Integrate – PushFire

This week's guest on the show is Sean Dolan with PushFire, a digital advertising agency based out of Katy, TX. If you were a fan of music reality tv shows in the early 2000s then you may just remember Sean from his time as a contestant on the NBC TV show “Fame”. On top of his agency providing outstanding marketing results for his clients, From documentaries to stand up comedy, Sean has made entertainment a cornerstone of his career.

Company: PushFire

Owners: Sean Dolan

Year Started: 2012

Employees: 1 – 10

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the captivating episodes of “An Agency Story,” a podcast that brings to life the thrilling highs and daunting challenges of marketing agency owners. Episode “Integrate” shines a spotlight on Sean Dolan, the dynamic force behind PushFire, showcasing how an early career in entertainment and a knack for innovative marketing have shaped his unique approach to the digital advertising world.

In this episode, listeners will dive into the enthralling realms of digital marketing, entertainment, and entrepreneurship. Sean shares his evolution from a contestant on the reality TV show “Fame” to the founder of PushFire, revealing the potent blend of creativity and business acumen that fuels his agency. Key discussions illuminate the transformative power of Google Ads, the strategic pivot from entertainment to digital marketing, and a heartwarming project that raised a staggering $100,000 for a homeless individual, showcasing the incredible potential of creative marketing solutions.

The episode is peppered with amusing anecdotes, like Sean’s unexpected detour into standup comedy, and powerful insights, such as the strategic nuances of balancing client diversity to mitigate risks. It’s a masterclass in leveraging personal passions to enrich professional endeavors, making it a must-listen for aspiring entrepreneurs, marketers, and anyone fascinated by the symbiosis of creativity and business.

As the story unfolds, listeners are invited to reflect on the essence of entrepreneurship and the impact of nurturing one’s innate talents. “Integrate” isn’t just an episode; it’s an inspiring narrative that encourages us to explore the intersections of our passions and professional lives.

Don’t miss this episode of “An Agency Story.” Tune in to be entertained, enlightened, and inspired to contemplate the paths your own passions might lead you down in the quest for professional fulfillment and personal growth.


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Show Transcript


[00:00:00] Intro: 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.

[00:00:39] Russel: Hello. Welcome to another episode of An Agency Story podcast. I’m your host, Russel. Today’s guest on the show is Sean Dolan with PushFire, a digital advertising agency based out of Katy, Texas. If you were a fan of music reality TV shows in the early 2000s, then you just may remember Sean from his time as a contestant on the NBC TV show “Fame.” [00:01:00]

[00:01:00] On top of his agency providing outstanding marketing results for his clients, from documentaries to standup comedy, Sean has made entertainment a cornerstone of his career.

[00:01:09] Enjoy the story.

[00:01:12] Welcome everyone, I have Sean Dolan with PushFire Marketing. Welcome to the show today Sean.

[00:01:18] Sean: Thank you Russel.

[00:01:20] Russel: Excited for you to be here. So get us started right off the bat, what type of agency is PushFire? What do you do and who do you do it for?

[00:01:27] Sean: PushFire is a digital marketing agency that provides Google Ads management for small and medium sized businesses.

[00:01:37] Russel: Succinct and to the point. So after getting a chance to learn about your story, it seems like being an entertainer is big part of your DNA.

[00:01:45] Going back to when did that begin for you? When was the first version of entertainer Sean?

[00:01:50] Sean: Oh, I’m sure I cracked a joke when I was four or five and it just lit up my world. And ever since then I was chasing that approval. I don’t know, [00:02:00] early on I think that my, so my dad was a musician.

[00:02:05] At times in his life he sort of roamed around with a band through the northern US and Canada, and he’s from Denver. And so he was a bit of a traveling musician and a lot of his brothers were musicians. I think I got that from his side of the family.

[00:02:21] And then as far as nurturing that as a kid, he was always very supportive of any endeavor really. He bought me a guitar. He taught me how to play the guitar. When I wanted to start a DJ business, he bought me my first equipment. So my dad’s always been really supportive.

