Radicles – Pneuma

Picture of David Riggs - Rubix Agency - An Agency Story Podcast with Russel Dubree - Episode 47 - Radicles - anagencystory.com - Available on your favorite podcast app.
David and his team are known for their unique approach to problem-solving, often describing themselves as “critical thinking wildcards.” Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, David encountered a variety of situations that required him to turn abstract ideas into tangible realities. Whether it was his shoe resale endeavors or managing job placements for his fraternity, David consistently showcased an exceptional work ethic and unwavering determination.

Company: Pneuma

Owners: David Riggs

Year Started: 2019

Employees: 26 – 50

Welcome to “An Agency Story,” the podcast that dives deep into the personal and professional journeys of marketing agency owners. Hosted by Russel Dubree, a seasoned entrepreneur with a successful eight-figure exit, each episode is a treasure trove of real-life experiences, from thrilling successes to the challenges of growth. This series offers a window into the emotional rollercoaster that accompanies the life of an agency owner.

In this engaging episode, we meet David Riggs, the innovative founder of Pneuma, a digital agency that specializes in web development and SEO. Pneuma, based in Lakewood, Colorado, primarily serves B2B service providers, a sector often overlooked in the flashy world of digital marketing. David shares his journey from a young entrepreneur hustling golf balls to leading a thriving agency. His story is not just about business growth but also about the creative solutions his team brings to the table.

David’s narrative is filled with humorous anecdotes, like his childhood golf ball sales scheme, and insightful discussions on the strategic moves that helped Pneuma thrive. Particularly compelling is the “pod structure” Pneuma uses to cater to diverse clients, from SaaS to e-commerce, which opens a window into innovative agency management. David’s candid sharing of his initial steps, from his first entrepreneurial ventures to the strategic decisions that shaped Pneuma’s success, is both educational and inspiring.

David’s story leaves us contemplating the underestimated potential within ‘boring’ industries and the power of thinking differently about common challenges. His journey from a finance-focused student to a creative digital marketer is a testament to the evolution that many entrepreneurs undergo. This episode is a must-listen for anyone intrigued by the intersections of creativity, entrepreneurship, and personal growth. Tune in to “An Agency Story” to see how David and his team at Pneuma continue to innovate and inspire in the digital marketing world.

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Show Transcript

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. Welcome to An Agency Story podcast. I’m your host Russel. On this week’s episode, we have David Riggs, Founder of Pneuma, a digital agency focused on web development and SEO based out of Lakewood, Colorado. David has been a lifelong entrepreneur, starting out collecting straight golf balls, selling them back to golfers on the cheap to numerous other ventures before starting his agency. David describes his team as critical thinking wildcards as they forever seeking ways to find unique solutions to challenges, uncommon and common alike. See how David likes to create something from nothing on this episode. Enjoy the story.

Russel: 1:14 Welcome to the show today, everyone. I have David Riggs with Pneuma here today. Thank you so much for joining, David.

David: 1:20 Thanks for having me on, man. I’m excited to chat.

Russel: 1:22 If you don’t mind, start us off. Tell us what Pneuma does and who do you do it for?

David: 1:25 Pneuma is a web and SEO company. We pretty much primarily work with what I would call B2B service providers. We’ve opened up to SaaS, we’ve opened up a little bit to e-commerce with the pod structure that we use, which we might get into, but primarily going after B2B service companies. It’s a industry that I think is pretty overlooked in the world of what we do. It’s not as flashy. It might not be as sexy as maybe your coolest SaaS client or e-commerce client, but it’s an industry that we can get good results for. The campaigns are always structured and, truthfully, it’s an industry that’s overlooked, so we go in and have a problem we can solve. It’s easier to open doors and it’s easier to stay with those companies longer.

Russel: 2:00 Nothing wrong with being in an overlooked industry, especially with a valuable service. Take a ride back in the time machine. What was young David thinking he was gonna do and how did that path evolve?

