Features October 2019

Driving Change: One Man’s Passion for Non-Profits

In life and in business, Eric Olsen has a need for speed.

“Maybe it’s just because the driving industry runs in my blood,” laughs Olsen, who noted his father owned his own trucking company in Olsen’s hometown of Westfield, Mass., and his grandfather owned the only school bus company in town.

As a kid, Olsen never stopped moving, constantly out with friends playing almost every sport imaginable, from baseball to lacrosse.

“I grew up in the ‘80s before tech, so I was always out shooting hoops with friends and keeping active,” says Olsen. “At home it was more of the same; my mom is the youngest of seven so there was always something going on between my four siblings and dozens of aunts, uncles and cousins.”

Finding his Passion

In 1991, things slowed down a bit when Olsen’s dad had an opportunity to move his trucking company to Arizona. Now 16, Olsen found himself across the country attending Arcadia High School.

“I became captivated by a marketing class I was taking and it got me thinking about a career in the field,” says Olsen. “I decided to stay in town and enrolled at ASU in 1993, where I studied marketing at the W.P. Carey School of Business – about 10 years before that was even its name!”

When Olsen discovered marketing analytics during a college internship, he once again began to pick up speed.

“I always thought marketing meant I had to go into sales, I never knew I could take a research route,” says Olsen. “Marketing analytics allowed me to explore the whybehind it all, and sparked my lifelong passion.”

After graduating in 1997, Olsen jumped right into marketing. In the first few years of his career, he worked at a hotel in northern Arizona and a European telecommunications company, in addition to a few other marketing, advertising and website development jobs.

“I could see the internet was starting to taking off, and data was always in the back of my mind,” says Olsen. “I wanted to be able to tie in analysis and research about what works, what doesn’t and why in digital marketing. I decided to take after my dad’s example in entrepreneurship, starting my own firm in 2000.”

Driving Change

Fasturtle, Olsen’s full-service digital marketing agency, helps businesses and brands drive full speed ahead with website design, SEO, social media and email marketing. The oxymoronic company has now celebrated almost 20 years in the industry, working with clients from industry giant Disney to small businesses with a limited budget. His commitment to clients and expertise in the industry has earned Fasturtle praises from Entrepreneur Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

“Some of the most special work we do is pro bono, for nonprofit organizations across the Valley,” says Olsen. “We are passionate about giving back and donate our marketing services to several organizations including Playworks, Make-A-Wish Arizona, St. Joseph The Worker, Arizona Friends of Foster Children, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix and Skyline Wish Builders.”

Away from work, Olsen volunteers his time with the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation Men’s Board, Tonto Creek Camp, Children’s Museum of Phoenix and Feed My Starving Children.

“I believe wherever you work and play, you should also give back and add to society,” says Olsen. “My father was prominent in our community because of his business, and I am happy to prioritize community involvement today.”

Family Life

Olsen also has his dad’s entrepreneurial success to thank for connecting him with his wife Farah, who he met at just 4 years old.

“Her father was an executive at one of the largest wholesale companies in the U.S. and was my father’s biggest client,” says Olsen. “As kids, our families spent time together and Farah and I kept in touch even after we moved away to Arizona.”

Today, the two have three children: Jack, Joe and Maggie – all teens, and all family names.

“It was important for us to keep that family tradition alive,” says Olsen. “Having that connection to our relatives is really important.”

Teaching his oldest, 17-year-old Jack, how to drive was equally sentimental.

“It brought my life full circle,” says Olsen.

Written by: Annelise Krafft

Annelise Krafft, the daughter of local reporter Steve Krafft, earned her Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communication with a dual emphasis in Public Relations and Advertising and a minor in Spanish from Northern Arizona University before settling into the world of freelance writer and public relations at HMA Public Relations in Phoenix earlier this year. In her spare time, the Arizona native enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, Daniel, playing with her two dogs and tracking the latest celebrity gossip. akrafft@hmapr.com.

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