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Ep. 5: Mickey Mellen — Co-Founder of Green Mellen Media on Being an Agency Co-Owner, Finding the Right Business Partner, and More.

Digital Agency Owners Podcast
Digital Agency Owners Podcast
Ep. 5: Mickey Mellen — Co-Founder of Green Mellen Media on Being an Agency Co-Owner, Finding the Right Business Partner, and More.
MickeyMellen - Featured - Digital Agency Owners Podcast

In this episode, we welcome Mickey Mellen Co-Founder of Green Mellen Media. We talk about being an agency co-owner, finding the right business partner, and how to shape metrics and KPIs so they can work for you. And much more!

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Read the transcript: 

[00:00:00] Morayo: Welcome everyone to the GoWP digital agency podcast, where we speak with members of our community and go behind the data to uncover the secrets to their business and life success. 

[00:00:14] Joanne: Thank you so much for that intro Morayo. And before we begin, I would just like to say a few words about GoWP in case anyone listening, isn’t fully familiar with us.

[00:00:24] Joanne: At GoWP we create happiness for digital agencies and help them become more profitable, whether it’s joining in our incredibly valuable weekly 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. We also have services like case studies, blogging services, website, maintenance, content edits, or page builds.

[00:00:51] Joanne: That way you can completely outsource to our team. Who do we have on the show today? Morayo. 

[00:00:58] Morayo: I will tell you who [00:01:00] we have today. We have Mickey Mellen. Mickey is a Michigan native and a current Atlanta resident who in 2009, co-founded Green Mellen studio with his business partner, Ali Green, Green Mellen specializes in branding, website, design and development WordPress support, digital marketing as well as growth and measurement analysis. In addition to being the resident tech guy for his company, Mickey is a prolific blogger course instructor, public speaker, coordinator of the Brighter Web meetup group in Marietta, Georgia. He’s a husband and father of two daughters. So happy to welcome you today, Mickey.

[00:01:39] Mickey: Hey, it’s great to be here. Like we were talking about before we started recording here, I’ve loved everything. Go WP has done it for years. Really appreciate what Brad has done for the community and what you guys continue to do. And it’s just fantastic. And I’ve already listened to some of these podcasts and so excited to hear all the great guests you’re going to have on an honor to be here.

[00:01:56] Morayo: Oh, well, honored to have you. And you know, I’ll just go ahead and share [00:02:00] this. Brad is great. Brad is brilliant, but things really took off for GoWP when Joanne and I joined the team last year, he’s not here. Wouldn’t you say that there wasn’t.

[00:02:09] Mickey: There was a big, big step up for sure. Yes. You know, he 

[00:02:13] Morayo: He went and big league with us.

[00:02:14] Morayo: So wonderful to have you here today, Mickey, and, you know, As your credits show, you are a well-rounded individual and a leader in the WordPress world and in our community. So I thought we would start our questions by touching on your background a little bit. So, as I mentioned, you’re originally from Michigan.

[00:02:33] Morayo: My, one of my best friends is from Michigan and he taught me about the hand. So can you show us or indicate where you are from on the hand? 

[00:02:42] Mickey: Yeah. Most recently from Midland kind of in the crook of the thumb, you know, Saginaw Bay kind of creates the thumb. So yeah, kind of in the crook of there. Yeah. Not, not too far from that originally grew up near Detroit and Midlands, like two hours straight north of Detroit.

[00:02:54] Mickey: So it’s kind of funny in Atlanta here. I’m about 10 minutes from I 75 in our house. There’s about 10 minutes from my [00:03:00] 75. It’s just 13 miles of. I 75 in the middle. So it’s easy drive, just take 75 north and hang a left and you’re there. So 

[00:03:08] Morayo: awesome. And, and you’re I think I saw you, you shared somewhere that you were you miss the snow? 

[00:03:14] Mickey: I did. I miss playing in the snow, living in the snow is the pits. But yeah, when I was a teenager, we lived in a house on a small lake with a hill and we’d sled and play hockey. And that was all great. But you know, living in the pit. So I like in Atlanta where we typically get one decent little snow year, we can play in it, make a snowman, and then it melts away and.

[00:03:31] Mickey: Yes. It works out pretty well. 

[00:03:32] Morayo: And then the humidity comes and takes you over. I lived in the south. I know. You as someone who is a very technologically inept. I’m in, I’m in awe when I meet people like you, who can wear the token tech guy persona and wear it well, had that, has that always been your moniker? 

[00:03:59] Mickey: Yeah. [00:04:00] It’s because I enjoy it. I mean, I do it for work, but I do it for play, I guess, to a large degree as well. So I just enjoy the stuff which helps me learn more about it. And I like just playing with new tools and toys and taking things apart. And I think it’s kind of how you learn. I learned the most about I was in it for awhile, and I think I learned the most about that when I broke our computer. Messing with it. My dad said, well, you need to fix it. So it was lots of research and, you know, that’s how you learn. It’s fantastic. 

[00:04:22] Morayo: So learn by fire. Get in there, boy. Let’s thank your dad. Thanks dad. For leading Mickey to all of this. Yeah, the, we, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about how you found your way down to Georgia from Michigan.

[00:04:39] Morayo: Was it, you know, you said that you learned about. Computers at a young age. Was it school that brought you down south? Was it posts, you know, school and or professional relationships that brought you down south and, and, and led you to start a business? 

