Lindsay Dicks sees the world from a unique perspective. As a child, she was diagnosed with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, a type of dyslexia and a perceptual processing disorder that hinders the brain’s ability to process visual information. What appeared to be a handicap for reading and learning turned into a unique way of seeing that has influenced every aspect of her career.
“My brain processes information differently, especially text. When reading my eyes play tricks on me; words block together, blink or even switch places entirely. When I was a child, instead of words, my mind saw a maze. And because I couldn’t read it, I instead would solve the maze. Naturally my mind works analytically. I see puzzles in my head and can see the steps that need to happen to complete the puzzle. To me, business is the same, it’s a puzzle to solve.”
As the Chief Operating Officer of the Dicks + Nanton companies and the CEO of CelebritySites®, Lindsay has used the puzzle-solving skills she developed as a child to help her build the business processes and systems that grow companies and make them run like clockwork. Her formula for success is made up of four simple principles. First and foremost, people buy people who they know, like and trust—this is true in every business and is sometimes more important than the product itself. Second, by mapping out your business course, you can overcome any obstacle. Third, you must monitor your business process monthly in order to know when to change course and when to stay on the same path. And finally, finding balance in your business and personal life is the key to long-term success and happiness no matter what you do.
People Buy People
“From the very beginning, all I’ve ever wanted to do in my life was to be in business with my father. If you asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was an entrepreneur like my dad,” says Lindsay. With this goal in mind, Lindsay pursued a degree in marketing from the University of Florida. She graduated with honors, but school was only a stepping stone to her ultimate goal, starting a business with her dad, JW “Jack” Dicks.
Their partnership began when she joined him in his real estate business at the height of the real estate boom. In real estate Lindsay learned one of the most important lessons of her career.
“I learned firsthand that ‘people buy people’ in real estate as they do in other businesses. Real estate is an easy example of the application because everyone is selling the same thing. To get people to do business with you over another real estate agent you have to give them information in your marketing to let the prospect know about you, personally, so they can learn to like you and trust you. This is done by telling your story and through the words of people who have successfully done business with you.”
Combined with the crash of the market and her realization that something was missing, her real estate career was short lived; however, that is precisely when a new opportunity opened that would change her life: the Internet.
At this time, Lindsay and her father, Jack, began their long-term partnership with Nick Nanton. Nick Nanton, a friend of the Dicks family since childhood, graduated from law school at about the same time Lindsay finished her degree at UF. Nick partnered with Jack to open their law firm, Dicks & Nanton, P.A. Knowing they would need a strong, cohesive presence on the Internet for the firm, Nick and Jack turned to Lindsay and she recognized the possibilities.
Web design was a perfect fit for Lindsay’s talents and her ability to see and create things from scratch as she had done as a child. She immersed herself in learning the ropes—taking courses and attending conferences in web design, coding, social media, and search engine optimization. Along the way she became friends with David Bullock, the genius behind Barack Obama’s social media campaign for both his presidential campaigns. In many ways, it was an opportunity of a lifetime to be mentored by one of the best in the field. Bullock taught Lindsay the ins and outs of the successful SEO and social media campaigns that he had created for President Obama. As she began to apply the lessons in real life she built the web presence of Dicks & Nanton, soon other businesses began to take notice.
“I was good at it, and the more I saw that I was good at it, the more I liked it, and the more I realized I could really help people.” As Jack and Nick set up the Dicks + Nanton Companies and The Celebrity Branding® Agency, Lindsay launched CelebritySites® to create a dynamic web presence for entrepreneurs and businesses.
Soon The Celebrity Branding® Agency, the Dicks + Nanton Companies, and CelebritySites® were serving clients all over the world.
Creating a Map to Success
Whenever beginning a new process or creating a new system for a business, Lindsay first examines the roadblocks and obstacles. She believes that looking at the potential pitfalls allows her to create more efficient and winning systems in the long run.
“My biggest skill is being able to see the roadblocks and then working through them. I’m the one who says, ‘Here’s the problem with that, so let’s shift gears and do it this way.’ Dad and Nick handle the business from the sales and strategy point of view, but I am able to physically put the people, the processes, and systems in place to make it run. We have collectively discovered that business has to operate with two systems: A marketing system and a process system. While there can be overlaps and an understanding of both parts, in most cases, it’s a different skill set and you will be happiest finding a person who loves the one you don’t like.”
When working through a new process or system for a client, Lindsay creates a mind map with yes/no sequences. It all begins with a blank sheet of paper.
“I’ll start with whatever I know to be true and draw a circle in the center of the page. I then go through each possible scenario in a yes/no fashion until I have flushed out all possible outcomes and have arrived at the desired result.”
Lindsay uses mind maps to plan every process and system from web design to email marketing and adding new products and services to a business. From the mind map, Lindsay creates the detailed project profiles and standard operating procedures for every process.
“For me, it goes back to puzzles. To see the pieces fall into place, the success at the end, to know that I just solved that puzzle, that’s what I love. Because every problem is always slightly unique, I must always be able to adjust quickly, adapt to what’s thrown my way, and tweak systems. That’s fun for me.”
If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done…
“I learned from my father at an early age that if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten.” For Lindsay, this insight cuts both ways when she sets up a new process or system for the Dicks + Nanton Companies or her CelebritySites® clients.
“If you know a process or system works, and you can take that process and system and move it to the next product or service, the next business vertical or area of your or life, you know without a doubt what you’re going to get. Now, if you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten – in this instance the rule works in a positive fashion.”
If a business wants to grow or diversify then it has to change what it does. New processes and systems must be built.
Lindsay says, “At some point, by following your processes your business will grow organically. If you want the business to grow faster, then you need to add another product vertical to what you are doing. I know that to build business A, I had to do X, Y, and Z, so I now know that to build a new vertical for our business B, I have to do X, Y, and Z because my return was good on the first product or service. I just have to take the new product or service and run it through the successful process and you should get the same successful result.”
“I like to think of it visually like the man at the circus who spins plates. Once he gets one going well, he adds another plate. Often he has to go jiggle the first one a little to see it is going good, but he only has to spend a little time. Then when he gets the second one going well, he can add another plate. This is the essence of growing your business by adding more products and services,” Lindsay continues.
By using this philosophy, Lindsay has helped the Dicks + Nanton Companies grow into a family of seventeen companies, including her first, CelebritySites®.
Balance: The Key To Success
One of the biggest questions clients ask Lindsay is how to balance business and home life, “Can you have it all?” Lindsay believes it’s possible if you have a plan and set clear boundaries.
“Another lesson dad taught me is that you can do anything you want in life; you just can’t do everything. I can be CEO of a business, but that might mean that I miss something else. At times, I’ll miss things in the business because I want to stay home with my daughter or my husband. But, I do believe you can have it all; you just have to make that commitment to that balance.”
For Lindsay, a key to achieving that balance is in setting boundaries between her work and her personal life.
“I’m very frank with my clients. These are the hours that I work, and these are the hours that I don’t work. If you’re not okay with that, then I’m probably not the best fit for you. Most of the time, my clients appreciate the fact that I’m doing the best that I can to fulfill both sides of things. They understand because they are trying to do it, too. Sometimes the biggest mistake that business owners and entrepreneurs can fall into is letting their clients dictate their life.”
As the COO of the Dicks + Nanton Companies and the CEO of CelebritySites®, Lindsay knows the importance of having clear priorities, setting boundaries, and finding balance in her life. She credits finding balance as a key to her success.
“For me, it always comes back to my family. One of the reasons I wanted to go into business was because of family. Now I get to work with my mom, my dad and Nick, whom I’ve known since I was fourteen. He’s the brother I never had. On the other side of that, as much as I love business, I do everything for my family at home; my husband and my daughter. I would not be where I am in business, with all God’s gifts, if it wasn’t for them. Can you have it all? To me, the answer is yes.”