Andrew Le is a creative agency owner with over 10 years of experience in the advertising/marketing space. He has scaled his own agency from a team of 10 to over 40+ in the span of 2 years, managing a 30% annual client growth rate and simultaneously increasing profit margins by 300%.
He is nothing without my clients. He has worked with over 300 clients over the years, ranging from new concepts to multi-unit franchises to billion-dollar corporations. Self-admitted jack of all trades, expert at none but with the determination to learn and do what is needed to succeed for himself and his clients.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for agreeing to this interview! Our readers would love to learn more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in your career?
Andrew Le: I began my career on the typical marketing career trajectory, making my way through the roles from Coordinator, to Account Manager, to Project Manager, etc. while jumping from company to company to accelerate my growth and experience as much as possible. It was during my second job when I was about 23 or 24, that I connected with a college friend about a project opportunity that he came across. At the time, side hustles were an exciting thought so we went for it and began providing marketing services for this one company–this eventually became Slique Media.
Our growth from then til now has been pretty impressive when looking back. We immediately saw the potential of what we were doing and decided to continue finding clients to fill our need for a side hustle. Our team and client roster began to grow, we added on more members of the team and eventually moved to hire full-time workers. During the early years, I was still juggling a full-time job on top of this as well. It wasn’t until Fall 2016 when I was, unfortunately, let go due to a round of company layoffs did I make the decision to fully invest in Slique. It was long overdue and I haven’t looked back. Since then, we have 4-5x our company size in terms of clients and team growth.
Over the past few years, I also had the opportunity to meet Dean Soto, an industry leader in the world of virtual assistants with his company ProSulum. We got to talking and realized there was a huge opportunity in creating a virtual staffing agency that specializes in creative fields. With that idea came, With My Coffee. Coupling Dean’s business development know-how and virtual assistant experience with my experience in the creative / marketing industry, we’ve been able to successfully hire out Virtual Art Directors to support the needs of agencies, in-house teams, content creators, manufacturers, retailers, solo entrepreneurs, you name it. We’re excited at the potential that is in front of us.
Can you share a quote that is important to you and how it has been relevant in your life?
Andrew Le: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”
“You don’t know everything, and that’s okay”
I don’t usually think about quotes but upon seeing the question these two popped into my head first. I think they definitely resonate well with how I live my life and manage my businesses. It’s easy to feel like you need to handle everything, but in reality, a good leader assembles a good team, understanding his/her own weaknesses to build a system to support.
A final quote is more personal and came from my business partner. Before I made the transition from my full-time job to doing Slique full-time, I would always ask myself what the triggering event or milestone would be to switch. My partner at Slique explained that it was the wrong way of thinking. He said that the question I should really be asking myself is “what would you do with those 8-9hrs back each day?” This shift in mentality really stuck with me through the years and continues to motivate me every day. It’s really a push for freedom, freedom of choice to do what you want each day. If I want to grind for 12hrs on my new business idea or if I want to take a day off for some R&R, it’s my choice and I’ll reap the results either way.
Since you began your career, what has been the most interesting thing that has happened to you?
Andrew Le: Honestly, I think being laid off was the most interesting thing to happen. I think it was the single best thing to happen to me, it gave me the much-needed push to see what I could do on my own. I’m lucky though, not everyone has this opportunity. My (then) side hustle, Slique, was making enough to clear my expenses so it gave me the perfect opportunity to see where I could take it without a burdening financial risk.
We all need some help along the way to success. It’s important not only to be grateful for that which you have achieved but also to acknowledge those who made it possible and contributed their own part in this journey of life! Is there someone who helped YOU succeed?
Andrew Le: My wife, we started dating when I started building Slique–I actually took her to some initial photo shoots and client meetings while we were dating haha she’s always been my support system and kept me focused. As with all people, I succumb to the occasional thoughts of self-doubt but she always reminds me to look back at what I’ve accomplished and be confident in my abilities.
My business partner at Slique, Thomas Pham. We’re definitely a yin and yang partnership that balances each other out. He is definitely more of the alpha/leadership figure, leading our sales development and high-level client management, while my focus is on operations and ensuring that we build a system that can execute.
My business partners at With My Coffee, Dean Soto and Gonzalo Parternoster. With years of experience under their belts, I’ve learned a lot about adapting my management styles and how to lay a path that will scale businesses.
Remote work has been on the rise for years now and it’s becoming more common than ever. With so many teams choosing to operate this way, we thought our readers might want some insight into what advantages there are in physically working alongside your colleagues every day – especially if you’re new or haven’t experienced them yet?
Andrew Le: So we actually used to have an office, prior to covid. When the pandemic happened, we immediately ended the requirement to come into the office to ensure everyone was safe. For the first few months, it was just my partner and I that would still come in, just to keep with routine. I always believed that we could work remotely but it was kind of a milestone to say you had an office, it was more professional to tell a client to come to a meeting at “our” office instead of just doing a call or meeting at a coffee shop. In that sense, our office served as a workplace and also as a sign of how well you were doing as a company. The pandemic changed all that, everyone now saw the value of working remotely. We ended our lease as soon as we could and fully migrated to a remote working environment.
