Nate Torres is the creator of Imaginated, as well as a photographer, a Photofocus author, and a well-known business digital marketing expert. He founded Imaginated.com to merge his two interests of photography/art and digital marketing, after serving as a full-time enterprise SEO consultant with major firms including Allstate, Bill.com, and Web.com.
His mission is to encourage all artists and designers who aren’t getting the respect they deserve due to a lack of marketing and business skills, as well as business people who wish to reconnect with their creative side. Extremely talented people don’t scream for attention but Nate Torres aims to bring them all to the spotlight.
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We’re happy that you could join us today! Please introduce yourself to our readers. What’s your story?
Nate Torres: In college, I began taking photographs. The concept of capturing time and keeping it in a single photograph appealed to me. I began photographing friends and eventually began charging for photoshoots.
As a photographer and a digital marketer, I strive to improve. By attempting to improve myself, I was able to expand my creative potential by learning new concepts and ideas, leading to the creation of Imagineted.com.
I wanted to provide a platform for creative and talented individuals that didn’t have one to show off their skills. It worked out pretty well in the end and I believe I’ve shined a light on a lot of people that deserve it.
CEOs and leaders usually have different motives and aspirations when getting started. Let’s go straight to the beginning. What was your primary goal for starting your business? Was it wealth, respect, or to offer a service that would help improve lives?
Nate Torres: Obviously, the financial incentive is a huge part of starting any business. However, I founded mine after being infatuated by quite a few artists that never got the recognition that they deserved. I thoroughly enjoyed the works of artists such as Martine Sym but unfortunately back in the day, they did not receive the recognition that they deserved. I guess you could say that I was motivated to start my business to offer respect and some recognition to the artists that I admired the most.
Tell us about 2 things that you like and two things that you dislike about your industry. Share what you’d like to see change and why.
Nate Torres: The first thing that I dislike is the lack of stability in the art world. There are not a lot of lucrative positions and I would like to see that changed.
The second thing I dislike is that awareness and outreach are still one of the most serious problems.
Thankfully, there is a lot that I do like about this industry.
It is like no other and the creative freedom it offers is unmatchable. The second thing I really like is that expressing yourself is something admirable and appreciated which is unlike any other industry.
Companies around the world are rapidly changing their work environment and organizational culture to facilitate diversity. How do you see your organizational culture changing in the next 3 years and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Nate Torres: I can confidently say that at my organization, we have always facilitated diversity. In the next three years, I can see a shift towards more of a democratic type of management style and organizational culture where employees are at the forefront of business decision-making. Their input will be highly valued by the higher-ups of any organization and they will be more firmly embedded in a business’ decision-making process.
I plan to bring about this change by encouraging employees to speak up and voice their concerns, opinions, and criticisms. They’re closer to the action which is why I believe they can provide a lot of insight.
According to the Michigan State University “An organization’s culture is responsible for creating the kind of environment in which the business is managed, and has a major impact on its ultimate success or failure.” What kind of culture has your organization adopted and how has it impacted your business?
Nate Torres: My organization has adopted a clan culture. This culture tries to foster teamwork by ensuring that all employees are treated equally. They are at ease giving candid and transparent critiques. In addition to collaboration, there is a major emphasis on mentoring and apprenticeship as skills and ideas are passed down from generation to generation. Employee involvement is often strong in this culture, resulting in exceptional customer service. The disadvantage of this sort of culture, however, is that it is harder to sustain as the company expands. As the company expands, operations may lose their focus and flow which is why we’ll need to be careful moving forward.
Richard Branson once famously stated “There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” and Stephen R. Covey admonishes to “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers. What’s your take on creating a great organizational culture?
Nate Torres: I believe hiring the right people sets the foundation for a great organizational culture.
Hiring the right employees who share your company’s values is a great strategy to employ. A bad hire may drastically turn the game around for you. I hire individuals that suit the culture—people who can share my goal and work together to achieve it. This way, there is synergy and less dysfunctional conflict which can be the difference between a successful organization and one that’s constantly trying to survive from the plethora of internal issues that are plaguing it.
The overwhelming majority of more than 9,000 workers included in a recent Accenture survey on the future of work said they felt a hybrid work model would be optimal going forward, a major reason for that being the improved work-life balance that it offers. How do you promote work-life balance at your company?
Nate Torres: Through education. One of the most effective methods to establish a good work-life balance is to educate your workers on the subject. I provide lectures about what work-life balance is, why it’s essential, and how people might attain it. You may host the seminar yourself, have them participate in a webcast, or engage a professional to provide the presentation. Employee education provides them with the skills they need to help themselves, which is an important step.
I also promote a healthier balance by doing it myself and setting an example. Even if you tell your employees that you support a good work-life balance, it doesn’t imply they’ll take responsibility for it on their own. We’ve all seen it: the manager claims that employees don’t work fixed hours, but they remain till 8 p.m. anyhow; staff is granted unlimited PTO, but they never use it… It’s a lot simpler to say than it is to accomplish. As such, I like to set a good example. On some days, I leave the office by 5 p.m. I Declare that I will not be responding to emails after work hours. Employees will not feel bad about prioritizing their personal time if they believe that the boss (you) cherishes it.
