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How to Find the Best Freelancers

October 12, 2021

Isaac and Patrick are joined by Bruna Alves, Project Manager at AdVenture Media to discuss the common misconception around contractors, how leveraging contractors actually delivers higher level work for clients, and the character traits and qualities to look for when hiring a freelancer.

Full episode transcript below:

Isaac Rudansky: Welcome to the How to Hide a Dead Body podcast. I am Isaac Rudansky, founder and CEO of AdVenture Media. I'm joined by Patrick Gilbert, our COO. And today, we have a very special guest Bruna Alves, who is a virtual assistant but so much more.

Bruna's in charge of our recruiting, our lead qualification. Sometimes she plays the role of mental health therapist for some of our team members. She coordinates accounting. She really does a tremendous amount and has made a big impact on our operations. And we felt it was a good idea to bring Bruna on today because she does have a behind-the-curtains look at a lot of what's going on in our agency—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And she has figured out, using her own creativity and ingenuity, how to take a very proactive role in fixing some of the processes that needed to be fixed in helping us run the company more smoothly. We're going to hear a lot about Bruna's story. Bruna is also going to share with us what she's learned about staffing projects, finding talent, and how to manage that talent in a way that's economical, profitable, and sustainable.

Bruna, welcome. Thanks for taking the time, and thanks for joining our exciting podcast.

Bruna Alves:  Hello, guys. Thank you so much for inviting me. And thank you for the very warm introduction, Isaac.

Isaac Rudansky: Bruna, tell us a little bit about yourself, where you come from, where you've been. You have a lot of interests and hobbies outside of doing this type of work, but tell us your story. 

Bruna Alves: Well, where to begin? I am from Brazil. I've been living in Europe for the past eight years. It's going to be eight years now. My background is basically almost everything in sales. I started with retail, I went to the B2B market.

I had my ventures as an entrepreneur. I've started two businesses before becoming a virtual assistant and going from product to service. I have interests like yoga, mental health, and holistic stuff. I read a lot and I love learning. I love challenges. 

Isaac Rudansky: You have a lot of interests like you said. Have any of these outside interests that are not specifically related to business, have they impacted how you conduct yourself in business? 

Bruna Alves: Definitely. I think that all the things I do other than work impact my productivity, how I perform, and how I deal with any challenges and things that happen in business. I always try to be connected with myself before I am connecting with anybody or dealing with a relationship in business.

Isaac Rudansky: Let's jump into contractors real quick and let's set the stage for the discussion. I'm sure we'll come back to weaving in bits of your story and your experiences into the discussion.

There's a common problem with agencies and I think clients are very aware of this problem. Agencies are very aware of the problem. But agencies don't talk about this problem that much. I call it “agency fatigue”, where, over time, an agency stops doing all the work that was promised during the sales process. And they don't stop doing it maliciously. They stop doing it because a lot of this smaller, subtler work doesn't really push the needle, when you look at any of these tasks individually. 

These things might be like ongoing A/B testing, developing new insights, diversification of a media budget, new channels to test, so on and so forth. But over time, almost all agencies in every case stop doing some or all of these tasks. Part of it is just fatigue. Part of it is just boredom. Part of it is they're not seeing real significant, tangible results from the smaller, more routine work. But part of it also is that they just get busy with other things. 

The agency wins a new piece of business. And when you win a new piece of business, you need to allocate resources to it. You have to impress, and you have to get things off to the right start. And people don't have an endless amount of time. So their responsibilities shift, and appropriately so.

We set out to fundamentally solve this problem by over-servicing client accounts and staffing them appropriately. And when you staff an account appropriately, it's not just putting more names or more people on an invite for a monthly call. What we set out to do was bring on specialists that have very specific skills and give them very specific jobs.

Those jobs would be things that comprise the majority of that contractors’ relationship with our company with AdVenture Media. For example, you have a contractor. Your job is to do X, Y, and Z for Facebook ads, and you need to do this every week. Here's what you should do, here's how to report on it, here's how to communicate it to the rest of the team.

