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Learn These Lessons to Lead a Social Media Team

Authors: Jay Baer Karl Sakas
Posted Under: Social Pros Podcast
Hosted By
Jay Baer

Daniel Lemin

Convince & Convert
Jay Baer

Hannah Tooker

Jay Baer

Leanna Pham

Convince & Convert
About Social Pros Podcast:

Social Pros is one of the longest-running marketing podcasts in existence (10 YEARS and counting), and was recently recognized as the #1 Audio/Podcast Series by the Content Marketing Awards.

Our purpose? Making sure that we speak to real people doing real work in social media.

Listeners get inside stories and behind-the-scenes secrets about how teams at companies like Google, Reddit, Glossier, Zillow, Lyft, Marvel, and dozens more, staff, operate, and measure their social media programs.  With 600+ episodes, the Social Pros Podcast brings the humanity of social media to the forefront, while providing incredibly useful marketing strategies that listeners can immediately implement.

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Apple Podcast Reviews:

The Social Pros podcast has quickly become a favorite in my feed! I'm consistently impressed by the engaging conversations, insightful content, and actionable ideas. I truly learn something every time I listen!

@Arlie K

This is absolutely an awesome listen for anyone in communications or social media!!


This podcast has become one of my staple weekly podcasts for learning about marketing! Love the conversations that they have and it's always enjoyable and educational!


Love the podcast - informative, in depth and spot on for any business size.


Karl Sakas, Founder and Agency Consultant of Sakas and Company, joins the Social Pros Podcast to share his tips for becoming an influential leader that turns a team of followers into impactful leaders.

Lead the Leader

Running an agency is overwhelming.
There are a million things to do and they all seem to be time-sensitive. Finding a balance amongst the chaos and ensuring that balance exists throughout your team is difficult to do with so many competing priorities.
Karl has found a way to lead creative teams that use repeatable processes to overcome the very human “sky is falling” nature.
Understanding the current status of the agency marketplace is key to first tackling the problem. The types of services that agencies provide continue to expand and morph and collide and coalesce, which makes for a cluttered and messy list of services. It also means agencies have a multi-dimensional staff that specializes in a number of different areas.
Recognizing the makers on this diverse team and ensuring they are not bogged down with meetings is a critical step on your leadership path to success. Another, which is is particularly appropriate for social media teams, is to stop expecting your team to read your mind.
These are just a few of the killer tips Karl shares that will transform any manager and their team into partners in successful leadership.

In This Episode

  • How the growth of digital marketing has led to changes in an agency’s sales, staffing, and structure
  • Why being successful at social media means pulling the makers away from task switching
  • How understanding the basics of what your team does and its connection to executive leadership leads to impactful and productive team management
  • Why getting rid of team bottlenecks means transforming your followers into leaders
  • The crucial importance of saying thank you


Quotes From This Episode

“Things that seem urgent in the short term are not always the things you need to do to make long-term progress.” —@KarlSakas
“It’s not just doing the work for today, but it’s preparing for the future.” —@KarlSakas
“There’s a question of how do we consider clients to buy it if we don’t know exactly what we’re selling.” —@KarlSakas
“There is always something new coming out. It’s a question of how do you adapt to it.” —@KarlSakas
“If you’ve discussed it at the executive level, but haven’t told your front line employees, don’t be annoyed that they’re asking.” —@KarlSakas
“Managers need to understand enough about what their team does to manage them.” —@KarlSakas
“That shift from leader/follower to leader/leader saves an enormous amount of time for the person in charge, and it better empowers the people in the front lines.” —@KarlSakas
“If your team is lots of wet twine, you’re going to have trouble practicing Unless I Heard Differently, or practicing the Leader / Leader approach.” —@KarlSakas
“If you can make your client the hero, and position yourself as the helper or the mentor, you’re going to have a much better relationship. When you make them successful and make them the hero, then you become invaluable.” —@KarlSakas
“It’s worth considering that every agency service fits into one of three categories. My acronym for that is SIT; which is Strategy Implementation, and Training.” —@KarlSakas
Learn These Lessons to Lead a Social Media Team Click To Tweet


See you next week!