[00:02:39] And then my mom’s always been very creative. Whether she would have these craft events in the garage with all the neighborhood kids. And so my mom was like that lady. We would do like wood cutting and make stilts. And so just a very creative upbringing that I’m sure led itself to me finding creative pursuits later in life.

[00:02:57] Russel: Were you on the theater team in high school [00:03:00] or when were you starting get on the stage for the first time?

[00:03:02] Sean: I just had my 20th year reunion, so it was interesting 20 years later, everyone reflecting on who we were in high school. So who I was in high school and even junior high, I think the first time I performed in front of people was my fifth grade history class.

[00:03:16] I sang a song about the Alamo on the guitar. In high school, I spent a lot of time putting together performances for the talent show. That was a big, big deal for me. I actually played ice hockey through high school and I didn’t like the fact that I had to take PE because ice hockey was etracurricular.

[00:03:35] So it didn’t count as a PE credit. So I actually negotiated with the dance teacher and the principal to let me teach dance to the dance class to get outta PE. Nice. And she was like, there you go. Well, day one you have to teach teach my dance class. I was like, fine. So I went home and I learned to dance and I taught ’em.

[00:03:52] And so that, that kind of led me into you know, hip hop, dance. And I was in choir all through high school, [00:04:00] so my grades were not great, but my performances were pretty okay.

[00:04:04] Russel: I’m guessing proms and dances must have been quite the dance floor then with all your teachings there. Yeah.

[00:04:10] Sean: It was a really fun class, to be honest.

[00:04:12] Like everyone, we had a lot of fun then, and at our 20th year reunion.

[00:04:15] Russel: Well, don’t worry folks, we’re gonna get to the marketing side of things, but still, eventually entertainment bucket. Pretty quickly once you graduated high school and out there in the world, you landed on a TV show.

[00:04:25] What was the show?

[00:04:26] Sean: Yeah, so I had a friend of mine who was also very passionate about singing and we grew up together and so she invited me to audition with her on American Idol, and we went together and we had a lot of fun. We did not get on the show, and then out of the blue, she contacts me again.

[00:04:42] She’s auditioning for a show called Fame. So we road tripped out. I was in Utah at the time. She was in Rio Grande. We met in California. We auditioned. She was there wanting to get on the show. I was just there for moral support. I made it. She didn’t. They picked like 24 [00:05:00] finalists out of like, I don’t know, six, 7,000 people around the US that auditioned in five different cities.

[00:05:07] And it was a reboot of the nineties “Fame” TV show with Debbie Allen. And then in this version, Joey Fatone from NSYNC was the host. I was a huge NSYNC fan, so that was just mind blowing to hang out with Joey Fatone. In 2003, I was in and out real quick. One of the first people voted off. Oh, no.

[00:05:24] Man, it was, it was such a cool experience and we all stay in touch and so it was fun.

[00:05:31] Russel: So pretty early on in your career, you started your own business in the mm-hmm. in no surprise, right, in the entertainment industry. Mm-hmm. Did you always know you were gonna go down an entrepreneurial path?

[00:05:41] And how did you get started in that business?

[00:05:44] Sean: My dad, I think definitely pushed entrepreneurship. Valued entrepreneurship in a way that it was certainly one of the natural choices, not exclusively, but it was encouraged. So [00:06:00] by virtue of the fact of him buying me my DJ equipment and, and supporting that early on in high school. I remember I was in college and I was at lunch one day and I’d heard about Google Ads for the first time.

[00:06:15] I barely even knew what it was, but I was willing to try it. And I put $50 into my first Google Ads account at the beginning of lunch. And by the end of lunch. I advertised in the word Houston DJ. And at the time it was just like fish in a barrel, it was easy. I bet. So by the end of lunch I booked an $800 Bat Mitzvah.

[00:06:39] A Bat Mitzvah a year in advance. And she paid me my $400 deposit. And like, there’s an ROI , you know, it was just like, what is this. Goodbye school. For like a month after that, I just kept doubling all the deposits back into the system. And I, I must have sold like five or six thousand dollars worth of DJ business, which at the time was [00:07:00] insane.