The design of the tasks is set by the experienced strategists that clients come to AdVenture Media for. But the advantage here is we service the clients well. And on an ongoing basis, the tasks that tend to get neglected with the impact of time and shifting responsibilities don't get neglected anymore because that contractor, that person is responsible for getting this done regardless of if AdVenture Media signs 100 clients or we lose clients.

So far, it's been a really successful, in my view, initiative. I think we're still scratching the surface of what this is going to eventually be. I envision us having a talent pool 20 times the size of what we have licensing out our different staffing plans, consulting with brands on how to hire, and how to assemble a team.

There are so many different interesting ideas as we continue to refine and build on what we've done. But that's a basic overview of what our plan has been and where we've focused a lot of our time and effort and energy and capital over the last few months. 

Patrick, am I missing anything? Was that a good overview? 

Patrick Gilbert: I think if you take a step back, though, there was a difference in when we started exploring the options for additional help and resources to add to our team and how that vision has transpired into what you described as positioning ourselves in a place where we can overdeliver on what was actually outlined in a scope of work before we sign a client. 

About three years ago, we experimented with this idea of adding a pool of contractors. And it’s something that you had kind of thought up and Isaac. The idea was as we sign business and new ventures come our way, we want to be able to quickly staff accounts and be able to really just service accounts that had nothing to do with over delivering for clients. It was just, how do we deliver an adequate level of service that we're promising? 

This was an idea that we had experimented with with a few different contractors that were vetted. Some of them worked in-house a couple days a week for us. They were core members of our team that would help us out with two, three, four accounts. The problem with that though was that they were too much in the middle where they were sort of a part of our team, sort of developing strategy. But also they were sort of working on their own terms. 

And that was where the issues really developed, and this happened a dozen times where one of the contractors that was helping us out with some of the work would reach a challenge. And they would just say, “Hey, listen. I don’t want to work on this account anymore.” And that leaves us in a really bad spot because now we've kind of worked our agency around accommodating for that, and that's not an appropriate type of response for somebody to be able to just essentially quit in the middle of a project. 

Now, if somebody were to do that and if they were a true contractor, you can part ways with them and move on to the next one. But because these individuals had sort of dug their roots into our agency, we didn't really have that ability to do that. So it really left us in a tough spot. And at some point, we realized that it wasn't going to work out with this project or the idea of contractors in total. And we scrapped it. 

That was about three years ago that we were trying to figure that out. We always knew all along that this was how we should be able to develop more flexibility into how we add resources to our accounts into our team here. But we've never really figured out how to really do that at scale and to do that effectively until recently, and that's kind of where burnout comes in. 

The difference now is all of a sudden we turned around, and we were bringing people in to do some of these more niche things like--We used to say those more broad types of open-ended questions like, “Hey, listen. You have to manage the Facebook account.” But now our approach is more narrow and specific where it's a contractor’s job is to test new headlines in this specific Facebook campaign three times per week. And there's very, very specific deliverables that they have to return on. 

We're reducing the amount of ambiguity as far as the freedom to essentially do things incorrectly. So now that we have that, then all of a sudden we turned around and was like, “Oh, we can just do this at scale.” And not only just delivering a quality product for our clients and meeting the scope of work that was outlined in the proposal, but we're actually in a position now we can over deliver for them.

We can continue to do things not just to resolve this idea of agency fatigue but also to test things and to dedicate resources that no other agency would have been able to do or that we would never have done because we didn't have that freedom of flexibility. 

Isaac Rudansky: I think part of what separates or to me a big thing that separates ordinary people from successful people is the difference between ideas, solutions, and execution. Everything we've described right now has basically been our idea. It's not nothing. A good idea is not meaningless, but it's not that meaningful unless you could put together the systems to execute.