[00:04:55] Mickey: Well, moving down and starting a business are two very different things.

[00:04:57] Mickey: So moving down, I was just kind of [00:05:00] between jobs. I’d worked in a video game store for years and. Was no longer there. I’m like, I knew some folks in Atlanta I’m like, that could be kind of fun. I moved down there for six months. I’m single. I can do what I want. And then I’ll just move back home after a while.

[00:05:10] Mickey: And that was 24 years ago and I never made it home. And then yeah, through my first few jobs here eventually, yeah. Started a business out of that kind of by mistake. So, 

[00:05:20] Morayo: you know, you’ve given us the title for this episode, our best laid plans. I left LA. I don’t know, five years ago with the intention of coming back home on the east coast, just for a month because I miss my family and I missed, I was in a relationship at the time he was sick.

[00:05:38] Morayo: Yeah. That was five years ago. I haven’t been back since, so our best. 

[00:05:42] Joanne: It’s so interesting how we all have similar stories in terms of going somewhere. Oh, I’m just going there for, I went to Barcelona for grad school. I’m like, oh, it’s just grad school a year. Get it out of my system. And ended up living there for five years.

[00:05:57] Joanne: Got married the whole ship. [00:06:00] So I can, I can, I relate so much to, to going somewhere and just to, you know, figure things out because when you put yourself outside of your comfort zone is when you really have. Really knowing about learning about yourself and finding yourself. So it’s so interesting that you went down south to for six months and ended up establishing a business.

[00:06:24] Joanne: And how can you tell us a little bit about your business roots and how they started in Atlanta? 

[00:06:32] Mickey: For sure. So one of the early jobs I got here was working in the church. Cobb county, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. I was a team of like five on the communication. Seems a huge church with like a hundred employees.

[00:06:42] Mickey: And one of the employees was Ali who I met there. She was an intern for awhile. And after about three years, she left to start growing design gig on the side of that kind of left to start my own development thing on the side, but we need each other’s help a lot. I say, Ali, can you help me design this piece and say, sure, but can you help me build this piece?

[00:06:58] Mickey: And so every month we kind of settle [00:07:00] up and said, okay, Al you owe me $200 for that, but I, you 300 for this. And we kinda sort of. And then one month we just said, how much did you make last year? We just kind of laid it all out on the table. And what we both had earned in the past year was almost identical.

[00:07:12] Mickey: It was pitiful, but identical. And so we said, Hey, this year, let’s just throw in one pot and split it and just go for it. And so that’s kind of what we did. We were just the Mickey and Ali show for awhile. We were just like, Hey, Mickey, Ali can build you a site. You know, we didn’t really have anything official.

[00:07:25] Mickey: She got engaged to chase Green. And so her name was going to become Green, like okay. As long as we’re sure that’s going to happen, which they’re fantastic. We came up with the name there and slowly started, started building from that. So 

[00:07:36] Morayo: no pressure, Ali young and in love this guy is gonna keep her right. Cause he’s my business going on. He’s going out through the buildings.

[00:07:48] Joanne: That’s that’s awesome. So you would say that it was it wasn’t like. Metric-based proposition. It was more that, something that grew from that personal connection of trust and [00:08:00] seeing how she ran her to the part. And then you ran and you guys put it together. So you could, we could say that. Based on a gut feeling and establishing of trust and connection, right?

[00:08:12] Mickey: Oh, for sure. Because even when we started, we weren’t, it wasn’t like our only thing I still was writing, doing some other blog writing on the side sheets. I’ll do you know? It was just kind of trying this out, but yeah, I was thinking about this and. The, the Venn diagram of our skills is like almost two separate circles.

[00:08:26] Mickey: We do very different things, but our values is basically like completely overlapped. Like we believe in doing things a certain way of doing the right way. And so those two went together for just a fantastic partnership where we know what we want to do and how we want to do it. One thing I often hear is you should never be a duo.

[00:08:43] Mickey: Partnerships are the worst because you need a tie breaker in there. If you guys argue, you need a third person that break the tie or stay solo. And we’ve never had that because it’s very clear like, oh, this is a design related decision. I’ll give my input, but it’s her call. And if there’s some new tools.

[00:08:57] Mickey: You know, process we want to do, she’ll give her input, but she [00:09:00] knows it’s my call. And it’s literally never been a major problem. It’s been just shockingly smooth in that regard. 

[00:09:07] Joanne: And you have that core, core strength in the middle of the core values that you both share. So whenever. It, for example, diverts, you always have that to bring you back to the vital that’s so that’s yeah.

[00:09:22] Joanne: That’s, that’s awesome. Because we were just, when we were thinking about when Morayo was doing the research is Morayo is I have to give Morayo a shout out and she, she does. Most, if not all of the research on our guests and it’s, she, you do such a great job. So when we were talking about having you on the show something that came up is that you’re the first person we interview who is a co-owner. 

[00:09:48] Joanne: So you get to be the first one to advise our listeners on finding the right business partner, if they, if they don’t want to run a business solo. So we got the first tip, it’s [00:10:00] share the same values, share, have the same core values. Is there anything else that you would advise to our listeners in becoming if they are thinking of becoming a co-owner? 

[00:10:12] Mickey: Gotcha yet. Really all I can advise, I can give a few more thoughts on what’s made it work well, but again, it wasn’t like I had four to choose from an Ali was my choice. It just, she was there and it just, we’ve gotten super lucky that it’s worked out so well.

