Interview with Eliav Lankri of GH.Agency

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Eliav is the founder of GH.Agency a growth hacking agency which uses data & tech to apply new rules of marketing to create workable growth engine that works. In a candid conversation with ScaleUp Magazine, he talked about his success and failures in life.

Tell us about your professional journey so far?

I’ve begun my professional journey at the age of 13, that was about when I realized school was great- that is if you weren’t aiming to be too practical. I realized all too quickly that the course of study was predetermined and set for me, without anyone asking me what I wanted to do at the time. I took it upon myself to decide what’s best for me- I’d still go to school every now and then, but what really got my attention was learning everything I could about the internet back at home.

When I was fourteen years old I already ran an internet portal for kids and teenagers, which had great success. It was one of the most viewed sites in Israel due to its content variety. It had everything from jokes, funny pictures, video clips, computer games and much more. I knew right away that as a site owner I had to find ways to market my product, be it forums or Google’s search engine- I was on it. I always made sure to stay on top and be up to date regarding anything that had to do with me or my portal.

During that time I had the great opportunity to work for one of Israel biggest news sites, which only motivated me even further to get more traffic to my site and increase its visibility.

At the age of sixteen, I have put my accumulated knowledge in website building into good use and decided to open up my own business. I’ve built the website for small local businesses which were also interested in being marketed through SEO and PPC. that was an incredible and eye-opening experience.

Not long after I turned seventeen years old my small business got some attention which earned me a job at a proper agency, where I got to learn straight from experienced and seasoned pros. I finally hit it big with an agency that provided marketing services to big-name corporations in the United States of America.  That was about a year before I was enlisted for obligatory army service, so I didn’t waste any time getting everything I could from that experience. I learned so much about tools and marketing strategies I was oblivious to beforehand and was overwhelmed by the arsenal I got to acquire. I instantly wanted to experience my new talents by implementing them on the sites I ran personally with my own clients.

After I’ve fulfilled my term of service I got to work as an SEO specialist and Growth Hacker for some major international agencies and kept growing personally and professionally in the field. I’ve decided that by October of 2016 I would open my own agency, and provide marketing services for companies and start-ups on a worldwide scale- and the rest is history (I’ve always wanted to say that). These days I am the owner of GH.Agency.

Tell us about your company. What challenges you faced while growing your company and what you did to fix them.

As you might have gathered, I’ve named my agency GH.A for Growth Hacking Agency, a digital marketing agency which offers every possible solution to businesses and start-ups. I aim to help start-up owners and marketing managers by providing my agency’s wealth of information and experience and save precious time and resources.

We provide SEO, PPC, and CRO for start-up companies in competitive markets all around the world.

One of my main challenges was enlisting new working force for my business, which is something one must never take lightly. An employee with a smile on his face is my gain, without that- my business stand to lose on a very short term.

When I approached to hiring my first employee I knew exactly what I wanted- I was looking for someone who specialized in SEO and PPC as well. I understood the division between the fields, and that the person I was about to recruit had to get his full focus on the world he was about to enter, and so I acted accordingly. I’ve put on a notice I was searching for a pro and got approached by some wonderful people. After going through all the responses I realized everyone was more or less equally qualified, so I’ve put together a little test to help me sort out who was the right man for the job. I’ve sent the preferred candidates a technical proficiency test via email and gave them three days to complete it. The goal was to test their way of thinking and how good they were on dealing with deadlines.

And that was that this process left me with one contender for the job, with whom I work for to this day. My little test proved itself by every measure.

What choices did you make in your life which made a significant difference in your life?

That little decision I’ve made for myself, the one from when I was thirteen years old- that was the most crucial decision I’ve ever made. Without it, I would never have accumulated the knowledge I’ve got at that relatively young age. It was that decision that gave me the edge over my contemporaries at the time.

Another choice I’ve made which had a great impact on my career was taking a course in personal and commercial coaching, for myself and my business. Those eight months of training gave me the tools which help me best communicate with other people and my clients. I’ve noticed the positive change even throughout the course. Today I make sure to speak with the person I’m speaking too in mind, and I’m more attentive to my surrounding. I see this quality being too easily overlooked by other people, and that’s a shame in my opinion.

Walk us through your workday?

I like starting my day early, the sooner the better. I wake up not long after 6:30 am, drink my coffee and take a train to my office in Tel Aviv (which is about a fifteen minutes drive). I read the daily newspaper during that time to keep myself sane. Once I’m in my office I make another cup coffee for my morning routines, and as I drink that second cup I clear those schedules (in about an hour). This is when I go over the daily reports I receive from different sources for clients and measure the success performances of my campaigns.

