Brent is the Founder & Chief Marketing Officer at Pixel Road Designs, Chief Social Media Strategist at Search Engine Journal, and Social Media Strategist & Owner at Kairay Media. He lives and works like crazy in Boca Raton, Florida.
01. What’s your typical morning routine?
I have two young boys, so when I get up it is normally them waking me up for breakfast. I cook pancakes, eggs, toast, your typical breakfast stuff and then get their lunches ready for school. Once they head out the door, I grab my coffee, a bit to eat, a vitamin, and spend my first 30 minutes on the computer reading about Futurology on Reddit. I am obsessed with Futurism and the adoption of future technology by society.
02. What was your first entrepreneurial endeavor? How did you get your start?
This is really tough, because as a child I would go to 7/11 and buy candy, pencils, erasers, and other little items, to then resell with a mark-up at school. We would sell out of our backpacks and make a pretty decent profit off the goods we sold.. up until we got caught and the school made us stop.
I would also take our lawn mower, rake, edger, and broom, and walk up and down the neighborhood asking people if they needed yard work for any payment they would give me. The next week we washed cars and then rotated.
When I first moved to Tokyo, Japan, when I was around 21 or so, I realized that there was a huge market for Japanese anime books in the US. I took some time to identify the books that sold for the most, and the most often, in the US on Ebay, and then went around to all the used book stores in Japan. Used book stores in Japan are super popular, so there were numerous ones on every street and many had frequent buyer programs that would let me get a lot of the books free. It was common to find series of books that would cost me about $0.50 and would sell for $15.00 to $20.00 per book.
I launched many more businesses and companies over the years, but those were where I got my start.
03. You have a pretty impressive resume on Linkedin. Pretend you’re talking with someone with no clue what a “Social Media Strategist” is…How do describe what you do?
When a company, regardless of size, decides that they are interested in putting some effort into marketing their brand, product, or services in social media, I help them determine the right strategy for success, depending on their unique setup, business, and goals.
Every company is different and their goals are unique to not only their company, but also their ability to implement any strategies with their existing team and resources.
04. Social Media Marketing definitely has a relationship with design. Are there any graphic designers or artists that really spoke to you or inspired you? Or is this line of work something you just happened into?
What really led me to the design world, was my inability to find a design firm, or individual designers, who could design projects that would have a marketing influence on it’s viewers.
There was so much evidence showing how impactful design was to marketing and influence, but online it was not really coming together like I needed it to for my clients.
Out of necessity, I started working with some designers to get them to better understand the marketing goals behind my design projects. Over time, we started getting really good at it and I finally decided to launch Pixel Road Designs and provide what we had built as a product for other marketers and businesses.
We started working with some amazing clients, like NBC, Warner Bros, O.Berk, Davita, Playboy, AdAge, and over the years the company just continue to grow and mature.
05. You do a lot of public speaking…seems like a stressful racket. Were you always good at getting your point across in public or did it take a while for you to get comfortable in front of a crowd?
Ask anyone who knows me.. I am a talker. However, I will say that the very first time I spoke, I have no idea what I said and was about as nervous as I could be.
There are two things that really helped me a ton, allowing me to lose virtually every feeling of nervousness when speaking after only a couple times speaking publicly; First, the very first session that I saw at any conference, was Guy Kawasaki speaking about how to give a good presentation. I learned some really important elements from that which have been key to my speaking ever since. Second, I was surrounded quickly by really great public speakers, like Todd Malicoat and Neil Patel, who both mentored me a lot in my early years.
06. You guys have had some really impressive clients (NBC Sports, Yellow Pages, Warner Bros, etc.) Is there a particular job you nailed down that made you feel like you really made it? Or maybe a dream client you’d love to work with?
This is tough, because I had been working with a lot of fortune companies with my social media consulting company, but I have to say when we did a bunch of projects with NBC Sports for the Olympics in Sochi, that was pretty huge for us. In part because, well it’s NBC and the Olympics, but also because they told us later that we were one of the best design firms they had ever worked with, which made us feel really good as a team.
That was a big point for us and showed us we were on the right track.
07. What initial advice would you give to someone trying to gain an online presence for a new business?
This is tough, because there are a couple things I would suggest based on their specific goals, the type of business they have, and their internal resources and budget.
I would definitely make sure they have a good and modern website, that is mobile friendly and easy to use. I would then make sure they had Google My Business and Webmaster Tools setup for their website. I would also recommend creating social profiles for the top communities, like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
These are the core elements every companies needs to even be present.
08. Are you working on anything new right now that you’re excited about?
I have been on Reddit for about 10 years, so it is not new really, but I have really been focused on Reddit a lot over the last year and a half. I am considering creating an educational course teaching people how to participate effectively on Reddit and also really considering writing a book as well.
09. You seem to be really into science and current events, what’s currently inspiring you and in what way? (book, movie, song, podcast, anything really…)
Futurism really excites me in general, but really it is the evaluation of all the current science and technical advancements we are seeing every day, and how those advancements are going to advance the human race and society, that excite me the most.
I am also very interested in Augmented Reality, as I think it is the next advancement that will have the most profound effect on society, bridging the distance we have put into our lives with all of our technological and social media advancements.
If you want to hear me talk for hours, get me started on futurism.
10. How do you end a typical day? What do you do to unwind?
Mostly what I like to do to end a day and unwind a little, is to drink a beer and watch a TV show before bed. I really enjoy Blacklist, Game of Thrones, and Elementary these days.