[00:10:23] Mickey: But two other things I think that have really worked well for us is we’ve actually, we’re talking about this yesterday. We love the stability of each of them. When she comes in, I don’t have to worry about which Ali’s going to show up today. She going to be grumpy today or whatever. Like we both come in just ready to work and get it done.

[00:10:36] Mickey: And certainly there’s good days and bad days, but there’s never a, oh, she’s in a mood or he’s in the mood or, you know, it’s just, we don’t have that kind of thing. And then the other part of that’s been awesome, but potentially a little dangerous. Yeah. Through the whole time, we both felt that the other one was outworking us.

[00:10:51] Mickey: I always think how he’s doing so much more than I need to step up and I’ll work even harder. And then she’ll look at me and say, Mickey’s out work with me. I need to step up and work even harder, which [00:11:00] leads to lots of hours every week. And, but it worked, I mean, it was great. Most marriages could benefit from that.

[00:11:05] Mickey: If they feel like they’re partners out working then, which is often not the case, but but again, it’s potentially dangerous where you can ramp up and say, well, I worked 60 hours a week, but she’s still at work because I need to work 80. And that’s of course not healthy and it’s not gone to that degree, but it’s still interesting.

[00:11:19] Mickey: And even now she’s part-time right now, just with two young children at home and stuff. And. She’s only part-time she’s doing all this work. Like I gotta step up and do more and, you know, but it’s, it’s fantastic. It’s ultimately a good thing. As long as we just keep an eyeball on it and make sure it doesn’t go out of control.

[00:11:34] Mickey: You know, 

[00:11:35] Morayo: we want to say it, but I’m sitting here thinking to myself, this is great advice. Not only for business partnerships, but life partnerships, you know, have those shared core values. Respect each other, what each other brings to the relationship? You know, no, no, that person know who’s going to show up and have that trust.

[00:11:54] Morayo: And I yesterday, just yesterday, I was chatting with one of our [00:12:00] copywriters who is thinking about penning, a book about relationships. I’m going to have to tell them. Talk to Mickey Mellen. He’s the man who knows the key to making relationships work. So thank you for that, you know, walk away with the goodie bag recently.

[00:12:13] Morayo: Well, no, actually it was last year. You and Ali co presented a webinar for us. The focus and title of that webinar Mickey was the important KPIs and metrics every agency owner should be watching. During the webinar you referred two resources Traction and Get a Grip, two books written by the entrepreneur, Gino Wickman, I guess that’s how you pronounce his name.

[00:12:35] Morayo: Do you know? We’ve been he ran his first company at age 21 and devised an entrepreneurial operating system. First question I have about that. Well, first statement is that was a wonderful webinar. Thank you for doing that for good. I really enjoyed it. Can you give us a quick overview or layman’s explanation of exactly what his entrepreneurial operating system.[00:13:00] 

[00:13:00] Mickey: Sure. So for us, it was awesome because neither Ali or I went to business school going back. If I could change my schooling, I would have gotten more business education. And frankly, that’s where her husband has been fantastic is he is very business savvy. So we were often picking his brain, but we didn’t, we didn’t mean to start an agency and neither of us had worked in an agency.

[00:13:15] Mickey: So we don’t know how they’re supposed to run. And. As I’ve learned more. I don’t think there is any way they’re supposed to run. She can do what you want, but we still want an, a framework around it. And that’s what traction gives you. It says, here’s the framework. You should think about your employees this way and set up your meeting cadence as this way.

[00:13:28] Mickey: And so that’s been awesome. I think the one advice I’d give on that is we followed it to a tee. Like the book said to do it this way, we have to do it that way. We had two different business coaches saying, no, you don’t like take the stuff that works for you and get rid of the stuff you don’t want. And it was. Wow, we can do that. Like you can do whatever you want. So we’ve taken some of the stuff that’s worked really well. Like the scorecard we shared in the metrics that’s been, and we’ve done that every week for years now. Just kind of looking at some key things, just to see, make sure everything’s on track.

[00:13:56] Mickey: And the other big thing that added to us was that IDS meetings [00:14:00] identify, discuss and solve, basically keeping a list of problems you have and then meeting about them once. The advantage there is the staff would bug Ali quite a lot with questions just all throughout the week. And I say, bug nicely. I mean, legit questions they need help with.

[00:14:15] Mickey: But her day was just full of peppered questions and never getting deep work done. And we didn’t realize that was a problem that could be solved. We figured they have questions. We need to be here for them. But by saying, Hey, When you have questions, put them on your list. And once a week, we’ll go through all your questions.

[00:14:28] Mickey: If it’s urgent, bug me, but for other stuff, put them on the list. And that was just enormous for us. So we meet with each of our staff once a week. I’m just going to, and sometimes there’s two things on there. Sometimes there’s 30, but it’s like, I had this idea for this thing. I had this one problem here and just kind of talk through it all in one spot.

[00:14:43] Mickey: And then the rest of the week, you can focus a bit better and that’s something traction taught us that again, we’ve, we’ve quite a bit from how you’re supposed to do it, I think. But it, it works well for us. 

[00:14:52] Morayo: I love that. I love that you have. Customize it customize the tools for your own agency’s [00:15:00] success. I think.