David: 2:10 Young David always knew it was gonna be something with finance, definitely wanted to lean more into that. Some of the earliest things I always share on stuff like this is back when my family lived in Kentucky, I was in elementary school. My first side hustle, while it probably wasn’t legal, in lessons learned, but we lived on a golf course. As you can probably assume any seven or eight year old is gonna do, if people hit golf balls into your yard, it’s fun to go out, run out, get them. Store them away. All in the good graces of an annual yard sale in which I would sell the golf balls back to every golfer that hit them into our yard. For seven, eight, and I think part of nine years old, every year I would collect golf balls.

Russel: 2:47 Good money in that.

David: 2:47 Real good money. That’s where I came up with my first offer too. Now granted it wasn’t all inflationary times like now, but I was grabbing golf balls and I’d have about a hundred to 200 for the yard sale every summer. I would sell five for a dollar or one for a quarter. That was my offer. You’d get one free if you bought five. I remember I started to mess up a couple times because, people put their names on golf balls. They started showing up in my buckets and somebody’s like, how do you have Jesse’s golf ball? Me being seven or eight just go red in the face. I don’t know. Do you wanna buy it? You want five, right? Went on and on until one time, I don’t remember the context of it, might’ve been a day off of school or whatever, but I was home with my parents. Ran out, grabbed a golf ball, ran back inside and was watching, and the golfer watched me do it. He was like I gotta go know more about this. He went up and knocked on our back door. My mom answered, hey, do you have a son by chance? She goes, I do. I think he just stole my golf ball. I was at that point in the garage putting it in the buckets of everything else. She discovered not only his golf ball, but about a hundred other. I say all of that, have always been the hustler to just create something outta nothing. The golf ball example, while funny, that moved into buying and flipping shoes, I found a strategy to get in early to malls to get shoes before anybody else could buy them. The ones that I knew were gonna be highly valuable and flip’em for 50, 60, 70 percent net on just a pair of shoes. Going from 200 to 350 was a great week in high school for a middle schooler or high schooler, right? Think at one point I had close to six to seven grand in shoes sitting in my closet, which was hysterical. But I remember on a cost basis it was like two, three grand that I put into’em. I’ve always liked playing those games. Numbers were always something that I used to my advantage on that side of things. I remember, the shoe community is quite large, so people buying and selling shoes almost never knew what they bought the shoe for, never knew what it sold for. They just enjoyed flipping it and were just going through the motions to make it work. I was probably the only one with an Excel sheet that knew what I paid, when I paid, what the tax was, what the actual shoe value was. I took that all the way through high school and college and was, I’d say, on a fast track to do anything in finance or very related to finance. All the internships I had in college were working in some sort of corporate finance or corporate finance and reporting type function from mid-level enterprise all the way up to Fortune 500 companies. I kept pushing the needle’cause I always thought that’s what I was meant to do and it never felt all that right. At some point or another just clicked with me that after one of the jobs I took in college that was a finance role that it just wasn’t for me, and went down the world of marketing. Around that time I started to build websites on the site just because it was fun, it was interesting, but in a weird way. I used to run a TEDx event, so we would host speakers and things like that. One of the main questions we always got asked from speakers was, hey, do I put this on a website? Do other speakers have websites? What should I recommend? I was like, interesting. There’s a problem, right? The golf ball just got hit in my yard. Somebody’s asking me to build a website for’em. Let’s see what I can make of this. I remember building one website, it was the week of finals in college. I should have been studying and spent nine hours building a speaker a website for free. I used that as a case study to go get four paying websites, and I’ve been off to the races ever since. Obviously the finance role still plays a function in what we do and I’m starting to lean back into it as we’ve gotten larger. But long story short, ever since I was a kid, it was finance. Towards the end of college I realized the love of finance was coming from a larger love of entrepreneurship and understanding how business works, and have leaned into that the last two, three years, and have enjoyed where it’s taken me.

