Day 45- The Puzzle – My Biggest Puzzle Piece EVER, Employee #1 Ashley

12 years and 11 months ago the plan CHANGED!

In 2008 when I decided to start this company I was adamant on being a “one man show” and have NO EMPLOYEES!  At our boat dealership the prior 9 years I’d seen first hand how hard it was to manage people and more than that, how bad I was at hiring the right people.  So when I started the goal was simple, just me.

WELLLL within 2 years I could see how that was a terrible idea.  I could start to see the cracks forming, the work piling up and wall that I was about to hit.  So in early 2011 I decided Batman needed a Robin.  I knew that in order to over deliver to clients and help more small business owners that I needed someone by my side, someone that could keep up with me and honestly, PUT UP WITH ME 🙂

One of the big reasons I dreaded hiring an employee was from my prior bad experiences of hiring at our Boat Dealership.  Everyone I’d ever hired, basically got FIRED…literally.  I don’t know what it was about my past of hiring, but I seemed to not be too good at it.

That was until NOW!  

Or maybe I got damn lucky.

In the Spring of 2011 I stood up at weekly BNI meeting at asked for what would become the MOST VALUABLE REFERRAL EVER!  The ask was simple “I’m looking for someone who’s computer savy, understands Facebook, learns fast and who would like to work 5-10 hours per week starting off and work towards full-time.”

As luck would have it Peggy Sparks, who was one of the top members in our group and a rockstar referrer said “I’ve got a referral for you, it’s my daughter Ashley.”

And like that, I had a lead.  I had someone who might end up being my Robin, but could she keep up and handle my interesting nuances 🙂

The meeting was set, Tuesday May 31st, Panera Bread in Crestview Hills Town Center. 

The meeting was simple, she was actually on her way to the pool to relax for the day and the meeting went great.  I wasn’t concerned with resumes or past experience, the proof would be in the pudding as they say.  I emailed Ashley logins for a few clients Constant Contact email accounts and instructed her to look at what I’d created in the past and give it her best shot.  

I figured it would take a few days and didn’t expect a lot, to be quite honest I wasn’t really sure what I was going to get back from her.  Up to that point I controlled everything and delegating the marketing of our clients seemed like an impossible task. Then a few short hours later BAM, an email arrives and DAMN is it good.  Actually, it was AMAZING!

It was better than anything I would have done and I DIDN’T have to do the work!  

And with that, Ashley was hired!

She started off at 5-10 hours, then quickly moved to 20-30 hours and by the end of the year she was FULL TIME!  

How I got so lucky with my first ever hire for this company is beyond me, but I’m damn glad I did.  As I sit here today, 12 years and 11 months after she started June 22nd 20211 I am beyond thankful for what she’s done for me, this company, our clients and her co-workers.

To say Ashley is a ROCK STAR would be an understatement.  What she’s become within our company is what building a business is all about.  

And she did this without much direction from me. I’ve never been an overbearing micro manager, I’m quite the opposite.  Which, ironically has caused our only two flare ups in 13 years.  

As I was typing yesterdays blog about what’s happened since the NRA show in 2015 to now, I can’t help but think NONE OF IT would have been possible without Ashley. 

I can still remember my excitement in 2016 when I figured out the ROI Engine and Ashley and I met at the gym office to review it.  I sat down with her to show her the marketing automation I’d built in Zapier and what the future was going to be for our company.  She would later tell me on her drive home she called her husband crying that scared she’d be fired because what I just showed her was not something she understood. 

Well, that was short lived.  Within weeks she was crushing it and that allowed me to put my energy in other places.  And ever since that day, that’s how it’s been.  Matt creates something, Ashley makes it happen and Matt moves onto the next idea.  

Today Ashley leads the entire marketing company and software.  She’s the driving force behind what will become the ultimate restaurant marketing platform.  One that drives sales to restaurants where they need it the most.  

Peggy (Ashley’s mom) THANK YOU.  Your referral that day in BNI is easily the most valuable referral EVER in the history of BNI.

Ashley, THANK YOU. 

Thank you for being a rock star.

Thank you for putting up with my lack of leadership and directions.

Thank you for staying by my side as we’ve navigated rocky waters the past few years.

And thank you for always being willing to learn something new and run full steam ahead.


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