Darius Fisher wears many hats: entrepreneur, investor, writer, digital marketing and communications professional, and CEO and president of Status Labs, an online reputation management company. With offices in Austin, New York, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, Status Labs serves over 1,500 clients in over 40 countries, including Fortune 500 brands, CEOs, politicians, athletes, and other public figures.
He’s also a contributor to Forbes, the Startup Mag and the Huffington Post, and was named in the Innovation 50 in PRWeek. He invests in several companies and real estate projects, and has been profiled in the New York Times, New York Post, Inc Magazine, Forbes, Daily Beast, Business Insider and many more.
Darius lives in New York City and loves to play soccer and travel. He is here to share his thoughts on the challenges of starting a company and digital reputation management and is living his purpose one reputation at a time.
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With Daniel Budzinski – Darius Fisher
DB (Daniel Budzinski): Welcome to the DreamCast Podcast. My name is Daniel Budzinski, and my goals to help you find purpose and become the greatest version of yourself. Every week our promise is to deliver one of a kind stories of individuals, who are pioneer purpose in their life. These are people I personally would love to have as mentors and leaders in my life in the past, and now they’re right here at our fingertips.
The DreamCast guest are willing to be authentic, genuine and human about their struggles and success. To me, purpose is priceless and if you’re looking to making investments in to your life, yourself I believe you’ve come into the right place. Thanks for tuning in. Now, let’s get started.
DB: Today’s guest wears many hats entrepreneur, investor, writer, digital marketing and communication professional, and the CEO and the President of the Status Labs, an online reputation management company with offices in Austin, New York, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. Status Labs serves over 1500 clients in over 40 nations including fortune 500 brands, CEOs, Politicians, Athletes and other public figures. His also a contributor to Forbes, the startup mag in Huffington Post. It was named in the innovation 50 in PR week. He invest in several companies and real estate projects and has been profiled in The New York Times, The New York Post, INC Magazines, Forbes, Daily Beast, Business Insider and many more.
Our guest lives in New York City and loves to play soccer and travel. He is here to share his thoughts on the challenges of starting a company and digital reputation management. His living his purpose one reputation at a time. Darius Fisher, welcome to the DreamCast.
Darius Fisher: Thank You for having me, Daniel.
DB: Men like you’ve got impressive thing. I got little excited there in the middle I was like, this is Darius Fisher is a big deal.
Darius Fisher: Thank You. I appreciate your saying that.
DB: Well, too much of maybe some surprise to some individuals tuning in here. Darius, I don’t know if you know this is will but, you gonna help us out helping your clients just talk and promote the values that they stand for and we’ve had you know, several individuals on the DreamCast from your company so, thanks for doing that. And yeah, really appreciate we do but as we kind to start the show off. Tell me a little background about yourself, your life, childhood, maybe something about how you are raise and what you are working on right now.
Darius Fisher: Sure. Yes. I am a native New Yorker. I was born in Manhattan. I grew up outside the city in Winchester County. I had a relatively normal childhood. Have good parents. They are always around and supported me everything I did.
I played a lot of sports. I was into academics in school and was luckily brought up in an environment that really valued education, and so it’s always important to me and to my family that I did well in school and did all extra-curricular stuff and because of all that I think it contribute a lot to my success.
You know, I graduated from college, move out to California and I can go on it later, but I’m working now on a business called Status Labs which is a digital reputation management firm which I started about over 4 years ago now.
Me, essentially help public figures as well as companies manage which shows up about internet and obviously it’s a new industry but it’s in the PRs phase but, in my opinion what we are doing is actually more important than what typically called PR. Coz if…you know, what shows up about you on internet is who you are.
DB: Reality, right?
Darius Fisher: It’s reality now.
DB: Even if it’s not.
Darius Fisher: Yeah, exactly. It’s been a hell of a ride. Lots of, lots of ups and downs but we’re here today doing well and I enjoy every minute of it.
DB: Man, I loved…When I go to Status Labs too. You have such excellent on all the things that you do. First, I wanna ask. How old are you?
Darius Fisher: I’m 31 years old.