Russel: 5:57 From golf ball burglar to agency owner. When did you actually decide to start your own agency? What did that process look like?

David: 6:03 I’ll start with the LLC name too,’cause it’s a good story. I was a sophomore in college and I wanted to freelance, and my dad, he was a police officer, so we had to play by the rules. He got an LLC and registered it as Pneuma, which is where the name comes from. Pneuma in Greek means spirit. He was reading the Bible and found that in the margin and was like, it sounds like a good LLC name to me, and quite frankly, I agree with them. We were chatting on this last call and right before this as well, the name sticks out like a sore thumb in a good way. A lot of our competitors, and I use this example all the time, there’s a company down in Denver called Denver Web Success. They do exactly what we do. That’s boring, in my opinion. Right now it’s recognizable. People know what you do, but Pneuma raises some eyebrows and gets you interested. That’s where the name comes from and at least what it means. We’ve stuck with it ever since sophomore year into junior year. I did a lot of freelancing, just what I could come up with. I think one year I made a whopping seven grand and thought I was living the very lavish life, to be honest. Senior year it started to heat up. Heat up in the sense of, I didn’t mean for it to heat up, but we were doing websites at that point. I was probably taking on one or two a quarter, but we were also managing social accounts and I was in a fraternity and college, and I still chuckle at this because that was probably the most well run business I had. For those two, three websites I was building a quarter and some of the social accounts I was managing. It wasn’t David doing it, it was the guy that lives across the hall, the guy that lives down the hall. The freshman that just moved in. I was the employer of the fraternity, which was hysterical. At any given time I had three or four people in the fraternity doing little side projects for me and working for me. At some point or another I was able to do a lot of the selling and the talking, and at that point I didn’t know it, but networking with alumni, talking to people, started getting me deals. I was meeting somebody at a football game, hey, I heard you do websites. Can you do mine? I got a $3,000 budget, at that time sounded like a hundred thousand, you should do it. I was like, yeah, sign me up, man. It grew. I was locked in. At this point, Covid was happening too. I wasn’t quite sure if I was gonna have a job, what the whole starting a business looked like. I took a job. The same month I took a job was the first month that I made 10 grand a month in the business. It’s our first five figure month, and I was like that’s an interesting sign. I was like, just when I took the job, this started to eclipse and get better. While I loved that job I took outta college, whenever I graduated, it didn’t last very long. I was there about six or seven months. In that timeframe, Pneuma started to ramp up and it was less about who can I hire in the fraternity and more of, who’s actually good at this role that I can hire and build a team around? We quickly went from 10 to 20 to 30 to 40,000 a month. The month that I left my job and quit, we brought in 42,000 cash collected with about a team of three to four. Was moonlighting it on the side, but it was one of those things always I knew that I wanted to start a business. I didn’t know when, didn’t know where, didn’t know what, quite frankly, but it was one of those things that I stumbled into. I was just focused on building good websites, running social accounts, being clear and concise with client communication, keeping them up to date, but also being fair on the work that we’re doing and making sure it was valuable for people. Word got around pretty quickly, not even by me asking for it, that set us up for success on the client acquisition side. We decided to ride the wave and keep it going. As of, I believe February of this year, I’ve been two full years in the business that I’ve been working full-time.

Russel: 9:03 What a ride. I feel like the writing was already on the wall, that you were gonna end up doing something entrepreneurial long before you ended up there. Which will make a question that’ll come up later interesting. What’s been most successful for you in terms of getting new clients and how has that evolved from when you first started to where you’re at today?

