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Aww Shift

Sep 25, 2023

On today’s podcast, our guest is Mark Drager. He played a pivotal role in shaping the brand personality of Dark Work. However, this episode goes beyond just branding. It delves into the human element and the journey of discovering how to do more of what you love. Mark discusses how to elevate your vibe to achieve success in business and personal life, whether you're an entrepreneur or an employee. With a track record of working on 3,000 projects for 300 different companies and generating millions of dollars in business, Mark shares his insights and the human stories behind his journey. Stick around till the end to learn more about his work and how it might benefit you. Now, let's dive into the episode.

[1:50] Why should I listen to you? 

Well, I don't believe I have the ego to dictate that you should. I think none of us are inherently entitled to attention. Instead, I'd be curious to know more about you. Why are you here? What brings you to Canada? Why are we both at Tim Hortons, engaging in the classic Canadian standoff of 'after you' and 'no, after you,' exchanging apologies? It's not about what you should know about me; it's about discovering who you are, understanding your challenges, and identifying where you might need assistance. As a marketer, my goal is to tailor my response to be the person you need.

[4:00] Why should somebody listen to an individual like you in that situation?

I began my journey in the digital marketing world at the age of 23. At that time, I had just become a father, and despite the challenges, I decided to quit my $ 40,000-a-year job to start my agency. Fast forward to today, I have nearly two decades of experience in this field. I've led my agency through numerous recessions, gradually growing it into a multimillion-dollar business. We've completed over 3000 projects for more than 300 different companies spanning 29 industries, resulting in around $14 million worth of creative work. My journey is a testament to the expertise and insights I can offer. 

[6:35] How did your journey unfold to bring you to your current position and achievements?

I found myself at a crossroads when choosing my career path. Initially, I had dreams of becoming an architect and following in the footsteps of my family, who were all builders. The idea of designing and creating structures fascinated me. But then, as I was about to apply to colleges and universities, I hit a roadblock. I struggled with chemistry, and for the first time, things weren't coming easily to me. That fear of not excelling in subjects like chemistry made me reconsider my path to becoming an engineer. In a moment of uncertainty, I made a drastic decision. I chose to attend film school instead, believing it would be an easier route to take. I essentially ran away from the challenge I perceived in the sciences and opted for what seemed like a simpler path in filmmaking. This choice defined my journey and ultimately led me to where I am today.

[13:05] What makes you stand out and dive into this task when others might have walked away due to not matching their background or skills?

In high school, my pursuit of excellence led me initially toward architecture and engineering. I wanted to be extraordinary at something, but the daunting prospect of a 10-year journey to establish myself in this field filled me with fear. I questioned my choice and looked for a different path. That path unexpectedly led me to a sales job, which, at first, seemed unrelated to my film school background. For nine months, I felt like I wasn't using my skills and that life was passing me by. This realization drove me to make a change, and I joined a franchise. In the franchise role, I discovered my passion for connecting the dots and finding creative solutions despite limited resources. Without a team, budget, or even proper equipment, I had to learn how to deliver what was needed. The fear of presenting something entirely wrong to clients motivated me to develop a meticulous onboarding process to understand their vision accurately. This process turned out to be a game-changer when I eventually started my own company. It enabled me to extract clients' expectations effectively, leading to our company's growth into a million-dollar business. Over time, I perfected the art of understanding people's true needs and desires, a skill that has been instrumental in my journey, working on thousands of projects for hundreds of clients.

[17:15] Could you explain how your company has evolved over the past six months and share what you're currently focused on, along with the reasons behind this transition?

When the pandemic hit, I faced a pivotal moment in my agency's journey. We had 24 full-time staff and $2 million in annual revenue, but we lost a staggering 70% of our income in March 2020. This crisis forced me to ask hard questions and led to a significant shift in our direction. As the leader of an agency and someone guiding entrepreneurs in service-based businesses, I felt the pressure of determining the right strategies in a world with endless possibilities. It was overwhelming, and I didn't realize how burnt out I was becoming. However, the pandemic also permitted me to make the changes I knew were necessary. We streamlined our services and let go of some team members. It was during this break that I reflected on what I truly loved and what we excelled at. I realized that working with entrepreneurs and helping them navigate the complex world of messaging and strategy was my passion. We rebranded as Sales Loop, a refined agency exclusively serving B2B service-based businesses in the seven to eight-figure range. The key lesson I learned is that business can be fun and rewarding when you're aligned with your passion and focus on what you do best. It's about finding your sweet spot and making a positive impact on clients who truly value your expertise.

[21:55] How would you guide someone who's searching for their calling but hasn't stumbled upon it like you did with your business?

Life's journey resembles a maze of choices, each door leading to a unique outcome. In hindsight, we can connect the dots, but peering into the future, uncertainty reigns, tempting us to control every step. I've learned that life's purpose can emerge serendipitously. Embracing randomness, we explore diverse paths without fixating on predefined goals. My journey shifted from aspiring architect to film school, then to sales, franchising, and eventually founding an agency. These varied experiences, seen through a retrospective lens, define who I am today. It's vital to recognize our innate gifts, those things that feel natural, and understand their value. Mastery in one field often opens doors we never imagined. Arnold Schwarzenegger's transition from bodybuilding to acting and politics, or Michael Jordan's basketball prowess, exemplifies how excellence in one area sparks unexpected opportunities. Identify your passions, hone your skills, and welcome life's surprises, as extraordinary paths often emerge when we relinquish rigid control.

[28:00] How do you encourage individuals to explore beyond their comfort zones and realize their potential in areas they haven't tried yet?

Certainly, the shift in how I was perceived highlights a crucial point. When considering a departure from my agency business due to challenges, I contemplated a full-time podcasting career or starting a publication. Podcasting and public speaking were my passions. However, something intriguing happened when I introduced myself as a podcast host or event emcee within entrepreneurial circles. Strangely, my credibility seemed to plummet. People appeared disinterested, and I felt like I didn't belong. However, as soon as I reverted to presenting myself as an entrepreneur passionate about marketing, the dynamics changed. Suddenly, the same individuals who previously disregarded my podcasting role acknowledged my accomplishments in building a multimillion-dollar business, leading teams, and managing numerous projects. This shift wasn't about altering my identity; it was about recognizing that our perceived value can change based on how we present ourselves and the context in which we do so. While I remained the same person with the same skills and experiences, acknowledging my entrepreneurial achievements earned me newfound respect. This experience reinforces the idea that our path to success can involve unexpected detours and require us to embrace our unique strengths and journeys.

[31:50-31:55] What's your approach to tailoring your advice and value proposition when working with individuals like Tony Robbins versus someone who might be struggling with their business and needs significant help?

To earn trust and preference over competitors, you must reach more people who might not even know you exist. These challenges persist regardless of your business's size, from startups to global giants. In crafting sales, written, and social messages, your goal is to pique interest and drive sales. Unfortunately, these messages often become confusing or generic, leaving even your best prospects puzzled about your value proposition. Being equal to your competition won't cut it. You need a compelling reason for customers to choose you, not leaving it to chance.

Many businesses overlook the entire customer buying journey, focusing only on message effectiveness. They forget about what happens before and after customers engage with their brand. Lastly, brands frequently fail to showcase the remarkable qualities of their team members. Spotlighting individual expertise and dedication can significantly boost trust and customer connections.

[47:30] What promise did God make to the world when he created you? 

It would be that my energy and personality are the  defining traits that I consistently bring into any room. I'm naturally inquisitive, exuberant, and outgoing, and it seems to resonate well with people. So, rather than downplay it, I should confidently acknowledge and own these traits as part of who I am.

Key Quotes

[26:00-26:05] The challenge lies in either not recognizing what we are truly gifted at because it comes so naturally to us.

[27:20-27:24] The more you choose and walk in a pathway, the more you find out what that pathway is about. 

How to connect with Mark Drager