DB: Okay. So, now today…I mean, you’re so young to have this company with 1500 clients. A lot of your clients are like celebrities, athletes…very affluent individuals. Did you ever expect yourself to do something like what you are doing right now?
Darius Fisher: If you would ask me 10 years ago, would I be doing what I’m doing right now? I would definitely said, NO. I had no background in communications or marketing or PR.
DB: No degree?
Darius Fisher: I have a degree in economics. So, it’s one of those one size fits all of things you can apply either of profession. But, I would have no idea that I’ll be doing this today.
I was always interested in business and always interested in working for myself and I have a lot of hustles growing up from making faked IDs in high school to selling furniture in college. As people are moving out, I would take their furniture and sell on Craigslist and that was the hustles I had during college. Then once I graduated, I really wasn’t sure what I gonna do and you know, here we are today.
DB: That’s incredible, really is. So, what exactly just for those that are tune in to our conversation. What exactly is digital reputation management? And why did you pursuit to kind do that industry specifically? Talk to us about how you landed on this journey because, you know, for the DreamCast, it’s all about living your dream. I would say, that you’re living your dream right now. How did you stumble upon this and find your path on its way.
Darius Fisher: Yeah. I mean, it really was I did stumble upon it. You know, digital reputation management is really helping a client improve and protect all elements of their digital reputation, which includes their social media handles, the first page of google search results, the PR, the news that shows about them. Everything that associates the person or the brands.
Digital identity is what we come in and help our clients improve. I got into this space really by…it was pretty random and by a strange coincidence. I was living in California, I was probably 22 years old. I quit a job working in sales and the day that I quit I went to a Happy Hour with the colleague and on that Happy Hour, I met someone who work in political consulting and told me she was hiring interns and if I was interested I should come by an interview.
And so I went and I had no background in politics. I didn’t even know what political consulting was. I got the internship and start working on a lot of interesting about proposition campaigns, the congressional race up in Northern California. I was there for not even for six months but, it was through that internship that I made a lot of connections to political consultant, lobbyist and crisis communication people and after the internship was over, I continue to do some consulting work for some of this crisis communication professionals who are typically older men and women who don’t necessarily know anything about digital.
And so, they would have a campaign where client be the CEO or brand was going through some type of crisis and they needed help fixing their problem, you know, high level communication strategy. They also needed digital services so, fixing their websites or fixing their google searches also the Wikipedia page and because, I was the guy that they knew, they start sending me work to do.
And it started small but I was able to see like what you know some of these clients were willing to pay for some of these services and I said to myself hey, I could offer this on my own and started a business just around digital crisis, digital reputation management.
And really that’s how it’s all started, and from there it’s obviously grown and we’ve seen opportunities tough rather services. But it was all started you know, really by a strange kind of coincidence back when I was living in California.
DB: So, this is what interesting to me. It’s like coincidental but it’s not, right? It’s like you’re doing something, you are going for something you didn’t know and all of a sudden…and all of the sudden, it seems like that’s kinda what I r*** t*** to a lot of individual stories, isn’t that unique?
Darius Fisher: Yeah. I mean I don’t think anyone…my thinking for business is that if you are interested in being in business the most important steps is just to decide that you wanna do it and then do something. Because the first thing that you do it’s not necessarily gonna be what you end up doing. But it does sort of mentally put you in a place to run your own business and say it to other people, hey, I gonna start something.
Coz once you make that first mental and physical steps that actually starting something that’s probably the hardest challenge. And then from there, you can change your business or you go from in different directions but, you know, once you take that first steps, you kind of committed mentally and to other people.
DB: That’s really good. Love it. Well, what was the biggest challenges? One of the things I wanna talk about is kinda starting a company…it’s never easy and like you just said just going after it doing something is so important. What were some of the earlier challenges you faced?
Darius Fisher: I mean every stage of the business presented different challenges. We’ve had issues over the years with logistical stuff like, collections, people not paying you, people kind of snubbing you and ignoring you after you provide the service, issues of recruiting – finding right people, how to recruit, how to get right people on the bus.
I had issues with business partners that have made bad decisions that it gotten us in, you know, negative media cycle that I have to deal with. Each day when you’re on the business creates tremendous amount of challenges and you never really know what to expect.
