Failure is the Way to Grow Together Shay Berman at Digital Resource

In the start-up world, there is a famous saying, “move fast and break things” that comes from the speed of action and their comfort with failure. This is the same mantra that Mark Zuckerberg used to align the Facebook team to the early days of growing to more than 1 billion users and beyond. Today, I am talking to Shay Berman, President of Digital Resource. Shay shared with me why move fast and break things is something that has impacted their growth. We look at the courage that it takes and the reasons behand moving fast. Discover how your company can create a culture of “move fast and break things.”

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Shay Berman: The Transcript

Target Audience: Shay Berman is the President at Digital Resource. Shay Berman has spent years developing the best digital marketing strategies to drive real revenue to businesses of all sizes. Shay holds a degree in Advertising from Michigan State University with specialization in Internet Marketing.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Shay Berman: [00:00]
By not putting people down, by allowing people to openly talk without criticism. Sometimes that even comment is a one way to really give people that courage and putting people in that group setting where you have others who are already that way and allowing them to see that and again, get lead by example is a great way to have people have that courage and then as they keep speaking, you know, kind of referring back to them more and more often as showing them that when they speak up there’s more and more opportunities for conversation and change and growth that can happen when that happens.

Gene Hammett: [00:27]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs. The fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host, my name is Growth Think Tank Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett: [00:45]
I think about the failure of your employees and you hold back as a leader. Well, fast-growing companies know that you can’t look at failure as a chance to hold someone back, but failure is actually something to be embraced. Failure, something to be leaning into. So if you think about failure the next time you have a project, I want you to think about it differently. After this episode, we’re going to share with you some of the aspects of failure and how that would help you grow as a company and as a leader. I wanted to find someone that really embraced this kind of idea and ended up finding Shay Berman. Shay is the founder of Digital Resource and Digital Resource is a company that does marketing. Marketing is one of the fastest-growing industries and if you don’t have a tolerance for failure, you won’t last. In the world of marketing today.

Gene Hammett: [01:33]
The innovations and the creativity and the tracking of ROI Cause you to immediately put together test, look for places that you could do better and look at those as a way to improve and failure no longer becomes an issue, becomes a way to move forward and grow. Shay shares with us some of the aspects of how he embraces this as a leader, but also how does he get others to think about failure, how they grow from it. Some of the insights in here really are impressive.

Gene Hammett: [02:01]
Thanks for tuning in here to Growth Think Tank. Really excited about sharing this with you and before you run, I have done so many interviews in the last few weeks. I have such an exciting time to share with you that those interviews have been organized into the 12 core principles of fast-growth companies. So all you have to do to get that is going to so you can get the 12 principles and I’ve been able to go in there and find which episodes will align to each individual episodes. When you subscribed to grow think tank, you will find exactly what you need so that you can move forward. And many of them haven’t been published yet depending on when you’re hearing this, but you can, you can tune in to the date that means the most to you. So I really appreciate you tuning in here to Growth Think Tank. And now with the interview with Shay.

Gene Hammett: [02:49]
Hey Shay, how are you?

Shay Berman: [02:50]
I’m great. How are you doing?

Gene Hammett: [02:52]
Fantastic. Excited to have you here at the growth think tank. I wanted to give you a chance to tell us, you know, kind of where your business became, you know, a real idea and started to really take shape.

Shay Berman: [03:04]
Yeah. So I went to Michigan State University, got a degree in advertising specialization, Internet marketing and I had a landscape construction business while I was in school and I was really fortunate to be able to take what I was learning in school and apply it to my business as well, some family businesses. So when I Left College, moved to Florida where I always wanted to live, I obviously was looking for something to do and instead of restarting my landscape construction company, I decided that I was going to take the knowledge I’ve learned in school and I had been applying to make my first company successful to make other companies successful. And it’s actually my father that kind of convinced me to get out of construction and into this cause. This is what I was really great at.

Gene Hammett: [03:43]
So digital resource has you know, a traditional marketing company. What kind of makes you a little bit unique inside of what you do?