[00:15:01] Morayo: And one of also during the webinar speaking of those metrics in the scorecards, you suggested that owners should really look for trends or red flags across their KPIs, but you also warn them from, from your own personal trial and error. They could go too far in one direction and have too many metrics that they’re monitoring.

[00:15:21] Morayo: So. When we think about customizing those tools that Wickman suggests and that, and that you shared in the webinar, how can owners, how can they customize those metrics just for them? How can they make, you know, find a happy, healthy, middle ground to evaluate their agencies? Health we took a week.

[00:15:43] Mickey: Yeah, that’s a good question.

[00:15:44] Mickey: So two thoughts there. One is the book is kind of aimed at slightly bigger companies. So the example of metrics they gave were worthless, which is why I am big about sharing what we’ve come up with. Just try to help others get a start on it, but really it’s. Do they matter week to week when we go through it, if there’s a number of like, we’ve [00:16:00] looked at it for six weeks in a row and we don’t care what it says, then let’s get out of there.

[00:16:03] Mickey: But most of them we have in there we care about. And so we’re adding and removing things all the time. I bet we’ve probably changed six metrics since we did that webinar. Just, just tweaking things, you know, counting this a little bit more accounting that a little bit less. And so we’ve, we ended up generally around a dozen or so metrics, just looking at the support tickets that come in and website things and uptime, and you know, a lot of financial metrics.

[00:16:22] Mickey: To make sure they’re good, but really it’s a five minute thing we do every week. Just kind of saying, okay, is everything looking good? Or is there anything jumping out that we need to be aware of? And to the extent possible we try to be forward-looking, you know, looking at the bank balance. I think I said in the webinar, looking at the bank balance today is important.

[00:16:36] Mickey: I mean, you need money in the bank, but that’s a consequence of what you did six months ago. So I want to say, what can we do today? That’s going to impact us six months later. And that’s the metrics we try to focus more on 

[00:16:45] Morayo: I’m getting giddy because that, I don’t think, I don’t think that’s one of our questions for today, but that was a side note that I that comment that you made during the webinar. I loved it. You’re looking at your bank account. It’s a reflection of your [00:17:00] decisions over the last six months, you know, and I love that again until you Mickey Mellen was just spitting out these golden nuggets for life love and business. I let it come back next week.

[00:17:13] Joanne: That’s the title of his book 

[00:17:16] Morayo: life. 

[00:17:18] Joanne: Life love and business lessons learned. Yes and I, the webinar are the important KPIs and metrics. Every agency owner should be watching is on our website. I’m just going to do a quick plug in case anyone who is listening. Hasn’t found that resource it’s under our resource centers, webinars. You can find that gowp.com just a quick, quick plug, just because it’s so valuable. And it’s so helpful. Ali made the point that she monitors your contractor costs regularly after a certain amount of monitoring those costs, you evaluate whether or not the costs justify bringing a contractor onto your staff.

[00:17:58] Joanne: So we find [00:18:00] that very interesting because at GoWP, we encounter. We also encountered two groups. So if the first one is one group that likes the flexibility of adding our contractors to their team and the other that stands on the precipice, wondering if growing their team with contract labor as a viable option.

[00:18:22] Joanne: Let’s talk about the latter group, which of the KPIs and trends you should be monitoring while deciding contractors, like for example, GoWP’s team would be the missing link that helps agency owners grow their business and lessen their stress. Sorry for that long walk before the question, but we need a state. We need to set the premise. 

[00:18:43] Mickey: Yep. And I think there are, like you said, two very different types of agencies. There’s those that are small and have a bunch of contractors and kind of I think I’ve heard it like making a movie, like when you make a movie, you kind of pick the best actors you want for that film and put it together and do it.

[00:18:55] Mickey: And in some agencies do that very well. When they have a big project, they go pick the best stars. [00:19:00] They can get to build that project. And we just do it differently where we prefer employees. We love our contractors we have, but we try to minimize that and have employees just because we. It’s such a wide base of clients.

[00:19:11] Mickey: We have pushing 200 clients, most many of which I’d say the bulk of which are very small, like maintenance kind of things. And you know, you have your bigger ones, but it’s a lot for anyone to keep up with. If it’s a contractor that day, who are you talking about? I’ve never heard this person before, but if you’re an employee, you can kind of get the feel of everything better.

[00:19:27] Mickey: So for us having those. We think just makes things run smoother versus having contractors, but a contractor focused agency, I’ve seen some that are like two or three people at the core and then a slew of contractors as needed. Pretty compelling to look at it that way, too. In terms of metrics, yet, we just look at how much did we pay contractors last month?

[00:19:45] Mickey: Was it 2000? Was it 10,000? Like how much should we pay? And once it gets to be four or 5,000 a month, we’re paying a contractor for one skill or a set of contractors for one skill, like, okay, that becomes 50 or $60,000. That could be a salary instead. And so instead of part-time work from these various people, we’d have [00:20:00] one person just devoted to us doing that.

[00:20:02] Mickey: And so that’s generally what we look at with that metric and kind of see what’s going on. 

[00:20:09] Morayo: You mentioned your, your employees. It, we are living still in very interesting times. Things are improving every day, but you know, I don’t have to tell you as a, as an owner that it’s been, it’s been a ride these last two years, you mentioned during the webinar that at the start of the pandemic, When so many people around the world were worried about job losses on top of, you know, the, the, the illness itself, you, but you were able to calm your staff about their job security by being transparent.