Jay: Welcome everybody to Social Pros. The podcast for real people doing real work in social media. I am as always, your host, Jay Baer, from Convince & Convert, joined once again, ladies and gentleman, put your earbuds together for my rudimentary, Texas friend. He hails from Austin, he is the Executive Strategist of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, he is the one, the only, Mr. Adam Brown.
Adam, how are ya?
Adam: Jay, I’m great. And for those of you who didn’t listen to last weeks podcast, Jay and I had a little opening vamp about me being Jay’s “special” Texas friend, but I think the Federal Trade Commission had restricted that you can only be “special” or “new and improved” for a year. And since, I think, we are going on almost two years now, I am just the rudimentary, Texas friend.
Jay: You are the run of the mill, Texas friend.
Adam: The average Texas friend.
Even in my average state, Jay, I am so excited to be here with ya.
Jay: I’m excited to be here, as well.
I am excited about today’s special guest, who is by far, not average.
Adam: Not at all.
Jay: My friend and soon to be yours, Social Pros fans, Mr. Karl Sakas is on the program. Karl is a founder of Sakas & Company in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is a consultant to agencies. Helps agencies get their act together, but he is also, friends, the author of the fantastic book called, “Made To Lead.” A pocket guide for managing, marketing and creative teams. It is spectacular.
Here’s how much I believe in this book.
A: I wrote the Forward to this book.
B: This is, in my entire 25 year history as a manager and as a business owner, the only book that I have personally gone out and purchased for every single member of my team and sent to them.
That’s how much I believe in it, so, I am honored and delighted to have Karl on the program. Karl, welcome to Social Pros.
Karl: Great to be here.
Jay: So, tell us a little bit about your business. One of the things you that you use to describe it, I think, is so great, that you find ways to use repeatable processes to overcome human nature. Man, that’s a great elevator pitch. Tell us more about it.
Karl: When you’re running an agency, you’re often overwhelmed. There are a million things you can do, a million things you should do, and so, it’s easy to get distracted. The problem is, things that seem urgent in the short term are not always the things you need to do to make long-term progress. Ultimately, by adding processes around operation strategy and leadership, you could make progress long-term, so you’re not waking up several years from now and thinking, “Wow, what happened?”
Jay: Yeah, it is so true, especially now, I think as the types of services that agencies provide continue to expand and morph and collide and coalesce, the menu of services used to be a lot cleaner then they are today. And I think agencies, depending on the size and type of agency, are having to bring different types of skills into their environment as well. So, it’s making some of these long-standing pressures on your time and your attention, perhaps, even more acute than they’ve been historically.
Karl: Exactly. It’s not just doing the work for today, but it’s preparing for the future. I spoke with a client earlier today who is doing a talk on Chatbots, an area she’s been developing, and a couple years ago, that wasn’t a thing.
Jay: Yeah, you did not have to have a Chatbot expert on your agency team, but now, and we’ve talked about in the show, Adam, we believe that almost every brand will have some sort of customer service or into Chatbot in the next couple of years. Not only because it saves companies money, but when done well, customers actually like it.
Adam: As we record this, literally, 45 minutes ago, I was on a call with a large CBG company here in the United States on that exact same topic. Totally agree.
Jay: So, what you’re saying is that it would be possible for me to have a Chatbot co-host at some point in the future.
Adam: Yeah, I think my life here is short.
Jay: It’s winding down. We’re going to put the clock on it. We’ll see you in another 50 more shows and that’ll be it for Mr. Adam Brown.
Adam: From rudimentary to non-existent.
Jay: That’s right. To unnecessary is how we’re going to roll that.
Karl, what kind of agencies do you work with? Everybody? Ad agencies? PR firms? Big / small? U.S. / Global? How does that work?
Karl: My clients tend to be independent agencies, so, owned by the people that are running them. Typically, under 100 employees that have helped anywhere from people getting started, so, it’s them or them and a partner, up to as many as 700. Typically, under 100. Most of them are in the U.S., but at this point, I’ve helped clients in 26 countries.
Jay: Wow.
Adam: Wow.
Karl: Six continents.   No one in Antarctica, yet.
Jay: The agency business in Antarctica is not what it once was. It is on the decline. So, you’re not missing out on anything.
Karl: No, no.
Typically, clients are doing a digital focus. They may or may not describe themselves as digital agencies, but that’s typically a key part of their work. Generally, working directly with the partner or one of the partners running the firm.
Jay: So, you’ve talked to dozens, hundreds, of agencies, what do you see as their biggest issues today, as it relates to adopting more digital services, whether it’s social media, content marketing, video story-telling. There’s all these new things you got to make to be viable. What’s the biggest problem that they have with that?
Karl: It’s certainly going to be a combo. I’d say it’s typically something related to staffing, and / or sales, and / or structure. So, certainly on the sales side, if they aren’t used to selling digital or new digital services, there’s a question of how do we consider clients to buy it if we don’t know exactly what we’re selling. So, that can be a challenge. Another is around structure.
