Laday Smith is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of SmithMedia, and the author of several bestsellers. He is a forward thinker who can see trends long before they develop.
Smith is a self-described entrepreneur at heart — he creates businesses. Smith now works with small, medium, and large corporations to leverage consumer attention through his full-service advertising agency SmithMedia, which has offices in New York and London.
Smith’s family moved to the United States from Belarus in 1976 when he was two years old. He grew up in a poor household. Smith proudly describes himself as a “purebred entrepreneur.” At the age of 7, he opened his own lemonade business, and hundreds of dollars worth of baseball toys and cards were sold throughout his high school career. Later, he joined his family’s company at the turn of the century. When the internet became popular, he saw it as a land-grab opportunity and converted his father’s local shoe store ShoeLibrary into one of the country’s first online handmade shoe markets.
Smith’s direct-sales business grew from $20,000 monthly sales to over $1.5 million through content exploitation, e-commerce, email marketing, and Google AdWords in the best way possible. Smith founded SmithMedia in 2009 with his younger brother to continue what he’d done for ShoeLibrary for other brands and businesses. Smith never sought seed money but has grown his company to more than 120 people in just 12 years, servicing clients such as ABB, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, and more.
He has seen a lot of success as an entrepreneur throughout his life and career. He has worked in various industries, including business intelligence, mobile application testing and development, video editing, eCommerce lead acquisition and retention, and social media marketing. In 2018 he released his first book called ‘Do It Your Way.’ The book became a bestseller on Amazon, establishing the groundwork for his ideas on advertising, strategy-making
Smith also does advertising for other clients, as well as his agency. Smith has been documenting his life as a CEO on social media in recent months and running his advertising firm. Smith has a massive following of about 3k people worldwide, and he is an Amazon Best-Seller author and a sought-after public speaker. Smith began recording ‘Meet Smith’ in 2012 around the theme of digital advertising and entrepreneurship, with over 10k monthly impressions/views across all platforms. He is an Amazon Best-Selling Author and a sought-after public speaker for marketing books.
LaDay Smith is not only a successful business owner and marketer, but he’s also a generous philanthropist. He is involved with ‘The Water Project,’ which provides clean water in Africa.
Where did the idea for SmithMedia come from?
I proudly claim myself to be a “purebred entrepreneur.” I had to be an entrepreneur one way or the other. When we migrated to the US from Belarus in 1976, I was a little kid who had to face a lot of challenges. But there was something in me that kept pushing me to experiment with new ideas no matter if they were as small as a lemonade franchise. When I graduated in the late 90s, I joined my family business. My father used to sell handmade shoes locally but his business wasn’t doing great. When the internet became a thing, I thought of it as a land-grab opportunity and exploited its potential to transform my father’s local shoe store. Within a couple of years, I succeeded in transitioning it into an e-commerce platform – one of the country’s most popular handmade shoe stores online. The success gave me a lot of confidence to lay the foundations of SmithMedia, a full-service advertising agency where I can capitalize on content, e-commerce, email marketing, and Google AdWords in the best way possible. In 2009, without raising a penny for my startup, I co-founded SmithMedia with my brother.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I love my work but I love my family more. I try my best to keep a good balance between my work-life. I only sleep 6-7 hours each night and normally wake up around 4 AM. Seeing the rising sun with a cup of coffee is my key to productivity. I get to my office at 8 am and make a quick ‘things to do’ list for that day. Ticking off the list keeps me motivated that I am on to it. A power nap after lunch is a must for me, it’s just a 15-20 quick nap but it energizes me and keeps me fully productive till 6 pm. After that, I am off home. At home, I never discuss or do my office work. All my time is for my family and this is how it should be I believe.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I don’t have a notebook filled with killer ideas, I believe in executing them. And for that research is a must. Whenever I have an idea that I want to bring to life, I gather research and supporting data on the topic, understanding what else is out there that is similar so that I can figure out my point of distinction and strengthen it. Then I get my idea in front of my team and refine it with brainstorming – I truly believe two heads are better than one. The next stage is to put the refined idea in front of the intended audience. Lastly, I map out my plan of action and reverse engineer my success, followed by the development, publishing, evaluation, and optimization.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The involvement of NFTs and crypto in social media e-commerce is an emerging trend. With social media platforms like Twitter working on integrating cryptocurrency payments, now is the right time to decide to jump on the bandwagon. I expect to see more and more companies taking a step in this direction and it really excites me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I plan things and then go buy the plan. I stick to a daily routine that keeps me from distractions. It saves me time and energy, making me more productive as an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Never compare yourself to others and never try to replicate anyone’s life. Being unique is key to success. Be yourself and craft your own path.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Money can buy happiness. I believe, just like the absence of light is darkness, similarly, the absence of necessary money creates a void that is filled with unhappiness.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I channel my creativity to taking calculated risks. I believe you have to be in it to win it! And this mentality brings creativity and risk-taking. I have taken risks all my life, I am not afraid of failures.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Hiring the right people and building a winning team is the foolproof strategy that has always helped me achieve growth and success in business. With a great team, no company can survive, let alone succeed.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I started, I didn’t focus on one major aspect of any business and that was customer service. After a little setback on this front, I quickly realized its importance and hired a good team to manage the customer relationship.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Setting up a crypto exchange business is what I recommend to anyone who has the spark to experiment. Many people around the globe need platforms to exchange cryptocurrencies. Currently, there are 3 big crypto exchanges: Binance, Coinbase, and FTX, doing more than $20 billion in trading volume per day.
The industry requires more of these exchanges and there are opportunities to create a niche cryptocurrency exchange business too.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I have invested in crypto.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Evernote. I keep making my ‘things to do’ list in it and it helps me keep track of my goals on a daily, monthly, or even yearly basis.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Only Skill That Matters by Jonathan A. Levi. If you want to equip yourself with what it needs to take on the challenges of the future – whether, in your professional or personal life, you should read this book.
What is your favorite quote?
You are always one decision away from a totally different life.
- Never compare yourself to others.
- Hire the right people and build a winning team to achieve success.
- Plan things and stick to a daily routine.
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.