And that's, by far, by orders of magnitude more difficult. So now we're sitting with this whole idea. It’s like, “Okay, we've identified the problem. We tried it in the past. We've overcome the failure.We're willing to try again. We have a better solution. We have better ideas. Okay, it's great. Looks beautiful on paper.” 

Now it's like, “Well, how the hell are we going to hire people? How are we going to really do this? How are we going to pay people? How are we going to quote these projects?” And that's where Bruna came in. 

Bruna, before we talk about your process and what you've learned and what you could share with everybody who's listening on the topic of sourcing talent and vetting talent and managing talent, how did you get connected with us initially? And did you have prior experience working with American companies? 

Bruna Alves: Yeah, I did have experience working with American companies. Not in the marketing business. My first office job was working for YouTube on the content moderation team. And after that, I've worked for Dell Technologies as well on the sales and account management. That was two years ago. 

I first got connected with AdVenture through Lucian. Lucian has been a contractor with AdVenture for quite some time now. When he was already working with AdVenture, he was simultaneously working with another marketing agency, a smaller one where I was working as a project manager. So when I left, he reached out to me. And I went to meet Isaac about a project manager position, not initially as a hiring contractor’s position. But, yeah, that's how everything happened. 

Isaac Rudansky: Interesting about YouTube and Dell. What did you like and what did you not like about those positions? 

Bruna Alves: Well, YouTube was sort of a way in. I came from retail, so I was working extensively years into shops. And it was a time for a change, and I just wanted to grow in sales. So I went to work for YouTube because it was sort of the way into office jobs. 

It was great. It's like you are serving the community in a way because you're taking out all this horrible content, but I think the worst part is the horrible content. Yeah,

there's definitely been better--

Isaac Rudansky: So basically you had to spend your day watching horrible things so we didn't have to see them?

Bruna Alves: Yes, exactly. The most horrible things you could imagine like violent stuff. That was my project. I lasted five months in that job, so I did pretty well. On the fourth month I was like, “Okay, it's time to go and look for the sales job. And maybe now it's going to happen.” So I applied, and I got this position to work on their renewal sales for Dell. Yeah, and that's where I stayed up to last year when I went on my own adventure.

Isaac Rudansky: We've basically put you in charge of a lot of different things. As an aside, I think that that attitude that you have which is I want to be part of the company and doesn't really matter if we initially spoke about project management or I've ever done this before, I'm just ready to dive in and do my best, I think it's an awesome, awesome attitude. And if more people adopted that mindset, people will be much more successful in their careers. So good work, and it's an inspiration. To me, in my experience, it's an invaluable character trait. 

Bruna Alves: I think I was very lucky actually. Sorry to interrupt you.

Isaac Rudansky: Yeah, in what way? 

Bruna Alves: I do enjoy project management. And at the end of the day, I do manage projects. But you offered me a position where I had the opportunity to speak with people. Not only internally but with people all the time. And that's something I really enjoyed doing and just meeting new people when learning about them. I was lucky, actually, to get that instead. 

Isaac Rudansky: I appreciate that. For the topic of this conversation, you’ve basically been put in charge of getting our team staffed. Walk us through the different building blocks of that process. Start to finish, what does it look like? And how do you get it done?

Bruna Alves: Yeah. The very first step is we have a Monday board, project management platform that we use internally. And at the very beginning, it was just myself and Isaac using the platform. So he would add the new roles. And well, we basically used that for everything. We’d gather information from all the freelancers there. 

So the very first step would be adding the details about the new role, budgeting which client we were hiring for, any specific details, what type of position was that, how many hours. So once I get that on, nowadays everybody has access to it. Anyone can just jump in the board, add whatever they want to, whatever they need support with. So I would just wake up in the morning and find some new people to find that I-- 

Isaac Rudansky: Okay. So step one, just to organize it, is the project management tool. We have internal teams, our director of client services, different people who are in charge of basically shepherding a new client into the client services team. They post job titles and job descriptions and an overall budget in the board. 

