Joe Giovannoli is the Founder and CEO of 9Sail, a digital marketing firm specializing in project-based and ongoing SEO management for service firms. At 9Sail, Joe has developed and maintained relationships with over 20 agency partners, collectively managed 12 to 20 client projects at a time, built out the company’s marketing strategy, and executed campaigns that generated thousands of dollars in top-line revenue.
Before founding 9Sail, Joe held positions at Red Clover, Inflexion Interactive, MobileSeed LLC, and Out There Marketing, LLC. He also has experience as a Fundraiser for Jersey Battered Women Services and the Human Needs Food Pantry. Currently, Joe is a Communications Committee Member for Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and is on the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Accelerator Board.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- How Joe Giovannoli began his entrepreneurial journey and started a company in college
- What challenges did Joe’s business face in the early days?
- 9Sail’s process for helping various clients build out SEO strategies
- Managing client expectations
- 9Sail’s pivotal moments and the core values that drive success
- The people that have guided Joe throughout his career
In this episode…
Many aspiring entrepreneurs have an abundance of ideas, but how do you turn those ideas into reality and build the business you’ve envisioned?
For Joe Giovannoli, it started by taking a chance. After founding an entrepreneurs’ club in college, Joe decided to gain some real-world experience at an existing company. While there, he learned valuable lessons and realized that if he wanted to pursue his entrepreneurial passion, now was the time. He quit his job, started a company, and within a month had a $50,000 per year client. Although Joe grew up with an entrepreneurial spirit, he had some guidance along the way — so who helped him get to where he is today?
In this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Joe Giovannoli, Founder and CEO of 9Sail. Together, they talk about Joe’s entrepreneurial journey, the challenges he faced in the early days of business, and how his company helps others build out their SEO strategy. Plus, Joe discusses the friends, family, and mentors who have helped him along the way — and the advice that motivated his go-getter attitude.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Joe Giovannoli on LinkedIn
- Elise Holtzman on LinkedIn
- The Lawyer’s Edge Podcast
- Mike Michalowicz on LinkedIn
- “How to Surge Your Business Growth” with Mike Michalowicz
- Mike Michalowicz’s books
- Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow
- Built to Sell Radio
- Ben Kirshner on LinkedIn
- Ryan Shortill on LinkedIn
- Keith Giovannoli on LinkedIn
- Debbie Kiederer on LinkedIn
- Chip Reichhard on LinkedIn
- Domenic Romano on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode
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The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
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Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.
John Corcoran 0:13
Alright, welcome everyone, John Corcoran here and the host of this show and you know, every week I feel so privileged to be able to talk to smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies check out our archives of some great episodes. Looking back at EO YPO, Activision Blizzard, Lending Tree, Open Table, and many more Netflix and Kinkos as well go check out those archives, and also the Co-founder Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And this is part of our series highlighting some of the great graduates of the EO Accelerator Program which I was a member of who joined the EO Entrepreneurs’ Organization and talking about their journey. So I’m really excited to dive into this story here today. Our guest is Joe Giovannoli. He’s the founder and CEO of 9Sail which is a search marketing lead generation firm specializes in working with law firms, accounting firms and AEC firms as architects and engineers, construction firms I believe if I got it right he’s also an active member of EO New York and a member of the Dean’s board of I’m gonna say this wrong Farleigh Dickinson or is it far less than barely got right University Silverman College of Business is that how you say business? Yes, Alma Mater. Joseph’s a wine in bourbon enthusiast and enjoys golf and traveling. Of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 where we help b2b businesses to get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. Go check out our website rise25media.com or email us at email@example.com to learn more. Alright, Joe, happy to have you here today. And I also want to give a quick shout out to our friend and client, Elise Holtzman, who I know is a friend of yours and recently joined the chapter accelerator program as well. The Lawyers Edge Podcast, it’s great, go check that out as well. But I want to I want to bring you back first of all, to your beginning journey and entrepreneurship. Because, you know, I was an English major in college. And that certainly didn’t really prepare me for being an entrepreneur. But you had the wisdom to join your entrepreneur Club, which I thought was telling. So was that something that came to you in college? Were you the kind of kid who was out like doing lemonade stands and your parents lawn? And I know, we’ll get into you have actually had an uncle who was involved in entrepreneurial, you know, Entrepreneurs’ Organization years ago, so maybe maybe it runs in the family? Yeah.