[00:07:00] I was rich .

[00:07:01] Russel: You richest kid in school for sure.

[00:07:03] Sean: Oh man. It was amazing. So I was like, given, I had so many leads coming in that I was just handing leads to my friends. Like, Hey man, thanks for help teaching me to DJ. For a few years I did that. Eventually got to the point where I was hiring another DJ.

[00:07:16] And the first DJ I hired the first gig that I was gonna outsource to somebody else. I got a call at 6:30, it was like 30 minutes before the wedding needed to start. And he got arrested on a bench warrant. Uh, no, not even a big crime. It was like a speeding ticket or something that he didn’t take care of.

[00:07:35] So he was arrested, and so I had to jump outta my bed and run to a wedding late. And it was just the most horrific feeling. And that’s when I kind of gave up on the DJ Empire. That was not the lifestyle I wanted to live, where at a moment’s notice I would have to drop what I’m doing or ruin someone’s wedding, you know?

[00:07:54] Russel: We don’t wanna do that.

[00:07:54] Sean: That’s when me and my dad decided to go into business.

[00:07:58] Russel: Okay, so you’re deciding [00:08:00] to exit the DJ business and mm-hmm. and jump into this skill you sounds like you developed because of the the DJ business. Tell us a little bit more about that idea and how it got started and what were those early days like?

[00:08:11] Sean: So the recession hit and my father lost his job, and I’d been doing this Google ads thing successfully with the DJ business. Not seeing DJ business as my future. . And so me and my father decided we would start a marketing agency, a digital marketing agency. He would do sales and I would be the practitioner.

[00:08:31] We provided SEO and PPC services, and we were looking to put together a white paper, a case study, something to, to show that you know, what we could do to bring into these pitch meetings. But we didn’t feel like the DJ business was the ideal case study for a dentist office or a doctor.

[00:08:52] Mm-hmm. . So we decided that we were gonna find a local mom and pop that had been suffering from the recession [00:09:00] and basically, just rock their world. You know, take the internet, harness the power of it, and, and maybe save them in, in our mind. That’s what we thought would be a good story. And then we could take that story and pitch clients with it.

[00:09:15] So I was driving, I drove home one day. I was coming back to visit with my dad to discuss further, and I saw a homeless woman on the side of the road and she was holding a sign. She was in a business suit and it just broke my brain. Cuz I live in Katy, Texas, it’s the suburbs. Mm-hmm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a homeless person out here.

[00:09:33] I see ’em downtown, you know? Right. Oh man. This recession all of a sudden is a 20-something year old. Really? Uh, really shook me and I went to my dad and I thought, uh, dad, what if we found a homeless person and we optimized their business, you know, found a better way for them to make money or raise money and and that developed into us basically building a website for a [00:10:00] homeless person. It’s like a MySpace page with their likes and interests and them telling jokes and very personable. And then we launched this campaign. We went out to Highway 6 and I-10 and Katy. And approached a group of guys, asked him if they would be interested in this crazy idea.

[00:10:17] One of ’em stood up, said he would do it, so we built him a website and in four months we raised a hundred thousand dollars for him. Oh, nice. Like it was like a GoFundMe before they did GoFundMe.

[00:10:27] Sounds like that maybe turned into a lot bigger thing than just a really inspiring case study.

[00:10:32] What all became of that?

[00:10:33] Yeah, so I mean, there was a lot of, I don’t know how much you wanna get into, the nitty gritty of how it launched.

[00:10:38] Russel: Well, I’m sure people are hooked now. So now you gotta give it to him.

[00:10:41] Sean: I picked the day after Valentine’s Day because I used to work in radio and I thought that it would be a slow news day, so we would get higher on the priority list. Then the night before we were gonna be live on the street, I sent out about 300 or 400 cold email, [00:11:00] phone, voicemail every tip line for every news source I could find locally and even some nationally. And then in the morning I had some friends call into the radio station acting as if they were listeners going, I can’t believe what I’m looking at.

