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The SuccessLab Podcast: Where Entrepreneurs Collaborate for Success

Dec 16, 2014

Welcome to the SuccessLab Podcast Episode #28! I’m in the lab with Chris Kontakis, Art Director at eeko, and Founder and Creative Director of LocalRevibe, a digital and print publication focused on downtown culture in Phoenix. Chris is here to talk about how he's taken his publication from an idea into reality.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your journey?

My background is graphic design and photography—no journalism or anything involved. I had never been involved in any kind of magazine at all. I had no idea how to go about doing any of it.  I was working for a local company, an independent film news blog. When I parted ways from there, I didn't know what to do, so I decided, what the heck, I'll just try this idea and see how it goes. Originally LocalRevibe started as just a blog. Within three months I went into the digital flip magazine, and then moved into print, which was a really crazy experience for me!

2. What led to the creation of LocalRevibe?

I was sitting in my kitchen at the time, and it just popped into my head. LocalRevibe was in my mind for five or six years, and I never really did anything with it. I didn't have the name at the time, either. That was a process for me, actually, to figure out a cool name and branding. I started doing a naming session, where I just scribbled names to try to come up with a brand.

3. How did you get it off the ground?

I knew a lot of people. I met Jonathan Carol who runs Songbird Coffee House downtown. He was one of my biggest supporters at first. He let me interview Songbird and take photos. After that, I was just diving into everything I could find. If something downtown was cool or appealing to me, I would just call or e-mail, set up a time, and take the photos. Being involved in every possible event really helped. After a month and a half of doing the site, people would just start e-mailing me content. PR companies send me stuff all the time, which is a big help. That was really it, just getting involved.

4. At what point did you start adding to the team?

At first I did the interviews myself and then gave them to writers. I did everything but write in the magazine. It was pretty crazy for a while and really tiring. Later on, I found out the writers really liked doing the interviews themselves, and that it made the stories better. I used contract and freelance help. The magazine at the time wasn't making massive profits. It was more like a side project that was starting to generate a little income and starting to gain speed and attention.

5. You also serve as Art Director and Creative Director for another company. It seems managing teams must be your strong suit. Managing a team, whether hired employees or contractors, can prove a challenge for a lot of entrepreneurs. Do you have any tips for managing?

Staying organized somehow, whether you use online software to keep track of everything or even Google Calendar, which has been a lifesaver to me, especially with eeko. Being the art director, there's so many meetings, so much going on all the time. And when I'm at eeko, it's just eeko. I don't think about the magazine. On weekends, after 6:00 p.m., that's when I focus on the magazine. When you come home from work and you're dead tired, you don't want to do anything. But the magazine was such a passion project, I literally loved every second of it. Even the organizational part.

6. What was one of your biggest challenges in managing and growing LocalRevibe?

I'd always heard magazines are a pain in the butt, that they're hard to keep going, and all that's true. I was running my web design company at the same time, which was just me and a programmer. I still had to meet clients on a daily basis, and that was a lot of work. The magazine became this monster; I had to go out every day and do photo shoots, interviews, and meet people all the time. It became overwhelming at one point.

But I learned to stay really structured. I made a spreadsheet. I'm really horrible at spreadsheets, I'm a graphic designer, but I put one together with the help of my girlfriend Tina. I started lining up all my shoots, all my possible contacts, people I need to talk to, and people I want to talk to. I tried to stay as organized as possible. That was the hardest thing for me. Doing layouts and photos is hard time-wise, but not hard in just the doing of it. Organization is so difficult for me to grasp. It became routine on a week-to-week basis. After a year, it was just natural.

7. What has been one of the most valuable things you have done for the business?

Getting relationships, though not necessarily for advertising. For CityScape downtown, for instance, I worked out a partnership with them. They'd help me, and I'd help them; it was a back-and-forth thing. I'd put in ads for them, and they'd help me by pushing us on social media. It's possible an event will come through one day for the magazine. One of the largest things are partnerships and working with people. Someone will help you, you help them, and in the long run you both walk out of it winning.

8. Do you have a tip or tool you can share? Something you’re loving right now?

At eeko studio, we use a program called Asana. It's a project management tool. If I didn't have that, I'd be completely lost. I'd have no idea what to do on a daily basis. Having a really good project management tool like Asana is so beneficial. At first I hated it. "Oh no, another thing I have to use." I was dreading it. A couple days down, and I thought, "This is awesome!"

Google Drive helps a lot with real-time editing. I always like to get input from writers about how they envision a layout. I always wanted to get feedback, so it wasn't always just me. Sometimes I get tunnel vision, being a graphic designer. I've been doing it for 12 years, and sometimes

9. How can people connect with you?

FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We just hit 1,000 followers on Instagram! You can also visit for stats and information for advertising.

This week’s Biz Hack:

How are you showing those who matter most to your business you appreciate them this season? This time of year is not only the perfect time to show gratitude, but it's also a great excuse to reach out to old contacts and business leads. Though the clock is ticking, there are still some creative ways to make an impression.

  • Send e-cards with a personal note or a gratitude e-mail campaign.
  • Send physical hand-written cards. This can be a great way to break through the clutter and show you took some time to put together a thoughtful note.
  • Host a party or fun outing for clients and business contacts. This can also be great networking for all involved.
  • Send memorable gifts. One year, I received an interactive Christmas card from a creative/digital marketing company. The card had very simple elements on the front that formed a snowman but could be moved around to make several things.
  • With gift giving, I always try to go the local, small, or independent route—not just to support other small businesses, but also because you can often find more unique, high-quality items.
  • Do some social good. Maybe you can rally your contacts and clients all to do something good in the community.

Action Items:

Nail down what your holiday gratitude gesture will be. Be cognizant of timing, though. If it requires mailing things out to clients across state or country lines, you’ll need to get them out within the next week to week-and-a-half.

Quote of the week:

“To uncover your true potential, you must first find your own limits, and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.” — Picabo Street

Next week’s episode is an awesome one! I’m joined in the Lab by Juan Kingsbury, founder of Career Blindspot. We talk about how to hire the right people. The approach he talks about really can span many areas of business, not just hiring, so be sure to tune in.

Don’t forget: for past interviews, biz hacks, action items and inspirational quotes, venture over to Until next time, have prosperous week!