Joe Giovannoli 2:33
So thanks for having me, first and foremost. And so I was the kid that had lemonade stands in, you know, as growing up as a kid, and, but I didn’t, I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur. You know, I didn’t, I didn’t want to be a business or I didn’t know what the word entrepreneur meant, frankly, up until about high school when I took an entrepreneurship class, but I never really thought I would be a business owner, I thought actually, I would be more of a business development and salesperson. You know, my junior year, I said to my parents that, you know, I want to go to culinary school, that was genuinely what I wanted to do. And I love cooking. It’s like, my grandmother got me into, you know, cooking when I was very young. And it was just, it was a passion of mine. And, you know, my dad sat me down and said, Listen, you’re gonna work like a dog, you’re not gonna make a lot of money. And unless you own a restaurant, you know, that’s that, I don’t know that that’s the life you’re gonna want. Because you’re gonna wanna have kids and whatnot. And so, I took that to heart and I said, Okay, I’m, I’m gonna go to business school. So,
John Corcoran 3:33
do you ever work in a restaurant? Or did you ever cook in a restaurant,
Joe Giovannoli 3:36
I worked in food service for the New York Jets. But that was about the extent of it. And I had done some, you know, helping out with, you know, our local church organization and within the food, you know, food service kind of space. But I worked at a hardware store from my freshman year of high school through part of college. So, you know, and I had the knack for sales and marketing. So I said, You know what, I’m going to go for marketing, and see how this goes.
John Corcoran 4:05
I definitely food service I so I waited on tables, I did food delivery, you know, in the car, and then I was a cashier in a restaurant and college. Great experience, but definitely hard work. Your dad was right about that.
Joe Giovannoli 4:17
Yeah, yeah, he was, you know, he’s he did seem to have his finger on the pulse with that one. Yeah. Yeah.
John Corcoran 4:25
So you decide to study marketing in college, and at what point did you get involved in the entrepreneurs club and like, figure out that that was something you’re interested in?
Joe Giovannoli 4:34
Yeah. So I actually co founded the entrepreneurs club on campus, it was called Launchpad, friend of mine and then a friend of his decided that we were going to start this thing and, you know, nice small group but we were focused on trying to help students in you know, on campus that were looking to start a business to help them brainstorm, you know, their business plan, you know, potentially help to set them up with investors. We were very fortunate very early on in I think his author career, Mike Michalowicz, we actually got in touch with him and had him speak at the campus which the campus actually sponsored and and made a larger event than we would have been able to on our own. So, you know, I thought it was cool because I really, really enjoyed the idea of creating something new. And I’ve always been a bit of a process oriented person. So I also like the planning aspect of it. But, you know, we, we kind of just as friends went into it, it said, Yeah, this will be this will be fun. It’ll be something to do. And it’ll look good on a resume. So we kind of just jumped right into that.
John Corcoran 5:39
Yeah, Mike is a great past guest on the show have interviewed him twice. And I just bought his new children’s book for my kids actually came out with a children’s book, which is really cool. So definitely go check that out. So um, and then you graduate from college, and you’d done. It looks like you’d have a social media marketing company in college. And eventually you, you’ve you found 9Sail. And with 9Sail, you, you kind of at first were everything to everyone, you realize that just doing marketing services for every type of business out there wasn’t exactly the right thing to do, even though he actually you grew early on.
Joe Giovannoli 6:19
Yeah, you know, I had a unique experience. You know, obviously, as you mentioned, I started a company while I was in college, which was his whole story in and of itself. But
John Corcoran 6:28
well, you know, I learned that what was the highs and lows of that experience?
Joe Giovannoli 6:32
So I was given a project, my junior year, maybe yeah, Junior, you had to be junior year to write a business plan. And I was like, okay, like, I kind of know how to do this. And they said, Yeah, so you’re gonna write a business plan for a business, you’re never going to start, we’re going to give you a topic that you’re going to write it on, and you’re going to go off and do it. And I went to the professor after that class, and I said, There’s no way I’m going to write a business plan about something I’m not passionate about, like, that doesn’t make any sense. So a little bit of back and forth, I got approval to write a business plan for a business that I plan to start. And if I could start started and demonstrate that I was able to execute on part of the business plan, by the end of the semester, I could have an A, so cool, I went off and you know, myself and a buddy that was in the class, that was my business partner at the time, we not only started the business, but we landed three clients. And we were fully operational in two and a half months with profitability, like we were profitable, so nice. So really a cool experience, I also learned a lot about, you know, vetting out the right partner, and making sure you have the right partner and stuff like that. But, you know, it was it was a very eye opening experience. And, again, didn’t really want to be a business owner, I wanted the A in that class, which was what led me to it. But I did get a taste for agency world, which was kind of what took me into my next two jobs, which were working in agencies. I learned a lot about what I would do differently if I had run the show. Yeah. And they, I was presented with an opportunity to start my own company. And I took full advantage of it. And I jumped right in.
