about you.

Joanne: [00:25:58] Hey Jared

Zach: [00:26:00] But it was just this surreal moment. And you know, you get on the phone there, the PR person is there.

And you know, the artist isn’t there right away, the PR person is there and they, they ask if you’re ready for Dave. And my response was no, but I have to be, so let’s do this.

Morayo: [00:26:21] Oh, my gosh,

Joanne: [00:26:23] We gotta go, like, yeah. Will you ever be ready?

Morayo: [00:26:26] No one can ever be ready for Dave. Mustain

Joanne: [00:26:28] Like, I, I feel like that’s like having a kid, right? Like you’re never truly ready, it just happens

Morayo: [00:26:37] I’m like geeking out

Joanne: [00:26:37] I have no kids and I’ve never interviewed anyone from Metallica, so I don’t know.

Morayo: [00:26:42] I’m geeking out over here listening to you talk about talking to Dave Mustain. I’m like reverting back to 14 year old Morayo in her Megadeath. T-shirt with her Nigerian father shaking his head going, what the hell is on your chest? I scared my parents and they wouldn’t let me go to heavy metal concerts cause they thought I would die, but peace cells, that’s probably my favorite mega-death album. Oh my. I’m just gonna sit back and listen to this and luxuriate in these revelations of Dave Mustain continues. Good, sir. Continue.

Zach: [00:27:15] Just to throw one more piece of the interview out there before you get back to agency ownership and the topic at hand super Collider. The album came out of where Dave was at that point emotionally. And so we talked about that too. His mother had developed dementia and you know, he was, he was dealing with how that felt.

 A lot of that album came from what he was going through and what his family was going through. So it’s really interesting. You know, the, the thing that I tell people who are, who come up to me and say, well, how do you do this? How do you? How do you handle being around musicians and rock stars all the time?

And the reality is they’re just people like us that got lucky enough to do what they love on a national stage. And I’m really close with, with the band star set. They’re good friends of mine. They’re kind of a cinematic rock band. One of the more recent since I believe 2011, 2012, they’ve been around, I saw them during their first national tour with the band Gemini syndrome, my friend, Aaron, who’s the vocalist of Gemini syndrome and is in my profile photo on Facebook with me.

 He and I were talking and he said, you’ve gotta check out this band. That’s on tour with us. They’re gonna be in the other room playing in a minute. So he walked me over to where they would be playing, and I just, I fell in love with the music and the music has a story and it’s awesome. But Adam, the drummer of star set, and I run a company together called drum.

Which is his e-commerce store for buying things like his artwork. He’s he does splatter painting when he’s not on tour or buying t-shirts that we came up with. There’s some designs on there that I’ve made designs that he’s made. I designed the drum abuse logo, you know, so it’s really a collaboration between Adam Gilbert of star set and myself.

And we’re going to start our own foundation. And use the at some point and use the funds to power funding, local music education for students.

Morayo: [00:29:30] Awesome. Oh my gosh. That’s really awesome.

Joanne: [00:29:33] I love to hear how it’s essentially, so community-driven on whether it’s in your photography community or your music community, I love to hear how all of these kinds of like, how they all connect all of these different communities connect as if it were like an internet.

 Every time there is an, what someone would think would be an offhand or a connection that makes no sense. It’s like, no, wait, it does make sense because that’s, what’s the beauty of like serving your niches. Right. And it’s, that’s what the beauty is of about like, having something that you’re very passionate about and going full throttle towards it.

And that’s why like musicians like Metallica become Metallica because they knew what they wanted to do. They worked really hard and sure at first the music they made only served a little small group of people in the eighties and that, but what happened, those people had similar interests that all connected and that’s like takes me back.

All I think about is community, right? Whether you think about like you know, fandom community, whether it’s, you know, the grateful dead, shout out to Jennifer born or, you know, Metallica and yeah, I, I wanna just go back to community for a second because you are, you’re very vocal and you contribute a lot to online spaces, be it on the NAO, happiness hours or other WordPress communities and public forms.

So what conversations or viewpoints do you think are really missing from digital communities and mainstream social spaces?

Zach: [00:31:13] So apart from something that I think is really important that we need to figure out as a society, which is how to have conversations about things we don’t agree about without getting mad at each other. I think that honestly, there are a lot of voices that are not heard simply because either they don’t know how to be loud enough or they’re marginalized out of having a voice.

