Today’s guest has found a way to profitably make the world a better place. He focuses on helping heroic organizations to build and champion themselves using their most powerful asset, their web presence.
He’s an expert in web design and accessibility, digital marketing, company culture, and social responsibility. His goal for himself and those he aids is to be driven by a purpose beyond profit.
Please welcome Chris Yoko.
- 00.09.17 Company’s History
- 00.12.28 Brand Impression
- 00.27.22 Chris Yoko’s Website
Learn more about this guest:
Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Chris Yoko. Thanks for jumping on learning from others. How are you doing? How about yourself? I’m good. Your, uh, tell me about the sign, the listeners and the listeners. Can’t see, but you got to sign it back and says do good. Better. Yeah. Yes. That’s uh, our motto. So we work exclusively the organizations that the way we phrase it as have a passion or purpose beyond just profit.
So those organizations doing good and we help them do good. Better. Cool. Yeah. I want to have you jump into that a little bit later, but not tell we asked the usual two questions. Question number one is Chris, what do you do? Why do we care about you? What are we gonna learn from you today? Uh, so the, uh, from the head of is Yoko CEO and where, uh, what presence management firm that, uh, again, works exclusively organizations that are building a better world.
So, you know, we tend to quantify that based on, uh, advancing, you know, transformative technologies, sustainability, environmental conservatism, um, sometimes just. Sure human to human kindness and equality. Um, those are the things that we tend to believe in, in the cost as we look to advance. So those are the real align ourselves with, and then we’ve worked on their, my presents.
That’s cool. You know, our listeners listeners will be familiar that, um, I’m pretty passionate about a lot of those topics. And so I’m eager to talk to somebody else that, uh, also kind of resonates, um, not in tell question number two though, is what do you suck at Chris? Uh, so you’d mentioned this whenever we were chatting previously about, uh, cooking.
Like my life, my wife, I can walk in and she’ll have four pie Pam’s going there and she’ll be working on like different dishes at the same time. And it’s all coming together and the flavors will be amazing. And I’m like, what recipe are you calling me? She’s like, I’m just making it up. And it’s amazing.
And I will jump in and I will have the full recipe. And I will, I think I tried to cook fried chicken from scratch at one point, and it took me five and a half hours and it was still like two salvageable pieces. It doesn’t stop me from trying, but I am just no good at it. Uh, you know, what’s funny is last night I had, um, my, my kid, my older boy, he ran into one of his soccer teammates that.
The, I guess goes to the same school too. And so he came over and so I’ve never met this kid’s parents or anything. And, and right before they came to pick up their kid, I was cooking something. And I had like, I just put the oil on the pan and I had to run downstairs. And of course I’m like, I’ll be right back.
And then like five minutes later, I go upstairs. And the hall, the whole upstairs is just full of burnt oil smoke. Right. And then the doorbell rings.
So hi, welcome to our house fire hour. Yeah. All right. So let’s, let’s go back and, and elaborate on the do good, better things. So, can you kind of give us some examples of clients that you work with? Um, what, I mean, if you want to give specific names, that’s fine, but, or maybe the industries that they’re within.
Uh, no. I mean, so some of the ones that are a lot of fun to work with our organizations, no, their impact and work really hard to, you know, maximize the positive impact they’re having on the world. So we’ve gotten an opportunity to work with like the Amazon conservation team Andes, Amazon fund. We started work with the oceanic foundation.
We do work with WWF. So those, a lot of those organizations, they know the impact they’re having. They tend to be more the nonprofit category. And so a lot of people think those are the majority of our clients. Um, Which is not actually true. A lot more of the organizations we’ve worked with are more commercial organizations that have a desire to have that positive impact.
Um, the way that I tend to think about it is if you’re familiar with Bruce Lee, He had a saying where he’s like you punch through your target. So if you’re just punching to where your target is, you’re not hitting with full force, you’ve punched through your target. You’re going to hit with, you know, a lot more.
And, uh, we tend to think about like business metrics are the same way. You’re just in it to get to like revenue and profit that’s punching at your target. Whereas if you’re thinking about like the end impact you have, that’s punching through your target. And what we found is the organizations we work with, uh, tend to outperform their peers.