So you might wake up and say, “Okay, holy smokes. There's five people we need to hire. We need a graphic designer, we need a video editor, we need a copywriter, we need an audience specialist, and we need a YouTube specialist.” Okay, that’s just an example. Now what do you do?

Bruna Alves: Once I look into everything, nowadays the process has become a lot easier because we already have a pool of freelancers. So we have people on file. Sometimes I don't really need to search for one position or another. I already have some specialists on file. 

But if I don't, I will go into forums or social media platforms where I know these freelancers hang out. Being a freelancer myself offering services, I know exactly where to source for these people. And I know where they're looking for jobs as well. So that's the second step. 

Isaac Rudansky: Give us a couple examples. Give us a couple examples of actual channels or groups or platforms that we've been successful on sourcing talent. 

Bruna Alves: There is a very good group on Facebook called Virtual Assistant Savvies. That's a very broad group. So I can find copywriters, graphic designers, virtual assistants, project managers, video editors. But sometimes I go very specific, so I go on groups or forums talking about Facebook ads management specifically. Then I source for the specialist in a group like that. 

Isaac Rudansky: I think it's a great insight because a lot of people just--Probably as a result of marketing, we believe that you have to go to Indeed or or LinkedIn. It's the traditional places you look, and you sort of look at Reddit and Facebook as social media platforms where people are just sort of hanging out and doing their thing. 

But it sounds like we've actually had the most success by tapping into highly-targeted Facebook groups to find talent which I think is an interesting insight. It's like people are all over the place, and you have to keep an open mind. 

Bruna Alves: Yeah. Absolutely.

Isaac Rudansky: So what do you do? Let's say you go to the Facebook group, and you post that we have certain job opportunities. Now here comes the tricky part because we need to really vet people and make sure that people have the right skills, make sure that people have the right personality. 

There's a whole bunch of different complicated pieces to this process of you actually finding somebody who might be a candidate for not only AdVenture Media but for the client.

Bruna Alves: Yes. So we do have a Monday quiz form that we use to gather information from these people. So once I post the job description, I also post the link. Everybody who fills that form goes straight to our project management platform. That's where I can see all the details. 

Then on this form you will find very specific questions like what are your specialities, do you have experience working with ads in general, things about personality, tell me something about yourself, tell me something interesting about you. And then, again, specific ones like what's your availability, what's your hourly rate. And then once I gather all this information, I can match it with the position that we're looking for.

Isaac Rudansky: At this point, you've interviewed a lot of people. I think hundreds and hundreds of people you’ve been through this process with now with quizzes. And again, just to clarify for the audience, we really rely on these quizzes. When you're going out to staff especially remote work people that are not being put through a traditional interview process, you got to vet people out early on. It might seem a little cold like oh, somebody responds like, “Hey, I'm interested in working for you.” 

So the natural human being thing to do is, “Okay, let's talk.” But you can't do that because you can't talk to 5,000 people and then you're three months down the road and you haven't found anyone who could actually fill an account when you have a deadline in seven days. There's certain efficiencies that might seem a little cold that you just have to implement into your process. 

So if we get 500 people saying, “Oh, look. I'm a Google Ads specialist. I'd love to take this job.” you can't get on the phone with them first, “Here, take the quiz.” And we have a quiz that's pretty tough. And our quiz, I would say eight or nine out of 10 people don't pass the quiz. And we remain pretty tough with the quiz. 

The other thing I would say here is if time was not an issue, it's like, “Look, let's not grade these quizzes too ruthlessly. Maybe the person made a mistake. Maybe the person was having a bad day.” And these are typically the considerations you make when you're looking to bring on an executive or you're looking to bring on somebody in-house full-time as part of your team. 

Over here where there's a greater consideration on efficiency of the process, it's no. Across the board we have certain rules for which there really are no exceptions. You pass the quiz, you move on. And now we have a 15-minute conversation. You don't pass the quiz, you get an automated email saying we don't think it's a good fit. 

