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Duncan is the CEO of Littlefield, a company that owns companies such as the Littlefield Company, Paper Airplane Sidecar who are critical equity partner contributors to profit-focused companies. The engine of his company is the Littlefield Company, where they tell under-told stories by delivering scalable content for purpose-driven companies. Plus, he’s on a mission to always be a part of the larger conversation and to support everyone to become obsessed with their own unique life.
What is the importance of story when it comes to marketing for a business?
It’s one of the things that we recognized as we kind of dug deeper into what we really do well, is that side of the story. Every business owner started a company for a reason. They wanted to connect to an audience, they wanted to sell something, they wanted to be a part of the community, whatever it was. We really want to tell those under-told stories that people don’t know about. You walk into a company, and you can put two things together to recognize what they do and why they do it, but there’s always a deeper meaning. There’s always that thing that can have somebody sparked on attention and build their trust to be a lifelong guest. So it’s one of those things where we want to tell those under-told stories that make them stand out against the competition, but also at that point, earn a consumer’s trust. Once you earn that trust, you can have an ask which can be to buy or to donate or show up. That’s really where we wanted to lean into is just focusing on the story and not have been so focused on budget or camera equipment, or anything else, it’s just let’s tell incredible stories, that have people walk through the door and saying, “How can I be a part of this, and how can I help you grow it?” That’s where we’re, we’re so fortunate to be in with some incredible partners who, that’s all we care about. It’s just the story.
How do you create team and collaboration within your core values?
We focus on letting everyone have some confidence and not the ego. Very early on in the company, we recognize that every story we make, every video we create, every story we get to tell is not ours. So if you look at our portfolio from our website, we’ve only added roughly six company logos in just two videos in our company’s history and all of those six videos are for us. Everything else, we don’t put a logo on. We don’t want to take the attention away from that partner story because we really believe that yes, like, are we the ones creating it and potentially molding the story? Yeah, but the reality is, it’s not our story. So we really have this collective mission as a team to kind of check the ego at the door, and say, “We are really big believers in our core values,” and those core values are, bring your best, be your DNA, be positive, and show up for each other. Those four things are not rooted in, I want to be the best person or the best director or the best cinematographer or get my credit here or here, it really goes, “Hey, how can I be a part of the bigger conversation, help a company tell their story to earn their trust and have a lifelong guest.” We’re collaborative, too, potentially to a fault at times, because it takes us a little longer to build the creative because we have so many internal meetings about it. It’s we have so many internal meetings about conversations or companies that we’re trying to build stories for or understand companies or brands to then at that point, it could slow us down, because there are so many times where you work with a single cinematographer videographer, and they’re like, “Cool, give me 24 hours, and I can create a game plan, we can do this, this and this,” because they don’t need to talk with 15 people about it. That’s where we really go is we want to make sure that we have all ideas on the table and we’re really focused on that team effort and it’s something that I’m very proud of, honestly. We want to have guys and gals have confidence in what they do, but the bigger picture is we want to make sure our partners have incredible stories to let them drive their businesses and if they drive their businesses, our business will follow up because we’ve made a great partnership.
It looks like you’ve worn the professional athlete hat in your life a little bit. How does that experience carry into business ownership?
Yeah, I did. I’m fortunate again, I kind of referenced it earlier, but I feel like I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world. The fact that you just said, I’ve also worn a professional athlete hat is only more credit to the fact that I believe, I’m the luckiest person out there. Being a professional athlete was an amazing experience. I played golf at the mini-tour level. So I was traveling around the country gambling for a living, it wasn’t five-star jets, and hotels and all this stuff taking care of for me and playing for a million dollars a week. We were playing for 5-10 grand and if you didn’t bet on yourself in the right week, you were going home empty-handed with other fees and other expenses. It really made you focus on the bigger and I think that’s one of the things that really helps me Because right now, you know when I was a professional athlete hitting golf balls and driving range, I was working on something to show up in my golf career and show up under pressure three years from that moment. I have a very similar outlook on business, like everything I’m doing right today is going to show up in business practice and development two-three years from now potentially longer. Because we’re just laying the foundation for where we’re going. It also taught me more about connections and people than ever, ever learned about the game of golf. It was collaborative. Golf is not a sport where like when we get on the tee box and the guns go off we’re trying to beat each other, like crazy, but we come together at the end, and we shake hands and go grab a meal together afterward. In my opinion, that’s the way business should be. It’s I’m not trying to be better than any business, I’m just trying to be the best version of myself. I’m trying to have my business and my team be the best version of their self today and that goes back to like our core values, be your DNA. Right now, today is the best version of yourself because you can’t experience tomorrow, and you’ve become better than yesterday, you’ve learned more than yesterday so right now, the minute where n is the best version of yourself. So if you can’t show up and be your unique DNA, then you know what, go look in the mirror and make sure you come together and try to be the best version of yourself, to help somebody, to build something, to grow something. The other thing about it is I learned how to work really hard. Being a professional athlete, you put everything at it. My goal is to be the number one player in the world and I failed at that goal, I did not reach that goal. But I’m really thrilled that I failed at it and I’m really thrilled that I’m currently not sitting on the couch, watching my buddies win millions on tour, and going, “Oh, I wish.” I’m really fortunate that I had the realization that I got to move on, I got to do something different and I’m really happy where I’ve landed because it’s a blast.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you’ve had?
