Originating from a small country town in South Australia, Storm Brooks-Hamilton settled on the Gold Coast chasing the promise of endless sunshine. An overall marketing enthusiast, Storm’s five years of experience in social and digital marketing has led to a specialty in start-up branding, WordPress web development and organic Instagram marketing.
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We’re grateful for your time today, thank you for joining us! Share your story with us.
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: My name is Storm Crystal Brooks-Hamilton (funny name, I know)! I am 22 years old and currently running a digital marketing agency that specializes in social media marketing and WordPress Web Development. My business, Dear Digital, was founded after losing my digital marketing job in luxury property development due to COVID in 2020. Founding my own agency allowed me the freedom to travel more often, to model my day around personal happiness and contentment, and allowed me to choose clients who align with my values.
Some say leadership is innate, others would argue against it. Would you say you were born a leader or did you have to become a leader? Explain your experience and viewpoint.
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Leaders come in many forms. Typically, we gravitate toward extroverted leaders: the motivators, the big-talkers, the bold. This could be considered a natural advantage, but I don’t believe it’s so limited. Everyone has the potential to be a great leader. For me, the foundation of leadership is to take a goal, idea or dream and create a well-oiled machine in which to achieve it – team members being the oil. That was a skill I had to learn, not something I was born with.
Tell us about your company/Organization. What are some of the most exciting projects that you’re working on and how does your organization distinguish itself from the rest?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: My business focuses strongly on providing affordable marketing to small businesses, to help them rival corporate giants. Not every business has $50,000 + a year to splurge on a full-time marketer, but often it’s the small businesses that benefit THE MOST from a strong marketing strategy. Every business deserves great marketing, no matter the size!
Throughout your career, have you been a team player or a lone wolf? How did that benefit or handicap you throughout the years?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Lone wolf, through and through. My creativity blossoms when I have full creative control over a project. It allows my imagination run wild and to think outside of the box without the constraints of other minds. This way I always provide my best work. I provide great work and later take constructive feedback/revisions.
What leadership qualities do you possess that, in your opinion, inspire your employees to work harder and be more productive?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: In my experience leaders have been quick to criticize, and slow to provide solutions. My focus is providing tangible strategies to overcome common issues. Every problem has a pre-existing management strategy. Employee forgets tasks often? Implement an ‘always-email-tasks’ policy. Employee struggles with time management? Implement the Pomodoro Technique to help them learn how much time tasks take. Employee struggles with motivation? Provide a stream of positive feedback and personalized incentives. Solve problems and your employees will be subsequently more productive. Last but not least, do not alienate automation as long as it is as effective and serves your business.
A national survey from the University of Phoenix has found that 95 percent of employees who have functioned as part of a team think that teams are an important workplace function but less than 25 percent prefer working in teams. Individual and teamwork both have their advantages and disadvantages. What work model have you adopted and how has it benefited your organization?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Independent work, with team socialising/brain storming. You have to trust your employee/s enough to have expertise in what you hired them for, to do the job properly on their own. However, having a team environment is fantastic for morale. Adopt both. Socialise, have lunch together, brain storm, bounce ideas off each other but give your employee space to do what they’re good at.
People often procrastinate when they are unsure of how to do certain tasks. Is there an element of your business process that employees shy away from? How do you counter this problem?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: You have to get incredibly clear on the steps involved in a task, the sequence and how long each segment will take to avoid overwhelming yourself and employees. Break it into chunks and, if it’s still too overwhelming, break it into smaller chunks. As a leader, manager or boss, making yourself available to your employees for task-breakdowns is key.
Many businesses today are being overwhelmed with all kinds of data which impacts productivity. How do you ensure that you and your employees are focusing on the right metrics?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: The data you focus on is relative to industry. For many, it’s revenue. Social media has a focus on engagement. Not-for-profits focus on how much impact they have on how many people’s lives. Understand what drives your business and use that metric.
According to PwC, nearly 60% of survey respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis. Which employee feedback system does your business use to boost productivity?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Ours is incredibly casual. Often the work my casual employees do for me is administration and effects me directly. If someone does something to a high-quality standard, more quickly than anticipated or with a better attitude – compliment them. If you find an issue with an employee approach them with a solution ready-in-hand, or from a position of wanting to understand and reach a solution collaboratively. Use this system as often as needed.
What financial or non-financial incentives do you offer employees for motivation? What role has that played in increasing productivity?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Often hiring a casual employee that does good job, leads to more work for that employee. Our business is a enjoyable place to work, with a good hourly rate, a friendly team, great clients and the ability to work from home. This is often motivating enough for employees to want to do a great job!
If you had an unlimited budget and resources to spend on increasing productivity, what is the first thing that you would change?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Investing in automation software. Easily. Being able to remove tedious and monotonous tasks allows myself and employees to focus on the bigger things that matter.
According to Gusto, 54% of employees say a strong sense of community (great coworkers, celebrating milestones, a common mission) kept them at a company longer than was in their best interest. How do you improve the way teams work together? How do you build a sense of community?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Socialise, socialise, socialise. It really is that simple. Go out for dinner. Have virtual coffee dates. Heck – text them gossip sometimes. Creating a strong sense of community starts by you, as an employer, valuing and enjoying community. In the end, it will translate to your work environment.
This has been very insightful and I’m sure other entrepreneurs can learn from the knowledge you have provided. As for your company’s future, what big changes are coming down the pipe in the next 6 months that might increase productivity?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Refining our methods to take on more clients, with a quarter of the effort without compromising on quality. Automation software, refining our algorithm and bulk creation will allow us to reduce effort output and increase client satisfaction, whilst allowing us to keep our prices manageable for small businesses.
Productivity is important but as is an employee’s wellbeing. What are you currently doing to prevent employees from burning out?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Check in. Ask what is manageable for an employee. Often reminding an employee that something ‘should’ get done faster or to a higher-quality, is counterproductive. Your employee completes tasks to the best of their knowledge based on their experience. If they are, or feel, incapable of completing a task or set of tasks, add the emotional turmoil of harsh criticism and there’s NO WAY productivity will increase. Provide solutions, strategies or research on how to do those tasks more effectively, be there as a mentor and ensure they take regular mindful breaks.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. We will select these answers for our ValiantCEO Award 2021 edition. The best answers will be selected to challenge the award.
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?
Storm Brooks-Hamilton: Mid 2021 my life was brought to a staggering halt by a messy, and entirely unexpected breakup. About 7 months into living together, never a fight between us, my partner walked out the door and didn’t contact me for almost 6 months. The future I had planned disappeared overnight and everything became difficult for a short while (as many broken hearts have experienced). Sleeping, eating, socialising, running my business; it all felt like a chore.
I had every opportunity to give up, to run back home to my small country town, tail between my legs. But I rose to the occasion with strength I didn’t know I had. Because I decided to stay and to fight, I’ve had the opportunity to bring small business owners dreams to life: building a website for a woman with fibrosis so she can work from home, resting when she needs to, creating marketing material for a young Sudanese woman who noticed that people of colour weren’t paid fairly in her industry and wanted to change that, and a vegan man who likes ridiculously strong coffee and realised dairy-free milk alternatives neutralise the coffee taste – he just couldn’t have that! And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve proven to myself that I can do hard things and succeed despite them.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Storm Brooks-Hamilton 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 Storm Brooks-Hamilton or his company, you can do it through his – Instagram
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