David: 9:19 I’ll put it this way, where we first started to where we’re at today, there’s a referral percentage that we look at, right? I think it’s somewhere in the realm of 20 to 30 percent of clients that we have will refer us multiple times. As we’ve added more clients to the business, that ratio has pretty much stayed the same. An underlying driver of the benefit of doing good work and having good clients is that you’re gonna get referred. It’s a huge benefit of what we do, and it’s been a very nice, steady stream. What I would say is that, when we started to add to that and to get even more leads, even more clients, all we did was cold outbound. We were sending four to 5,000 emails a month, and this was in the good old days of LinkedIn, they didn’t have quotas about what you could and couldn’t do. Now granted, I would never run the strategy again and probably wouldn’t recommend it to the extent that I did. I was spamming anyone and everyone that fit my criteria on LinkedIn, blowing people up, trying to get something and magically it worked. We were going from pretty much no booked appointments other than just referrals and inbounds, to 15 to 20 booked appointments in like month one, two, or three of actually running the business. We scaled that up quick. But what I would say is that referrals have always been there, and I think that is the result of doing good work and having good customers and having good communication and good experience. More or less, the input of that is just customer experience. One thing that we’ve always invested in is overdoing the customer communication, overdoing the reporting and making sure people have good experience because it’s a marketing expense if you think about it in a full sense. Ever since then, if you look at it on a scale, we were cold, outbound heavy. As we’ve grown, we’ve invested less and less in a cold outbound, and we’ve invested more and more into kind of taking our own medicine, doing SEO, doing content marketing on socials, things like that. Believe this month we’ll actually book in 50 appointments, and while that’s only 30 more from when we started over the course of two years, of those 50, we’ll have a higher close rate. Of those 50, 35 of them we didn’t work for in the sense of we didn’t actually put time to lead. It was more, we just posted content. We’ve built a brand. People know who we are, people talk about us, people are searching for us, whether it’s the non-branded or the branded search on Google. All of those doors have opened up. I would say that’s how it’s changed over the course of time. The secret to it, and it’s not much of a secret, is we’ve grown very slowly. I say that, we’ve grown quick, but it’s been a very consistent growth month over month because we’re making sure that as long as customer experience is high and our product is very top notch for the prices that we’re charging, it should be fairly easy to get referrals, build partnerships, and grow the business that way on top of everything else that we’re doing. So far it’s been true.

Russel: 11:38 One of the things that I find interesting you mentioned there, there’s the notion across a lot of agencies, the painter’s house is never painted. The cobbler’s kid has no shoes. A lot of agencies kinda struggle to find time to make them their own client. However, I’d say SEO companies are often the exception to that. I was just curious, did you have to work hard to make yourself your own client and focus on your own efforts? What did that look like for you guys?

David: 12:00 We put it on the back burner for close to a year and a half. I would put it this way: I think it is funny that agencies a lot of times struggle, like you say, to make themselves their own clients because you’re always so caught up in the the work of actually doing the client work. Keeping clients happy and actually doing that stuff. For us, I think the unique benefit was I don’t come from a marketing background. I come from a finance and I’d say business management consultant background. I wasn’t the SEO pro, I wasn’t the web pro, which provided me with a benefit in that regard. I couldn’t work on client accounts because I literally couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do most of the time I do now, but early days, I was trusting the team to go out and knock it out. Gave me an opportunity to always sit on top of the business, not out of choice, but outta the fact, I just didn’t have the knowledge to go and get involved. That being said, it gave me a lot of time to go learn about what we were actually doing from a true strategic standpoint. I used Pneuma as the battleground and the test ground for a lot of the ideas that I had about how to implement, whether it was programmatic SEO, whether it was, hey, this whole AI content, how does that play into things? LinkedIn strategy, Twitter strategy, Facebook strategy, all of that stuff. Gave me a good opportunity to run that route and actually treat Pneuma as my own client, I would say. But even then, put it off for a lot longer than we should have, which if anything means we probably should have listened to our sales process more.