[00:11:15] There’s this guy out on Highway 6. When they opened their email in the morning, the hit counter on the website was set to like 35,000 so they would get there and be like, oh, this just started and it’s already getting all this attention.

[00:11:29] Russel: I miss the hit counter days, by the way. Like a really cool thing, you put on a website.

[00:11:35] Sean: Nostalgic. The news came out that first day. We had ’em out there with a sign and it was all major credit cards accepted. And we had ’em on livestream. So we had a livestream to the website.

[00:11:49] So when people heard about it, they could actually go to the website and see it was real. It wasn’t just a rumor or a hoax or something. That gave it a little more life.

[00:11:57] Within a few days it went on the [00:12:00] national feed through Fox Syndicate. So it was all over, all over the nation on every local news station. And then Fox and Friends’ Morning Show reached out and asked us to come to a remote studio to record Live on the Morning Show. And Rachel Ray talked about it with Jeff Foxworthy and CNN did a bunch of stories about it and then Dare Spiegel in Germany picked it up.

[00:12:21] And then Switzerland’s Economics newspaper, and it just, it was just crazy. It was all over the place. Our biggest donor was a Australian living in Hong Kong at the time. I think he, he donated like 40 grand. Oh my gosh. The night before we went on Fox and Friends’ Morning Show, we called all the rehab centers.

[00:12:38] We quickly realized that alcoholism was an issue and I, I wasn’t familiar with alcoholism at the time or, or AA or anything, but we realized real quick that he was gonna have to be treated before we could get ’em a job. We called a bunch of rehab centers the night before Fox and Friend’s Morning Show were like, who wants to be on the morning show for free rehab?

[00:12:57] Mm-hmm. . And we found someone who was up for it. And so [00:13:00] the next morning my dad name dropped him on the show and he got a Microsoft executive rehab center with equestrian therapy, a private chef and yoga classes. Amazing. So it was quite a change. I went up there with him, I went through detox with him.

[00:13:13] He almost died during detox. It was kind of scary. He was medically supervised the whole time, fortunately cuz uh mm-hmm , it’s one of the most dangerous things to detox from his alcohol and went through his treatment and got a job. We became best friends. We lived together for a couple years after, before he went to go live with his family.

[00:13:30] I documented the whole thing and released a documentary about it. If you go to, you can watch it. It’s free on YouTube. But yeah, Nike didn’t call us the next day, like, Hey those guys, we wanna work with you. But it gave us a lot of confidence that we could follow through with, I mean, anything at that point. You know, throwing anything at us we’ll figure it out.

[00:13:51] So definitely gave me a lot of confidence. And then in the sales pitches, you know, it’s just an interesting, it’s an interesting story. It’s a sweet story. There’s a lot of lot to the story about how he [00:14:00] reconnected with family he hadn’t seen in 30 something years. So That’s amazing. Um, yeah. Yeah.

[00:14:05] There’s a, there’s a pretty wild kind of subplot there.

[00:14:08] Russel: And where’s he at today?

[00:14:09] Sean: He’s up in Kansas City. Yeah. With family.

[00:14:12] Russel: Doing good though?

[00:14:13] Sean: All, all, yeah. Yeah. He, he’s doing good. Yep.

[00:14:15] Russel: Okay. Good deal. What a great story from so many different levels, just the power of humans contributing to totally, testing your marketing skills to turning someone’s life around.

[00:14:26] Well, great, great story. Thank you for sharing that. Sure. But back to your story and, and running a business with your father. Mm-hmm. , what was that like? What’s good, bad, and ugly in so much as what you can say that keeps the Thanksgiving table, nice and amicable.

[00:14:39] Sean: Never fought .

[00:14:41] Russel: Love you, dad.

[00:14:42] Sean: Oh man. It was rough, man. I was sleeping most nights in the office. There was a lot of financial stress. My family had more expenses than I did and he had lost his job. And so there was definitely financial pressure and financial stress.

