Daniel Green – CEO of Growella

Ideas are interesting because they’re living, growing things. Some ideas are practical, some are fantastical. Each deserves to be nurtured. You never know how an idea will evolve.

Daniel Green is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based business owner. He is CEO of Growella, a publishing and new media company that helps the current generation do more with their money and get more from their life.

Growella is Dan’s third successful publishing company. His last business, the popular mortgage website, The Mortgage Reports, was built scratch into a widely-recognized, consumer-focused mortgage blog that generates millions of dollars in revenue each year. The Mortgage Reports gives unbiased mortgage loan advice to first-time home buyers, seasoned homeowners, and real estate investors; and, has been informing its readers for more than a decade. Dan has been frequently cited in print, on the radio, and on television.

The Mortgage Reports was recently acquired marking Dan’s third sale of a web-publishing business.

Daniel Green lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children, all of whom enjoy living an active and healthy lifestyle. And, when Dan’s not building businesses, he likes to spend his time working in the kitchen, filling cabinets with healthy snacks; and filling bellies with nutritious dinners. He has a lot to learn, he’ll admit to you, but as Dan puts it: “If you can read, you can cook.”

Daniel Green also spends time volunteering with youth sports. He has served as a coach for youth soccer, youth basketball, youth baseball, and youth hockey teams. He also founded a youth running club in his Cincinnati community. Dan believes that the lessons taught by hard work, determination, and focus help all athletes to realize their full potential, on and off the field.

When Dan is not busy running web publishing companies, spending quality time with his family, or coaching youth sports, he can be found playing hockey, strumming a guitar, or logging 40-mile weeks on the streets of Cincinnati.

Where did the idea for Growella come from?

We wanted to build a website that exuded empathy. This was the birth of Growella.

Growella is a publishing company. We help the current generation move to the next phase of their lives; to get where they want to be. Our site operates from a position of empathy. We hear you, and we talk with you.

Growella was born to be different from the sites that litter your feeds and your timelines. We put readers before revenue. We know that the key to a successful, long-term business is to treat your customers with respect.

The Growella experience is different from what you’ll find on the internet these days. The site is free from advertisements, there’s no use of click-bait headline, and articles are written to be relevant and relatable. Pop-ups don’t disturb your visit and your feed can be read without interruption.

Growella is the web experience we’ve all hoped would materialize online. It didn’t, so we made it ourselves.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My day begins in the 5 o’clock hour. I wake and get some form of exercise — usually a run of 6-8 miles; or, sometimes swimming, biking, weights, or all three. Pre-dawn is an excellent time to exercise because your mind is still clear and your stress levels low.

This makes for a better workout.

I leave for the office around 8:00 AM. The commute is roughly 30 minutes. I use the car time to listen to music and sing loudly. I could be listening to podcasts during this time or doing something related to work, but I find singing in my car to be just as productive. The effort helps me get centered and ready for the office.

At the office, I use the first few hours of the days for circling up with the team and making sure we’re all clear on our goals for the day and the week. I’ll also tackle work that requires a high-level of focus.

By afternoon, when energy can start to wane, I move onto less brain-intensive work.

By 5:15 PM, I try to be on the road for home and the next few hours are spent with family. There may be some tasks left over from the day that I’ll try to finish, but these are my least efficient hours of the day. Anything I do after-hours takes twice as long to finish, so I limit the work to housekeeping-like work as much as possible.

Maximizing productivity is about knowing your body and its rhythms.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas are interesting because they’re living, growing things. Some ideas are practical, some are fantastical. Each deserves to be nurtured. You never know how an idea will evolve.

The challenging part about ideas is that we’re predisposed to believe our ideas are good ones — they’re ours, after all. But, we each bring biases to the idea creation process and that can be bad. Sharing an idea with groups of people provides additional perspective, which can help the idea evolve.

Ideas evolve faster and better when they’re shared. Once idea is nearly fully-formed, it should be tested in the real-world.

At Growella, we have a saying: “There are no bad ideas. Only A/B tests that have yet to be run.” It means that any idea can be a winner, and every idea deserves time.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

My favorite trend right now is more of a movement than a trend — it’s the return to healthful eating. So much of how we think and how we feel is related to what we eat.

Whole, unprocessed foods nourish and replenish us. They’re nutrient-rich and support our brains and immune system. We do our best work and can become our best selves when we fuel our bodies appropriately.

The movement toward healthful is good for humans and human kind.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I’d give a small speech to my younger self that goes something like this:

“You don’t get a prize for working the most hours. You get rewarded for doing great work and it’s impossible to do great work when you’re not at your absolute best.”

