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“As long as you focus on the culture setters, the trendsetters in the team, everything else will be fine.”

— David McGraw

The Climb Podcast: Ep. 1 w/ David McGraw

Forget Vision, Culture Setters & Management by Numbers 

What if you didn’t plan with a vision in mind? What if you just took your business step by step, quarter by quarter? 

It’s contrary to what you hear a lot these days. The strategy is different. Instead of looking so far ahead, you simply focus on your next move and make sure you get it done. 

This is what David McGraw has done. And full disclosure, we merged our companies almost a year ago. And one of the reasons for this was because of this strategy. 

Over the last 10 years, David’s been able to take Oyova from a one-person shop to over 25 employees. 

In this very first episode of The Climb, we talk about how he got into this, culture setters, and some of the biggest mistakes marketing agencies are making today. 

Check out the podcast below. Thanks for listening!

Show Transcript

Jon Tsourakis  0:01  

So, hi, I’m Jon Tsourakis. With the digital mastermind, you’re listening to the climb. This is where agency owners and leaders tune in to get growth tips and strategies for growing their businesses.

This is, in fact, Episode One, the very first and foremost and today I’m speaking with David McGraw, who’s the founder and CEO of Oyova. I should say that right because I’m also an owner of Oyova. And David also happens to be my friend as I just mentioned, business partner and a longtime member of the digital mastermind right now we’re talking about the format for this podcast, which today we’re going to interview David in which he has a ton of insights.

He’s a winning one of the smartest guys I know and, you know, just a great person altogether. But I’d like to talk about some of the things that are going on in the marketing industry. And right now, one of the things that I see the most of is everybody is doing the exact same shit. They’re literally all using the exact same playbook. And I think it’s killing and it’s hurting a lot of agencies they’re either a following all the same people or be they’re just not doing anything and I hate this cliche that’s outside of the box and on account of that I think there’s a lot of lately there’s a lot of business owners that are probably, you know really upset with either themselves or their staff and something that something’s got to change and hopefully, it’s something that this podcast and video series can help introduce some new strategies and tips and just talk to some really great thought leaders and help people think through other ways of doing whatever it is that they do, so they can be more effective at what they do.

So I don’t want to keep rambling. I’d like to get into this interview. I got some really good questions for Mr. McGraw here. So, David, are you ready for this?

David McGraw  2:02  

Yeah, let’s do this.

Jon Tsourakis  2:04  

All right, fantastic. Alright, so the first thing I want to know is how did you get into this business?

David McGraw  2:11  

I got into it just because I love solving problems started developing and being involved on the web early, as early as 15. And really just, it’s exciting to get up every day and solve people’s problems. I love it.

Jon Tsourakis  2:28  

So what were you doing when you were 15? That like online that got you into this?

David McGraw  2:34  

Yeah, honestly, I had the number one Aliens vs predator website on geo cities is awesome. Yep. And, and also, I just like to make websites I had all kinds of websites and you know, I don’t know if you remember, was it a webring? I don’t. So webring is you insert a little chunk of code at the bottom of your webpage and it would link you to like-minded Websites about the same topic. Because back in the day when I was 15, Google wasn’t really a thing. Right? So you could Ask Jeeves, but you weren’t really going to get any good search results. So to get found, you had to be a part of a webring. And at the bottom of each page would be next and previous buttons, and it would take you to the next site in the ring. It was awesome.

Jon Tsourakis  3:27  

You know, I think yeah, you’re more advanced than me because I now recall this thing existing. I just didn’t realize it was called webrings. Yeah, I just thought it was like, next. We’re going next. We’re going next.

David McGraw  3:38  

Yeah. I loved it.

Jon Tsourakis  3:42  

So there’s geo sights, you said? geo cities, right? It was cities or is the geo sites I think it was geo sites I remember that Yeah. Cuz that’s how I first got into I made one for a band and it was there another one that was like home, something.

David McGraw  3:57  

Home something

Not that I know of. I don’t know.

Jon Tsourakis  4:04  

I yeah, I’m not too sure. I can’t remember I could do some research on it. But I think it’s irrelevant at this point. All right. So, you’ve been in business since 2008. And what would you say is the biggest reason you’ve been able to make it 10 years?

David McGraw  4:21  

Well, let’s say for a vast majority of this with the entire economy has been on the rebound, you know, was risky and challenging, starting the business, smack dab in a recession. But that gave me a really strong advantage because it was just me and I didn’t have a lot of expenses. So I was able to compete with people that had a shrinking top, you know, revenue line with all these expenses so they couldn’t compete with my price point. So the first four or five years of Oyova, it was just picking up projects that people need senior level and expert level talent but just couldn’t afford it because that recession was so killer so being able to do that in the first five years was great after that it was kind of solidifying that agile approach into a more professional package where we focus on customer service so everything we did was make sure that the customer felt like they were part of the process and that they weren’t getting talked down to and easy to work with just be the easiest company to work with. With that, you know, just kept our customers loyal.

