Dave and Tim Dyer Five Hundred Stories Interview – Manifesto Agency

The beautiful thing about being an identical twin is, there are two of you. There are two to fend off bullies, the perfect partner in duet improv and two points of view when starting a business. Teamwork is the name of the game. Tim and I grew up on a golf course—or near enough to know every nook and cranny where would-be Tiger Woods sent their golf balls flying into thin air and couldn’t recover them. After school, we’d work together to find these gems in creek beds and briar patches, polish them up and sell them right back to the golf pros, in our buddy’s backyard. Paired with an admonishment from our dad to “leave no stone unturned,” we were armed with a courageous and inseparable spirit from the get-go.

Why did you start your business(es)?

Tired of simply slinging campaigns and products, we left our agency careers to start a new kind of agency—one with a conscience. Inspired by social entrepreneurs at Summit at Sea, we penned a Manifesto declaring our independence from the soulless agency scene, and began to build an agency that would instead declare, what brands stand for, activate those beliefs and help entire organizations actualize into the brand they wish to be. Manifesto was born out of a belief that every brand can be a catalyst for good.

What entrepreneur has most inspired you?

Blake Mykoskie of TOMS Shoes has long been an inspiration to us. He created an entirely new business model, pioneering the purpose-led brand category as we know it: transforming dozens, if not hundreds of industries and building an empire, not by making the best product in the world, but by turning a passive purchase into an irresistible act of paying it forward.

What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome thus far in business?

Building a consistent culture, across two offices, has been one of the biggest challenges. At about the size of a small to mid-sized agency, but split between two locations, we have to constantly frame and reframe the culture we are trying to build—and ensure we are applying equal pressure to grow our methodology, process and people. It’s been said that each of our two offices reflects the individual twin who manages it. By prioritizing and elevating our cultural beliefs across the agency, collectively celebrating our wins and constantly seeking new collaboration tools to keep us in lockstep, we are overcoming the 2,000 mile and two-hour time difference.

What have you learned from failure?

As leaders, we know there are moments where we’ve failed our team. Whether it’s missing a deadline because you’re the boss or not stewarding someone’s career path with clarity, failure is part of every leader’s story. But it’s not the end of the story. While we may fail on an individual level, we believe that even in failure, comes incredible personal and professional growth. Courage is the greatest lesson learned from failure.

We have a saying inside our walls: “Ever Courageous.” Dishing out soul care to our employees even amidst our shortcomings is what reminds us we are all human—and on a journey together. Failure is an opportunity to reflect, refine and sometimes, grow a thicker skin. We seek progress, not perfection.

How does your leadership style foster your company’s culture?

We all want the Braveheart battle cry. But striking the right balance between general Patton and pushover is critical to keeping our team and vision in tact. Honesty and transparency are two of the dimensions of leadership we have found most effective. Both Tim and I strive to be servant leaders—to really consider the needs, desires and challenges our team faces everyday. We like to think ourselves as coming alongside our leaders, inviting them to lay hands on the wheel with us, and steer the ship together. When our employees feel empowered that they are helping to pioneer the vision of the agency and are the hands and feet that will make it a reality, we believe our leadership is being fully exercised.

What are your top 3 responsibilities as a leader?

  1. strategic client relationships and agency growth
  2. team development and mentorship
  3. building the Manifesto brand culture (both internally and externally)

What internal process do you use to guide your decision-making?

The usual process is surveying and seeking advice from our leadership team. This starts with getting a wide swath of feedback and seeking advice from within our team. We also seek outside counsel. As our faith is a huge component of what drives us and our purpose, we pray together frequently and ask God for wisdom and discernment. Finally, we let our Manifesto guide us. When there’s uncertainty in a decision, we re-read our Manifesto, steep in its truth and follow the instincts we were founded upon.

Our Manifesto:

We are the fearless ones. The why-nots in a world of can-nots.
We believe in lightning strikes. A belief that puts insights and stories above artifice and vanity.
We believe in the tin man’s heart. Soulless brands are only meaningful when given a fleshy, beating heart.
We believe in tilting at windmills. Sometimes the best causes are those only the dreamers, the dare-ers and the blind can see.
We believe in care over commerce. That when you give a damn, you’ll inspire others to do the same.
We believe in the life lived deliberately. ”Most men go to their graves with their song still in them.”  We will make our finite lives and work count, each informing the other—and both be better for it.
We believe in the immutable power of story and those who propel it.
We believe brands were meant to stand for something more.

How do you define success?

Success is what others say about you. Satisfaction is contentment with yourself. We would consider success as running the race well and being content, without being complacent. Satisfaction, however, is more important—finding joy and living a deliberate and intentional life. Success, by the world’s definition, is fleeting and always just out of reach. For us, it’s not about achieving milestones, collecting trophies or industry atta’ boys—we believe it’s about finding and living at the intersection of your passion and purpose, being able to both give back and pay it forward.

Which book has inspired you?

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, is one of the books that set us on our quest, even though neither of us have ever mastered it. I can remember sitting on a beach in Thailand shortly after I left my last agency, dreaming of how to build a lifestyle business that created moments of respite and “mini” retirements along the way. Ferriss’ unorthodox approach to quickly mastering a new discipline was really inspiring as we began our agency. And because of it, our agency prioritizes vacation, travel and accruing life experiences. As Tim often reminds me, you don’t have to have a million bucks to feel like a million bucks.

What do you think is the coolest technology out there, and why?

Google Cardboard represents the democratization of VR for the world. A low-cost, high-tech tool that turns the average smartphone into an incredibly enhanced and immersive experience. We believe we are on the cusp of an entirely new content revolution that bridges the gap between experiential and branded video, in a way the world has never seen before. And we’re preparing to be a major player in the content revolution.