Entrepreneur Michael Laps did something that most of us only dream of. He left his comfortable, stable job in order to begin a business of his own,Yoghurt Digital. And now, he goes to work everyday with the pride and fulfillment that comes from working for something that you built with your own vision. And from his story, it seems, Michael may have had this type of boldness in his blood all along. Read on and absorb Michael's inspiring advice about life, business, and going after what you want, even if it scares you:
Hi, my name is Michael Laps, and I’m a digital marketing strategist living in Sydney, Australia.
Tell us what you do!
I’m Australian-born and Russian-raised, but spent my formative years living in Austria. I’ve had an affinity for talking since I spoke my first word, so working in marketing and advertising was a relatively natural progression.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with brands ranging from enterprise to SME and across almost every vertical, including building and executing omni-channel strategies for household names like ANZ Bank, Converse, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods and QBE Insurance.
Yoghurt Digital is an agency I co-founded in 2014, specialising in Conversion Optimisation, SEO and Paid Search. We’re a team of data lovers and number crunchers, forever devoted to intimately understanding our clients' customers and their behaviour online. We balance meaningful insights and digital strategy to drive real growth using science over opinions.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I had my first taste of entrepreneurship in high school, when I saved up some money to invest in the stock market. It taught me many things, but the greatest gift it gave me was the thirst for knowledge. To be a smart trader, you need to understand the many forces at play that could drive a stock price up or down, and you need to be able to identify opportunities in the marketplace.
After working a few years in digital marketing industry, I met some incredibly smart and talented individuals who, like me, had spotted a gap in the market. We didn’t feel that any agencies were staking a claim in the user behaviour research space in a way that was accessible to both large and small companies. So we founded Yoghurt Digital as a way to level the playing field when it comes to collecting, analysing and using data to build marketing strategies.
What do you love most about the lifestyle?
It’s the ownership factor that’s most appealing to me. Whether you fail or succeed hinges on you and the decisions you make on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis. But to walk in to the office every day and see what you’ve built with your own blood, sweat and tears creates a sense of pride that’s unmatched.
The other lifestyle factor is the thrill of the chase for success. It’s pulsating and addictive. You have to take gambles – and often. It pushes you harder and further than you thought possible, and it forces you to break through your own limitations to become a better version of yourself. The entrepreneurial lifestyle means you can’t just be good at one thing, and if you’re unwilling to learn, you’re unwilling to succeed.
We’re doing some exciting work with various charities that we’re particularly proud of. Charities don’t have the resources – both time and money – to understand how they can be more effective with their digital strategies. We’ve partnered with a few of Australia’s largest charities to offer them assistance in making sense of their data so they can grow their donation numbers without needing to spend their limited budgets. We hope, in turn, that this will lead to more people who rely on these charities getting the assistance they so desperately need.
I failed my way to success.
One of the lessons that’s been reinforced time and time again is that there's no such thing as a straight line to success. You're going to have a lot of days when you feel deflated, defeated and exhausted.
To not only survive but truly persevere, you always need to find the silver lining; find the lesson; find the door that opened when the one in front of you closed.
Most inspiring person you have ever met so far and why?
My parents. They immigrated to Australia from the USSR well before I was born. When they came here they didn’t speak any English and had no money, but they risked everything so that their family wouldn’t have to grow up in an oppressive country.
They both worked multiple jobs while learning English, and my dad started several businesses over the years. They taught me about the power of determination and perseverance. They showed me what can be accomplished when you’re focused. And most importantly, they spent time educating me on the power of gratitude – otherwise it’s all for nothing.
One piece of advice you would give your younger self
You can’t put a price on self-respect and self-belief. The sooner you realise that you’re capable of anything you want to achieve, the sooner anything becomes possible.
What's the bravest thing you ever had to do?
Walking away from a senior position to start my own agency from scratch with no financial backing was, in hindsight, a bold move. But in the moment, it was the only move.
Michael has been in marketing since he spoke his first word. Working in both advertising agencies and digital agencies taught him how to appreciate a good single malt and a nicely tailored suit. He firmly believes that Coco Pops are awesome, even as an adult. During winter, he spends his hibernation researching digital marketing trends for ideas on how to make more money than Google. No luck yet, but in the meantime, he runs his own successful digital marketing agency, Yoghurt Digital. Connect with Yoghurt Digital on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter!