Home Automation Podcast Episode #149: An Industry Q&A With Wes Claytor
In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Wes Claytor of One Firefly, shares principles and beliefs that lead to success in running and life.
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Wes Claytor. Recorded live on Wednesday, December 9th, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About Wes Claytor
After graduating with a degree in Exercise Science from Montclair State University, Wes spent some time in the health and fitness industry before making a move to North Carolina and ultimately landing at an account management position with a nationally recognized digital marketing agency with a core focus on Google Paid Search.
Wes joined One Firefly in 2019 with a goal of expanding his digital marketing toolkit to better service his clients. In addition to managing his book of business consisting of integrators located throughout North America, he also runs a personal blog. In his blog he shares his journey as an ultra marathon athlete and other personal stories.
- Wes' transition from the health and fitness industry into digital marketing
- The importance of work/life balance
- Wes' thoughts on the future of our industry in 2021
- Principles and beliefs that lead to success in running and life
Ron: Hello Mr. Wes. How are you, sir?
Wes: Doing well Ron, thanks for having me. How are you?
Ron: I'm good. We're on video conference and we are not in a Zoom with a client and talking about marketing stuff. You are our guest here on Automation Unplugged and excited to have you on.
Wes: Excited to be here. Lucky number 149.
Ron: Now it is a lucky number to somebody I know. No doubt.
Wes: This guy.
Ron: I love it. Alright Wes, tell our audience a little bit about yourself. What do you do at One Firefly. And then let's go back into your origin story and how you landed in this role.
Wes: Sure. Here at One Firefly, I am a Digital Marketing Account Manager. I interact directly with our clients and I help them make good decisions about how to run their marketing programs with us. Outside of that, just a little bit more about me. I'm a father of a five-year-old daughter. Just like Allison led in with, in my spare time I like to run a lot. I also like to write and read and yeah that's just a little bit of a synopsis of who I am.
Ron: Allison did mention that you are an ultra runner and of course I've got to know more about that and I know a little bit. But I want our audience to learn about it. But just quickly address that. What is ultra running? What does that mean?
Wes: Yeah. An ultra-marathon or ultra running is any kind of a race or format that is longer than a traditional marathon. A typical marathon is 26.2 miles and then I guess the first step up into the ultra world would be a 50K which is about 31 miles and then they go out to 40 miles 50 miles 100 miles and beyond.
Ron: I got to go there, what's the longest at one time that you've run straight? How many miles?
Wes: I've completed a 50 miler the mountain masochist 50 miler that's actually out in Lynchburg Virginia not too far from where you grew up. And then I went after a 100K this past October out in Georgia. And I sustained a weird injury or something of the sort during the race and had to pull out about forty-three miles. Currently, the longest I've gone to date is 50 miles but I'm scheduled to do a hundred miler in June. Back out in Virginia the Old Dominion 100.
Ron: What city is that in?
Wes: Woodstock Virginia. Out there in the mountains.
Ron: Okay yeah, it's a beautiful part of the world. Love it. Beautiful Mackenzie also here at Team One Firefly. She says, "Run a lot. That seems like an understatement." I'm so with you Mackenzie, running a lot.
Wes: In the world of ultra running and just running in general I feel like we normalize the things that we do so sometimes I just see myself aspiring to be some of these hundred miler type people and what I'm doing seems minuscule to what they do. But yeah. When you break it down a little bit of understatement I guess.
Ron: It goes back to Einstein's theory of relativity. I'm probably going to screw this up. But he gives a mental picture of someone falling imagine they step into an elevator shaft and they're falling and if you're in the pitch black and let's say you remove air resistance so you don't feel, how do you know you're falling? You're only falling if it's relative to walls that you could see that you're moving past. That's the theory of relativity that plays out in pricing strategies it plays out in ultra running, it's just one person short distance is another person's mile is another person's ultra-marathon.
Wes: Yeah, everything's relative.
Ron: Not that I'm qualified to ever even attempt an ultra marathon, much less a marathon.
Wes: You used to run cross country, didn't you?
Ron: I did. I was a runner and I've told you this so I now get to say it publicly. My senior year in high school in a 3.1-mile race which is called a 5K, I clocked in at the two-mile mark at the Newport News Invitational in 1996 at 10 minutes.
Wes: There you go, that's solid.
Ron: That's two five minute miles.
Wes: What was the final at 3.1?
Ron: It was not good.
Wes: Well, I'll have you know that me and a couple buddies are set to try to go sub 20 minutes on a 5K the Saturday after this so I'll report back to you on what my two-mile time was. I don't know if I'm going to be cracking 10 minutes but it's something to aspire to.
Ron: Well, if anyone here is listening that feels like I even remember how I felt. Which is why I can't wait to dive into how you feel when you're running 20 30 40 miles. But I remember that I felt like I was running at an all-out sprint like I felt like I was giving it every ounce of everything I had like I was at a full sprint. But for 10 minutes and I frankly was not that physically fit to attempt to do that. Thus mile 3 was crash and burn.