I’ve learned that after 9:00 PM, it takes a person two hours to do one hour’s worth of work. That’s an inefficient use of time. So, use your evening hours more wisely. Read a book. Spend time with family. Get sleep. Doing anything will be better than doing work.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Die Hard is a Christmas Movie. You can keep your Miracle on 34th Street and Christmas Story; your Home Alone and Christmas Vacation. John McClain tearing up Nakatomi Plaza is the one of the most obviously Christmas movies to ever hit the big screen.

Let’s look at the facts:

The plot centers on an estranged father trying to make it home for the holidays. This is a common Christmas movie theme.

Christmas music is present throughout the entire movie, including a magnificently orchestral Ode to Joy as the vault’s chamber is released. And, oh yeah, the closing credits? “Let It Snow”.

The dialogue is stuffed with Christmas and Santa Claus references. Stuffed. Like a Christmas ham.
There are iconic Christmas items throughout the movie, including Christmas gift wrapping tape, multiple Christmas trees, and ugly Christmas sweaters.

People say Die Hard is an action movie the fact that it takes place during a Christmas Party doesn’t make the movie a “Christmas Movie”. To them, I say, “Remember why John McClain was at Nakatomi Plaza in the first place?”

John McClain was at that party to reconcile with his wife and save his marriage before Christmas morning. What could be more Christmas-y than that.

Oh, if you weren’t convinced already, the man’s wife’s name is Holly. Holly!

Case closed.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

A lot of people can benefit by slowing down just a little. Slow your release schedule, slow your plans for the future, slow your pace of life.

Speed is terrific, but speed for its own sake is destructive.

Your business — like your life — needs time and space to breathe. The next six weeks are important, but they’re not as important as the next 6 years. Think longer-term. Let your ideas and your business do their thing.

If your business is built on a successful idea, it will survive moving at a slower pace. Moving at a slower pace can maximize creativity and help you to identify opportunities you may have otherwise missed.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

We have a saying at Growella: “Readers Over Revenue.”

Readers Over Revenue means that every decision starts and ends with our audience’s needs in mind. Before we run a story, before we write a headline, before we post on social, we ask, “Is this putting our reader first?”

We show empathy for our readers. We treat them with respect. We don’t run click-bait headlines. We don’t litter the site with ads. We don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of posting multiple more times per day.

We know that taking care of our readers earns their respect, and that’s how we grow our business long-term.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I fail so often as an entrepreneur, it’s hard to identify one failure in particular. I try to fail in a positive way, though, to limit the chances of failing in the same way twice. It’s why I keep detailed notes of my choices and talk about them openly with the rest of the team.

The most dangerous failure I make is believing that “this time will be different”. It’s a difficult thought to push down because you always want to believe that you’ve learned from your errors.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

The key to starting a successful business is to solve a problem people didn’t know they had.

Two ideas:

Build a self-service deli meat dispenser for supermarkets. The machine should house up to two dozen products, and a self-cleaning slicer. Users can select the thickness of the meat, and the meat should be preserved using inert gas. The same idea can apply to cheeses.

Build a toothpaste that changes flavor, indicating that brushing time is done. This product, marketed to children, teaches good brushing habits and makes brushing time fun for kids. Parents will thank you.
Make a person’s life simpler at a reasonable cost and you will have customers for life.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently bought a package of fake mustaches. They’re stick-on and come in a half-dozen styles. For $8, you get “The Cowboy”, “The Oil Baron”, and “The Traditional Gent”, and a few more. They all look like Tom Selleck to me.

I carry the fake mustaches with me at most times and put one on randomly. They add levity to a serious situation and they give my kids a laugh — even as they’re groaning at me.

And, don’t get me started on googly eyes. Another winner to keep on-hand. They go great on laptops, too.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Toggl is time-tracking software. It monitors time spent performing specific tasks within your company. Time costs money. When time spent on a task exceeds its value to your company, it’s a signal to move that task to a different person, or eliminate it.

Time-tracking software can be a terrific way to maximize your employees’ value.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Books are a personal thing. We each get something different from what we read.

I’ve always found joy in reading biographies of people born to a different generation and into a different life. Learning other people’s stories and their struggles to live their best life reminds me of our shared humanity and the good we can do as One Human Race.

What is your favorite quote?

“Yes, yes. I remember. I had lasagne.” And underrated gem from the funniest movie ever written.


Daniel Green on Twitter: @dangreenoh