And I think with a lot of traditional jobs when you go to the office you can basically expect what’s gonna happened day-in, day-out. When you are entrepreneur and you are running a business like this, it’s always gonna be different, and the challenges are always weird and often times out of nowhere. And so, I think it’s always important to not let them get you down and keep on pushing forward coz the worst you gonna do is give up when you face one of these challenges, and as long as you can stay committed to your course and keeping on when times are tough…that’s what it takes to succeed and move things in the right direction.
DB: It’s kinda of funny like, you know, what challenges do you face…you’re like well, I’m dealing one right now, probably right?
Darius Fisher: I’m dealing with 3 right now.
Darius Fisher: There’s a lot. You know.
DB: I just like, how big is the fire? I don’t know, let me measure it out.
Darius Fisher: Luckily now that we are a little bit bigger. I have to close to 40 employees now, all of the decision making and problem solving doesn’t always fall into my desk. When you’re smaller it does, you’re the only person that can solve a lot of problems that come in your way. When you are a lot bigger and more established, you are luckily have some team that you can count on to deal that stuff as it comes up.
DB: I mean looking at your staff too. You got relatively very young staff, you do? So, talk to us a little bit about that. You’re dealing with millennial individuals. Just tell me some of the things that you’ve learned.
Darius Fisher: Well, we worked in the digital realm. So, for us to be successful all the people of our staff need to understand the internet, need to be digital natives. And so, that’s why, I think a lot of our staff does gear…a little bit younger. There are obviously challenges working with younger people, and that they don’t have much experience sometimes, they never been through difficult situations before. But, you know, we’re on it together we are all learning at the same time. So, it hasn’t really been an issue for us and I’m of that same millennial generations so, you know, I’m learning at the same as everyone else.
In terms challenges with managing a young staff, you know, they are millennial staff, I have an amazing team. They’re fantastic to work with. I appreciate all of them in their own ways. But, challenges I’d say are sometimes when you are working with young people they just haven’t kind of been there before, they don’t know what expectations should be set for them. They’ll think that they are doing what’s right that they are doing a good job when I actually have different expectations for them and sometimes getting on the line can be a challenge.
DB: Yeah. Made you right. It’s like…that’s really cool. I like to hear your opinion on that really because I’m a millennial as well and everyone that work with us is millennials and it’s just kind of different style of leadership and everyone always want to share their opinion which we want that we appreciate everyone, we honor everyone but like you said it’s kind of different levels of expectation.
You got to really communicate very clearly, and it’s all about the team. it’s all about…just cool I kinda hear you articulate some of those things that’s great.
When I think back like, on my story you know, there’s this pinpoint moments, we all have this like, you know, everyone calls for something different, destiny moments, moments of decision, defining moments. What are some really defining moments that were some greatest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Darius Fisher: I’d say the biggest defining moment that comes to mind is when in 2015, I had an incident with a former business partner who made a mistake outside of his role at Status Labs that basically created a media storm for us. And I need to make some really tough decisions about where we gonna take the business and that was the experience I think changed our business.
That was a defining moment for us. Coz it took us from business that was, you know, we were doing well. We were growing but the culture really wasn’t right under the leadership of my former business partner and we have a lot of turnover, we were definitely on boarding clients but, the people who work for us weren’t happy and didn’t enjoy the work. I think it was that incidents that happened that allowed us to kind of make some managerial changes that really affected the culture of the company.
And so now, if you look back, like our business is so different than it was two years ago and when that happened and for the better. We have the most engaged team we’ve ever had, we have the best client list that we’ve ever had and people really enjoyed and proud of working for us now. And that was not the case, especially when that incident happened.
DB: Man, that’s supercool to hear and listened to you that kind and be just grateful for the moment when you have the kind of culture that really healthy, everyone really excited about each other.
So, tell me, how do you practice personally in a culture with your company like, just gratitude? You’ve got this young people given their lives. They’re working for you hard and obviously they’re getting paid for it. So, it’s like that’s enough but even some of your clients, right? They really are trusting you. How do you practice gratitude?
