Today’s episode of CEO Sales Strategies goes into just that. Doug C. Brown discusses rapid growth with Mark Lachance, the CEO of Maxy Media, Inc., one of the largest TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, and Google Display Network performance marketing agencies in the world. They have a great conversation full of information on blitzscaling, the challenges and positives of it, hiring the right people to take you to the highest levels, what you should know about media buying, and much more.
Mark Lachance is the CEO and lead investor of Maxy Media Inc., one of the largest TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, and Google Display Network performance marketing agencies in the world. Mark is a renowned figure in the business world and possesses a deep understanding of blitzscaling companies. Having owned and operated several businesses that have experienced hypergrowth through creative business development and lead generation, he is a master of sales and marketing and continues to apply and grow his expertise through current projects. Mark is also the bestselling author of The Lucky Formula.
Visit his website: www.maxy.media
Mark is giving away a free opportunity to take the Lucky Quiz. Determine your Lucky Score and discover your likelihood of attracting luck at www.theluckyformula.com/quiz
I’m bringing you another amazing guest, Mr. Mark Lachance of Maxy Media Incorporated. They are a media buying company. We’re going to talk about blitzscaling. That means taking a company from wherever it is and growing it rapidly from maybe 10 employees to 200 and doing it in a very fast-paced. Also, all the things, the problems, and challenges that come along with that but some of the joy and benefits of doing that as well. Without further ado, let’s go talk to Mark.
Mark, welcome to the show. Thanks for being here.
I’m glad to be here. Let’s get it going.
You’re with a company called Maxy Media. I’d like to get into that as we go along. Would you like to tell everybody what you do?
It’s called Performance Marketing. We drive traffic to specific verticals and focus on personal loans, finance, credit card insurance, and a few others. We picked out specific verticals that we know we can crush on. It’s all good.
We’re going to talk about how to blitzscale your company, even during inflation or what we’re going through at this point in life. Why don’t you talk about what blitzscaling a company is?
I’ll give you a story around so that I’ll explain it. This is the third time I blitzscale a company. Back in 2001, I was living in Boston and moved to Montreal. I got an opportunity to get equity in a payments company. It was three people, myself, the founder, and a tech guy. I moved up there because the guy was a visionary and he played into my desire to grow things fast. He said, “Let’s build a monster.” We literally went from 3 employees to 240 in about a year and a half. How do you do that? It’s taking every single dollar profit, rolling it back into the company, and almost reckless abandon.
There’s a book called Blitzscaling. It was written by the founder of LinkedIn. In a nutshell, it’s going out there and understanding there are going to be fired that burn. If you grow a team from 0 to even 10, 20, or 30 in a quick manner, you’re going to make mistakes and have problems. You have to live with those problems and tweak them as you go, but it’s taking every dollar of profit. Blitzscaling strategy was derived in Silicon Valley when you have big VCs coming in and tossing millions of dollars at you. The idea was to spend that money quickly to get ahead of the competition, but I’m not talking about blitzscaling in that sense.
I’m talking blitzscaling using your own cash and profits. I’ve only done it that way. I’ve never gone out there, raised big cash, and used somebody else’s money. I’ve always used my own or even a line of credit from the bank and my own profits to roll it back in. Why do I do it that way? You can serve your equity. You’re not it giving away. For example, I don’t know how much of the equity Mark Zuckerberg has left, but he had to give it most of it away or to any of the big tech firms. What kind of equity have the founders left? If you use blitzscaling, in my terms, find a business that has a high-profit margin, take the profits, roll it back in with reckless abandon, and fix the problems as you go along.
I can imagine a lot of people reading this go, “That sounds cool.” I want to get going on this whole process. A lot of people are probably going to hear, “Roll everything back into the company.” They are like, “How am I going to live, Mark? What am I supposed to do there?” What would you say to those folks?