John Corcoran 8:09
And what did that mean? What do you mean, you were presented with an opportunity to start your own company.
Joe Giovannoli 8:14
So the company that the agent, last agency that I had been working for, unfortunately, was going through some hardship, we, you know, we did really well on the sales side of things, but we, we struggled on the production side. So I kind of saw that writing on the wall. And I started to, to look for other, you know, ways that I could potentially, you know, go look for another job, or do I start this business and I said, you know, what, my dad had been diagnosed with ALS in 2013. And he had given me advice at that point of, you know, don’t not do something you’re going to regret later. So, you know, aka take a chance. And I said, you know, I think I think this is my chance, I think that if I don’t do it now I’m never going to do it life’s going to get ahead of me and that’s going to be it so I quit my job and I started a company and had no revenue coming in had nothing nothing to my name. And I said you know what, I’m just going to do it. It’s it is what it is we’ll see what happens and gave myself a year you know, of runway and in a month I had a you know, a $50,000 a year client. So no, I was I was off and running.
John Corcoran 9:20
I often say to people that that’s the best way to start a company is to go work for another company doing something similar learning everything that you can about how to run that business, then go off and do basically the same thing. Because you know, then you don’t have to learn all the new, everything new, like the worst is to be like working in a yoga studio and then go start a flower shop because then it’s like completely different, you know?
Joe Giovannoli 9:43
Yeah, well, and I’m super. I was super grateful for the opportunities both of the agencies had given me because I did I learned a lot as you just said, and you know, I the good and the bad, right? I got I got an idea of what the right things were to do. I also got an idea of like, I probably would have done that differently or whatever. handle that differently. But like those learnings are completely invaluable? Like you can, you know, you could start a company on it literally.
John Corcoran 10:07
With the last agency you work for you said that their problem was they did okay on the sales side, but then they stumbled on the production side. And for you with your new company, you grew quickly out of the gate, but then you found that the problem was that one you weren’t going after one core type of client? And, and also, you had trouble kind of keeping up with all the growth. Am I right about that?
Joe Giovannoli 10:34
Yeah, I mean, we went from, you know, kind of year one being like, very, very minimal revenue, because it was like, at the end of the year, to, you know, my first full year in business, we did almost a quarter million dollars in revenue. And it was because the newness factor of me being in business for myself, people knowing me and saying, Oh, do my website, Do this, do that. Yeah, you know, it was very quick. And I actually had to hire a bunch of people who all had the skill set. So I had a developer, I had a designer, I had a writer, a social media person. So I grew the team very quickly. And once that, you know, kind of newness wore off, I was left with a really big payroll, not a tonne of revenue coming in, because none of our revenue, virtually none of our revenue was was monthly recurring. So I was in a place where I was holding the bag and, you know, new business owner don’t want to disappoint any of your employees don’t want to cause any issues. I just put myself into debt to, you know, kind of float the salaries and and I was like, Oh, we’ll get a new project. But it won’t be a big deal won’t be a big deal. And, you know, a couple of months of no more projects coming in. I had to make a decision. And so we were that was probably my lowest point. And in the business that that flowed?
John Corcoran 11:50
Was it one of those, you had to go into the office and lay off a bunch of people type ofscenarios?