Darius Fisher: Well, I mean personally, I practice gratitude by journaling in the morning, and journaling about the things I’m grateful for. But, on the day to day basis with my staff, I always try to treat everyone with respect and tell them that I appreciate them when they do something that I appreciate and just trying to communicate well with the team and rewarding, you know, good performance, communicating to other people when someone has done a good job at something.
These little things go a long way, you know, giving someone congratulation and telling them they did a great work. Goes a long way and I think about that type of…that reward after it happened and make someone feel better.
So, I just kind of, you know, tell people how I’m feeling, and when I’m feeling appreciated towards them, I tell them that, and it’s simple as that.
DB: Yeah, it really is. That’s good. You know, when you talked with your employees I’m sure that you’re often kinda encourage them. Like you said, you congratulated them. What’s one piece of advice that you tell your employees that you can share with us today.
Darius Fisher: Well, I deal in the company with a lot of our sales, and business development. And one thing that I’ve learned that I tried to tell to all of my team leader that are also in the position to sell our services and present us to the marketplace is the important of listening. A lot of times people think that to be a good sales person you need to be someone that can speak well, get along well with people and that’s obviously a huge part of it.
But, the best sales people are the ones that are really good listeners. Coz, if you can really deeply listen to what a client’s problem is and you can strategize and figure out how to best solve the problem because you’ve listened well, you’re going to be a better sales person.
And so, I always encourage my team to not talk but instead listen as much as possible. Learn as much as possible as you can about a perspective client because with that information you can provide the best possible service and offering from us.
DB: Yeah, I like that. I was also like when it comes to kind of procuring like to your clients, is a lot of it based on individuals talking, in kind of say, Hey! You should check out Status Lab. How is that working? Like, is it referrals? Or is it..
Darius Fisher: Yeah. I mean we got leads coming from different ways but our business is primarily referral base. And so, we got a lot of customers referring friends and family from all over the world.
There aren’t a lot of companies that do what we do well and so we’ve been able to carve a niche for ourselves and just always doing what we say we gonna do for our clients and that can’t be said to a number of our competitors.
DB: That’s great. I mean I can’t believe how much you’ve grown this organization. And again, I always asking that I mean, so many individuals are really high level individuals, high capacity leaders and it’s like referrals so, it’s like the only way to get referral is to do what you really said you gonna do. You know, it really works, right?
Darius Fisher: It really does work. Yeah.
DB: So, tell us about a practice that you kind of implemented in your life that’s really changed the way you live and work now. I mean something that you… for me, I got this moments that I’m just like aha moments I called them. Where it’s like you either become aware or you can get this whatever you call revelation or, you know, or you just transform the way you think, the way you act. What are those things that you implemented?
Darius Fisher: Yeah. I mean it all comes down for me with mindfulness, you know, being present at the moment or trying to be as present as you possibly can in the moment. And so, one practice that I started to do is meditation. Meditating, trying to meditate at least once per day, even if it’s for as little as 10 to 15 minutes. It really does make a huge different in every aspect of your life.
So, when you are able to sit and just consciously look at your breath and feel yourself breathing, you are able to then have better actions with everyone else around you because actually are more present throughout the day. So, that’s something that has been hugely beneficial for me.
Another is a small thing but, it’s actually sleeping with my phone outside my bedroom and then on airplane mode. And so, whenever I’m going to bed I put my phone outside the room and I turn on an airplane mode. And then I wake up in the morning instead I’m able to get myself into routine that prioritizes meditation and exercise. And then later, once I’ve done that I can turn on and start my sort of day in a grind of all the destruction that come with your day to day work.
DB: Right. No, man, it’s like when I listened to individuals like yourself say what you do. I mean really, you have done so many things and accomplished so many things and the pressure that’s on you kind makes like, it makes like what I do not look like what I do a lot even though I feel like I just have so much to do I couldn’t even think straight but what’s amazing to me is you still gonna make time for yourself, right? It’s like who cares about how big our companies if we’re just like not happy, not healthy enough not doing good.
BF: Yeah. Absolutely. I prioritize that for myself as well as my employees. I want them all to be happy. Yeah.
