Dennis Yu

Ups and Downs

It’s what I ask everyone who is new— the one question to see about their commitment “Will you promise to come to me first before you ever consider quitting?” They all answer that they’re not going to ever quit– and they affirm they would come to me first to chat before things ever get that way. I then tell them to remember this when things get hard since things always do go up and down. And ask them about their promise– to be true to their goals and our conversation, when they abruptly quit with no warning. Even after seeing hundreds of young, eager people over the years start a new career and burn out, I feel bad for those who aren’t able to ride out the ups and downs of being in business. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy– keep going.

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The easier way out isn’t always the best option.

Building processes and systems to scale is much harder than having a small biz with your buddy as your business partner. More people mean more problems– and everyone will have an opinion, whether they are qualified to give it or not. Seek growth via credible advisors– people who have repeatedly done what you’d like to do. Treat failures along the way not with despair or frustration but as opportunities to continue tuning your people, process, and platform. You are a mechanic building an engine– more complex than a bicycle, but worth it.

The easier way out isn’t always the best option. Read More »

Leverage your weak connections for a network boost.

Reward results

The other day a man who has made $500 million told me that he is paid on results, not by the hours he clocks. If he billed hourly, he’d never hit that upside. More importantly, if his mindset was selling time by the hour, he would be creating incentives to WASTE time. The longer he takes, the more he would make. But a performance mindset is about getting the job done, which REWARDS you for getting it done in less time. Are you setting yourself up to waste time unknowingly? Or have you so ingrained in your mind that you focus on hours put in instead of driving toward impact? Start from the goal, measure your impact (not your hours), and your economic situation will change. I’d rather be celebrating success than waiting for the clock to hit 5 pm each day. You can make a million dollars or a million excuses— but not both.

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Structure all your work into roles, then hire people into those roles.

Building a team is 100 times harder than doing the task itself. I focus most of my time on processes and putting people into the process. The big mistake I made was designing work around each person. It’s what we naturally would do, especially in a small team. But when people leave or move up, your business gets disrupted and it’s hard to fill that exact position. Solution: structure all your work into roles, then hire people into those roles. If you can, always ensure you have a backup person for each function, so if you lose one, you don’t get crushed— you slot in the next person who is trained for the role. What is your best tip for managing teams– and would you like to hear more insights like this?

Structure all your work into roles, then hire people into those roles. Read More »


How to delegate without screwing it up

Managers and entrepreneurs FAIL on projects because they don’t know how to delegate. Tristan Parmley and I discuss the fundamentals of management from our experience running teams large and small in the new Digital CEO podcast. Managing the execution of digital marketing is increasingly harder because the tools are more complex, the speed is faster, and there are more things to do– and you still need to manage people effectively. We cover the most common pain points we’ve witnessed and how to solve them. Love to hear your thoughts on this and other episodes!And subscribe if you like it.

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What I’ve learned from Facebook

My friends who work at Facebook gave me access to their onboarding training since we are tuning up how we hire up new account managers. What I’ve learned…… – Role-playing is critical to being good with clients, so trainees take turns practicing as the client, account manager, and observer, grading the role-play across key factors. – They’ve left nothing to assume— thick workbooks spell out the fundamentals of digital marketing and the steps of booking client call— before, during, and after. – Practice what we preach. New Facebook team members have to create a business page and know how to run ads, so they have empathy from the client’s point of view. – Humanity is critical. It’s not enough to have product knowledge or be able to blindly follow a script with robot precision. Teach active listening skills— listening to understand instead of only to sell. While a consultative sale does require product knowledge, more important is building empathy with the client— showing we care and being reliable with frequent, lightweight touches during the relationship. As we hire up account managers (a lot of moms, it’s starting to look like), I’m building in soft skills to be honed via role play and testing for EQ. I’ve found that the technical execution of driving more patients for chiropractors is far easier than finding and teaching the relationship side of things. Thus, a successful account manager is not a call center employee, VA, or technical specialist, but an intrapreneur who cares deeply for their clients as quasi-children. We love stay-at-home moms, by the way!

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Got employees or partners causing you headaches?

Train them or fire them– don’t tolerate them, as Brad Lea has taught me. No need to complain or argue. Don’t attempt to justify your value– or worse, lower your prices. The clients that pay you the least expect the most– so you can imagine the expectations of folks who pay you nothing. If you have employees quit on you, perhaps you were too late in firing them. Consider who is solving problems for you or creating problems for you– the former are team members and the latter should be clients. Don’t allow employees to get confused into thinking that they’re clients– else you’ll go down the toilet quickly from massive costs, direct and indirect. My biggest mistakes have been in hiring people who aren’t ready to drive results nor are ready to train to the level of proficiency necessary. When they fail, don’t blame them– it’s your fault for having hired them. Don’t loan them money and don’t make performance exceptions, lest the others notice and believe they are exempt, too. This is the brutal truth of being a business owner– agency, manufacturer, or otherwise– family and friends are different. Stay tuned for what I’ve learned in growing and operating my business, as our Agency Management Course. I don’t claim to know everything, but at least you can learn from my many mistakes, plus what has worked splendidly well. Are you in?

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The CEO of American Airlines told me that managers are either loved or productive, but rarely both.

You see, it’s easy to be loved as a boss– don’t hold people accountable. Constantly praise, skipping the hard conversations. Let deadlines slip. It’s medium hard to be an effective boss since it means you have to be willing to crack the whip and rid the team of parasites. Not everyone will love you when you have to deliver. The super rare boss is both loved and effective. Studies show that less than 1% of managers are able to pull this off. The key to their success is instilling a CULTURE so strong that weak performers don’t even make it into the company. While the problem creators demand your attention, resist the urge to oil the squeaky wheel. Focus your time disproportionately on the high performers. By definition, that means you cannot be spending all your time on the troublemakers, no matter how much noise or drama they cause. Your team clearly sees when these rebels get away with their behavior, which is why your culture is defined by what you’re willing to tolerate. Loved, productive, or both… Which of these 3 manager types are you?

The CEO of American Airlines told me that managers are either loved or productive, but rarely both. Read More »

What your boss will never tell you.

You’re either creating problems for her or that you’re solving problems for her. And this is the key to advancing– whether your boss is your employer, client, customer, teacher, or parent (yes, all these are bosses). I’ve had some incredible mentors over my career– and some spectacular failures, too. But when I messed up and got feedback on how to improve, I could never imagine talking back to my mentor– to show disrespect when he was going out of his way to help me. Could you imagine having the balls to say that to the CEO of American Airlines? Maybe I’m an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy– hey kids- get off my lawn! But everything good I’ve gotten has been from a boss or mentor who has opened doors for me that they didn’t have to. I’m not a slave groveling for mercy, but I’m also not a 20 year who knows it all. By showing my boss/client/mentor that I’m someone who comes in to take care of problems before they even happen, even if it’s not “my fault”, they breathe a sigh of relief when I’m around. As opposed to being worried that something will blow up in their face, that they will have to intervene, or that they’d have to deal with righteous young anger. The more you take care of your client/boss/mentor, the greater opportunities they will open for you. Over time, this grows into something incredible– and it’s the #1 reason for everything good that’s happened for me. Not because I’m smarter, harder-working, or “better” than anyone. Have you tried this tactic with your boss? And if you’re a boss, how do you deal with people who are creating problems versus solving problems?

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