[00:20:42] Morayo: And you use those same metrics and scorecards that you already. Utilize in your operations that you use them to communicate with your team about the health and direction of your company, which I thought was really, was really a nice approach. So can you talk a little bit more about that Mickey, how you [00:21:00] managed that very difficult.

[00:21:02] Morayo: Conversation when nobody knew what was going on. No one could predict what was that? What was coming around the bend. But can you talk about that? How you, how you as, as a business owner manage that out of respect for your team? 

[00:21:17] Mickey: Yeah. So one small mistake we made is we call it the state of the Melon.

[00:21:20] Mickey: We kind of just the state of the agency, but we’ve put that on the calendar and invited the staff to it. If you haven’t got freaked out, like COVID hits and they want to talk about the state of the company, like, oh no, So very quickly, like, no, no, it’s good. It’s okay. We have, but in that we just kind of ran, I kind of ran scenarios on all the different extreme situations that could happen because our revenues, roughly 50% recurring and 50% projects.

[00:21:42] Mickey: So I kind of said, okay. And then we have thanks to Ali. Mostly. She’s very Thrifty, I guess, in terms of keeping a high bank balance and getting a lots in reserves and stuff, which is fantastic. Cause I don’t tend to go that way even though I want to, but she does. And it’s great. But so we told the team like, okay, if we get no more projects, all the potential projects fall off the [00:22:00] map, but we keep our recurring clients and our bank balance.

[00:22:02] Mickey: We’re going to last 18 months. If we lose half our recurring clients, but pick up half, the current projects will last 12 months and they’re like just all the different scenarios. And there were none that were under a year, like. Yeah. Great. If you lost all their current clients all at once, that would do it, but again, we’re spread.

[00:22:17] Mickey: So. Thin in a good way, where again, we have like 150 recurring clients, most of which are tiny, but that also means if you lose a handful of them, it’s not a big deal. Like we lost two recurring clients and it wasn’t even really a blip, you know, in terms of the overall financials. And so that helped a lot too.

[00:22:32] Mickey: So we said, okay, realistically, maybe we’ll lose 10% of our recurring clients and all of our new projects. And what does that scenario look like? So we kind of laid out like a bunch of different scenarios and they were all, you know, at least a year of running. Kind of it, worst case looks. And so they were like, okay, so we’re, we’re good for now.

[00:22:47] Mickey: And then I said, and of course we realize we’re not going to lose all the upcoming projects or, you know, those are extreme. And so realistically, you know, we’ve got years ahead of us and yeah, things did work out pretty well. 

[00:22:59] Morayo: Respond to [00:23:00] that, having that Frank conversation and, and assuring conversation.

[00:23:04] Mickey: Really, it wasn’t that big of a deal because we tend to be pretty transparent and open with them. Anyhow. I mean, we don’t open the books up too much and we’re trying to do more of that now. And so that was a, more of a look there, but they know that we’re very quick to say, Hey, we lost this client. This is good.

[00:23:18] Mickey: This is bad. So they knew there wasn’t anything major. We don’t hide things from him. You know, we tell him, tell him how it’s going to be. And so they knew this is just gonna be kind of a look at what’s going on, but Mickey and Ali aren’t freaked out, so we don’t need to freak out either. 

[00:23:30] Morayo: Cool. Thanks. Yeah.

[00:23:31] Morayo: Thanks Mickey. What’s for lunch, basically. Nothing to see here. We’re good. We’re good. We’re secure. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Very happy step. 

[00:23:40] Joanne: So business culture to be specific because a lot has shifted. In the, in the whole world and individual companies since the beginning of the pandemic.

[00:23:51] Joanne: So how has your business culture and team habits changed over the last two years? How, what are like some [00:24:00] specifics some specific examples that you could give us, even if it’s slight changes or big changes, what have those.

[00:24:08] Mickey: Yeah. So really it hasn’t changed that much for us. Pre pandemic, we were in the office maybe twice a week.

[00:24:14] Mickey: And then of course, for a while it became zero, which was not good. Now we’re only back in once a week. And that, that seems to be a good balance. Our team hates being remote full time, but really doesn’t like being in the office. Full-time either. So having once or twice a week has been really quite good.

[00:24:27] Mickey: I’m generally in two or three times a week, but often by myself, Get mail. And you know, if I have to meet people or whatever, but yeah, as a team we’re only in once a week and that’s a slight change, I guess. And they love that. And then the other thing I thought of in there, that’s not really changed, but it’s been, it’s come more to the forefront and just how our values are shaped with our clients there, especially when some of them were struggling over the pandemic, like two examples come to mind.

[00:24:49] Mickey: One. For our maintenance clients, we don’t make them sign any contracts. And so when people needed bounce, we said, cool, good luck. Come back if you need us later. But they weren’t stuck having to pay things. And like, especially now, like that would have been [00:25:00] just awful. And then we even reached out to some clients proactively and said, Hey, you’re paying for this bigger package.

[00:25:05] Mickey: You’re not using it enough. You should lower your price with us to this lower one, which keeps them from leaving. I think it probably benefits us because they’re not going to leave when they realize it later. But I think endears us a little bit to them, but also hurts us a little bit. And we’re, we’re okay with that.