Obviously, you need to live and have a certain lifestyle, but you’ve heard the term bootstrapping. The second time I blitzscaled was in a company called EVO Canada, which was a payment processor. It’s a payment business much like Stripe or PayPal. I basically started this thing from my second bedroom. I was the first employee, and we built it to 215 employees in about a year and a half. It’s not quite 240 like the one before, but I rolled every single penny back in and took out just enough to live. In that business and industry, the way we built out the business, we had about 115 sales reps across the country. We were generating the ultimate sales machine or sales strategy.
We are generating leads in a call center and driving it out to the nonsalaried sales staff in every single marketplace. We had built the internal and external team up to 215 within about a year and a half. That was blitzscaling. We took every penny and poured it back into the business. Fast forward to 2017, we launched Maxy Media, the same thing, we took all the profits. In the performance media space, the margins and profits are higher. We’re able to take some cheese off the table. We didn’t have to roll it all back in to grow quickly, but we went from 2 employees to close to 300. We did that in about two and a half years.
Does this work on any sized company, or do you have to have a super huge profit in the company in order to make this happen?
You need certain margins. Let’s say you’re maybe a low-margin or manufacturing. It’s going to be tough, especially manufacturing with the high costs in the United States. You can thank your government for that one. How would you scale manufacturing? You definitely have to go out and get equity partners and financial partners on that side, but you could do it and scale it. It all depends on your ability to go out and raise cash in which you’re going to give away equity. If that’s what you want to do, then the long-term strategy is to drive your profits far higher with economies of scale.
I remember it back in the telecommunications days when I was working in the telecom industry, the whole deal was to grow a customer base and sell it. AT&T will buy you. They are one of the big players back then. What would be the purpose of blitzscaling a company? For the people who are reading, I’m thinking on the back end, they’re going, “This sounds cool. I can go from 0 to 200 employees.” We’re going to talk about some of the complexities and challenges that probably come along with doing that. I remember when we grew from $2 million to $368 million in two years, there were a lot of challenges there as well. Why would somebody want to build a company and scale it up that quickly?
It’s because being small sucks, in my view. Who wants to do something small? It’s just my opinion. I don’t want to show up to work every day and be working in a small operation. I want to do things big and have fun. For me, big is fun. Not everybody has that view. You don’t need to be a 300-person operation. I know a guy that I spoke to who has a four-person shop. He’s happy because he is close to 60 and he doesn’t want to grow it. You don’t have to grow it. For those that do want to grow it and have that mindset that small sucks, then you have to blitzscale to get to the next level.
What’s the benefit of blitzscaling? Obviously, huge rapid growth. When you have more money and more employees, you can do a lot more things than you can when you’re smaller. If somebody is sitting here and going, “This is a good idea.” Why would they want to do it? Aside from small sucks and we want something larger, what would be the benefits of growing a company like that quickly and getting to these points where they’re doing tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars?
It’s greater revenue, valuation, market share, and ability to go out and acquire a company. That’s our next step. Our next step is to get into the acquisition phase. It’s all of the above, revenue, acquisitions, growth, and valuation. In the end, you want to increase your value. I have this crazy goal. My goal for me is to one day buy an NHL team, the Florida Panthers, which is right down the street from me, and win the Stanley cup. Not everybody has those audacious, crazy big goals, but that’s what I have, so let’s go for it.
Let’s talk about those audacious big goals. Thoreau wrote something like, “Most men live quiet lives of desperation while the song inside them slowly dies.” I think that’s something like he wrote. I see a lot of businesses and I look at a lot of companies, and I go, “They could grow like crazy.” They don’t have it in them to grow to that level, but they have that desire. Let’s say that the reader goes, “I want to grow up, but I don’t want to do that work.” Can they bring partners into blitzscale? I know it’s counterintuitive to the thought process, but there are a lot of people that say, “I’m doing $1 million now. I want to get to $40 million in a couple of years.” It’s like a dream.
