As I sit here and write this, I’m looking out the window to the office we’ll be leaving soon. It’s a little grey, a little cool and the War on Drugs is playing in the background. I’m the only one in the office for various reasons. Sick colleagues, people out on vacation or otherwise. It doesn’t feel like summer today, but it definitely feels like summer over-all and it’s got me in reflection…and I am content. I’m in a good mood and I want to soak in it for a while today. I think I will.
A few weeks back, the team reviewed the goals we all set at the beginning of the year. Time is moving fast and I keep writing in my journal that it feels good to feel good. I wish I could slow things down, but I’m pretty sure time flying is the sign of good times. Not only will I take it, but I’ll appreciate it.
Being alone in the office has me thinking about what it was like when I went out on my own in April 2018. No – I haven’t created a huge company. No – I haven’t accomplished all of my goals. No – I don’t think I’m so important that I need to constantly remind everyone. Yes – it’s something I’m incredibly proud of and think about often. During those times, it felt just as likely that with the walls closing in, having no routine and the slowly building anxiety could easily spell another failure. I was determined to make it…and to create something from literally nothing does in fact mean a great deal to me.
It’s surreal to think back on because the things that bothered me so much and the things I was involved in I don’t give two thoughts to anymore. The challenges have been so enjoyable that I don’t know if I even consider them challenges. It’s hard keeping everyone happy. It’s hard selling stuff. It’s hard reviewing finances. It’s all hard…yet I can’t get enough of it. It has me going to bed early so I can get up the next day and continue it. It has me staying in most nights so I can stay as sharp as possible. It has me thankful for all of the mishaps, mistakes, stumbles and beatdowns.
For all the things that didn’t work out at the time, they all built to this. Fall down seven times, stand up eight or however long it fucking takes.
I had dinner with a good friend of mine recently and we were playing a game where we had to describe the good ways and bad ways other people would describe us. After some thought, he said “obsessive.” He was right on. I am…and I find it soothing knowing that it built (and will continue to build) a business. I found it disconcerting that it’s freaked a lot of other people out in other aspects of my life. Ah well…curse and a blessing. I wouldn’t have one without the other, nor would I change it. This is my story and if you don’t want to hear it, no worries, but I am going to continue to write it’s chapters and I’m going to continue to share it. It’s who I am.
As the year moves towards the second half of the show, I’m redefining my role…again. In various forms, there are about 12 of us and I think we’ll end the year with about 15 of us. Interestingly enough, we have 12 clients we’re managing right now and I think that number will also hit 15 by year end. I’m the main salesperson right now and the technique isn’t a secret. I’m trying to meet with as many people as possible to tell my story, to tell our story and to hear others stories. That’s the only goal, but when we come across someone who needs our help and is interested in partnering, we explore it. It’s a slow, but sure process in my mind and I’m convinced it’s helping us get monthly retainers instead of one-off projects.
If we decide to partner with someone, it’s a big deal to us, there just isn’t any way around it. We like to start small and get to know each other, but the way the team is wired, we’re going to bend over backwards to keep our promises to you. We want to be a true partner, through good times and bad…
I’ve always been a good closer, but terrible with introductions. I was the guy that people had to meet, with others finding the introductions for me. I was kind of just doing it to make others happy, though (and we sold a lot of stuff). Going through the approval/rejection process and getting introductions for myself and others has been a great growth area for me and I’ve had 40+ coffee dates so far (although I usually order tea, actually).
There is some debate among the team about the content we share and that has me thinking about two things. One – the fact that a culture is developing where we can share thoughts, have disagreements, get mad at each other, praise each other, have good days, bad days, whatever… I’ve got their backs and I know they’ve got mine. Two – I know I share too much information sometimes, but I’m doubling down on it. Our goal is to sell technology/leadgen, creative services and our ideas. It’s just not going to happen by hoping and wishing…someone is going to need to go out there and get the word out or push all the different marketing engines to do exactly that (and social media is only one of them).
Truth be told, I don’t love rejection. I don’t love the chatter about my big ego. I don’t want to stir up my competitors or enemies or colleagues…but I can handle it and I think I’m built for it. I know in my bones that there are people out there that will read my content, shake my hand at a networking event, enjoy our coffee dates, appreciate our sit down discussions and will want to partner with people like me/us. That doesn’t just make it all worth it, it’s probably literally what it’s all about. This is me and if you don’t like my thoughts on a lazy day, you’re not going to like me at some point regardless of what I do…and I want to figure that out as soon as possible, too.
Someday the company will generate business on it’s own and I’ll graduate to a true executive level, which will force me out of the spotlight and to naturally be more selective about how I spend my time. That’s really something to achieve, though and I don’t feel like I’ve earned it yet.
Coming full circle on how I spend my time, though, I’m seeing slivers of what I refer to above because in some cases, the less I am involved, the better. I have a strong pulse on every aspect of the business, but I am not super involved in account management anymore. I am not dictating how the creative team unfolds. I am not holding developers’ hands. Beyond sales, I’m focused on finances and culture more than ever. I find the former kind of funny.
My goal this year was to take our leadgen service offering and pair it with a creative offering. When I look back on the last six months, it’s just unbelievable that it’s starting to feel like we were always doing just that. Our Creative Director is one of the best in the business and he’s a bundle of ideas, outputs, experiences, humor, music, style, history, moods…and the list goes on. He’s a complex dude and I’ve never met anyone like him…and I’m glad he took a chance on us. I want the company to always be on the cutting edge, being pushed to our limits and his presence & work did that immediately. He’s also a good, genuine dude. My hope is we’ve only just begun because I can see where this is going and we’re not far off from blitzkrieging the whole city and state.
I also feel like a gushing parent (or big brother) seeing how the team has developed. I’ve had so many conversations with the team and remembering some of the early ones about limits & boundaries and what they felt they could & couldn’t do, they are shedding old skin and really coming into their own. The joy of being part of their journey takes me by surprise somewhat. It wasn’t something I set out to do initially, but I quickly found it addicting. The fact that they have stuck with me means everything and I will do everything I can for them.
By October we need to be in a new office. I feel we need our own place and one that we can grow into over the next several years. I’m not sure if there will be a perfect fit or feeling about it…or if we’re just going to have to make wherever we go our new home. My gut is telling me it’s the latter. We’ve also hired more senior level individuals and figuring out the balance of letting them do their jobs and being appropriately involved is doable, but certainly on my mind. If we are able to start charging more for our ideas, it will be in large part because of them. That’s also the final piece of all of this. We’ve got leadgen covered. We’re building (and have momentum on) the creative piece. We need to start being viewed as idea generators. I have no doubt we will figure it out because we are just that. 🙂
So I’m sharing this as an attempt to be as out there as I possibly can. Let’s grab coffee and talk about some of this stuff in person. If it goes somewhere, great! I’ll coordinate our resources and we’ll get something moving. If not, cool. We now know each other and that’s just as good when it’s all said and done. Yeah, I’m sharing my story…but I want to hear yours, too (more than you know!).
Thanks for reading.