Wes: If you crack a five-minute mile, you were fitter than you're saying you are.
Ron: Yeah, I don't know. We have another statement from Brenna who says, "Hey Wes, love following your running journey on social media. You help keep me motivated in my fitness journey."
Wes: Likewise Brenna. I see what you're doing out there and I appreciate that.
Ron: Yes. Brenna is also one of the people that I aspire to in my journey of physical fitness. My current journey is I try to walk every day I don't succeed but I try to do a 3 or 4 mile walk every morning. For me personally, it has done wonders for my back stretching and a lot of my back issues have gone away since I've done that.
Wes: That's good.
Ron: I think about your lengths of running I can only imagine the back issues I would have.
Wes: I keep this here right behind my lower back just to give me some extra support throughout the day.
Ron: That's great. How did you land here? What does your story look like? What do you do in school and where did you move from and to that ultimately landed you here in an account management role?
Wes: Yeah. Without going too in-depth, I'll give you a high level from college and beyond. I started college with wanting to go into education. I wanted to actually be a gym teacher and then I quickly realized that the bureaucracy and all the negative stuff that comes with the school systems and then the education system as a whole. At least up in New Jersey wasn't really where I wanted to find myself in the future so I decided to pit it and wound up switching majors and I majored with a degree in Exercise Science. During my senior year of college, I was also running a side business out of my house. I was training I believe 11 or 12 clients out of my home and then quickly after graduating, I moved into a contract position working for a corporate wellness program at Verizon headquarters in Jersey. I learned over time that I didn't I wasn't going to find myself getting a full-time position there so I needed to start exploring other options and after some tough conversations between me and my wife we decided to make the move down to North Carolina. And why North Carolina? My wife's family at least her grandparents and some of her other relatives all lived just outside of the Raleigh area and we would travel down for the holidays and I was just picking up on the market around here. North Carolina, at least outside the Raleigh area, the Research Triangle Area, business is booming the housing market was booming. People were friendly and just it just seemed like the overall way of living here was a little bit more in tune with where I saw our future. We made the decision and wound up moving down here and bounced through a couple of jobs just trying to get on our feet down here and inevitably landed a job with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. It wasn't my goal wasn't where I wanted my future to be but when I was looking at all the different jobs that I did want to get around here, all of them had management experience needed and I didn't have anything on paper. Yeah, sure I've taught group exercise classes I've trained clients I've managed programs but didn't have any real business management skills or at least on paper. I decided I was going to jump into Enterprise and try to work my way up the ladder there as quickly as I could to gain as much management experience and then look for another opportunity. And that's what I did. I climbed up the ladder relatively quickly started as a management trainee they start all their employees there. Quickly got into System Management then I got into Branch Management and then I was helping to manage the airport they call it Station Managers here at Raleigh Durham and then I recognized that it was my time to leave. One of my coworkers had jumped ship from Enterprise and she went into digital marketing working for an agency and she seemed to have a lot more balance in her life and that's what I decided I wanted. I wanted to leverage my management experience and find a role that allowed me greater flexibility in my own life and so I could find some balance. I worked at a different digital marketing agency and then wound up finding One Firefly towards the tail end of 2019 and been here since.
Ron: I've heard great things for many years. I graduated college in 2000 and I remember that there were people I knew even going to Enterprise to enter the management program and we've hired another member of our team that had a similar work experience at Enterprise through their management program.
Wes: Yeah, Adam.
Ron: What is the Enterprise management program and I'm just saying that because maybe there are actually people with that career experience that might even be a good fit for integrators or the folks that are listening here to consider that talent pool? From my read, there's some pretty good stuff going on over there.
Wes: Yeah, I think Enterprise does a really good job of teaching because they source a lot of kids straight out of college that don't have a whole lot of work experience at least in most cases. But what they do a really good job of doing is first getting you comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Ron: They make you wear a tie.
Wes: That's part of it. I think they've since gone away with that.
Ron: They don't make girls wear ties?
Wes: No, business professional but I'll tell you man I can't tell you how many times I was washing a car in a full suit and tie in the July hundred-degree weather here in North Carolina. It'll teach you grit. It'll teach you perseverance. But yeah, they get you comfortable with working long hours and they really drill into you how to understand the basics of running a business. Profit and loss and just their entire program there is around trying to build the fundamentals of how to run a business and how to be profitable while also forcing you to step out of your comfort zone and to really grind. And I think it's a great program out of college to get you geared up for how to succeed in the job market or the business world. But it's a very tough organization to work for when you have children. When you have family and when you're trying to have some balance in your life and be present for your family because you will work long hours.