Um, Because they are focused on more of that end outcome. And, uh, that can be anything from that we do work with or, you know, healthcare systems. Uh, we do work with your more, uh, transformative technology, SAS and past platforms. Uh, but again, ones that have an eye towards using this technology. Either to transform the world for the better, or they use some of that revenue and a part of their culture and just identity is to help achieve a better world.
And then, you know, a lot of organizations that tend to fall into kind of the professional services from, um, where they realize like, Hey, you know, we’re working with a lot of different organizations. How do we also have a positive impact as a, an organization? And what I find really fun about those is a lot of times we get to kind of help suss out what it is that’s special and really well aligned with them in terms of their impact and help them pursue that.
Do you ever have to have a discussion with these people about their sincerity behind their motives? Um, I, you know, in the short understand, in our short relationship that you and I have had, um, you seem very sincere. So I imagine that. This is more than just a publicity play for you and your clients. So do you ever run into circumstances where you have somebody come to us and it’s just the wrong motives?
It’s like, we need to have like a good, good face to the company. Just, just because it’s almost like what all of like CSR feels like. I mean, there’s a lot of those, right? I mean, there’s, you know, we took a look at, um, there’s a great book called firms of endearment and the guy goes through basically catalogs how these organizations that wanted to have an impact outperform.
A lot of their peers at a very large scale. And so of course, then a bunch of companies start to do like, Oh, we care about the environment too. Or, Oh, also we liked dogs or whatever the thing might be. Um, and it, you tend to be able to snip through pretty quick, or at least I like I’ve noticed that I can now, but that wasn’t always the case.
Like sometimes you take somebody at their word. Um, I do think it’s a little bit easier to suss out now, especially if you have a conversation with somebody or you dig in a little bit deeper because somebody who is. Truly aligned with the cause they’re trying to affect everything. Every step of the process usually makes mention or reference back, or is it aligned with that?
Whereas the people that tend to have it where it’s more, Hey, we’re trying to, like a lot of people ripped off. Like Tom’s like as soon as Toms did, like the buy one, give one concept. Like everybody ran with that. Tom’s every page, every piece of copy talks about the duality of like your comfort as well as the positive impact on the world.
Tons of the rip offs. It just tends to be like, Oh, Hey, we also give one. So can you only buy now purchase now? Like why aren’t you buying yet? So if you have your radar up for it, I think it’s a little bit more obvious, but we do have a lot of conversations with you might come in where they think it’s window dressing.
Chris, do you play among us? I have Flint among us because he said, so you’re absolutely different context, but it’s interesting. You bring that up because a lot of them are imposters. Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. Hey, good segue. Good, good, good metaphor there. No, that’s funny. So for the listeners, there’s, there’s a game out where you have to find the suspect and my kid was playing the other day and he’s like, we got to find this us.
He sent us oranges. That’s funny three part, again, we have a couple of friends, like from high school and college and stuff, working on like voice chat and try to play it like once a month. And with inevitably like some poor soul is one of like eight people and like two people would get stuck in there with us.
And then what’s happening because you just know behind the scenes, you know, also I went to, I have a, like, I don’t play a lot of games. The only times I play games with my kids. And, um, so my handle’s always something like. Awesome as dad or something like that. And so I signed up, I signed up to play this game with my kids and I did that, but somehow I was able, so I, I saved my password wrong and it.
And it lets be creating an account without adding an email yet. So I couldn’t reset the password, so I couldn’t get into my usual name. And so I was like, ah, and so I’ve made my handle cool FM dad and my kid thought that was hilarious. His friend thought that was hilarious, but I got do people were calling me out as the imposter left and right with that name.
All right. So how did you get into this space? Because, um, at face value, I imagine a lot of listeners are like, well, that doesn’t seem like something that would have, um, would be largely monetized at face value. Um, just helping people. So how did you get into this? So the way that I got into, you know, I’ll skip past, like when I got into the world of web buy, I was always interested in it.
Um, you know, since I was a kid and started coding, but the way that we got into the alignment with the organizations that we want to work with is in 2014, we’re working with a couple of clients. Then I was like, you know, energized and pumped up to go meet with them and like have the conversation. And we knew it was going to be great.