[00:14:58] It was definitely [00:15:00] challenging working with family and we’re all amazing now, but it was tough. Not having a clear operating agreement, when you go into a partnership with anyone.

[00:15:10] Russel: Even your dad.

[00:15:11] Sean: Even your dad. And it’s, and it’s not so much the contract, it’s just understanding the path forward. If we find out we’re on different pages, how do we separate amicably mm-hmm. . That is so much easier to decide going into it then than coming out of it. It was definitely rocky. Worked together for like two or three years.

[00:15:29] And then I eventually bought the business from him. Working with family’s tough and I feel like everyone who’s done it learns that the hard way. Now looking back on it, there’s a lot of fond memories. There are a lot of cool clients we worked with, like a helicopter client.

[00:15:44] Showed up to our office in a helicopter. We spent a lot of quality time together and. It was definitely an experience, a learning experience for both of us. We both grew from it. Everything’s good now.

[00:15:54] Russel: Still having Thanksgiving together and I love that piece of advice you said and that it’s so important before there’s [00:16:00] something to carve up or separate from. Get it all out on the table, lay it out before emotions get involved. That’s really great advice for folks. So now that you’ve been doing PushFire for the better part of 10 years. Has your success all been up and to the right or has it been peaks and valleys?

[00:16:16] How has that journey been for you?

[00:16:18] Sean: It’s been a steady climb in revenue. There have been sort of these major pivots that have occurred. At one point we had a Fortune 10 client that we were performing SEO for. Our whole office was just, I won’t say a junkyard, but there was like just pieces of things everywhere.

[00:16:39] Cause we were creating these DIY projects for guest posts. It was real content, we were creating them from scratch. But that client was probably 60, 65% of our revenue. Okay. Eight of our 12 employees were dedicated to that account. And then when Google, I think it was Matt Cutts, came out and they [00:17:00] started this FUD campaign. Fear, uncertainty and Doubt regarding the efficacy of guest posting. We’re looking at the metrics and it wasn’t true, but the fact that they said it made the recipients of these guest posts more skeptical and harder to close. So our close ratio of pitching these original pieces of content got cut in half. And so our prices had to double. I think we were charging like $500 a link. Now it’s a thousand dollars a link, and $1,200 a link.

[00:17:30] At a certain point it just becomes hard to maintain. And so that client shifted strategy. And, it was a big shift for us. We had to let some people go. Overall it’s been an upward trend, but there’s definitely been these moments where we’ve had to pivot and learn from that you don’t wanna have too much of your eggs in one basket from one client.

[00:17:51] Russel: Just search marketing in general you’re just so tied to the Google machine in terms of what’s good one day, and then how to be ready to pivot on a dime [00:18:00] because Google decides as much.

[00:18:01] So going back to your entertainment background and how that was a big part of your world in your career. What were the key lessons you were able to take from that journey into what you’re doing today?

[00:18:15] Sean: When I was on the reality show of “Fame”, I think I turned 18 on the show and I was backstage. I think I just performed and the judges met together to calculate their votes. And they came out and they announced who would be cut and I was gonna be cut, and I was just so happy to be there. I was like, whatever. I felt like I barely made it on the show, you know what I mean?

[00:18:44] Because everyone was just so talented. And so immediately as my name is announced, they hand me my plane ticket, which had my name on it. And I was like, oh, all they decided weeks ago that I was, you know, like, okay. Which is fine.

[00:18:56] And I think they made the right choice. But I remember [00:19:00] just having a distinct realization that I don’t want to be the talent. I want to be the producers, you know? Cause everything we did there was these guys, these. They were all very nice. I just realized that I wanted to have more control over my destiny.

[00:19:12] That was definitely a shift in my mindset at 18 that I wanted to be a business owner.

[00:19:18] Russel: Entertaining obviously been such a big part of your career you’re still getting into it today and got into standup comedy of all things. As you told me, that was quite a changing experience for you. How has that even integrated into your marketing work?

