I heard it said recently that home is acceptance. One way to gain acceptance is to earn recognition as a thought leader in your industry. Another way is to work around great people that respect what you do, that make the difficult tasks of an entrepreneur something to wake up enthusiastic about each day.
Digital Talent Agents (DTA) helps business leaders share their expertise with the world by producing, publishing, and marketing content – sharpening strategies, focusing brands, and reaching target audiences more effectively along the way. DTA gives talented professionals a home in their respective fields. President Kelsey Meyer tells us more.
What first drew you to entrepreneurship?
My dad ran a home building company, and I was always fascinated as a child by how he led a team and built things. I started at a young age by “borrowing” rocks from my neighbors, painting them, and selling them back to the same neighbors. I then moved on to selling pillows, newsletters, and my entrepreneurial spirit just grew from there.
Describe the moment when you realized you had to do this, (quit your day job / pursue your entrepreneurial dreams / start your company / etc.)?
When we had our first paying client. We had been testing the idea of helping clients get published online to build credibility and thought leadership for free to make sure it was possible and start building our publication relationships. Once we had validated that it was not only possible but extremely valuable, the decision was easy. Once the free testing clients turned into paying clients, we had no choice but to focus 100% of our efforts on DTA.
What inspired DTA and what makes it so killer?
We were inspired by the issues we were seeing in the content marketing and PR world. We spoke with so many startups who were getting small press mentions once every few months and didn’t see any true long-term benefit. We began discussing how valuable it is to contribute to publications in your industry with these startups and realized that we would be able to provide real value to startups needing to build credibility with their target audience.
What really sets us apart is that we’re not trying to get content published ABOUT our clients, but instead get expert content published coming FROM the clients. This enables them to control the message, educate and entertain their audience, and provide real value to the readers of the publications. It establishes our clients as thought leaders within their industry, and naturally creates a pull strategy of people wanting to work with them instead of a push strategy of just trying to intercept people with traditional PR or advertising on publications.
How has work on DTA been different from other projects you’ve been involved with?
DTA is different than previous projects I’ve worked on because we’ve grown so quickly. I started a small marketing company in college, and within a year, we grew from 2 to 4 employees. With DTA we’ve grown from 2 to 50 employees in a year. It’s been an amazing experience to grow a team so quickly and maintain the amazing culture that we believe so strongly in.
What’s your greatest satisfaction in business life?
Working with amazing people. I am more impressed with the people I work with every single day I come to work. They are talented, caring, genuine, and – most of all – people I would choose to spend time with regardless of if we worked together or not. I think this is one thing that makes us all love our jobs – we look forward to seeing the team every single day.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you in your professional life?
I fell on stage when I was speaking at a conference in front of a few hundred people. I proceeded to see my teammates in the front row about to pee their pants because they were laughing so hard.
What’s the best entrepreneurial advice you’ve ever received?
Tell everyone your idea. I am always interested in getting feedback on everything we are doing, in learning and growing from that feedback. If we were scared to tell people what we were up to with DTA in the beginning, I don’t think we would have ever grown as quickly.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are just starting out? What’s your “golden rule” of entrepreneurship?
Hire people you enjoy being around. If you can’t look forward to seeing your coworkers everyday, you won’t love your job half as much as you could.
Who or what inspires YOU?
My Dad. It may sound corny, but my Dad inspires me so much in business I even wrote an article about it here. I’ve always looked up to him as a business owner and as a genuine person. If I can emulate his characteristics in life and business I think I will have done alright.
What’s the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
Knowing when to say “no.” I hate being a Debbie Downer so it is very tempting to say “YES, let’s do it!” to every idea we come up with. A mentor of mine once told me he keeps a list of all of the things his company COULD do, but chooses not to, and I think this is extremely important in business. It’s challenging to know the difference between what your company can do and what is worth doing.
How do you cope with the unique pressures and challenges of being an entrepreneur?
I play golf to relieve stress when it’s warm out. When it’s not, I simply talk it out with other team members. I think too many entrepreneurs internalize the stress because they want to appear strong. I’ve seen that people still think you’re strong if you share your struggles with them, and sometimes they think you’re even stronger for opening up about it. It’s so important to have a support system I can’t imagine internalizing all of the stress.
What websites, apps, and other tools can you not live without as an entrepreneur?
Zite – since I’m in the content world, I have to read a ton of articles. Zite helps me do so quickly.
Skype – we chat on Skype all day in our office, so it’s a must.
What is your music-streaming site of choice, and what are you currently listening to?
- Of Monsters and Men
- Neutral Milk Hotel (oldie but goodie)
- Matt and Kim (saw them live recently became re-obsessed)
- Regina Spektor
Has being an entrepreneur affected your personal life? How so?
Absolutely! It’s even affected my love life! I met my boyfriend initially at an entrepreneur meetup, and only because of my entrepreneurial life was I able to fake my way through a convo about web development with him. He knew I was clueless but appreciated the effort to understand his career.
It’s also affected my personal life because it’s made me a happy and fulfilled person. I don’t consider running a startup a job, it’s just a large part of my life that I absolutely love.
Where are you based and what’s the local startup scene like there?
I’m based in Columbia, MO, and the local startup scene is awesome! I helped organize our first Startup Weekend in 2011, and we’ve seen great progress since then. Between the University of Missouri’s Entrepreneurship Alliance, the League of Innovators, and other Columbia initiatives, I think it’s an ideal place to start a company.
Where can our readers get a hold of you?
On Twitter, by email, and on our team Facebook Page.
Thanks, Kelsey! For more information about Kelsey and Digital Talent Agents, check out our interview with Kelsey last year.