Russel: 13:10 It’s certainly common, but it sounds like you’ve had a lot of success. I share a lot of commonplace in the fact that I couldn’t do the business either. I think that was maybe a little hurtful in the early days, but once we were up and running it, I think it helped a lot more’cause you have to build the systems. You have to build the process. Sound like you’re going down the path too, mentioning, and this is I think why it’s good for marketing agencies to focus on their own stuff is, you can experiment and find new ways. Always liken it to, you’re willing to throw your baby a little higher than you are your neighbors because you’re gonna push boundaries more than you maybe will with clients. Has that been the case for you and in terms of helping to learn and build new strategies that you can then take to client work?

David: 13:44 It has. I’d say the other thing as well, being the finance, management consultant background, ultimately I look at things a little bit different. But I also know what our clients are looking for. I remember being a management consultant and chatting with the team all the way up to the boss, the person who’s gonna be making the decisions. You quickly realize in a lot of companies, individuals struggle to coordinate and relay what they’re doing at ground level and how it engages with the top of the line metrics that the business are going after. A lot of the times in our strategy, even from when we started, we’ve hired good team members in the strategy and the process and I’d say the true product of SEO at even web, it’s changed, but the core of it’s stayed the same. What’s ultimately changed is how we message, position it and communicate it. The little snippets that we do when we do our weekly reports, we’re not just throwing traffic numbers out. We’re throwing estimated revenue from lead volume because that marketing person’s gonna screenshot and send it to the person that signed the contract and keep them at bay, which helps us keep them longer as well. It’s interesting, but I’ve, this was even before we did SEO’cause at some point we were just doing web, we used to use a white labeled vendor for SEO just to fulfill a few projects here or there before we actually did it as a company. They never reported on lead completions goals, anything like that. It was just traffic and metrics. To me, it always felt funky that wasn’t the norm. I quickly learned for a lot of people in the SEO space, they might know that revenue’s important, they love talking traffic metrics, keyword rankings, and all of that, and they forget the final stage. I’d say a lot of it, coming from that background but not necessarily being involved in the culture of SEO day to day, has given me a big opportunity to sit back and say, okay, if I was a client and this was being run on my company or my brand, would I be pleased with the way this is going, would I understand the importance of it? Would I understand the value of it? That’s opened up a lot of doors for us to improve our product as well.

Russel: 15:16 Awesome. And did you say two years is roughly since you’ve been doing the business full-time? Is that what you said?

David: 15:21 A little over. It was February 1st, 2021, not 2020. Just over two years.

Russel: 15:27 As you caught earlier, pretty successful growth story in a relatively short amount of time. If we only benchmark against what a lot of other companies are doing, what’s it been like to build and grow a team from nothing or just yourself to 20 people in such a real time.

David: 15:40 Yeah, chaos. That would be the first word that comes to mind, but coordinated or controlled chaos. I’d say one of the hardest things, man, is when we solve a problem, it feels like another one pops up, but not out of our doing, we’re just growing the company. The analogy I hear a lot of people say is that it’s like building a plane while flying it. There’s no stopping. There’s a lot of times that I’m like, man, I wish I could just have a pause button on life and give me a day to catch up and fix all this stuff. But I know equally if I take that day and fix everything, the next day something new is gonna come down the pipe. It’s been tough in a lot of ways to be both proactive and reactive because a lot of our world right now has to be reactive based on how quickly we’re growing and how many clients we have. We’re starting to turn the table to be a little bit more proactive and slowing down to the right areas to speed up in others. It’s been tough. I would say this is my first real, I’d say, successful business. Knowing of what I know now, I don’t know if I would’ve been enthused to start the business, but it was one of those things, it’s like the first timers gift. You don’t know what you’re getting into and you don’t know what to expect. You just keep showing up and keep working, and at some point or another you’ll get to a happy ending and you’ll get to your destination. I think if I were to do it all over again, hopefully I could do it quicker, but I think I’d have a much better understanding of what moved the needle and what didn’t. While we were bootstrapped, while we were lean, while I typically overanalyze most things to begin with, there are a lot of wrong moves that we made that I think would’ve sped up the process as well. Long story short, it’s been a quick growth trajectory. It’s something that a lot of the members on our team have never experienced, but I think that’s equally an advantage for us. What we don’t know isn’t necessarily going to steal our brain space away and make us nervous about what’s to come. We have a very good team of people that are true problem solvers. Having a team that’s built like that is very beneficial for an environment that we have of fast moving, solve problems, build better systems, build better products and then rinse and repeat after. It’s been tough, but I think it’s equally rewarding because again, we’re bootstrapped, and this isn’t to say that companies that aren’t bootstrapped just throw money down the drain, but to the other side, our moves have to be very succinct and very pointed and very specific. We don’t have the money in the runway just to happy go lucky, throw some experiments at the wall and see what happens. It’s cool whenever somebody on the team has an idea. The idea gets approved. We do it. We see the benefit. That gets everybody excited to go find the next idea that’s gonna benefit the business as well.

