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Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
An AV and integration-focused podcast broadcast live weekly
Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
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Home Automation Unplugged Episode #219: An Industry Q&A with Andrew Pino

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Andrew Pino, Director of Digital Marketing at One Firefly shares more about the importance of genuine humility to be a successful leader.

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Andrew Pino. Recorded live on Wednesday, Wednesday August 3rd, 2022, at 12:30 pm. EST.

About Andrew Pino

In his role as Director of Digital Marketing, Andrew is responsible for the general management of our robust digital marketing team, providing leadership, focus, and support. Andrew has spent the last 20 years equipping creatives with the skills they need to grow professionally and thrive in their careers. Since graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in business management, Andrew has embraced his journey from nonprofit work, to senior leadership in a national media company, and then executive consulting.

He uses his varied experience to propel others forward on their path. When he’s not working, Andrew loves “adventuring” with his wife, two daughters, and two sons. They’ve done everything from renovating a 100-year old inner city home to running a small horse farm in the country, to full-time RVing around the U.S. for nearly two years.

Interview Recap

  • Andrew’s background as a marketer, consultant, entrepreneur
  • The importance of genuine humility to be a successful leader
  • The “why” behind defining your businesses mission, vision, values and leadership guidelines contribute to your success

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #218 An Industry Q&A with Jeff Singer


Ron:  Andrew, how are you, sir?

Andrew: Hey, doing well, Ron. Thanks so much for having me today.

Ron:  I am sorry that the software does not play nice with your virtual background game.

Andrew: Yes, the home set up is nice. It's not as nice as yours, but I definitely live by the virtual background.

Ron:  That is fine. All right, so tell everyone, where are you coming to us from?

Andrew: And I'm happy to say this, this is only about two months in Kalispell, Montana.

Ron:  All right, that sounds like; paint a picture for us, what is Kalispell, Montana like look like?

Andrew: Well, if you were seeing a virtual background, what you would see is my Montana vibes. I'm very lucky. I appreciate the fact that I work in a company that is remote and has been remote since 2015, but we were living in the Boise, Idaho area and just didn't feel like it was home. I don't know if you've ever been in a place or traveled or moved out of maybe your hometown and it doesn't feel like I don't know that we're going to stay, we're not going to put down the roots here. So we had been looking at Montana and we moved up here and the vibes here in the Flathead Valley are; I can look over my computer screen and past a small horse farm across the way, see Glacier National Park and some of the mountains from the Rockies in glaciers. So I feel very spoiled, very lucky. I wouldn't say I'm living in the home that's right up on them, but close enough that the view is there and I will tell you, it's my happy place. It's my happy place; The mountains, the alpine lakes, the trails to get out and hike with our family, etcetera. It's a beautiful spot. It's a beautiful spot.

Ron:  Internally here at One Firefly we use Slack and we have a channel where we post personal or just kind of family pictures or whatnot. It's not a work channel. And you posted pictures. I don't have them here, but you posted pictures just about a week or two ago of your family out enjoying a lake in a spring meadow and it looked frankly like right out of a postcard, a Hallmark movie or something. It looked amazing. And you have a beautiful family, so it was really nice.

Andrew: Thanks. Yeah, it's been a wonderful transition. We moved up here in the beginning of June and are loving where we are. When you get into these mountain valleys, a lot of these places are much smaller towns than we're used to. I'm an East Coaster originally and there's the Hustle and bustle and the drive and sort of stay out of my way, I'm focused on me. Then you get into these environments where they're much smaller and it is great sense of community, great involvement into the arts and into outdoors. Outdoors isn't just like a thing you do. It's a lifestyle choice out here. So definitely have enjoyed our time so far.

Ron:  I'm seeing a lot of One Fireflies are tuned in. So I see Maria and Vanessa Banks. Vanessa Banks gave us a "woot woot" and Wes is welcoming you to Automation Unplugged because Wes is a veteran of Automation Unplugged and Tina says "So glad Andrew is a part of the One Firefly team." So most importantly, family. You did send me a picture in advance so I'm going to share that here on the screen for our folks that are watching the video presentation. Maybe tell us about your family.

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. So what you're seeing there on the screen, my wife of 18 years, we just celebrated 18 years in June is Amy and then we have four beautiful kids. I have two girls and two boys. Leila is my 13 year old and she's the brown haired, the brunette there in that picture. Avery is my eleven year old. Logan is eight and Maddox are wonderful surprise to the Pino family is now six. Any of you parents out there? We thought we were done after Logan and he was about two years old; We had sold car seats and strollers and all the rest and as luck would have it, about a month later we found out we were going to have another baby.

Ron:  That's amazing.

Andrew: A fun journey and it's amazing that I can't imagine our lives without him. But we often joke if he had been our first, he might have been our only. He is full tilt all the time and if any of you have children like that, I'm with you and I feel for you.

Ron:  That's awesome. How is the family digging Kalispell?

Andrew: You know what, it really does feel good. I mentioned earlier we were longtime east coasters, so we have a number of family members obviously still back east. And one of the things that we found in being out here is that there are a number of transplants. There are a lot of folks that are not necessarily native Montanans. So their desire to connect and have community actually helps everyone connect, so we've enjoyed that. Our kids are out playing in the street. We're also in an environment much different than the east coast where I was ever mindful of where my kid was riding their bike, streetwise or you're going to be hit by a car, those kind of things and you do have a little bit more breathing room. I wouldn't say we're in the wild west by any means, but we definitely.

Ron:  You're in the west, maybe it isn't so wild.

Andrew: Yes, exactly. We still have access to a Costco out here. Don't fret for...

Ron:  My judgment of how far in the sticks you are is how far do you have to go to get to your neighborhood at Home Depot.

Andrew: Yeah, that is the beautiful thing of here in Kalispell is that we are actually close under ten minutes to those resources, I will tell you and we can get into more maybe the backstory, but we had a season of life where we lived in Jackson Hall, Wyoming, a beautiful place, one of the most gorgeous places in the lower 48 in my opinion. But if you wanted Walmart or Costco or any box or Target, it was a two hour drive to Idaho Falls. You did not go. We lived and died by prime delivery and Walmart two day, which actually often took five days.

