Company: Prosperitas Animation Studio
Owners: Keely O’Connor
Year Started: 2020
Employees: 1 – 10
This week on An Agency Story podcast, we have Keely O’Connor, Founder of Prosperitas Animation Studio. Prosperitas Animation Studio is an animation studio specializing in conversion rate optimization through the power of video based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Keely and her team are helping catapult the missions and the dreams of their clients through their dedication to storytelling, fostering a genuine connection that compels individuals to engage at a profound and meaningful level.
Keely’s journey has taken a distinct turn from her initial aspirations to her current position. Initially drawn towards marine biology and the idea of working with dolphins, she later made a shift to pursue a communication major in college. After graduating, she landed a job at a high-tech PR firm before she made another transition and found herself employed at a golf company that embraced tai chi and Buddhist principles.
After her time at the golf company, Keely’s next venture took her to an Italian restaurant, which would eventually become the steppingstone leading her to establish Prosperitas Animation Studio. Despite the eventual positive outcome, this experience was not always so promising, and it brought Keeley to one of her lowest moments. However, this low point became a turning point, revealing that the only path forward was upwards, so upward she went.
The Founder of Prosperitas Animation Studio firmly expresses that she would unquestionably go through it all again if given the chance. She aspires to motivate others to take proactive steps before hitting rock bottom. Keely has successfully built a remarkable ecosystem within her agency, reflecting her true self, and her sincere desire to inspire others is evident in this week’s episode.
Enjoy the story.
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0:02 Welcome to An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. From the excitement of starting up the first big sale, passion, doubt, fear, freedom, and the emotional rollercoaster of growth, hear it all on An Agency Story podcast. An Agency Story podcast is hosted by Russel Dubree, successful agency owner with an eight figure exit turned business coach. Enjoy the next agency story.
Russel: 0:41 Welcome to An Agency Story podcast. I’m your host Russel. This week show features Keely O’Connor founder of Prosperitas Animation Studio specializing in conversion rate optimization through the power of video based out of Phoenix, Arizona. In this episode you’ll find out how dolphins, golf, Tai-Chi, and Italian food laid the foundation for Keeley’s career towards becoming an agency owner. Her uplifting spirit and positivity has carried her through the highs and the lows of business ownership. Enjoy the story. Welcome to the show today everyone. I have Keely O’Connor with Prosperitas Animation Studio. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Keely.
Keely: 1:16 Thanks so much for having me.
Russel: 1:17 My pleasure. If you don’t mind giving us a quick overview, what does Prosperitas do and who do you do it for?
Keely: 1:23 We do a whole lot of brand storytelling, and we do it in the form of animation, it’s a lot of fun. We work with a lot of different types of companies, but one thing that a lot of them have in common is that they are doing something cool for the world. We love when we get to tell the story of a company in a way that we do it better than they can, and in a way that the audience can be emotionally engaged. I have a lot of stuff going on with the screen synced up with the music and the sound effects and the visuals. It’s this sensory experience that in the end we hope that people will take action. Although the videos are nice and beautiful, we want people to take action at the end of the day. That’s what we help businesses do.
Russel: 2:03 You help ’em take action. Let’s go back in the time machine as we do on the show. What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?
Keely: 2:08 I was, like the rest of 90% of the girls who wanted to be a marine biologist and play with dolphins. It’s funny because I actually went into college, with my college applications, I put biology as my major. Once I got to college and I had to sign up for my first classes at orientation, I’m like, wait a second. I suck at math and science. I’m gonna be a comm major.
Russel: 2:29 I think you might be right on that is what every young girl wants to do, ’cause I think you’re the second person I found on the show that wanted to swim with dolphins and then found out maybe that wasn’t gonna be the case. I’ll look for a few more examples to make that statistically significant, but very fascinating outcome. Obviously you changed paths in that sense, but it sounds like very early on you found how much values and creativity were important to you. You worked for a golf company that had a very interesting approach to golf. Tell us a little bit about that.