[00:25:18] Mickey: And we’ve long believed that doing what’s best for the client is the right way to go. Even if it hurts us a little bit, because it’s better for everyone in general, but that I think has shown itself a bit more in the past two years, just trying to make sure we do the right thing. 

[00:25:31] Morayo: I feel like having CR currently living in the Midwest, having lived in the south, I think you have the right values that, that the regional values have mixed well in you.

[00:25:42] Morayo: And I think your clients are, are benefiting from that tremendously. And it’s, it’s also spilling over into. The community. One of the things that really impressed me about your background and your profile Mickey, is that you’re very active in the community. In addition to [00:26:00] running a company and having a family that you’re raising you are the lots of vault on your LinkedIn page, lots of volunteering.

[00:26:08] Morayo: And I know that you, you lead the brighter web meet-up group in the Atlanta area. I don’t know if you all are back to meeting in person now, but as far as the, your involvement in the community, Joanne and I are both, you know, full disclosure. We are new to the WordPress world, been in about a year, a year in it.

[00:26:29] Morayo: So we’re, we’re, you know, this is a new community for us. One of the things I think I’ll speak for us, both with. The same in different conversations. It’s a thriving community and that’s a positive and supportive community. And there are so many communities in so many industries. Why do you think WordPress community. Are that way. Why do they stick out? Why are, why is the network legitimate and so supportive? Do you think? 

[00:26:54] Mickey: Yeah, that’s a great question. And Joanne mentioned earlier that you sent over great questions for us, and I’m so glad you sent [00:27:00] this one ahead of time for me to think about, because I’ve long said WordPress has this amazing community, but I’ve never been.

[00:27:05] Mickey: Why is that? Why does WordPress have this great community? And I think it’s a few directions for me personally, the last few years in particular, it become more of a, I guess, a voracious learner. I’ve just been anxious to learn things, which I wish I had done that more in school because in school I really didn’t care as much.

[00:27:20] Mickey: I’d love to go back and pay more attention to learn things there. But that’s, I think where the meetups and stuff coming up. Learning learning from each other and just, I get smarter and better everyone. I go to, I joke and say that in our meetup, we come up there and we give away all of our secrets to all of our competition, but they give away their secrets back to us and we all leave the room better for it.

[00:27:38] Mickey: And it’s just a fantastic thing. I should also mention GoWP was a sponsor of our meetup for a couple of years. Brad has been a great supporter of us too back when we met in person, we actually stopped meeting in person even before COVID came along. In our area of finding space for it, like the places we were using kept closing down.

[00:27:54] Mickey: So I said, let’s just go virtual for a little while. And then, well, that became a long while. And so we may meet in person again, our [00:28:00] audience has expanded more regionally and so it’s gonna be tougher to get back in person. So we’ll see what we do that. Yeah, it’s, it’s tough to say why WordPress is different, but it is so different.

[00:28:08] Mickey: There’s, there’s two other agencies, not too far from where our building is, and they’re not WordPress focused and they don’t want to talk like we’re the, we’re the enemy to them, which is just bizarre to me. I’ve tried a few times to just like, let’s go have lunch and just talk, you know, and one of, I know we could have sent them business over the years, but they no, no like they’re cordial, but like, definitely like you’re the enemy versus, I mean, heck on the happiness hour calls, that’s all my competition on there and I’m their competition and we all love each other and learn from each other and pass the business around. And it’s just, I don’t understand why people don’t do more of that. It’s a unique thing. 

[00:28:41] Morayo: That’s totally true. What you say about the happiness hour calls? The very first few that I joined, I was like, you know, a newcomer first time on stage, you know, peeking from behind the curtain going, at some point, they’re going to go at each other’s throats, right?

[00:28:54] Morayo: Like these are all, what is this? You know? Okay. You all, you let him take, put down the [00:29:00] facade, be yourselves. Know that that has not, that has not occurred. But you know, and I think it’s because of. Individuals like you who are so, so visible and so forthcoming. I didn’t think you, you are the reason that the, the community is as it is.

[00:29:17] Morayo: And for those haters out there who don’t want to play nice, you know, we’ll see. But we’ll see what happens to them in five years. 

[00:29:22] Mickey: Exactly. 

[00:29:23] Morayo: One of the, one of the wonderful things about you, too, Mickey, wondering about you was, you know, all the things that you balanced. And the way that you, and the way that you do it, but also that the life and work balance, you know, you seem to be handling it really well. You’re a husband and father of two girls. My brother has two girls and no hoops. No, he doesn’t his three girls. Oops, sorry. Sorry. The reason there’s a, there’s the oldest and they’re twins.

[00:29:51] Morayo: Can you talk about girl dads? Let’s talk about girl dads. 

[00:29:55] Mickey: There you go. It worked. Yeah. A key for us is that we [00:30:00] don’t believe in work-life balance, but more work-life integration. Ali has a better word for it that I can’t come up with now.

[00:30:05] Mickey: If you need to take a break for a couple hours in the afternoon to go read it, your kids school, like go take a break for a couple hours and do that. And then if you needed to catch up at eight o’clock at night with a couple emails, then do that. Like, I certainly, again, kind of like the contractor versus employees.

[00:30:16] Mickey: I appreciate people that say, Nope, I work nine to five and at five o’clock my phone turns off like nothing wrong with that. That’s just not how we work. Like we’re on slack in the evening, some hanging out, but. Yeah, people are kind of in and out throughout the day, as they have other things to do, you know, much of our staff works out at lunchtime and then showers like it’s, it’s all good.