And then there were some where it was just really. Miserable to the point where we were a team of four, maybe that we just call it and we don’t do this kind of work anymore because he was just so miserable to work with these people. And I was fortunate enough. I had just read a book called scale by a woman named Maurice 11, and it talks about the power of an advisory board.
And she goes into a very formalized process. I guess she had a government contracting business. Um, I did a very. Loose more culturally appropriate version for our company, uh, to build a social, uh, an advisory board. And all of them kind of in our first meeting were just like, well, why do you do the work that you do?
And how does it align with the legacy that you want to leave? And so did a lot of work first on myself to think about that. And then we did a couple of guided conversations with the rest of the team to talk about why we’re all here. And if a legacy we leave is basically the work that we’ve done and we spend our majority of time here.
What kind of causes do we want to apply that to? And we recognize that as needed, does he, we don’t have, uh, the most direct impact in the way, like pretending to work with organizations, but we can help amplify their impact. And so the main component that we wanted to bring to bear was how do we amplify the impact of these organizations that we really, really believe in?
And we want to help ultimately do the most good and then work exclusively with them. And what’s been super beneficial about that to your point about how monetizeable isn’t this. Yeah. I mean, there are a ton of nonprofits that, you know, they have to get by, on all these scrappy budgets. And whenever we get a chance to work with them, you know, it doesn’t tend to be the most profitable work.
Uh, but what we find is that you do tend to learn a lot and you have a level of internal alignment and interest in, in your work that I think does help. People feel more invested in the work that they’re doing? Uh, I think it does help alleviate, uh, to some extent things like burnout and repetition.
Whenever you can see the impact you’re having on the world. Do you know that that’s important? It’s not just basically like, all right, cool. We’re going to build. A landing page that converse 0.05% better. So just put a few grand in his pocket, you know, more exciting reason to be doing the work. Yeah. Um, you know, I want to kind of elaborate on that here in a minute, uh, about kind of like giving, um, but first of all, I mean, good for you.
Um, that’s cool that you make that pivot and, and I agree when, when you kind of, when you kind of. Draw your line in the sand. Um, it can be scary at first, but it’s so much rewarding after. So, you know, you talk about amplifying impact. Give us an example of, of, of the impact you’re making. Is there anything that like really stands out as you’re you’re kind of Magnum Opus?
Yeah. So what’s interesting is, uh, in 2014, whenever we went through all of this, we also had like, okay, what’s like a. It was, uh, it was, I guess, Seth Goden and talked about like a, Beehag like, what’s your, I don’t remember what it stands for, but big, hairy something goal. Um, and so ours was like, Oh, well, positively impact the lives of a hundred million people by the end of 2020.
And I picked 2020, cause there’s like four and a half that I was like, eh, but what, uh, what was so crazy? She’s like it started to come through. And so we were taking a look at the way that these organizations were kind of on pace. What we could do to amplify their impact. And then that was kind of what we, the lift was what we would measure.
And I thought that the numbers were going to be the thing that was most exciting to me. And what ultimately ended up being true is it wasn’t necessarily the macro side. That’s the most exciting, it’s the micro side. So, I mean, we did work with, um, we’ll talk about like, uh, I know of a health, uh, you know, their heart and vascular Institute.
They were reinvesting, they had hired some of the best up and coming like cardiovascular surgeons. Um, Some additional physicians. And they said, we want to be one of the go-to resources for, you know, heart and vascular care around the world. And we realized to do that. The brand impression has to be there.
We’ve got to be. Similar to a John Hopkins, a Cleveland clinic, a Mayo clinic. And one of the reasons they have the perception they do is like, they’re the source that shows up whenever you ask for anything related to the things they are experts on. And so we began to build out not only the website, but a lot of content to help position them as experts.
We got to work with their medical team. And what was super impactful for me is we found out that, uh, one of the pages that we had helped them compose, uh, the talks about a congenital heart defect. Um, the little girl in Tennessee who was a few hundred miles away from this hospital system. Their parents got the diagnosis, they were doing research.
This was the first results. Uh, on that particular search looked at it learned more about, uh, the surgeons that they had hired and realized that one of the people was, uh, one of basically the pioneers of this latest surgery to treat that defect. They got that care. And so this little girl gets to go on and live a happy life, you know, hopefully moving forward without having to get multiple surgeries.