Adam: Sort of a chicken and the egg problem, right?
Karl: Exactly. Exactly. Another, maybe around structure. I was in South Carolina last week for a speaking engagement. Spoke with the owner of an agency that had been around for a number of years, and one of the questions was as we’re trying to become more digital, she was saying, “Do we hire digital specialists, or does everyone need to become more digital?”
Ultimately, either could work. It is risky though, to be your entire company on a single person. Especially when they’re not an owner. In her case, it made sense for the partners to up their digital skills and expertise, and then bring in additional people to help as needed, but not relay on a single, critical, new hire to drive them forward.
Then the third thing…
Jay: Not only is it risky, it is risky if that person were to depart at some point, but what I’ve discovered with some agencies on our client roster, if you have that digital specialist in a relatively small, independent agency, by definition, that person becomes the busiest individual in the agency. Right? And they have to go to every meeting, and be involved in every pitch and every deliverable, and they never get to actually do any work because they’re in every single meeting. So, they become an impediment to progress, in some cases. It’s a bottle neck.
Karl: Exactly. So, good for job security, not good for job satisfaction. That leads to the final point around staffing, right? We’ve got sales, structure and staffing. Staffing is just finding people who can do the work. Just because you have done something on your own, doesn’t mean you can do it for clients. The other gap that I find in staffing is around finding employees that not only understand the marketing skills, but who also focus on understanding the clients business.
Jay: Yeah, no kidding. Do you feel like those issues are evergreen, that those are always the issues? Or that as social media and other short-form, high speed, low margin, digital services have become part of the core agency portfolio of services, that those issues have changed over time?
Karl: I was a History minor in college, so I have a strong interest in history. I’m sure people were having the same problems in the 1940’s and 1950’s as T.V. was rolling out. Like, “Oh, they’re great at this, but do they understand T.V.?”
Before that in the 1920’s and ’30’s, going, “Well, they understand newspaper, but do they understand radio?”
I think there is always something new coming out. It’s a question of how do you adapt to it.
Jay: Yeah, no question. There was certainly a lot of new things coming out. One of the challenges that we’ve seen with agencies is that in social media, in particular, Adam’s certainly familiar with this with his work as a strategist for Salesforce is social media, at scale, requires a lot of blocking and tackling. Right? There’s a lot of execution, layer, pieces and parts that have to happen. None of which require a tremendous amount of time, but in aggregate do require a tremendous amount of time. So, we have seen agencies, in particular, struggle to actually make money at social media services because you’re doing so many things and that is not necessarily interpreted as massively high value for the client. So, you’re sort of running in place. You’re doing a bunch of social media, but not actually making money at social media. Do you see that as well?
Karl: Definitely. Task switching, you know, going from one activity to another, takes time. Takes time to wrap up the previous thing and then start thinking about the second one. Paul Graham, formerly of Y Combinator, talked about the idea of maker versus manager schedules. Managers are the people coordinating resources, those are managers, directors, project managers and so on. Then the makers, in his definition, would be people like designers, developers, copywriters, strategists, that sort of thing. Where they’re focused on doing a particular thing all day long, and the challenge is if you are a maker, under his definition, designer, developer, so on, you need blocks of uninterrupted time to get things done. So, if your manager boss keeps interrupting you all day long, you’re never getting into flow, you’re never getting things done. The same thing’s going on as you’re switching between different clients, different tasks.
Jay: Or different social channels, right? Between Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and SnapChat and Musically, and it becomes hard to focus when you’re in this multi-dimensional platform juggling.
Karl: Exactly.
Jay: I want to talk a little bit about the book, because there are so many people who listen to this show, who either lead social media teams or are part of a social media content marketing, digital marketing team, and there’s so much terrific advice in “Made to Lead.” It says it’s a pocket-guide, it is a pocket-guide. It’s a very short book. It’s a very small book, you can literally put it in your pocket. So, it’s appropriately named a pocket-guide. I want to ask you a couple questions about it, but for the first time ever, I actually want to read my short forward, in the book. Because I feel like it sets it up particularly well. So, I’m going to flip to the forward. Adam, are you ready for this?
Adam: I am ready for it.
Go ahead.
Jay: It says, “Forward, by Jay Baer.”
Adam: That’s you.
Jay: That is me.
“The agency of business has never been easy, but it’s now harder than ever. Technology fueled disruption has spawned a modern mail stream of change that leaves us bewildered and breathless, but there is one element of the agency business that remains unchanged, in fact, it may be more true than it’s ever been. Your power is in your people.
