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Denis joins Dave on the podcast and talks about some big time learnings after 26+ years in agency life. Everything from leadership training, investing in your culture and brand promise. As the President and Co-founder at Imaginasium Denis’s mission is to help manufacturers clarify their message, build a culture that believes in the company’s vision, and create marketing that drives customers to action.




Denis Kreft – President and Co-founder at Imaginasium | Email | Website | LinkedIn

As President and Co-founder at Imaginasium I’m on a mission to help manufacturers clarify their message, build a culture that believes in the company’s vision, and create marketing that drives customers to action.

Our team at Imaginasium helps you build a consistent customer experience—one that drives business growth and profitability, and generates customer loyalty. That’s done by creating understanding of who you are and what you stand for inside your own walls. Then, guided by our Customer Experience Ecosystem framework, we align that story with internal actions and external communications, to help you connect more meaningfully with your customers.

Having served in just about every role in the company since starting the firm in 1996 has helped me develop a keen ability to uncover clients’ complex business challenges. My key business focus today is ensuring that Imaginasium’s customer experience is firing on all cylinders and that we are truly living our vision of helping clients live their story by clarifying their message, building understanding inside their own walls, and creating the marketing that moves customers to action.

My interests outside of work consist of working on being the best husband, father and grandfather that I can be. I’m passionate about family, friends and my faith. I enjoy a good laugh, coaching, mentoring, travel. golf and being outdoors when I’m not complaining about winter.

Specialties: Brand development, employer branding, strategic marketing planning, digital marketing, marketing communications and sales consulting.


Dave 0:00
Welcome to another episode of the agency balance podcast. I am so thrilled today to bring another guest to you. Dennis Kraft, president and co founder of Imaginasium. Dennis, welcome to the podcast.

Denis 0:14
Hey, thanks for having me. So excited to be here. I’ve, I’ve seen a few episodes, and I was hooked after the first one. And when you when you asked me to participate, I was like, man, what an honor. And I, I just hope I have one little nugget of wisdom for every member of your audience today. And we’ll see where this goes. But I’m super excited to be here. Well, thank

Dave 0:38
you for coming on. I guarantee listeners, you’re gonna have more than one because when I met Dennis, Dennis and I were in this online group, and we were back and forth on a bunch of things. And Dennis and I think are a little bit of like in our in our thinking, so we want to share that with you today. So Dennis, you’re, I always I always look at your profile online, and how you start to present yourself. And I love what you wrote, you said, you’re on a mission to help manufacturers clarify their message, build a culture that believes in the company’s vision, that’s huge, and create marketing that drives customer to action. So just how to maybe talk about that, and tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself?

Denis 1:24
Sure, sure. Well, after being in this business for 30 plus years now, you know, we’ve pivoted, we’ve evolved. Started as a design studio, we were a full service agency. And we were heavy into brand at one point and our most recent pivot boat right before COVID hit was you know what, we’re really all about lead generation, what is our audience need? What area are we impacting? So we really have focused on manufacturers. And it’s all about lead generation and recruitment marketing. Now, those, those are two are two key factors. And it’s been a wild ride over 30 years, had a co founding partner had three partners at one point in time. Then it was just myself up till the start of this year where I, you know, hell, I’m 60 years old now. So I’m thinking about what’s next, the whole the whole balance thing to have which it’s work life balance, right? Well, 60 years old, it’s what’s next for me. And I’ve brought my junior partner on, or my VP on as a partner, and she’s my secession plan. And I, I know, we’ll talk about that a little bit later. But that kind of coming full circle from me, a co founding partner, multiple partners, then myself, and now got another partner and I’m on the way out, so

Dave 2:52
Wow, well, first, congratulations. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.

Denis 2:57
It’s exciting. It’s exciting for for me, it’s exciting for my for my partner, you know, I can it’s bringing back memories, right of when I started the company, and everything that she’s asking me Oh, and I haven’t thought about for 20 years, was it’s just all hat for me. And why do we do this? And I’m I got to think about that. Why do we, you know, so it’s really refreshing. It’s, it’s, it’s been a, it’s been a cool ride, and the company’s in great hands. And the culture is going to evolve even more from where we built it to today. So yeah.

Dave 3:33
So how did you get started this business 30 Some years ago?