Ron: There's this concept of work-life balance and you were seeking a work-life balance. I don't know the legal side of it but you're saying Enterprise, if you're there you know you're working more than 40 hours a week. Is that fair?
Wes: Yeah. The way they pitch it to you is it's a forty-nine hour work week with potential for overtime.
Ron: Forty-nine-hour workweek.
Wes: Yeah, so you know what you're signing up for when you get there. But yeah that's how they've broken it down for new hires.
Ron: And that desire to get a better work-life balance because you did have a little one that you wanted to spend more time with and you ended up finding a marketing agency and what type of stuff did you do at that agency? What was the skill set or what sort of knowledge did you gain or what experiences did you gain?
Wes: Yes. Like I said before after gaining a lot of management experience I was able to leverage that with the company for an Account Management position. I didn't have any background or any knowledge in digital marketing other than my social media stuff that I was doing on a personal level but I instilled confidence in the hiring managers there that I'm equipped to learn and I would pick up all the stuff that they had for me to digest and I would hit the ground running as fast as possible. The onboarding there was a little bit brutal. I was learning everything about Google Ads that I could. The agency that I worked for, we specialized in pay per click Google ad strategies and display network stuff. Very much heavily weighted in PPC and SEM. Hit the ground running, learning as much as I could about Google Ads and then most of it from there was just really trial by fire. I shadowed a lot of Account Managers, I shadowed a lot of the other team members to kind of see how all of the different positions and processes interacted with each other there. But yeah mainly just trial by fire and using my gift of gab that I think I have and trying to connect with clients and then just figure out all of the answers that I didn't know and then learn them.
Ron: If we dive into that subject to nerd out just a little bit on the topic of Google Ads or SEM search engine marketing. You were not in that role working with integrators, you were working with small businesses. Now you have the perspective of both various types of businesses plus integrators. What role does Google Ads play in the equation of digital marketing? What does your experience show you?
Wes: Yeah. Google Ads is a very powerful tool but it's also at least in my mind it's a piece of the marketing puzzle. It's not the entire puzzle. And what I mean by that is there are certain things that I think I would advise somebody to have in place before they invest in a Google Ad strategy. The first would be a good presentable and well-performing website. And I think this gets often overlooked in the world of digital marketing because Google ads is costly. You're going to spend money there to be able to bid and to be able to show up and get those clicks. And when you do that, what's the first impression that user gets when they land there? What's that digital handshake that they're receiving? Because that's what I want people to understand is that your website is a reflection of your business. But it's oftentimes your first impression, your first handshake with that potential client or customer. If you're spending a lot of money to drive somebody to a bad website or a bad landing page experience then you're doing yourself a little bit of a disservice. I'd say getting your website up to date is a very good piece of that marketing puzzle as well. And then also, having a comprehensive strategy around SEO is a good idea too. You want to have a good organic presence.
Ron: What does that mean?
Wes: Yes. Search Engine Optimization, how is your website reflected on organic search on Google? Are you being found for the things you want to be found for? Are people able to find you? That's SEO in a nutshell being found for the services or the solutions that you provide when people are searching on Google search. Why I say it's important is because when you do a Google Search, you get that results page, and you'll likely see ad placements in those top two spots or three spots and then you're going to see organic postings. Looking at studies and doing some research, we often point to the statistics that say that if you have a great organic presence if you're at the top of the page there organically but you're also up there in that ad placement. Well, then you have a let's say a 10x opportunity of getting that organic click. There's a lot of studies that show that you will get more organic traffic if you're running a comprehensive SEM campaign while also having a good SEO presence. That's my thoughts on Google Ads. It's great to generate traffic. It's great to get top of page visibility and if you have all the other pieces in place then why not? Unless it's just a money constraint which I'd get it and I would say get all of your other ducks in a row before you start putting a bunch of money into Google Ads because you can definitely spend a lot there. But if all your ducks are in a row, it's a very powerful tool to add to the digital marketing kit.
Ron: Here at One Firefly, you're an Account Manager. What does the normal day-to-day look like for you and what do you see as your purpose? What role do you play in the equation for the customer and or for One Firefly?
Wes: That's a great question. The day to day in account management is ever-changing. We're constantly having to respond and react and then prepare and adjust. It's almost an art in itself.
Ron: It's not easy is it?
Wes: No, it's not. People think we just jump on calls all day and report information and then keep it moving. But at least for me, I see it as being much greater. Like I said it's an art. What I mean by that is account management allows me to do quite a few different things. First and foremost, it allows me to think creatively in order to try and solve complex problems especially in today's business climate or marketing world. It allows me to try to diagnose and come up with solutions to complex problems for business owners. It also allows me to be an extension to many different multiple organizations while I fly the One Firefly banner and I work for us I don't see it that way when I interact with my clients. I often tell them consider me an extended member of your team. Your success is my success. It allows me to like I said work with multiple organizations and feel like a part of that organization and lets me develop relationships with different business owners or people in positions that I often wouldn't get to interact with on a day to day. My goals as an Account Manager or what I see as my value for my clients and the One Firefly team is to gain trust from the client. And the way that I do that is through effort credibility and follow-through . I try to show my clients that I'm going to work as hard as I can for them. And I back it up as best as I can and with credibility. I don't think I always have to have all the answers for my clients but I know the people that do have the answers or I'll find the answers. I think that that I approve that over time or at least I try to.
