It’s a sad truth but in business, but positive people are hard to find. Most do not love what they do, making work just a means to pay the bills.
So when you find someone who is truly passionate about what they do, and they have built a team of people around them with the same mindset, do everything in your power to discover their secrets!
Hence why I recently sat down with Gina Lednyak, founder of L&A Social, in another Innovate or Die exclusive.
What is L&A Social and what inspired you to start it?
L&A Social is a social media strategy and implementation company. We use the principles and values of psychology to create powerful social media campaigns that grow brand awareness & consumer loyalty and build community.
My background is in psychology and when I first moved to Australia I was trying to figure out what area I wanted to work in. I worked with a digital company doing positive psychology research, and from there began to see the opportunity to bring social media to brands.
I partnered up with an agency and worked on a few of their brands, creating and implementing social strategies and straight away saw the power in it. Through social media I was able to help brands add value to their consumers’ lives, thereby creating passionate brand advocates and influencers.
My other passion was creating a business that would be an innovative and inspiring place to spend the day and work; somewhere where people could come to be themselves, use their skills, learn and work on projects they are truly passionate about.
What made you want to use your name in the title L&A (Lednyak & Associates) Social?
I actually originally did this before I ever planned on having a team. Once the company began growing I had to seriously think about whether to keep the name or change it to a more creative ‘agency’ name. This was a discussion I had with the team as well. I wanted the company name to represent all of us – the company is larger than any of us individually and allows to create incredible projects, and I want a name that reflects that.
The name Lednyak actually has an interesting back story. My great grandpa lost his entire family in Russia during the Holocaust; he was the only survivor and it was because he secretly changed his last name to Lednyak. Nobody knows what the original family name was, and his entire life he refused to let the secret out. Because he changed his name, he survived.
To me, Lednyak isn’t a last name but a showcase of how changing and innovating is the key to survival. Today I feel this is what we do for brands, we add innovation to business models and help them thrive using digital.
What are you doing that is different and innovative?
We have a 7 step approach to social media focused on strategy, implementation and constant measurement. Social media is a rapidly growing industry and as a business we have practiced social media for over 5 years. This gives us a unique insight into creating powerful social media strategies, and performing the day-to-day implementations.
It is one thing having a strategy that says we want to connect with 35-year-old men who love ‘X’, using sport as a content topic; however it is a whole another thing to design the post that resonates with the demographic and generates engagement.
We also run our business 100% in the cloud, meaning that at any given moment any of our clients can log in and see exactly what is getting posted, when, what time and to what network. Rather than working as a separate agency, we see ourselves working as an extension of the team.
How do you attract clients, and what sort of clients do you like working with?
Most of our clients come from word of mouth and referrals, I believe the best marketing is doing an amazing job. All of the work we produce is incredibly public – anyone can look at a social network! When our campaigns are thriving, new clients come to us to see how we could help them create large and engaged online communities as well.
We also get clients from strategic partnerships, I am a big believer that there is no competition, just collaboration and we often partner with agencies that we enjoy working with together.
You speak at a lot of conferences and events, and run educational sessions. What are the benefits of doing this?
I absolutely love speaking at events, it is the fastest way to spread knowledge and value. Speaking is great for building a profile and attracting new clients as well. Within Lednyak Social we are constantly gaining new digital insights, and speaking at events/running workshops is the most efficient way for getting this knowledge out to others on an ongoing basis.
Aside from being valuable and effective, it is also fun and I genuinely enjoy it. Sometimes I do talks alone and other times Dave (our head strategist) and I do them together. We often even host a series of talks in our office in Surry Hills.
You have some incredibly talented young people working for you. Where do you find them and what do you look for?
To be honest, they seem to find me! Myself and everyone else on the team is absolutely obsessed with what we do. We genuinely love being in the office; most of the time we even refer to work as ‘play’.
When the right people come into the office and if they are a good fit, they want to join the team. I would say the best way to attract incredibly dynamic and talented people is to create a workplace and culture that fosters talent, education, authenticity and fun!