Ron:  Do they have drone delivery for you guys out there?

Andrew: No, out here that would probably be called target practice. I think a lot of people would have fun with the drones flying.

Ron:  The drone would not last very long.

Andrew: Yeah, probably not. This is not Bezo's country of practicing with the drones.

Ron:  Got it. All right. So take us back in time. You have joined our space. You've been in marketing for a long time, but you've joined the AV industry when you joined us. Tell us your backstory, as far back as you're comfortable or willing to go; Middle school, high school, elementary, whatever you want to go to.

Andrew: Yeah, I laugh; One firefly is very methodical intentionally in the interview process. And I joke about one of our initial interviews with folks being sort of a crib to career interview. We're going to be like let's take it all the way back so we can do that here too to a degree. I'll spare you guys all the extra details, but I think there's importance in, you know, when we meet somebody in a certain stage of their journey today, knowing some of the origin story helps speak into kind of who they are and where they are. So maybe back to just some early stuff; I would tell you I grew up in a home that was a little bit chaotic and a little dysfunctional, and so I had to kind of become a man a lot earlier than most folks would want your child to have to do that. So around the age of ten, became sort of the primary guy in the house and helping my dad, he had some physical challenges that came on. So it was a very unique upbringing and I think the fast forward version of that is you kind of have two things that happen in life when you grow up in an environment like that and it's below the poverty line and you're having to care for a parent and all those things is you either choose to feel victimized by that and how could this happen and why did this happen? Or you have a realization of, this just means I got to get after it. Like, if I'm going to succeed in life, if I'm going to achieve things, it's not going to be handed to me. I'm going to have to get after it. I'm going to have to earn those things. I'm grateful in some ways. Obviously, it was hard when you go through that and I look at myself now, being a father of four. I say this expression a lot, Ron, and I know you have a 13 year old as well. I want my ceiling to be my children's floor. I want them to be able to have what I didn't have and I want them to be able to experience things that I didn't experience. But I'm also ever mindful of not raising children that are just entitled to it.

Ron:  That's the balancing act, right? How do you give them more, but then not give them so much? Because you hear stories where you give them so much, they don't know what it is to hustle. They don't know what it is to have to fight for the food on the table.

Andrew: For sure.

Ron:  I can tell you, I think that way. It's like I want to provide for my wife and my son at levels that I was not provided for it and I'm going to say with stuff, stuff's not that important.

Andrew: Sure.

Ron:  But a remote controlled car is cool, or flying a drone around is cool. So it's a balancing act, though, of how do you make sure that they have the right morals and ethics and work ethic to be able to go and ultimately be successful when we're no longer around.

Andrew: Absolutely. Yeah. So I think jumping back into the story, I would say that that obviously shaped me and even going into my high school years. I started working when I was 15, I'm 43 today, so I've been working a long time. Another thing that really played into shaping me; So again, origin story, all throughout high school and into college, I had the opportunity, and I feel very lucky to have done it, to travel internationally quite a bit. I've been to 16 different countries over those years and a few in adulthood where it was sort of service and missional based in terms of like, reaching out into other communities and serving and, man the perspective, the global perspective. I consider myself much more of a global citizen than just a US. Citizen. To experience people and cultures and other dynamics of life and even recognizing when I know what I grew up in and how challenging that was, how much different are other people's experiences.

Ron:  Is there a story that sticks out for you? One of those 16 trips or missions that some particular vision still comes back to you on occasion, and it helps trigger the way you think?

Andrew: From everything, working in orphanages in Brazil to working with the Maasai people in Kenya to time in China. I will tell you, I think it's because of my journey as a child. Anything related to kids definitely tugs at my heartstrings. And definitely even as a teenager and college student, you never really got to me. I won't have my daily talk show moment here. But I would tell you, if I pull it that thread, to use a Ron expression, pull up that thread, I can go there very quickly because I think about when we would go in and do renovations or build playgrounds at orphanages in Sao Paulo, Brazil. That experience was life changing to me and watching those children without parents, with great care coming from the folks that were taking care of them, like how much they cling to us and just spending the time. To your point, earlier you commented about stuff. I think I have been on the journey and I have chased the American dream and the bigger house and the nicer car and all those things.

But I will tell you, especially now, being a father, it's the time, it's the investment in that relationship that is going to pay the dividends in the future. Not, did they have an iPhone when they were ten, not did they do this or take that crazy trip or whatever. In the end, what they're seeking and desiring and seeing it, even in those orphans, was time and investment and heart. You coupled that into normal life of what I grew up in and then even starting to work to realize if I want anything, if I'm going to achieve anything, if I need spending money, I'm going to buy my first crappy car, I'm going to have to get after it and I'm grateful. So even as challenging as some of those things were, I'm very grateful for the perspective it gave me. There's something that I sow into our team here and I have, as I consulted in years past and even in my corporate days and not always gotten it right, but this idea of authentic humility, not the humble brag, not the false humility, but recognizing like, I genuinely don't know it all and I genuinely can't do it all. I think as leaders for any of you watching that are leading teams, that's something that we've got to get in check because I have times in my journey where I started to succeed. So fast forward from those early days of working into I started to work in a non-profit environment and then I worked in the arts for a number of years and doing everything from live production to programming of a cultural arts center. So things from hiring instructors in pottery and photography and dance and all these other things, and putting curriculum together around that to then stepping into a corporate world. I will tell you that as I started to have success, it's so easy for ego and pride to start to creep in. I'm doing so much better than was done before me. I'm the first one in my family as I was to go to college, like to actually have a degree in my back pocket. And if you stopped watching this podcast after this; And you only walked away with one thing.

"Having authentic humility in your leadership and recognizing that people matter, they're not just a metric or a KPI on a spreadsheet, but that relationship and how you invest into people matters and your tone. How that sets an atmosphere for how your organization is going to do."

Man! You could tune away from now. I know Ron would hate that. Don't tune away.