Ron: Does marketing work all the time? Does all the marketing work all the time?
Wes: No, a lot of this is trial and error. And then revisiting and finding out what works and what doesn't and continuing to put more investment into the things that do work. When you're at a time where you can try new things that's the fun of our job is testing out different ideas and strategies and then what works for one client might not work for another. What works in one market might not work for another but you can also learn from what does work and apply it to other areas and it's just really cool to have that ability. The last thing I have about account management is at least my goal here internally is to not based off of how I work with the clients but how I work for them internally. It's just being an advocate for them when I bring feedback and information back to our team, advocating for my client. And then when I come back to them, being a consultant to help them best utilize their marketing dollars to positively impact their business. As you can see it's quite a few moving parts to account management and I take pride in trying to own as many of them as I can.
Ron: You joined One Firefly in the fall of '19. I don't know the exact month but somewhere in the Fall of '19 and you basically got onboarded with us learned about our company and our methods and then boom COVID. All of our last nine months since March has been living in COVID land and trying to navigate those waters. What has it been like? What are you seeing and feeling out there?
Wes: Yeah, it's been a really interesting year. I don't think there's any other way to slice it up but as far as marketing goes in COVID times I don't think much changes. I think that the principles and the practices are all fundamental but the way that we go about doing things changes. The strategies change, the sense of urgency changes. Flexibility changes. I have commercial clients or at least historically 100 percent commercial clients or 90/10 commercial resi that are now seeing commercial jobs completely pause or pull out altogether and now these businesses I work with are having to rethink their entire go-to-market strategy and who they're looking to serve. And that requires us to be flexible.
It requires us to move with a sense of urgency to help them respond in a timely manner and come up with good ideas or to take case studies or things we've learned from other clients and leverage that for them. COVID has exploded the necessity of having us do that for our clients. It's not all doom and gloom. We have clients that have seen their best quarters in the past quarter and that's something that's been interesting about COVID times is jumping on calls with people across the country and one market is feeling one thing and another market feels a different way.
If I turn the news on I feel like all businesses are doing horribly and the world's coming to an end. But that's not the case when I talk to some of these guys and that gives hope to some of my other clients that are struggling right now because the struggle is real. There are people that are struggling right now. There are people that are worried and rightfully so but if nothing else I think talking to some people that are still doing well or are changing their business strategy and are seeing success they're using that information and leveraging that with the clients that aren't doing as well or are struggling gives them hope that there is opportunity out there because I fully believe there is. It's just a matter of responding to what the market needs right now or what your business is telling you. You've got to be mindful and observing these things and acting on them.
Ron: Do you have any predictions? This is an unsolicited question this is kind of random and you may say, "Ron what are you doing to me?" But any predictions about next year as it relates to your clientele? You have a book of business integrators throughout North America that you work with. What are they thinking is going to happen in 2021 or what do you think is going to happen?
Wes: It's a tough one because you can't call the future and who knows what happens with all the craziness that's going on right now. But I'm a silver linings guy and I'm a positive thinker at least most of the time so I'm hopeful for the upcoming year and what I'm predicting is a little bit of a change back to commercial maybe not in the size of the projects that some of our clients have seen in the past. But I think there are gonna be business needs and commercial jobs are gonna have to get completed. I don't think that goes away. I think the emphasis on residential only becomes more and more important and grows. But I think that a lot of these commercial projects are going to come back online. They might look different. I think there's gonna be a huge emphasis on touchless AV and touchless business solutions but I also see gridlocks in getting the product and dealing with the manufacturers much like we've seen in the residential space. Everything gets put on pause for months and then we're off to the races and now you're having to deal with these timelines and then that's now trickling down to their customers and it's a vicious cycle.
Ron: It's gonna be a few years before that all gets worked out.
Wes: Yeah, absolutely. But like I said I think the future is positive and hopeful here and I think that we're gonna see some interesting things here in the future.
Ron: You mentioned work-life balance. What does your work-life balance these days look like?
Wes: It's tremendous. Jumping out of working a 9:00 to 5:00 corporate job or the corporate grind and then going into digital marketing. It's an industry that definitely allows for a little more flexibility. I mean look we're both working from our home offices. It's beautiful. Just speaking specifically to One Firefly because that's part of the reason why I applied initially was I was looking to continue to do a lot for more work life balance or a lot for more time in my personal life. Having a remote job before the whole world.
