O/SEO/O™ E11: Opinions On Agencies Being a Force for Good

Published on: 
September 15, 2022
Updated on: 
November 14, 2022
Tory Gray
Tory Gray
Sam Torres
Sam Torres
Begüm Kaya
Begüm Kaya

Opinionated SEO Opinions™ is back with the newest cool: how to do SEO for good while also making an impact.

We are joined by Jamar Ramos of RamosCollective, and formerly of Crunchy Links. This episode is packed with gems from his background in digital marketing and how he successfully paved his path—fighting gatekeeping, and pioneering novel ways agencies can do good in the world, along the way! 

Let’s empower people in the SEO space to be themselves while respecting, supporting, and lifting one another up.

Don’t forget to follow TGDC on LinkedIn and Twitter, and submit your SEO Question/Guest request for our next episode!

Video Transcript

Sam Torres  0:06  
Welcome to another episode of Opinionated SEO Opinions™. I'm one of your hosts, Sam Torres, with my cohost Tory Gray, and today we are joined by Jamar Ramos. Super excited, we're gonna be talking about how do you do SEO for good, and really start making a good impact. But before we get started, Jamar, can you tell us a little bit about who you are?

Jamar Ramos  0:27  
Of course! So I started accidentally in digital marketing, I went to San Francisco State University, got my degree in creative writing, wanted to be the next great American author; did the math, and realize that there was no way that I was going to make any money doing that, unless I, you know, had a rich uncle who died and left me millions.

Tory Gray  0:47  
That's the dream!

Jamar Ramos  0:49  
Yeah, started looking around for a real "grown-up" job. Found a posting that someone wanted, you know, a content writer and editor who could also do SEO, I had no idea what SEO was at the time, because no one offers it in college. There's digital marketing courses, but nothing about SEO specifically.

Jamar Ramos  1:07  
So I looked it up, did some research, went into the interview, just honest, like: "Look, I have a degree in creative writing, I can do writing, I can edit. I don't know this SEO thing. But if you train me on that, I have all this other stuff that would be harder to train someone on." And they fell for it hook line and sinker. And that's how I started working in digital marketing.

Jamar Ramos  1:30  
I've done content writing and marketing. I've done social media marketing, email marketing, done a lot of SEO. And it's just got tired of working in-house and working for other people. So a friend and I, we started our own agency. And that's been going for a little over three years now. So I'm the Chief Marketing Officer of my own digital marketing agency, which is a whole different bag of swag within itself.

Sam Torres  1:56  
I love it.

Tory Gray  1:58  
That's awesome. I'm really excited to have you here and talk about agencies for good I really love with Crunchy Links is doing. And let's talk about how we can make some good in this world, doing what we do every day.

Question 1

How would you describe the SEO community today? What are we doing well, and not so well?

Tory Gray  2:14  
Our first question—I would really love to know, how would you describe the SEO community today? What are we doing well, and what are we doing NOT so well, that we should be maybe working on through our agencies?

Jamar Ramos  2:30  
I think one of the things that we do poorly is we think of "community" as one thing. Like I split it off into two things. There's the capital C community, which is everyone who does digital marketing, whether they're email marketers, content, social media, SEOs, PPC professionals, just everyone doing it. That's the community.

Jamar Ramos  2:49  
And then there's the lowercase c community, which is: your community that you've built up for yourself, co-workers that you really, really enjoy working with, friends in the digital marketing space, people you follow on social media, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, all that where you can actually do thought sharing.

Jamar Ramos  3:06  
One of the worst things about the capital C community is the both accidental and the purposeful gatekeeping. Job listings, unpaid internships: that's gatekeeping! Someone fresh out of college cannot afford to work for you for free, when you can afford to pay them a sum for doing the work.

Jamar Ramos  3:26  
Job interviews where people ask you, oh, "Audit our website and do all this stuff." Well, no, not unless you again, pay me! I'm not going to do free work for you. That gatekeeps people because what if, again, get fresh out of college—they don't know how to put together an audit, they can't do a SWOT analysis, that's things they need to learn. So you've already told them, "You need to learn on your own in order to get this entry-level job.

Jamar Ramos  3:52  
No! This is an entry-level job! This is where they should learn those things while taking the skills that they learned in college or wherever, and transfer that to there.

Jamar Ramos  4:01  
Also the fact that we ask people to do all the work to get their own speaking engagements. "Oh, I couldn't find women."

Jamar Ramos  4:08  
"Oh, I couldn't find people of color."

Jamar Ramos  4:10  
"Oh, I couldn't find neurodiverse people."

Jamar Ramos  4:14  
Do you have any names you can share with me? No, you can do the work. I find people all the time. I follow them. I ask for names. I get them—I go LOOKING for that. You can go looking for that too.