Ron:  Keep watching. We're only 18 minutes in.

Andrew: Just some thoughts. Anyway, I can fully appreciate and part of the thing that drew me to our organization and even this space is having; I'm a musician, singer, musician, have toured in different parts of the world as well as the US. But then recognizing like live production. So I love sound and lighting and video projection and all these other type of dynamics and have worked in those spaces before. So when we start going and talking with vendors or spending time, Ron and I recently were in Southern California together and spending time, I kind of geek out. I enjoy that so much. But I will tell you that as my career progressed. One of the things that I felt very honored in sort of halfway through what I call my 13 year corporate life, was that I was given the opportunity after sort of again being an achiever. Wanting to get after it and often just saying; I think early in your journey it's easy to want more money or a bit better title. You're trying to get that better seat at the table. As you go from your lot of times, you start to get a little more perspective, start bringing in more of the people dynamic again, that humility. You've probably mis-stepped enough times too, that you're learning as much from your mistakes as you are from your wins, that evolution has come to a place where I was very grateful to be asked to start a new division in this larger organization and really create what that was going to look like and how we were going to serve those new audiences. It allowed me to establish sort of a culture within a culture and even core values and mission and vision and creating a career with purpose for people. I will tell you, the tuning fork in me went off. That was the change in my trajectory over the years and candidly, I learned, like I said before, a lot from where I made mistakes and a lot when I had the best of intentions or thought that this was going to work or this type of leadership was going to work. I love every one of those people that went through that with me because it's messy. I think that sometimes leaders get looked at like they should have all the answers, they should know everything and realness here, we don't.

Ron:  The immature leader or the inexperienced leader that maybe leads with that intention that now that they have that title, therefore someone assumes they know, so then they act like they know or any version they're in. I think it's the more mature or just call it beat up or experienced, that the longer you last and I've had people that have known me and professionally for 20 plus years and they're like, Ron, you're so much different than you were ten years ago or 15 years ago. Yeah, life will do that to you.

Andrew: That's right.

Ron:  Now I can clearly say anyone around me, you included, knows that I'm quick to say when I don't know and I need your help. And I've learned the best thing I can do as a leader is put those around me that know far more about the subject than me. That takes a level of humility and just you have to learn that that's a good thing. Some people, by the way, I think we all could point at leaders that never learned that and they think they have to be the smartest person in the room at all times. I would challenge those organizations are limited in what they can achieve.

Andrew: Well, they are and when you're approaching it with arrogance or self centeredness as a leader, I'm speaking to myself here. I'm speaking to my past self in that journey, there is a huge difference between motivating and manipulating. Because of the go get it nature, I was promoted a number of times in early stages of my journey and sometimes my talent might have been there, but my character wasn't. My ability to not use people or not drag people behind me, but instead bring people along with me was not always great. Like I said, I've learned enough through that, living that, and then even experiencing that. Because especially in a publicly traded company, as I was for so many years, it doesn't matter how much; I was running, of all the markets that we were in across the country, I was running the third most profitable in the whole company, a 3000 member company. I say that, that sounds like a humble bragging, that's not my point. That was the team doing that. But what was challenging was recognizing that this was, what have you done for me lately environment. So month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year, you're crushing goals, but it's sort of like, okay, well, you're going to do it again, right? And how you going to do it again and all those things. So it would be easy to slip into a focus on the metrics or I'm not going to get my bonus if I don't do this and motivate or manipulate the team to do X, Y and Z. There were seasons where that was very challenging to navigate, especially as a younger leader on how to do that and I'm sure some of you are watching and you're in an environment, maybe it's not publicly traded, but you've got goals or you've got a CEO or an owner who's pushing and driving and that's okay. It's their prerogative, they're allowed to do that. But recognizing how do I get there in a way that I'm bringing the team along with me, how am I motivating and creating a culture in an atmosphere that facilitates team members thriving and them feeling? Again, I said this earlier, a career with purpose versus just a job. I think it was through that season and then even these last four or five years pre One Firefly of consulting. We had an interesting and fun journey. I'll share this with you guys just from a backstory standpoint. I have this career trajectory happening and these things going on and we had gone on the side, Amy and I were those maybe it was too much HGTV or DIY network, I don't know. But we were also flipping some houses along the way in our journey. So we have always been very busy and then we just brought kids along into the mix and that just got even crazier all the way from doing an inner city home that was 100 years old up to a 16 acre small horse farm that we had in that journey. So when I transitioned out of corporate life into a consulting world, we looked at that as a pivotal point in our journey and sort of looked at life as a, well, if we were ever going to do X, Y and Z, now's the time. So we put this in the middle of January in Virginia. I know you're familiar with Virginia Ron. Unlike where I live now in Montana, where people get snow all the time and they're familiar with it. If there's snow on the ground in Virginia, I'm talking a half inch, grocery stores are cleared out.

Ron:  Oh, yeah.

Andrew: Everything's shut down.

Ron:  Everyone forgets all driving skills altogether.

Andrew: So we looked at that season of life and we said, if we were going to explore some other things, let's do that now. So we put our farm that we had lived in for several years and done so much renovation work.

Ron:  The farm was in Virginia?

Andrew: This was in Virginia, yeah.

Ron:  What city?

Andrew: Outside of Richmond it was in Powhatan, Virginia. So I was commuting to the city every day about an hour, but it was for the lifestyle. We had four kids at that point. We wanted to create that environment. We were involved in our community and had a lot of people over. We've always had that sort of hospitality dynamic. So we were the house you'd come and have at the farm, we could have 100 people over. They can come out and big barbecues and live music and all that kind of fun stuff. And it was great environment. But we took that opportunity to say, well, what if we stepped out? What if we got out of our comfort zone of being here in Virginia and doing this thing? Is there any place else or anything else we feel called to or want to do? And so we put our house, a farm up for sale, thinking, this is January in Virginia. Nobody's going to move, nobody's going to buy. Right now we'll have some time. As it turns out, the house sold in five days, the farm sold in five days. As you can imagine, if your brain is like me, even you can feel me and say, oh, God, what did you do? How did you get the logistics together in 30 days to be out of a house like that and four kids in tow? It was a little nuts. We had just bought a Class C motorhome, so any RVs out there hit us up in the Chat. I cannot tell you how much fun that was with our family, but we decided to, basically it was crazy. Two people bid each other up over the home. So we had a unique opportunity in life that many don't get. So again, I feel grateful that not to be religious, but took a sabbatical, took a break and didn't have to worry about anything sort of in between corporate life and consulting.

