Marketing Coordinator at i am a brand®

I was fortunate to speak with Dennis Yu, Co-founder and Chief Technology Office of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company that is centered around mentoring the youth. BlitzMetrics does this by partnering with schools to train and help young adults grow their expertise to manage social campaigns.

Aside from his success with BlitzMetrics, Dennis is an established expert in online advertising and digital marketing. He is an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing, has been featured in a handful of respectable publications like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and has held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines.

I talked with him about his entrepreneurial spirit, building his business and his road to success:

Tell us a little about yourself

Dennis Yu: I struggled finding a job coming out of college. But because I had a powerful mentor who opened doors for me, I was given amazing opportunities to run projects I was definitely not qualified to be a part of.

I’ve made it my life mission to give back to young adults who were in my same situation years ago– by implementing mentorship programs to teach digital marketing at no cost to young adults.

We partner with universities and colleges to provide education and jobs at the same time.

How did you get into the industry you are now?

DY: I was good at math, so when the web started to become a thing 20+ years ago, I was in the right place at the right time.  It also helped that the CEO of American Airlines was one of my mentors.

I found I knew so little in the real world, even though I did so well in school– quite a shocker for me, since I had worked so hard for good grades.

It was a hard lesson for me to figure out that building relationships with people who can do stuff you don’t know how to do is more important than how many books you’ve read.”

How did you make your first sale?

DY: When I left Yahoo!, I was helping non-profits with their SEO and PPC.  Muhammad Yunus, the founder of one of them, Grameen Foundation, was getting a Nobel Peace Prize.

So I was able to finagle getting them a mention on the Yahoo! home page, driving them a quarter million dollars in donations– landing me my first consulting client.

Did you have a ‘big break’ moment?

DY: Making it into Yahoo! engineering was when I discovered how “good” the best people in Silicon Valley really were. Working alongside the folks who were building the foundations of the web almost 20 years ago gave me connections that are paying off to this day.
It’s all about relationships, not technology.

What was the most important decision you have made that contributed to your success?

DY: My mentor, Al Casey, told me to focus on my learning curve, not my earning curve.

And that has caused me to choose situations that didn’t pay well, but built my network and my knowledge. It was only 10 years later, with situations that I never could have predicted, that I was able be rewarded handsomely because of what I did years ago.

How do you conquer moments of self-doubt in business?

DY: I don’t think you ever do– we all have to stay humble and flexible.

But instead of having self-doubt, which is thinking about YOU, I think about the amazing young adults in our company who are building careers and the clients counting on us. That’s a lot of families who depend upon us, so I work harder.

How did you go about getting the market interested in what you were doing?

DY: I hadn’t thought of traditional marketing– of trying to convince people they need to hire us.

It was so much easier to respond to people who come to us because they have clear pain.  Their business is bleeding money on Facebook and need the “surgeon” to come in to fix things.

So by publishing our techniques openly, we’ve been invited to speak at the main conferences and be on TV. Last month, my co-founder, Logan Young, was on CNN in front of millions of people, sharing his opinion on Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress.

That “convinces people” to hire us for Facebook ads, I’d suppose.”

Where do you find inspiration?

DY: “I read science fiction and go on hikes in the wilderness. In particular, my favorite book is Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.

What can we expect to see you doing in the future?

DY: I’m so excited to be rolling out our digital marketing training programs to more schools, including at military bases where our armed forces can get digital marketing certifications as they transition to civilian life.
I’d love to hear from others who share the same mission.
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