Jon Tsourakis  5:40  

Customers are loyal so you kept the current customers you had like like we’re looking at this like a house you’re building you know, brick by brick, keeping your customers as well as getting referrals from your customers.

David McGraw  5:49  

Yeah, that’s how we’ve grown the entire you know, history of Oyova, but was just referral word of mouth and every, every customer was an opportunity to do an amazing job so that they Tell somebody else.

Jon Tsourakis  6:03  

And did you ever have any customers that were, like just really loud screaming and bringing in like a ton of business what I would call a referral hub.

David McGraw  6:13  

You know, that’s the ideal scenario. I don’t think I’ve ever got someone like that simply because every one of my clients is running their own business. So there, they’re doing that for their own brand and their own business. I definitely have some people that refer to us a good amount of business. I think those are more like our channel partners, where it’s not necessarily our client, but more so of companies that we’ve partnered with that just go hand in hand, people that, you know, have an expertise that we don’t have. So we’ve partnered up a lot on a lot of projects. I think we have some real strong cheerleaders and some channel partners like

Jon Tsourakis  6:54  

That. Okay, do you did you in those 10 years ever ask for referrals?

David McGraw  6:59  

Oh, of course.

Jon Tsourakis  7:00  

Okay, I think that’s a big mistake a lot of people make, they just hope that they’re going to get referrals rather than asking for them. So that can be a big contributor. Alright, so that’s essentially the last 10 years, where do you see or Oyova in the next 10 years?

David McGraw  7:15  

Really, I think it’s about building out different services and expanding our offerings. We were very narrowcasted for a lot of our years. So now it’s time to expand on what we can offer to customers and get into new expertise. And with that, I think we’ll see more overlap in like, let’s say dev and marketing services. So we’re going to get more, we’re going to be able to bring a higher value proposition to our customers because we have two expertise hubs instead of just one. So that’s the push. Okay, so

Jon Tsourakis  7:54  

Yeah, traditionally you were more in dev and then now you’re going to cross the bridge between dev Marketing making sure that you’re moving those two machines in the direction that you want for your clients.

David McGraw  8:05  

I even want to get into content production and video production and some of the more traditional talents but just be amazing at it.

Jon Tsourakis  8:16  

So, video production that’s something that obviously isn’t going anywhere it’s you know, it’s everywhere. How do you plan on taking that on?

David McGraw  8:25  

Honestly, it’ll probably be an acquisition move will find a partner that is looking to grow has the right attitude culture, just the right fit and hopefully we can find a partner that just wants to be a part of a common cause.

Jon Tsourakis  8:42  

So in so far, what would you look for like how do you measure your culture against there is something I always find intriguing it to me it’s like that feeling. I mean, can you say how you would go about that?

David McGraw  8:54  

Yeah, that’s tough. Everyone’s got their own culture. Everyone does their own thing. It culture of all A changes based on the people you have. So it is hard to measure, like, based on what I guess if you ask somebody what their culture is, you still have to kind of find out what it is because what they want it to be might not be what it is. And it changes a lot. And we notice it in here, it changes a lot. Especially just as your team matures and works together longer and has more experiences outside of work. So it really I think just takes authentically seeing it. I mean, you kind of either knows what’s working or not. And I think I would that would mean I’d have to do some, you know, common projects, shared events, things like that and just see how it goes. 

Jon Tsourakis  9:50  

Yeah, and, and this is, you know, where there was on this, you know, podcast or somewhere else, it’s something I’ve always tried to nail down and, and tell me if I This resonates at all is, is culture literally like a combination between the way a business does something and executes upon it right. And the and I hate saying it like this, but the likeability of the people they work with, right? Because if you don’t like certain people that’s like our culture sucks, right? But just people just don’t like each other. And then if they don’t execute properly, it’s usually a culture problem. And those are the two things when I look at culture by to really distill it. And maybe that’s entirely to distilled,

David McGraw  10:34  

Not 100%. even think about like an ex-employee, you can have the best culture and you lose an employee or an employee leaves. And then they tell everybody, oh, the culture there is terrible. Well, everyone that’s still here thinks it’s great. But you didn’t enjoy it. So you’re going to tell me that the culture was terrible or toxic. I guess you know, you try to address it with exit interviews, but you also have to balance it against the average because like, you know, we see that all the time we have our core, and maybe it’s clicky you know, maybe it’s hard to get into that core culture but

Jon Tsourakis  11:15  

Yeah, it’s likeability. It’s like regulars at a bar is something to some extent and they do what they’re supposed to do. They pay for their drinks, they make sure they don’t, you know, go wild and crazy. And they welcome others into the establishment.