I find people all the time. I follow them. I ask for names. I get them—I go LOOKING for that. You can go looking for that too.

Jamar Ramos  4:27  
Or "Oh, well, no one applied." Well, maybe look into the history of what happens to people who look like us when we apply. Ignored.

Jamar Ramos  4:37  
"Oh, we don't like your topic."

Jamar Ramos  4:39  
"Oh, we don't think you're going to bring enough people so we can't pay you."

Jamar Ramos  4:44  
"We're going to keep having the same people over and over again."

Jamar Ramos  4:47  
So of course they get the fame, they get the celebrity, they get more speaking engagements. Because we've kept everyone else from getting those new speaking engagements. We kept new faces out. So the gatekeeping—in all of its forms—is terrible right now.

Tory Gray  5:06  
Yeah, and one of those forms being just the commentary, you know, there's maybe sometimes a fuzzy line between like constructive criticism and just being a jerk and making someone feel small and dumb for not knowing something or maybe calling something the slightly wrong name, but then like attacking them, that's definitely something we see a lot.

Tory Gray  5:27  
And part of the reason why Women in Tech SEO is, I think, such a standout community, is because it has a culture of not putting up with that. Are there other places we're seeing that or—I guess, fighting the good fight against that, that you get to experience?

Jamar Ramos  5:43  
Just basically individual people like yourself, like even having me on. Like, it may seem a small thing, but this allows people who watch this, "Oh my god, I'm seeing faces who look like me. I'm seeing two powerful, strong women interviewing a powerful, stong black man."

Jamar Ramos  6:02  
"This place is for me. These people look like me. They sound like me. They have the same everyday struggles as me. I can do this." Again—little small acts can compound. One small snowball rolling down a hill becomes a giant snowball with momentum and inertia.

Tory Gray  6:21  
Totally. And I think we are seeing positive movement. We have people like Areej starting Women in Tech SEO, we have people like Chima starting the Federal [edit: it's "Freelance", not "Federal"] Coalition for Developing Countries.

Screenshot of the homepage of the Freelance Coalition for Developing Countries
Freelance Coalition for Developing Countries

Tory Gray  6:30  
There are... it's almost like a "new guard" in SEO that I'm really excited to get to watch and participate in, and in my small way—like it's it. It feels like progress, even if it's not enough, even if it's, you know, there's more work to be done, certainly.

Sam Torres  6:49  
For sure.

Tory Gray  6:50  
But at least it's not nothing. And there's less of the culture of—oh, goodness, it was—I watched a video of the... it was the German tech SEO conference.

Sam Torres  7:03  
Oh yeahhh.

Tory Gray  7:04  
Oh, it was soooo bad.

Jamar Ramos  7:06  
Oh, is that the one where they were at like the Beer Fest? Yeah, it was less said about that, the better.

Tory Gray  7:16  
That's not a place that welcomes people like us, that's all I'm going to say about that. Like—my goodness!—they did NOT care if there's people that look like us there.

Jamar Ramos  7:25  
You wouldn't be welcomed, but not in a capacity that you would want to be there—seeing some of the video?

Tory Gray  7:31  
No! No! Well, there were not, apparently—at least visually—women at that conference that weren't in a, you know, Beer Fest, "lady beer delivery" outfit. It was... it was pretty gross.

Jamar Ramos  7:46  
Another version of gatekeeping right there.

Tory Gray  7:48  
Yes, for sure. So, I mean, at least we're not having that sort of obvious crap, At least that I'm aware of happening today. It still does. There was that SEO on the Beach conference that was a bunch of white bros.

Jamar Ramos  8:02  
Because they couldn't invite the locals, because they were afraid they'd get taxed or something. When... yeah.

Sam Torres  8:09  
Oh god, that's right, yeah. That... yeah, that's a little ridiculous.

Sam Torres  8:13  
Um, but yeah, I agree. And the gatekeeping—I think it's also one of the reasons why we've seen—even just the industry becomes stagnant, right? It's... we're not really doing—I'd say, as an industry, we're not really like, producing as... or... innovating! That's the word I've been looking for.

Sam Torres  8:37  
We're not innovating in the areas where the gatekeeping is happening, right? Like, honestly, when it comes to Speaker events, some of the big ones who really only take the same names every time.

Sam Torres  8:49  
It's like, what new things have really come out of those conferences? And frankly, not a lot. I think, you know, looking at the talks from Mozcon—Mozcon was great, but honestly, like those 10 Community Speakers that they accepted. Those were some of the like, the newest but... and like really brilliant and brand new ideas to come out that I've seen in a while.

Sam Torres  9:13  
So it... you know, more than doing good, it gives BACK and does good for the industry as well. So it's just—it's almost like a no-brainer, like why aren't we doing more of this?

