Agencies That Build
A proposal should not be to convince, it should be to confirm - Michael Lavista - Episode #28

A proposal should not be to convince, it should be to confirm - Michael Lavista - Episode #28

November 16, 2021

Michael Lavista is the Founder and CEO of Caxy Interactive, a web design and development firm in Chicago specializing in User Experience and Agile-driven software and technology development. Caxy Interactive loves helping clients break new ground, find new customers, and engage the ones they already have in unexpected ways.

 

Takeaways 

  • A proposal should not be to convince, it should be to confirm. 
  • Positioning yourself as an expert, and being very selective about your prospects can save us a lot of time and money.
  • If you narrow your focus, you broaden your market.
  • I can market anything to anybody, but if I don't know who I'm talking to, there's no point
  • Hire them on the basis of how the person operates, how they work, the integrity and humor, and all these other kinds of things, not just the programming skills.
  • The number one job of the CEO and kind of how they ultimately get judged and their outcomes are evaluated, is their ability to make decisions about the priority of things they are working on. - Michael Lavista 

Links

Busted Myths:

  • The most important thing to do with the client on the front end is find out the Budget.
Does agency size matter? - Ran Craycraft - Episode #027

Does agency size matter? - Ran Craycraft - Episode #027

November 8, 2021

Ran Craycraft is the managing partner at Wildebeest, Wildebeest is a boutique tech & innovation partner for the world's most innovative brands. Wildebeest specializes in innovation, idea generation, and rapid prototyping.

 

Takeaways 

 

  • Having a large firm does not imply that you will do more creative work or devote more time to your clients.
  • When you are trying to address problems with clients, make sure that creative technology and strategy all have a place at the table.
  • “I think it's really important to distinguish between when you're doing campaign work, or when you're building a platform, or product.” - Ran
  • When creating products and platforms, keep in mind that your client's success necessitates a holistic strategy.
  • You must look for ways to enhance the concepts and whatever it is you're building by taking a creative concept and bringing it all together in a truly unique way.

Links

 

Busted Myths:

  •  A bigger agency is a better agency.

 

Embracing Agile Culture for Business Success  - Mike Stone - Episode #26

Embracing Agile Culture for Business Success - Mike Stone - Episode #26

September 17, 2021

Mike Stone is the Co Founder at The Gnar Company, a development company that builds robust products designed for the long haul. They try to turn wild ideas into incredible digital experiences.

 

 

Takeaways 

 

  • Working with offshore agencies has a number of advantages, the most important of which is cost.
  • Using clickable prototypes to allow clients to experience the application can be really beneficial.
  • “We really can't just start swinging hammers, we need to provide the engineering team with a blueprint and a sense of what they're going to build.” - Mike
  • It's a good idea to create a repeatable process that allows you to move swiftly while still delivering a high-quality output.
  • Code audits assist you in determining whether or not to work for a particular client.

Links

 

Busted Myths:

  • Focus on the ‘Now’.

Finding Insights amid Information Overload - Ross Patrick - Agencies That Build #025

Finding Insights amid Information Overload - Ross Patrick - Agencies That Build #025

August 23, 2021

Ross Patrick is the Creative Director and Founder of XtraBold Agency. XtraBold is a digital marketing and strategy agency that helps brands create exceptional customer experiences, from branding and packaging to digital moments that connect with people on an emotional level.

Takeaways

  • Cultural references and knowledge are probably more important than book smarts to do the right thing for the client.
  • To make things work, you just have to be willing to trust and to take the failure which is a part of the process.
  • You need to be willing to be flexible and change, do your jobs differently, trust your instincts, your experience, and your willingness to take chances. And maybe fail a little bit, that's what's gonna get you through this.
  • Make sure you're clear, and that the team is transparent; transparent about who, what, where, when, and how.

Links:

 

Busted Myths:

  • You have to be an expert to do things that you want to do.
Fostering a Design Culture - Agencies That Build #24

Fostering a Design Culture - Agencies That Build #24

August 12, 2021

Anthony Armendariz is the Partner, Head of Design at Funsize. Funsize is a digital service and product design agency that works with inspiring design and engineering teams to uncover opportunities, evolve popular products, bring new businesses to market, and prepare for the future.

 

Takeaways

  • Enterprise design work is more about understanding people and maturity levels and way less about the actual design work.
  • “A good client is one with whom you can work for three years or more, with several workstreams in each account and sustain that.” - Anthony
  • Protecting what you consider is vital, such as cultural management decisions, which are made to ensure that the company's workforce number remains constant rather than to make money.
  • It's beneficial for designers working in agencies to have the experience of knowing what it's like to work at their clients' companies.

 

Links:

 

 

Busted Myths:

  • Investing in junior designers is too demanding, difficult, or risky.
Discipline: Key to Agency Growth - Jeremy Durant - Agencies That Build #023

Discipline: Key to Agency Growth - Jeremy Durant - Agencies That Build #023

July 23, 2021

Jeremy Durant is the Business Principal at Bop Design, a marketing communications agency dedicated to assisting companies and organizations in developing their brand through effective design and integrated marketing systems.

Takeaways

  • In terms of development, cost, and quality, working with outsourced companies is beneficial. It's as simple as taking those cost savings and passing them along to your customer.
  • It is simpler to retain employees when you are not overly aggressive in terms of growth; it is preferable to keep things moderate, steady, and disciplined.
  • “There's a perception. If you have an office, that means you're more established.” - Jeremy
  • When you’re starting out as an agency it's crucial to concentrate on variable costs as much as possible.
  • From a growth perspective, an average of 150,000 to 200,000 in revenue per employee is a good starting point for a web design agency.
  • While working with an outsourced or an offshore company, any task or skill that you're outsourcing requires you to have employees on your team that have the same skills.