I have worked in, managed, owned and consulted with agencies for 28 years, and I have concluded that there is no such thing as ‘Secret Sauce.’ The propietary planning methodology you used to conjure smart strategies for clients, it’s not proprietary, nor is it particularly different from any other agencies version of the same. The truth is that what agencies sell, how they sell it, and how they deliver and execute those assignments is manifestly the same. What makes all the difference, what makes your agency viable and vigorous in valid, and ultimately, victorious, is the quality of your people, and the quality of how you lead them.
Karl Sakas is a truth sayer. He can take one look at how the people of your agency collide and cooperate, how they integrate and intersect, and tell you whether you have effective leadership. He gets it. He’s like the Dr. Phil of agency owners and managers, one part confidant and one part ass-kicker. Now, he’s giving you the playbook directly in “Made to Lead,” Karl shares dozens of wise and practical tips for how you can become a better agency leader and how your people and your firm will blossom as a consequence.
Some of these tips you may know. Some, you may have forgotten. Others will be as yet, unfamiliar, but I’m certain you’ll benefit from them.
Jay Baer.”
That is my forward. So, Karl, I think one of the tips in this book, that is particularly appropriate for social media teams, is to stop expecting your team to read your mind. I want you to talk about that a little bit, then I’m going to turn that over to Adam.
Karl: Absolutely.
I think a lot of new managers, but also long time managers, have this idea that their team should read their mind. This is tip number eight in the book out of 31-pithy tips. The challenge becomes…
Jay: The fact that you remember your tip numbers is amazing. Like, I don’t remember the tip numbers in my books, so, well done. That in and of itself is impressive. You probably have a cheat sheet somewhere. You’re organized like that.
Karl: I will admit, I do have a copy of the book in front of me, so yeah.
Jay: That a boy.
Karl: I double checked.
Ultimately, the challenge is often that the management team or executive team is talking about, “Here’s what we’re thinking of doing.” And sorting it out, and sometimes as an agency consultant, I’m involved in helping them figure that out. So, the manager’s been spending hours, days, weeks, sorting things out. They’ve processed the whole thing. Yet, then sometimes, they expect their team to pick it up, immediately, or sometimes the managers will even forget that they haven’t told their team what they’re supposed to do, or what they’re expecting.
You know, when employees keep asking about, “Well, what are our plans for the future? What’s going on? How do I fit in?” If you’ve discussed it at the executive level, but haven’t told your front line employees, don’t be annoyed that they’re asking. Share it with them up front. Don’t expect your team to read your mind.
Adam: Do you think, Karl, that that’s more difficult in today’s agency? Let me kind of quickly, give you kind of a thought, and you can tell me whether it’s correct or not. I’ve always, I’ve worked in agencies both PR and Advertising agencies, I know Jay has as well, and you’re the expert here. I’ve always said there’s kind of four groups, four ingredients in the recepie of an agency.
You’ve got the leadership folks, as you said. Typically, the founder or the owner. You’ve got your account people. You’ve got your creative people, and you’ve got your media people. As we look towards the move towards social and digital, the need for a balance of all those four types of people has changed. So, is this becoming more difficult, what you said and articulated, about helping your team understand, kind of, what you’re asking and expecting of them. Or is this just management 101, and we’re just getting farther from that basic business school classes and experience school classes that we all should have had and should have paid attention to?
Karl: Managers need to understand enough about what their team does to manage them. You know, if you’re a manager, you don’t have to be an expert on everything your team does. Ideally, they generally know more about it than you do. But to the point of understanding how it all fits together. Certainly, things are changing faster, so that’s a factor. It is worth considering that it’s a lot easier to be a terrible manager than it is to be a good manager.
One of my early roles, I had a boss that was isolating our team from the rest of the executive leadership. I realized later, and have actually sent him a thank you, since then, he was spending an enormous amount of time managing up to protect us from all of the drama and other things going on. That made our life a lot easier, so we could just focus on individual contributors, at the time, just getting our job done. That was really hard for him. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I realized it later.
Ultimately, coordinating things across your team, getting things done, it’s easier to do a bad job. I would encourage you, though, to focus on doing a good job.
Adam: Do you see a correlation between the understanding of some of those nuances of social and managers who do an effective job of managing down and actually managing the work that their social media practitioners are doing?
Karl: Yeah, definitely.
If it’s a case where one of your team members is struggling with something, the easy response is to say, “Well, work harder. Work longer hours. Try to do it faster.”
You know, there’s some things that you just can’t do faster. There’s the joke about project manager’s the type of person who thinks that if one woman can have a baby at nine months, nine women can have a baby in one month.
Adam: Yeah.