DB: What do you think about them? I was gonna actually ask you that. What you do for them to kinda like reinforce that because, you know, happy employees, happy customers.
Darius Fisher: Yeah. Happy employees, happy customers, happy everything. Our business is all about our employees. It’s a service based business. So, were only as good as people work for us. So, my partner and I, we do everything we can to make them as happy as possible. So, obviously, we tried to compensate them well, we tried to facilitate activities within the company that brings everyone together so they feel like a team.
As little as small things like, you know, doing happy hours together and going out dinner together, and going bowling, and those types of things. But then on, the brander scale, we also tried to create incentives that bring everyone together and get everyone really get excited.
One we just finished was we set a sales going for last 5 months to get everyone to work really hard. If they hit revenue goal, we are sending everyone to Hawaii this spring and we all came together and in a last few days of the month we were able to hit the goal and so it was like a kind of experience that I don’t think everyone not every company provides employees and I think our team recognizes that and you really came together and rose the occasion to hit our goal.
DB: Man, it’s so cool. You know, for someone like yourself, you got this look of your typical day. What’s your typical day look like? You get up, you turn your phone on airplane mode and then normal mode, and you kinda what? Go to the gym, meditate what is the whole *** look like?
Darius Fisher: Well, the goal is not to look at the phone first. It’s to first…I tried to meditate, journal and exercise. And then after I accomplish those things then I’ll go and kinda start my work day which includes turning the phone and checking all my messages etcetera.
DB: So, you got these responsibility that’s weighing and pressing you all day. How much do you work you just constantly on from the time when you fall asleep? It sounds like you got a pretty good harmony with it. But tell us a little about that. Like the demands on the weekend, the demands during the week, how everything works?
Darius Fisher: Yeah. We’re a…it’s a service business so, we are sort of at the wimps of our clients’ needs. And so, there are times when I take sales calls from the Middle East that midnight or at 10 o’clock. There are things that come up constantly so, I am working often and when I’m not working I’m physically at my computer doing stuff to build the business. I’m also thinking about the business.
So, this…the company is the predominant thing that I think about when I’m not like not working. And so, it really is one of these things when you were doing business like this, it does become your life and you think about constantly, thinking through challenges or something happen for better or worst that’s just the way I work.
But it turns out like I do have a good work life balance where I have good social life, I travel, I play sports, I go to the gym and so I’m not so chained to my computer. But, you know, as a CEO you know, there’s a lot of stresses on you constantly and you think about them a lot and so, there’s always that kind of thing going on the background where the business is on the mind.
DB: Man, so cool. I mean listening to you is really is inspiring. Even as simple as just you talking about your day, it’s so interesting to me how as human beings…we just, we really do strive to hear the stories of others and it makes endless possibilities available for us.
When you are talking about what you do with your business and how you encourage your employees…I’m like, man, I gonna do that with my wife, I’m gonna do that with my employees. I gonna, I mean it’s so funny how little it takes and one of the things I know that you talk about a little bit earlier being mindful, it’s like, it’s although difference. It really is to me.
We’re on this podcast for those who are tuning in right now, it just making the time to do something like this again whether it’s meditating, being mindful whether it’s working out, whether its journaling…it seems like it’s just like a waste of time. But, it opens up all of this endless possibility of more time because it’s just for whatever reasons it’s just how it works, right?
Darius Fisher: The most important you can do, you know. Being mindful, meditating, exercising taking care of yourself…it’s so much more important than anything else in my opinion. So, I prioritize that I tried to get my team, I prioritize to get tried to get my friends, my family I prioritize it. If you asked anyone that knows me, I play que told them some of my stuff that I tried to my day to day life.
DB: It’s so cool. Tell me this, you got this dream that you living in. if you were give advice to someone that tries to start a company or really feels that they got this purpose of their life but they don’t know where to begin, what would you tell them?
Darius Fisher: I say think less and do more and just try to start something. If you have the desire to do something, tell the people you gonna do it and just take that first step and try to start doing it. So, for me, if you want to start a coffee shop, so start reading what it takes to start a coffee shop and then take the first step to do it. That means finding a space or raising money, whatever it is.