[00:19:32] Sean: Oh, well, I had a really great call this morning with a potential client who is a nationally known comedy club.

[00:19:41] Russel: That’s a good segue then.

[00:19:43] Sean: That was awesome. Yeah, it was such a good morning. Such a good call. So I guess I got started in standup; I was going through a divorce. It was taking a long time.

[00:19:52] I was trying to find a healthy outlet, a creative outlet. I had always [00:20:00] talked with my brothers about doing our first five minute set of standup comedy next year or a decade from now. It was never this week, but it was gonna happen. And so one day I was at a friend of a friend was performing at the Houston Improv.

[00:20:16] And he wasn’t a celebrity. He was like a normal person. So I was like, I was like, oh, what is it, what does a normal person look like? You know what I mean? He wasn’t coming from LA or New York. And so I went and watched this gentleman perform. And I was sitting the front row with my brother and it blew my mind that this guy could just walk out with just clothes and a microphone.

[00:20:34] It’s all he had. And he made this whole place laugh over and over and over again. Like magic. And in my head I didn’t understand anything under the surface. I didn’t understand the mechanics of why people are laughing. I couldn’t figure it out. And so after the show, I went up to him and I asked him like a ton of questions and I was probably smothering him and he probably needed to decompress.

[00:20:55] But anyway, he blew me off and I was like, all right, you know, that’s fine. [00:21:00] And little did I know a year from then I would be going head to head with that guy in a standup comedy contest. But I went and got books on standup comedy. Three of my books that I love is “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

[00:21:16] ” The New Comedy Bible” by Judy Carter and “Creativity” by John Cleese of Monty Python. And I could go into why those three books are great, but they just help you tap into the subconscious, the creative side, your muse, and setting yourself up for creativity every day, surrounding yourself with the type of people that allow creative ideas.

[00:21:36] I give the example, are you familiar with the silly walks skit? From

[00:21:41] Russel: I am not, no.

[00:21:41] Sean: Flying Circus where they like walk around in these silly walks. Well, it makes no sense. It’s a government entity that gives grants to people to develop their silly walks. And it’s one of the most popular of the flying circus skits.

[00:21:55] I think of it like this. That idea is so stupid on its face that if [00:22:00] anyone brought that up in a meeting, it would take

[00:22:02] Russel: You’re fired!

[00:22:02] Sean: Such a fertile soil to let it breathe and see itself all the way to the visual that’s required to make it work. And so it’s my contention that if we’re in a creative room or a creative space, and you would be uncomfortable bringing up the Silly Walks skit, which you’ll have to Google later.

[00:22:20] And you’re in the wrong room like that cuz Creativity requires anything goes. Anything can be explored. You’re venturing into places that have not been explored before. If you’re looking for something unique that hasn’t been done and it’s gonna be a little uncomfortable and weird getting there to find that.

[00:22:36] So that’s what those books kind of developed in me and it helped me sit down and write my first five minutes and then I performed it. And that was like, felt like skydiving, just all the air sucked outta your lungs. I mean, it was a biologically, just a very physiological reaction of judgment and like pending death.

[00:22:55] It’s very strange. What goes through your mind and body right? In that situation of trying [00:23:00] to make people laugh and not knowing if they will. And just developing a thick skin in that failure to do so and getting comfortable in the failure. To the point that it’s completely changed how I interact socially.

[00:23:14] I engage with complete strangers and I wasn’t shy before, but I’m proactive now. I’ll catch people’s eyes and we’ll laugh about something together. Like I just, I’m just more connected with humanity than I was before. So, and obviously that’s gonna benefit you in, in sales and networking and all sorts of areas of your life.

[00:23:33] About six to seven months into this standup comedy, Just when I’m getting less terrible, I’m less concerned. I’m gonna completely bomb. I noticed I had all these comedian friends, like 300 comedians, cuz you just, these guys are at every open mic. And so you just start meeting all these people and connecting on Instagram.