So I think that's an important thing if somebody listening to this wants to implement. And I think that's part of why we failed three years ago is we didn't approach it with the right outlook and the right mindset, with the proper economies and efficiencies. 

Patrick Gilbert: The ability to add as many people to that pool as possible is really what has allowed this to be successful because it was tough. We started doing this within the last year. And the first few months of it, it was a slow moving process. We would say, “Hey, listen. We want to bring on a copywriter to help write a higher volume of ads for a client.” 

And it would take us a month and a half to fill that. Now it doesn't, thankfully. But we didn't want to cut corners, and I think that was a really important piece of it. But at the same time we knew that the only way to do that was to be able to have a system that scales, as you've described. 

And honestly, the best experience I've had with all of this is it was early on. Bruna, if you remember you and I were doing an interview. Estee from our team was also doing the interview for a copywriter position. And it was a little just like not really feeling the vibes. The person that we were interviewing didn't really show a lot of passion. They weren't energetic. They seemed just not being into the role, but I saw his work. His portfolio was strong. 

So afterwards, I'm having a separate conversation with Estee. And we're like, “Yeah, let's just give it a shot. Let's see how it is.” That call ends in five minutes, and I look at my email inbox. And Bruna had sent us an email that was like, “Hey, guys. Didn't get great vibes from that candidate. We'll extend the offer, but I'm already going to fill five other people to have on backup.” 

Turns out that candidate rescinded their candidacy. They pulled out, and you already had five other people ready to go. This was Friday at noon that we talked to this guy. And even before the weekend, we already had someone else staffed. And it was because you had done the legwork beforehand to build a system that had next person up. 

We just kind of were able to cycle through that to find the next person. And honestly with that account specifically, that was probably four or five months ago, the person that we ended up choosing has been great. And we've been doing great work with them. They've been providing a lot of support. That account has been doing really well. 

So just that mentality of like, “I'm not going to cut corners. I'm not going to make exceptions. But I'm also going to build a system that scales.” is really, really important.

Isaac Rudansky: Bruna, now that you've interviewed all these people, I want to get a really transparent, heartfelt outpouring of all the things that have stressed you out about this process. What were the biggest challenges to you personally to getting this done? 

It could be challenges about finding candidates, dealing with candidates, or also dealing with us. Maybe there's communication issues on our team, and I'm sure there have been. 

I don't believe you if you say there haven't been. And then I'm interested to understand what you've learned about character and quality of candidates that you feel you could pick up on now that gives you an indication that this person is going to be good or is worth really approaching because I feel like you had a very good intuitive sense from just speaking to candidates early on. 

Sometimes you’d come to me and say like, “No, I don't like the way she was talking. Or she didn't prepare. Or I could just tell that she doesn't have good time management skills.” And I think that's a very interesting skill that you have. So I guess it's two questions. First is all the biggest challenges that you faced. And then about what you've learned from the candidates.

Bruna Alves: Right. Yeah. I have to say I definitely follow my instincts a lot of the time. Coming from sales, I can look at someone and I can already assume some things. So in a conversation I can perceive a lot of things about someone, and I can connect them to what we need from them and if we are going to be a great match for them as well knowing us. 

Honestly, I don't think there was a big challenge. The project was done from zero, so I could pick it up and I could build it because you guys have trusted myself for that. So it could be a disaster. I honestly think so because 20 people were in-house right now, something like that. 

And then we started this project four months ago. Now we have 35 contractors helping us. Did you guys know that? That's the sum. We have 35 other people working with us. So it really could be a disaster in communication, but it has been top-level. Everybody is overly communicative, I would say. Things flow very well. 

I can't really say there's--Obviously for positions, there are some very specific positions that are more challenging than the others. But it just takes more time. Nothing is impossible.