How would you describe your company’s overall culture? Give us examples.
Nate Torres: I would say that it’s a democratic culture where everyone’s opinion matters.
For example, before deciding on whether everyone would come back to the office or maintain a hybrid model, all employees were summoned to a meeting and asked for their input. We voted on it and the majority desired a hybrid work model which we then adopted.
It is believed that a company’s culture is rooted in a company’s values. What are your values and how do they affect daily life at the workplace?
Nate Torres: Our organization’s goal is to cast away the era of ‘fake gurus’ and digital get-rich-quick schemes by providing an environment that promotes and supports truth, storytelling, authenticity, and human connection.
It is through an authentic platform where ideas can be fostered, discovery and growth can be made, and imagination can become reality.
As such, we also promote authenticity, relationships, and dialogues within the workplace. This has resulted in a healthy work environment that facilitates teamwork, personal growth, and productivity.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make, this past year 2021, for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts.
Nate Torres: The most difficult decision that I have ever made was to let go of a few non-essential employees in order to be able to afford the other ones. letting go of a single employee is no easy task but letting go of multiple is one of the hardest things that I have had to do as a business owner. When you’re operating a small-medium-sized business, you develop closer relations with employees and other stakeholders which makes downsizing even more difficult. However, this ultimately benefited us as the savings allowed us to remain afloat for a while longer while also allowing other employees to keep their jobs.
An organization’s management has a deep impact on its culture. What is your management style and how well has it worked so far?
Nate Torres: I believe I have a democratic management style. Because many employees desire to have a say, I believe this is a very inspiring management style. Employees want to be in charge of their own workflows. Experts on the job discuss how democratic methods boost productivity and innovation in a variety of ways. After all, we’ve accepted this management style in our governments, so why not at work?
However, one of the risks of this technique is that it may lead to disputes in which almost half of the staff wants to do one thing while the other half wants to do something different. This does cause minor problems sometimes.
Overall, I think it suits my organization really well.
Every organization suffers from internal conflicts, whether functional or dysfunctional. Our readers would love to know, how do you solve an internal conflict?
Nate Torres: I always solve a conflict by listening to both parties and asking them to listen to each other. After gathering both parties in a secure and private location, I give each of them the opportunity to express their thoughts and impressions on the subject at hand. I allow each party equal opportunity to share their worries and opinions without favoring one group over the other. While at the meeting, I try to have a pleasant and proactive attitude by setting some ground rules if required. Taking this method enables both parties to express themselves openly and honestly, as well as understand the root reasons of the problem and find solutions.
According to Culture AMP, Only 40% of women feel satisfied with the decision-making process at their organization (versus 70% of men), which leads to job dissatisfaction and poor employee retention. What is your organization doing to facilitate an inclusive and supportive environment for women?
Nate Torres: I believe language can play a very important role in facilitating inclusivity. I try to exhibit an inclusive language in all professional communications and encourage everyone to as well. I encourage the learning and use of correct pronouns for employees and refer to someone’s spouse as “spouse” or “partner” rather than “husband” or “wife” (particularly if you don’t know their gender). Non-married couples can also use Partner.
What role do your company’s culture and values play in the recruitment process and how do you ensure that it is free from bias?
Nate Torres: I use standardized interviews. According to research, unstructured interviews are typically inaccurate for forecasting job success since they lack set questions and allow a candidate’s experience and skill to emerge spontaneously via talk. Structured interviews, on the other hand, ask each candidate the same set of questions, standardize the interview process, and reduce prejudice by allowing employers to “concentrate on the characteristics that have a direct influence on performance.” I make an effort not to know the specifics. The idea is for the interview to serve as a third source of data.
We’re grateful for all that you have shared so far! We would also love to know if there was one thing that you could improve about your company’s culture, what would it be?
Nate Torres: I would like my workforce to connect more and build relationships. Employees need to be able to communicate and engage with one another outside of work, even if they work remotely. Providing chances for workers to connect fosters trust, enhances business culture, and boosts employee retention.
I want to improve the culture by prioritizing the development of these bonds and relationships. Small activities, such as taking the time to converse with an employee after lunchtime or asking a worker about themselves during a one-on-one, can help to foster connection and I hope to improve that even if it may seem trivial.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Nate Torres: Recovering from what’s known as “the pandemic hangover” will likely be a real challenge for all businesses. It may take longer than planned to recover from COVID’s economic devastation. We’re almost to the point where everyone who needs to be vaccinated has been immunized. According to projections, it will fall far short of what is required for herd immunity. That implies the old normal isn’t coming back anytime soon. Everyone’s client base will continue to demand remote shopping and home delivery as the new normal. I expect a drop in retail sales as well. This year, everything will reopen. However, it’ll be another year before anyone knows how things will actually turn out and that unpredictability is a challenge in itself.
This has been truly insightful and we thank you for your time. Our final question, however, might be a bit of a curveball. If you had a choice to either fly or be invisible, which would you choose and why?
Nate Torres: Fly of course! I’m a photographer as well so the shots I’ll be able to take would be incredible.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Nate Torres for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Nate Torres or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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