As far as advantages of an office go, the main ones are collaborating and socializing. Obviously being next to your teammate allows for ease of conversation and collaboration on the work. While we use communication programs like Slack, it doesn’t replace the ability to just call someone’s name across the room, or tap on a shoulder. Secondly, you miss out on that social aspect. There’s no “water cooler talk” or lunchroom breaks to just hang out with your colleagues. You’re on your own, at your home, staring at a screen.
What challenges come up when team members aren’t in the same room?
Andrew Le: I think the hardest thing is being respectful of everyone’s time. As a remote team, I encourage everyone to actually have the freedom and flexibility to do what they want as long as the work is being handled. If you want to take a longer lunch break to meet with your family, go ahead but make sure the rest of the team knows you’ll be out of pocket or available via mobile during this time. We’re not micromanagers, if the work is being handled and on time then we’re happy.
Adding to that, once we went remote I was able to scale my recruitment nationwide. So now that we have team members across the country, there are multiple time zones to deal with. Ultimately there’s a large chunk of the day that’s overlapping but if someone in California needs to collaborate with Florida, then there’s a difference of time zone to be aware of.
Both of these aren’t an issue when you’re sitting in the same room.
Let’s talk about how to overcome each of the challenges you’ve faced. What are five key things that will help communicate with your team, even if it is not in person?
Andrew Le: My answer would be:
Certain people just operate better in remote environments than others. You need someone who is more comfortable running independently than someone who needs to always collaborate. Work on hiring the right team from the start.
Without being in the same room, your ability to communicate is going to be a top priority. If Slack or messages on Asana don’t cut it, set up a phone call to talk through items with your colleagues. Don’t ever assume that a one-line message was enough to communicate what you need. Everything should come with full details, a brief, etc. to make sure your teammate understands the ask.
- Clear and Concise
Adding to the communication line, being clear and concise will help with any issues with clarity when it comes to working with your teammates. Again, it’s not as easy to go and tap on their shoulder when you’re working remotely and across time zones. Whatever you’re communicating, you should make sure that the instructions are clear and concise so the next person doesn’t run into a question during your off hours because of time zone differences.
- Tools / Process
Never leave anything to memory. Everything that you’re working on needs to be documented and tracked using project management tools, notes, etc. At any given point, someone else should be able to dig up the information for an open task and help move it along if needed. There is no bulletin board or master plan on the wall at an office, it’s all digital so using the tools you have on hand is essential.
Ultimately it comes down to trust. Do you trust that the other person is doing their job? Tying back to the social challenge of being remote, some members may never meet each other in person. All we know is the face behind the other screen and their avatar on the Slack channels. Developing that trust is important to creating a functioning team.
Have you ever had problems communicating with your coworkers because they work from home? And is it easier for them to transition into an internet-only workplace since that’s what most companies do nowadays?
Andrew Le: I think any manager will eventually have to chase an employee to get something handled. The difficulty of a remote environment is that you’re talking to them online, if they happen to go offline do I cross a line by calling them directly? If not, at what point do I cross that line? For example, the person who was unreachable could have just taken their dog out for a small walk but comes back to multiple missed messages and calls. It’s important to be respectful and mindful of your team’s working habits and make sure everyone’s communicating.
I would say yes to the second part, most people are 100% comfortable with the idea of working remotely. It gives them the freedom to be at home, not worry about a commute.
What do you think is the most important thing a business can offer its customers in this day and age? As technology evolves, so too does how we communicate with our clients. Have you noticed any changes in the way you communicate with your clients?
Andrew Le: I think transparency is important. For me, in a service-based business, I’m working to provide value to my clients. If I run into obstacles while working on an objective for them, I want to clearly let them know that we are actively working to solve them. It helps to establish that we’re in a partnership and I am committed to supporting you. Issues will always come and go but I want them to trust that I am here to do what’s in their best interest.
Imagine if you could design a tool to help your business run more smoothly and communicate better with customers or prospects. What would it be like?
Andrew Le: So a tool is only valuable if you can get the whole team to also see the value and adopt it. I’ve had my fair share of experiences where I thought this new tool would change the way we do business, only to find that it just added an extra task for the team. I can’t imagine what tool I could design that would help my business run more smoothly, rather I would love to find a way to bring more synergy to the way that we operate. If we’re all on the same page, we can act more efficiently.
Perhaps the tool is more a training mechanism, something that can help train and teach the team how we want to operate. Process documentation only goes so far, it’s understanding the reasons behind it that are important.
Doesn’t really answer your question but yeah.
As humans, we naturally crave belonging and the feeling of being part a group. This is especially true when it comes to our relationships with each other as well as those who lead us: parents, teachers etc… What can you do on your own time that will help foster this sense or team cohesion?
Andrew Le: If we’re talking about a work environment, I think in a remote world it’s important to still find opportunities to socialize. I try to encourage small talk across the team, we even have designated interested-based channels on Slack (i.e. sports, movies, music, food, etc.). You work better with people you like, so we try to maintain a pretty casual working environment.
If you could start a movement that would help a lot of people, what would that be?
Andrew Le: I think I would do a non-profit, something in the food sector. We have enough food in the world to feed everyone, it’s a systemic issue that leaves people hungry. I would love to be able to contribute in some form towards providing more resources or education for the hungry.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Andrew Le for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Andrew Le or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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