So we set out for what we thought was going to be we packed everything up in a ten x 30 condition storage space, and we set out on what we thought was going to be maybe a five or six week trip, which is, again, most people don't get to do those kind of trips in their life. So we felt very lucky to do that. We set out, and we ended up turning that five or six weeks initially into six months; We were all over the country. So here we are, we're road schooling our kids. They're learning about Lewis and Clark on the trail. They're going through national parks. We're just enjoying I had had a team in Richmond, Virginia. I had a team in Dallas, Texas, and I was one week a month in Dallas. I was traveling to conferences. I was doing things with other clients. And honestly, my family, there was a window of time there where my family was getting my leftovers, and I was not okay with that. They were getting the end of me energy wise and mental engagement. And, man, what an amazing season that was for us. Not always the most financially sound to be traveling, and let's stay at this RV resort and let's do this thing, but I would not trade that for anything. It changed something in our family, and it allowed me and it also gave me some perspective in who I am. Again, talk about those origin story items, talk about where I was in my journey after 13 years in a large corporation. It started to shift some things in my mindset where I had consulted here and there with friends or other businesses that kind of knew me or we interacted in some other way, what had been a side hustle or just a fun thing to do from time to time, Amy and I really started to talk about, like, what if this could be the next thing? What if that's what you're going to do? So, long story short, we turn that six months into, I picked up a larger client in Virginia. We came back, saw some family we hadn't seen, and got them running and retooling in that relationship, and then we set out on the road. We ended up total being out on the road, traveling our great country for almost two years.

Ron:  Wow!

Andrew: It was just an amazing season. The six months was sort of vacation mode, and so you can't do that forever. As we all know, there are limitations to that happening. But we turned it into we would create a place where I could work remotely. I'd started building up a book of business of clients that I was working with, everything from sales and marketing best practices to websites, to social media, to honestly, even coaching, just leadership coaching and helping with their team and how to cultivate a culture that they're really wanting but maybe weren't having success executing. So we would go somewhere, and you could stay, I don't know the economics of RV parks, but somehow you could stay for a month. Wes was on the channel. He can tell you this.

Ron:  Wes just did this.

Andrew: Yes, but you can stay somewhere for a month with your RV and. It'd be cheaper than staying for a week. It just doesn't make any logical sense. But for whatever reason, we would make these base camps and then plan out our travel. So I could work from, let's say, seven to three on any given day and then where are we going hiking? Where are we going swimming? What national park are we going to? What do we want to go do? It was just a wonderful time. It was not always easy. When it rains and you have six people in a 32 foot motor home, that is not fun. One day is fine. The back to back days, you are about ready to trade in the RV.

Ron:  Yeah, I imagine so.

Andrew: Anyway, it was a wonderful time. It was a wonderful time.

Ron:  So bring us from that consulting life to One Firefly.

Andrew: You know, I reached another place in my journey where there's all the beauty and any of you entrepreneurs on the call can attest to this. There's a wonderful sense of control and drive when you are the sole breadwinner, when you're the one creating the apps and you're the one executing the services and networking with maybe freelancers or other folks that you're utilizing contractually to help execute different services. But on the flip side, you're constantly going. And I found myself again laptop always on my lap, phone always in my hand, and very easily giving my family the end of me again. It was one of those where I don't want that to be my experience, regardless of your background, beliefs, anything else. I feel like I got one shot at this with my kids and I feel like I got one shot at this with my wife and I want to make sure that they get the best of me, not the end of me. That was a hard thing to come to because I did like the freedom and I did like the ability to do this, that and the other, but it came with the cost and I wasn't willing to continue down that path if it was going to cost my family, if it was going to cost our relationships. It's not worth it because in the end, those relationships and the people are what are going to matter. I'm not going to get to the end of this journey and be like, gosh, I wish I had been in that extra meeting. I wish I had done that extra thing. I wish I had sold that extra whatever, I'm going to be like; I wish I had given my son that attention he desired. I wish I had done this with my wife. I wish we had done more date nights. I wish we had done and that's not always easy to execute. We do have to work hard and I definitely feel drawn to provide and not only for my family, but for my team. I'm going to give my best. I'm going to pour myself into whatever I'm doing because I recognize it's not just handed to you, it's performance that leads to promotion. So started looking around and poking around on Indeed and LinkedIn and kind of always keep your feelers out when you're in consulting mode of opportunities. And saw this organization, One Firefly, and was like, all right, what is this? Interesting name, what is this? So it was really interesting to hear what the role was as Director of Digital Marketing. But then as I started to meet team members like you and Taylor and Tina and others to hear what the need was. I felt like at my stage of the journey. Now I could bring my experience and my perspective and even my leadership style into an environment that was going to be healthy enough for me and supportive enough for me. But that I would be very additive to. So I don't say that with a lack of humility. I just felt like, okay, their desire and my skill sets align where hopefully two plus two equals five or six, not just four. That opportunity. Obviously, meeting you guys, a bunch of characters, and we do have a lot of fun and we work hard, play hard, and I know that's just a cliché, but the truth is we do and it's been unbelievable. I think we're coming up on eight months that I've been here with you guys, so it's been nothing but fun.