David McGraw  11:29  

I think the key you know, with our culture, it was very result-oriented and talent oriented. So I mean, if you’re good at your job, and I don’t mean you have to be a 15 year vet, but if you show that you can be talented, then you’re going to be accepted in our culture like we don’t, we can sniff out talkers a mile away. And if we if I bring as the person that’s supposed to build this team, if I bring in a talker, then my team is going to Let me know I screwed up.

Jon Tsourakis  12:02  

So how is it just Is that how you sniff them out? Is it just the cacophony and the loud roar of everybody? Or is there any other way you do it?

David McGraw  12:11  

I mean, most of the time, I can feel it out before it gets to that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you can definitely tell it’s, it’s the person that never joins us on a company event. I mean, we like to do at least four events throughout the year, that’s not company mandatory, but come company-sponsored, and we’re paying for it and we’re, and the team is the one that puts the votes on it and decides what we’re going to do. So we got somebody that’s not showing up to the thing that the team decided on consistently, then that’s a red flag. There are lots of ways to determine that but as long as you focus on the culture setters, the trendsetters in the team, everything else will be fine. You know, you’re the people that you can, you know, rely on to guide the culture and what it’s and how I, you know, built it was, I had a couple of employees that kept coming to me asking about, you know, Hey, can we do a lunch and learn? Or hey, can we do a lunch for the new guy? And I said, do it. You know you do it. And because I can’t be the main coordinator of every little event that we want to put on, we have a budget for that stuff. Just coordinate it, like if you can pick the food, order it, and I’ll pay for it. You know, it’s a lot but it takes that initiative to make sure somebody else is doing it because I can’t be the, you know, the team coordinator for that stuff all the time.

Jon Tsourakis  13:46  

So you had to resign yourself from ownership of cultural events, so to speak. I think it should

David McGraw  13:53  

Bubble up. Not down.

Jon Tsourakis  13:56  

I know a lot of agencies now like a sign somebody was like, I’m the chief culture or you know

David McGraw  14:05  

That the sounds like such new fame dangled. So I’m such an old school business person that I like dealing with tried and true practices. You know, if I were to hire anything with a chief of, you know, lollipops, I’m sure there’s somebody in Silicon Valley, that’s chief of snacks. You’ll never see that for me ever, at all. Like, it’s all going to be pretty strict and all those other fun things need to come from bottom up. So it’s real,

Jon Tsourakis  14:37  

Right? And I get that right. So maybe there are these other places that don’t have the culture that you have, right? And they’ve tried to instill this, whether that’s, you know, disingenuous or not, may prove, you know, to be something else. But it sounds like you made good hires and you were lucky enough for them to want to, you know, do some kind of activity that would Foster a culture and you recognize the opportunity pass that on to them. And they were able to, you know, take it for what it’s worth.

David McGraw  15:07  

Sure. And I’ve definitely been through phases where our culture was terrible, not terrible, but just not excited. And just not engaged. And, you know, that’s, you know, you have to treat it like a job, then you gotta get still got to get it done. And there’s, you know, we’ve definitely seen lots of different phases. But when we, you know, when we have a group of people working together, the way they are right now, and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep this current team together. We are rock stars right now.

Jon Tsourakis  15:38  

And that’s a testament to activities and just the likeability and a lot of the other factors we just mentioned.

David McGraw  15:44  

Yep. I mean, it could single handedly be tied to playing Mario Kart at lunch every Friday cuz that’s what they do, and I don’t even care. Like play

Jon Tsourakis  15:54  

That’s a great game. 

David McGraw  15:55  


Jon Tsourakis  15:57  

So Alright, if it sounds like cultures Not a concern for 2020 what is one of your biggest concerns then?

David McGraw  16:05  

That’s the biggest concern. The year ahead. Yeah, that’s tough. I haven’t even really gotten my mindset on to 2020 yet like I’m firmly planted on let’s wrap this year up with a bow and make it feel great. You know, we’re just, you know, Thanksgivings. A couple of days away. We got our company Christmas party a week away. Then we have, you know, Christmas and New Year’s. I really try to focus on enjoying the year that was we had a phenomenal year. We worked really hard and accomplished a lot of things and before I even move past it, I want to make sure that we enjoy what we did. I mean, this year was a big year we merged with revital. You know, we great company. Great company. Yeah, that’s why it’s why we merged with them. But to just go on past that and not celebrate, that would be a, I think a disservice to the company and to everybody in it because we all worked really, really hard to make this successful. And so all right challenges in 2020 are the things that worry me is, you know, all the goodwill that we’ve established and all the successes, maybe falter a little bit.