In that sense, it’s doable. It’s all about the people you bring in. I’ve studied with Dan Sullivan, a strategic coach. I’ll give you a story around that. It was in December 2010, one year and a half after I launched my second payments business in Canada called EVO Payments. This is where Tony Robbins came in. I was sitting at my desk with about 1,000 unopened emails in my inbox. I wanted to literally throw my computer out the window and quit. I was so fresh off.
We discussed my near-bankruptcy situation. I got out of bankruptcy by having the ability to raise, bring in a partner and start a business in Canada called EVO Payments. We went from 0 to 215 employees. I’m sitting there, and I didn’t know how to run the business at that time. I was stressed out of my mind. It wasn’t until I hit that wall in December 2010, right around my birthday, that I needed a coach. I’d never had business coaching before, which is a mistake. It’s called the Entrepreneur’s Dilemma, or at least I call it that. I had that fat ego that I thought I knew and I could do everything best, but then I swallowed my pride and said, “I need a coach.”
I typed into Google, “A business mentor. Business coach,” and Tony Robbins kept on coming up. It so happened that three weeks after this point, he had an event called Business Mastery in Vegas. At that time, our business was rocking. I was coming out of my near bankruptcy, so I didn’t have a ton of cash. It was $10,000. I said, “I have to do this.” I’m at the point where I absolutely have to. The first thing I learned was, “You are your own problem. You are the problem that your business is stuck or not growing.” I learned quickly that I had the wrong team. I had to know everything that was happening in accounting, underwriting, customer service, sales and business development, legal, and all of it.
The first thing I did was I literally replaced three of my senior people with internal hires, but people that didn’t need me to hold their hands. A lot of times, a CEO or a founder believes they need to be the best and the smartest. I’m sure you’ve seen this 1,000 times, but that’s not the case. Fast forward to now, and this is answering your question in a roundabout way. At Maxy Media, we went from $11 million in 2020 to $40 million and $38.5 million in 2021, and we’re going to hit $60 million in 2022. I’m doing less work than I did way back at EVO Canada. Why? Because I have the right people around me. I don’t know how to media buy, do creatives, do graphic design, or do any of it, but I know how to get the right people that do know how to do it.
A long time ago, I remember they were pulling Henry Ford into court for, “You’re not telling the truth about what is what,” or whatever they were trying to do to him at that moment. I remember reading that he said, “I don’t have all the answers to your questions, but I have this box on my desk that I can push a button and somebody I pay knows the answer to that question, so I’ll get you your answer.” I find this with a lot of owners of companies. I don’t know what year you went there, Mark. If you remember, I might’ve actually been part of that event.
In January 2011.
What I find with a lot of business owners is exactly that they think they have to do every single thing. I know I’ve been in that position, doing the same exact thing. It’s usually fear that’s driving me in that capacity. It’s like, “If this goes wrong, nobody can do this better than I can.” The reality is a lot of people can do things better than I can. The fact that you’re great at recruiting, managing, and bringing a company up doesn’t necessarily mean, and I’m not saying you aren’t, that you’re the greatest chief financial officer on the planet or that you handle HR the way that other people can handle it. In my case, IT. I knew a lot about IT but I wasn’t as good at IT as my people in IT. They would teach me things. We all have to play that old team sport thing. It’s what’s going on. When you blitzscaling, do you have to do the same thing?
If you think you’re going to go from $0 to $100 or $10 million, $40 million to $60 million, you need to bring in people that are definitely better than you. Getting back to what we’re doing now. We’re a big media buying shop. We buy media on all socials like TikTok is a big one, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I don’t know how to buy media on any of them. I better bring in people that know how to do it or at least can be taught how to do it. We’ve got a good mix of staff across the world. We’ve got in the US, Canada, and the Philippines.
We look for people that are aggressive, hungry, and want to learn. We had a huge blitz where we hired 20 media buyers and whittled it down to about 8. That took us about a month and a half. It could stay there, but potentially not. It could whittle it even down. You’ve got to be prepared to bring people on in hyper-speed and let them go as fast if they’re not up to speed.