Jamar Ramos  9:25  
They want to bring in enough people to pay for the event. So they think they've got to bring in the same big names, because they bring in people. I've heard that—like, "Oh, well, how many people are you going to bring? What's your audience like?"

Jamar Ramos  9:38  
It's like, I really don't know, because I'm not trying to get an audience I would just like to speak. So if you're not able to bring that if they can't see the dollar signs, if they can't get to the point where they break even with new names, they don't want to do that, not realizing that the only way that these new names start bringing in an audience—is if you put them in front of a new audience in the first place.

Jamar Ramos  10:01  
You've got to take a hit in order to see. Digital marketing, we're all about testing, except when it comes to putting new names and faces for it. Then, all of a sudden, we just want to do the same, as you said, stagnant things. And it's, it's gross, because we want to control, we want more power, we're afraid of obsolescence when there's such a thing as planned obsolescence.

Jamar Ramos  10:26  
I know that I'm not long for the digital marketing world. So my job is not just to do things for clients; it's to kick down doors, break open windows, tear down the gates—for the next set of people.

Jamar Ramos  10:39  
To make sure that all the knowledge I have is passed on to them. So they can stand on my shoulders and be bigger, better and badder than I ever was—and not be scared of that fact. Because it's going to happen anyway.

Jamar Ramos  10:51  
I'm going to retire, I'm going to die. I'm not going to be here anymore. So what have I really done?

Tory Gray  10:59  
Hopefully, it will do some good. But also let's not talk about dying!

Tory Gray  11:02  
But yeah, to your point, it's also... it's about education in the SEO space, where it does feel like some of the old guard gatekeeps, and you know, wants to use very academic language, and wants to make people feel small, or—like maybe even not intentionally.

Tory Gray  11:22  
But accidentally keeping people out, or making subject matter more complex than it needs to be. You know, this is what my whole SEO Rant was about... the like in eCommerce SEO, for example, and how people have these 27-page guides to eCommerce SEO, SaaS SEO, where really—it's just the Moz Beginners Guide, where they stuck the word SaaS in front of SEO.

Cover image for the Podcast The SEO Rant featuring a headshot of Tory. Episode title: "We Don't Need No Stinkin' eCommerce SEO!"
Tory on The SEO Rant

Tory Gray  11:49  
And it's like, no! It's just vanilla SEO!

Tory Gray  11:52  
That doesn't make it not hard.

Tory Gray  11:53  
That doesn't make it like, you know—a process, and a thing you have to learn to do well, and you can specialize in. But let's not pretend it's this big, technical scary thing that you don't even—you shouldn't even bother learning to do.

Tory Gray  12:08  
You have to go to the agency that specializes in it. Or, you know, "Anyone that hasn't had 10 years experience in it is inherently bad at it", and all those pieces. That gets me pretty fiery—when we pretend things are—especially more technically complex—than they are, because that keeps out, specifically, some people: women, people of color that might be more intimidated by those things.

Jamar Ramos  12:35  
It's a fake way to differentiate yourself from your comp set. If you say "Oh, we're we specialize in this. And it's so complex, and it's different."

Jamar Ramos  12:45  
It's like, well, no... like my company. Yes, we have pages talking about, you know, eCommerce, talking about FinTech and MedTech. But really nothing we do there, when you look at the pages, when you look at the tactics we take—is different.

Jamar Ramos  12:59  
We look at your data. We look at what's come before, to look at what we should do, now, in order to do better for the future.

Jamar Ramos  13:07  
It all boils down to the same thing except for who your customers are, what's your good or service that you're selling is, and who you hope your customers are in the future.

Jamar Ramos  13:18  
Yes, those things change. But most of SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, PPC... it's all the same. So why are we BS-ing everyone? Because again, power!

Sam Torres  13:32  
Yeah, I love that. I mean, honestly, we're... we've got very similar tactics on our website, where we talk about the different industries that we specialize in.

Sam Torres  13:40  
And honestly, the places where it's different has to do with the account management or the way the relationship is handled. It really has not very much to do with the SEO strategy itself, or how we approach it, or how we execute it, right?

Sam Torres  13:55  
It's really about like—one of our... we say one of our specialties is regulated industries. And that's really just because we're very good at talking to compliance people. That's all it is!

Sam Torres  14:05  
It means that we're used to dealing with compliance, right?

Sam Torres  14:08  
The overall SEO strategy is still the same. We're still looking at your landscape. We have to look at your competitors to figure out where you should go and what you should focus on, you know, and balance that with your own priorities.

Sam Torres  14:19  
So... yeah, the gatekeeping is unbelievable. I'm... yeah, I'm excited for the initiatives like FCDC. You know, Women in Tech SEO,  B-DigitalUK. Just everything that's happening there to help tear down the gates... because, yeah. What's also—SEO gets boring when it's just a bunch of stodgy old white men.