Jon Tsourakis  17:21  

Okay, and it sounds like debate, the way that you’ve done things, you’ve done it so organically and just quarter by quarter that maybe that’s just too far ahead. 

David McGraw  17:33  

Yeah, and I think that comes from a development background where we just can’t plan a year ahead, you know, it’s it is quarter to quarter because things change. 

You have to be agile, you have to be able to change your strategy. So, yeah, I definitely don’t see planning on what my June 2020 looks like. I have no clue right now.

Jon Tsourakis  17:55  

Yeah, um, yeah. And having a background that you have, you have a reason for it, whereas I know there are other business owners where it’s just, they’re lazy, or (b) it’s just there’s no planning or strategy anywhere in what it is that they do.

David McGraw  18:11  

But I also think a lot of that works busy work if you want to have a giant, I’ve been a part of fortune 500 companies. I was flown to London, a whole week of planning, it was all about the next year’s vision, and you know, all of that rah rah stuff, and I’m fairly certain, everything that we decided in that meeting was scrapped within like three months. So what the hell was the point? You know, it felt good. It felt like it was a show. Here’s what we’re doing, look at this. But the reality is, is nobody really actually wanted to do the steps to accomplish what it took to make a dramatic impact. Because if you focus on the end result, then you’ll lose all the steps that it takes to get there. And if I want to run a successful project, I start with step one, you know, the first step, accomplish that step to accomplish it. Now I understand you have to have the vision, the goal in mind, but if you focus on the end result, you’ll fail to deliver the proper things early on. And frustration will tell you to scrap it and nothing happens.

Jon Tsourakis  19:27  

So you focus on the first step, and the next step, so on and so forth? 

David McGraw  19:30  


Jon Tsourakis  19:31  

Whereas others potential because I know there’s like an argument for others where they say like, okay, just focus on that goal and everything will just come together.

David McGraw  19:40  

Horse horse stuff.

Jon Tsourakis  19:45  

You can say whatever you want.

David McGraw  19:48  

It doesn’t work for me. Plenty of styles that work for other people does not work for me.

Jon Tsourakis  19:53  

Okay. All right. So what? What would you say? That’s a mistake, and I This question that the question I want to ask is What mistake Do you see so many other marketing agencies making? vision planning? Because that seems like it’s really sexy. There’s a lot of, you know, talk about, you know, your vision. And a lot of people talk about culture, but I don’t think that they really understand it. I think it’s like I said, it’s just like, all right, yeah. What is our club cool to hang out with? And do we get this stuff done?

David McGraw  20:25  

And I think the number one thing marketing agencies are doing that’s not really to their advantage is they’re not really getting the experience and the technical aspects of what we’re doing. I mean, so many agencies, went from a marketing agency to a digital agency, and though they’re just going to be a marketing company, on the internet, you know, and didn’t take the time to understand what the internet was or you know, how web pages are made or what’s a content management system? Like there are so many components to this world now. And there’s a lot of marketing agencies that we can tell our fish out of water that really just want to design a mailer. And, you know, they’re trying to talk to us about websites. But, you know, they’re just, you know, they should they need to develop that skill set, and they’re not evolving to the technical level they need to.

Jon Tsourakis  21:33  

So the solution would be to develop that skill set or is there anything more concise or concrete that you could recommend?

David McGraw  21:43  

Well, I mean, it’s, it’s hard to train technical prowess. I mean, you just, you need to have somebody and I think you need to have somebody in leadership that is technical in background person. That’s That was their primary and teach them marketing and thinking like a marketer, right? If you got a technical person that could think like a marketer, that’s your sweet spot. In my opinion, a marketer that thinks technical is going to get you into trouble. Yeah. Because they don’t really understand the consequence of the technical decision. And you’re going to end up with a ton of technical debt and an expense.

Jon Tsourakis  22:29  

Yeah, so I someone that’s technical that can think like a marketer, you know, and it’s kind of akin to they say, and maybe this is there are some parallels here like all great copywriters think like our directors, you know, and all great art directors think like copywriters or designers, however, you want to use that phrasing. Yeah, but I agree with I know plenty of marketers that think technically and it’s not a beautiful output. All right. So you only Have onshore talent between with, you know, predominantly your developers because I mean, that’s a lot of stuff going on, you have some creatives on they’re located in your two locations in Florida. So how do you expect to compete with so much foreign labor in the development and marketing space?

