Six years ago we set out to create a different kind of agency, one where we believed in doing business different and doing business better. While this sounds cliché, the concept was born out of an idea that running an agency didn’t have to look like it has always looked. Here we are now at 200 people strong. And in going from 2 to 200, we’ve learned a lot along the way about what works—and what doesn’t.
Always be humble and don’t let your ego get in the way. As we grew, we soon realized that the single most important attribute we were looking for was humility—everything else came second.
Oftentimes we spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our family or friends. Our goal is to build a company full of people we like to spend time with, to go have a coffee or cocktail with.
Everyone talks about it, but if we are burned out and stressed out there is no way we are doing our best work. It’s also no way to live. Our work supports our lives, and our lives come first. Whether it’s your kid, your dog, your precious sports, or your even more precious time on the couch with Cheetos, you’ve got to have a life.
Collaboration is king. We all know that working together (often side by side) delivers the best results. This goes for both internal and client relationships—collaboration keeps communication open and ideas fresh. In our case, where some of us spend our entire days with our clients, nothing could be more important.
We talk about our partnership a lot. “We partner” isn’t just a tagline, it’s how we operate. We have always believed that when you’re working next to the client on an intense project, you want to have open and honest conversations about success. The level of mutual respect and camaraderie that comes from a true partnership has driven a great deal of our success.
We regularly ask for feedback, and nothing helps us more. We feel it is essential to get insights—good or bad—so we can make improvements. This isn’t a one-time thing, but a part of our DNA.
Don’t take for granted that you have the business. Always try to surprise and delight your clients with new ideas or ways of doing things. We earn our clients trust anew every day.
Simply put, the work we deliver comes from people who are passionate about what they do.
Decisions should be made based on our ability to have the best people deliver the best work under business conditions that let creativity and thoughtfulness flow. Never make decisions based strictly on the almighty dollar (or euro). An occasional “no” when it makes sense is appreciated by clients.
Be flexible and open minded enough to see new opportunities within and outside the company. The embedded model has evolved since we started, but we are always trying to understand the needs of our clients and of our team. What’s next? Who knows—probably some of what we’ve always done sprinkled with lots of new and different ways of thinking.
While we haven’t figured it all out, these are the practices we take to heart. We planned to build a better agency model, but we didn’t plan for how much we’d grow. Thankfully, with these principles always in mind, we will continue to stay true to the vision we had six years ago. Our vision and our principles have helped us along our path, leading us to today when we are 200 wonderful people strong.