[00:30:32] Mickey: You know? So I think that’s a big piece of what we do to, to make it balanced better. Yeah. And again, Ali, I think has been the prime example of that with our little ones she’s had to do that and it’s just kind of, the rest of the team has followed suit. So. 

[00:30:44] Morayo: What a, what a great example for your young girls too, you know, See their father partnered with a strong and intelligent female partner and you know, your wife as well.

[00:30:57] Morayo: Do you. I don’t know how [00:31:00] to parent, but in all fairness, I’m not a parent, so I don’t have to know so how does, how, how does your experience as a business owner, does that impact the lessons that, that.

[00:31:14] Morayo: Model for your girls? Not that you wouldn’t model the same lessons for two sons, but you know, I don’t know something about their special place in my heart for girl dads. 

[00:31:23] Mickey: Yeah. And I think it does help having Ali there. I think those show them and my wife works as well. And so I think they see that yeah, women are, I mean, heck Ali is far more capable than I am.

[00:31:32] Mickey: So they see that too. And even at our agency, we’re eight people and it was me and one other male and we just fairly recently hired him. So it’s been a very female dominated company. And that’s been fantastic. I’d much prefer it that way. I think so it’s worked well and I think they see that. And both girls have helped a little bit with the agency over time.

[00:31:49] Mickey: Just if we need some data input on stuff, we just kind of set them to the task and pay them a few bucks. That’s been kinda nice just to get them a little bit involved here and there. So it’s been. [00:32:00] As they grow up, you know, 

[00:32:01] Morayo: that’s right. Girls, women, women can be leaders and young people can also work.

[00:32:06] Joanne: Well, moving on from a business and culture and culture within the business and fatherhood at all, all of those very, very crucial and important pillars of business ownership. I feel like there is, there’s always, there always has to be a little space for fun.

[00:32:27] Joanne: And I heard that someone. That you really, really enjoy ice cream. I heard it through the grapevine called Morayo, so I am going to go eating ice cream. 

[00:32:39] Morayo: When I told her that he likes ice cream.

[00:32:42] Joanne: I’m going to go ahead and ask a series of flash lightning round questions related to ice cream for you. Let me know when you’re ready. 

[00:32:51] Mickey: Give it a try. I’m not sure I’m that big of a fan, but okay. 

[00:32:56] Joanne: Cone or a cup? 

[00:32:57] Mickey: Cone.

[00:32:58] Joanne: Ice [00:33:00] cream or frozen yogurt?

[00:33:01] Mickey: Ice cream. 

[00:33:03] Joanne: What is your favorite flavor? 

[00:33:04] Mickey: Mint chocolate chip. 

[00:33:06] Joanne: So my next question was like, is mint chocolate chip? Yes or no. So let’s say yes, ice cream cone or ice cream sandwich.

[00:33:15] Mickey: Oh, cone. 

[00:33:16] Joanne: Is a dairy free dessert ice cream? 

[00:33:20] Mickey: Ooh, no, it can be an acceptable dessert, but don’t call it ice cream.

[00:33:25] Joanne: Pint or frozen pop?

[00:33:28] Mickey: Oh, I guess a pint.. 

[00:33:30] Joanne: Okay. That’s you did great. You did great. You did great. 

[00:33:33] Morayo: This conversation has been going well this whole time until the disdain that you showed for the ice cream sandwich, Mickey I felt the flames!

[00:33:43] Mickey: Well you compared compared to good cone. It’s not even close. 

[00:33:48] Joanne: And our last question before, before we sent you off for your, the rest of your day is how are you creating happiness for yourself? 

[00:33:59] Mickey: Yeah, that was a [00:34:00] good question. I have a variety of things there. So one is back to the kids and watching my children thrive is a huge one.

[00:34:05] Mickey: Yet my oldest just went off to university of Georgia this year. So that’s been awesome. Just watching her thrive there knowing the company secure, you know, again, knowing that there’s no way we could close our doors next month. Like we’re, we’re healthy. We still got to work hard to make sure we’re healthy beyond that, but that’s big.

[00:34:22] Mickey: And then lately I’ve really been enjoying my evenings. Like after they all go to bed, just kind of reading a good bit because you know, trying to blog as frequently as I do requires me to read a lot, to have ideas of things to write about. So it’s kind of a thing there. And it’s really an interesting one lately has been fortnight, which is meant for middle school boys, which I’m often called, but it’s been fantastic.

[00:34:41] Mickey: I’ve been playing a lot with other people that are like on the happiness hour calls and other agency owners will just kind of play for half an hour, 45 minutes in the evening. And I equate it’s like playing golf with someone. When you’re out playing golf, you’re not really playing golf. You gotta just kind of hanging out and talking about life and business and every now and then you’re like, Ooh, I need the pitching wedge here.

[00:34:59] Mickey: Same kind of thing with [00:35:00] fortnight. We’re hanging out, just kind of chatting with each other and saying, oh, hang on a sec, get your sniper rifle. And then, okay. Now back to your daughter did watch who’s was in the play like, oh, it’s so cool. And I’ve actually picked up a few. We actually landed a pretty big job because of that.