I think those are the communities and the social spaces need those viewpoints more than anything. Right. So I have a feeling that we’re starting to turn the corner on that a little bit, just a little bit at a time, and that people who used to be marginalized in their ability to use their voice. They’re now being emboldened in the ability to use their voice, and we’re seeing both benefit and detriment to that. Right.

Morayo: [00:32:08] Yeah.

Zach: [00:32:08] We’re going to get to a point though, where the benefit is going to far outweigh, hopefully. The detriment of people feeling free to be who they are, you know, society tends to self-select, right? And those people who contain or have viewpoints that are outside of the norm on the fringe, tend to be self-selected out and that’s how society has kept itself relatively sane over time. Relatively I say, because honestly, you know, I’m living proof. We’re not always right. but I think that those are the viewpoints that are missing.

The conversations that have to happen are the hard one. And the hard conversations have to be able to happen in a place where people feel safe. Right? So in the book, the five dysfunctions of a team right, the book is written by Patrick Lencioni. One of the five dysfunctions on a team that I focus on trying to avoid is fear of conflict seeking artificial harmony over constructive, passionate debate.

I encourage dissent on my teams. Why? Because I’m not always right first of all, I may be the leader, but I’m not always right. Sometimes the leader is going in the wrong direction or has the wrong map where their compass is broken. So if I fear conflict, my team suffers. If they fear conflict, the whole team suffers as well because they have to endure through rather than improve the situation that they’re in.

I encourage constructive and passionate debate. It’s a foundation of who I am as a person that, and servant leadership and attention to detail are core to who I am. The other thing that ties kind of, to fear of conflict that is talked about in the five dysfunctions of a team is the first dysfunction, which is absence of trust.

and I think they kind of feed into each other. If you’re unwilling to be vulnerable with a group of people, if you’re unwilling to be vulnerable in say the niche agency owner’s, happy hour, right. We talk about wins and we talk about struggles.

Joanne: [00:34:50] Mm-hmm

Zach: [00:34:51] And if you’re in the middle of a struggle and you’re afraid to be vulnerable about it, you don’t get the support of the whole group to help you through it.

And those of us who lean rather than stay back and just observe, I think you can see consistently those who lean and participate are the ones who are growing the most.

Morayo: [00:35:17] It’s so beautiful. Pastor Zach, I’m gonna call you pastor Zach, cuz I feel I have to say and I did have Part of Zach’s permission to share this reference. Right now there is an 18 year old boy oh, a young man named Benjamin, who has the blessed pleasure to have you as a father. And like just listening to you and your outlook and Just the way you communicate.

So honestly, and vulnerably. Vulnerably, is that the word? Anyway, I think it’s just beautiful. And so I wanted to share something that with the listeners that I came across that you, I would say penned because it sounds more artistic, but you typed it to your son.

Zach: [00:36:00] Definitely typed it.

Morayo: [00:36:01] Typed it. When he turned 18 last year and I just wanted to take a snippet out of what you posted publicly posted.

You said today, you legally become an adult free to make whatever you’d like out of this thing called life. I might cry, oh, y’all. This tremendous opportunity we have to make legacy and have an impact. I wish nothing but the best for you. I hope you find success in everything you put your hands and mind to.

I can only hope that I’ve prepared you for the world you are now entering. I hope that you find love, but that you give yourself room to find yourself first. Oh, that is so beautiful, and then at the very end, there’s a little more you wrote. And then at the end, you included some song lyrics. Go happy birthday, Benjamin.

I love you. That’s not the song lyric. That’s what you wrote. Go and find your way, leave me in your wake, always push through the pain, don’t run away from change, never settle, make your mark, hold your head up, follow your heart. You know, Zach. Wow. I don’t know what else to say after that, but I can only feel that this is just another demonstration of your effectiveness as a person, as a leader.

If you had to say, as we begin to wrap up, what legacy do you wish to leave behind? I mean, it’s clear what you leave behind for Benjamin as a father, but also as a business owner as a leader, what legacy do you hope to impact?

Zach: [00:37:46] So with Ben, you know, there have been struggles as there are in any parent-child relationship, especially through the teenage years, you know, they’re difficult. I was a difficult child for my parents. But. I want him to always feel as though he can do whatever he sets himself out to do. Right. I built an agency from nothing to 1.7 million in revenue in three years. You can do anything you want, you just have to dedicate yourself to doing it. Right. You have to put the work in, you have to pay the dues in order to reap the rewards, and I’ve, I’ve tried to impart that to him.