Like this was basically a thing where she could be. Fix the patch up in the way that they work up the graph, um, basically means that it should grow along with her and she doesn’t have to be opened back up, you know, several times throughout her life. And so you begin to think about like, it can feel really meaningless just to sit in front of your computer and code things up and say, Oh, this ranks number one.
But as soon as you hear how that ranking actually connected people and made a difference in somebody’s life, like that adds a lot of meeting. And so. For me, it’s always like those micro stories that we tend to hear. And like now we actually seek those out because those are the things that I think make us feel most proud of the work that we do.
For sure. I can totally resonate with that. Um, and I wanna elaborate on that. I’ll, I’ll share a quick story that I can relate to. Um, so I go on, I go on the other side of the Mike a lot of times to do podcasts and, and, um, I, I was on a podcast and, and just kind of conversation like you and I talking about doing our thing and marketing and, you know, helping others.
And I had somebody send me a message the next day, a private message on Facebook. Um, and they said, Hey, I just want to say, thanks so much. I, I resonated with all these things you’ve said, and it. Made me feel more confident in who I am and made me analyze like all these things about an eating disorder I have.
And growing up with the abuse, I had like topics I didn’t even touch, like, like I don’t have those experiences. I didn’t talk about those types of traumas, but I talked about, you know, finding who yourself is, and then, you know, making the most of your surroundings, circumstances. Like I get, I get messages, like, you know, not maybe not to that extreme, but comparable.
Pretty freaking regularly by, by just giving, without expecting in return. And I think a lot of that has to do with what you’re saying, like sure, you got a business around and sure. There’s some other accounts that are profitable, but your willingness to help them, the ones that are less profitable or even, you know, you’re donating your time.
Could maybe you elaborate on that on, on why giving without expecting. In return or at least like certain financial compensation, why that is so profitable on not only just the financial side, but a personal side. Yeah. I mean, I’m sure that there are firms that could be more mercenary and in the short term probably be, you know, more profitable.
Um, but I mean, we’ve been here for 11 years and I know we tend to we’re based outside of DC. And so while we have. Clients, and I think five countries and like, I think over 30 States, um, we tend to find a lot of organizations in like the DC area. So one that we used to bump up against a whole lot in terms of a competitor, um, you know, would show up for a lot of the same, you know, engagements that we’d be bidding on or, you know, pitching.
And what was funny is the people that had run at that organization. And it’s been 11 years. They never made it more than three years with the firm that they were, you know, it would end up breaking down or it got, um, uh, went bankrupt. There was one where like all the partners got in a disagreement and splits and it was just.
You know, as we were trying to ease and stuff. Exactly. It’s like they got stressed out. Uh, and people burnt out very quickly. They had high turnover, a lot of their clients, what would end up happening is they would work with them initially because they, you know, came in, they sounded good. They had the right price.
Um, but then they quickly got pitched from like the 18 to the VI team and then communication ceased. And there was just a lot of burnout within the organization so that they didn’t know who they were supposed to talk through. And, you know, on our team, we’ve had, I mean, You know, I think maybe two people, uh, voluntarily leave the organization in over 10 years.
So, I mean, we have, after this year, that wants to do the work. And when you get more comfortable working with a team, I think it’s just like you see in any kind of sports effort where team starts to click, you can work together, you know, uh, scales of efficiency and operational efficiency that starts to take place.
And it allows us all to, you know, lift all tides and or that rising tide lifts all boats. And to that point, I mean, we become greater than the sum of our parts. So it’s not just. Each of us has an individual brings a certain skill set is what we all bring together based on the dynamic we have working together and the alignment for the cause.
And. I really think that alignment is kind of the key thing, because we also make sure that all of our, you know, incentivization for the team is based on team performance, not individual performance. You know, there’s a little bit based on, you know, Hey, are you doing a good enough job to kind of stick around and, uh, kind of token level of appreciation there, but by far and large, the majority of additional compensation people get, um, in addition to like their salary and benefits is the profit share bonus.
We do, uh, at the end of the year. And so that makes sure everyone’s being really mindful of how efficient we can be. Did you know that you and I are business founders, soulmates. I didn’t, but I want to know more right now. Um, kind of how we briefly touched on before we hit record about how, um, you know, a big chunk of my team is remote and I’ve never met them.