Joe Giovannoli 11:55
I did. So we actually, we had a moment where I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book by John Warrillow. Built to Sell. He’s a client of ours. Yeah. So I booked my my favorite book, I’ve read that book, mid 20s times now 25-26 times, yeah, every time I read it, I get a little something different out of it. But I had that moment where it was like, we had a couple of clients in the SEO space that were always telling us, Hey, I landed this great case, I landed this great deal, you know, from a wet from a website, lead, we’re so happy, blah, blah, blah. And then I have all of the fires of, you know, website, clients are never happy with anything because you know, design changes, somebody in their family mentioned something, so they have to make a change to it. And so I had a moment where I was just like, we just need to focus on SEO, we need to focus on one thing, because it’s one skill set I’m hiring for, and, you know, I can go out and I can be really great at SEO. So we actually parted ways with about 80% of our clients. And we also like oh, a bunch of our staff, which, again, beat just because of where I was in the business, I wanted to make sure they were taken care of so you know, gave people probably more severance for a year’s worth of work that I needed to do, or two years where the work that I needed to, but I wanted everybody to feel like they could go out and find a job and not suffer. And I kind of took that hit and kind of added to our debt count. But we made the decision and it was myself and one other person and we just went off into the SEO space. And and you know, with, I think at the time two or three clients and, you know, started to build out our process. So it was, it was a big, big point for us.
John Corcoran 13:38
Yeah, and I’ll just second Built to Sell amazing book, amazing podcast as well definitely check it out. My business partner, Jeremy just moderated John’s every month, he moderates John’s monthly live webinar, that becomes a podcast recording afterwards. So go check that out. That’s invaluable. Definitely. About the SEO piece. I’m curious, how did you learn about it? You know, how did you teach yourself? Did you have mentors that you turn to, you know, it’s a big thing to say in your business? We’re gonna drop 80% of what we’re doing 80% of the clients and just go after this one thing Did, did you have a lot of expertise at the time? Or did you figure you develop it as you went along?
Joe Giovannoli 14:19
So I had enough of an understanding of it from working in the agency world to kind of to build strategies into to do the basic stuff. The person that I had kept on my staff had the rest of the experience, who was had development experience, you know, could could handle what he needed to handle. So I made the decision because I knew that from a strategic side, which was really where my you know, my brain is very strategy focused. So I was able to come up with great strategies that were creating and generating results because at that point, I was still very knee deep in client work and I was still involved in that. So you know, I have a mixture of having the right person there as well as me doing that was was key. But I did have I was also very fortunate my uncle’s business partner met introduced me to somebody who is still a mentor to me today and is fantastic. Ben Kirshner, he owned a fantastic SEO agency, actually, they go far beyond SEO, but he got his start very similar to how I did so I was able to turn to him with questions, you know, business questions, SEO questions, technology questions, and and the amount of time that he gave me and the, you know, the the knowledge that he shared with me was was paramount in us actually, you know, being able to do what we’ve done so far.
John Corcoran 15:45
Yeah. So critical, so valuable. And you’ve had a couple of clients, one in the law firm space, who’s also an EO or so a law firm, and then also a roofing client, that had been with you for a few years now. Talk about where they were before, and kind of some of the pieces that you put in place? What are the building blocks? For those who don’t understand SEO? Which is 99%. I think, the world and and kind of the results that you’ve gotten out of them?
Joe Giovannoli 16:12
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, we’ve, of all the client, we have a lot of, you know, we’ve as we’ve grown, we’ve we’ve picked up a lot of clients, and every everyone that we have, you know, I’ve seen some some really good successes. But you know, the two that you mentioned specifically, one is a somebody that I got to know, well, in college, he started his company, right around the same time that I did, and our paths crossed, you know, a couple of different ways. And so they’ve been working with us for almost five years now. And, you know, they started out is about a three quarter million dollar business when, you know, they started, you know, when they started with us, and to date, they’re, you know, over 6 million in revenues, annual revenues, and SEO is a big part of their, their lead source. You know, we also do their paid search, too. You know, and we’ve been involved in not just at the SEO and PPC side, but we are looking at as a true partner of their business, you know, we work we help to onboard their marketing manager, we help to, you know, kind of get that person up to speed, you know, constantly, you know, talking about ideas with them even out that go outside of just SEO because we intimately understand their business. So, you know, really good example of, of a client for us in a in a great buyer persona for us, if you will, would be them, right? Like they are the perfect picture of a great client. And the other side of that is the law firm that you mentioned, who’s actually a member.
John Corcoran 17:37
Before we get to that I, want to I want to ask about so you know, let’s say you’re in an unsexy industry like roofing. What are the things that you do? Because when I think of SEO, I think of like, Okay, write a bunch of blog posts, you know, maybe post on other websites and stuff, but for an unsexy topic like roofing how, what do you what do you do?