Karl: I think the application here is that knowing enough about what your team is doing, you can help them troubleshoot things. A good manager is ultimately a coach, among other things. Rather than telling their team what to do, helping them figure it out on their own, there’s a really good book called, “Turn the Ship Around” about a U.S. Navy submarine Captain who took his sub from worst to first in his squadron, in his unit. One of things he adopted was a shift from the typical leader / follower arrangement. You know, the leader is charge, they tell the followers what to do, and when the follower doesn’t know what to do, they ask the leader.
The challenge, of course, is that the leader becomes an enormous bottleneck. We were talking about bottlenecks earlier. The solution he found is what he calls, “Leader / Leader.” Under the Leader / Leader method, you still have hierarchy, you still have structure, but the subordinate would say, “I intend to” such and such. So, it is, “I intend to do this campaign, doing such and such plan.”
The manager now can say, either, “Please, proceed. Go for it.” Or in some cases, maybe it’s asking some clarifying questions, to say, “Well, what are the budget impacts on that?” Or “Do we have people lined up to help with such and such?”
Once the leader is satisfied, the sort of higher level leader is satisfied, they can say, “Please, proceed.”
That shift from leader / follower to leader / leader saves an enormous amount of time for the person in charge, and it better empowers the people in the front lines.   The people who typically have more information about what they’re trying to decide on. That is a big shift. For more on that, check out the book, “Turn the Ship Around.”
Jay: We have actually done that at Convince and Convert. Since we’re all virtual too, our communication is tricky. We have one meeting a year, and four phone calls a year. So, we really try to keep the back and forth to a minimum. So, we have a similar program, Karl, called UIHD, which stands for, Unless I Hear Differently.
It was introduced to us by Jess Ostroff, who is the Executive Producer of this Podcast. She picked it up at a conference and uses it in her team, and we use it now too. So, it’s constant. Unless I Hear Differently, this is what I’m doing. Myself or another leader can jump in and say, “No, I’m actually not okay with that.” Or “I need more information, but generally speaking, yeah, go do it.”
It saves so much time, just agreeing to things. I really love that principle, and I think it could be put in to practice in a lot of places.
Karl: There is a key thing to consider, which is, you need a good team to get that done. In the book, I talk about the concept of hiring people who are new rope as opposed to wet twine. New rope are the employees, under the metaphor, new rope is strong, you can rely on it, those are the employees that take initiative, get things done. Wet twine, well, wet twine is not strong like new rope. Those are the employees who tend to bring you drama, tend to create issues.
This is an analogy I got from Customer Experience Expert, Stan Phelps. If your team is lots of wet twine, you’re going to have trouble practicing Unless I Heard Differently, or practicing the Leader / Leader approach.
Gotta have that good team in the first place.
Adam: I really like the Leader to Leader or the Unless I Hear Differently philosophy. A question for you, Karl, is as you know, in an agency setting, you certainly have to be managing your team, but you also, in some cases, have to almost manage your client, manage the customer. And I’m curious if similar philosophies and things that you speak about in “Made to Lead” can work towards making your client, not only an easier client to manage and deal with and work with, but actually more effective in their own right?
Karl: Definitely. There’s the concept of the hero’s journey. The idea of the hero is called out to overcome some sort of evil or villain or things like that, and along the way, they recruit a helper, someone who’s helping them get things done, and a mentor to help show them the way. Eventually, they overcome whatever source of evil or villain, and they return home victorious, they return home as a hero. It comes from Joseph Campbell who is a methodology expert. If that model sounds familiar, it’s also the basic plot structure of every major Hollywood movie and stories.
“Lord of the Rings,” “Star Wars,” “The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie,” and so on. The key thing is that, especially for agencies, but really, it’s true when you’re helping anyone, if you can make your client, whether they’re an external client or an internal client, if you’re at an in-house role, if you can make your client the hero, and position yourself as the helper or the mentor, you’re going to have a much better relationship. When you make them successful and make them the hero, then you become invaluable.
Adam: I’m curious, from your perspective, if what the client is expecting from their agencies is changing? What I mean by that is, I’ve kind of always made the analogy that agencies are almost like the lapels on men’s suits. They get wide, they get narrow, they get wide, they get narrow. Same happens kind of with agencies. We go from there being five or six years where boutiques, small, little, creative shops are the thing for agencies, then we’re kind of back to the full service agency mythos, and this idea of under one roof, everything can take place.
What is happening today, where are we in the lapel width, and specifically, with social, are our clients expecting more of their social to be done in-house, are they expecting it from their big public relations or advertising agency, or are they going to more specialty-end boutiques. Jay, I’m sure you have some thoughts on this too, with Convince and Convert.
Karl: I see the key difference being the size of the client. Smaller clients typically like the one-call does it all approach. They’re expecting the agency to do everything. Then larger clients tend to specialize. I spoke with a friend who works for a large, financial services firm and she has six agencies working with her, each specializing.