When hiring I look for an attitude rather than a strict skill set. I believe most things can be learned, however attitude, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn is something that is innate.
I also look for people with whom I believe it will be amazing to spend 1/3 of my life with. When you work together, especially in our business, we spend 8-10 hours together each day. It is really important to have a well-balanced group of passionate people and enjoy those hours to the max!
The social media landscape changes so often and quickly. How do you keep up to speed?
This is an interesting question, we all read a heap of blogs and publications, but what truly keeps us up to speed is constantly having our hands dirty. We often notice changes on social networks before they are publicly announced and tweak our strategy to make sure it is still effective within the changes.
For us, analysing each day is crucial. We constantly look at analytics, and track and measure the success of our brands. This means knowing what time of day is best to post, what colours, what wording and imagery, and of course predicting what will go viral!
You have a very strong personal network in the digital marketing industry. How have you built this network and how valuable is it?
I believe a strong network is essential. I am originally from NYC and having no family here, my network has often saved me when I needed advice, guidance or introductions. I think to build a strong network you must have genuinely good intentions and be willing to give freely.
To me, everything is about relationships. I want to be surrounded by amazing people and help in whatever way I can. Most of my business contacts end up being my friends as well; to me there is no strict separation between business and life. There is only one life and in life relationships are always the priority.
I also absolutely love speaking about digital, social media and business, and if I meet someone interesting I will always ask to catch up for a coffee just to chat and learn about what they do. If someone needs help with a project, advice or guidance I am always more than happy to give it.
I also freely ask for help and advice from people whom I feel have more ability in different areas. I guess this spills over into a life belief, but in general it is an awesome feeling when you are surrounded by great people, who you love talking to, and who you feel will have your back if shit hits the fan.
Though being a foreigner definitely made me rely more on building a network, I think this is a principal everyone can use. Friends, mentors, business contacts and potential clients are everywhere; we have a limited time here and ensuring you surround yourself with people who share your business and life values is incredibly important.
You were recently a finalist in the Telstra Women in Business Awards. What are some of the opportunities and challenges being a female entrepreneur?
Yes! It was an amazing experience and it opened up my eyes to some of the challenges women experience within business. One thing I am extremely passionate about is being true to myself and leading with a female energy.
When I started the business I was quite young and found I was acting like I thought I needed to act to be in business. Because I was a young woman I felt I constantly needed to prove myself, especially when meeting with older corporate clients.
Over the years I have learned that it is crucial to stay true to yourself. Business is the way we define it; there are no rules on how to lead or what kind of business to have. I think both men and women have challenges and opportunities, and I think the most important thing is staying true to yourself and leading with passion.
You have offices in Sydney & New York. Why is this and how do you find managing people across borders?
The office in NY is a satellite office and we share it with an amazing company, LERPR. We tend to have a few people working from the states at any given time, and sometimes they end up moving over here to Australia!
Most of our clients are in Australia, but we do also work with American clients and companies. I love working with an overseas team, I love the idea that while we’re sleeping here in Sydney, someone amazing is working on copy writing or design. It just keeps the ball rolling and gives us a whole heap of extra energy!
Finally, what is one piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to start their own business?
My advice is to just do it, get in there and get shit done!
When you are starting a business it is too easy to get caught up in research and planning, and bog yourself down before you even begin. A new idea being born is an awesome, beautiful thing and it is important to jump on it before you talk yourself out of it. We all have unbelievable potential and I truly believe that when they give it a go, most people surprise themselves with what they are capable of.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid of failing or succeeding. Having a business and being part of a business that is in a growth stage is a really amazing thing; you are changing businesses and lives. There are also lots of ups and downs that come with it, and you have to embrace the good with the bad and take all the learnings you can.
I believe that if you approach business with the goal of adding value and doing an incredible job you will thrive. Your idea and business might change overtime, but if your heart is in the right place your business will grow.