Screenshot of the homepage of B-DigitalUK

Jamar Ramos  14:20  

Sam Torres  14:22  
It's just... and it doesn't need to be! It doesn't need to.

Question #2

We've chatted before about the importance of "doing good" - what does that mean for agencies? Can agencies be a "force for good"?

Sam Torres  14:49  
So let's turn it around a little bit and say—all right, so we've talked about like, what we're not doing well. So what are some of the things that agencies can do to do good and how can agencies be a force for good. What are your thoughts on that?

Jamar Ramos  15:04  
It boils down to giving a damn. Find something you give a damn about. It's my passion, again, is opening doors. Like I have turned down speaking engagements because people don't want me to speak about the things that I'm actually passionate about.

Jamar Ramos  15:21  
It's—they want another boring, "I looked at a million websites and I love {blah blah blah blah blah.]"

Jamar Ramos  15:26  
No. I want to talk about diversity, equity, inclusion. I want to talk about how we get more people who look like us to speak, how we find people that don't normally get these chances.  

No. I want to talk about diversity, equity, inclusion. I want to talk about how we get more people who look like us to speak, how we find people that don't normally get these chances.  

Jamar Ramos  15:39  
How we talk about changing the language, and communicating, and a lot of those places don't want that.

Jamar Ramos  15:47  
BUT, for the fact that people push back against that, for me—that's where I say, "Okay, this is where I can have the most effect. This is where I can affect change. This is where I can do good."

Jamar Ramos  16:00  
And also, digital marketing is very lucrative. A lot of people are in it—are in it, because they love SEO, they love marketing. But there's a bunch of us, me included who do it because it's good money.

Jamar Ramos  16:12  
I don't love this. I tell people—like I'm the 7'4 basketball player who plays basketball, because he's 7-4, and it pays a lot. I don't love it.

Jamar Ramos  16:22  
I just know how to dunk the ball really, really well. And people get mad at me. "Oh, how do you not love this?"

Jamar Ramos  16:28  
I can give you a laundry list of reasons why I don't love this. But the money is great. It's allowed me to pay off my student loan debt. It's allowed me to get out of that debt. And it's allowed me to—every quarter—donate with Crunchy Links.

Jamar Ramos  16:42  
To actually ask the community "Hey, what do you guys vibing on this quarter? What do you guys see? What do you guys want to do?"

Jamar Ramos  16:49  
Or, our employees—like last quarter, where we donated was because one of our employees said he was really, really affected by what was going on with the trans community and asked, "Hey, have we decided... can we do this?"

Jamar Ramos  17:02  
And I said, "If you have any places, I haven't made any decisions, tell me where you'd love to donate, I'll do the write-up and we'll do that."

Jamar Ramos  17:09  
So... finding ways to give back.

Jamar Ramos  17:13  
Because, again, what we do is sometimes icky. We sometimes have to work with clients where we have to hold our nose. Like I... we've had crypto currency clients. I don't like working in that space.

Jamar Ramos  17:26  
I don't like working with a lot of those people. But I hold my nose because I look at what they're paying us and what that can turn into when I donate and say, "Okay, I can not wash my hands. But I can wash this money and make it do good."

I look at what they're paying us and what that can turn into when I donate and say, "Okay, I can not wash my hands. But I can wash this money and make it do good."

Jamar Ramos  17:41  
And maybe the bad in the blood is still on my hands a little bit. But I know that I've given and I've made better. So, it makes it a little bit easier to sleep at night, knowing that I changed something that I wasn't feeling really good about into something that I'm feeling REALLY good about that, I can beat my chest and be proud about.

Tory Gray  18:01  
Yeah, that's interesting. I think that's how we've kind of approached Pharma clients. Feeling kind of honestly icky about working in that space. Like it depends on, you know, the purpose of the drug, certainly.

Tory Gray  18:14  
But taking that money, and yeah, putting it towards some good is... an interesting path there. And then there's certainly things that we just refuse to work in certain industries as well, because it's just too obviously bad. We will not work for, I don't know... Raytheon.

Tory Gray  18:33  
Not that they're clamoring down our door, don't get me wrong.

Sam Torres  18:35  
But I do want to recognize that we are in a fortunate space. We're in a fortunate position, where we can say no to work, right. We're—we're extremely privileged that way. Certainly, I'm sure, if we ever saw a change... and, you know, our backs are against the wall. You know, sometimes those things have to change.

Sam Torres  18:58  
And it's the same, I feel like, when people are employed at places they don't really like. And so so many times the advice is "get out" and it's like, "I still got bills to pay! I don't understand!"  Where do you think I'm magically going to pay my bills now?

Jamar Ramos  19:15  
I can't do like a Beyonce song and just quit my job! Like I have to like, yeah, yeah, they're still stealing my soul sometimes.