After taking care of those tasks I go through my emails from the last twenty-four hours. Those I can reply to quickly and easily I treat right away, the rest are kept for later during the day.

As I go about my day I make sure to stay in touch with my clients with phone calls to keep being up to date. Sometimes I get my best ideas in those calls, new and innovative approaches which lead my clients to open up about how they run their businesses- I take all that and blow it up straight into the digital sphere.

At this point, my day is taking constant shifts and turns which lead to new adventures. Its this dynamic nature of my job which always keeps it fun and exciting.

What keeps you productive?

It really is hard to keep up productivity with all the noise all around us constantly, but with the years of working experience I’ve learned to identify distracting factors at work and how to filter them out. For example, smartphone notifications from news and social media apps kept pulling me out of work all the time, so I simply switched them all off. If I wish to check up on the news or take a look if there’s anything new or interesting on Facebook, I’ll do it when it pleases me thank you.

Every day I get to work I face a task list I keep up next to my computer monitor. Following this list helps me ease into my day without getting too far into one subject as to getting distracted by it. This approach helps me stay productive with all the work-related things that call for my attention.

I make sure to take a break of about five to ten minutes once an hour and let my eyes rest from staring at the screen all day. This is an important factor for health which shouldn’t be ignored.

To stay motivated I schedule an out of office meeting at least once a week. Once I noticed getting this breath of fresh air recharges my batteries like nothing else I kept on doing exactly that. I don’t know how that works, and I don’t care- it simply does so I keep on doing it.

I also get to work from a coffee shop once a week for a change of scenery. It’s quite nice but can get counterproductive if the place gets to be distracting. Luckily I’ve found two quiet little coffee shops nearby I frequent regularly.

What do you do to keep yourself on the growth path?

I use Feedly to keep track on news sites in the field of marketing, and I collect interesting blogs to follow (I follow about fifty different blogs and websites). I take at least one hour a day to read and get caught up on the latest changes in the world of marketing. This is a very dynamic and fast-paced field, so every day can bring on something crucial.

I try to get around different Facebook groups to get news from there, but also to spread some help around. This forces me to look for creative solutions. Though it can be draining, it is certainly worth it.

Also, and this might sound a little weird, I like reading eBooks. Throughout the week I get to come across interesting in-depth research that I can’t find the time to read thoroughly. Eventually, I’ve found a way to get around that- after I download the eBook to my computer I print it out and file it into a large folder, just like you would with normal books, and every weekend I read at least one eBook.

What tools/apps do you use for managing work and life?

Great question! as someone who’s having a hard time keeping focus, one of the first thing I used to do when I was an employee was buying notebooks and make my own to-do list, which made everything much more convenient

When I became self-employed I tried keeping that method, but it quickly became impossible. For example, I’d get a new task in an email, and I had to log it into the notebook, only to be deleted not soon after. Keeping up a notebook became obsolete.

I’ve looked for alternatives. I tried working with Trello and Asana, but those tools didn’t provide the solution I was looking for as well. At the end of the day, I realized I was looking for something that was notebook-like, but online and can be reached from anywhere. After a week of looking for this magic tool to exhaustion, I came across ToDoist, which is simply magnificent. It just does exactly what I need.

I’ve set up a project for every client, that’s where I organize everything that’s required. In case I get an incoming task that can be scheduled for next week, I simply use an excellent Gmail extension which allows me to log incoming emails as to-do list tasks. This made organizing tasks from my email much simpler. Right now ToDoist meet every expectation I had and more, and I’m happy to praise it for it.

What advice did you get which changed your life?

Exactly one year ago I’ve decided to follow my own path and march into a solo career. This meant leaving my comfort zone and go out for an adventure that keeps me surprised daily. This decision clearly changed my life and my way of thinking.

What advice would you give to people looking for success and growth in personal and professional life?

There are four important principles I believe everyone who wishes to be self-employed has to follow. These are determination, not being afraid to get dirty, and of course- focus and listening.

A determination is being decisive about achieving your goal no matter what. Whatever obstacle may come your way, it doesn’t matter- only your target does.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty- it means to put your ego aside and take actions which will affect you and your business. If you’re a baker and you’ve set up shop- go around town and hand out samples for everyone you meet. If you’re someone dealing marketing with marketing share your knowledge publicly in a blog, join Facebook groups and visit meetups.

Listening, the way I see it is being open to other people’s opinions. making a choice doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only right one. Sometimes hearing other people outlets us clear our heads for new and better ideas.

Focus- when we are by ourselves we tend to get all over the place. Focus your energies on things that matter. The more you pay attention to a specific thing the more you specialize in it.

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