Denis 3:38
Oh, my gosh, it’s, it’s crazy. I was selling newspaper advertising at the time. And my brother was the production manager at a commercial printing company. And I was making about an hour and 15 minute commute, back in the early 80s. And winters here in Wisconsin aren’t always that fun to make an hour and 15 minute commute. And he said, you know, we need a we need a salesperson, would you be interested? I know you’re kind of not really that happy? And I said, I haven’t. I have never sold commercial printing. He said that’s the same as advertising you you got the gift of gab, your relationship person. You’re all about people you’d be great at it. Okay, started exploring it. Boom, jumped into it. They’ve handed me a bunch of dead doorman accounts and I just started calling on people back in the day where no fax, no, no email, it was all running back and forth or maybe picking up a phone. I got good at it and a year and a half into that. The owners of the company said you know we have an opportunity to to get our hands on a really creative designer and they never worked with advertising agencies at the time. Am I think they were going through some quality issues, and maybe they couldn’t handle it at that time. And I just thought, they approached me. They said, Hey, do you think you can sell design? And of course, I’m in my 20s. And I’m full of piss and vinegar. I can do anything, right. It’s all about me, right? It’s i Yeah, another revenue stream more money in my pocket? Hell yeah, I can sell it. Well, lo and behold, I could. And that designer and I created a bond. And he and I actually started Imaginasium as a division of that printing company at that point in time. Job.

Dave 5:40
That’s so cool.

Denis 5:41
It was my co founding partner who’s really good guy. And it was interesting, and we just took off from there.

Dave 5:50
That’s cool. Cool. So you said two things that stood out to me one fax, for anybody that’s listening of facts is where you used to send a photocopy through your phone line. But the other thing was relationship, you started about relationship, obviously, the gift of gab, which you do, most of us in, in kind of the sales world, you need to have that. And I always say like, it’s not just gift of gab, but it’s confidence. Right. And I know you have that. But talk about relationship, I think, because I like that a lot. I always said, I am not necessarily a sales guy. I’m a relationship guy. How’s that? You know, talk about that over your career?

Denis 6:25
Well, it’s interesting, because when I started out, it was all about making the sale, right? So I was good with people. I truly wanted to know about people and how I could help. But I’ll be honest, back then it was about, Okay, I gotta make money, I got to put food on the table, I’ve got bills to pay, I had to make the sale, right. And then I own my own business. And that was even a little bit more pressure, okay, need to make the sale. But the key to making the sale was always taking care of the client, right? There’s no sale without taking care of the client making an impact, and taking good care of them. Personally, and with the service we’re providing. And now coming back to where I’m at now, it’s all about how can I give back? How can I give back? And how can I find the right relationships. And now it’s more now it’s focused more quality versus quantity. Because we used to have 50 to 75 clients, and we’re doing a couple jobs a year as a design studio. Now we want to work with 10 to 12 clients that really want to let us in deep and really take our expertise to make an impact in their, in their business. And the relationships are, are deeper and they’re and they’re wider in these in these client firms that we’re working with. So it’s, it’s interesting, I go to networking events in my 20s and 30s. And be like, how many people can I meet? You know, I gotta go. I haven’t seen them for three months, I got to go talk to them again. And now it’s like, once one connection I can make at this event, I want to make one connection and out. And I always do and then I typically make more, but the goals have changed, the focus has changed. And I guess you could say maybe I’ve matured a little bit Dave?

Dave 8:19
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that yeah, I can definitely. I can definitely vouch for that. Because, you know, as you’re you want things to get simpler, right? And those who are listening that are maybe early in their career, like something to think about, right, is when you’re choosing the right client. Really ask yourself, it’s like, Okay, do we need do we need to sell, okay, sometimes you’re at a point where you gotta just scrap things together and you need to make ends meet, you need to grab, you know, whatever client you can to keep the lights on, but then there’s, you can get choosy, you know, and once you figure it out, you can get choosy, I always recommend really understand who your ideal customer profile is, build it out the size, the makeup, the industry, the how many people, what is their revenue, what is their leadership team look like? And when you’re going through that sales process, or the relationship process that we’re talking about here, is really make sure that you’re choosing the right customer, because, one, you’re they’re investing in you, but you’re also investing in them for the long term, because you want your clients to be with you for a really long time. And the worst thing you want to do is bring on a crappy client, that’s going to be crappy to you, that’s gonna be crappy to your people. And that’s going to make your culture suffer.

Denis 9:32
Now, I’ll tell you, what, two key components of our ideal client profile or will they let us lead? You know, are they hiring us for our expertise, or they just want us to be the hands. We don’t thrive? Well, if we’re just the hands and and, and there’s a lot of there’s a lot of companies that are like ours that are built on that, you know, give me the volume and they do a great job and it’s necessary because clients can’t do that. But that’s not how we’re built. So Let us lead value our expertise. And then I don’t know if I should say this. I’m going to are they good people?