Adam: Are you finding as corporate teams, and when I say corporate teams, I mean the in-house teams at a particular brand or company, are more or less reliant upon agencies, kind of, and I’ll talk about the three tenants of social activities. The media buying piece, which is the newest piece of this whole thing. Actually creating content and engagement, the actual participation. Where are we going with those three kind of key tenants?
Karl: I would say, it depends on part, on the client’s budget. Agencies are glad to handle all of that. Certainly, engagement can be tough around needing to be there anytime something comes up. Certainly, on the media side, that’s a bit easier to plan ahead on. That often, is something that clients aren’t as excited about. So, that’s certainly something that they may outsource.
I would say it’s worth considering that every agency service fits into one of three categories, my acronym for that is SIT, which is Strategy Implementation and Training.
Adam: I love it.
Karl: The key difference is why does each client hire the agency?
Strategy is where the client is saying, “I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do.” That’s still a core area for agencies, where a client is like, “Well, we know our business goals, how would we apply this in social or elsewhere?”
Implementation is where the client is saying, “Do it for me.” That might be, “Hey, monitor for us and / or respond as us.” Or things like that.
Sometimes, clients have capacity in-house and they’re just overloaded for implementation, or they don’t, and they’re like, “Do it for us.”
Training is the final area, which is where a client is saying, “We want to do it in-house. Teach us how to do it.”
Jay: Karl, I want to have you tell people who are listening to you, Social Pros and thanks to all of you, from around the world, in the very, very back of the book, you have a section called, “Do Three Things Today.” I want you to talk about the third thing. I think it’s so powerful, so many of us who have been able to achieve something or another, have done so, partially, if not, significantly, because they were taught and trained by great managers.
I’ve mentioned this in several podcasts where I’ve been interviewed, that I have been incredibly fortunate that in my very young years from the age of, really, 17 through 25, I had a string of four or five incredible managers in a row, and made such a difference in my career. The same thing is true in sports. You see this all the time, right, where players who have great managers become, not only better players, but also managers themselves, down the road, and things like that, the wheel keeps on spinning. But I want you to tell people what your advice is on that third thing to do after they read the book. Then we we’ll pause for second and thank our sponsors.
Karl: Absolutely. It’s all about saying thank you. I read an article a few years ago called, “Saying Thank You Is Free.” Based on an experience at a concert where the band not only thanked the audience, but they walked through the people at the venue. They thanked the sound people, by name, the lighting people, by name, the front office people and so on. That really stood out. No one does that, but it’s a reminder that it takes a team to get where you are.
In the book, I recommend sending a quick thank you note, whether it’s an email or otherwise, to your best manager, from the past. It might be a few people, and here’s the template you could consider, kind of a cut and paste. “Thanks for showing me how to be a good manager. Now that I lead a team myself, I finally appreciate the work you were doing back then to create a good experience for our team. I especially remember when you, and then fill in the blank about an example or two. Thank you for being a role model to me.” Then send it. You are going to make their day.
Adam: Yeah.
Jay: Wow. Man, Social Pros listeners, I want you to do that, as soon as we’re finished with this episode. Stop the car, get off the treadmill, stop mowing the grass, whatever you’re doing, and send that email or voicemail or even a letter. You really want to have impact, do it on a piece of paper, and send that to a great manager that you have had in the past. Hopefully, you have had one or many of them.
I love your story too, Karl, about the band coming into the audience. I wrote a very similar blog post a few years ago about Penn & Teller. I went and saw Penn & Teller in Las Vegas at the Rio, and they do the exact same thing. After every single performance, after all these years and all their notoriety and fame, they come out afterwards and spend an hour with the audience in the lobby and taking selfies with everybody and shaking hands and signing autographs, and it’s really remarkable to think about people about that scope and scale still spending that kind of time with their fans. It certainly had an impact on me and obviously, your experience, had that impact on you as well.
What also has a big impact is the fact that we have sponsors for this show, right? Which is awesome, because that makes it a lot easier to make this happen and do it well, and bring amazing guests like Karl Sakas to you, each and every week, here on Social Pros. Quick reminder, all of the 260-some-odd episodes that we’ve had on this show, over now six years, are available at Every single show.
You want to talk about a who’s who of social media geniuses, go to, check out the archives, and you can waste some serious time binging on this show. We would love for you to do that.