That first step is the most important one to take and if you take it, you tell the people that you doing it. There’s a lot of momentum in doing that will serve you well.
DB: Man, so interesting that you just gonna do it. Like, get out of the think tank. Coz it is important but there just this great idea that comes along and you gonna move on them because there is just a certain amount of energy that, you know, it takes a certain amount of time and then it just gone, right? It’s like, do you want to do it again?
Darius Fisher: For sure. Yeah. People fallen to this like analysis paralysis thing where they’re constantly thinking and talking about ideas and not doing anything.
DB: I really, honestly I have to say, I can’t stand that but, I’m the kind of person where I kind of like, you know, I got my rifle already armed, I’m ready to shoot and everyone else is loading. It’s not always the best thing I would say, like there is times where it’s like you don’t want the first one to be out of the gate but like, man, just go for it. I just love that, you’ve got a purpose on your life, you got the dream if you really feel like you got an idea that can launch with do a little research just go for it. Just see what’s gonna happen go take the first step. It’s a guaranteed, like, homerun most of the time.
I was talking to my career doctor earlier today, Darius, and I said his name is Villa. I said Villa, I am convinced that really nothing is impossible if you are just dedicated to do it. If you are dedicated to the process coz it takes time and you just, like, committed, it just like a matter of time before it happens.
So, tell us a little about that because you have this moments where, maybe you can talk about some lower moment and challenges that you kind of hit the wall. Like, how do you resale yourself?
Darius Fisher: Luckily, I work in a service business so there’s like, you know, we have so many different clients and so if we run into a challenge with one…for us, luckily, we are in the state where it’s not the end of the world and so we can just focus our attention on others.
Just like when clients say they don’t have money anymore, they could not afford our services or their marketing budget gets cut. Obviously, it’s a downer for everyone that is working on the project and for the company itself. But luckily, we have multiple others that we could focus on.
I tried to just stay positive and, you know, in the face of challenges just continue to push forward each day. I mean if you get caught off and dwell and yet depressed about stuff that happens that’s going to infect the rest of the team and it’s kind of infect the whole business. And so, it’s really important to gonna stay positive and just keep moving forward.
I said it earlier but, like, when you’re going through this difficult time the thing you gonna do is keep moving and not gonna go out and staying there. It’s a quote of someone famous. You find yourself in hell, keep moving.
DB: Something like that. Well, tell us I mean just last 2 questions to end the show. Love to hear a quote that you live by, a quote that can resonate with you whether you like kind of think every day or something that you’ve holding on for years.
Darius Fisher: The one that I, the mantra that I said earlier is “Think less, Do more.” I think its roots in Buddhist philosophy but just acting and doing is in my opinion is more important than thinking. And I know so many people that want to be business or in business for themselves and they think about it constantly, they read about it but they don’t actually ever do anything. And so, you know, for me, Think less, Do more is a mantra I think any aspiring business person should follow and it’s one that I follow in my day to day life.
DB: So, typically at the end of the DreamCast, we end by asking this last question. I think it is important question because, it’s kinda to do of what you said there, something that spark inside yourself, spark yourself to do something but if you can go back and give your 18-year-old Darius self-advice, what would you say?
Darius Fisher: I would say that money is less important than you think it is. When I was 18 making money was something I really prioritize. And it’s definitely something I still think about, want to make more money always, but it’s not the most important thing in life and that’s something that I’ve learned as I gone older and I wish I had less prioritized when I was younger.
DB: Yeah, that’s good. What would you’ve come to realize…like it’s like high level as importance?
Darius Fisher: Well, I think your relationships are the most important thing in life. So, friends, families and then if you’re in business, your relationships with employees, your clients, your partners. Those are the things that really matter in life and that’s really the things you should focus on building.
DB: Man, it is so cool having you in the DreamCast, Darius. Thank you so much for taking the time.
Darius Fisher: Yeah. Thank you for having me.
DB: Well, you’ve just listen to Darius Fisher is the CEO of Status Lab. If you been listening to the show and enjoying them, please share the podcast. I’m really excited that you’re coming and investing yourself there’s nothing more important than giving yourself each week. Looking for, having tuning in next week as well.
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