Sam Torres  19:25  
Yeah, um, so yeah, definitely. Like I say, we've been lucky that we get to say no. But for sure, like when it comes to Pharma, or the MedTech, and you know...

Sam Torres  19:37  
I think the other thing we like to do too, is make sure that we're trying to get the client in a place where it's like, "Hey, please educate, and like get rid of these misconceptions," or like, "Let's do something!"

Sam Torres  19:49  
So, you know, the little tiny changes we try to make there. But I love what you're saying, as far as giving back. Having an actual plan of how you're going to give back. Also really love that you are including your employees as far as, hey, where... what's important to y'all?

Jamar Ramos  20:10  
It's their money too! They're doing the work.

Jamar Ramos  20:13  
So like, it would feel really gross of me to say, "Hey, do all this work, earn us this money. And then I'M going to decide."

Jamar Ramos  20:20  
Because I also want them to be proud of it, too.

Jamar Ramos  20:23  
And for me, it really... it's a test of, you know, when we hired you? And you said, you were into this, were you really into this?

Jamar Ramos  20:30  
Or was that just to get the job? Like, I don't care, either way, but I want to know, like, "Can I count on you to be a part of this?"

Jamar Ramos  20:36  
Or, do I know in the future, if I want to ask people within the company, "Oh, you know, this isn't really for you."

Jamar Ramos  20:41  
Okay, that's fine! I then, I will ask the people who this is involved in... but I do want that buy-in, because you never know who's going to see a cause that you've donated, and feel bad about it, or not agree with it.

Jamar Ramos  20:55  
So I don't want the employees to be sideswiped by what we're donating to. But I also want to make sure that, hey! We told you that this is something where you can make suggestions to, so if you're not suggesting that means that you are tacitly okay with what we're doing. So either voice your opinion before, or hold it once it's done.

Tory Gray  21:13  
Yeah. But I mean - they probably also started working with you... probably for a reason. Because they hold similar values, you know. You do have some, you know... if you have that level of privilege, where you're able to choose where you want to work.

Tory Gray  21:27  
Make that choice, and choose well! And work with people that you're proud to work with, that donate well.

Tory Gray  21:33  
So I am, you know—there's trends of, of... even Google employees, you know, fighting against things internally, and you'll love to see it.

Tory Gray  21:43  
You know, if they're going to be there, if they're going to be with those "golden handcuffs," right, like the least they can do is fight the AI ethics issues, and the monopoly issues, and you know... all—all the various things that Google, or any big tech industry, is working on, If you're going to work at Facebook... try to be a force for good.

Sam Torres  22:05  
I don't think I could do that. My husband, he's a developer, and he always gets  offers for "Please interview at Facebook." And I'm just like... "I can't support this. I can't! I don't care about Facebook money! I don't care!"

Jamar Ramos  22:22  
Yeah, it's sometimes like I do this thing every week where I have my "sellout moment" where I will go through this thing in my mind, of like, "Oh, you know, when I can just give up, I can go here, I can totally sell out."

Jamar Ramos  22:36  
And then I feel that just feeling in the pit of my stomach. And it's just like, You know what, this week? This isn't the week, Jamar.

Jamar Ramos  22:42  
It's good to think about that, and to test yourself, and to see if your moral resolve is continuously strong. Because... it's easy to take small steps and become a person who you don't recognize anymore.

Jamar Ramos  22:57  
And I've done that far too often, where I've gotten a little taste of power. And all of a sudden, I'm Gollum looking for my precious. And I don't want to let it go.

Gollum reaching for the ring in Lord of the Rings
Let's not be Gollum!

Sam Torres  23:07  
Great metaphor.

Jamar Ramos  23:07  
No, no, no, please... it's hilarious. I look back on it and it's gross and disgusting.

Jamar Ramos  23:14  
But I'm also... proud of those moments, in a way, because like, you know what, I fell. But I recognized it. And I continuously tried to climb out of it.

Jamar Ramos  23:25  
And now I'm very, very vigorous in... in looking at myself, and saying, "Okay, do you still feel the same way? What has or hasn't changed?"

Jamar Ramos  23:35  
"What can you do to get back to that set-level of feeling good about yourself, while not putting the company at risk?"

Jamar Ramos  23:44  
While not saying no to ALL of the clients, and then all of a sudden we're "down to the felt" when it comes to making money.

Jamar Ramos  23:50  
It's... that fine line of walking in the color, and in the shadows, and... a lot of people will fall one way or the other, and... it's bad to be too moralistic. Because then you sort of proselytizing and pushing your morals on other people. And it's also bad to be too in the shadows, because then you're just doing things for greed and money and power. And it's just.. yuck.

