Ali Payani, Co-Founder and CEO of LookinLA, a leading digital marketing agency recognized as one of the best marketing firms in Los Angeles. He was born in 1990 in Iran and moved to Dubai in 2005 and moved to the U.S.A in 2016. The fast success of LookinLA speaks to Payani’s skill as both a digital marketer and as an entrepreneur. Though he came to the U.S. from Dubai in 2016 with vast experience in business and technology, he had no contacts, no leads, and no income stream to support him as he built his new California-based business. Nevertheless, LookinLA made six figures in six months, and Payani has become a sought-after business mentor and coach, as well as the host of the podcast “The Leading Mindset with Ali Payani.”
Where did the idea for LookinLA come from?
In 2017, LookinLA was incepted with a mission to position a wide-range of businesses at the forefront of the industry by leveraging data-backed marketing strategies that evolve alongside an ever-advancing digital world. In the beginning we focus on Los Angeles based companies as we were literally going door-to-door to garner new business. When I came to the U.S. from Dubai in 2016 with vast experience in business and technology, I had no contacts, no leads, and no income stream to support me as I built the business.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I begin my day with an early morning run as it helps me clear my mind and focus on the upcoming day’s tasks. Throughout the day, I have various client meetings and check-in’s with each team to monitor executions and update strategies as needed to ensure clients are getting the right information and desire results.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I explore new opportunities and learn new strategies to help lead my team in an innovative direction and overcome challenges. As a company, our strategy is scenario planning – to plan campaigns focused on 2-3 quarters ahead.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Our expectations are that more companies can work with remote digital companies instead of internal teams as a way to lower overhead and free up those funds that can be used for digital marketing initiatives. Consumers are more engaged with video and motion picture content and companies are using AR/VR along with other tech in digital marketing which makes the opportunities endless.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur apart from all other skills, I think discipline is key as we each have had to make sacrifices, both personal and in business, to achieve our goals and motivation is what launches our creativity but discipline is what keeps us focused on achieving them.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Taking new opportunities as everything can be a learning experience. Take initiative to overcome current challenges that might keep you from achieving your dreams.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That it’s ok to tell your client “No” and push back. As a company we tell our clients “No,” As marketers, we know communication is everything. One misunderstanding or neglected email can turn into wasted time or lost opportunities. Our team is obsessive about professional growth and unlike an in-house marketing team that may worry more about validating a vision to appease a CEO etc., we won’t. If a client suggests a harmful strategy or idea, we won’t do it instead we offer an alternative solution.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Among the many things I enjoy about being an entrepreneur is working hard with my team to create and initiate projects to create successful business strategies for our company and the array of clients. I explore new opportunities and learn new strategies to help lead my team in an innovative direction and overcome challenges. I go out beyond my comfort zone – explore new ideas – take changes. It’s also important to be nimble and pivot when need be and improve/alter your ideas as needed.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
LookinLA’s strategic response has been one of the main reasons behind succeeding in the pandemic. The team leverages 15 research tools to assist in better understanding of the insights and consumer behavior to better implement the services and increase conversation. The team monitor’s the clients’ competition and customizes the services as needed. Developing strategy for each client to grow their business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
During the early stages on LookinLA, I realized that small marketing companies go out of business in the first year because they go after wrong clients, offer small and cheap services, and have no quality for what they execute so I realized that I need a strategy in place, super high quality service due to the high competition and strategy development for clients and not just offer regular marketing services, something more than a marketing theory.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve always been interested in health solutions and possible developing an AI based solution for asthma or COPD patients where they can monitor and predict possible triggers at certain times or locations around them to prevent and onset of an attack.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
As an entrepreneur it’s extremely difficult at times to maintain a work-life balance and even more difficult when you are expanding your business, so recently I did a 2-day gateway to La Jola, California – just a few miles away from our offices – to take in the sights and unplug so I could come back mentally fresh and refocused.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The best practice is to use communication platforms tools such as Slack so you can be connected to your team and clients at all times to address issues and be in constant contact with everyone to provide feedback etc.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Ride of A Lifetime by Bob Eiger. I think that his key notes are key to business success:
-Paying attention to what you might consider coincidence, it just may end up leading you to success.
-Even if an idea you have sounds crazy, try it anyway because you never know what great opportunities will come from it until you do.
-Don’t give up on even the toughest of aspirations, remember that you can utilize your connections to make great things happen.
What is your favorite quote?
“Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing.” by John Maxwell.
- Pay attention to new trends and be open to ideas outside your comfort zone.
- Venture outside the various verticals to offer your services. Never leave a possible business lead on the table.
- It is perfectly acceptable to fail – everything is a learning experience – even failure.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.