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How to Launch a Successful Design Agency After a Corporate Career Featuring Andre De La Cruz

Andre de la Cruz is a UX and Product Design professional with 15 years of experience. After losing his job last July, Andre co-founded an agency called Rally, which specializes in Brand, UX, and Product. He established the agency with two seasoned professionals in Brand and Product, along with a team of senior talent. Rally offers startups flexible monthly access to their team of senior designers and product managers through a subscription service. Prior to founding Rally, Andre spent the last five years at early and growth-stage startups, building and leading design teams, and collaborating with product and executive leadership to develop new products from inception to launch (0→1) and to evolve version one (v1) products into a more mature, polished, and professional state.

In today’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, Andre shares insights on making the bold move from a stable full-time job to creating and managing a successful design agency.

Andre and I discuss:

  • His career progression and the decision to start an agency [00:01:00]
  • The experience of leading design teams at startups [00:02:00]
  • The journey of founding Rally with his partners [00:04:00]
  • Shaping and adapting agency business models for market demand [00:10:00]
  • Diversifying into the software industry [00:12:00]
  • The pivotal role of community and networking in entrepreneurship [00:17:00]
  • Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs considering their own venture [00:21:00]

Learn more about Andre at

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How to Build a Thriving Business with Ethical AI and Community Featuring Jessica Spencer

After nearly two decades in the corporate world, Jessica founded the educational media company Penguin Connective, which seeks to create greater equality and opportunity in challenging areas such as future readiness, foster-to-adopt, and transitioning to adulthood. She is the creator of the AI Explorers Society and a ChatGPT for Teachers course that currently serves over 1,800 educators globally. Jessica resides near Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and their five children.

In today’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, you will learn how continuous learning and strategic diversification can create a resilient business model.

Jessica and I discuss:

  • Her transition from corporate administrative roles to entrepreneurship [00:50]
  • The advantages and challenges of acquiring education while working full-time [01:12]
  • The evolution of her career through multiple industries [01:34]
  • How a diagnosis with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome influenced her life choices [05:15]
  • The role of diversification in achieving financial security [06:46]
  • The importance of ethical AI and its application in education [14:09]
  • The value of community and collaboration in a successful business [17:29]
  • Introducing the AI Explorer Society and its goals [16:12]

Learn more about Jessica at:

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How to Convert Software Development Skills into Successful Business Models Featuring Troy Larson

Troy has over 40 years of software development and technical management experience, including five years at Amazon as a Solutions Architect.

In 2022, Troy founded The Unique VA Experience, a Filipino-based coaching company that has trained nearly 300 VAs, providing opportunities for Filipinos who are looking to change careers and for stay-at-home parents looking to enter the workforce.

In 2023, Troy launched The Developer’s CEO Newsletter, building on his 40 years of experience, focused on the unique challenges faced by software developers who are running a small business or looking to start their own business.

In today’s episode, you will discover the transition from corporate life to entrepreneurship, the founding of The Unique VA Experience, and his 2023 launch of The Developer CEO Newsletter.

Troy and I discuss:

  • The journey from corporate life to entrepreneurship [00:01:05]
  • The motivation behind The Unique VA Experience [00:02:10]
  • The significance of the “Unique” aspect in his business [00:03:40]
  • Offering a distinct, hands-on program for VAs [00:04:35]
  • How The Unique VA Experience evolved against expectations [00:06:05]
  • Utilizing community for entrepreneurial success [00:08:00]
  • The unexpected wisdom gained from community interactions [00:09:40]
  • The role of OKRs in fostering accountability within communities [00:11:50]
  • The simple yet effective implementation of OKRs [00:18:15]
  • Navigating the trials and learning from failures in business [00:20:25]

For those seeking to delve deeper into the world of virtual assistance or to tap into Troy’s rich repository of knowledge, visit Troy also offers resources on hiring a VA and has made his developer-centric newsletter available for those intrigued by the intersection of software development and business leadership.

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The Smashing the Plateau Community 

How to Build an Authority Business Featuring Rochelle Moulton

Rochelle Moulton turns independent consultants into authorities. The author of The Authority Code: How To Position, Monetize And Sell Your Expertise, she has been called “an emotional Red Bull” for her balance of inspiration and practical advice.

In today’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, you will learn how to go from expertise to authority, along with big financial benefits.

Rochelle and I discuss:

  • Some of the differences between experts and authorities [03:18]
  • Patterns that emerge from experts that effectively market their authority [08:54]
  • The most important sales target when you market your authority [11:24]
  • How taking a stand can generate risk in your head [14:23]
  • How long it may take to build a financially successful authority business [19:11]
  • Business model differences between experts and authorities [20:55]

Learn more about Rochelle at

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How to Find a Niche that Sells Featuring Andrew Kamphey

Andrew Kamphey had a very meandering career. He became a google sheets wizard and now sells a very lucrative niche offering based on his skills.

In today’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, you will learn the very simple process Andrew used to find his niche.

Andrew and I discuss:

  • What caused his career to lead to google sheets [02:22]
  • How Andrew created a business around his google sheets niche [10:55]
  • How to persevere until you experience success [15:11]
  • What Andrew learned about building a niche offering [19:25]

Learn more about Andrew at

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