That is critical. Your company is called Maxy Media. You are out of Canada, correct?
We’re headquartered out of Montreal, but I live in Florida.
That point is pretty salient. You got to let people go. I find so many business owners or people in the executive suite hold onto people way too long. With The Great Resignation, they’re doing it even more so. I get it. We have the same challenges in our company. We’ve got to find and hire great people. It’s not always that easy, but the reality is if they hold onto somebody too long, that can hurt the business even more. I’m going to pick on Home Depot because I bought a new house. I was going to get all new window draperies. It was $6,000.
I walked up to Home Depot and said, “Can I have somebody who can help me out here?” The lady goes, “Travis is on break.” I said, “He can have lunch, but is there someone else here that can help me?” “We have a new guy. He’s only been here two days. I don’t think he’ll be able to help you.” I go, “Is there anyone else? You’ve got a big store. All I want to do is put down a $35 or $50 deposit to get my windows measured.” She goes, “No one helped you at all.” This is what I asked, “Should I go to your competitor down the street?” She goes, “Do whatever you want, sir.” That is a person that either you train them or they’re out of there, in my opinion. Why do you think people hold onto people too long?
They create relationships with them. They don’t want to rock the boat. I’ve gone through that myself. You have somebody, put them in place, and trained them. It’s called Sunk Costs Fallacy. You’ve already sunk X amount of time, and it’s going to be difficult to get somebody else. We’ve sunk this amount of time, so let’s continue to go, but it’s a fallacy because it’s negative on the business. It’s negative on the relationships and the business. It hurts rather than helps the business grow.
When people are dealing with any part of your business, even if they’re not client-facing, it affects your clients. For example, If you have an IT staff that’s completely grumpy, they’re going to affect the other people within your company. I’m not picking on IT. IT gets everything dumped on them. The reality is anybody in your company who’s not acting in accordance with the values and the plan that you set out, you’ve got to look at the alternative, which is, “Maybe I need to replace them if I can’t train them.”
Let’s drive this point forward, $6,000 sale. Let’s say that person is doing this one time a week. It’s very possible. That’s $312,000 a year in sales that Home Depot location won’t get that the competitors will get. When you look at the small numbers, you will start magnifying this on a larger basis. If that sale was a $60,000 sale, we’re talking $3.12 million, and so on. Hopefully, this is ringing in your ears. Mark, you bring up some great stuff. When you blitzscaling, what are some typical problems you’re going to run into?
You’re going to hire the wrong person, that’s one. In which case you’re going to have to course correct, but you can’t do it all at the same time. You’re going to find that if you grow too quickly and you drive too much revenue in the top line. You’re going to have a hard time supporting it on the backend or vice versa. You’ve increased your spending and you’re not bringing in enough revenue. At some point, you have to course-correct again and make a reduction in staff. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, but there are a lot of things that can go right. You can hit a home run as well. You can bring on the right staff, and all of it will work out well. I doubt that’s going to happen, but there will be challenges. There are a million and one things that can go wrong.
The key is don’t freak out if it’s happening.
It will happen, so don’t freak out. You’ll make mistakes, definitely.
There have been many times when I’m scaling up certain companies that I’m pulling credit cards and paying employees on credit cards just to make the payments, knowing the money’s coming in later. You got to do what you got to do when you’re doing this. If you’re going to blitzscale, be prepared. The reality is I always joke, “We went from that high growth rate up to 368. I had a full head of hair before that.”
That’s what I tell people because it was stressful when we did it, but the payoff was great, and it was fun. When your blitzscaling like you’re talking about, it’s fun because there’s so much going on that you don’t have time to think about anything else in your world. Everybody likes to be on a moving train, or the majority of people in the world. One of the fallacies I wanted to bring up was people think, “If I scale too fast, I can’t attract that type of talent. It will scare some people off.” What do you say to that?
