Matt Siltala – Founder of Avalaunch Media (Five Hundred Stories interview)

When I was 15 years old, I installed car stereo systems for people in my small town. It was amazing that they would pay me for it. It was a passion of mine, so I didn’t consider it work at all; I just loved to help. I realized, from that moment, I needed to find something I loved to do, AND people would pay for.

Why did you start your business(es)?

I got tired of useless meetings, and knew I could spend my time better. I also realized, when you work for someone else, your job is never secure. If I own my own business, I am the only one to blame, if I don’t have work or get paid. I liked that concept a lot better.

What entrepreneur has most inspired you?

I would say, my business partner, David Mink. He showed me, you do not have to be satisfied with the status quo, and you CAN make as much as you want, and go as FAR as you want. Just before starting my own ventures, I was working as a network administrator, and told I should be happy because I had one of the better paying jobs in town. I could barely make ends meet and figured all the things I wanted in life were going to be out of my reach. Dave really helped me see beyond a $30k/year job that you work at for 30 years, and then retire, only to make MAYBE $15-20K more per year, than when you started. It has been eye opening and I will never forget what he did for me and my vision.

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

Finding a work/life balance has been difficult. I’ve had to learn to say NO! You never get to clock out when you own your own business. You just need to make sure your family knows that they are your priority, and not how you make a living.

What have you learned from failure?

I have learned how to keep trying. You fall off the horse, then you get right back on it. I have also learned humility and to accept when I fail at something. I then do everything I can, to do better the next time and not make the same mistakes.

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

I think how we lead is everything. It dictates the attitude in the company and general morale. You need to take advantage of moments to teach, to build up, and help employees learn and grow. Give them a place that challenges them, and they will stay with you. If you don’t challenge them or boredom sets in, they will be gone.

What are your top 3 responsibilities as a leader?

  1. being the face of the company
  2. speaking at industry events
  3. driving new business

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

I have an amazing team and even better business partners. We vacation together, and our families spend a lot of time with each other. I think we use each other as internal guides. We all do a pretty decent job of keeping each other in check.

How do you define success?

Growing a business that employs many people, and provides a decent living for them, is pretty awesome! When you have grown a business others want to be a part of, or want to buy, that is success.

Which book has inspired you?

One of the books I have always loved is

From Good to Great by Jim Collins.

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

I love my smart phone. It fits in the palm of my hand. I’m always traveling and on the go and I couldn’t get business done without it.

Bonus: Wildcard (Anything else we should know about)

I really love this graphic our company created. It teaches people about the different purposes of social media – We have had a lot of success and business come to us as a direct result of that graphic, or at least the original version we first launched over 4 years ago.