Links:

  • LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremydurant/
  • Bop Design - https://www.linkedin.com/company/bop-design/

 

 Busted Myths:

  • Entering a saturated market is bad news, especially when you're coming from a different background.

 

Rethinking the American Dream - Nancy Lyons- Agencies That Build #022

Rethinking the American Dream - Nancy Lyons- Agencies That Build #022

June 29, 2021

Nancy Lyons is the Co-founder and CEO of Clockwork, a Minneapolis-based design and development agency of thinkers and doers. They transform businesses by uniting people, processes, and technology around business solutions. 

 

 

Takeaways

  • Starting as an agency at present, data is your best friend. With Market analysis and research, you can accurately determine your strengths by figuring out where you fit? Who you are talking to and what do they want?
  • Be mindful of your strategy and revisit it in a timely manner. Regular conversations about strategy will help you formulate a roadmap to follow.
  • “I often tell people that sometimes we're limited by the limitations of our prospects or our clients' understandings, because they call us when they need what they think we do.” - Nancy
  • “When you're able to clearly articulate absolutely what you do, and the value that your prospects can expect from that absolute thing. I think it makes it much easier to drive interest in your brand and your offering.” - Nancy
  • When you’re building a business plan start by figuring out what is it that you’re trying to accomplish? What do you want? What is your business focus? How do you expect to scale?

 

Links:

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancylyons/

Clockwork - https://www.clockwork.com/

Nancy - https://www.nancylyons.com/

 

Busted Myths:

  • The American dream that hard work and perseverance are a sure-shot way of making it big in the country and it’s never about the privileges. 

 

UX in a Remote Culture - Erin Young - Agencies That Build #021

UX in a Remote Culture - Erin Young - Agencies That Build #021

June 21, 2021

Erin Young is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Slide UX, a family-run business that specializes in UX. They help clients establish great user experiences, utilizing the best UX design practices that include integrated business strategy, user research, UI design, and cross-functional collaboration. They’ve been named one of the best UX agencies five years in a row. 

Takeaways

  • The real value of UX research is understood through opportunity cost. Try asking “What would it cost if you got on the wrong foot with wrong assumptions?” User Research might help you choose the right options from the get-go.
  • Competitive research can provide deep insights but it's not user research.
  • Now that the companies are recognizing that digital is imperative and carries more weight than ever before, it has changed the way they are distributing their budget.
  • "Every company reaches that point where they have to delegate, or they have to divide decision-making to make all of the decisions they have to make" - Erin
  • To facilitate the free flow of communication and humanize remote culture, organize weekly meetings as a senior leadership team, prepare an agenda ahead of time with space for comments, and most importantly take notes. 

Links:

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/erinlynnyoung/

Slide UX - https://slideux.com/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/slideux?lang=en

Busted Myths:

  •  You can save time by skipping user research.
Acquisition 101 - Jeff Archibald - Agencies That Build #020

Acquisition 101 - Jeff Archibald - Agencies That Build #020

June 15, 2021

Jeff Archibald is the Managing Director of Paper Leaf, a full-stack website, app, and software development firm. Their products have received awards and accolades, and they are also recognized as one of Canada’s top firms by Strategy Magazine and Clutch.

 

Takeaways

  • As an Agency Owner, you need to step out of roles that are not strategic and uses your time productively. It is difficult, but you have to make that shift from a tactical to a strategic mindset. This is quite crucial for the early growth phase.
  • Organize your processes, divest the skill sets amongst the group, and become a profitable company. This is the right way to structure a business vis-a-vis someone simply showing an interest in acquiring your business. In case someone does show up, be a willing participant in those conversations
  • When considering an acquisition offer, do your due diligence, identify the financial red flags and ensure that any risks that you’re taking are mutually shared. 
  • “You need to understand that you're going to have to take on some risk, and the acquiring party is going to have to take on some risk. But if those balances ever get out of whack, then you need to be willing to walk away.” - Jeff
  • To make your life easier, hire an attorney and an accountant, even if you happen to be familiar with the legalities of an acquisition.

 

Links:

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-archibald-b6904243

Paper Leaf - https://paper-leaf.com/

 

 

Busted Myths:

  • Hustle glorification. The correlation that if you're working 60 or 80 hour weeks, you're somehow doing a better job than everybody else, or you're more deserving than somebody else.
The New Normal for Work - Mark Baldino - Agencies That Build #019

The New Normal for Work - Mark Baldino - Agencies That Build #019

June 10, 2021

Mark Baldino is the Co-founder of Fuzzy Math, a user experience design, strategy, and innovation firm that solves difficult problems with a human-centered design approach and has helped establish design practices for upstart businesses and Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, and GE Healthcare.

Takeaways

  • If a resource is comfortable with working remotely then as an agency you should allow them to. An A+ resource is better remote than outside your company. 
  • As an agency things like culture happen naturally. If you’re living the values you preach, the team follows. 
  • Contrary to popular belief virtual meetings are more inclusive. There is an accessibility component to communication in a 100% virtual company.
  • “When everyone's just a screen, you kind of treat everybody a little bit more equal. And I think that's a real benefit. And I think our clients can feel that and our team can feel that whether we're doing an internal kind of meeting, or we're doing a client workshop.” - Mark 
  • Sometimes you have to say no to good business just because it’s not the right fit for you, culturally or technologically.
  • First contacts can determine if a client is good for you or not. If they’re having trouble understanding your culture and values then it’s not going to be any different with work.

Links:

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/markbaldino/

Fuzzy Math - https://fuzzymath.com

 

Busted Myths:

  • Communication in a 100% virtual company strains people and makes them less productive.
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