John D. Saunders is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Founder of 5Four Digital with 8+ years’ experience in building brands online.
Working with brands like Land Rover, Audi and the NAACP, he has utilized Website Development, Content Marketing and Social Media Strategy to create marketing campaigns that resonate with the consumer and drive consistent sales and conversions for Inc 5000 companies. John is also the Founder and Lead Content Creator at blackwallet.org, a financial literacy blog for urban millennials discussing wealth, investing and more.
Read on to see how Dedication has brought this Dude with Depth to this point in his career.
How did you get into your current career field?
I was always interested in technology. It all started when I was 19.
My mom, who’s an elementary school teacher, wanted to do some tutoring for extra income. After researching on YouTube, I decided to create a website for her with the training I learned through WordPress, an amazing Content Management System for building websites without using code. After seeing the site live, and gaining traction, I knew I was on to something.
It was the first time I realized I could think of something, make it happen and have tangible results. Since then, I worked at an ad agency after completing 2 rigorous internships. It had taken me 3.5 years to FINALLY land a marketing agency job.
There, I was able to excel, becoming the Marketing Director and overseeing campaigns for Land Rover, Audi and others. We were one of the pioneers for Facebook Ads and success through dealerships.After 4 years, I decided to branch out on my own and launch a Digital Marketing Agency, 5Four Digital. Since then, it’s been an amazing adventure.
When and how did you know you were on the right path?
When I started to see my confidence develop.
I was always an introvert. I’d have to force myself to engage with people. A book that really helped me was How to Win Friends and Influence People. It was a BIG help!
Once I started to understand my strengths, hone my weaknesses and develop over time, I knew that this industry was for me.
What kind of practices do you have to help you overcome major road blocks?
Leverage Tools to Perform a Brain Dump
One of the biggest things entrepreneurs deal with is feeling overwhelmed. My best way to combat that is to perform a brain dump. I write down all of the things that need to be completed and organize by priority. This helps me release some stress and increase brain power. We use tools like Asana to organize tasks and delegate to the team, but literally writing things out helps me decompress.
Have Hobbies and Outside Interests
Another BIG thing that helps is having other interests besides the WORK. We have internal projects and passion projects we work on internally to diversify workload. I’m also an avid traveler and family man, so I make the necessary time to unplug and enjoy the fruits of my labor.
What’s your support system like, which people in your life would you say support you the most and why?
My team, most definitely. They help handle the workload and I’m able to delegate tasks to free up my time so I can focus on the big picture.
Also, my wife, mom, and sister. They’re my biggest influences and inspirations and the reason I do what I do. My son Logan has to be my BIGGEST motivation and the crux of my support system. Giving him a quality life gives me the energy to go out and get it!
What goals do you have set to accomplish in the next 5 years to advance your life career, otherwise or both?
My first goal is to scale the agency with two more members.
My goal isn’t to become a HUGE agency. It’s to have a few high-level clients, great rapport and a proven track record.
I would also like to own 5 real estate investment properties, including a co-working space for urban students and millennials. I’d want my focus on educational tools and speaking engagements to make a difference and reveal to POC that Digital Marketing is an amazing industry ANYONE can benefit from regardless of ethnicity, location or skill level.
Lastly, I would like blackwallet.org to be a working machine with a staff of writers pumping out amazing content on financial literacy.
How did you deal with obstacles on your path to where you are now in your career?
I’m a pretty positive person that didn’t start with much.
My biggest rebuttal against obstacles is that it can always be worse. I’ll sulk for a bit, but quickly turn my attitude around when I realize that I can be the solution by looking to solve the issue, learn from my mistakes and move forward.
What has been the most important life lesson you’ve learned up to this point that you think can benefit others?
In whatever you do: EXCEL.
For me, every job I had was an experience I could learn from and prove my worth.
Publix - I bagged groceries and spoke to customers. It taught me humility, the power of hard work and how to hone my customer service skills. I excelled at the job by being my best and won a few awards. It was amazing work experience.
Personal Banking Specialist - I worked for 4 years in banking and learned A LOT about the financial system, the processes and how it’s designed to keep people in debt. I learned to reverse engineer these issues, provide solutions and be the BEST at being transparent and real with customers.
Marketing Intern - as an intern, I worked HARD. I went above and beyond for my bosses and peers. My goal was to make a difference. This resulted in recommendations from my bosses.
Founder and Entrepreneur - I’ve combined ALL of my life experiences to manage an award-winning agency and a stellar team, learning each day and embracing challenges with an understanding that it’s ALL a learning experience.
If you could talk to your 14-year-old self what advice would you give yourself?
Invest in Google stock. Lol.
No, seriously, I would tell my younger self to TRY EVERYTHING without thinking about what’s “expected” of me. I think people’s biggest dreams are hindered because they focus on what people think THEY should do.
It’s your life.
Be comfortable in your skin and make decisions on what YOU want.
What does Dedicated mean to you?
To me, dedication is working even when you’re tired. It’s working until the job is DONE.
It’s the culmination of having the will power and grit to push through the moments that test your ability and patience.
Dedication is consistency, even when you’re not seeing the direct results.
What’s an interesting little-known fact about you?
I’m writing a screenplay!
To Keep up With John, follow him on Social media or visit his Website:
Instagram - @johndsaunders
Facebook - facebook.com/itsjohndsaunders
Twitter - twitter.com/johndsaunders