Wes: We were doing it before it was cool.
"We're the OGs in this place where we work from home."
Ron: Yeah. We're the OGs in this place where we work from home.
Wes: Yeah. I was searching for a remote job and a job that would like I said just allow me a little bit more time to be present in my daughter's life during these very important stages and be around for my wife a little bit more often but really just give me more time and space to do what I enjoy and to really live my life outside of work. One Firefly definitely allows me to do that. I've never worked for an organization that has been as flexible and understanding so long as you're organized and meeting your deadlines and taking care of your customers. I never feel micromanaged. That's part of work-life balance. I think not feeling like when you turn the phone off or you close a laptop. People aren't trying to pick at what are you doing. No one really is too concerned about that as long as we're servicing the customer. I don't have a commute anymore. That's beautiful. I think the fact that I could literally work from anywhere and if something happened downstairs right now and I needed to respond to it I could drop everything and respond to it whereas before it was a phone call or text from my wife and it was a "Sorry, I'll be home in seven hours and then the show goes on." Yeah, work-life balance is huge for me. Just finding that time is very important to me.
Ron: Give a prediction post-COVID. So much of corporate America has now been experimenting unwillingly but experimenting with work from home. What happens when all of this settles down?
Wes: Yeah, I see more of an emphasis on coworking spaces and less of an emphasis on giant campuses or buildings for companies. There are certain industries where you can't work from home and those aren't going to change and they'll still require support and growth and all that other stuff but there are a lot of companies out there that I think are hanging onto a lot of overhead in trying to support a large building or a large campus where it's not necessarily a necessity anymore.
"I think if you give your employees more flexibility, time, and work-life balance that they can actually be more productive. A lot of companies are starting to see that and the cost of maintaining the overhead of having everyone in one building is being outweighed by that."
I think the biggest piece of why companies didn't want to do that historically even when remote jobs were starting to become more popular over the last couple of years is a trust piece and that micromanagement piece we just talked about a lot of companies feel like if their employees are home they can't keep a rap on them and that the productivity is going to decline. But I think if you give your employees more flexibility and you give them more time and work-life balance that they can actually be more productive. And I think a lot of companies are starting to see that and the cost of maintaining the overhead of having everyone in one building is being outweighed by that.
Ron: Yeah. I agree. I can speak for any business owner-operator that's listening, it was scary to go there when Taylor and I made that call back in 2015. We actually did it almost as if we were backed into it. There was some financial challenges the company had and feedback certainly from team our team that didn't like the often one hour plus commute back and forth from the office. And we made that shift and we haven't looked back. It's so powerful to be able to hire talent. I mean look you're in the Carolinas, you're in Raleigh or I don't know if you're in Raleigh right now I know you moved. But you're in North Carolina.
Wes: About 20 minutes out of Raleigh.
Ron: 20 minutes and you found us we found you and the rest of our team some of them watching and listening, all throughout the United States and Mexico. I don't have to have people move to an office in Hollywood Florida and be willing to do that because the talent pool for a business is so much more fractional.
Wes: And the diversity that you get with it. The talent the diversity. If you concentrate on the positives and the benefits of going to a remote-based company I mean there's a lot of interesting nuances there.
Ron: No, I concur. We live that. I think diversity is what makes you strong and I think that's why One Firefly is where we're at and where we're going is because of all the diverse people backgrounds experiences and you put all that together and you point them at a common objective. It's powerful stuff for sure. By the way Taylor I just mentioned I invoked Taylor's name and so he said, "What's up Wes.".
Wes: What's up Taylor.
Ron: Alright. There you go. Don't forget if you're out there watching or listening give us any questions you have. We have someone from your family up from that picture. I'm going to say that was your wife. Christa Claytor says, "Your clients are lucky to have you, Wes." Yes, I agree.
Wes: That's sweet. Thanks, Christa.
Ron: Let's get into some other fun stuff and that is when you are not working speaking of a balanced life which I firmly believe is critical and important to all of us. What are you doing? What are you doing for fun or for sanity. However, we want to describe it. What is the stuff you're into?
Wes: Yeah. Outside of work outside of my husband and father role, what makes me me and what keeps me sane and happy. Well, we already alluded to it but running I found running. Coming up on three years now and then ultra running for two of those, writing. I have a personal blog that I've been using and I've been pretty active there over the last two years. And then just reading anything and everything I can get my hands on that interests me. I call it the three rows, running writing reading.
Ron: Running writing and reading. Right. Let's talk about running. Why ultra running versus running?