Isaac Rudansky: Talk to us a little bit about the character of the people that you're interviewing. How do you pick up on character? And what characteristics are you looking for? Are there certain personality traits that are must-haves for you? Are there ways that you identify those character traits? What's important in a candidate? What are the early signs that somebody might be worth pursuing or worth rejecting? 

Bruna Alves: Well, we are hiring people from all backgrounds. And I think this project is all about bringing diversity in a way. But definitely, I try to find people with similar personality traits to others in the company. The reason for that is I can see a pattern within everyone working at AdVenture Media. 

So when I look at a candidate, obviously, I'm going to look at their skills and their experience and if that's going to be sufficient to what we need in matters of deliverables. But there are some key characteristics that I know that will work well with our team. So just to name some of that, I would say wearing a lot of hats. 

I think that everyone embraces different projects, and they don't do that because they are told to. Everybody in the company sort of has this flexibility within themselves, and they want to be part of different things. So people who have this type of attitude will definitely stand out. Being strategic. I am all about hard work. But I know that strategy works better, and it's more efficient. So if I see they’re strategic, they know how to plan their calendar, and they know how to manage their time, that's great. 

Being reliable. It's a hard one to pick, but it's definitely something. There's a question I always ask that is, “What do your clients say about you?” And if they tell me, “Oh, they like me.” Or, “They're happy with me.” and they start telling about themselves, what they think about themselves, that's not a great answer. 

I'm not saying that's a no, but that's not a great answer. What I expect to say, “Oh, they always say that and that about--” Because it's really not a common one, and it takes people by surprise. Yeah. So I think if I spot one of those, there's definitely a chance that they’ll work well with our team.

Patrick Gilbert: I like the distinction there between a diversity of talent and backgrounds and people from all over but also having a few core things that are in line. I think that's something that doesn't enter the conversation about diversity enough is that you still need some sort of grounding level of principles or core values that, regardless of who you're bringing on board, need to embody that. 

Google actually looks for this. I forget what the core values that they go through a checklist of. It's like three or four different things that everyone has. And then that last element is they literally just refer to it as Googliness, and it's sort of that ambiguous type of thing where it's like the hiring manager has the opportunity to have a gut feeling on whether or not that person fits into the culture and embodies what they're trying to do with the company. And I think that's sort of in line with what you were describing. 

Bruna Alves: Yeah, I think so. There are definitely values that I follow and I know, but their personality traits tell a lot. And by now I have a great idea about how the team works and how everybody is. And there's sort of a pattern, and I try to find contractors with the same patterns or some of them. Even though I'm looking for diversity, I am never going to choose all of the same. 

I think it's been working well like that. But there's definitely some patterns that are great to look out to and make sure that–There's definitely things that I would say don't match as well, and I am able to spot those right now. Those were actually mistakes that happened in the past, not being able to see those. But, yeah, I think that those will be my top three. 

Patrick Gilbert: Excellent. Isaac, I want to ask you to turn this back to you. There's a lot of negative stigma about the idea of agencies that have contractors, and this is something that we've dealt with. I think that even just speaking in the way that we are, it's probably raising some eyebrows because people are probably thinking that this falls in the line of what has traditionally been seen as, “Oh, you're outsourcing the work.” and so on and so forth. 

We believed in that for a very long time. And I think Bruna has been--We should be using the term freelancer, for example, because that's really what these folks are doing. They're freelancing for us. But what are your thoughts on this entire topic here? Because we have had transparent conversations. 

Obviously, we're recording a podcast about it. We're not trying to hide anything. But there has certainly been a negative stigma about what we're trying to do here because I think others have taken advantage of it. But how do you think we're broaching this or how do you think we should continue to discuss this with whether it be our clients or other people that are involved? 

Isaac Rudansky: It's a good question. I found, generally speaking, that unique truth or refreshing honesty typically outweighs the negative impact of negative stigmas and associations. And when I say unique truth, I mean things that are true that other people aren't talking about that clients do not typically hear. 