Tory Gray  24:18  
You also make yourself really unhappy. Or at least me personally, like I'm always paying attention to my own decisions.

Tory Gray  24:23  
Because I know, when I've made decisions that make my ego very happy... I'm ultimately pretty miserable with that decision.

Tory Gray  24:31  
So I try and like... "check in" with myself whenever I make those sorts of decisions. How much of this is because this is a good idea in general, and like yeah... or is it stroking my ego, and it just makes me feel cool... and that is going to go away. And... there be dragons, right.

Jamar Ramos  24:52  

Tory Gray  24:56  
So we've talked about donations. I think that one concrete way agencies are doing good with their revenue.

Question 3

How can we "do good" for employees, clients, or the broader world?

Tory Gray  25:04  
What about for employees? Or for the clients? Are you exploring other methods, or ways to... it sounds like you're getting feedback from employees on WHERE to do the donations, so incorporating them on that. Any other suggestions or ideas there?

Jamar Ramos  25:20  
For employees? It's really, again, giving a damn.  

Jamar Ramos  25:24  
Like actually asking them how they're doing, and caring.

Jamar Ramos  25:27  
And I want to say early last year, we instituted "Mental Health Fridays", where we tell people like, don't schedule any meetings on Fridays.

Jamar Ramos  25:38  
Like if a client says, "Hey, I'd like to meet Friday," the answer is no.

Jamar Ramos  25:42  
We'd love for people even to not work that day. But some employees choose to, since they don't have meetings, do a little bit of work. But I want people to understand like... there is a such thing as work-life balance.

Jamar Ramos  25:56  
The work will be there. Unless the deadline is tomorrow, you don't have to worry about it. I don't even care if you work eight hours per day, if you only have two hours' worth of work on a day, get out.

Jamar Ramos  26:09  
All I ask is that, if it's not Friday, like, keep Slack open, just in case, you know, one of us has a question for you.

Jamar Ramos  26:15  
But other than that, like, go enjoy! I'd rather you stare at the wall and watch your paint dry for six hours... as long as it means that you're going to feel mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy the rest of the week.

Jamar Ramos  26:28  
I don't just need you Monday, I need you Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as well.

Jamar Ramos  26:31  
So—I want to know, what's getting in your way, what clients are taking up a whole bunch of time? Do we need to step in and say, "Hey, our scope of work says you get this, don't harass people about this."

Jamar Ramos  26:45  
If you have that question forwarded to one of us leaders, like we'll do that, we'll communicate that. I don't want people to burnout, I've experienced burnout multiple times.

Jamar Ramos  26:57  
And I know what it does—not only for the person who's experiencing it—but for the people around them, the people that are close to them.

Jamar Ramos  27:06  
I'm sure that my divorce might have happened no matter what. But I partly blame my last job and the burnout that it pushed me through. And the fact that even though when I went home, I wasn't home, I was still hopping on meetings, and having to be up midnight, 1, 2 in the morning and meetings because half of our team was in India.

Jamar Ramos  27:28  
So you're making sure you can get on meetings with them and transfer information. But when you're doing that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night? After being in the office starting at seven in the morning?

Jamar Ramos  27:41  
That frays a relationship. That tears things apart. That changes who you are, and who your partner is, because you no longer recognize each other.

Jamar Ramos  27:52  
So I would rather... there's a great song, and a great line in a JZ song, "Hov' did that, so hopefully you won't have to go through that."

Jamar Ramos  28:00  
That's how I feel. I made these mistakes.

Jamar Ramos  28:03  
I'm not going to tell you what path to walk. But I share my story so people see, "Hey, this is the BS I had to go through."

Jamar Ramos  28:10  
Like—if you can take steps to avoid this before you ever go through it? Please! Because I had to suffer through it. I don't want to see anyone suffer through some of the stuff I've had to suffer through.

Jamar Ramos  28:22  
So if being vulnerable, and sharing my story, and getting choked up a little bit;  reliving it helps someone not have to go through it? That's a powerful piece of change that I can make. That's a piece of good that I can do for the community.

Sam Torres  28:35  
Yeah. I agree with that.

Tory Gray  28:38  
Plus it just takes so dang long to get over! When I was burned out, I feel like it took me literally a year and a half to just... calm down. It's hard. Yeah. So it's sounding like you're using your processes, your culture, your benefits, specifically for employees.

Tory Gray  29:02  
But I'd also argue that that helps your end clients too. Employees that aren't burnt out are gonna stick around, they're gonna have better—more and better ideas for your clients. They're gonna show up for your clients in ways that they couldn't before.

Sam Torres  29:14  
Helps them take pride in their work.

Jamar Ramos  29:16  
Yeah. And we're also quick to fire clients.

Jamar Ramos  29:20  
Like I tell our employees—if the client is tacitly disrespectful to you, bring one of us on the call. You don't have to eat it.