Wes: When I find something that I like I become obsessed and I go deep and running was no different. Before running I used to train Brazilian jujitsu and I did that for 13 years and then I was just finding a tough time of sticking with it and trying to balance everything and trying to meet a class schedule and all that stuff and running doesn't require any of that. It was just whenever I could and whenever I wanted to but also running is a tool for personal development. I think it does a lot of things. It obviously gets you healthy, keeps you in shape, but it also allows you a lot of time to be in your head and to think about the way that you think and think about the things that you find interesting and how to diagnose problems and all that good stuff when you're not by yourself when you're running with a group. I saw a meme I think yesterday the day before but it said it forces you to have a communication or a conversation with people. When you would likely be looking at your phone so when you're out there for hours during long training runs with a group or with whoever, you have some interesting conversations and that helps build your communication skills.
Ron: You're running and talking? It's possible?
Wes: Just so you know, running a 5K is far different from running a 50 miler. You can't sustain that 5k pace for 50 miles so it's a slower pace. It's much more of a lower heart rate more of a sustainable pace so yeah you can.
Ron: What's your heart rate when you're on a 20-mile run?
Wes: Probably run around 150 beats. If I'm going up into 160-170, I'm going a little too hard and if I'm lower than 140, I could probably be pushing it a little bit more.
Ron: Got it. Yeah, I'd say on my morning walks. My sustained heart rate is 110. I try to walk fast but it's still a walk.
Wes: They call it the fat burning zone right?
Ron: I don't know. It's what I'm willing to do and I know I won't break. That's where I can operate. When you're out there running and it hurts and or the voices in your head start to creep in and challenge why you're doing it. What do the other voices in your head tell those voices in your head?
Wes: Well that's a good question. That's why I do it. Yeah, I am a glutton for punishment. I like suffering. I find value in suffering so I often am looking forward to that point in my run where things aren't easy and when things are becoming increasingly more difficult and I really try to lean into it. And some days it's much easier than others but same thing for the thoughts that come into your head. Try not to shy away from them. That's what I'm looking to gain out of it at this point in my life. I want to be pushing myself as hard as I can to step out of my comfort zone to see what my potential is to see what my body is capable of from a physical standpoint.
From a mental standpoint, I want to see the way I think I want to see what my thoughts are and then I translate that into my writing so that I can get it out of my head first and foremost but also to see is that really the way I think? Diagnose it and find out, am I just regurgitating something I heard somewhere else or what is this based on? Then when I put it into words I can either scrap it altogether or I can move forward with it. Like I said with my blog and put it out in the world. But it's ultimately trying to find those difficult times and see what value is there within that.
Ron: I have a vivid memory from my youth. Memories aren't always real. Sometimes they are stories. But I have a vivid memory from my youth because I ran through my youth. I was a wrestler in my youth. I know you did jujitsu and you've done some mixed martial arts are grappling? What's your game?
Wes: Same there. But yeah I've had a couple of amateur mixed martial arts fights too. I was heavily immersed in that world in my 20s.
Ron: I did that before my 20s. Let's say from 10 to 20 I was running and competing and wrestling and I remember there's a point where I was definitely a runner. I was on the cross-country team and I ran and there's a point in anything whether it's a professional set of activities or a sport where you have this magic word of flow comes in this point where you reach flow where what you're doing you're just so in alignment with what you should be doing. Everything's resonating and you're right. This memory for me was a point where I was out running. I used to run in the evenings for any of my fellow wrestlers listening. They'll tell you what they weigh and they'll tell you what you weigh just by looking at you because you just it ingrained to know weight. I think John Baskerville at team One Firefly. He'll appreciate that comment because whenever he looks at me he asked me what I weigh and I ask him what he weighs because we're both wrestlers and as I say I weigh a lot more than I did in my youth. And I remember I was out running that one night and nothing hurt. I ran and I ran and I ran and I ran and I ran and I ran for hours and it was just like the perfect night of running. I remember how I felt. Do you get there? And if so how often and how do you get there?
Wes: Yeah. Those are powerful memories. Most recently I think the last time I felt like I was in a flow was in my most recent race the 40 miler. That was the beginning of November. And it was a four-point something mile loop around this old festival ground. We had to do 10 laps of this loop for the 40 miler and you could imagine that becomes mind-numbing and daunting over time. Let's hit it. It's definitely a struggle, struggle city. Right around lap seven or eight I started hitting the wall and I was miserable and I was like oh my race is about to fall apart here. I think I came out a little too hot in the beginning but right around the end of lap nine heading into the final lap, and I was in position eight out of the overall field for the 40 miles at that point.
Something clicked in that final lap and then I just went on a flow state and it turned off the brain and turned off the pain and kept pushing forward and wound up clipping off three of the people ahead of me and wound up finishing fifth in the overall field because I had a really late flow surge. There's no greater feeling I don't think and that's not from running I just mean flow in general. People talk about it all the time but when you're so immersed in something that you are fully engaged with and that is something you enjoy, that you just feel like it's not even you, you're a conduit to it. Right?