Ron:  I'm going to put up on the screen here so for our folks that are watching, they will be able to see this and those that are listening maybe will read through it. But one of the things that we as a company had started working on... Back up, like, I founded the company in 2007 and only in 2019, a lot of time happened between 7 and 19 did I realize, and my team realized, my leadership team, that there was potentially a better version of us. It was out there in the future. It was a twinkle of what was possible. One of those things that became clear to us is we needed to define these business things that I would make fun of in my early career. This mission, vision, values, these things that seem foreign and nebulous. Around 2019, it became very clear that we were a good company, but we weren't great. If we were to become great, some things needed to change. One of those things was we needed to define why we existed. Why were we here? Why would people that we serve want to work with us? Why would people that would join us want to join us? And that led to the creation of our purpose statement to help people feel proud, prosperous and connected. Our mission is pretty clear. Anyone that knows One Firefly know we are here to design and execute solutions to help technology businesses grow and then we define our core values, own it, find a way, grow together, bring good vibes, speak up. These were not aspirational values, but rather these were the demonstrated values of the best members of One Firefly and that therefore, that is who and what we are. So we at least had, when you joined us, this existed. I'd love for you to speak as someone that could have gone 100 different directions in terms of where you were going to go with your career, but you ultimately chose us. And what role did us at least having this defined; How did that speak to you?

Andrew: There are two things, as I started to when you move beyond a job posting in evaluation of an organization that matter, one of which is your website. So I just want to put that out there. Not because we're a marketing agency and we can do great websites for you, but you've got people who are looking at you, you got clients that are looking at you, you got potential team members that are looking at you, and your website matters and displaying not only what you do, but who you are is incredibly important. Coming to One Firefly, two things struck me immediately. One was the Inc 5000. The fact that this team had decided, we're going to be aggressive and we're going to get after it, and we're going to work hard and we're going to win. Coming from the publicly traded environment, I saw the downsides of that sometimes, but I recognized and desire to be in a group of people that wanted to achieve great things. I think that definitely influenced, okay, there's something unique about this organization. There's something going on here and there. Clearly, year after year, figuring this out. In the last six, seven years, the growth has been in particular last six, seven years, exponential. But then coupling that with and this is where it puts checks and balances in the publicly traded environment of what's the heart and the vision of the organization. So having these core values out there and seeing like, if you go to our website, or as Ron has on the screen, defining those more than just, oh, those are cute two or three word phrases, but what does that mean? Then obviously, as I started to talk to you and to Tina and to Taylor, and Taylor our CFO, hearing the heart behind it and the why behind why do we grow this way and why are we doing what we're doing, why are we passionate about this? Those were instrumental in me feeling like, okay, this is a place especially when you think about coming out of being a business owner or doing consulting. I'm taking all my chips. If this were a poker game and I'm putting them on One Firefly, I'm saying I'm going to trade that in because I feel like this is the organization that one, I can speak into, it's going to sell into me, and it's going to sharpen me and continue to call me up. So, yeah, I think those things combined, both the performance but also the heart and the vision behind it, were hugely instrumental in me choosing here.

Ron:  What is your day to day at One Firefly look like? What's the job that you do? What do you do?

Andrew: What was the job description? Or what am I doing?

Ron:  Let's speak truth. What do you do? What does normal day look like?

Andrew: That will evolve over time, I think anything does. I came into the organization. And while I will say that so much was working and wins were being put on the board and things like core values and North Star and mission statements were established. In any organization that's growing especially exponentially. There are dysfunctions, there are breakdowns. There are processes and platforms that have to evolve over the years. But there's people and mindsets that have to as well. I think coming in, when I did at least, recognizing, I think there was a sort of a role for the sake of a job posting, that's always important. I think you should define that for anybody, any of you business owners out there or HR folks out there, make sure that you've defined it. Let them know what they're signing up for. But recognizing, especially in leadership seats, that there's usually many non-spoken things that are going to happen or that they're going to be stepping into, and there's a reason why you're hiring, by the way. Sometimes it's out of growth, sometimes it's out of attrition, sometimes it's whatever. There are different reasons to plan to it. So recognizing that, you've got to come in and evaluate the I think the consultant helped me a lot, and Ron can attest to there's probably times I was wearing the wrong hat, I was wearing my consulting hat and not my director of digital marketing hat. But what I appreciate about Ron and Taylor especially, is the latitude to be me, to bring my thoughts and skill sets in. There one of our core values being speak up and grow together. We've got that opportunity to express those things. So we've had frictional conversations, healthy conflict, as we call it around here, at One Firefly along the way. And I even have joked maybe there was a little extra shine on where we were. Maybe there was a little bit like, this will be great. My day to day, I oversee the teams that do everything from production, like content and social and SEM and SEO, to account management, so that client experience and our production and project management teams all within digital marketing for our organization. As Ron said earlier, of our team of 70 plus people, that's probably close to about 40 of the people are tied into that world. So it's a wonderful mix of things for me, I think because of my passion for people.

This role has evolved into something probably different than you thought it was going to be, and even maybe what I thought it was going to be. So my day to day a lot is how can I propel people and projects forward and hopefully both at the same time. But I have spent a lot of time, I've appreciated an environment, and any of you business owners out there, please hear me. Allowing me to come in and build trust and establish relationship with people before we start pulling all the levers and moving all the things was instrumental in this being as successful as we're seeing it go now and again. That's not credit to me. That's credit to everyone involved that I hear constantly around our organization. Man, I feel better about One Firefly than I've felt in a long time. And not that there was anything specifically wrong, although we've had our challenges, but the momentum is building. I think that's because I was allowed to come into a situation that had its challenges and had its quirks and had its personnel items and its platform items and walk that out. I talk a lot about crawl, walk, run. We can't just jump to running. Some people are still in the crawl phase, or some platforms are still in the crawl phase, or some products and services are still in the crawl phase, and evolving them in a tactical and strategic way allows you to actually see that business scale. I joke all the time, and when I was consulting, I did. Some of these folks have great success, but it's like strapping the wings on the plane while it's in the air. You're just trying to figure it out as you go. One thing I wanted to throw to you and give you credit for, Ron, maybe you have some thoughts to even share in light of this conversation is you don't have all the answers, and it's challenging beyond what normal entrepreneurship is coming out of a season like the pandemic, coming out of the craziness that we're in now, economically and otherwise. There's a lot of times where even the CEO or the owner is sitting there saying, I'm not sure what we're going to do here. Any thoughts or experience for you as we kind of crafted teeing up into what we've now developed in our leaders, but maybe a little bit of that backstory would be good for folks to hear.