Russel: 17:42 I always did find that in the agency world is, once we grew, to see all the things that were in place that I had nothing to do with. Even ideas that started with a little spark that blew up into what huge things within the company or whatever. That was always exciting, it sounds like it’s been in your case. The hardest part about an agency business is 80 to 90 percent of your cost is your team. If you can boil it down to one tip when it comes to either hiring or growing that team, what would that be?

David: 18:05 I don’t know how to boil it down to be perfectly worded, but people who can think, and that isn’t meant to be said crudely or in a mean way. We didn’t struggle to hire, but it definitely was something that we’ve gotten better at. There are a lot of people in the world who can do tasks if you can provide them with A, B, and C. They can get A, B, and C done, but can never re-articulate why A, B, C is being done in the first place. For us, we’ve prioritized hiring what we would call wildcards in pretty much every position we have. Wildcards are the people that just get it done. They are a wild card. You might not be sure how they’re getting it done, you look at the output it’s getting done, they’re getting it done ethically and morally. I’d say that’s the biggest thing, is finding people who can think critically. Now, there are a lot of ways that I’d say to test for that and look for that, probably is a whole other 2, 3, 4 hour podcast, but the one thing that I have said that has always been a nice bottom line denominator. Everybody on our team can communicate very well, and if you jump on a call with them, they can hold your personality or they have a personality to hold your attention. It’s been an odd underlying factor of who we’ve hired, but I found it to be interesting. I won’t be on the first round of interviews. I’m typically on the second or maybe the third round, which would be the final round. I don’t go on there with a big understanding of their resume, and I don’t go on there with a big understanding of what they specifically have expertise in. I go on there and have a conversation. I want you to keep me interested for 30 minutes. Make me enjoy the 30 minute interview that I’m gonna have with you. Every person that we’ve hired that has had a very good conversation with us, friendly, fun, exciting, and can make their role and their impact seem like something that we have to sign up for, that has not steered us wrong at all. My background is the finances, management consulting, but like I mentioned for a short time, I ran that 10x event. I think if anything I do over bias the ability for someone to be able to aptly communicate and speak in front of people and hold attention. I think it’s a talent that’s underutilized and a lot of people don’t have today because, what we were talking about, TikTok, that’s six seconds here or there, maybe 10 if you’re lucky. Maybe 15. I don’t exactly know how long the videos are, but to hold someone’s attention for 30 minutes is a talent. It means that you know what you’re talking about, means that you can read body language well, and it also means that you can understand pains and learn how to articulate your values against it. That’s one of the things that I’ve definitely overemphasized for, that if you have natural public speaking ability, you can get up in front of a room full of people on Zoom, hold my attention, hold everybody’s attention, and make us excited for the work that you can provide, it’s a pretty good sign you’ll do well in the role as well, and that you can think on your feet. It’s an interesting thing to call out, but it’s one thing that we’ve noticed this last round of hiring, everybody we hired I would put up on a stage to go do public speaking, quite frankly.