Dave 10:10
Yes. I’m 100% 100%. Dennis,

Denis 10:13
you can’t judge but we’re learning some questions to ask. And you can tell by the body language when we ask certain questions like, there’s no way in hell I’m whenever do that, or I’m gonna let you do that, or I’m gonna let you in at that level. And then it’s like, okay, that’s a yellow flag, and then are some things that are a red flag. And you know, what we’ve, we’ve, hey, 30 years, I’ve gotten beat up, man, I’ve been through a lot. And if I haven’t learned from that, what good am I? So I try and protect the team from that. And, you know, is it foolproof? No, no, we still make mistakes. And we still say, Man, this isn’t going the way we thought. But then, because of the conversations we’re having up front, we’re able to engage in that conversation again, say, Hey, listen, what’s going on here? Because when we engaged three, four months ago, we asked about this, you said you would do this, and we get this and it’s not happening. What’s going on? Did we? Are we not holding up our under the bargain? Or we do something to make you pull back? What’s going on? Let’s get it on the table and talk about it. Yeah, makes a lot easier.

Dave 11:20
For sure. Yeah, we’ve gone through that talk about maybe a relationship that has gone bad, and maybe some of the reasons why it happened. And maybe that would be helpful for our listeners? And then also, have you ever fired a client?

Denis 11:37
Yes, we fired clients. We fired a client because Christmas Eve day, we were closing at noon. Christmas Eve day, right? Gotta call it 11 o’clock, expected stuff done. Three or four of our people on our team work in the mid afternoon. We sat down with that person after the holidays and said, you know, and that was just one of several leading up to it. Right. But that was kind of that was kind of it right? sat down and said, You’re not going to treat our team that way. And yeah, of course, he’s like, Oh, I didn’t realize bah, bah, bah. And then three months later, you never changed. And three months later, we, we said we’re done. Yeah. Now we’ve also wanted to end relationships, but in a good way, where let’s find a landing spot for him, right? If we’ve grown apart, we don’t just say a screw you, we’re done. We want to transition and say, You know what? This isn’t a good fit anymore. Sure. Let’s take 3060 90 days, and let’s hear some options. And we we’ve had, we’ve done that quite a bit, actually. Because we’ve evolved over time, right. And when we’ve changed our focus to focus on manufacturing, we had some non manufacturing clients, it’s like, we don’t want to abandon them. But we don’t want to keep being fighting our real positioning against our history, right. So it just made sense to kind of evolve from some of those.

Dave 13:13
Yeah, it makes total sense. I mean, that happens with us too. Because like, whatever, as you grow or change in the business, you know, something’s changed. And maybe you don’t need so much in marketing, or you brought it in house. And we do the same thing. We really focus on the last 30 days in training, like training our clients and onboarding them, so that they’re set up for success. Because you never know, like, I’m sure you’ve had what I call boomerang clients that just keep coming back. If they’ve moved on, you just never know. Yeah,

Denis 13:40
and you don’t ever know. And we’ve, we’ve fired we’ve fired probably three or four clients in our in our time, and I would say they were all fired too late. So for our listeners, if you’re thinking your guts telling you trust your gut, and don’t wait, but do it the right way, there’s a right way and a wrong way. For sure. Great, makes you happy. I’d be happy to engage in any kind of if someone has never fired a client and they want to know, man, what’s it like when you reach out to me, I’m, I’m happy. Like I said, I’m at that stage. I want to give back. I’ve taken for many years. Time for me to give back.

Dave 14:23
That’s awesome. Yeah. So at the end, we’ll make sure we provide Dennis’s contact information for the listeners. I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about culture because I think culture is just so important when you’re building you know, an agency and so you guys are headquartered in Green Bay. You guys are all under one roof or do you have any remote employees?

Denis 14:42
Um, we have a couple of remote employees. And, you know, five years ago I said nobody that talks to a client is going to be remote and of course the world has changed and we’ve had people in Metropolitan Milwaukee Chicago area We’ve had a couple in North Carolina. And it’s interesting because our business model we don’t we don’t have a large tactical team. We outsource the majority of that. So we’re working with copywriters, developers all over the country and all over the world, quite frankly, as as many people in our industry are these days. But we have purposely said, we’re going to build our team up strategically with client strategists, call managers. Account planning, really hire that core girl that core internally. And some of those are remote as well. But then the tactical work that we’ll either do or we want, that’s a majority that is outsource.

Dave 15:49
Yeah, I’m sure that works well, because I we also some manufacturing makes up a third of our portfolio as well. And I suspect that, you know, depending on what type of client in manufacturing industrial, it’s really specialized too. So that allows you, especially in the kind of copy world allows you to get somebody with that kind of industry specific experience, because it’s one thing to be writing about a thermoelectric cooler. And it’s another thing to be writing about dirt.