I can answer that by saying, “How are you casting vision?” A leader’s number one job, in my view, is to deliver the vision of the company. Are you delivering the massive, awesome, amazing vision, or are you telling them, “This is going to be a struggle you’re coming in here. We don’t know our outcome?” It’s 1 of the 2. You have to deliver the vision that the outcome is going to be amazing. That’s what you’re there for. If you’re not there to create something amazing, then maybe business is not for you. It’s about casting the vision. I know Tony speaks about that all the time. One of the main things I learned is that the leader is the visionary. He has to be visionary and give people that awesome goal tackle that mountain.
A lot of people work for that goal. It used to be said in the military when I was there that men die for ribbons. It’s true when it comes down to that because when you’re in a situation that you have friends that you bonded with and you’re all in a perilous situation, you will rise up to the situation most of the time. In business, I see so many leaders have an inept division or weak vision, and therefore, translates throughout the organization, mediocrity steps in. It’s okay if your company is a little bit or some dysfunctionalities are happening within the organization. You will attract people if you’re honest and forthright with them. That will work through those points.
I know A-players in sales all the time. You tell them, “We’ve got some operational challenges. We got this and that.” They go, “I’ll take the gig.” They will still sell in those conditions and will be happy because they already know upfront. The challenge is too many people are not willing to roll back the curtain and go, “Here’s the good side of the house. By the way, this is where we’re still working on.” What do you think about that, Mark?
We had that exact same thing happen. We brought on a VP of business development in the lending space and our lending product wasn’t fully built out yet. We had to be forthright and say, “Here’s where we are now, but here’s where we’re going. Here’s the North Star. We’re going there, but we’re not fully built out yet. If you can come in and help us build out the product, we have X amount of dollars to throw at this thing, and we’re going to provide you all the support you need, but we’re going there.” That’s the sales pitch to bring rockstar people. You bring somebody in. You’re not forthright or upfront, and they see the cracks in the armor. They’re going to leave as quick as they came in because a rockstar can get a position anywhere.
People, a lot of times, talk about problems. The reality is human beings are wired to focus on solutions. That’s what we want to focus on, but people don’t know how to focus on that, so they focus on the problems. That’s where we get in trouble in personal lives and business because you’re always going to have problems in business. The nature of business is easy until you add people. That’s my gig.
Where focus goes, energy flows. If you focus on the negatives, you’re going to continue to exacerbate the negatives. If you focus on the positives and the growth, then you’re going to exacerbate or make that better.
It all goes back to exactly what you said that you learned at the Business Mastery, which is, “It’s your responsibility as the leader. If there’s something messed up, it’s usually at the top that’s causing part of the challenges.”
I’m looking at a book by Jocko Willink. He’s an ex-Navy seal. He wrote an amazing book with one of his Navy seal partners called Extreme Ownership. The premise of the book is there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
The absolute on that is almost correct. I would debate that a little bit because I’ve seen circumstances come in and cause issues within. Usually, it’s the leaders that don’t respond to those issues in an inappropriate way. Human beings think. That’s part of the glory and challenge of business. We all think. We have feelings needs, wants, desires, etc. Mark, I could talk to you all day as we do. I want to come back to Maxy Media a little bit. What kind of clients are you guys looking for?
Most people don’t understand certain things within the company. They hired great people. Your company understands media buying. If somebody was like, “That makes a lot of sense.” I talked to somebody and they’re growing. They got three million visitors to the website every single year. They’re like, “I need to do PR, but I have no idea how to do PR.” When it comes to media buying, what should people know, and who’s the type of client you guys look for?
We look for large verticals that need a tremendous amount of traffic, leads, or eyeballs. Getting back to personal loans, we spoke about inflation. We’re in a significant inflationary period. Thanks to our beloved government helping out with that money printing situation. People are out there struggling more so now than ever. Personal loans are a huge opportunity. You’ve got auto warranties and auto insurance because the cost of everything you’ve got used cars is going through the roof. We look for big verticals and big corporations. We’re not necessarily working with the smaller companies. It’s more the larger companies that require a ton of traffic within certain verticals.