Keely: 2:54 My first job out of college was at a tech PR firm, and we were working with pretty high tech. They were all serious. I had to be at my computer like this from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM with a 30 minute lunch break. It was a culture shock after being at Santa Clara University and walk into class, I have all this free time, and then I’m, okay. This is the real world. My next job was this golf company and I chose it because it felt more lax and different, not too corporate. They have this online video instruction for golfers, it’s based on muscle memory but the way they do it is like ancient Chinese type, Tai Chi and Buddhist principles. They’re doing these movements over and over that kind of look like Tai Chi but they’re applied to the golf swing. That was interesting. My boss, the founder, I only ever saw him eating almonds, seaweed, or the sun. He was a sun gazer. That was an interesting shift from the Bay area, Silicon Valley high tech, boom go work faster, smarter, harder, to this oh, I’m going to eat the sun and we are going to do Tai Chi to become better golfers.
Russel: 4:01 That is quite the contrast there. I played golf this past weekend and I didn’t do very well, so I’m thinking I could have used this course, maybe. I’m gonna have to go check this out. Does it still exist?
Keely: 4:11 Yeah, it’s called Tata Golf. Find your greatness. Honestly, I tried it and I liked what it did for me.
Russel: 4:17 There we go, we have our testimonial to boot. Your next gig was working for an Italian restaurant, and this experience is what eventually led us to the birth of Prosperitas. Can you share about how that all that began?
Keely: 4:28 I was working at this Italian restaurant group. A lot of it was fun and I got a lot of perks. I got to eat a lot of pizza. I almost sometimes wish that they didn’t have good food. ’cause maybe I would’ve done something about being at that job for the amount of time I was there. It ended up to be quite toxic. It was very taxing on me mentally and emotionally, and it bled into all areas of my life because I had to spend so much time there. It felt like it was my identity in a way, that I didn’t have much space for anything else. It made everything kind of collapse. The core reason was the bulk of my time I was spending in an environment where I wasn’t being treated respectfully. I was stressed, I was overwhelmed. Not a good way to live. I was depressed. It’s like a self-sabotage. I hated it. I was very uncomfortable, but I didn’t do anything about it because I was worn down, so hard that I lost my sense of who I was and that I did deserve better. I was feeling hopeless and I was at a point where I didn’t have any energy to help myself. The pandemic hit and I realized, uh oh, if I’m this bad already and now this looming doomsday, what the heck? How long is this gonna last? This is scary for me. I had a moment where I realized, all right, if I can change my job and create my own business then I can change maybe the rest of my life. Why not give it a try, there’s nothing else going on. I might as well give it a go, there’s no direction I can go but up. I can’t get any worse right now. I started taking the steps and we can talk more about this, but basically it was the realization, okay, I never wanna work for anyone ever again. I’m scarred and I am smart enough to start my own business. I just have to figure out what it is. I think it would be an agency model, because that is what I’m familiar with in terms of media, PR, creativity, project management, operations and stuff. But also, I make money by getting clients, so people will still pay me, but they don’t get to tell me what to do.
Russel: 6:29 Autonomy is key. Obviously a less than stellar experience, sounded like it affected you a lot in a lot of negative ways. All things being said, knowing where you’re at today, would you still go through that again? Do you feel like that was an important part of your core in being able to even start your agency?
Keely: 6:43 Hundred percent. Yes. Now, I don’t wish for people to have these uncomfortable experiences, and I hope I can inspire people to get the feather in their butt to do something before something so bad happens that makes them, everyone has their own journey. I would’ve 100% go through it again. I think that I would’ve been a lot more complacent and I wouldn’t have become so ambitious and aware. Since then, I’ve been on this fast journey of learning more about myself and what’s important to me and my magic and how I can bring that to the world. I’ve been on this fast paced, accelerated growth journey of all the parts of myself, not just my entrepreneur journey but alongside it simultaneously, becoming me. Actually, I feel like I don’t even recognize that person. She was hiding, Keely was hiding down in there, and now she’s here. I feel like an evolved version of myself right now, and I’m very proud of myself. No, I wouldn’t change it. I learned a lot. I don’t wanna go back.