So it's not just truth in general. Lots of agencies tell the same truth. It's like, “Okay. Well, here's our pricing.” Or, “These are the channels we're going to run for you.” Okay, there's a degree of transparency. But they don't talk about the composition of their team and the economics of how they serve as an account. That's not typical. 

An example is how we discuss objective benchmarks of success in the sales process when we talk to a client about like, “Well, what's your actual CPA targets? Does that really make any sense? Do you even know your lifetime value? We'll look at it this way. Well, we can't hit that goal. There's no way we can hit that goal.” So we do that. And I have reinforced first hand experience that clients really appreciate that, and it makes them want to work with us. 

We had a situation recently where we told a prospect like, “There's no way we could hit these goals for you. We did the numbers, we ran the model, we're really not even close to what you think is necessary. So we wish you all the best and awesome business.” And then not that long later the clients are like, “Please. Let us sign the proposal. We want to work with you.” “It doesn't make any sense. What do you mean? We told you we can't even come close to hitting your goals. I basically promised you that we can't hit your goals.” 

But anyway, that's a side point. So all that being said, there's an innate benefit to being transparent about something that other agencies are being transparent about. Intelligent clients pick up on that, and it resonates with them. Nevertheless, you still have to really explain it in an appropriate way. And you have to be careful. 

Our two biggest clients right now were clients that I was transparent about this during the sales process. I told them, “We're using specialists, we're using contractors.” In both cases they reacted negatively at first, and in both cases they hired us out of multiple different agencies that were pitching the account. 

The initial negative reaction was as you said. There's a negative stigma about contractors. It's like, “Look, we're paying all this money for a New York agency. And now you're going to be offshoring your work?” That's the initial reaction when you start talking contractors, freelancers, specialists. 

My response has been, “No, we're just being honest with you about how we're going to over service your account. We have an in-house team of specialists and strategists who have been at this for many years. I believe these are the best brains in the business. I believe you will not find a more intelligent, more sophisticated team on this side or the other side of the Mississippi. And that's that. You could take it or leave it. That's what I believe. However, I can also tell you that in six months from now if we get a new client, our strategist will probably not be continuing to launch URL-varying DSA campaigns for you or looking at the bottom of the barrel for new layers of audiences in Facebook that they could test. It's just not going to happen, and you know it's not going to happen. And we know it's not going to happen. So we're investing not out of your pocket, out of our pocket. We're taking part of the retainer fees that we would have quoted you anyway, and we're spending that on work. That's just to ensure that it gets done. And the work is being designed by the minds and the brains and the strategists here. And it's only to your benefit. It's just so we could help our retention. We're in this for us to increase our retention rates, to be able to service our clients, to get the results, to get the performance, to keep our business for longer so we can grow our agency. And we do that by you being more successful and not being fired for you in nine months from now.” 

And look, in both cases after an open conversation like that, I think we still have to refine the pitch and how it's presented in a way that you don't necessarily trigger that initial negative reaction. But in both cases, the client hired us. In both cases, it's working out. And in both cases, the client I think ultimately appreciated that we were transparent about it. And they were excited. 

We just had one of those clients. We had a call with him yesterday. And the main point of contact texted me afterwards. He's like, “I'm really impressed with your team so far.” And I was like, “Look, we're really jazzed up.” And I told him the truth. I said, “We even hired somebody just to take notes and to coordinate meetings and to make sure that the communication is going smoothly. We have a contractor just for that.” And he's like, “It's awesome.”

So typically, there's something about unique truth or clients hearing truth that is not the same thing that they hear from all the other agencies is something that has--it carries with it some innate mysterious power.

Patrick Gilbert: It's so refreshing and liberating because I feel like for so long there was always a need to put up a smoke screen about, I don't know, just some of the way that these things are perceived by the clients. And then when you sort of set the director like, “No, we're just going to start having totally transparent conversations with clients about how we're servicing the account or how we're doing all these different things.” it really adds a level of confidence and really shows that great work is being done. 