Shay Berman: [03:51]
Yeah, so you know, we take a really in-depth approach to our clients and their goals and their concerns where we don’t have cookie-cutter packages. Everything is tailored to their goals. So we’ve looked at where they are from a business now in terms of revenue, in terms of number of clients or patients are customers coming in and we look at their now and where they want to be and using all of our data, our metrics or past client experiences we create plans are highly likely to get them to where they need to be, but then also work those clients on a consultative basis to make sure that they’re capitalizing on the leads. We’re sending through a lot of marketing companies, you know, put them in a cookie-cutter package, sign them up and hope it does well. We really customize that package. And then walked them all the way through the patient or client or customer life cycle to ensure the return investments really getting there.

Gene Hammett: [04:38]
Well, I know that I have a lot of experience with marketing companies and it is unique that you have something custom and it is unique that you actually care about the ROI of it. So I appreciate you sharing that with me. Your company has grown tremendously fast. You were, you know, what, two 62 in 2018 on the INC list.

Shay Berman: [04:57]
Correct. And we hope to be in about the three hundred this year is our goal.

Gene Hammett: [05:01]
It gets harder and harder each year as you, as you grow your revenue. So when you think about you know, growing the company and creating a culture that has allowed you to succeed, what is one thing that really stands out as something that you guys focus on that makes that growth happen?

Shay Berman: [05:21]
Yeah, so kind of along store, we’ll make super short, but when I first got out of school, I got job offers that McCann Erickson team Detroit, some really large players in the advertising world. And not only were they offering extremely low on livable salaries, but they weren’t offering growth opportunities for at least five to seven years with no matter what kind of quality of work you do. So what makes us different is that one of my goals since being in the company was I wanted to hire young people out of college or even without college educations that were intelligent driven people and give them opportunities to grow and obviously their financial life but also in their careers and more quickly if they were actually people. So our culture is all based around no micromanagement. Totally. Here’s your role, do a great job, continue to innovate, you know, move fast and break things kind of philosophy, but don’t make the same mistake multiple times. So always learning and innovating. We never put barriers on how our people can innovate their processes or their teams. So we’ve been super dynamic and we change every day. We don’t have to have meetings about change. We let our people just implement change as they see it’s the best fit. And that’s leniency has really created a culture of people kind of owning their positions and their roles and looking forward to the growth that the company,

Commentary: [06:32]
Shay just said move fast and break things. You may not know that, but that’s a mantra that Facebook had in the beginning days of launching out this incredible platform that is essentially changed the way we all connect together, move fast and break things. Let’s talk about that for a second. You’ve got to move fast. In today’s world, you’ve got to push the boundaries of what you think is possible. You’ve got to grow faster than what people are used to and you’ve got to push that inside the culture. When mark talked about this and you know, in his growing of the company in the early days, he really wanted people to not think about the ramifications of this because everything could be fixed and there were small iterative changes. They were allowing them to move forth. I’ve heard that there were thousands and thousands of tests going on at any one time on the same platform that you and I visit on Facebook. And it’s probably still true today because they really believe and moving fast and testing these things, getting the feedback and iterating on that. Now, why would you want to move fast and break things? Because that is the way that you encourage your culture to think about things that have never been done and to really embrace that sense of failure. Now, back to the interview with Shay.

Gene Hammett: [07:49]
Well, I want to come into ownership, but, but the real kind of essence, if I look behind that is you’ve got a different relationship with failure. I mean, marketing has this, this need to continuously be pushing the boundaries. It probably changes faster than most industries. And you really embrace the sense of, you know, failure is the way forward. Would you say?

Shay Berman: [08:11]
I do, you know, there’s a book that I live, one of the books, I swear by there’s three of them, but one’s called go for now, it’s about every piece of failure as a step towards success and without hitting those failures are never going to get success. So we need to fail as much as possible to figure out what really works.

Gene Hammett: [08:26]
Well, it’s easy for us to say, as a business owner, I own my business, you own your business and we have that entrepreneur spirit inside of us. And how do you get others though to really accept that failure is a good thing and you know that it will allow you to keep moving forward and you’ll still have a job here after you go through something that kind of stinks?

Shay Berman: [08:52]
So I think some of it is the proof’s in the pudding. Like, allowing me to fail and see that I’m not going to be fired. So it’s a lot of it’s like, Hey, fail. Trust me, fail, fail, fail. And showing them that when that happens, that there’s only positivity that comes from that in most cases. So showing them that while they take those actions, obviously getting them there is one thing in itself too. And I think that you know, I’m lead somewhat invite an example where I am always saying yes to different opportunities, different things that we do. And when it fails, it’s not some huge colossal event. It’s, hey that sucks. Let’s change this move here. And it’s almost like it never happened. But it was a learning experience that you hold on to.

