You have what it takes. Read more books. Find mentors to guide you. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions or ideas, because what you have to say really matters.
Zach Benson is the CEO and founder of Assistagram ﹣an innovative Instagram management agency specialising in growth of accounts and creating Instagram campaigns that reach millions.
As a full-time entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, social-media trainer for international brands such as The Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton and ViceRoy, he encourages others to reach their full potential through the arts and social media. He uses his successful social media presence and impressive network of followers to travel around the world teaching others how to grow their Instagram accounts.
Zach is also an award-winning dancer and was a finalist on FOX TV’s popular show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. He combines his passion for teaching, entrepreneurship, dance and travel to mentor people all over the world and help them grow, dance and improve their companies.
Where did the idea for Assistagram come from?
Actually, the idea came from my friend and mentor Rick Schirmer. I met Rick through a cold email a few years ago. I was pitching Instagram growth services to his wife. Rick and I jumped on a call and became friends instantly. Later, we met in person and he suggested that what I do could be a great business idea. He helped me come up with the name and business model. He’s really good with creating names and so we created Assistagram (“Assista” + “gram”) — people need assistance and help with their Instagram accounts because it’s a hard platform to grow on and people are too busy to do it themselves. So we assist them with their Instagrams. Think of it like your own personal virtual assistant hyper-focused on your Instagram account, doing hundreds to thousands of manual actions everyday.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I spend most of my time travelling. Different country, different culture every 14 days to a month. So my typical day is constantly changing from country to country. But, normally, I wake up, answer emails, pray/meditate for 5-10 mins, eat breakfast and then go explore the city and country I’m in. Of course, I have calls scheduled throughout the week but I try to batch them all together, but honestly I’d say I’m living the 2 hour work week. I spend most of my time just exploring, networking and making powerful connections.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Everyone has an idea and the goal is to bring those into reality. I see things I want do and I just try to make them happen. I don’t really hesitate or overly analyse things. When I’m sure I want to do something, I’m very determined and persistent to find a way and make it happen. I’m also grateful to have a big network of people that can help me make those things happen.
But to be honest, I often put myself into challenging situations or situations in which I feel nervous and afraid to do something and have to overcome that fear – for example when I was doing a TEDx talk. I often commit to things/events even when I’m not feeling completely confident – then, when it comes to it, I prepare, do my research and give my very best. It’s a great way to learn.
Recently a friend interviewed me for her podcast on Entrepreneur.com and afterwards asked me if I wanted to come to speak at her event in South Africa 8 days later – I immediately said yes, because what’s the worst thing that could happen?
What’s one trend that excites you?
Social media. Everyone’s on it and using it constantly – the market it so big. This is how people communicate, do business, network and make stuff happen these days.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Surprisingly it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m quite impulsive. I tend to just do things and don’t overthink them. So that makes me an action and risk taker, but thanks to that I am able to make a ton of things happen. So I guess my proactive approach and ability to take initiative to just make things happen are my habits in a way. Too many people wait and wish to do this or that. Sometimes it’s just best to do it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself: You have what it takes. Read more books. Find mentors to guide you. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions or ideas, because what you have to say really matters. And you can speak normally just like everyone else so don’t be afraid (I couldn’t pronounce the letter “r” until I was in my 20s, a speech therapist who was giving me lessons said “Zach if you quit my classes you will never be able to say the letter “r” again, no one will be able to understand you and you probably won’t amount to much.” I was very insecure about this.)
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Long distance relationships work. I’ve been in long distance relationships pretty much all my life and I am in a serious one now. I think a lot of people think it’s too hard, stressful, not worth the effort and think it could never work.
I think long distance can work if you make an effort to see each other often, and plan when you will meet up next, talk often on phone, skype or email. And keep each other updated throughout the day.
Actually, there are a lot of positive aspects of long distance relationships – each person follows their dreams, travel and do what they feel they need to do while supporting each other. For marriages to work the most important thing is to support one another. So you have to support each other’s dreams too and I think long distance teaches you that.
Of course it can be difficult sometimes and you have to make sacrifices but at the same time you know this long distance thing is only temporary while each person does what they have to do — so the best you can do is support and encourage each other — both of you will become better, stronger and more equipped for future when you are together.
That’s what my girlfriend and I are doing now – she’s working in China as a translator, learning Chinese and working as Korean liaison for her international school. So she is currently improving her English, Korean and Chinese so she can get her dream job someday working for the United Nations – giving people hope and making this world a better place.
I on the other hand, have to travel to build my brand, work as a consultant and to scale my business. When time is right we will get married but first working on our goals and dreams, and improving ourselves is our priority.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I read a ton of books, ask a ton of questions, and make a ton of mistakes. The more you do this the more growth and success you will have.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Networking – and being humble when doing it. A lot of people tell me that I seem like a genuine, authentic and down to earth kind of person. I don’t think im better than anyone and I want to show that when I’m speaking to or meeting someone. I like talking to everybody, I strongly believe that everyone has value and worth to offer others. I think that when you are genuine and humble more people want to talk to you and become more approachable. It makes people’s guards come down and they feel comfortable. Which leads to powerful friendships, relationships and then sometimes even more business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Well, I guess in my dance business was a failure at first. I was reaching out to people the wrong way and pitching them the wrong prices – I started sending out emails to a bunch of random dance studios in my hometown saying I want to teach dance classes at their studios and charging them crazy prices. At that time I didn’t have the reputation and brand that I have now. So of course they said no. I got ‘no’ after ‘no’ – no business at all. Then I decided I have to do something about it and give them good reasons why they should hire me over someone else. So had to make myself better and improve my brand. I auditioned for “So you think you can dance” TV programme, then did music videos with famous artists, got signed with a dance agency and gained leveraged to book more jobs.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think starting a virtual assistant agency for network marketers could be a good idea. They are constantly trying to get more leads and business partners. So have the Virtual Assistant unfriend people on Facebook that they no longer talk to, add new ones etc, and train clients how to talk to people, peak interest, build rapport, and invite them to watch a video/ webinar.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Best $100 was probably on a massage to relax and feel good. Worth it.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use calendly. Mostly for scheduling meetings. People can schedule meetings with me and it keeps things organized when I’m travelling.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The 7 habits of highly effective people”. Just a classic everyone must read. And if you’ve read once read it a few more. It will help you become a better person and life is all about people. So try to be the best you can.
What is your favorite quote?
“Just do it. “
– Don’t try to overthink or over-analyze things. Sometimes it’s best to give it a go and just try.
– Read a lot of books and ask a lot of questions – you can learn a lot from it.
– Don’t be afraid to commit to things even if you’re not sure you can manage – just give it your best. This is the best way to learn.
– Network, meet as many people as you can and get to know them – you can build a great network of fantastic people who can help you build your business. And even if they can’t, you can gain some amazing friendships.
– Be genuine and humble. People appreciate honesty and they will feel comfortable with you.
Assistagram on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/assistagram.us/
Triblefluencer on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tribeinfluencer/
Zach Benson on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zach-benson-368483119/