Agencies That Build
All About the Agency - Chad Pytel - Agencies That Build #008

All About the Agency - Chad Pytel - Agencies That Build #008

November 19, 2020

Chad Pytel is the Founder and COO of thoughtbot, small studios of designers and developers collaborating closely with clients. They are dedicated to pushing the bar by continuously improving for themselves, the company and their clients.

 

Takeaways:

  • To close any productivity and communication gaps, remove the middleman between the founder and project team. “We fundamentally believe in having a small group of people who are really good at what they do working directly with clients to create something.” ~Chad Pytel.
  • Aspire to build successful products AND successful businesses. Training clients to facilitate a meeting or prioritize planning helps them be lucrative in the future outside of your own business. 
  • Set specific expectations for your team in terms of communication and holding the company philosophy. This sets the bar for your team and allows them to have a growth mindset going into projects. 
  • Training is a powerful tool that enables you to hire more people than you otherwise would have been able to and sets your team up for success. Apprenticeships and other training programs are a great way to accomplish this!
  • Whether you are a specialized or generalized company, the most important thing is to know what your model is and stay consistent to that. This provides a basis for your team to execute on.
  • Career advice from Chad Pytel, have an honest conversation with your founders about expectations and what you want to achieve before starting your company. 

 

Links:

 

Busted Myths:

  • If your primary motivation for doing consulting is to earn some money to bootstrap a SaaS product then you might get stuck on a consulting treadmill. Be clear what your priorities are and be intentional about your work early on.

 

Ways to Tune In:

The Road To Model Messaging - Michael Coogan - Agencies That Build #007

The Road To Model Messaging - Michael Coogan - Agencies That Build #007

November 17, 2020

Michael Coogan is the President and Managing Partner of MC2 Design Group Inc., a strategic and digital marketing agency, working as integrated partners with our clients to plan, execute, and achieve business goals. They are committed to producing the best partnership-based results for their clientele.

 

Takeaways:

  • We spend so much time mindlessly taking in content. Why not take that time and put it towards something meaningful to you. “If we spend 15 minutes a day reading on a topic that we want to get better on and take a few notes, then that knowledge compounds over time.” ~Michael Coogan
  • It is easy to build a list of things you need to do for your business, but focusing on what to say is where things start to move forward. Uniting messaging across departments is key to building value for the customers.
  • Unite your team under the same philosophies. This will give them a basis of how their language and messaging with clients should be. 
  • Outsourced partners are great for specializing projects, especially when there are spikes in business. This builds your network while not having to sacrifice the quality of your product.
  • Build a framework that you can teach your team in order to build a StoryBrand. Clients look for companies that will guide them through the process.
  • Career advice from Michael Coogan, life is fair because it is unfair to everybody. However, we have the opportunity to choose how we react to things and our attitude.

 

Links:

 

Busted Myths:

  • You don’t need to have a higher education to be a successful entrepreneur. You don’t need to have letters behind your name to prove that you are smart. Simply be continuously learning, reading and being creative.

 

Ways to Tune In:

Cultivating Successful Teams in Remote Settings - Jim Babcock - Agencies That Build #006

Cultivating Successful Teams in Remote Settings - Jim Babcock - Agencies That Build #006

November 12, 2020

Jim Babcock is the President of SPM Services Inc., who build custom and packaged applications for Startups and Enterprises. He specializes in consulting people to take their ideas and turn them into business.

 

Takeaways:

  • Top 3 ways to better manage your offshore team:
    • Get to know your team on a personal level
    • Develop a good specification for your product
    • Meet with them in the same duration you would with your domestic team
  • Look at your team as your partner. You need to have a contract that is flexible rather than stringent. This allows for more growth and room for expenses in the case of emergencies.
  • If you are working with an offshore team and they have multiple teams in multiple regions then you need to know that. Transparency is key to communication.
  • Be willing to work with every party and come to middle ground on when and how things need to be done for optimized productivity.
  • Don’t fall into Analysis Paralysis! Break work down into sprints to move productivity and fulfill requirements.
  • Career advice from Jim Babcock- take time to appreciate the blessings around you.

 

Links:

 

Busted Myths:

  • Working with offshore companies is only a horrible experience if you don’t manage it correctly. The offshore team needs to be managed and relationships built like they are right next door.

 

Ways to Tune In:

Building Right Relationships - Ben Callahan - Agencies That Build #005

Building Right Relationships - Ben Callahan - Agencies That Build #005

November 10, 2020

Ben Callahan is the Founder of the Build Right workshop series and President of Sparkbox, a group of web makers that develop their client’s product and team during projects and through their Build Right training. 

 

Takeaways:

  • It is easy to get distracted by our technology rather than having personal conversations. However, that one on one connection builds relationships further than any piece of tech could.
  • It is ok to mess up! Transparency is key to good communication with a client. When mistakes happen try having a mindset of continuous improvement and lean on your coworkers for support.
  • The core of a great business relationship is transparency, trust, and honesty. This builds stability and shows your clients you have their best interest in mind.
  • “There is a lot of potential reward in being a hyper-specialized company. But the risk of course is choosing an industry. If something happens external to your group then all your marketing is focused on that niche.” ~Ben Callahan
  • Bring different voices to the table when looking for solutions. “Have a workplace that has a lot of different perspectives, different experiences because that is going to bring a lot of interesting solutions to the surface.” ~Ben Callahan
  • Career advice from Ben Callahan, embrace the leader within you. 

 

Links:

 

Busted Myths:

  • Technology does not solve problems for us. There is always a person behind the tool. Building relationships is more important than building a product.

 

Ways to Tune In:

Interactivity and Connectivity - Phillip Tiongson - Agencies That Build #004

Interactivity and Connectivity - Phillip Tiongson - Agencies That Build #004

November 5, 2020

Phillip Tiongson is the founder and CEO of Potion, an independent studio dedicated to transforming the world of interactivity. 

 

Takeaways:

  • How do we communicate our unique value in a way that scales, is surprising, is reciprocal, and truly accessible? These four qualities are important to keep in mind with the call for connection in a technology demanding environment.
  • The physical world is rich with sensory interactions. However, that does not mean the digital world does not have a deep impact as well. Digital interactions have the power to cultivate metamorphic experiences through design and storytelling.
  • The relationships that you build with partners, whether they are collaborators, competitors or clients, is where new business comes from. 
  • In the future, how we relate to each other is going to evolve. “I think of Zoom right now as the iPhone 1. This is going to explode into many different special use cases and expressions...on how we send ourselves [digitally].”
  • Career advice from Phillip Tiongson, it is easy to mistake achievement for enjoying your work. Take time to appreciate everything and everyone around you.

 

Links:

 

Busted Myths:

  • We have just as much value and connection from miles away opposed to being in a physical place at the same time.

 

Ways to Tune In:

Flexibility and Focusing Forward - Carl Smith - Agencies That Build #003

Flexibility and Focusing Forward - Carl Smith - Agencies That Build #003

October 29, 2020

Carl Smith owns and runs the Bureau of Digital, an organization that supports agencies and provides the leadership training necessary to survive and thrive. Their focus on Digital Leadership, Business Development, Design Leadership, Operations, and Project Management has been invaluable to the digital agency landscape.

Takeaways:

 

  • In today’s climate, it is important to cater to your clients’ evolving needs and be flexible with them. How can you create a better relationship in the current world?
  • Generalists are what everyone wants out of individuals, but Specialists are what they want out of organizations. The most successful companies are those that are generalists, but promote themselves as specialists.
  • Position yourself as who you want to become versus who you are right now. This will help grow your business, company and community.
  • “If you have to change the fabric of who you are to accomplish something then you have lost part of yourself.” Double down on what makes you different as a company and an individual. ~Carl Smith
  • “Don’t always tell clients what is great about what they have. Sometimes it is better to show them the stuff they don’t want to hear.” ~Carl Smith
  • Career advice from Carl Smith, Nothing matters as much as it feels like it does. Leslie Peters said, “Life is a quest, not a text.”

Links:

 

Busted Myths:

 

  • There is work out there! Be flexible and open to try something different.

 

Ways to Tune In:

 

The Contractor Success Model - Jason Williams - Agencies That Build #002

The Contractor Success Model - Jason Williams - Agencies That Build #002

October 20, 2020

Entrepreneur, Strategic thinker, roll up sleeves with multiple hats Jason Williams busts the myth that an agency can’t be formed with independent contractors only! Jason’s personal philosophy is to live a life of abundance, and works towards that for all of his customers and colleagues. 

“Listening, collaboration only works when you listen… sit down and listen, because you are always going to learn something.” - Jason Williams 

Takeaways:

 

  • Using a contractor model allows businesses to scale up or down as there is a need
  • Invest in contractors as well, give them access to agency attorney and accountant so they can take charge of their finances
  • Using a subscription based model, customers know that the job will get done in a certain amount of time, given a certain level of service, within a certain capacity
  • The best person for the job should get the job, where the person is based is contextual. 
  • Culture is the collective, and distributed network, that IS the culture. It creates itself and self corrects.

 

Links:

 

Busted Myths:

 

  • To have an agency you need W2 workers not Independent Contractors! 
  • There is less commitment from freelancers / Contractors!
  • Off shore/near shore, the boundaries are becoming irrelevant, whoever is the best person or best group to get the job done

 

Ways to Tune In:

  • YouTube - Full video - https://youtu.be/snszY24vQ3c

 

Finding a Balance - Jay Owen - Agencies That Build #001

Finding a Balance - Jay Owen - Agencies That Build #001

September 22, 2020

Business builder, marketing agency owner, author and podcaster Jay Owen’s discusses his take on finding a balance between building and growing companies and growing his family and personal life. 

 

“Building a business that lasts is not that complicated to me, but to do that and care for the other people around me well that’s hard work, and that requires intentionality, focus, and I mess it up plenty of times, but putting that in writing holds me accountable to it and it sets that standard.” - Jay Owen

Takeaways:

  • Living in a world of extremes, either the hustle mentality which is a false reality of what it has to be like to grow or on the flip side of the coin if you’re not taking 2 naps during the day, 3 yoga sessions you’re not resting enough
  • You need to physically write down your goals, what you want your life to look like in 1 year, 3 years, and 10. Then ask, “what needs to be true today for that to be true tomorrow? What needs to change?” 
  • Define what product looks like,  “what is the product that you are actually really good at producing, that provides real value for people, that you are excited about selling?” Then get a system in place to sell it. 
  • “The customer is not always right, that can be enabling.” Nobody is always right! They hired you for a reason, because you know how to do things they don’t know how to/don’t want to do. You have to decide if you are leading that client to better success or if you are just doing what they are asking you to do.
  • Be intentional about relationships and the people around you- have great people to look up to, people standing beside you and you need someone to look up to you, to mentor.
  • Career advice from Jay Owen, “You need other people, when people say things like, ‘if you want it done right you have to do it yourself!’ that’s garbage- not true and if it is you’re not a very good leader. But if it’s the team, it’s still you- it’s still your fault. You have the opportunity to fix it.”

 

Links:

Busted Myths:

  • You don’t have to work 100 hours a week to be successful
  • The customer is not always right!

 

Ways to Tune In:

  • YouTube - https://youtu.be/-GadZmoXasM

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