David McGraw  23:15  

I think it’s the same answer that happens with every industry and every company it’s is quality and customer service. It doesn’t matter if it’s being sold by a competitor across town, or overseas. You know, what’s your value proposition? Why do people want to work with you? Are you the easiest person to work with? We’re, we are the easiest team to work with. that produces the highest quality, it’s, so it’s not the highest quality. We’re not the easiest team or the easiest team that produces the highest quality like that Venn diagram, you know, we want to be those two things and be the best at those two things. Combination because individually you know just being the highest quality is not necessarily producing the best value not everybody can afford the highest quality and being the easiest to work with might be terrible qualities so it’s if you can do that and make your client look like a rock star and you and they know you have their back then you’ve got a customer

Jon Tsourakis  24:25  

Got it. It sounds like the the triangle right? I forget these things always that the project manager triangle you can have it you know, fast.

David McGraw  24:32  

Yeah. Fast cheap or quality.

Jon Tsourakis  24:36  

Yeah, exactly. That’s what it is.

So along those lines, how do you acquire How do you acquire talent to you know fulfill on this? 

David McGraw  24:48  

Well, ideally they come to us because they want to work on interesting projects. But you know, we’ve done the recruiter route, we’ve done the self recruiting you to know, I contact people on LinkedIn that looked like a fit culturally and talent-wise. But the best hires are the ones that reach out to us. So yeah, you know, they’re coming us, we vet them. And, you know, we’re excited to give people a chance we look for hungry talent that wants to learn. We’re kind of an educational development organization. So we really like training and teaching. So we’re just looking for people that are hungry to learn and start a career in web development or marketing. We can teach anyone what they need to learn. They just need to be able to learn really well. 

Jon Tsourakis  25:37  

How do you gauge hunger?

David McGraw  25:41  

That’s really tough. And I don’t know if there’s any easy way to do it. You know, you can just hunger is someone that constantly suggests solutions. When they run into a problem. Do they just say, Yeah, I don’t know. That’s not hungry. You know that right? They’re not trying to figure something out. If somebody says What about this? And we’re like, yeah, that’s not really going to work. And they just get defeated. That’s not really hungry. But if they constantly keep throwing solutions at it, yeah, that’s somebody I want to work with, you know, as long as we can work through it and get, you know, come up with ideas and, and test them and see if they’re going to work and keep coming up with new ideas. That’s good.

Jon Tsourakis  26:20  

So, so grit, also a good word. Because Yeah, I mean, somebody could be, you know, a little bit hungry to get satiated, right when you’re like, yeah, great idea, Carl. On to the next one.

David McGraw  26:31  

I just had to do an interview for an entry-level position. And I just kept scaring him with what he’s about to go into. Because I’m like, fast pace, a crazy amount of projects, customers are contacting you all the time. Like, I need them to understand that it could get crazy, that’s not how we operate. But in an interview, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna sugarcoat it because I want them to come in with the expectation of Oh shit, this is going to be serious and then it’s not so bad, rather than them coming in thinking this is gonna be great. And then wait, what do you mean I have to pivot projects? And I want them in a prove-it mentality? Do you

Jon Tsourakis  27:13  

Set the right expectation.

And this is a new hire?

David McGraw  27:19  

A new interview, we haven’t offered him yet.

Jon Tsourakis  27:21  

So I was gonna ask, how’s that working out? 

David McGraw  27:23  

We’re still working on strategy of if we want to go entry level or more senior, he’s definitely gotten the thumbs up from the hiring team. So right now, it’s just more about strategy.

Jon Tsourakis  27:33  

How do you gauge that from the hiring team today interview him as well?

David McGraw  27:36  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it really comes down to the projects that we have upcoming, and what kind of level we need. Do we have the runway to train somebody up? Or do we need somebody hitting the ground running and productive as can be right off the bat? So just a formula.

Jon Tsourakis  27:55  

And I know you have women developers on your staff too, right?

David McGraw  28:00  

Yeah, of course. I wouldn’t

Jon Tsourakis  28:03  

know. The difference, right. That’s not that’s not normal, which I think is that’s, that’s a rare thing as a really cool thing. Right?

David McGraw  28:12  

Yeah. I mean, I think that the trend is turning but you’re right. You know, most of my career I’ve been working with guys, but we’re definitely seeing a lot more women in the STEM, you know, graduating with from the STEM fields or into the STEM fields and I think that’s great.

Jon Tsourakis  28:31  

I don’t know what a STEM field is. What is that? 

David McGraw  28:33  

Science, Technology, Engineering, mechanics? 

Jon Tsourakis  28:37  

mechanics? Wow.

David McGraw  28:39  

That’s basically all the engineering style degrees that developers or engineers and… you’ve never heard of STEM?

Jon Tsourakis  28:48  

No, dude, and you know, it’s sad like and I’m a very transparent person. I’m going to hear that everywhere now. And the end, whoever listens to this who’s like, dude, how the hell did I know what STEM is? It’s okay. I won’t disappoint. There’s a lot I don’t know.

David McGraw  29:02  

There is a great website you should check out that talks about it all the time. It’s called It’s all over it.

Jon Tsourakis  29:12  

Really? I thought you’re gonna say Wikipedia.

David McGraw  29:15  

Okay, Google.

Jon Tsourakis  29:17  

STEM is all over LinkedIn.

David McGraw  29:19  

Yes. Every every I mean, I get maybe it’s because

Jon Tsourakis  29:23  

I think it’s your algorithm. You got it you got a boring engineering algorithm. 

David McGraw  29:27  

I was just gonna say that. Maybe it’s maybe it’s me. And that I get I see ads for STEM degrees and stem recruiting and

Jon Tsourakis  29:38  

Maybe they want you to sign up. I don’t know, huh? That’s interesting.

David McGraw  29:41  

Let’s do a live looking at trends. Let’s

Jon Tsourakis  29:43  

Do a live David McGraw’s LinkedIn. Here we go, everyone. For those not able to view we’re looking at David space before he shares his screen.

David McGraw  29:54  

What I’m looking at, I’m just going to Google Trends

Jon Tsourakis  30:09  

Yeah, different circles, man. different circles. It’s okay. All right, you just educated me and maybe, you know, a small percentage of our audience is apparently everybody may have known this. Well, I think that’s also a strength if you don’t know something I, you know, a lot of people just play with it. It’s true. I think it’s important. Just, you know, you might, some people might think you’re a clown, but they’re judgmental, you know, keep moving.

David McGraw  30:30  

If you look at trends, Google com and search for women in STEM, you see a nice steady increase all the way from like 2008 to now over the last 10 years of steady increase.

Jon Tsourakis  30:43  

Well, I think I think it’s mainly technology, though. I know, there’s been a lot of talk about having more women in technology, and to some respects, is it a good old boy club, if it’s something that was sexist, you know, I don’t know. We don’t need to get into those things. I mean, unless you want to

David McGraw  31:00  

Well, my favorite topic is like, I don’t know, it was like six years ago basically like when the movie, The Social Network, you know, the movie about Facebook came out. Yeah. The big fun term, there was a programmers program, right? Because, you know, typically, a programmer is going to be the nerd with that, you know, sits in the dark and codes and doesn’t have any friends. And that’s, that’s what it was for a period of time. I mean, take a look at Steve Wozniak from Apple. I mean, that’s 

Jon Tsourakis  31:29  


David McGraw  31:31  

Well, it started to become cool to code. Right now. It’s you know, Silicon Valley is full of programmers. And I think it’s hilarious. It’s just a funny term. Just represents the bro that wants to code.

Jon Tsourakis  31:50  

You got it, broseph.


Bro Jay Simpson, brochacho, right. I don’t think that is going to help the culture any in so far as allowing more more more women, but I think it’s it’s a good point. So what is your best, you know, tip trick or productivity hack for agency owners, business owners or anybody you know, looking to do what you do?

David McGraw  32:21  

Let’s see the greatest productivity hack. Is that tough? I’d like to say have a master of you know, you know, mastery of your numbers. You know, sounds like a CPA would tell you that, but I just think it’s important to know where you’re at. It shouldn’t take you a long time to find out what your profit margin is, right? So I want to be able to train my team. I want to be able to give them the right equipment. I want to make sure that our offices are you know, engaging environments, I want to make sure that we can buy lunch for the team, everyone’s gonna like, all those things. You need to know if you can do that ahead of time I, I see people do things and then two weeks later they freak out because they lost a client or maybe a client’s paying late and then they’re regretting all those nice things they did and, and they’re going to be what’s the terminal look, we’re shell shocked and doing those in the future because it might impact like, if I, for me, I have my budget, it’s already accounted for. We have X amount of dollars set aside to do team building events. I am going to spend that every single time without worry.

Jon Tsourakis  33:44  

So having your hands on the dial so to speak of your business is a much more efficient way and productive way to run it.

David McGraw  33:52  

Right because it takes the emotionality out of it as well. I don’t want to rely on what it feels to make a decision. Just You know, I want the decision to be based on strategy. Is this the best way to spend that dollar? Are we going to get the most team building ROI out of it? We’re going to spend X amount of dollars on team building no matter what. Rather than Should we do team building or not.

Jon Tsourakis  34:20  

So do you find other Have you created? I look at that it’s a system, right? So have you found that you’ve created other systems that remove emotion? Yeah, emotionality, so you can make more logical decisions anywhere else.

David McGraw  34:35  

I think I pretty much the whole business runs like that are our manager, our team leads all run off a set of worksheets that are built from their numbers. They know exactly what their compensation is going to be based on that number. I’m not, excuse me. I’m not going to have a discussion with them about their salary at all. If they want more money, they know the formula and how to go achieve that. And it’s up to them. That’s not impossible. So it’s, there’s a lot of things that I tried to distill it down to that, you know, and then, but when you build the pattern, you have to identify the flaws, which is really interesting. I do sometimes see the flaws of the systems I create. And, you know, I think it’s impossible to create the perfect system. Because you’ll always find an issue like for example, I’ve incentivized my team to bring in as much revenue as possible for their team. And that creates the unintended consequence of some teams don’t like to close out projects in a timely manner because starting a new project as revenue closing out a project doesn’t. So there’s a flaw so then we have to then add something to say, Well, here you get a negative or a positive bonus based on closing our projects on time. Right, and then I’m sure you know, once we take that step that’s going to cause some other unintended consequence. So there’s no perfect system out there, but try to be good. And then that’s all you can ask for.

Jon Tsourakis  36:07  

Just solve every problem as it comes up and try to be as much of a 

David McGraw  36:11  


Jon Tsourakis  36:12  

Be what? Say that again?

David McGraw  36:13  

Be fair.

Jon Tsourakis  36:15  

Say more about that.

David McGraw  36:17  

Well, I mean,

Really recent example we had an employee come in, and because of the way a project ran, most of the money paid for the project had already come in yet, most of the effort has not been worked on. Well, this team received a bonus already based on that project. And so now, they’re kind of annoyed that the work that they’re going to have to be doing is not going to be compensated anymore because they already were and, and I just had to break that down and explain to them that, you know, they actually got more already and because they weren’t really aware of that and I just said it’s this is I’m trying to be as fair as possible, I could take it to the nth degree of being extremely strict and, and saying, no, you’re not getting paid on bonus until the work is done. But then that adds a lot of, you know, extra steps and creates a tough process to execute on and then it becomes a chore and then everything’s gone. So I just kind of explained it to them. This is how it’s fair, that sounds easy, easy and fair, will win the day every day. 

Jon Tsourakis  37:33  

Is that so? Okay, so I’d say that is a pillar in your culture, right? That’s an expectation that everybody has of leadership and those around them. 

David McGraw  37:44  


Jon Tsourakis  37:45  

So and in you, okay. And I definitely want to hear a little bit more about culture. Maybe I’m beating this thing to death. So you have this “fair,” maybe that’s in the core value system, you know, have events. What are some of the other ways that you foster culture.

David McGraw  38:04  

Well, like I told you, I don’t, that’s my team’s my team’s job now, I just give them the ability to do it.

They pay now

Jon Tsourakis  38:12  

I guess maybe what I’m getting I remember one time you told me a story about making sure that you were protecting. And maybe it was just, you know, the workflow where you would like lost a project or something. And

David McGraw  38:27  

Right. Well, I think, I think what you’re referring to is, you know, we lost our biggest client at the time. And it was at the time it was 85% of our revenue. And internally, I’m freaking out, but I knew that I had to keep my team or I was going to lose my company. And so what I did is I created a project that was fake with a fake company with fake goals and I created a project plan and everything and told my team, I just signed a copy. We got to do this, you know, and they were all for it. And for about two months, they worked on developing this platform based on fake specs, and this fake project. And, you know, and then meanwhile, I’m just out there hustling, trying to find another project. And I did actually sell a real project. So we were able to just toss that one on the, you know, to the side. And, you know, my team was all concerned about, you know, what about this other project? And I said, Oh, don’t worry about that. We’re on to the next one. And, and, yeah, I had ended up telling them a couple of months later that that was just made up. And I was just doing it too. I did not want to field questions about Oh, are we going to close? Are we going to be out of a job? You know, my job as a leader for the culture that I want to run here is to make sure that my team is not concerned with if they have a job or not.

Jon Tsourakis  39:55  


David McGraw  39:57  

I want to focus on doing good work.