I think that's really the key point is at the end of the day we still have to own the work. Let's say we have a graphic designer that's a part of this freelancer pool and an ad gets sent over to the client that is not up to snuff, it's not as if we can blame that. That's still an AdVenture Media product. We still have to make sure that that is a very high quality ad that whether it was somebody sitting here that produced that or whether it was somebody else, that that is still work that's coming out of our agency. 

That's the David Ogilvy quote that I love so much that being good is not good enough. You have to be very, very, very, very, very good to make sure that not a piece of rubbish ever comes out of your agency. And that's something that you still need to embody especially if you're going to be looking to other sources to be able to do work for your clients. And it's hard. It's not an easy thing. 

I think that honestly, thanks to Bruna, this has been not just possible but way simpler for all of us that we've scaled this program much faster than we would have if it was not being managed by somebody with that attitude that you described a few minutes ago. So all of this is completely a testament to the hard work that she's put in and the attitude that she's brought to this entire endeavor because it is not an easy thing to do. But it has been tremendous in our ability to serve our clients.

Isaac Rudonsky: There's no question about that. I'll let Bruna have the closing remarks. And I would say to your last point, Patrick, ultimately what I always say about design it's more important what you say than how you say it. In copywriting, in web design, in everything what you say is more important than how you say it. 

So whether your slide deck has this color scheme, Danielle, or another color scheme, doesn't really matter. What matters is what does the slide say. So it's the same thing whether at the end of the day you have contractors, they're here, they're there, it's this composition. What will resonate with the client is the quality of the work. And when the client sees good work coming out of the agency, we own it, we take credit for it. And whether or not you're using contractors or W2s or 1099s doesn't matter. 

The main force that the agency should embody as ownership is we’re your general contractor, we're here, and we're going to deliver. The how is secondary. Bruna, to take us out here, I want to give you the stage to tell our listeners things that you've learned and ideas that you have in your own personal life or for your work, how you manage your time. Maybe it's certain principles that you live by, certain ideas. Anything that you feel has had a meaningful or positive impact on your career that you think is worth sharing. 

Bruna Alves: Right. 

Isaac Rudonsky: And if not, you could just say how much you love AdVenture Media. 

Bruna Alves: Well, I definitely do. You know that. I'm definitely super, super grateful for the opportunity to work with you guys. I have never imagined that was going to happen to me. I was not prepared to close it up, but I would say there was something really special about the last few months before I started doing virtual assistant and started working with you guys. 

Sometimes things don't go right. And we think we are doing the wrong way, but usually we're just not following what we really want. For months and months before I went on my own on my services-based business, I was crazy trying to apply for remote jobs. Those are super, super competitive jobs with more than unicorn companies type of competitive. And I didn't fear. I just saw myself months struggling. 

At the end of the day, I decoded the interview process thing. And it was sort of like the universe was preparing me for what was next. And when I finally followed my heart and went to do my own thing which is actually what anything else would never work out. Even if you had to work it out, it would never work out in the long term. So when I followed my thing and I just went for it, everything else that’s behind was just added. 

Now I can do what I'm actually supposed to be doing, so I hope that was insightful. And, yeah, I hope everybody enjoyed our chats today. Thank you so much again for the opportunity, guys.

Isaac Rudansky: Bruna, thanks so much for joining. You’ve been phenomenal and a really valuable asset to the agency. And I think just talking all these points out was a really interesting, insightful, and practical diversion from maybe some of our typical topics. I think that the listeners are going to really appreciate some of the strategies that we shared. So thank you. My last question, of course, is for Patrick. Patrick, where's the best place to hide a dead body? 

Patrick Gilbert: Everyone knows the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page Google, Isaac. 

Isaac Rudansky: And don't forget, everybody. Pick up your copy of Join or Die: Digital Advertising in the Age of Automation on Amazon. Head over to our website to check out our services and everything else we have going on over there, additional educational content. And we hope to see you soon in the next episode. Thanks, everybody.

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