Denis 16:15
Yeah, exactly. Or, you know, a technical writer versus a whimsical writer versus biography, biographical writer, whatever the word would be, you know, expertise is deepening, and the deeper expert we can bring in to solve a specific problem, the greater impact we’re making with our clients. And it’s, it’s just a win win. And, you know, so in the old days, again, for some of the some of the people my age that may be listening today. I mean, there was a day, you didn’t dare tell clients, you were freelancing, and heaven forbid, introduce them to a client. Well, we bring our key players in our resources. When it makes sense for them to talk to the client, they’re in talking to the client. We we manage the store, we build out the strategy, we, we lead the strategy, we bring the components in to make it work. And we bring people to the table every day. And our clients love it. Yeah, our clients love the fact because they’re asking questions were going to have ask, right. So then the clients ask us for, say, what we think this, but let me confirm, and then it’s a day or two later, and we’ll know get them in the conversation, that we can make such a greater impact so much quicker by having them part of that conversation. So it’s kind of gone off, you asked about culture, right? Right. So you’d think that I mean, if you don’t manage that, properly, and aren’t aware that could really really screw up their culture, right? We probably work with 40 to 50 outside resources currently at any given time. But when we engage them, we vet them, we, we we let them know, culture is king. Here’s our culture. It’s, it’s transparent, we get issues on the table, and you can’t get defensive, but it’s all about doing great work. It’s not about your mama. And what’s really cool is can I give a shameless plug to 100% do it. Okay, so we work with a leadership firm here in Green Bay, and they’re there throughout the country throughout the world, actually, they’ve, they’ve been in Phoenix, they’ve been a couple of locations, but initiative, one, leadership training, and they have been a huge difference maker in Imaginasium. We’ve been working with them for six years, and I’ve been able to invest in culture by putting every single member of our team through their leadership training. It’s like nine week course and we still meet as a team with them facilitating on a quarterly basis. And it’s probably one of the best business decisions I’ve made in the history of my own in the company. It’s been it’s been a game changer. It teaches you how to have tough conversations. It teaches you how to focus on what’s important what’s what’s the stuff that’s paying the bills, okay, you gotta pay the bills. But then what’s really moving the business forward and it just teaches every I mean, in on our team was like, You sent me through leadership, but I’m not a leader. Well, yeah, everyone’s a leader. Everyone knows leader. So it’s been great the InVEST it’s nominal investment when I when you think of the payoff, and they’re great. And again, if anyone wouldn’t want to talk to me about them, like I think I have a testimonial on their website, they’ve they’ve helped us stay in business. and evolve to the point where we are thriving. And we’re sustainable. And I’m knocking on wood right now. But we’re in the process of Back to Back record years.

Dave 20:11
That’s awesome. Congratulations, Dennis. Thank you. Thank what, what a winning move there. So I love that. So for those who are listening, what we’re talking about here is, when you think of leadership, don’t just think about the owners don’t just think about the people at the top, think about your directors, think about your managers, think about your, your rockstars and double down and invest in them. That’s the number one thing that I did to dentists. You know, when I took over as CEO, I was like, listen, opponent, put the people first and everything else will take care of itself. And we did the same thing. We’ve invested a lot in training, self education. And that’s so true. I’m so that’s so awesome to hear that that’s a part of your culture of making sure that they get the proper leadership training because right, like, if we just go out through our daily careers, how do we learn, we learn by failing? We learn by other people just telling us but don’t be afraid to get outside help. That was the other thing that I did. Because it brings a different perspective. And here’s the other thing, if you’re in an agency, and you haven’t got outside help, you need to try it. Because, yes, there’s only so much, there’s only so many times that your team is going to listen to you. They, you they may say it the exact same way you’re saying it, but because it’s outside help, they’re gonna they’re gonna listen.

Denis 21:29
Yeah, and the cool thing about initiative one is so we continue to work with them, right. So we have our quarterlies. And they’ll Fred and Tracy Johnson. They’re they’re amazing. And Tracy runs our group, but she’ll say, so we’ll do a check in right. You should say, something’s off. I think I should talk to Susie, by all means. Go ahead. Right. I mean, so it’s outside and you set a date. It’s not Dennis, coming down from the corner office saying, Hey, what’s going on? It’s, it’s Tracy saying, hey, Susie, what’s going on? You don’t seem yourself. I’ve noticed this, this and this. One, let’s talk about it. So it outside perspective, and we budget for it, we budget for that we budget for strategic planning, and we have an outside influence for that journey consulting, they do a great job. And we budget we budget for training. I mean, we were going to our revenue this year, I’ll just say, close to 3 million, our AGL be about 2.2 to 2.4. And we budget four to 5%. For team training. Yeah,