I’ve I’ve never had, well, I’ve had one person voluntarily leave in 14 years, but that was because through random circumstances, uh, an opportunity presented themselves and I encouraged them to take it. Um, so other than that, you know, I’ve certainly like let a few people go, but I’ve never had anybody.
Leave on their own decision. Um, and it’s largely because of what you talk about and about fostering a positive environment. And maybe that’s what we talk about next is, um, is, you know, how you build relationships, especially if you and I are, are comfortable in the world of working with a remote team, pre COVID, but a lot of listeners like this is.
Brand new to them. So how do you, you know, what’s your take on, how do you foster a healthy culture and team environment when you’re not there? Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s so funny because there are so many things. I think we’ve probably taken for granted having done it for as long as we have that, um, a lot of clients started recently being like, how do you guys do this?
And so we jumped on and I had a couple of conversations with. Clients and friends who run firms that have all pivoted over to just fully remote work and they’re really struggling with it. And I think a lot of it is because they tend to try to emulate the office environment digitally. And you just, there are different environments.
Like you can honor the intention, but not necessarily mimic the actual layouts and experience. Um, but I do feel like a key component of it is to be. Comfortable with a certain amount of like proactive or reverence, like just being able to like reach out to people with no other intention other than, Hey, like what’s going on.
Unless you got to joke around because you have to manufacture those water cooler moments and a lot of people right now. So it’s like, Oh, well we set up a Slack channel called like water cooler and a random. And so people jump in there and that’s cool for the people who want to do that. But you got to remember, there’s a lot of people who.
Are a lot more introverted and they’re never going to voluntarily go there. And they’re used to being in a situation where people will bump into them. There’s a good friend of mine from high school, uh, sent me a comic at one point, which was like how introverts make friends. And it was like, they were adopted by an extrovert who introduces them, certainly workplace.
Like you have the people that are more introverted and if you’re in an office, you can bump into somebody and be like, Hey, like, let’s go talk, let’s grab lunch. Let’s go out for drinks. You got to have that same thing happen online. You’ve got to be practically reaching out to people with no other agenda other than to get with them.
And I find this is where a lot of people fall down because they’ll do the classic, like. Oh, I need to see if you know, Jane has that report. Uh, Hey Jane, how are the kids doing? Oh, they’re doing great. Anyway, I need that report. And it’s like, you know, totally artificial. Like if you’re going to lean in to talk to somebody, lean in to talk to them, if you need something from them, ask them for the thing you need, don’t do that kind of bait and switch because then people are going to start to have avoidance behavior around even having those kinds of engagements.
And I’ve seen some organizations that, uh, like friends have been a part of that have started to have that happen. And that can be like a systemic issue, uh, in terms of communication. Yeah. And, uh, totally agree. A hundred percent with everything. You said. One thing that I’ve I’ve started doing recently, um, and maybe you can chime in on, is to kind of take the, the remote world, the remote relationships one step further because of COVID.
Um, And the exact angle you just stand it on is, you know, being intentional is all reach out to my team and I’ll say, Hey, um, and for the reason you said a lot of people are more introvert and all. And so we have, we don’t do Slack. We’re all on Skype. We have a little Skype group chat and I say, Hey guys, um, can we have a team meeting, no agenda.
And then I get them all together. And I say, I just want to know how you’re doing, you know, can I, um, is there anything that I can invest in to support you? Like, do you need a freaking guitar? Like if you want to learn to play guitar or is there something that has nothing to do with your job responsibilities, but you want to learn on you to me?
Can I. Buy you a course and like just pro, but you saying proactive is exactly what you need to do. So, so that’s one thing that I think has changed for me a little bit on COVID is, you know, I would do those intentional follow-ups and touch points with no agenda other than to see how they’re doing. But I’ve been a little more proactive even further about just being mindful of, of their, their mental health.
Yeah. I think that’s a. Key component of it is obviously being a proactive kind of finding those opportunities. I think the other point is being able to have those meetings where people can connect at some level of scale personally. So again, like in person, some people get into the boardroom earlier, or the conference room early, they get a chance to kind of, you know, make some small talk before the meeting starts.