Ron:  Yeah, for sure. I think everyone listening knows that when we entered the pandemic, all of us business owners, there was at least at minimum, a glimpse of terror where we thought that all that we had built was about to evaporate because the zombie apocalypse was upon us and it was now about battening down the hatches and surviving. So there was a phase, we'll call it a season, where we went as far as cutting leadership salaries, preparing our team that might be coming for them. We were going to try to do that before we lay people off like just starting to design the triage system that if the world starts crumbling here's what we're going to have to do to try to survive. There's no doubt it was some of the most terrifying anxiety driven months and quarters of my professional career but you talk about seasons so we all went through that fortunately and we are very blessed, we are very lucky. Nothing more than a random roll of the dice as far as I'm concerned that our industry, specifically the residential integration space just so happened to do really well during the pandemic. I say that fully mindfully that so many others suffered in other industries and other spaces families, family members, friends, people we know in our life have been really had a thoroughly negatively impacted by the pandemic but in residential integration we did pretty well. Commercial integration they got pummeled a bit but they're coming out of it. So what happened in towards the end of I'll call it the spring of 21 call that a year into the pandemic we were thinking maybe we're going to be coming out of this thing and at the same time I started to look around this business One Firefly and acknowledge that I wanted some things to be different. I had built this company with the folks to my right and my left. My leadership team and every member of the team has a role in building what we've built. We're people driven company but some things did not rest well with who I was. My person, my heart, my soul, my mind, my desire for excellence, my desire to deliver at all times the best, my ability at the highest level.

I looked around the business and some things we were doing were only average and that ripped at me in ways that some can't understand but it tore at me and so I decided that was no longer going to be acceptable and so that meant that I needed to know what was possible and a lot of times as business owners or as anyone personally or professionally we're limited by our own beliefs. We're limited by our own experiences. There's a set of goggles we're wearing and it's our lens in terms of how we see the world. So last summer, the summer of 21, I hired a consultant that had no problem telling you how he saw the world. Sometimes did not put on kit gloves to do so, but I can say as an organization a lot of what he pointed out made us a dramatically different, better company and part of that change was a change in leadership within digital marketing. Part of that change was identifying what we needed and what we'd wanted, what I desired in the leadership and really the mentality of people centric approach but towards excellence, right? So you can have both. It's not one or the other. It's not all people and you have to accept average. You can take care of your people because our customers are people. That's people to people, our team are people, right? This is understanding. It's a human on the other side of that interaction. It's not a task or a block of time that's being scheduled or a deliverable that's being scheduled. It's people that have some personal desire. Personal desire maybe for our customers to improve the way they're recognized in their marketplace or to have growth or prosperity in some way that they would define it. Or it's people on our team that have desire for career growth, desire for personal fulfillment, desire for feeling they're needed and wanted and delivering value. I just thought we could do better. So last summer, we started on this journey. Frankly, you finding us and us finding you was part of that journey. We're still on that journey. We haven't reached the end within, Simon Sinek, he has a book I read in the last year or so called Infinite Game. Business is not a win or lose proposition, business is an infinite game. You're always striving, but there's no finish point. So in other words, if you design it so that if you only plan on 100 yard sprint, well, at the end of that 100 yard sprint, you're going to be worn out and you're going to stop, well, guess what? The race keeps going. It's not a hundred yards. So designing and restructuring people processes in the organization, it's hard, but necessary.

Andrew: Absolutely.

Ron:  You believed some of those things and that's how we ended up ultimately inviting you to join the team; And you said, I accept, this is the thing I want to be a part of and I think I can contribute. And here we are. But I want to point out the concept of mindful of time. But I want to tee this up because I think it's so valuable for those that are listening, because we've been growing so fast. We've been growing about 30% year over year. This will be our 6th or 7th year in a row doing that. That means that we love to promote from within. Doesn't mean we do. So I'll just say it's really in parallel. We love to promote from within whenever we can. We like to grow our people and move them into positions of leadership. But we were also failing at that in many ways, one of which was we were moving them into new job titles, but we weren't actually giving them the instruction manual or the training of what does it now mean to be a leader. When you joined us, you also picked up on this pretty quickly. So I'm going to bounce it back to you. What were you observing in terms of the concept of leadership and how we were maybe taking care of our people and what you advised or what you interpreted we probably could or should be doing?

Andrew: When you're sort of resetting, you shared. And I appreciate the transparency to share kind of what you were processing through in your own business. Remembering this isn't a board run or a shareholder run business. This is an owner and their family who is sowing into creating this environment. I appreciate you sharing where it was frustrating and challenging or maybe not in alignment with what you were wanting; And that should matter.

Ron:  It took me a while to realize that, by the way, I forgot my place in that it should matter. And in fact, this is whether it's good or bad is within my vision. So I passed blame to no one. No one in the organization allowed that to happen other than me. So the change I'm also going to own and I'm going to now make it really clear what we stand for, where we're going, and I'm going to align myself with people around me that are on board with that want to go build something amazing.

Andrew: So we threw around this word earlier some dysfunction. I think one of the things I never want to, I may have even said this earlier, the idea of bringing people along with you, not dragging them along behind you, it does matter. I also say this phrase, my team has heard me say this many times. Don't tear down a fence until you know why it was put up. So there's a reason why a process is a certain way. There's a reason why this client is handled this way or there's a reason why this SOP in our organization is executed this way. So you can't just come in as a new leader or maybe you've been promoted into a spot and just start changing things. You have to recognize and evaluate current state. We say that a lot; Current state, future state. One of the ways that we felt we could get a better understanding of where team was, where the dysfunctions lied were, or lay, English major over here. No, I wasn't; Was maybe utilizing something that a lot of you may use in your companies is a book club. So we decided to take our leadership sort of our leaders of teams and our executive leadership team through a book called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I cannot say to you too highly, Patrick Lencioni does an excellent job of laying out these five dysfunctions. This is real quickly and Ron's got a little shot of the book there, the Five Dysfunctions.