Dave 22:46
yeah. So great thing right now where it’s smack kind of in the middle of the year, if you’re if you haven’t done 2023 planning for your business, you know, what I would do is you crack open your p&l cells, look at maybe even the last two years, evaluate where you’re spending money on tools and process, check in with your team and say, Are we using this? Are we using this service? If not, let’s get the skills, get it out of here. And then let’s say all right, where do we want to be next year? Are we going to grow? Are we going to stay the same? And then you can take a look at where those gaps are. And you can start to invest more in doubling down on your people. I’m telling you, it’s magical, do it. Absolutely. But you have to do it smart. And you have to plan for it. Because it you know, some of the things can can shock you, you know when it comes to budget if you haven’t planned for but planned for it now talking about 2023 If you haven’t started your budgeting, put it in

Denis 23:42
it Dave, you are so right, because we had gotten away from that for a few years. And then this past year budgeting for 2022. We said no, there’s a lot of tools we probably aren’t touching. We really dove in hard. We found like $24,000 Just sitting laying there. Yeah, all of a sudden, okay, that’s either a contingency Or where can we invest it? Well, we invested most of that back in our people. Yeah, we hadn’t used in two years. Just because we got lazy and lacks right. Oh, times are good. Whoa, big deal. Well, so what if times are good, they might not be good tomorrow, let’s let’s run our business like a business and not just this hobby where we got tools laying around in the shed that I might use eight years from now to carve a piece of wood right? I mean,

Dave 24:29
yeah, it’s the same. really got serious about it. Yeah, it’s the same thing with like, personal subscriptions of all your streaming services. Dennis, we just we just created our own business to business subscription that will crawl it all. I think we got it. We can we can check. Let’s do it. Yeah, always, always be checking your budgeting, you know, and I think if you’re listening and you’re not really in charge of budgeting, and you’re in, if you’re in a position where you’re like, hey, this will be really Cool, this would help our team out. This would help me as an individual, ask, like ask your managers as well like, hey, is this on our budget? Like, can we take a look at our training budget? And you know, maybe the answer is, hey, not this year, but maybe it’s going to be in for next year. So don’t be afraid to ask, ask management, ask your leadership team. And look, what is our training budget?

Denis 25:19
Yeah. Yeah. And when you talk about culture, right, man, I mean, think back to when I was an employee, not the owner, right? Man, nothing made me feel better than when I knew leadership was investing in me. Or ownership or my boss, or what? Hey, I matter, man, um, maybe I do have a future in this game. Maybe Maybe man pulling my weight, you know. And you it’s a big message to send. And we just, we just believe in it. And thank, you know, thankfully, we’re in a position where there’s, there’s profits there that we can do that. But you know, what? There have been years where when we first started with with initiative, one, we were losing money. Yeah. I mean, I had to make a commitment to building up the team, we needed a culture shift that had to be done, and we did it. And it was hard. It was hard. But you know, what, we just made decisions, where do we want to invest our money? Right? Invest in the team?

Dave 26:26
Yeah, that was just the bill, just Alma pivot off this. But you know, one of the things that I was looking at was, I was so focused on month to month, year to year and like, Oh, what are we going to do this year? We got to maintain that. And sometimes you got to look at it as multi year, right? You got to look at two years, put two years together and say, All right, well, well, we haven’t invested in any of this in the last five years, and we’re just maintaining like it. Do we want to continue to do that? Or do we want to grow? And if we want to grow well, then we need to invest back in the business. Like any outside investor coming into your business, they’re going to they’re going to ask some of those questions like What have you invested in, in your business? What have your own, you know, money? Have you put back what have you invested in your people. So that’s, that’s just really, really important. And hopefully, there’s some takeaways there, I’m gonna have some resources that I can share on that too. And I’ll put them on agency, under Dennis’s post here. So if you want to, if you’re listening on Spotify, or Apple, hop over to agency, and you can download some of those resources. Dennis, if you think of anything, please feel free to send those to me as well, resource wise, and we’ll get those linked up.

Denis 27:31
Sounds great. So I know right now,

Dave 27:35
that’s C. And for those who are listening, Dennis is typing right into his phone real time note taker, that’s the way I am, too. And it’s not because we’re getting old and forgetful. It’s just because why not? Let’s let’s put it down. I want to talk about balance. Because, you know, that’s, that’s what I’m about is like, it took me a while to kind of figure out, you know, how am I going to balance my day, my life. So talk about how you’re finding balance. And maybe you can share a little bit with our listeners, because we haven’t talked about this about transitioning about being, you know, open on what options you can take to kind of transition out of the business, I would love to share what you want to share to our listeners about kind of where you are right now. And as you’re entering this kind of this next journey of your life.