Russel: 20:21 I’m just picturing, I know this is probably not how it goes down, but you just open up Zoom and you sit there and cross your arms and don’t even say a word and what do they do in that situation? Do they just naturally carry the conversation and bring it? I imagine it’s not quite how it goes. What does the long term look like for you? What’s the big picture? We’re on the podcast 10 years from now, what are we talking about? Or are you gonna be on a beach, probably not even on the podcast at all?

David: 20:41 Man, you know what I’d actually say in 10 years, hopefully I’m doing a lot more of this stuff and hopefully nowhere near beach. Me and beaches don’t get along. We used to live on one growing up.

Russel: 20:50 I guess you are in Colorado. You’ve chosen the mountain life.

David: 20:53 I’ve chosen the mountain life and this is funny, I use this analogy all the time. There are two types of people that vacation. There are people that go to a beach and there are people that go to the mountains. One’s a very passive relaxation, one’s a very active. I’m the active one. I’ll go vacation to a mountain and try and hike a 14,000 foot mountain in record breaking time because I don’t know why, but God wired me for that to be relaxing. I say all that, my next goal, and as you can hear coming up in finance, I talk about money a lot, but I think it’s a trait that’s been very valuable to have open conversations, even on podcasts and things like this are just about money. You and I have both run businesses. What’s the one underlying factor between every business out there? It’s understanding money and being comfortable to talk about it. Saying all that, the number one goal that I’ve had even since graduating college is how quickly can I take money off the table? There’s a term for college endowments that I am now forgetting, but essentially saying they have so much money in their endowment and their pool on the endowment is so little and interest is so high that they’ll actually live forever. Their interest is, let’s say 6%. Their pool’s 3%. They’re netting 3% a year and using it and paying taxes on it, and they’re still positive. They’re making their money every year. I wanna get to a point to where my endowment, whatever that number may be, spins off enough every year for me to cover the basics of my living expenses as long as I can go forward, gives me full creativity to go do whatever I want to do. There’s a good quote by Sylvester Stallone, Rocky. I don’t know if you knew this, but the person who wrote the script wanted Sylvester Stallone to do it, the company that they took it to actually produce it and go live with it didn’t want Sylvester Stallone to do it. They said he wasn’t marketable, wasn’t good enough. They offered him 50 grand, a hundred grand, 150, 200. I think it got up to 300,000. There is a fantastic quote out there that I’m going to butcher, but it’s worth looking up ’cause it’s good. Sylvester Stallone essentially said he was comfortable being poor. Now this is a little bit of a different thing, but, he got to point to where, look, I have such a handle on my finances. I’m gonna be so conservative with my finances to be so chaotic or crazy with my creativity. I’m not gonna worry about what’s back at home because I can control it. That’s gonna give me freedom to go do the craziest, most creative stunt out there. It sticks with me a lot because I wanna get to the point to where I can cover my basis off of what I’ve made from a post-tax income standpoint, to open up the doors to the very next thing out there. Growing up, all the little finance things, I was the weird one. Reading Wall Street Journal at the age of 10. Money is a tool. You can use it for horrible means, you can also use it for great means. I always joke with people, some of my friends don’t love talking about money, I’d put it that way. But they’re very purpose driven or passion driven or vision driven. They wanna go do good in the world. The one thing that’s between you and that good is gonna be money capital tool to actually go do it. I say that hopefully in 10 years, maybe less, maybe longer, whatever God puts in our path, is to get to a point to where money is off the table. To where I can have reckless but controlled chaos. On the creative side, I want to go pursue every idea out there that I have. So yeah, I won’t be on the beach. I probably will be trying to hike a mountain in record time, but wanna get to a point to where that one denominator that can hold people back is taken off the table to where at that point you have freedom to go run with whatever’s interesting.