Gene Hammett: [09:27]
I want to kind of break this down as best we can and I want you to fill in some of the gaps, but I want to kind of prod you just a little bit because failure is something I believe is a great thing inside of a business. And especially if you have the kind of employees that are confident and courageous enough to have an idea, tell us what that idea is and then actually, you know, go out there and maybe create a test to move forward. So let’s look at this piece by piece. Courage. How do you get someone to have the courage to speak their ideas inside these meetings? Where there are other people that may know more about the given subject.

Shay Berman: [10:06]
So I think there’s validity in anything that someone says, whether it’s, you know, I don’t believe in right or wrong. So by not putting people down, by allowing people to openly talk without criticism, sometimes thought, even comment is one way to really give people that courage and putting people in that group setting where you have others who are already that way and allowing them to see that. And again, get lead by example is a great way to have people have that courage. And then as they keep speaking, you know, kind of referring back to them more and more often and showing them that when they speak up, there are more and more opportunities for conversation and Change and growth that can happen when that happens. So kind of like, you know, you put, you keep putting the treats out for your dog, the dog’s gonna follow the treats. It’s almost like, hey, if you do this, look at the next look. The next one you can follow. Lead them by showing them where that kind of golden goose says by keep pulling it along with them.

Gene Hammett: [10:55]
So once they had the courage to speak the ideas, they certainly have to have the courage to create a test. Now I, I’m maybe I’m projecting a little bit here, but do you believe in letting the employees develop their own tests, whether it be a marketing campaign or a new channel that you want to try or do you guide them or have someone that guides them?

Shay Berman: [11:14]
Yeah, you know, I wish I could guide them sometimes, but you know, as the business owner, I can’t be involved in everything as much as I want to. So one big thing that I believe in right now is linkedin ads. I believe that two thousand nineteen thousand twenty is going to be the year of Linkedin ads.

Shay Berman: [11:26]
And instead of learning it myself, I’m diving in and we have 43 people here who are more than capable of learning that if they want to. So we have found a couple select individuals. We’d love to learn the platform. And I said, listen, learn the platform. Come up with a plan, I don’t care what the plan is and I’ll give you a budget to test. And it’s just about them being willing to learn it and to create that plan and I’ll let them test all they want and they have to be able to have those rains, especially if you want to implement that to our clients later on. So I’m letting them test it on us as a company first. And we’ve done that with almost every service we brought on.

Gene Hammett: [11:56]
Now that brings me back to what you said earlier about the ownership. Having people that really do have ownership of the goals, but also have the process and that’s what you just talked about. Like look, the goal is to make linkedin ads work. Your job is to figure out how to, how do we do that? Right?

Shay Berman: [12:12]
Yeah, yeah, totally. I mean, I LinkedIn’s a platform, we’re looking for more business here as a company, you know, figure out how to make that work. And you know what our average value of a client is, you know, I’ll be upfront and transparent with you. So we have all the data available to measure ourselves first and they just have to create that process to get there.

Gene Hammett: [12:30]
Now I want to keep going further down this breaking apart, this, this failure aspect. One of the pieces to this is competence. You have to have build some competence up, uh, before you actually get to confidence. But when you think about your employees, how are they actually building the competence to move forward through all these failures that are coming up?

Shay Berman: [12:55]
Competence. So I’m not sure that they have the competence to start off. I think that the competence to move forward through the failures is learned through the failures themselves and a lot of cases and you know, especially when we try new things like linkedin ads, they don’t know what they’re doing. And so me being like, Hey, I know it might not work, but I’m going to give you all the tools and abilities to try and make it work and we’re going to write it for this amount of time. It’s, it gives them that ability to become competent, which they have to be able to test. Especially if they’re learning new things

Gene Hammett: [13:28]
And that’s where I was going with it. The competence comes by them taking action because sitting around and talking about it, you don’t get that competence.

Shay Berman: [13:35]
Exactly. Now you can’t. You can.