Jamar Ramos  29:31  
This isn't... like yeah, do we want the money? Of course. But there is respect to be given. I'm very clear with clients when they sign with us. We don't work for you. We don't even work "with you." We partner with you.

Jamar Ramos  29:48  
We're your partners. We will treat you with respect. We will speak with you, to you with dignity. We expect that returned to us in kind.

We're your partners. We will treat you with respect. We will speak with you, to you with dignity. We expect that returned to us in kind.

Jamar Ramos  29:56  
And if it's not, you get a warning. "Hey, come on. I thought we talked about this."

Jamar Ramos  30:02  
Do it a couple more times? It's like, you know what... that's why we have in our contracts: both sides can exercise a walk clause.

Jamar Ramos  30:10  
We'll take 30 days—the next 30 days. We'll finish up any of the work we have. We'll transfer all your data back over to you. And then you can go find another digital marketing agency to work with.

Jamar Ramos  30:20  
Because again, like—the money is good. But, that's a way that we can protect our employees from getting burned out.

Jamar Ramos  30:28  
Because sometimes people don't understand. They think, "This is the employee, this is the situation I walked into, I have to deal with it."

Jamar Ramos  30:34  
No, no, boo-boo, you really don't. That's gross.

Jamar Ramos  30:39  
There's no reason for a client to ever, ever speak to us with disrespect. Because if we did it back to them, they'd want to cancel. They'd want to have a talk, they'd want to speak to my manager.

Jamar Ramos  30:50  
And so, if someone does that to one of my employees, I'm happy to speak to their manager and express my displeasure about it. And tell them that they can go find someone else to work with, because we will not have that.

Sam Torres  31:02  
Yeah, that... the idea that the "customer is always right" is so antiquated. And has been an excuse for abuse for decades. And—no, it has no place. It's unacceptable.

Sam Torres  31:19  
You know. If you wouldn't talk to your friend that way, or you wouldn't talk to your mother that way? You don't have to talk to a co-worker or colleague that way either. Like it's just... it makes no sense.

Jamar Ramos  31:31  
Yeah, I've worked at Tower Records, I've had CDs thrown at my face. So that's pretty much where I was just like, "You know what? No."

Jamar Ramos  31:39  
This is... we're not... I don't care where I work, and what you think about me. I'm a human being with dignity. Don't—don't do that.

Jamar Ramos  31:45  
So every time I have something with the client, it just reminds me of that moment. And it just, it gets my hackles up. And it's just like, I don't want that for ANYONE.

Jamar Ramos  31:55  
If I can step in, so that they don't have to do that for themselves. Some people... they just don't have the energy or the personality to stand up for themselves. And so it's like—that's our job to stand up for them.

Jamar Ramos  31:55  
To step in and say, "Hey, we're the ones with power. Let me do that for you." You stay back in the cut while I do that, and if I can de-escalate the client, and you still want to work with them? Cool. If not, happy to cut them. And we'll find two or three better clients for you.

Sam Torres  32:25  
Yeah, I love that. I love, really, that.... honestly, what you're talking about, like how we do good for employees. It just sounds like... it's all the things that really just make a good manager, and being a good culture, and a supportive environment.

Sam Torres  32:40  
And then recognizing that your employees are people, right? Everybody essentially signs off, goes home, whatever... has their own life.

Sam Torres  32:50  
We need to respect that, and also understand that the job—hopefully(!) is not the priority. Or the most important piece of that, right? Like it shouldn't be.

Sam Torres  32:58  
I mean, I love what you're saying about like—I love SEO, but let's be real, if I didn't have bills to pay, I wouldn't do this. Right? I'd be playing with minifigs all day.

A young Sam Torres selfie of her and the Gloomhaven tabletop game
Baby Sam playing Gloomhaven

Sam Torres  33:12  
Right? So I think it's just... it's really just recognizing that, hey, sometimes, like as a business owner, yes, I love the company that Tory and I run. You know, it is a priority for me, because I own a piece of it.

Sam Torres  33:27  
But for our team, it's not a priority—and that should be okay. And it needs to be okay.

Sam Torres  33:34  
I've just, I mean, some of the agencies I've been in and you know, most agencies are small, and so you're working directly with the owner. They almost get offended, that you're not as into their baby as they are.

Sam Torres  33:46  
And it's like, but—this isn't mine, like why? Why would I?

Sam Torres  33:49  
I think just having kind of that honest conversation with yourself. This isn't their priority, and it shouldn't be—if I want to get the best out of my team. And then also just, you know, like you said, just BE that force of good and be an example of a profitable business that's still healthy to work at. Unfortunately, I feel like there's not a lot of those.

Jamar Ramos  34:11  
No. And I'll tell you the truth—like this is... I own an equal share of this business with my two other partners. And this isn't my priority.