Joe Giovannoli 17:56
So there’s so much and honestly, roofing and siding and windows go hand in hand. So these guys are great at roofing and siding. And I don’t know about you, but if you don’t know if you’ve ever seen a house that has brand new roofing and siding on it, but it’s pretty awesome. I would have years ago, I would have said the same thing. But these guys are the premier cream of the crop roofing and siding company. So, but answering questions that everybody has, right, like my roof is leaking? How do I determine where my roof leak is? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. So, you know, help them to help them to generate content around how do you guide somebody to figure out where their roof is leaking? Or, you know, do they actually need somebody to come out and replace their roof? Or is it going to be a patch job. Ultimately, the whole purpose of SEO is to get eyeballs on the site. So that way the site can actually help you to convert. So in their case, it’s a lot of answering homeowner questions, you know, so that way they don’t have to pick up the phone and call somebody and ask a million questions to the to the receptionist. You know, it’s making sure that they have strong before and afters. Right. So nothing is cooler than seeing a house that looks really rundown. And literally by replacing the roof and the siding of it, the house looks like you just built it fresh. Yeah, so really cool stuff. And I mean, it’s it is actually one of my favorite industries to work in, because the changes are just so drastic, and there’s the content out there is just endless that they can be found for.
John Corcoran 19:24
And talk also about the the legal client as well, because that’s my background. I practiced law for many years recovering lawyer now. And I also know that lawyers not the easiest clients to work with. Because it can be a little particular. So talk about that one.
Joe Giovannoli 19:38
Yeah, so this this client is a an EO member, and they, you know, he kind of just jumped in head first and he said, we’re gonna do what you tell us to do. So tell us what we need to do to to make a lot of money from our website, right and make it a really big part of our business. And so we started out on a pretty modest retainer with them, but we gave them the roadmap to success, we told them how many pieces of content a month, a month and a quarter that they needed to be creating, you know, we were out out there constantly going out and getting backlinks for them and helping them to make sure that the content that they were creating was playing into the overall strategy with, you know, the keyword strategy. You know, the last couple of years, they’ve, they’ve generated over a million dollars a year annually, just from their website alone. And majority of those leads come from organic search. So not being not being typed in, you know, their name not being typed, you know, their, their URL wasn’t being typed in all because, you know, they have a great SEO presence. And at the height, as soon as COVID hit, they made a decision to double down where most, most companies didn’t know what to do. So they were trying to shed expenses, because they didn’t know how long the the pandemic was going to put them, you know, behind the eight ball, they doubled down, they actually opened a new practice area during that time. And within six months, we had it actually generating real revenue for them, which was a fantastic decision on the managing partners part, he’s somebody I always envy and I, you know, was seen as somebody that I look up to you and respect, because he just had his finger on that pulse, the whole time of like, we’re not going to stop this as an investment. And this is our opportunity to shine. You know, they have since opened up offices in a couple of other states. And, you know, just continuously pouring money and time into their website, because they know that there’s a formula there, it’s for every dollar they put in, they’re getting XML back. Yeah. And, you know, it’s been an incredible journey with them. They’ve been with us for three or four years now. And, you know, again, absolutely love working with them.
John Corcoran 21:46
Now, with these clients, I imagine, there’s a lot of education that goes into it, because you’ve got to set expectations that it’s going to take a little while to get results, and you got to be patient with it, how do you manage those expectations?
Joe Giovannoli 22:00
We’re pretty upfront in the sales process, you know, right out of the gate is just, hey, listen, you know, this may not be a fit for you. And that’s totally cool. Like, we don’t, you know, we’re not a fit for everybody, but you’re going to invest money in this, and you’re probably not, if you see anything before the six month mark, it is pure gravy, right, and you should be really happy. But you’re probably not going to see anything until the six month mark at least right. And that also something that we’ve done in our business, which has been a kind of a major change. And and a good change for us is, you know, we look at we don’t want to work with just the brand new startup law firm doesn’t matter how much money they have. The reality is a brand new startup law firm with a brand new website that has no authority on on Google is going to take us forever to build authority on so we look to work with firms that are you know, five to 15 attorneys, they’ve been around for a few years, they’ve had their website for that long, they are creating some content, you know, our buyer persona is very pretty, pretty specific, because we know what it’s going to take to get people to be successful. And while we can help some of those smaller new startup firms, their time and money is better spent in going out in networking, you know, maybe going out and getting a couple of of, you know, press pieces through the law journal or whatever. Right? And those are the consultative conversations I’ll have with them. But you know, they’re not our core customer, typically.
