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The Fastest Path to Mastery and Agency Growth with James Robert Lay

Andrew Dymski
Andrew Dymski I'm a Founder at ZenPilot where I help marketing agencies buy back time by developing the processes and systems they need to scale without reinventing the wheel for every client. I'm co-host of the Agency Journey podcast where each week we interview an agency owner, consultant, or author.

James Robert Lay is the CEO of Digital Growth Institute and he joins us to on the podcast to dive into his path from struggling entrepreneur to mastery and growth through focus.

In this interview, you’ll get to know James Robert. He shares transparently about the stress, chaos, and relational toll his lack of focus caused and then opens up about his journey from that point to a thriving and balanced business serving financial institutions through a systematized client journey.

Solving a Costly Problem for One Type of Company

I love the Digital Growth Institute positioning statement:

We simplify digital marketing strategies that empower banks and credit unions to generate 10X more loans and deposits.

James Robert and his team have done the hard work of defining who they serve and how they help them.

When it comes to packaging your agency services, there is a lot that you could do. The question is what do you do and for whom do you do it?

James Robert talked about the time when he was considering taking the leap and focusing on solving a problem for one group of people.

He asked two questions when considering the move:

  1. What is the worst-case scenario?
  2. What is the best-case scenario

The choice was clear when he took the time to stop and consider the options. The upside of deciding to focus on serving banks and credit unions far outweighed the downsides. If things failed, he could always go and get a job doing something else, even waiting tables.

What he found is that by taking the time to consider the options and then having the courage to make the hard decision, they now feel free.

A lot of people stay stuck with poor positioning because they’re afraid that they’re going to turn away business. But this is just fear creeping in. What you’re really saying no to is continuing to stay frustrated.

Shift from Delivery to Strategy & Training

There was once a time when James Robert thought that you’d always need someone to build a website for you. Now he isn’t so sure. I’m 100% in the same boat.

When you look at the market, delivery is being commoditized. This change is real and it is going to put a lot of “agency” owners out of business. I’ve started calling this the coming agency apocalypse.


Website platforms like Squarespace and WordPress are only getting easier to use. Things that were once considered services, like Facebook ads, logo design, and video production, are being replaced with apps. Just look at Taylor Brands, AdEspresso, and Promo. The change is already happening.

James Robert looks at this shift and sees opportunity. The shift should be away from delivering the services and towards insight. The agency of the future will be insight-driven.

You can only be insight-driven when you’re extremely focused. The more time and experience you have within the realm of your focused expertise, the more insights you’ll gather.

When you give your insights away, businesses will hear and see you as the expert. They’ll then pay you to apply those insights to their unique situation. That is where the value is created.

Take Care of Your Personal & Mental Health

James Robert says “Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your predictable future.

If you’re going to spend the time, money, and energy to build an agency, then make sure that the business serves you. Take the time to stop and think: Where have you been, where are you, and where do you want to go next?


As the leader of your team and your clients, you need to be paying attention to your physical health and your mental health. If you’re not investing into each of these areas, you’ll eventually run dry.

Investing in your physical and mental health keeps you filled up so you have something to give.


Take the time to separate yourself from the chaos of the every day. Find space to review what you’re building and judge with clarity if the business your building will help you accomplish your goals. If the answer is no, maybe we should talk.

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