[00:35:12] Mickey: Cause he said, Hey, don’t you guys do this other work? I’m like, yeah. Okay. I’ll connect you with this guy. And. It’s been fantastic. That’s been kinda fun to just, you know, playing like a kid, but doing business at the same time, you know? 

[00:35:22] Joanne: That sounds like so much fun and such a great way to network yet disconnect at the same time.

[00:35:29] Mickey: Right. It’s a reason to hang out. It’d be kind of awkward just to call these guys and then let’s just talk for an hour tonight. Like, what do you want to talk about? Like, it kind of gives us the other piece. We can talk about where we want to go and which weapons to get. And then once that’s going to settle.

[00:35:40] Mickey: Hiding in the Bush, we can. Okay. So, oh, you landed that job. That’s awesome. You know, we struggled with that piece.

[00:35:47] Joanne: You mentioned that you were saving some space to read at night as well. Do you mind me asking, what are you currently reading? 

[00:35:54] Mickey: Oh, good question. I’m trying to finish Homo Deus. I’m a book from Yuval, [00:36:00] Noah Harari, all about. It’s kind of ironic. He wrote it in like 2018 about like the future of mankind.

[00:36:05] Mickey: And he had a whole huge section about how we’re never going to face a pandemic again and all the reasons why we never reveal. And he kind of whiffed that. So that that’s a good one. I do a lot of Blinkist and just shorter reads is trying to get ideas and blogs and videos and that kind of thing.

[00:36:18] Mickey: There’s one other I’m reading. I’m gonna have to pull it up here real quick to see what it’s called. There’s a podcast that Stephen Fry has called Great Leap Years. That is very similar, kind of it’s like a six part series, like from the Dawn of man through present day, and it’s fantastic. Very similar trend to Sapiens. 

[00:36:32] Joanne: And I love Stephen Fry. Oh, And so happy that you said that you shared that I’m also a big fan of him.

[00:36:40] Mickey: But that, that one was, yeah, again, it’s called Great Leap Year though. That was a good one. And then the other book I’m reading right now is better capitalism. I’m a friend of a friend wrote it. So I’m reading that, just kind of a history of how we got where we are in terms of capitalism. And again, not having taken any business classes to speak of in college, I’m trying to catch back up.

[00:36:55] Mickey: So a lot of my reading, most of my reading is business focused. I’ll read, I’ll read things like homo Deus, and [00:37:00] occasionally read some fiction books, but I’d say 90%. Business focus just to try to make me better at what I do to serve the company, you know, come up with blog, post ideas and that sort of thing. So.

[00:37:10] Morayo: And what you single-handedly are the example that we’ll. Say for our country, save our world. You know, more we as Americans need to do more reading and get back to creating moments that feed the idea of community, you know, spending some of the, taking the golf course to the screen and with. That’s what you know, our grandparents, I guess, is the bright generate our parents and grandparents had in the bowling alleys and at the, you know, at the corner stores where the drive-through, you know, all of those.

[00:37:45] Morayo: All of those images of, of community are fading in our society. 

[00:37:49] Mickey: Walmart doesn’t do what all the individual stores did before. 

[00:37:52] Morayo: So yeah, those mom and pop shops, I remember as a child and this is, I won’t make this a long face. I remember as a child [00:38:00] when I lived in Delaware at the little corner store where the owner, it was a family, they knew your name, you know, You felt safe because if there was something they would call your parents or you would be, you would be reprimanded by people that were not your parents too.

[00:38:14] Morayo: So I think, yeah, I think we would be better off as a, as a society if we found, if we reconnected to that Mickey, it’s been awesome. Very awesome. Speaking with you today. We will share your contact information and your website information in our show notes. But for those that are listening or viewing, I just wanted to shout out Mickey’s website.

[00:38:36] Morayo: It’s Green Mellen, media.com and quickly spelling it Green. Like the color Mellen is M E L L E N. Media.com 

[00:38:46] Mickey: and really can put media, you can spell it any way you want. We bought all the type overs and so Green Mellen, media just spell, whatever you want to get to us because people can’t spell Mellen to save their lives the way we spell it. So, yeah. 

[00:38:58] Morayo: You’re saving society. I [00:39:00] get again. Don’t rely on auto-correct America 

[00:39:04] Joanne: Auto-correct will kill you on Mellen. So yeah, we, yeah, we gotta fix that. Rely on redirect that there. Forget. Auto-correct think redirect. 

[00:39:14] Mickey: I like it. 

[00:39:15] Morayo: Thank you for being such a great guest and sharing so much, so many valuable tips with us today.

[00:39:20] Mickey: We appreciate it. This has been fantastic. And thanks again for all that GoWP does for the community. 

[00:39:26] Joanne: Thank you so much, Mickey. And thank you so much to everyone who has listened or watched on YouTube. Don’t forget to like and subscribe, and you can get this podcast and this episode of the GoWP digital agency owners podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:39:42] Joanne: And as a quick reminder at GoWP, we want to help you become more profitable. Whether it’s listening to our podcast or joining in our weekly happiness hours, viewing informative webinars, hosted by our friends like Mickey Mellen in the WordPress community. [00:40:00] And of course, by growing your team with our uber skill developers, copywriters designers, or project managers.

[00:40:07] Joanne: So go to GoWP.com and read more about our services to schedule a call. Thank you so much.

GoWP webinars mentioned:

Metrics and KPIs every Agency Owner Should Be Watching 

Books mentioned:

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