Ron: It's flowing through you, you're doing it but you're not actively doing it because if you actively tried to do it it wouldn't work.
Wes: Yeah exactly. You can't force it. And you said how often, it's not very often for me especially with how often we're out there training for these races. But it does emerge every so often. And like you said, those memories are ingrained in my brain.
Ron: Yeah the idea that you might achieve that again is what keeps you maybe striving to continue towards that effort.
Wes: Speaking of questions and memories of a little two-part question that I want to flip over to you.
Ron: Alright, let's do it. Yeah. What do you got?
Wes: Something that I've been pondering on and been wanting to ask you for some time. I guess a two-parter. When did you first know without a doubt that you wanted to be an entrepreneur? And secondly what was the defining moment or thought where you decided to pull the trigger and go all in?
Ron: Thank you for that question and in this of my format of Automation Unplugged I really get asked any questions and it's not typical but I'll let this one slide. Let's do it. I'd say in the back of my brain probably for most of my life that I would likely I knew I didn't fit into most things and most groups and with most people. I just always thought differently. I could give lots of examples of that but I'll leave it there. I just thought differently. I didn't exactly fit in. But yet society tells you to fit in. And so I went through college and I got the job because that's what everyone was supposed to do. And I went and did the job and parts of it I was happy with parts of it I found boring and I had in the back of my brain entrepreneurship. I started to read all these books you know Rich Dad Poor Dad with Robert Kiyosaki and Napoleon Hill's can't think of the name of his book. But I remember I read that book. I think it's called Think and Grow Rich and a handful of other books and so I had this concept of entrepreneurship came in and it was really when I got married in 2003 that my wife Danielle, she came from a family of entrepreneurs. I did not come from a family of entrepreneurs. I was the first person in my family to ever go to college so I didn't come from.
"I think a lot about one's willingness to take chances, you just have to know it's possible. The four-minute mile wasn't broken. And then when it was, it got broken constantly because people suddenly knew that what was possible."
I think a lot about one's willingness to take chances, you just have to know it's possible. The four-minute mile wasn't broken. And then when it was, it got broken constantly because people suddenly knew that what was possible. And so I didn't know anything about entrepreneurship and then I started to learn about her family and her dad. Her dad ended up owning bakeries and grocery stores throughout north of Brazil. And she thought entrepreneurship was absolutely in her blood and it was really her giving me the confidence that you got this. And if you don't, no worries we'll go do something else but give it a shot. I started to build up the courage and it was ultimately in my trying to think here.
I spent my first three years at a college with Lutron. I spent four years with Crestron and it was really over the course of my last year at Crestron, my fourth year that I started to put pen to paper and develop a business plan and so I had the mind too. I did a friends and family round of investing I ended up gathering about forty thousand dollars in investment. It was not even remotely enough by the way, not even scratching the surface of enough but that was definitely one of the many flaws in that business plan and my goal was that I would ultimately strike out on my own when I had hit my funding goal and I hit my funding goal in October of 2007 and I put in my resignation. I want to say around October 30th I was in Florida working for Crestron in the southeast. I worked for a guy named John, he's still with Crestron today. I think he's up in New Jersey.
Wes: I think we met him when we were up there in New York.
Ron: We met John Clancy. Clancy is another great guy but John I think works in the commercial side of things. I put in my resignation and quote-unquote I was on my own. I jumped off the cliff. I had a chute in my hand and I threw the chute and I was falling towards the ground very very fast and in the last flash of a second my chute popped open and it was fractions of seconds whether it was gonna I was gonna go splat or I had a chance and that's how I ended up starting. I made many mistakes. Many flaws. Maybe we'll do that on a different podcast. But at the end of the day, that's when I started or embarked on this entrepreneurial journey which is 13 years ago.
Wes: That's awesome. Appreciate your share.
Ron: Yeah. You are welcome and I appreciate you listening and those out there listening still with us hearing that story. I know you don't want to hear from me, you want to hear from our guests. But I appreciate that. I want to go quickly here. I'm mindful of time but I want to go quickly to writing. I know that one of your passions is writing. I know that you have a website. I'm actually going to put that up on the screen. I'd like to know just what does writing mean to you and how do you practice writing?
Wes: Yeah. Like I said, I started writing my blog about two years ago and before I made it public, I was just using writing as a tool to deal with some personal traumas and unfortunate events. And I was using it as a way like I said before to gather some of the thoughts that were coming to the forefront of my mind during some of my longer runs and just explore my thinking there. And then after sharing it with my wife a little bit and just looking at it more deeply, I decided that I had some things that I thought were worthy of sharing to the world not to the general public but maybe to somebody that was suffering either in a similar way that I was at the time or somebody that's just struggling in life in general and is looking for somebody to connect with a purpose and empowerment. From there, I just kept doing it and I kept writing about things that are maybe taboo or not things that we should talk about in public domain. But that's what I chose to do was to just lead from my blog and just talk about the things I experience in life and the trauma and how I've coped with it. What I'm doing to find value from the struggling and the suffering and you know where I'm going with that in my life. And I think what it means to me and what it's done for me, other than clear out my head and being a very strong tool or therapeutic tool for me it's brought so many other people out of the woodwork and I've had so many people reach out to me on a private level and share with me stories of their suffering and their losses and things that they probably don't share with their immediate social circle.