Russel: 7:44 Oh, no, I know the feeling for sure. My key takeaways, get your feather in your butt before you have to experience something bad. You got to the point, made the decision to cite your own agency. What did those next steps look like? How did you go from decision to action?
Keely: 7:56 I had to take inventory of my life. I knew that it was possible that I could create my own business, but I didn’t wanna do something that there was no heart in it because then, I know myself, it would be hard for me to commit and engage and do something every day until you start making money. Had to at least enjoy the process of it. Having goals is great, but make sure you’re not torturing yourself on the way to get there. Should be aligned enough that you do enjoy the process. I’m also familiar with this term. In Japan it’s called Ikigai, and it means reason for being. You blend what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. It’s like a little Venn diagram type shape. If you can find something that combines all of those, then that’s your reason for being. It was rewarding because I’m like, okay. My past experience is in this kind of media, PR, creative, social media, marketing, operations, project management. I’ve always loved short form writing. I was a creative writing minor and communication major, which is funny ’cause that’s literally what I’m doing. Back then when I chose a comm major instead of marine biology, I’m like, oh yeah. It doesn’t matter what your major is. You’re not gonna actually use the comm major, but here I am doing exactly that. Then the other thing, what you can be paid for, of course I’m going to sell these animations for companies. What the world needs is that, we are helping catapult the missions and the dreams of the companies by creating visual storytelling pieces that do an amazing job of getting people to understand the mission and to take action. It’s this beautiful ecosystem that’s aligned with who I am as a person. I figured, okay, I’m gonna start the animation studio I’m gonna start. It’s an experiment. I didn’t think this was gonna last. I was desperate, and then it started working. I got my first client about a month or two after starting. Thank you, Sergio, because he didn’t actually need a video. He said that he’s a minority, he faced some discrimination a bit in the Bay Area as a Latino starting his company. Now, he’s doing great. He said, if I can help you as a female founder, then let me help you. He was my first client. It becomes like a ripple effect. That was a step that he could take to help me take the next step. I’ll always be grateful for my first client.
Russel: 10:09 We all need a few charity clients, angels on our shoulder, if you will. What was that Japanese word you used?
Keely: 10:15 Ikigai, I K I G A I.
Russel: 10:18 Ikigai.
Keely: 10:18 It’s not like an icky guy or a guy that’s gross.
Russel: 10:22 If that’s what it takes to remember it. Sounds like a powerful, meaningful word.
Keely: 10:25 What’s cool about Ikigai is that it doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and start a new business and align it. You can find ways to do it more like in your spare time or maybe, if you’re an agency founder, you focus more on clients. It’s the clients who fit into that world. It doesn’t always have to be so perfect, but it’s a nice little roadmap to follow. It’s fulfilling for sure.
Russel: 10:47 I’m definitely gonna have to look more into that. What a great story in terms of how you were able to come from that experience and turn it around. Speaking of great stories, one of the things that I found fascinating you shared was how you were able to impact a specific client and their family in one of your videos in a neat and touching way. Do you mind sharing about that?
Keely: 11:04 There’s this public speaker, his name is Sebastian Terry. We got connected through Instagram, and he was looking for an animator to animate a poem that his dad wrote. His dad he has cancer and it’s not looking too good. Sebastian tasked us with animating this beautiful poem. The poem is called A Hundred Things. And it’s cute because Sebastian’s keynote where he goes all over the world and does this amazing public speaking is about a hundred things to do before you die. So his father wrote this poem from the perspective of him sitting on the moon with his dog by his side, and he’s in a spacesuit and he’s looking at the earth and he’s reflecting on his years. And it speaks to his son’s little mission as well. It’s deep poem, it’s beautiful. We created this animation where he’s on the moon, he is looking at it and it’s eight minutes long or something like that. He gifted this animation to his dad for Christmas. I even cried from watching it. It’s so beautiful, everyone loved it at Christmas and he said he’s gonna be playing it at his funeral whenever that happens.
Russel: 12:12 That’s very sad, but an opportunity to have such a meaningful, long-term impact that I imagine will carry on for a good long while. The power of the work we do we don’t always think about when we jump into it. You’ve had deep impact on your client lives, but then you’ve also worked with some well-known brands. From big brands to small instances like that, how is it navigating all those different types of relationships?