Gene Hammett: [13:38]
And then once they move, keep moving forward, they start to figure things out. They begin to show signs of confidence when it comes to the work that they’re doing. Are you noticing those signs continuously? as they, they figure out these problems?

Shay Berman: [13:56]
Oh yeah. I mean, when we bring on new clients now in the past, if it was like a new industry, they’d be like, Oh man, we got to figure this out. Like we don’t know if it’s gonna work. No promises. And now today, like for Facebook ads, for example, we bring on a new industry and my team’s like, yeah, home run, we’ve got this. And I’m like, I dunno how you’ve got this. Obviously, you’ve got to figure it out. And they’ve figured out a way to figure out new industries, new verticals, new products, new services that they can offer through different platforms. And it’s all been through giving them that ability to try and test things because through that trying and testing, they figured out that we can make anything happen. We just now need to use these tools and this knowledge we have to make that happen again.

Gene Hammett: [14:33]
Now, what might I be leaving out that some, some benefit or some piece to the whole failure as a, as a way that the company is growing fast? Um, does anything come to mind?

Shay Berman: [14:45]
Cause I think money might come to mind. Okay. So a lot of companies are afraid to spend money. You know, we have no investors. I have no partners. I started this company five years ago with $5,000 in my bank account and that’s it. And to this day, I’m not afraid to throw money at any idea that someone has convinced me. Sounds like it maybe will work and I’m open to trying anything. I think a lot of businesses are afraid of trying new things. They’re afraid of let go the rains. They’re afraid to let people test and become competent. They’re afraid of trying so many things. I can go on and on, but I will try anything and see if it works. And then you just stop. If it doesn’t work, and that comes all back to that failure. But if you’re not willing to invest the money and sometimes that money can be your people and the time that they’re putting in. But if you’re not willing to invest that money to take that risk, you’re definitely never going to get the reward.

Commentary: [15:35]
We’re not afraid, afraid, afraid is such a huge word. That’s It’s one of the words that really stops people from really creating what they want to in their life and their business now. And as a leader, if you’re afraid to go out there and sell the bigger deals to make bigger commitments, you probably have to guess yourself. Like, why am I so afraid? I’ve written a book about a lot of the things I went through when in my journey as a leader and when I lost millions of dollars and had to rebuild my life and looking back at failure. It really is something that I learned from and being afraid and all the fear that comes up. I look for areas to be courageous and as a leader, I think you want to look for those areas where the fear is because there’s something amazing on the other side of that. I work with leaders to help them through those defining moments and if you have a defining moment that you’re struggling with right now, I love to get to know you. Just reach out to me, [email protected] now back to the interview with Shay.

Gene Hammett: [16:36]
That’s a good point because you’re walking the walk too as you’ve probably done a lot of failure through this and maybe even as you’re growing the company, you’ve probably had some mistakes, which we’ll talk about in a second. But you aren’t trying to say that you’re perfect because let’s be honest, say that that’s not, that’s not possible at all.

Shay Berman: [16:56]
You know, there are so many things that we fail at, but I’m literally thankful for every single one because I know that failure showed me not to do that again now. Poor failure would be where you keep doing the same thing that’s not bringing you that success and business owners again that aren’t measuring those things are going to keep coming across that.

Gene Hammett: [17:14]
Is there anything that you’re doing to capture that knowledge to make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes? Are you doing any type of a look back and recaps with the audience as a whole or he employees as a whole?

Shay Berman: [17:26]
Yeah, so for example, we do trade shows and at the end of every trade show we figure out, you know, did we get enough leads that turned into a business and we didn’t get enough leads that turn to business? Did we create partnerships that are going to trend to leads down the road? So I measure my return on investment with different things and very different than most business owners. Some will be like, hey, we put 10 grand to a tip trade show. We got no business. I’m a kid who put 10 grand to a trade show. We made partnerships and look now in the last year, those three partnerships turn into 200 grand in business and you really have to measure that value even if it’s extremely long term and some things that are people like maybe we’ll hire a salesperson inside or an outside where there are so many things that we do that we have to measure afterward. And if you’re going to test it and that measurement can come in so many forms but depends on how you value each piece that’s coming back for that ROI.

Gene Hammett: [18:15]
Would you share with us a mistake that you may have made in this journey? Maybe you gave someone too much leeway or you just missed an opportunity that you could share with us today.