This week, the sponsors of the show include: Yext. Our friends at Yext, Y-E-X-T are the leaders in the mobile marketing business. Friends, search and search engine results are no longer governed by just 10 blue links on a page. Consumers now rely on their smartphones to find local destinations, search for restaurant reviews, hail rides through Uber, etc., etc. So, search is getting smarter, and technology and search are combined to make sure that some business go out in front and other businesses get left behind. So, Yext has a brand new Whitepaper that I want you check out, that’s all about how mobile, and search, and technology, and reviews are combining to change the nature of local search. If you have a business with a doorway of any kind, you need to download this Whitepaper, it’s free, you’re going to love it. Go to That’s offers.yext Check that out.
Also, this week, another free download that you need to take advantage of, I think this may be the last week before we switch it out, it is from our friends at Sales Force Marketing Cloud, it’s called the Future of Ads. It’s all about how you can maximize the effectiveness of your social media advertising. One of the ways they do this, in this E-book, is to provide for us, comparative data on click-through rates, conversion rates and other KPI’s for a Facebook ads, for Google ads, for Twitter ads, etc., and they do it from country to country.   So, what’s a good click-through rate for a Facebook ad in Canada? I don’t know, but now I do because you could get it in the Future of Ads. Download it, you’re going to help yourself, go to bitly/salesforceads. That’s bitly/safesforceads all lower case on that.
Adam, back to you.
Adam: Jay, thank you. Karl, Karl Sakas, President of Agency Consulting Firm, Sakas and Company, and author of a new book, “Made to Lead,” we are so glad to have you on the show today.
Karl is the gentleman and Sakas and Company is the organization, that if you’re running an agency, you bring in to help you grow, to help you lead, to help you make more money and help your customers and clients that much more. Which begs the question, Karl, how did you get so smart on this? You’ve written two books, you speak, almost every other week during the year, how did you get so smart on this entire space?
Karl: It’s something I’m really passionate about. I started as a web designer, learned HTML in high school, back in the days of dial-up and IE3, in retrospect, was not a great designer. You know, I look back at some of those designs and was like, “Wow, what were we thinking then?” But…
Adam: All those things that…
Yeah, mismaps, tables and frames.
Karl: Yeah, yeah. Fortunately, it’s certainly the website has moved forward a lot. Fast forward, more recently, ran the business side operations at two digital agencies. As the number two person helping the owners, overseeing project management, client service, recruiting, accounting, marketing for the agencies themselves, and I realized, there was this potential opportunity, which is when you start an agency, you typically start an agency because you love the work. Maybe it’s marketing strategy, maybe it’s design, maybe it’s development, maybe it’s PR, copywriting, and often, you then put it all together and start an agency.
Challenges, you are now a business owner. You are managing people, you are doing client service, you’re doing sales, doing all these things that are not that related to why you got started. And often, you’re overwhelmed. In my case, I decided to put all of my experience together to help people out. Experience long time in digital marketing, experience supporting agency owners as the key employees, the number two person, and also, I’ve been doing consulting for a long time. Helping people solve their business problems, I’m also a fourth generation entrepreneur. Grew up helping in my families small business, one of my grandfather’s was a business professor for 40-something years, decided I’d put that all together, and in 2013, launched what is now Sakas & Company. This point, I’ve helped over 200 agencies in 26 countries.
Adam: That is just incredible. It sounds like a lot of your experience and your knowledge and insight come from working at agencies. That kind of brings me to a question I have, and a question perhaps a lot of our listeners are considering.
I got my start, fresh out of school in 1994 working at an Adding Seat and then it kind of went from there. I know a lot of people are considering that or there are a lot of people who may have started doing something else and are thinking, “Should I move over to the agency either as more of a Junior person or even more of a Senior person?” So, my question, Karl, is this, do you believe that agencies are still the best place for new marketers, new communicators, to really, kind of learn the trade? That’s something that I certainly subscribe to.
Karl: Great question.
If your goal is to get a wide variety of experience, agencies are typically a good fit. You’re working on a variety of clients, variety of projects, or on-going retainers, variety is definitely a match, but it also depends on your personality. For instance, a friend, originally worked at an agency and concluded that she wanted, with her focus on non-profits, what she described as “Mission Monogamy.” That is, she wanted to focus on a single client, making them be as great as possible. So, I think it depends on what your preferences are. Certainly, it’s a great way to get started getting a lot of variety, and then you can either stay on the agency side or focus on a particular client.
Adam: That is true. One of the greatest things about being in an agency world, and it can be sometimes restrictive to is, you’re working on a lot of different things at the same time. Once you find which subset of an agency life you like, then you can kind of go off and find a role, either still in the agency world, or more likely in the corporate, or as you said, in a non-profit to be able to do that. That’s great insight.
