In the world of media, Larry Kay has pretty much done it all. He’s written and produced documentaries for PBS and the Travel Channel. He’s held senior-level positions for the Disney Internet group and taught producing at New York University. He writes for AOL and has authored two books, including one with President Obama’s dog trainer.
Which makes it all the more remarkable that Kay may be best known for a web platform in which he regularly champions the work of others. Positively Woof is an absolute juggernaut in the pet media world, a Facebook phenomenon driven by a mission to improve the lives of animals.
The team behind A Voice for Lil Olive is proud to call Kay a supporter. And to learn a little more about Kay and his work, we reached him by phone earlier this week in California, where he makes his home. What follows is Part 1 of our interview; look for Part 2 next week.
Can you start by talking a little bit about what Positively Woof does?
Positively Woof is about providing innovative media that helps shelter dogs get adopted. We produce at least three new web videos every week, and we’ll soon be producing one new web film every day. The brand has 2 million Facebook fans and has had over 8½ million video views, as well as 50,000 Instagram followers. So I’m really dedicated to highlighting other innovative media projects such as Lil Olive, that make a difference for shelter dogs.
How did you come upon this concept? How did you recognize that was this need that you could fill?
It’s been an evolution, in my case. I fell in love with pet media about a dozen years ago, and initially it was a strategic decision, just a career choice for me, to include pet media among those things that I do. I’ve been a writer, producer and strategist my entire career in media. And that goes back some 25, 30 years. So I’ve seen a lot of evolution in the media space, the advent of cable TV, CD-ROMs and computer games, the Internet, and now broadband Internet that allows us to have robust interactivity and robust, high-resolution video. And because of my background in media, I now have the opportunity to put it all together.
So when I first came to pet media, I saw it as a career opportunity, because the pet industry is a growing industry. At the time I got in, it was about a $25 billion industry, and it is now north of $60 billion. But along the way, something funny happened: I got hooked. I fell in love with making a difference for shelter dogs.
I’m fortunate to have had some success in my career, where this chapter of my career can be about making a difference and, as I call it, being the giveaway. So I have a personal mission statement that guides me into what I do, in all things that I do, and in all people I come in contact with. When I’m at my best — and I’m not always my best — but when I am at my best, I live my mission. Which is that “I empower a creative world of abundant mastery by serving with ease and playing well with you.”
How long have you held that as your personal mission statement?
It constantly evolves. I’ve had a mission statement for more than 20 years, and I believe that having a mission that’s bigger than ourselves allows us to go forward into the world with connection, healing and love. For me, having a mission reduces fear, scarcity and small-mindedness.
How do you find the platform of Facebook — which has obviously worked very well for you — as a way to live this mission?
Having 2 million fans on Facebook who love dogs gives me a platform to help people connect, to teach, and to have fun. Another set of watchwords that I have inside of pet media is what I call the “Power of Arf.” “A” is for advocacy, and that means supporting and encouraging the support of making a difference for animals and, in my case, especially shelter animals. “R” is for readiness, and for me that means training, especially positively. And when we train positively, we can’t help but to be a little more positive in our own lives. And “F” is for fun, and dogs show fun in just every part of their waggy being.
So seeing that as the broad reason for building a community on Facebook, I learn what kinds of things my audience is interested in, and provide that. And in addition, I attempt to stretch their interests a little bit by connecting them with why I’m doing that. I don’t like to preach; I like to make invitations.