Russel: 23:42 Awesome. Can’t argue with that. I hope it comes back full circle to something selling golf balls. David golf ball’s business 2.0, or maybe a foundation to helpful youth in America gonna start their own golf ball business. But I like what you said there. My son recently started saying act poor stay rich, on the lines with the Sylvester Stallone aspect. That’s a compelling thought. Control your finances so you can do your best stuff creatively. Start to wrap up here. This is the question I’m excited about, ask everyone on the show. Are entrepreneurs born or are they made?

David: 24:10 I love it. I figured it was going that route. It’s such a good one. Honestly, I’d put it this way, I think they’re born. Doesn’t mean that anybody can’t be an entrepreneur, but I think being born one gives you such a huge advantage. I do think it comes back to the, it’s what gives you energy. For a lot of people solving problems don’t always give them energy. They like doing things. They like feeling productive. Solving big problems or dealing with problems does not get people excited for the select few that are entrepreneurs. It might wear you out, it might take a pull on your energy here and there, but, I get up every day excited to go solve a problem, and I don’t see that in a lot of people that I always connect with. I think that’s a trait that you’re born with that aligns itself very well with being an entrepreneur, because business is a surefire way to bring stress into your life. It also can bring euphoria, the good side of stress, and the excitement of running a business. It’s definitely not easy and I think you have to have that trait born with it to go out and solve problems and be excited and energized to do that.

Russel: 25:02 I always love a good born answer. Thank you for sharing that. I might’ve pegged you for a born answer from the get-go. If people wanna know more about Pneuma, where can they go?

David: 25:09 Our website is Pneuma llc.co, P N E U M A, and equally, I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn, so if you go look for me at David W. Riggs, feel free to shoot me a connection request saying you’re coming from the podcast and would love to connect.

Russel: 25:22 There you have it, folks. So many good takeaways. Congrats on your success thus far. What a great story, David, I appreciate you taking the time to share today and being on the show.

David: 25:30 Thank you for having me, man. I’m excited for this to go live and I had fun sharing the story.

25:37 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 podcast@performancefaction.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.

David: 26:13 If you caught cues, I’m faith-based. Still read the Bible or at least do my best to read the Bible daily, not perfect. I remember I was at my old company. I was gearing up to quit, but I couldn’t quite pull the trigger. I was worried, real worried, sitting at, actually, I think this desk with the same computer set up. It hadn’t changed. I remember sitting here and I’m looking, I have a sales call coming up at 3:00 PM let’s say, and it’s the biggest one we’ve had to date. This is like December of 2020. I ended up quitting February 1st, 2021, two months later, three months later. I remember bartering with God because I felt it on my heart that I should quit. I was scared outta my mind because again, the finance kid in me, money is a big part of starting a business, and it was chaos. December 2020, Covid, everything was chaotic. I remember I was like, all right, God, and praying out loud, if I get on this call and they close today, I’ll quit my job. I’m like, yeah, they’re not closing today. There’s no way they close today. It was a $27,000 scope of work, which was pretty big for us at that time. He signed on the call, and at the end of the call he goes, man, I don’t know what came over me. I’ve never signed a contract on a call. I remember chuckling, I hung up the call, cash collected everything. I just sat there for a good 30 minutes and I was like, if God has never made something more clear in my life I don’t know what it is, because the man even said I don’t normally sign this stuff on calls, but I’m doing it today for some reason. I remember I called my boss, I was gonna put in a two week notice, and she was like, all right you can put in a two week notice. I’m about to put you on a cool six week project with Amazon, do you wanna stay? It’s like, all right, I’ll stay. I stayed for six weeks, then ended up rolling out. That’s the funny story that always comes to mind because looking back, that was the 17th sign in a row that I needed to move on to the business, but it was so funny that was just the one that I was like, there’s no way this guy signs. I’m gonna outsmart God and get my way. No, not even in the slightest, man.

Russel: 28:00 That’s funny. I’ve had several stories in the past that are along those lines. After several ignored signs, they get hit with a two by four of a sign that just says, all right, buddy. Now, or never.