Jay: Adam, before you joined the show, when Jeff Rohrs was still our co-host here on the traditional part of this podcast, we once did an analysis of the educational backgrounds of every single one of our guests. I think we did this for the first 150 shows, or something like that. Of our first 150 guests on this program, not counting authors and such, but people who really are Social Pros and leading social media departments in big companies, some 130 out of 150 had agency experience.
Adam: That’s incredible, but not really surprising. If you really think about it.
Jay: Yup, they all started there, then went client side, and sometimes they go back to agencies, after they’ve had a taste of working on the same brand, all day, every day. Sometimes, you’re like, you know what, I’d like to juggle, right, I like the gear shifting, the mental gymnastics necessary to work it at a lot of different brands, some people do that. But it’s very, very common, at least among the Social Pros guests to starting an agency and then go brandside and work your way up, then be the head of social media, or similar job.
Adam: Karl, last question for you before I hand it back over to Mr. Baer. Looking at your business, here you are, running a consulting firm, you’ve got employees, you’ve got clients, not only around the country, but around the world, how are you using social media to drive awareness of your professional service organization?
Karl: My overall approach to marketing, is what I would call, “In bound branding.” Three parts there.
One is specialize by client vertical. Second is throughout leadership marketing, and third is around marketing automation.
So, first part is specialize. You know, I only work with agencies. Typically, digitally oriented agencies. So, ultimately, that leads to on the felt leadership side, I’m sharing what agency people and agency leaders are struggling with all day long, whether it’s with their clients, whether it’s how to grow, how to manage that growth, things like that.
I occasionally meet people who will say that they’ve read every article on my website, at this point it’s a couple hundred articles. It seems a little crazy, but people will say…
Jay: That’s when you say, “Mom, you’re embarrassing me.”
Karl: People will say, it’s as if I were writing the articles for them. Of course, I wasn’t, but I’m writing for my target personas. So, as a result it feels like I’m writing for them.
That’s where the thought leadership piece comes in, and that’s through a mix of blogging, through speaking, through books, webinars, things like that. Then the marketing automation side is once someone has comes across my content and they’re like, “Oh, that’s cool.” The goal is to provide people a reason to get on my list, and get further updates from there.
As one of my speaking coaches said, “Your audience will never love you more than the moment you walk off the stage.” So, when you’re in front of people, that’s your opportunity to say, if this is useful, here’s how you can get more. Otherwise, they’re going to leave and never come back.
From a social perspective, I found Twitter is most helpful, because agency owners tend to be there, and also, I’m sharing, as myself, and responding as myself, rather than some sort of corporate entity. So, I do have a Sakas & Company Twitter handle, that’s not really as active as the @KarlSakas handle.
Jay: Karl, I’m going to ask you the two questions that we’ve asked all the guests on this program, across our many years in business here at Social Pros, the first one is, if you could give somebody one tip, somebody who is looking to become a social media professional, what would you tell them?
Karl: Focus on your audience. Your audience does not care about you, your audience cares about themselves. If you can show them that you care about them, solving their problems, making their life easier, everything else will come together.
Jay: Boy, ain’t that the truth?
Well said. Last question for you, Karl Sakas, ladies and gentlemen, don’t forget the book, “Made to Lead” which you can get on Amazon, what does the book cost these days, Karl? I know it’s inexpensive, which is a good thing.
Karl: In U.S. dollars, $4.95.
Adam: What a bargain.
Jay: $4.95, ladies and gentlemen. That’s like a butterscotch latte. And I guarantee you, you will get more out of it then a Butterscotch latte, at least, over a longer period of time.
Adam: You won’t feel as guilty too.
Jay: You won’t. You won’t.
Pick up “Made to Lead.”
Karl, last question for you, if you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be and why?
Karl: Dan Ariely, who’s a Behavioral Economist at Duke University. He wrote the book, “Predictably Irrational” and others. Really smart guy. I actually met him at an event that he did through his Kickstarter, and I specifically asked him a question related to online dating. Had a very insightful answer on that. Would love to chat a bit more about business and psychology in general.
Jay: Oh, fantastic. Yeah, he’s great. He and I have the same Literary Agent, actually. He is a very, very, very smart man. We’ll make sure to link up his books in the show notes at as well, and of course, we’ll link to Sakas & Company and “Made To Lead” so if you can’t find it on Amazon, which would be hard-to-believe, since you’re listening to this show, but if not, go to and check the episode notes and we will hook you up.
Karl, thanks so much for being on the program. Terrific, as expected. Congratulations on the outstanding, outstanding book. I hope to see you face-to-face here one of these days.
Karl: Great to be here. Thanks, Jay. Thanks, Adam.
Jay: You bet. Ladies and gentlemen, this has been the Social Pros Podcast. I am, as always, Jay Baer, from Convince & Convert. He is an ordinary Texas man, Adam Brown, from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and this has been the Social Pros Show. We’ll be back next week with another fantastic guest, as always.
Thanks for listening.

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