Keely: 12:32 It’s beautiful. I think that it’s fun to find the beauty and impact in the big and the small. I always say I love to make these videos for world changing brands, which is great, we made a video for DoorDash. That one excited me because in your mind, you don’t think of it as social impact directly, they create so much access to opportunity that can transform lives. Someone who’s struggling, if they have a good background check and a vehicle, they can even rent those scooters and stuff nowadays, they might not even need a car. They can start making money and supporting themselves and their families in a world where some people are a lot more privileged than others. I think it’s beautiful that they create this equal opportunity for so many people. That one made me excited to work alongside DoorDash. We also worked with Pfizer. It wasn’t anything political, vaccine or not. It was for celebrate different holidays, and these holidays were like International Women’s Day, day in STEM, day of the girl. It’s about promoting diversity and promoting education, equality, and innovation. That was rewarding for me because Pfizer being such a global company with a lot of attention on it. I’m happy to see that they’re promoting these goals, ways of thinking. It’s their responsibility too, but that feels good too because it’s global. So many people are seeing that. But then on the smaller end, we see great impact as well. Even on the smaller end that has nothing to do with our clients, my creative director, he’s supporting his family right now. His parents are not able to work and so he’s supporting them. That’s directly because of the studio. He changed my life and I changed his drastically, both of it. I can have big ambitious goals of wanting to change the world, but what if you could change one person’s life 180 degrees? It makes me feel like, okay, relax a little bit. You don’t know sometimes the individual and I do believe that collectively making an impact all starts with individual development.
Russel: 14:36 One step at a time. Awesome stuff. Speaking of impact, has this business been able to give you the quality of life that you were looking to achieve?
Keely: 14:43 One hundred percent, yes.
Russel: 14:45 Love that answer.
Keely: 14:45 I’m a Libra. I love balance. I do work hard, but I need to have a balanced life. I love to work on my business. I travel a lot. I’ve gone to so many different places. If I need to take a day where I shut off, I can do that and it’s okay, and I’m not gonna have to take a vacation day or be criticized or anything like that. The quality of life is beautiful. I’m able to enjoy the day to day, I used to live for the weekends oh, is it Friday yet? Is it Friday yet? And then all on Sunday, I’m anxious. It’s like I have a day and not even a half of being not miserable. Now I find the beauty, oh, it’s another day. I love every day and I think that’s beautiful.
Russel: 15:26 It is fascinating in entrepreneurship how Monday through Sunday become very similar in some respects other than what day’s Chick-fil-A open? I love that it’s been able to achieve what you’ve wanted out of it. What does the future look like? What do you hope for Prosperitas down the road?
Keely: 15:40 I’m looking to continue servicing amazing companies, big or small. We don’t only work with companies who are making a social impact, but it’s awesome when they do, bonus points. Bigger and better clients, or not necessarily bigger, but more clients that, they’re on board with our creative storytelling techniques and thinking outside of the box. Projects where we can be challenged creatively but make some cool stuff. More consistency and growth. I wanna make sure that everyone is living nice and comfortably and happy. If we can make an impact to different communities by doing so, great. That’s the main thing. I always have to remember one of the main reasons why I started this is for quality of life. If I’m gonna get to millions and millions of dollars, but that sacrifices my quality of life, I’ll say, no thank you. I’m good staying down here. Always paying attention and seeing where we’re at, it’s important.
Russel: 16:34 I have no doubt that will guide you quite well. As you look back thus far, what are you most proud of in your journey?