But they were sharing it with me and they continue to do so and it allowed me to connect with those people. And I think not only does it show me that I'm not alone and I'm not dealing with these problems these personal problems suffering in silence but hopefully it's showing them that that they don't have to either. And I think that the more that we address things that that we all experience loss you know trauma the more equipped we are to start fixing ourselves and the better we are able to respond to life. That's what writing has done for me and that's kind of the direction I've been going with it.
Ron: And I'm putting the crawler on the screen for those that are listening to the podcast. It's wesclaytor.com if you want to check out Wes's website. What does your practice look like? How do you find time to write, when do you write? Well, frankly when do you run? What are your habits? I'm a big believer in habits make the person. What are your habits that enable this?
"You have to sacrifice something in order to find time."
Wes: Yeah, I think the biggest piece is finding the time and that's sacrificing something right. You have to sacrifice something in order to find time. And for me that's my mornings I get up early every morning I'm up at 5:00 a.m. regardless of what day it is or what the plans are and what I've done with that is carved out some personal time for me to do. Like I said the three rows from before either I'm running I'm writing or I'm reading but either way I'm getting up at 5:00 a.m. with a purpose and it's to do one of those three things and I try not to put more structure on it than is needed because I don't want to feel like I'm forcing myself to do things I don't want to do because I enjoy doing these three things. I just wake up knowing I'm gonna do one of these three things. It's just a matter of what I feel like doing once that alarm clock hits but I drink the coffee and either open up the laptop and start typing. I open up a book or I put the shoes on and get out the door but I try to start every day with purpose and momentum.
Ron: I love it. Wes, I think we're gonna call it a wrap there. I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and I know you had to move a few client engagements in order to join me here on the show and thank you for doing that.
Wes: Yeah, like I said I've listened to quite a few of these man and it's been an honor to actually be a guest on this. Thank you very much for allowing me to show up and talk to your audience.
Ron: You are welcome and I'm going to put a quick comment here from Carlos a member of One Firefly and he says, "Officially inspired. Thank you for sharing Wes.".
Wes: Appreciate it, Carlos. Thank you.
Ron: I completely agree. Mr. Wes. Folks that want to make contact with you, follow you socially or through old school methods like phone or text or email. Where do you want people going? You want them going to the website or is there any other?
Wes: Yeah you can go to my website. It has all my social links there. I'm also on Instagram and LinkedIn or you can become an integrator and sign up with One Firefly and ask them to make me your account manager.
Ron: I think that's the best answer. Change careers become an integrator.
Wes: It's the long route. Maybe start with the website.
Ron: That's right. Awesome. Thank you, Wes.
Wes: Thanks, Ron.
Ron: All right guys and gals. There you go. The one and only West Claytor we have. Hopefully, you're getting an idea we have some pretty fascinating talented people here at One Firefly, ready to serve our industry and our customers. We're going to do more of this in time and invite more members of our team. We just surpassed. I want to say in the last month or two over 50 people on the team which is pretty awe-inspiring to know that I started back in 2007 with one employee and here we are. And it's really been the last five years have been quite a growth trajectory as we started to figure some things out and learned how to better listen to our customers and better serve their needs. If you don't already do so, please subscribe to the podcast. If you feel so compelled that you like what we're doing. If you want to leave us a review on Apple or Spotify or I don't know all the other neat places that you subscribe or listen to your podcasts please do so.
And on that note, if you want to learn more about One Firefly go to our website, you can also give us a call at 9549212393. Or you can call the 800 number there which is on your screen and I wish you guys all a great rest of your week. Don't forget to be safe. We've had some blows to Team One Firefly here in terms of people getting sick with COVID including our beloved Vanessa. She's on our accounting team. If you have appreciated that smiling voice calling you to collect she's actually out right now sick, so definitely send her your best wishes. But you guys got to remember you got to wear your mask. We're not through this yet and yes there's a vaccine coming but you haven't taken it yet. Make sure that you keep your distance and do your part, play your role. On that note, I'll see you next time. Be well.
Wes Claytor is currently an Account Manager with One Firefly. Wes joined the team at One Firefly in 2019 with the goal of expanding his digital marketing toolkit to better service his clients. In addition to managing his book of business consisting of integrators located throughout North America, he also runs a personal blog.
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 within 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.
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To keep up with Wes, you can check out his website at wesclaytor.com.
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