This is regardless of industry, no matter the size of your business, I guarantee there's some layer of these different things to be honing in your organization. But absence of trust and they kind of build it in a pyramid style. So as I'm saying, these it's like sort of the baseline and then where it goes from there. So, absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. So I'll speak specifically to digital marketing. I know that as I came into the organization, all five of these were present. Candidly, as we started going through a book club process together, we didn't start that book club. Remember what I said earlier about having that bandwidth and that ramp to build trust, to start building relationships, to getting to know people, them getting to know me, then getting into these kind of conversations and creating a safe atmosphere where your leaders are actually speaking up. The thing that I value so much about One Firefly and we're getting better every day is that we're creating an environment where everyone matters and everyone's thoughts and opinions are listened to. Doesn't mean we're always going to go with that idea or this thing or because that person said it. In fact, Ron says all the time, this is a meritocracy. The best idea wins. We don't care who said it, it doesn't matter what role you are in the organization, we want to serve our clients well and we want to keep growing our organization and building a great company. This Five Dysfunctions book Club allowed us to sort of start to process through some things. Candidly, it even allowed for some frustrations and hurts or misalignments to really come to light. And you have to be careful as a CEO or a leader, we want to talk a lot and we usually have a lot to say. But what's so important, especially coming out of the pandemic and everything else, the leadership mantle on us today, is listen first, then speak.

Make sure that you're listening to your team. Make sure that you're giving them an environment where they can share what they're processing through. They are closest to boots on the ground and seeing what's happening and how this is affecting them or how these challenges come up or where this process is now broken or we've outgrown it. You have to have an environment where that's happening. If it's just about the metrics, if it's just about revenue and profit, you are going to burn through people like nobody's business.

You are going to constantly figure out; Why did that person burn out or why did they get so disgruntled and sometimes worse than somebody leaving is somebody staying that shouldn't be, because the roles evolved past them or the organization's goals and their goals have misaligned for where they are in their journey and their career. So those are hard conversations, but you have to create an environment, you have to be okay with that and also be able to say, I'll listen, let me hear what's going on. So major credit to this team, easy for the guy not carrying the last 14 years of One Firefly on his shoulders to be able to be open and hear those things and try to come at it with as much of a third party perspective as possible. But what it was encouraging to me and it helped me remember that the people I talked to when I was interviewing with One Firefly eight months in are still the same people today. It wasn't a shine, it wasn't fake. They genuinely wanted to see their organization do better and to grow and to thrive. This book club and the subsequent conversations we're now having as leadership have led to and are leading to much greater alignment. What we're seeing is morale goes up, productivity goes up, the opportunity for connection in our North Star, this whole idea of proud, prosperous, and connected starts to actually have legs to it and not just be something cute on your website, but something we're actually helping facilitate in our workspace. So out of that and Ron, I think we wanted to I know from a time frame we may be running a little long, but it caused us to create something out of this leadership engagement, which we're calling sort of our One Firefly leadership guidelines. Just at a high level. So we won't get deep in the weeds on all of these and a mindful of time, but just to share who we are. If this helps you as your organization, you business owners, you team members out there, I encourage you, beyond core values or mission statements, helping to lay out who you want to be, not just who you are, but who you want to be, who you want to be called up to be. This is hugely important, and it also empowers your team.

So let me run through ours real quick for One Firefly, we want to lead as leadership, we want to lead with integrity, respect, and humility. We want to equip, empower, and elevate those around us. We want to add value to all interactions, team and client alike. So internally and externally facing, we want to deliver on our commitments as a leader in the organization. We want to establish and contribute to a culture of innovation. We want to run towards problems with creative solutions. This is a big one for me. We want to show honor both internally and externally. I'll stop for 1 second and just say, respect is earned, honor is given, that's a choice in how you're interacting with people. So showing honor to your clients, to your teammates, to anybody else within your sphere of influence, hugely important. Definitely a soapbox moment for me. Another one; Hold team members accountable for their contributions. That relates back to that fifth dysfunction of making sure that you're paying attention to results. Inspire others, lead by example. Then the last one was posture yourself as a coach and mentor, not a boss. People are not following you because you have a title. People follow you and you're considered a leader because you're actually inspiring them to action. You're actually calling them into and calling them up to whatever it is you're doing in your business. I think that's a major difference in terms of that idea. Earlier on, I was talking about motivation versus manipulation. If you're coming at it with I'd love for you to learn from not only my successes, but here are the mistakes I've made you're at this stage of your journey. I was in a similar situation, let me tell you, and be vulnerable enough and humble enough to tell you this is where I made a mistake and I don't want you to experience that. Here's how we can navigate through those things. So, Ron, up to you. And I know time wise, maybe some other time, we could unpack each of these if we wanted to. But where would you like to go from here?

Ron:  Yeah. At a high level. For those listening, if you remember, if you go to our website,, and if you go over to the Learn section in the menu, find the podcast and then go down to this show. This shows 219, two, one, nine. We'll put links below on that show page for the leadership guidelines here, as well as our core values and mission and vision artwork, at least the artwork content that I displayed here on the show. At a high level, leadership guidelines being not only a concept, but something written down, maybe just at a high level, Andrew, tell our audience, what did it take for us to actually create this? Because this was not magically. We did not snap our fingers and this materialized. This was work.