Whether you are a huge company or a small company and you’re looking at media for the first time, what are some kind of ground rules you want to look at?
You have to look at your media strategy overall, but I think social is such a huge opportunity. The difficulty in the social game is finding the media buyer that understands your space and how to drive a profitable lead or a profitable opportunity. You probably do media buying yourself. Maybe use you’re using Google AdWords, Facebook, or whatever, but it’s getting that media buyer and it’s your internal CMO that understands all the traffic opportunities in the way to drive in the traffic. You want to think about that. Personally, it always gets back to people and who do you have on the team. Are they rockstars or not? If you bring in the right people, it becomes not a problem for you anymore. Bringing the right people and the problems are solved.
I fully agree with you on finding the right type of person or entity who understands what you’re trying to do. Folks, when it comes to buying media in any capacity, you want to make sure that they have that one dialed in for you because otherwise, you’re going to be selling fencing, you sell sword lessons, and people will be coming to you for picket fence sales. That’s what happens in media. We used to buy a lot of radio and a lot of different social platforms as well. I can tell you from personal experience that it was gold for people to have that dialed in. Mark, I want to thank you for being here. I could talk to you all day as we have in the past. I appreciate all the brilliance you brought to the show. I’d love to have you back on another episode if you’d like to do so.
I would love to. Before we close, can I give something for free to your readers?
By all means.
First, I want to do a shameless plug on my book called The Lucky Formula. It hit bestseller on a couple of platforms on USA Today and Wall Street Journal. Along the lines of the book, I’ve got a free quiz that I like to give out to your readers called The Lucky Quiz. You can find it at TheLuckyFormula.com/Quiz. That gives everybody the ability to get their lucky score. How lucky are you? How successful are you? I like to see all those lucky scores coming across my desk. It will be awesome.
Go take your lucky quiz and grab a copy of the book. Mark is a real deal. I’ve had numerous conversations with him. We’ve had some hockey debates, which we don’t agree on, but other than that, we pretty much get along. Mark, thanks for being here.
Thank you for having me.
We talked about a ton of stuff on this particular show from blitzscaling to personnel and all the challenges and problems that come along with this, as well as the mindset of the human being in regard to this. If you want to grow your company, what I would challenge all of you to do is step back and say, “Am I prepared to do this?” One of the biggest challenges I see with the company is that’s like, “I want to grow. I’m doing $50 million now. I want to be a $100 million company within two years.” What gets you to $50 million may not get you to $100 million. That’s going to require some change, not only in things that you might be doing in the company but also may be in the mind growth process of what has to happen at the leadership.
You might even have to, for example, remove some challenging employees. You just didn’t want to do that in the beginning. That’s going to be one of the pivot points that if you don’t move it forward, it’s going to hold your growth. There are different things that happen when you grow a company. I know it because I’ve been involved in growing so many companies. Mark brought a ton of value to this, and I appreciate all the effort and energy he brought there. He’s got a great book. Go and get that book. Take his quiz. As always, if you have a specific subject matter that you want someone to talk about on this particular show, reach out to me at Doug@CeoSalesStrategies.com. If you want help in growing your revenues, in hiring and growing A-player salespeople in your company, or you want to get yourself or someone in your company to the top 1% of sales in your industry globally, reach out to me.
My LinkedIn is @DougBrown123. The phone number direct is (603) 595-0303. Thanks for being here. If you love this show, please subscribe to it. If you have not, tell your friends about it and ask them to subscribe. If they like it too, please give it glowing reviews. The more that happens, the more this podcast rises to the top, and the more people get helped. As always, go out, sell something, and sell a lot of it. Think about blitzscaling your company, be happy and make other people happy because that’s what life is all about, to your success.