Denis 28:23
Cool, be happy to so when you talk to industry consultants in our industry, not a lot of agencies get sold, right? Especially the smaller ones, right? I think it’s some of the numbers, maybe 25, or 30%, change hands. I always knew, you know, when I hit 50, early 50s already, then it was becoming a young person’s game, right? And I said, You know what, it’d be nice to be out by 60 or 60 to just start thinking about it, right? So Okay, number one, you should at least plan three to five years ahead, because you want to build value into your company, there’s things you you need to do if you’re if you’re looking to sell so that you’d even be considered for sale, right? So again, I use my outside consultants, how do I need to build value? What am I doing what came all came in, factored in? And then I started thinking, okay, is somebody really gonna buy this? Do I want to transition it to the team? Do I just want to walk away? Of course, we weren’t making any money. So that was an option. But then, you know, I always, you know, so for 10 years, I was like, looking through the lens of could this person or these people run the place? Forgive buying it? Can they run it? Right? Because another option would be for me to just step aside Hang on to a majority of stock bonus someone, right? But as I identified a person, she expressed interest in buying. And as soon as that happened, I’m like, Okay, how do we make this real? So, so I was looking at a lot of different options and the whole balance thing, you know, I was unbalanced in my 20s and 30s started a business from the ground up. You know, I, I’d be out selling and running ads not not digitally sending out, we’d be sent, I’d be delivering proofs and it was go, and then at night, I’d be doing the billing and doing the books. And I mean, it consumed me, right. And I’m sure it was a factor in me getting divorced, you know, after 20 years of marriage. And as I was going through that evolution in my life, I’m like, Okay, you’re off balance, Dennis, you know, and you know what, I never use that term until today, Dave, but things were really out of balance for me. So I just made a personal commitment that, okay, I’ll find a relationship. Again, hopefully, the good Lord willing, we’ll bring someone into my life. And I’m going to I’m not going to be able to do things the way I’m doing them now. Right. So I had to commit to change a little bit from a balance standpoint. And it was probably the best decision I made because the company didn’t consume me. My job didn’t consume me. And at that point in time, you know, we always had a work life balance philosophy as a company, it has served as well, we’ve always you got a kids soccer game, or your coach basketball, or they got a piano recital during the or your dentist’s appointment, who wants to go to the dentist on Saturday or seven o’clock? Fine, you know, what, don’t let your team known and don’t let the client down and communicate. So we’ve always had a work life balance, it just took me to age 45, to start taking advantage of it. Right. And it’s huge, because, you know, I still work, I work 50 hours a week, but is working when I’m just chilling out. And there’s a football game on in the background and maybe doing a little bit of reading or shuffling through paperwork, where I can multitask. I mean, hell, there’s 25 seconds between every play right, you know? Yeah. So, balance has been key. And of course, now this stage of my life, my wife and I have five adult kids, we have six grandchildren seventh on the way, none of them are older than five, well, how the hell can I go, and none of them are in Green Bay, they’re all in the in the Midwest. I’m going to spend time with my grandkids, and my and my children, and my wife, and our new puppy that we got. But that’s a whole nother story. Get into that.

Dave 33:08
Well, that’s awesome. I mean, I’m so glad that you’re finding balance. I always talk about balances about prioritization. And we even have that as one of our core values is prioritization is your superpower. It’s, uh, you decide what you what you work on. You know, one of the things that I always try to do before my day is, I do the things that make you happy. First, start your day out by doing the things that are going to make you happy first. So if that’s for me, yeah, so it’s like, for me, if it’s like, I like sports cars, I like I like collecting things. And if I’m looking at that, I’m always, I’m always trying to make sure that I slow down in the morning, and I’m not rushing, you know, to really to get into it. And it takes planning, like I get up earlier, you know, so like, that’s my time I can spend, even if it’s a half an hour doing those things, you know, taking your dog for a walk first being out with, you know, the sun, if you’re in an area where sun actually comes out every once in a while, or sometimes it’s out too long, and it’s blazing hot. So, but yeah, you have to do those things really start out your day with prioritizing you. Because what happens is when you feel out of balance, and I talked about this in previous episodes is like, if you’re in a role, and you’re like your work day, you’re you’re spending majority of your time for the company for the work. And that’s spending more the time then you feel off balance. You’re like, hey, it’s not fair. It’s not equal. I’m out of here, I’m gonna quit. But flip it spend the time for you first. And prior to that on previous episodes, I break down like how many hours are in a day? How many in a week? How much do you times spend sleeping and all that and that’s what you’re left with. Right? So,