Jamar Ramos  34:20  
Do I love it? Yes. Do I work harder? Yes. But I'M my number one priority.

Jamar Ramos  34:26  
I come first. And if I'm not getting what I want? You best believe I'm gonna pound the table and say "This is what I want."

Jamar Ramos  34:33  
So I expect my employees to do the same. And if they don't feel that they can do the same, then we failed them.

Jamar Ramos  34:41  
They haven't failed themselves. We failed THEM by not giving them the time, the opportunity, the power, the dignity to look us in the eye and say, "Hey Jamar, you're overworking me a little bit. I need to switch some clients off my plate. I need to have a little bit more time. I need a week off."

They haven't failed themselves. We failed THEM by not giving them the time, the opportunity, the power, the dignity to look us in the eye...

Jamar Ramos  34:59  
Okay. I, then that's my job to say, "Okay, how do we fix this? How do we go about changing this? To make sure that they feel healthy."

Jamar Ramos  35:08  
When I hire someone, I hire them forever, knowing that forever is not going to happen. So I'm going to train them up to both do the best that they can do within the company, and when they leave, that they do the best in their next company, because ego lets me want to do that.

Jamar Ramos  35:26  
So when the next company sees them, like, "Oh, wow, these guys that Crunchy Links! They really know how to train! They be really giving their people the good information! Like, I want that!"

Jamar Ramos  35:36  
There was something on Twitter the other day about children and legacy. And children are great for people who have them—love that for you. But people keep telling me that I need a child to leave a legacy.

Jamar Ramos  35:48  
Just like—I can leave a legacy without a child. I've got digital marketing children. I've got people in my DMs asking questions all the time that I help.

Jamar Ramos  35:57  
That's my legacy. Maybe no one will ever know.

Jamar Ramos  36:01  
Because I don't do that whole, "Oh, so and so it was in my DMs and I help them with this."

Jamar Ramos  36:05  
But that's the legacy I want to leave, because those people will remember. And then they'll pass it on to someone. And those people will remember the people who came before them. And, secretly, that's part of my legacy.

Jamar Ramos  36:17  
I don't need my name etched in stone. I don't need to be Shakespeare were 4, 5, 600 years later, my writings are still down there.

Jamar Ramos  36:26  
All I need to know is that I did the best for the people who asked me to do the best for them.

Jamar Ramos  36:31  
Do the best for the people who are working with me. Who are working for me. Who asked me questions. Who are my clients. Do the best that I can.

Jamar Ramos  36:39  
And as long as I can lay my head on the pillow at the end of the day and say "You know what, out of 10 things I did today, 3 of them worked well. Seven were failures."

Jamar Ramos  36:50  
If you're a baseball player, and you get on base 3 times out of every 10 times—you're a Hall of Famer! If I can lay my head on that pillow and look at that? I'm a Hall-of-Famer, baby.

Jamar Ramos  37:00  
That's my legacy.

Sam Torres  37:02  
I love that.

Tory Gray  37:05  
That's a wonderful note to close out on.

Sam Torres  37:09  
It is. This has been fantastic and so powerful.

Sam Torres  37:12  
Thank you so much for sharing your insights. And I really hope people listen to this, and hear the spirit, and the message, and we start to see more change, or moving in the direction a little bit faster.

Jamar Ramos  37:26  
Thank you both for sharing your time and your platform. A lot of people think that this is transactional—in the way of the person who's coming on, and the host get nothing and I get everything.

Jamar Ramos  37:39  
But I want to say like this is super powerful that you guys would invite me on here. Talk about something that doesn't have a lot of numbers and data and jargon and lingo in it.

Jamar Ramos  37:50  
But again, these are the conversations that make change.

...these are the conversations that make change.

Jamar Ramos  37:54  
These are the conversations that give people—who don't feel that they have power, who have visibility... that power, and the visibility, and be able to say—again—I see two powerful women and a powerful black man having a conversation about how digital marketing can do good.

Jamar Ramos  38:09  
And we've just opened another door for them to figure out how they can be in this space, and do the things that they want to do.

Jamar Ramos  38:15  
Not the things that other people, other gatekeepers are telling them they have to do—to get in the space and be important in the space.

Jamar Ramos  38:22  
You don't have to be vociferous on Twitter. You don't have to be on stage at Moz con or Brighton, SEO.

Jamar Ramos  38:28  
If you want to do those things. That's great, too. There's a space for all of us.

Jamar Ramos  38:33  
We just need to be able to carve it out and find a way. And if there's not a way? Pioneer a way for people—and then show them "Hey, I trod this path. It's a little bit easier for you to walk on. Come on and follow me."

Tory Gray  38:44  
Oh yeah, I'm throwing elbows. Let's go!

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