Shay Berman: [18:27]
Yeah. Mistakes that I’ve made. There’s so many to choose from. Um, you know, I think that one of the biggest mistakes is putting too much power in one person’s hands. Um, you know, there was a time where one of my first hires was given the operations role. I started off as a part-time social media person and she was my first hire and literally grew to full-time social media to web development type things to content management, account management, operations groups at the top. And I thought I could trust that person with every piece of the company as it’s moving. I didn’t even have to look inside the company while she came from the bottom. You know, it’s all there. It’s all great. Well, that person, I ended up picking up everything and moving to Poland with 30 days notice. And that put me into it a whirlwind of, I don’t know what to do, but what I realized that there was too much power in that person’s hands.

Shay Berman: [19:15]
There wasn’t enough checks and balances. And by spreading the team out and creating more managers to oversee different departments and also having them have assistance in those departments in case someone was to get abducted by aliens the next day, you’re never in a spot where someone leaving. We can affect the entire company or even a large portion of the company today. Someone leaving is an opportunity for that person leaving if they do. And another opportunity for us to even get better with that it role that already existed.

Gene Hammett: [19:41]
Well, I know we’ve all faced that as leaders. Just curious here, is there anything uncommon that you do, uh, inside your meetings or inside the way you guys work together that kind of allows you to embrace this sense of failure?

Shay Berman: [19:56]
So allows us to embrace the sense of failure and then we start off every meeting with, tell me something good ever has to say something. That’s great because with failure you’re gonna find some great things that happen. And keeping that positivity up is important, but that also allows you to dive right back into where the failures are while still starting the media on a positive note. So we’re always embracing it by having the ability to say what’s great, but then having the ability to go back then through and say, hey, but here’s now what we need to fix. Things are great here. But look through all this data is still an opportunity for us to change.

Gene Hammett: [20:31]
Well, I appreciate you sharing that with us. I want to give you a chance to kind of go into anything that you feel like has made a really, um,

Shay Berman: [20:39]
profound impact on your company and your leadership as the company’s been growing as fast as it has. You know, I think communication is key no matter what business, no matter if it’s business or personal life, even communication is everything. And there’s a book that every single one of our communicators has to read and that’s called never split the difference by Chris boss. And that book has been instrumental in my own life personally and instrumental in the growth of this business because it teaches you how to negotiate. Yes, from a sales perspective, but everything you do in life is a negotiation. Everything is about efficient communication and with my favorite word, being economical, being economical and your speech to make sure it’s the most efficient to be most likely understood is a massive path towards success in anything you do. So we work on understanding our clients, our partners, our team members, our leaders, the people under us.

Shay Berman: [21:31]
And by understanding them better, we can provide them with what they’re needing, what they’re looking for to get success on their own end. And that just creates a circle because if we communicate with a crew with them, a lot of times they’ll communicate better with us. And it creates an appreciation for the communication overall. And that is why I think there’s so many bumps in the road and the agency setting and a lot of businesses because communication is so core. So if you can make your communication more efficient, more efficient and better, both of those you can really have so much more success in no matter what you’re doing.

Gene Hammett: [22:01]
Fantastic. I really appreciate you being here on the podcast. If our audience wanted to check out what you’re up to, where would you send them to?

Shay Berman: [22:09]
Yeah, they can check us out on your digital also on a Facebook digital resource. We’ve posted things every day about our team, our culture, and obviously the marketing that we do. So that’d be great.

Gene Hammett: [22:20]
Well, thanks for being here at the growth think tank.

Shay Berman: [22:22]
Thank you so much for having me.

Gene Hammett: [22:24]
What a fantastic conversation. I love this concept because failure is not something to shy away from. Failure is something to really embrace and grow into. I’ve worked with other companies that actually celebrate failure. They really have the sense of failures a way that we grow together and we innovate and when they celebrate the big losses of the year, everyone gets behind it because it becomes a part of the culture that you’re going to move forward. So that’s our take here today. On the podcast. Thanks for tuning in to grow think tank. My name’s is Gene. I’m your host. If I could help you in any way, make sure you reach out to me and let me know exactly how I could help you. And if you want to refer this to somebody who think we really get the benefit from it, think of that one person right now. Send them an email or to go visit, as always, lead with courage and I’ll see you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.


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