John Corcoran 23:23
Hmm. And what about companies or law firms that are already creating content? What are some ways in which you advise them on, you know, things that they could do if they’re already creating content, but maybe they’re not optimizing it in the way that they should?
Joe Giovannoli 23:39
Yeah, I would, I would tell you that most law firms that just create their own content in in house aren’t doing it to be SEO friendly. And whether it’s a conscious decision or not, that’s that’s the truth. You know, a lot of in house marketers are, you know, you’ll have two marketers serving 60 attorneys, right. And that’s that that formula just doesn’t work. So what they’re doing is they’re doing their best to just get this content pumped out. So an attorney, an attorney volunteers to write a piece of content, they write it, and you know, the marketing person reviews it to make sure that there’s, you know, it’s laid out, well, grammatically correct. And then they publish it. Well, we’d come in, and we do and we tell marketers and attorneys to do all the time is take the time to understand what it is you’re trying to write for and understand whether or not you’re trying to rank for something, or are you just trying to get some information out there because there’s a big difference between them. And so, our company is when we work with a law firm, we actually write out the structure of what the articles should look like, we call them skeletons. So we actually essentially if you think about writing a draft of all the headings for a paper in college, we essentially do that for them and we give them a couple of pointers for each heading as to Hey, you should include this or you should look here and and kind of replicate what this person is written or something of that nature. But we help them to understand what it takes to actually rank for SEO and and what they typically will produce on their own is very different than what we try to get them to do.
John Corcoran 25:12
Right, right. I want to dive into your your involvement with EO and the accelerator program. So first of all, you had an uncle who joined, what was YEO, before change his name to EO many, many years ago was in the tech space. So when you were growing up, was that something you were conscious of? You’re aware of this organization? And like I one day, I want to be part of it, or was this something that came around later?
Joe Giovannoli 25:35
No, honestly. So the first answer, yes, I knew that it existed, I knew that he would, he would go on for retreats and stuff like that, I didn’t really understand it. Honestly, I was pretty young when he was in it involved in it initially. And so I knew that it existed. I did, as I mentioned before, I didn’t think I wanted to, I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur. And so I didn’t think anything of it. But he actually kind of pushed me into the accelerator program, because he said, I think this will be really good for you, you qualify for it, I’d like you to do it. And so, as soon as I got a taste of it, it became the cool kids club to me, right. So you get you know, you know, in school, you know, you wanted to be part of the winning team, or you wanted to, you know, sports team, you you know, whatever you want, you just at least for me, I always had that passion for like wanting to be part of that cool organization that, you know, it’s, it’s not like everybody can get in and whatever. And so for me, I set my sights on, okay, I got to make a million in revenue, because I got to get into the do proper, right. So it became it became my driver. You know, when I started the company, I wanted to make a lot of money and whatever. And I didn’t even care about that at any point I wanted, it started wanting my team to be awesome and wanting my team to be happy. And I wanted to, I wanted to get into EO. And the day that we officially graduated, which was back in August, by I cried that day, I was I was so incredibly happy. And I was so like, I could not wait to tell my uncle like I was just it was it was one of those pride moments for me that again, I would never I can never forget. And the team who you know, they have no involvement in EO, but my team was over the moon about about the news. Like they, they they knew that this was what we had been working for, and that I was looking forward to getting into this. So it was just a really, really cool moment when it couldn’t happen.
John Corcoran 27:28
That’s really cool. And then, you know, it’s funny for me, I want to call out Ryan Shortill, who’s one of the EO accelerator trainers that I had for two years. And he said one thing that really pissed me off, but in a good way. He referred to us the room of accelerators as having baby businesses one day, and I was like, I don’t have a baby business. I’ve been doing this for at that point, like six or seven years or something, you know, but then I was I stepped back and I was like, You know what he’s kind of right. This is a baby’s like a beginner business. And I was like, screw that I’m gonna prove him wrong. And I did eventually, right, it took a little while. But thank you, Ryan for putting that lighting that fire under me. And then any other pivot points along the way. And when we talked about a couple so far, we talked about the realization needed niche down, you had to pick a niche, you had to shed all these different services, anything else that you would credit is helping you to graduate?