Jon Tsourakis  40:00  

Yeah, okay.

Yeah. And yeah, that’s what I was saying. I think that is what related to culture. And I think that’s maybe one of the strengths that maybe you have as a leader, or that you’ve instilled in your company. All right, let’s let’s do whatever it takes to make sure that you know we stay afloat. And what do you when you’re not doing any of this? What do you do to let loose?

David McGraw  40:24  

You know, I’m a huge football fan. I’m a president of the fan club. The New England Patriots of Jacksonville.

Jon Tsourakis  40:30  

You just lost 31 other cities. 

David McGraw  40:34  

Yeah, yeah.

As someone passionate about I love getting out on the water. And I just had a beautiful brand new baby daughter. That’s a one or six weeks old today. So super excited to have our first Thanksgiving with her.

Jon Tsourakis  40:53  

Oh wow, congratulations. That’s huge. 

David McGraw  40:55  

Thank you. Yeah, pretty amazing.

So all worthwhile

Jon Tsourakis  41:02  

All worthwhile. Yeah, I have a dog. So essentially family, football, water. What about like checking emails at night or anything like that? Yeah, you a 24 hour work guy? 

David McGraw  41:14  

I used to be at the beginning Not anymore. You gotta check out you gotta separate it. I’m very adamant about telling clients, we are not 24 seven. You can call if it’s an emergency, but I’m not checking an email. I don’t expect my team to just had a situation today where somebody wanted to take something live the week of December 20, which also includes New Year’s, maybe as the 20, or the 30th. Either way, like the week of New Year’s this year, falls on a Wednesday. And so being smack dab in the middle you got a lot of people taking Monday, Tuesday or Thursday, Friday and they’re trying to take a, switch a major infrastructure from as your to AWS. That’s a large undertaking. And while we can do a lot of prep work, when we switch that over, there could be all kinds of things that go wrong. And I basically told the client that’s a non starter, because I am not going to be putting a situation where I have to beg my employees to come off of holidays, to fix things that we didn’t want to do that week anyways. So we are now doing it the week of January the sixth, because everyone’s going to be in the office. And I really hate that. For some reason, we have this notion in the IT world that we have to have new things for January 1st. Nobody’s in January 1st, and everyone’s out if anything goes wrong. It’s a royal pain in the ass and you want to lose employees. Tell them to quit their family holiday early and I need you to get online and fix something. That’s how you lose employees.

Jon Tsourakis  43:06  

How challenged? How challenging was it to convince the client to move it into the first week in January?

David McGraw  43:14  

Just flat out told him that be prepared to solve this on your own when we’re not available. And if you are, we will then help but we will not be available to help you outside of business hours or on holidays.

Jon Tsourakis  43:27  

And at that point, they’re like, okay, it makes sense. 

David McGraw  43:30  

Correct. That scared them to say Nope, they do not want that responsibility.

Jon Tsourakis  43:35  

Yeah, logic prevails. 

David McGraw  43:37  


Jon Tsourakis  43:39  

So is there anything else that we didn’t cover that the world should know about? You have anything going on that you’d like to promote?

David McGraw  43:49  

Oh, you know, we’re steady working hard on a new project that we picked up a year ago called jobs in sports, putting a lot of effort into it. It’s a Job Resource Center for the sport industry that goes beyond just head coaches. And, you know, on field jobs, we’re talking about, you know, social media for a soccer team or event coordinator. I mean, there’s a million jobs that these sport industries need, or these franchises require, but they get buried in indeed, or they get buried in monster com. So we’re trying to serve specifically to the sports industry. And really, we want to create a LinkedIn experience for the sports industry with So really excited about that and we’re seeing a lot of progress with that.

Jon Tsourakis  44:48  

Alright, so other than if somebody wanted to get a hold of you for a new project or are just, you know, hear your thoughts, anything else, how can they go about doing that?

David McGraw  45:00  

always hit me up at my website or That’s o-y-o-v as in or my email David. [email protected], always available to help assist whatever it is answer questions.

Jon Tsourakis  45:17  

All right, right on And last question how do you feel about people using very powerful words to describe the letters, for instance instead of saying is in Victor people would say these in victory you haven’t heard this like I C as in champion

I have. And it instantly throws me into bullshit mode like when people do that. 

I’m like, wow, okay. 

David McGraw  45:42  

You need to be at that level to pump yourself up. Like Yeah, I V as in victory, because historically, victory is the word for V like that’s.

Yeah, that’s weird.

Jon Tsourakis  45:57  

All right, right on man. Hey, well, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time today is on fun. Alright cool, man. All right, but I’ll talk to you real soon. Thanks again.