Andrew: Yeah. If you're creating leadership expectations and you're trying to shape and cultivate a better culture in your organization, it better not just be a thing, a checklist item on your list of to dos. This takes time. This takes a lot of conversations. This takes, as I said earlier, a lot of listening. So not only listening to the organization, but then our executive management team spending time together, at times hours together to talk about, again, current state and future state. Who do we want to be? Who are we wanting to propel our teams forward to be? So that was a number of sessions for us to talk through. Recognizing the diversity and the backgrounds and experiences and perspectives. My story and all the origin stuff that I shared at the beginning of this are very different than maybe Taylor's or Tina's or Jessica or Kendall; our executive team. As well as then as you start going into another layer of leadership with the rest of our leads. So wanting to recognize the beauty of who we are and the fact that we've got so many gift mix and skill sets and talents in the organization and having that be a part of the conversation. It took time. Then you sort of get this high level idea of, well, here's these items, and isn't that cute how they line up to the word leadership, but then drilling that in and adding clarity and story behind it and having sort of these as you guys see on the screen, these sort of subsequent thoughts that play into it. What this has allowed us to do is move beyond just a, isn't as nice to have as a PDF. But it's now the lens that we're looking at each other through and holding each other as leadership accountable one to another and it's pushed us beyond the book club of five dysfunctions into now we have leaders in the organization saying as we started to roll this out formally. This calls me to be a better person. It's not just about my leadership or it's not just about my seat in an organization. Like there are things here that man, I want to aspire to just in who I am, whether that's outside of work or inside of work. And that's for me. Again, I talked to earlier about the tuning fork. It was like that's a tuning fork moment. Leadership guidelines in this process and rolling this out has been another one of those in my journey where it's like this is why I do what I do. Paychecks are great, bonuses are great, but I'm in a stage of my journey now where I feel so much value in watching teams align and seeing how we come together and actually execute and are able to do so much more and have fun doing it. That was one of the things that's on this leadership guidelines guys, if you're listening and you are all about the numbers, you're all about the next widget that's being shipped, you may be missing the joy of what your environment could be and you're missing the opportunity to let some joy and some fun flourish. A lot of you guys are great and I recognize that and maybe you're not even sharing that to the world. Ron and I were talking earlier as I've gotten in fresh eyes. I'm looking at different integrator sites, different brand sites, not everybody, they might have great team happening and great things happening in their environment, but they're not sharing that. That's not showing up on their website or that's not showing up on their social media channels. So I want to encourage you in that too; Your clients are looking, your folks are looking to see who you are, not just what you do. But anyway.

Ron:  Well, I'll tie into that. It's not just clients, right? If you look at One Firefly's website now, we are always in a hiring mode. But I'll also tell you I've heard this non stop in our industry for years now, is that everyone in our industry, the bottleneck in their business is people and they're trying to hire people. Here's just the reality is the people that are out there deciding where they're going to take their next job, they are investigating your business on this thing called the Internet. They are going to your website, they're going to your social channels and are you doing yourself a service or a disservice and making sure you tell the world who you are and what you stand for? It's so interesting and a perfect connection of the dots is that we Want Firefly took this effort to define these things back in 2019. We called it a bit defined and enough to put it up on our website in 2020 and here in 2021, Andrew found it and said, this connects with me. 60 plus percent of the traffic on One Firefly's website are candidates that are checking us out in the recruiting process. That is because we are always hiring and we are putting that message out there to the world that we want the best and the brightest. I'm just going, to your point, you've been looking at fresh eyes, Andrew, looking at integrator sites. I mean, you see solutions and services, but do you see much of this mission, vision, values, marketing differentiators? Have you witnessed much of that over the last eight months?

Andrew: I think that it's a mix. I would not want to put a blanket statement out and say no one is doing it. I think that some are and some have recognized that we live in a world where I think people are seeking out authenticity more and more and recognizing who people are and what they believe in, what they stand for, etcetera, and see very quickly through fake, see through shine. If I'm comparing and contrasting and let's say you have some good Google reviews or I've heard some word of mouth about two different organizations, if I see the humanity in who you are and I recognize that I would want to work with these people, I would want to trust these people, it certainly gives you the leg up. Why wouldn't you be wanting to celebrate your team? Why wouldn't you want to be sharing the things that are going on in your business and your organization? Beyond just the thing, just the product or the service, those are hugely important, obviously. You want to have the user experience, be one where they can enjoy that and get a true sense of who you are. You're doing excellent work. Make sure your website reflects that your website is excellent. Make sure that your copy on the website is excellent. But bring humanity to it. The number of times that I've seen websites that are product driven so here's this thing and there's that thing and there's like where's a person's face? Where's a place of connection? What is life like at this organization, this day and age, it matters. It really does matter.

Ron:  Andrew, I think audience probably knows at this point, you and I could keep riffing here for hours and talk about all we've only scratched the surface in terms of topics, so we'll have to certainly have you back and talk about more of these topics, but we're going to call it for today. So our audience wants to get in touch with you, follow you. What are the handles? How can they get in touch with you?

Andrew: Absolutely you're welcome to reach out to me at One Firefly. It's just This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or hit me up on LinkedIn. Happy to connect and talk or give advice or coaching where we can and just share some of our story with you and you with us.

Ron:  Our customers, they don't know you yet. Maybe they know the different players on the team at One Firefly and they want to connect with you. What's kind of the right, in your vision, when will they get to meet you or be interacting with you or when should they be interacting with you?

Andrew: So fun Story CEDIA is coming up and I'm pretty excited to be, this will be my first CEDIA with One Firefly, obviously the biggest show of the year. We're very excited to be there, but I'm particularly and personally excited that I will get to be there for the entire show. So please come and see me. I'd love to shake your hand and hear your story. Existing folks that know One Firefly, love to hear how we continue to serve you well and new folks come, ask questions, would love to get to know you and maybe explore how we might be a good fit for you and your organization and help propel you forward.

Ron:  Awesome! Andrew, thank you sir. I appreciate you and appreciate you joining me here on Show 219.

Andrew: Yeah, thanks for having me, Ron.


In his role as Director of Digital Marketing, Andrew is responsible for the general management of our robust digital marketing team, providing leadership, focus, and support. Andrew has spent the last 20 years equipping creatives with the skills they need to grow professionally and thrive in their careers. Since graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in business management, Andrew has embraced his journey from nonprofit work, to senior leadership in a national media company, and then executive consulting.

He uses his varied experience to propel others forward on their path. When he’s not working, Andrew loves “adventuring” with his wife, two daughters, and two sons. They’ve done everything from renovating a 100-year old inner city home to running a small horse farm in the country, to full-time RVing around the U.S. for nearly two years.

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

Resources and links from the interview:

Andrew can be reached directly by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.