Can’t necessarily do that. And you know, the virtual space where you could open up like a Google chat or a zoom room or something, and people could start to talk, but it mostly is people stay on you until the meeting starts. Um, so, you know, like whenever we start our weekend meetings, it all starts with like, the first thing people get into is like, Hey, like, how was your weekend?
Everyone goes through shares a little bit about their weekend. And it’s just those things that kind of help people. Oh, I want to try that recipe. Oh, you got to see that movie. How was it? And those things that we have in common, that if you don’t. Have an opportunity to discuss you. Don’t realize you have those shared experiences with people on your team and you don’t get to dive into them deeper.
And you’re not necessarily going to ask everyone every week, like, Hey, what movies did you see? So we can talk about it. It’s gotta be a little bit more organic. So I think having you can proactive elements that are built into your meetings, your kind of weekly cadence that help people connect. Those people is going to be really important.
Yeah. Um, you mentioned Seth Goden awhile ago. Like, um, he was here in Utah last year, two years ago and, um, he, it’s funny. I had the chance to meet him and, and. In his, it was at like a little private mastermind. There’s like 50, 60 people there. And he was funny cause um, you know, I had him, I brought a book and he signed it and I had got a picture with him.
And as I’m kinda leaning into, um, to, for our pitcher, he tells the guy that I handed my phone to. He’s like, okay, Men in Utah have the best beards and then to bring it home, like, you know, an hour later he’s, he’s on, he’s on this little small stage and he’s talking to the 50, 60 of us. And then he closes up his little session and starts doing Q and a.
And I raised my, another question. He goes the beard. So there’s a clip on YouTube now of Seth Godin. The frames on him, but he’s pointing out off, off screen where he can’t see it and he’s calling out me the beard. So that’s, every time I hear Seth Godin, I have that little funny thing that comes to mind.
He is next level, something similar out here in DC, where he’d come out to a talk at an event called cadre con. And, um, there’s just like, he’s incredible. He does such a great job. He did nothing, but like a two hour Q and a, I think it was an hour and a half or two hour Q and a. And like a lot of those times you’re like, all right, like there’s going to be a bunch of bad questions.
He would take the bad question and then he would rephrase it to be a good question. And then he would answer the questions. And he’s like, if you’re not going to do the work, I’ll do the work for you and get them all back out, carry the whole thing. But just like without missing a beat, that’s just, yeah.
Yeah. He’s, he’s definitely developed his craft and, and it’s very, he’s so quirky, but it’s like, A Polish, like it’s a Seth quirky. Like it’s, it’s the way it should be. Exactly. Like, he’s just, he’s got the character of himself down, Pat. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I want to backtrack a little bit when you were talking about working with like Amazon and WWF, can you clarify.
But it is not the wrestling organization. No, not the, not the rest slim organization. Yes. The worldwide they fund. It’s funny. I, um, really early in my life, my mom introduced me to like rainforest conservation and I had a brand, um, Oh my gosh. I’m forgetting his name. Uh, the author of, um, Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, uh, Douglas Douglas Douglas.
But it was Adams. Uh, he wrote a book called a last chance to see where he went on this journey. And it was, you know, basically there’s like a. Different islands seeing like, you know, what they thought was good, be the last chance to see a bunch of these animals. And so Farrah and I was like, Oh, how amazing would it be to work with these organizations?
And I had one year marked around like Amazon conservation and then the WWF. And so of, I got the opportunity to work with them. I was like childhood, Chris can check a couple of things, you know, off of his lips by being able to contribute to this. Yeah. They’re doing some amazing work. So on the, on the same note, then it’s likely not Amazon the mega company and it’s Amazon the rainforest.
I am indeed Amazon, the rainforest, Amazon conservation team at Amazon team network. Yeah. Typical. Well, Chris, I appreciate your time. I appreciate jumping on and sharing your stories on learning from others. I want to give you the last few moments to share with our audience, how they can find out more about you.
Uh, yeah, so just, uh, if you want to connect with me personally, best places my site. So it’s just Chris Yoko, C H R I S Y O K o.com. And then if you want to learn more about us and the team at Yoko CEO, it’s Y O K O C o.com. And if you want to connect on social or anything, you can find all the links there.
Typical Chris Yoko. Thanks so much. Awesome. Good to meet you, man.