Practice the disciplines of persistence and perseverance…Never give up on a dream no matter how small.
Ken Collis is one of today’s most successful entrepreneurs. With a long history of accomplishments starting with collaborating with three other individuals to create the world’s first credit card gateway for the internet to founding one of the country’s most successful marketing agencies, Ken continues to forge the path for up and coming entrepreneurs and start up businesses.
Ken was born in raised in Los Angeles, CA. As one of four siblings, he was nurtured by two successful and loving parents who fostered an environment that spurred his early desire to become a thriving entrepreneur. From an early age, Ken showed the early signs of developing the attributes that would be needed to drive his career path for the decades to follow. Getting a quality education was important to Ken, so past successfully completing his high school years, he went on to Cal State Northridge to best leverage their top notch business studies programs.
Fresh out of college he was introduced to three individuals that would change the direction of his life in a powerful way. The world was on the brink of the birth of the digital age when he became one of the four original collaborators of Bankcard Processing and authorize.Net, which went on to become the world’s very first credit card processing gateway for the new Internet.
Throughout his illustrious career, Ken has had many notable achievements including:
• Opened the Kardashian Khaos in Las Vegas
• Put together the largest Cupcake endorsement transaction in history with the Kardashians and Famous Cupcakes
• He has operated a debt-free agency for close to a decade
• He aided in the public offering for authorize.net
• He founded Bankcard Processing
• He is a loving father of two amazing children
• He has been happily married to his High School sweetheart for 25 years
• With his current business TLK Fusion, Inc, he has structured over $100,000,000 in purchase orders into retail including celebrity clothing and cosmetic lines
• With laser focus he has broken the traditional model of client retention at a rate of triple the industry standard
• Ken has successfully developed a team at TLK Fusion that embraces both personal and professional growth and development
• As a budding businessman, he started working at the age of 14.5 years old at Baskin Robbins
• Ken’s portfolio of celebrity clients that he has worked with includes The Kardashians, Vicky Gunvalson, Justin Bieber, Jennie Rivera, Bebe Coronel, Nicole “Snookie” Pilozzi, Mel B and Jennifer Aniston
• Ken personally manages specific marketing strategies for some of the largest companies on the globe including GUCCI, Loreal, Pepsi and Carl’s Jr.
Currently, Ken is the Founder and CEO at the most successful marketing firm in the nation. Positioned as a “Pop” Culture Marketing Firm, TLK Fusion successfully fuses together traditional marketing ideas, powerful digital advertising, social media management, public relations and distribution of products into retail, along with strategically aligning growing brands with today’s Hollywood Celebrities.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
After accelerating as the Director of Strategic Alignments at Clear Channel, I saw an entrepreneurial path that allowed me to pursue a vertical of business that was put together to assist budding business owners and celebrities pursue their own personal dreams. As my passion for helping newcomers rise to new heights was involved, it was a natural progression in my career to do this.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The bonus of what I pursue is that no day is typical. However days are filled with first the development and nurturing of my internal team. I keep my team small so I can be personally involved in their growth and success. The balance of my day is directly dealing with anything and everything that has a direct impact on my brand and celebrity clients. Other aspects of my day deal wit the various verticals that make up the various parts of TLK Fusion and my Celebrity Clients. To stay productive it comes down to the team doing their part, but personal time management and having a zero self tolerance for procrastination allows me to keep the day flowing on schedule. I also plan time for the unplanned interruptions that are inevitably part of the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Primarily I am a firm believer in that practice of “if you have an idea, just do it”. Too often I see entrepreneurs talk about great ideas and never follow through. I make it a practice to explore every idea and if it’s viable pull the team together and immediately execute. I have no fear of ideas not working. My philosophy is the only idea that does not work is the one that never got executed!
What’s one trend that excites you?
The growing digital market. Even though it seems like this crazy digital space has been around for a long time, it is still in its infancy and developing and evolving every day. If you take a look at the advances that have been made in the mediums in which we advertise for our clients today and what it is going to look like a year from now, it is exciting and keeps you on your toes and mentally challenged trying to keep up with the daily progress of the space.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Persistence. I spend the better part of my day pushing the limits of my team and the business owners that I represent. There really is only one path and that is forward. Every day is wrought with challenges and opportunities that seem like they won’t come to fruition – but then taking the breath and pushing forward is what keeps productivity at it’s peak.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Simple. Keep your circle small, efficient, and demand loyalty. Many of the challenges I faced coming up in business came back to these three attributes. Becoming older and wiser I practice this discipline daily.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I am a firm believer that nothing is ever handed out to you. Unless you have spent 48 hours awake and working at your desk with no sleep as a part of your career, you have a long way to go. We happen to live in a time when individuals don’t want to earn their chips and just want the benefits that come from hard work and personal dedication handed to them. While I am fair and equitable and want nothing more than my employee’s work – life balance as a priority, they all know and respect that they have to perform to achieve for the greater good.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Practice the disciplines of persistence and perseverance. I watch too many business owners give up and never see things through once the going gets rough. Never give up on a dream no matter how small. Why expend the energy if you don’t want to see it through and just give up? That just seems crazy to me.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Innovation is key. Today’s market changes daily, digital platforms are evolving, and everything moves at the speed of light. TLK Fusion has thrived because when we come across an obstacle and the solution doesn’t exist, we create the solution. We are constantly evaluating the competitions current work and improving upon it. Taking an innovative approach to a stagnating process is the best way to breathe new life into a business to drive growth. Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel – just put new tread on it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on in my career I didn’t place value on client retention. Marketing is a cyclical industry. Most small business owners don’t allocate budgets to play the long game. I figured it was just part of the trade. Now I work to retain clients and prepare them for the long journey that we walk together. Not only has it benefited my organization, but my clients now thrive due to the preparation. The journey should always be fresh and full of adventure together.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A fast service personal grooming salon for men. Too often our careers get in the way of taking proper care of ourselves. I can’t count the number of missed personal appointments. I want to go in get what I need whether it be a quick cut, a facial, or anything else that pampers myself in that moment without having to set aside valuable business time.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Making the investment in Silver. Watch the market my friends – it could be everybody’s best $100 investment for the future.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
My organization uses Basecamp. I don’t think my team could truly be successful without this invaluable CRM. It keeps everything that related to our client base in one easily accessible spot. Clients love it as it retains all the information and progress we have made for them – easily visible and trackable. Personally, I can easily understand exactly what has happened for each of my clients just by gleaning through the daily activity and keep up to date with what everyone has completed or is having challenges with to better allocate my time by only personally involving myself where it matters the most.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The World’s Greatest Salesman”, by Og Mandino. I got quite an education from the pages between those covers. It helped me mold myself into a new decade worth of sales from his advice. I keep a dogged-eared copy in my office and when I hit a struggle or feel myself becoming cloudy – I pull it out and brush up on technique.
What is your favorite quote?
“Tell me who you hang with, and I will tell you your future.” Meaning truly that success does breed success. Get into the right crowd and you will thrive.
• After seeing this interview, I have a better awareness that I truly am self-made.
• Also it has reaffirmed that it was the right direction to put my employees and clients as the number one priority
• I understand now that persistence is invaluably my number one attribute.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.