Joe Giovannoli 28:23
Yeah, you know, there were two, two things. So the first one was when we made the decision to focus on law firms. That was that was a big heated debate internally, we had several employees at that point. And pretty much the line was drawn in the middle, I had a business partner at the time, who’s no longer a business partner of mine, completely amicably, but not a business partner of mine at this point. He didn’t want to do law firms, and didn’t want to work with lawyers. And you know, that one of our employees kind of agreed with him, but he worked directly under him and myself, and the salesperson really wanted to go for it. And I said, You know what, I’m going to pull the one and only time that I ever pulled this card, on the majority owner of this business, where this is what we’re doing, and I want to move forward with it. Because I I wasn’t working on the assumption that we were going to see wild success in the first year. But I was working on the the assumption that in 2-3-4 years law firms were going to catch up and realize that SEO was important. And I wanted to be really primally positioned in the market for this to happen. So for me, that was a big, big change. And then the next big change which came very shortly after was my fanatical focus on culture. You know, our core values we ironed our core values out in I think it was like 2000 I want to say was 2018 we really ironed out those core values. You know, and just to give you a taste our first core values make dad proud. You know, like that’s that for us and as a team and a team at the time. It was something that we could all grab on to right is it allowed us to realize and and test, you know, people we were interviewing and whatnot, you know, where is their moral compass? Right? Where what are they all working towards. And one thing that our team shares is that, you know, they want to, they want to make sure that they’re always working aboveboard, that we are doing everything, white hat, which is a SEO term, and that, you know, anything that we’re going to do is going to is not going to jeopardize the, you know, the company’s reputation, their reputation is something that their parents would be proud of, right, that they, we want to make sure that they are always doing whatever it’s gonna take to make that route. Right. So, yeah, so I mean, that was a, that was a huge thing for me, because it we invested a lot of money and time in it. But you know, we’ve had some really happy employees, we’ve, you know, our team is always willing to go above and beyond to help one another and to help our clients. So that was a really, really big change for us that I think catapulted us to where we are today.
John Corcoran 31:02
That’s really cool. All right, I want to wrap up with my final question. So a big fan of gratitude, especially expressing gratitude publicly to those who’ve helped you along the way peers, contemporaries, mentors, that sort of thing. So if you look around it, your peers and contemporaries could be others and Neo could be the uncle that you mentioned. It could be you mentioned Ben Kirshner, I think was his name, who do you respect, who you admire? Who would you want to acknowledge publicly?
Joe Giovannoli 31:28
Yeah, you know, I sat down one day, and I thought about the five, right, the five people that I really have had a major influence on the business. And, you know, of course, I could say, my parents and stuff like that, but you know, really the people that, you know, they didn’t have a, they didn’t have a requirement to help me or to want me to succeed or anything like that. But, you know, my, my uncle Keith, Keith Giovannoli has has been there literally, from day one, and has, you know, let me let me bump around and make my mistakes, but he’s always, you know, helped me to kind of get back on track and, and has given me great guidance. I mentioned Ben Kirshner. You know, who has again, as always been there for me, Debbie Kiederer, who is the current president of EO, New York, helped me to get into my forum and has always been a, you know, somebody that I’ve admired, and she’s really stood in my corner every square inch of the way here. Somebody from my past Chip Reichhard. He owned a Sandler franchise, and he was my Sandler trainer. And I used to say that meeting with him every week was like, the New Year’s resolution that I got to renew every week. It just got it fired me up, and it motivated me. You know, beyond beyond words. And, you know, my good, really good friend Domenic Romano, and in in EO, New York, you know, he every day just comes up with really inspiring stuff. And he’s always been somebody to have my back no matter what, and, you know, I just, I wouldn’t be able to operate without him. So, those are my five.
John Corcoran 33:07
That’s great. Joe, this has been wonderful. Where can people go to learn more about you and check you out?
Joe Giovannoli 33:14
Yeah, so our website 9sail.com. And, you know, go to our team page. I my LinkedIn is attached to that. And yeah, you know, we were always putting out new content in you know, so check us out there. I also when we’re pretty regular contributor on law.com so. I welcome welcome anybody reaching out.
John Corcoran 33:35
Good place for you to be Alright Joe. Thanks so much.
Joe Giovannoli 33:37
Thank you. Appreciate it.
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