Denis 34:47
yeah, and people. You know, somehow we get in these habits of that’s how we’re built right? And we think, Well, it’s the company doing it to me. No, it’s just what you’ve gotten into a break. sat down. So, man we, we talk a lot about, we don’t live to work. We work to live the lives we want to lead. This is just a component. This is getting you your, your income, your toys, your time, your your travel. I mean, yeah, you gotta do a great job. But, boy, I mean, we had an issue we close at noon on Friday. So you’re on. We had an issue where four people were working last Friday. Monday in our production huddle, we talked about how that’s unacceptable. We’d spent 10 minutes on a Monday morning saying, Guys, if that’s happening, something’s broken. We’ve got to communicate. We’ve got to figure out. So that’s not we’re not doing that again, this Friday. We, our clients know that. We’re only available in emergencies. We’ve got everything taken care of. If we’re working on a Friday, something’s wrong. I mean, we got it. We got it. And we’re territorial about it. And that goes toward building a great culture. I mean, it’s got to be sustainable. Are there times you that someone’s working on an evening? Yeah. Are there times when it has to be done on Friday afternoon? Yeah. Or can I do it Sunday afternoon. instead? It just has to be done Monday morning. Yeah, I don’t care. Go go play golf Friday afternoon cabinet done on it. Yeah, that’s great. Whatever. You know, it’s, it’s been a key to our success all the years. I mean, we’ve had our ups and downs, right. But we’ve got 30 plus years in this industry. So we’ve been doing some things right. And I’d say that work life balance is number one.

Dave 36:45
Number one. That’s good. Dennis has a lot of experience with this. And again, we’re going to drop Dennis’s information at the end. But now let’s switch gears because I want to shake things up a little bit. You’ve been so gracious to share kind of, you know, some of your learnings over I’m gonna throw some randomness at you. So this is the part of I’m now into my podcast talking about Dave’s random 10. So I’m going to hit you with some things here. You’re ready to go. Let’s go. I haven’t prepped Dennis for any of these. All right, ready? This will start off easy.

Denis 37:16
I’m on a second state Okay. All right. Now some of them thought if I want

Dave 37:20
well don’t go too deep in thought thought like I like the first reaction. Alright, well start easy ready for this? Yep. Tofu Steak or seafood.

Denis 37:30
Definitely not tofu. steak or seafood. I love them both. depends on the mood if I’m, if I’m in the Midwest, it’s steak. If I’m on the coast, it’s seafood. How’s that?

Dave 37:41
That’s a great answer, sir. Or you can just surf and turf it everywhere you go. Yeah,

Denis 37:44
I do that too. So

Dave 37:47
there’s a funny saying this, I want to put this on a t shirt. I don’t know where I was. I might have been in might have been in New York City. And somebody said to me once, Thursday is not a good day to get raw. Thursday’s not a good day to get raw, which means as most of the seats if you’re eating seafood by Thursday, it’s the oldest. So they deliver off for the weekend on a Friday. So that’s where you want to get so eat seafood on the weekend. Do not eat seafood on a Thursday.

Denis 38:13
I like that. I’m buying one of your T shirts. Get

Dave 38:15
them. Alright, here we go. Keep it going. Number two, lace up sneakers or slip ons. Lace up. Nice. A lot of people have been saying lace ups. Right? Yeah. Cool. All right. And I can see you those who aren’t watching. Go hop over to YouTube. So you can see Dennis t shirt or collared shirt. Collared man,

Denis 38:36
I’m a golfer?

Dave 38:37
I could see. Is that a green beige? Well, you know, let me Oh, yeah, a little bit. I just see. I gotta

Denis 38:43
I gotta support the pack. Just real subtly. I’m out over the top, you know, like Gabe with his Raiders, but I had to get a little subtle drop there for the pack.

Dave 38:53
Yeah. And again, thank you so much for Davante Adams. Um, all right. This is a weird one horse. car or boat.

Denis 39:05
Car car. I’m not a boat guy. And horses. Just I don’t move at the pace. I need him to move.

Dave 39:12
Got it. Got it. All right. Number five beach or mountains.

Denis 39:17
Man, I love them both. Beach. Wet snow in the mountains. So Beach. I’m a warm guy.

Dave 39:27
Where’s your favorite beach?

Denis 39:29
Oh, I love Mexico, the Caribbean. But I would say we weren’t we went to Turks and Caicos. I think it’s Seven Mile Beach. It was unbelievable. We were out in 10 feet of water and you could see the hair on your toes. Wow. Yes. Crystal clear. Hard to get to but worth it.

Dave 39:52
Cool. Yeah, that’s all my that that is the Turks is on my list. For How To

Denis 39:57
Do ye this. This January 1. 10th wedding anniversary so we’ll see how they compare. We’ve never been there. So knock on one off the bucket list. Cool.

Dave 40:06
Well, they have mountains too, so you can do both.

Denis 40:09
Oh yeah, we’ll get the best of both worlds.