Keely: 16:40 I’m proud of sticking with it. A lot of times it’s a roller coaster. You might get a sale where you think, oh my gosh, this is great. Or you have a cool month, and then you think that because you had that month, the next month will be like that. That’s not always how it works. I’m proud of myself for sticking with it because it’s not easy, but it’s also feels a hell of a lot better than being stuck in a life where I’m not truly living it and I’m not fulfilled. I’m proud of myself for taking that leap. Being bold and taking the time to reflect on what it means, what I’m doing. Part of my journey as well I’m entering, I’m gonna start doing some public speaking to hopefully inspire some people. When crafting my keynote, I made a lot of connections about, this is feeling very aligned to what I came here to do, but the digging deep, understanding my story. I tell stories for people all the time, but then when I take a look, you put the blueprint upon my life. I see how much it speaks to each other and I’m like, damn, I came here to do this. A few months ago when I made this decision, I kept getting little down loads from the universe, if that sounds woo woo, whatever. But two that okay, this is what you’re doing. This is great, but there’s another level to it. I didn’t know what that was. Then I started getting these downloads, public speaking, public speaking. It’s beautiful. I made a lot of connections about why it all makes so much sense, what I’m doing. One of them, which is cool, I was gifted this candle that says my birthday on it, October 11th and it’s the day of the story. I’m telling stories in the animation, but also in public speaking. In astrology, my sun sign is Libra, which is all about communication. My moon is Leo, which is all about being in the spotlight, and then my rising sign is Aquarius, which is basically about using your intelligence to do things in a better way, but you’re teaching the collective how they can do that. I realized, dang, I think I figured it out. I thought I was over here with Ikigai, but then you look at like my actual birth chart, I feel super in alignment, so I’m excited to keep riding this journey and I’m proud of myself for finding such purpose at such a young age. I’m so excited to see how that translates as I continue to grow and evolve, hopefully help others do the same.
Russel: 18:59 Excited you should be. Last big question for you. Are entrepreneurs born or are they made?
Keely: 19:04 That’s a good question. I think both. I think we all have it inside of us. I think everyone can be an entrepreneur, we’re all born with it, but it takes some people longer to uncover it. Or maybe they might not ever, but those of us who are brave, and not to say you’re not brave if you’re not an entrepreneur, maybe you know that you like the steady nine to five job or something else like that. But if you do decide to take this jump you make it yourself by taking the steps and taking the action, but also, it is not a lone journey. There’s tons of resources where you can learn from people, you can listen to podcasts, take courses online. You can join communities and networks. Now more than ever in the history is a good time to succeed in entrepreneurship because there’s so many resources. Being an entrepreneur is so accessible now, more than it ever has been.
Russel: 19:54 Amen to that. If people wanna know more about Prosperitas, where can they go?
Keely: 19:58 Prosperitasagency.com, or you can connect with me on LinkedIn and you can chat with me. We’ve got a nice website which has our reel and it has some of our past work. Has a little note about Ikigai. I’m around.
Russel: 20:12 If you wanna go see some cool work and learn about Ikigai, not icky guys as we’ve differentiated, where now to go. Visit Prosperitasagency.com. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Keely. It was a pleasure to have you, so many great things that I learned about today. Thank you again for your time.
Keely: 20:27 Thanks for having me Russel. Thanks for helping agency owners. It’s a tough journey, people like you make it easier for us.
Russel: 20:35 I appreciate that, thank you. 20:39 We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. Are you interested in being a guest on the show? Send an email to email@example.com. An Agency Story is brought to you by Performance Faction. Performance Faction offers services to help agency owners grow their business to 5 million dollars and more in revenue. To learn more, visit performancefaction.com.
Keely: 21:15 I was in this networking group and we would have meetings on Tuesdays and it usually had 50 people. With the ADD that I have, I’m not paying attention. Instead of looking at the one person who’s talking on this giant Zoom meeting, I like to do the gallery view and look at people, look, what are you guys doing? It’s a four hour meeting, so I gotta keep myself entertained. There was this guy and he had already presented, so he thought he was done, but he didn’t know that his camera was on. He gets on his bed and then he pulled his pants down.
Russel: 21:48 Oh no.
Keely: 21:49 Oh my gosh. Is anyone else seeing this? I don’t know, it was a shocking thing. I didn’t naturally think to tell the organizers, hey, shut off this guy’s camera. There was an object blocking right where the, but the pants were down and he is lying there and the camera’s on there. I was laughing because I’m immature.
Russel: 22:07 I don’t think that’s immature. I think you have a number of emotions you can go through in that scenario, but you’re gonna experience one of them for sure.