As a business owner, the legacy that I want to leave, I want the people who work with me as contractors or employees, or partners, I want them to use their relationship with me as a springboard to do better than me. I want to be the least successful person in the room. Why? Because that means I gave enough of myself that the other people around me were able to grow, and were able to build, and were able to succeed. And, you know, I find that there is so much in the world where people take, right, they take, they think they’re entitled.

They expect I have no expectations. I’m not entitled to any of the things that I have. I’m fortunate to have the things that I have, I’m fortunate to have the relationships, the friends, the family that I have, and because of that, I’m able to live the life that I do. That’s not me. It’s not because of who I am.

If it was all because of who I am, then my dysfunctions would be limiting my growth, but the network of people that I’ve surrounded myself with, the people that I call friends, the people that I call family, and my actual family, who’ve been very supportive of me over the years, those are all the reason why I’m able to do what I do.

I don’t have the strength in myself to be a leader, I can do it, but I would burn out very quickly if it weren’t for the people surrounding me.

Morayo: [00:40:16] You heard it here first people, this conversation has done my soul really, really good, really awesome. A nice way to end well, wind down, not really end a rather stressful day. I think Joanne, would you like to pose the final question?

Joanne: [00:40:31] Yes. Yeah, that’s thank you so much for just like sharing how, like, I really felt the emotion in your voice when you were sharing that, so thank you so much for sharing that, that was just so inspiring. And the last question I do wanna ask you is how are you creating happiness this week? And what is something that is creating happiness for you?

Zach: [00:40:51] So, it’s fun because my girlfriend and I, she has a six year old a little girl, and one of the things that has created happiness for me this week is that her parents her about to go to Arizona for the rest of the year here, trying to escape the winter. So we had Christmas with them just a few days ago, and her daughter got a copy of the game of operation.

Joanne: [00:41:17] Thanksgiving.

Zach: [00:41:18] No, no. We had Christmas with them early Christmas because they’ll be gone because they’ll be gone. So she got a copy of the game of operation. She’s never played it before.

One of the things bringing me joy has been watching her jump out of her skin every time the game buzzes when she touches the metal on the edges and it yep.

And that light that light lights up.

Joanne: [00:41:46] The little button red nose.

Zach: [00:41:49] Yep.

Joanne: [00:41:50] Goodness. I missed that game.

Zach: [00:41:52] So that’s brought me a lot of joy and happiness this week. I’ve been able to deepen a relationship with a client that I really enjoy working with and that’s brought happiness.

Joanne: [00:42:03] Yes. I’d love to hear it. Yay.

Zach: [00:42:05] You know, those are, those are very important things. I love podcasting.

So this brings me happiness. You know, that’s why I work on the, on the, do the woo podcast with Bob because I absolutely love it.

Morayo: [00:42:17] You, Bob done. Tell him we love him. We miss.

Zach: [00:42:22] I will, I will. And you know, how am I creating happiness? Trying to set my team up for success. Trying to set my family up for success. You know, just all of the things I, I like to lead from a place of service, servant leadership is, is core to who I am. And so I create happiness by doing that by just taking the time. Whether it’s to help somebody in our community or to do any of the things that I do that I don’t get paid for. Right. You know, like I said, it’s not about money. It’s about impact and I think that’s how I create happiness every week is by doing what I can to have a measurable impact in our community.

Joanne: [00:43:15] That’s awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.

Morayo: [00:43:19] Thank you for impacting the conversation for the better this afternoon today. Thank you. And we hope to talk to you again soon, and I know Joanne has a few final words

Joanne: [00:43:29] Yeah, thank you. So yeah. Thank you so much, Zach. Everyone who has listened today, don’t forget to like and subscribe and you can get this in other episodes of the GoWP digital agency podcast, wherever you get your podcast.

And a quick reminder at GoWP, we want to help you become more profitable, whether it’s by listening to our podcast and getting some very valuable insight from business leaders and other and business leaders and alike, joining in our weekly happiness hours, viewing informative webinars, hosted by our friends in the WordPress community, and of course, by growing your team with our super-skilled developers, copywriters, designers, or and project managers, go to gowp.com to read more about our services and to schedule a call.

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