Dave 40:11
All right. This is a toughy what would you sing at karaoke night? Something 70s something 70 Something like the 70s

Denis 40:21
Maybe some, man I don’t know. I I just sing random tunes all day day, but big 70s I got Sirius XM. 70s on my radio. Grew up with older brothers and sisters.

Dave 40:39
Is it rock? Or is it like, you know, Beegees? Both. Okay,

Denis 40:45
I’m all no country. I’m not a country guy. Sorry. I’ll listen to it. But I don’t but I don’t sing it so

Dave 40:56
I can see you like doing foreign or something? Or like toto or

Denis 41:02
mixing a little Chicago? Me little Chicago.

Dave 41:05
Ted Nugent.

Denis 41:07
Yeah, I don’t have that deep raspy rock voice. So you know, I gotta stay within my my limitations. So.

Dave 41:15
All right. All right. Doors or wheels? Have you ever been asked that question before?

Denis 41:23
No, you gotta give me some context.

Dave 41:26
So that’s why I started that. So do you think there are more doors are more wheels in the world?

Denis 41:35
Wow. Wheels. When you think of all the machinery, it’s got to be wheels.

Dave 41:42
Right? So they always want to go to this. That’s what most people say. But how many doors are in your house? How many cabinet doors are behind you right

Denis 41:51
now? Cabinet doors. Oh my god. We just changed our handles. I think we got 40 Some cabinet doors. This, you got me.

Dave 42:01
You’re gonna this is something that you’re gonna go back on. Like today or tomorrow, you’re gonna be like, you’re going to open up a door or you’re going to look down. There’s gonna be four wheels on a little cart that you didn’t realize you’d like. I have no idea. I just I’m doing it right now. What the hell are you doing to me? Yeah. All right. That’s a fun one. All right. Last three. What’s your favorite Zoo? Animal?

Denis 42:24
Zoo, animal, gorilla.

Dave 42:27
Good one. volve the gorilla? Silverback. Big one.

Denis 42:31
Yeah. Yeah. Tigers are fun if they’re active, but gorilla.

Dave 42:37
Yeah, they’re weird. They’re, they’re really weird. Because like, if you ever watch them, like eat, it’s like, kind of gross. They like throw back up. And then they like eat it again. Yeah, yeah. That’s there. But they’re tough. You know? Like, they don’t take crap. You know, from the little ones that the big. I’m talking like the big girl. Oh, yeah.

Denis 42:56
Yeah. That’s imagine what it’d be like to be in the wild, you know, and just kind of Safari or whatever, where you can observe from? And that’d be way cool. I think I just added something to the bucket list.

Dave 43:09
There you go. That’s awesome. Great. All right. So these last two are their little bit more thinking beyond beyond these. And as you’re kind of working towards your transition, and again, congratulations there. If you could tell your future you what would be something that you would change.

Denis 43:29
So going back in time, 30 years to where I am today. Okay, so bring balance into your life sooner. Take care of relationships. Trust your gut.

Dave 43:52
Those are three great things. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, good stuff. Good stuff.

Denis 43:58
You can tell I’ve thought about it a little bit. And that’s, that’s been part of my pivot. Right. So yeah, but trust your gut. Trust your gut, man. When I work. Initiative, one, you know, I’d be dealing with, you know, whatever issue. Trust your gut, trust your gut. And then what what’s keeping you from doing it now? So

Dave 44:22
good stuff. Yeah. All right. Last one. So, telling your future you from this point on, what is something you’re going to keep with somebody’s going to keep doing or keep for you. That you’re not going to change?

Denis 44:38
I am going to really try to stay active. I’m going to keep traveling. And I’m going to keep spending time with my grandchildren and my family.

Dave 44:50
No, that’s perfect and snarky. And you’re snarky and snarky.

Denis 44:55
Yeah papi I got it. Mauser Yorkie mix. He’s just a little riot.

Dave 45:04
Well, great stuff. Dennis, how can I listeners find you?

Denis 45:08
Okay? So you can always check out LinkedIn, but that my preference or you’ll get a quicker response via email. So it’s just D, and then my last name Kreft at And I’ll spell that out for you because it’s one of those homemade words. So it’s, I am a G, i n a s D craft at Imaginasium. I’d be happy to feel any calls questions. You know, like I said, I’m in that mode of it’s time for me to give back and if someone thinks they I’ve got something that they want to explore or offer I could offer by all means, reach out, I mean that sincerely. Happy to help.

Dave 46:00
Well, thank you so much, Dennis, please take them up on your offer. We’ll make sure we get all of his contact information linked up on agency And again, keep if you haven’t subscribed, please subscribe. And you’ll have more great conversations like this. Thank you so much again, Dennis and have a beautiful day.

Denis 46:16
Dave, thank you. It was my pleasure. Thank you again for having me and I had a ton of fun.