20 Years, 20 Lessons

Twenty years ago (!!), on February 3, I started my own marcom agency. As I think back, there are quite a few lessons I learned along the way. Maybe they’ll resonate with you. 

  1. Be good to people. Helping others – just because – is so important. Besides it feeling good, it will come back to you in spades.
  2. Go the extra mile. How great is it when someone gives you something you weren’t expecting? Now, go do that for a client or a teammate.
  3. Always do right by your clients. Even if it’s difficult, choose the best option for them…not you.
  4. Probably my most important lesson, try not to take anything too seriously. As they say, this isn’t brain surgery…so try your best to enjoy what you are doing, and who you are working with, every single day.
  5. Trust your gut. When something doesn’t seem right, it’s probably not.
  6. Work with people you respect. You are only as good as your team and only as happy as your unhappiest client, so choose wisely.
  7. Listen to other viewpoints. No, we don’t always have the right answer all the time. It’s good to have an open mind.
  8. Good ideas can come from anywhere. A song, a movie, another colleague…again, that open mind comes in handy!
  9. Stay in touch. All of our business has come from word of mouth. Keep connected with people. When they know you and your reputation, you’ve passed the first hurdle.
  10. Have a plan. Focus your efforts by having a few key objectives you’re working toward and routinely check in to see how you’re doing.
  11. Be ready to abandon the plan. But, if something else pops up that takes you in a new, exciting direction, you may need to put that plan aside.
  12. Pay it forward. Sure, it’s cliché, but doing things now to help others may someday help you. And even if it doesn’t, you will build a good reputation.
  13. Be honest. Always. This can be a tough one. Telling a client you screwed up. Telling a colleague they screwed up. You just have to do it.
  14. When you find gold, mine it. Sometimes you know you have the big idea or the crazy-smart new team member. Focus a lot of effort on those gems!
  15. Find joy in the every day. Some days it’s just problem after problem. But trying to find some happiness amidst uncertainty can get you through it. Take a walk, call a friend or just take some time for yourself. Retail therapy is known to be quite effective.
  16. Do what you love. And what you’re good at. And it helps if you can make a living from it.
  17. Tell your team and your clients how much you appreciate them. No one tires of hearing how important they are to you.
  18. Speak simply. Wow, there’s a lot of jargon and doublespeak out there. As communicators, we need to tamp that down.
  19. Be grateful. Starting the day with gratitude helps put things in perspective.
  20. Make time to do your own marketing. It’s easy to lose sight of sharing your accomplishments. With that said, we’re happy to finally launch our new website and LinkedIn page! Lesson learned.

Twenty years surely is a long time, yet it goes by in the blink of an eye. I’m glad I kept my eyes wide open!

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