This is gonna sound kind of funny, but COVID has is a terrible thing and has affected so many people and so many just detrimental things. But the ability for the world to come together over zoom, or Google meets, or really wherever has been an amazing opportunity for us. So I mean, there are countless times where I have been on zoom calls that have been so positive and supportive and collaborative. I can honestly say that I have met some of the best people and some of my now what I would consider Dear Dear friends and business partners over zoom and virtual happy hours over the last year. It’s one of those things where the world kind of came to everyone if they wanted it to come to you. There’s a great group that happens every other Thursday and they started off with like, 20 people in a room and now there’s like 400 people that are on the list, and at least a few 100 people show up every week now just to collaborate and talk about VCs and venture-backed companies and tech, and it’s just an amazing opportunity for the world to kind of come together and be collaborative, even if they’re not in the same city. You look at the meetings from before COVID and you had a couple of meetings a day, you ran around for a cup of coffee, and you’re like, “Man, that was a really busy day with four people,” and now it’s like, alright, you do four people in an hour and a half. I’m not saying I’m fortunate for COVID, because that’s just a terrible thing, but for how the world has opened up to allow people to kind of open their arms and bring people together through zoom, and the digital age has been the ultimate networking experience for me across the board over the last year. There was a time in COVID, where we did this thing called a marketing campaign called eight to five, where I literally left my zoom open, live from eight to five every single day, Monday through Friday. What the concept started as was just an internal team thing, where anyone can pop into our kind of virtual living room and say, “Hey, ask questions, talk to me,” whatever it is. So it was really cool when I was there by myself just working away and then all of a sudden, two team members would go cool, let’s go to the living room and chat and I would literally put myself on mute cause they would have a conversation. It was so cool, but then at that point, we opened it up to everybody. We sent it out, we said, “Hey, please come join us whenever you want, just pop in, here’s the link, this will be open from eight to five every day.” So like when I went to have lunch or have a coffee meeting, we put just a blank screen up that says like, “Hey, out at lunch,” and I would come back and we had friends from childhood pop on and even my mom got on their once. So that was an experience, but we had people come from different businesses and different companies that we supported. And like we built videos for and stories for, and then all of a sudden like they’re talking and figuring out how to collaborate. It was a really fun time.
How do you stay in front of them best nurture your network in your community?
I think it’s perfect timing because I don’t know if you recognize this, but I have stayed silent on social media for the last three and a half years. I haven’t posted on my own personal social media since October 9th of 2017. It’s funny to think that I’m the CEO of a content company and I haven’t posted on a single thing on my personal page in over three and a half years. But yesterday was the very first day that I am back online and we put a post out and now we’re prepared and we are organized to not have it stop. So I think the best way to nurture and build community in your networking is again, it’s a matter of who you are and what your DNA is. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and go, “What’s right for me.” Right now the world and the algorithms will tell you video is the king, but if you’re terrible on video, you might not want to go on video. If you’re a great writer then just double down on a blog, really lean into Twitter, all these different things to recognize that here’s where your strength is. I would say in the way you nurture and what you build is if you want to become a leading expert, then figure out the right way to talk about it, and figure out the right way that’s right for you because if you enjoy it, you won’t fight it. I’m dyslexic so if you told me that I needed to write a blog every day, four hours of my day would be gone. I would hate it, it’d be miserable, but if you say, “Just put a two-minute video out every single day,” I can do that in three minutes. I don’t need to plan for it, I flip the camera on and I can talk.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think patience would be a great word. When I played golf I thought I needed to be at the top of the world when I was 30. Recognizing that it’s a 40-year career is tough for a 25-year-old who thinks he knows everything. So for me right now, I recognize that to achieve my goal for where I want to go, it’s going to take 40, maybe 50 years, but I’m very much up and prepared for it. Then I would also say, experience. Understand where you want to go look at yourself in the mirror, be good with yourself, be self-aware about where you want to go and how much you want to sacrifice for it. Are you willing to sacrifice everything for something and if you are, man, don’t let anyone stop you? Put positive people who can believe and celebrate you for who you are because then at that point, you’re gonna be able to change the world, or you’re gonna make the biggest impact on someone’s life. So patience would be the big one as well. That’s maybe the biggest one because recognizing that we get to play a game that’s not like the NFL or the NBA when your career is over in the ballpark of 35-40. But, you and I get to build businesses for the next 40 years, potentially. I kind of joked that yesterday was the first day of the next 40 years of posting online every single day. We put up the second one today and it was okay to down 40 years to go. It’s going to be bigger and I’m really excited about getting myself a little more patience even though I work 12 straight hours a day and I love what I do and all that kind of stuff, but to recognize that I have the patience to achieve the goal that I’m going after is different than when I was 24 and trying to conquer the golf world.
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