[00:23:50] And then I had this venue that I found then I was like, well I got the marketing. So I started the Sean Dolan comedy show. And our first show was [00:24:00] amazing. I had a jazz musician open up the show cuz I saw him do that at the Comedy Store in La Jolla. So I had jazz musician open it up, set the mood. It was good food, good drinks, and VIP section.

[00:24:11] I just copied it. And we sold out, 120 tickets sold, brought in my favorite buddies to come in. Strategically picked bookers to be headliners so that they would maybe book me later.

[00:24:22] And so I had six of these shows ongoing. And then I saw one of the guys I booked as a headliner was headlining the Houston improv this last July. And I just reached out to him and I said, Hey man, what do you need from me to book me on your show? Cuz I’ll do it. Just tell me what it is. What you know, help marketing, PPC. What can I throw at you to help? And he told me, he said guaranteed 25 tickets sold . I was like, done. That’s how I performed at the Houston Improv.

[00:24:53] There’s a lot of social media hacks and different tricks and things I use to sell tickets. I don’t know if you know, William Hong, the [00:25:00] “shebangs” guy, the. Yes. I hired him to do a little promo for me to promote. It was like 40 bucks on Cameo. I tapped into a bunch of local groups. Singles groups and engaged them, inviting them out to have sponsored events by their group.

[00:25:14] And I’d mentioned them on stage. Just a lot of different sort of old school traditional network marketing and a lot of word of mouth, which was fun. It was fun to branch outside of what I know really well. Google ads and social media ads were definitely a supplement that sold tickets.

[00:25:29] But, it was fun. It was fun to blend the two.

[00:25:33] Russel: You just gave a raving testimonial for why everyone should get into comedy and not only for all the benefits you initially mentioned, right. But what a great way to even have to test your marketing skills.

[00:25:42] Are, are you a real marketer? Get into comedy. And Yeah. Yeah. Try to sell, promoting a show .

[00:25:47] Sean: Right. I don’t know. I think, I mean, comedy’s so ubiquitous. I feel like it’s a lot easier to sell than, I don’t know, trailer hitches. Yeah. It was interesting to remember the value of a dollar in [00:26:00] advertising because it’s always other people’s money that we’re spending and to to have a project that is your money and it’s your revenue and that ROI is yours. It’s a nice reminder to that value.

[00:26:13] For your clients when you’re managing their money.

[00:26:14] Russel: What a great lesson there. So where are you trying to take the business? What is the next big step for you?

[00:26:20] Sean: Just world takeover. Right now I feel like I’ve gotten over the point in my agency career that I want every client. I remember what that feels like.

[00:26:30] Every client, we’ll take everything. We’ll take any dollar amount. We’ll take jerk clients. We’ll take nice clients. We don’t care. We just want money, money, money, money. So I’ve kinda matured to the point where I’m real picky who I work with. Having a son, quality of life.

[00:26:43] I don’t wanna be dealing with like toxic clients, so, no sir. I’ve gotten to this point where it’s nice that we’re able to be picky about who we work with, and selective. And so I’m working with all kinds of interesting clients. I’ve got these candles here on my desk that a [00:27:00] guy makes for Dungeons and Dragons tabletop gaming. That smells like a dwarven tavern blend of Here I’ll give him a plug if the, if you don’t mind. Blend of a house of smoked oak and whiskey. It’s delicious.

[00:27:14] Russel: I mean, I kind want the candle now because I want to know what a dwarven tavern smells like.

[00:27:18] Sean: It’s so hard to explain, but they nailed it. It’s kind of a muddy whiskey smell. They have Wizards Library. So I’m working with some startups and that’s been fun. And then having spoken at the first conference, State of Search. I did a bunch of speaking before the pandemic.

[00:27:33] I did a couple of keynotes. I’ve been on a hiatus and I’m just getting back into it and I was so excited coming off of State of Search and getting to see people in real life and reconnecting and glowing after the conference that I forgot how much I missed that experience.

[00:27:46] And I got home, I just started pitching for every conference I could find. I’ve pitched , HubCon. I’ve pitched for Brighton UK. I’ve pitched for everything. And will continue to do so. So that’s kind of my next year is definitely getting out there, sharing the story of [00:28:00] how something unexpected, like standup comedy, how following a passion that you have can definitely come around to not only develop your soft skills. But literally I’m on the phone, this morning with a client in that space and who better? To work with them, even if I was a mediocre digital marketer that really understands comedy. It’s just nice to venture outside or find your hobbies and passions and be able to loop them into your daily work.

[00:28:29] Russel: It seems like you’ve certainly been able to incorporate and find multifaceted wins with your hobbies and interests and bring ’em back to the business world. Which sounds like a great segue to the last question of… are entrepreneurs born or are they made, and how would you answer that?

[00:28:44] Sean: It’s nature, nurture. I think that there’s probably some genetic component, but it has to be nurtured. Take Tim the homeless guy that we helped.

[00:28:56] He’s smarter than me, high IQ, funnier than me[00:29:00] but his nurture growing up. Set him down a path of destruction. Mm-hmm. Deliberately. And so I just have to believe that we all have the potential. We’re given certain talents or genetically predisposed to certain abilities, but we, that has to be nurtured.

[00:29:18] You know, it has to be inspired. I think about my son. He’s done a couple talent shows by now. He did a magic trick at one show, he sang at another show. So whatever it is, I see that he is interested in that kind of tickles his brain and excites him.

[00:29:34] I support, which is what my dad did for me. And so I think that’s a very important part of it. I don’t think you can get there without the nurture.

[00:29:43] Russel: Can’t say it any better than that. Well, if people wanna know more about PushFire, tell ’em where they can go.

[00:29:49] Sean: You go to Fill out the form if you wanna work with us. If you wanna see a comedy show, I’ll let you know where to go.

[00:29:57] Russel: Well thank you so much for being on the show today, Sean. Great to [00:30:00] hear so many different parts of your story. I really appreciate you coming on the show today.

[00:30:04] Sean: Thank you, Russell. Appreciate it.

[00:30:06] Intro: 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 podcaast@performancefaction.Com. An Agency Story is brought to you by Performance Faction.

[00:30:27] Performance Faction offers services to help agency owners grow their business to 5 million and more in revenue. To learn more, visit

[00:30:41] Sean: So during Hurricane Harvey, do you remember Hurricane Harvey?

[00:30:44] Russel: I do.

[00:30:45] The flooding?

[00:30:46] Sean: So I volunteered with the Cajun Navy and it was amazing watching the community of Houston come together as one, as a community. And I remember I was out one morning doing a water rescue and I saw this woman, waist [00:31:00] deep in water, waving one arm and screaming for help.

[00:31:03] And I realized in that moment that it didn’t matter what religion she was or like who she voted for or her sexual preference. It all seemed so petty. We left her there because of her Dallas Cowboys, jersey .

[00:31:16] Russel: That’s very fair. That sounds like a joke coming from someone in the Houston area.

[00:31:22] Sean: Sure. I told that at the Addison Improv and it actually went over really well. I was nervous. Oh, yeah.

[00:31:26] Russel: I love it. I love it. That’s great. All right, cool. That’s perfect. Thank you for that. Yeah, I, I really enjoy hearing, not being a native Texan, all things Texan competitiveness.

[00:31:35] Houston, Dallas, all the Texas schools themselves, like the UT guys. That one sucks.

[00:31:40] Sean: So that one sucks. Like they’re all pretty good.

[00:31:42] Russel: I got no dog in this hunt, boys. But fun to listen to you guys talk about it.

[00:31:47] Sean: Yeah. Barbecue. Don’t even get started on that.

[00:31:49] Russel: I saw a TikTok the other day and it was a guy saying, He was from LA and he was saying, “sorry Texas, LA has the best barbecue.” And of course you don’t even have to be serious about something like that.

[00:31:58] Sean: You know exactly what he trying to [00:32:00] do.

[00:32:00] Russel: Yeah, I know, right.