Episode 220

podcast photo thumbnail



Maybe it’s my age, but there’s a lot more talk about the importance of strengthening my core, to improve balance and stability. The same is true for our agencies. Our reality is always a bit unstable and we often expend a lot of energy anticipating the next storm. But if your agency’s core is strong, you can rest a little easier, knowing you can weather whatever comes. Just like you have for years. We forget how much we’ve already accomplished and survived when we’re heads down all of the time.

Recently, there has been a bit of an undercurrent of worry and tension in some of my conversations with agency owners, so I want to tackle that. In ep. 210 we talked about how even on our worst days, life as an agency owner is pretty darn good. In ep. 215, I gave you some action steps to take to recession-proof your agency.

And in this episode, I walk you through some ways to strengthen your agency’s core so you can approach 2020 with confidence and courage. You and your agency are survivors. Let’s set you up to take full advantage of whatever rocks the boat – good news or bad. Because if there’s one given in agency life it’s that there will be a bit of both!

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How to deal with your worries so you can approach 2020 with confidence and courage
  • How to strengthen your agency’s core
  • How to take full advantage of the gratitude you have for being an agency owner
  • The importance of mentorship and one-on-one time with your employees
  • How to love your clients in bigger, bolder ways
  • Why your agency should serve your life, not the other way around

The Golden Nuggets:

“Whenever we’re doing well, we’re thinking about what’s around the corner; what’s going to upset the apple cart?” @DrewMcLellan Share on X “No one is better suited to be the architect of their life than you, the agency owner.” @DrewMcLellan Share on X “Your agency should serve your life; your life should not serve your agency.” @DrewMcLellan Share on X “I am a firm believer that if you love in a bigger, bolder way, you will get that back in return.” @DrewMcLellan Share on X “There are key people inside of your organization who will grow personally and professionally if you give them a little bit more of your time.” @DrewMcLellan Share on X

AMI works with agency owners by:

  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for owners and their leadership teams
  • Offering AE Bootcamps
  • Conducting individual agency owner coaching
  • Doing on-site consulting
  • Offering online courses in agency new business and account service

Because he works with those 250+ agencies every year, Drew has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal called his blog “One of 10 blogs every entrepreneur should read.”

Subscribe to Build A Better Agency!

Itunes Logo Stitcher button

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

Tools & Resources:

Speaker 1:

It doesn’t matter what kind of an agency you run. Traditional, digital, media buying, web dev, PR. Whatever your focus, you still need to run a profitable business. The Build A Better Agency Podcast presented by White Label IQ will show you how to make more money and keep more of what you made. Let us help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable. And if you want down the road, sellable. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McClellan here with another episode of Build A Better Agency. Welcome back. It’s actually episode 220, which is hard to believe we’ve been doing this since 2015. And I have no intention of slowing down or stopping. I love this medium. I love the people I get to meet and introduce you to. And I love the opportunity to talk to you one-on-one, and this episode is one of my solo casts. So no super smart guests with me this week. Just you and me. I want to talk to you about something that’s been on my mind. And I want to just kind of whisper in your ear.

It’s interesting. This time of year, it always makes me introspective. And it’s been that way ever since I was a kid. I love the holidays. I love the hoopla of it all. And maybe it’s the new year coming. Maybe it’s the I live in the Midwest of the U.S., so it’s snowy where we are this time of year. So maybe it’s the winter solstice. My birthday is December 21st. So I just celebrated my birthday, which is of course the shortest day of the year here in the U.S.

So I’m sort of anchored to this time of year, I think. And this time of rebirth and sort of hibernation in terms of planning for what’s coming next is just kind of hard wired into who I am. And that’s what I want to talk to you a little bit about today,.

But first, a couple of quick announcements. Just a reminder, and I hope you don’t think I’m just beating a dead horse with this, but I want to make sure you all know about this. We are launching our very first conference, the Build A Better Agency Summit in May 19th and 20th of 2020. It will be in Chicago here in the U.S. We already have folks coming over from Europe and other places. So hopefully, the fact that it’s in the center of the U.S. I picked a big city that’s easy to fly to. Most of you should be able to get a direct flight. But there really is no conference for small to mid-sized agencies out there. And I want to change that. I want to make it a place where you can come, and connect, and network, and meet people who walk the same path that you do. And learn together not only from the amazing speakers. So we’re going to cover everything from succession planning, and valuation of your agency, to impostor syndrome, to how to tell a story in a way that is so compelling, that people are drawn to it and sort of weave it into their understanding of who you are and what you’re all about. To biz dev, to revenue streams, to making sure every single year, your agency is profitable, and so many other things.

So not only are you going to learn from the amazing lineup of speakers. I am really proud of the folks that have agreed to join us. But I think you’re also going to learn a ton from the other agency folks that you sit around. So one of the hallmarks of AMI is the generosity of agency owners and leaders, and how quickly and easily they envelop other people. Their people, like kinded people. And share their wisdom, share their challenges, share their solutions. So even if I had a lousy lineup of speakers, which I do not, even if I had a lousy lineup of speakers, I know you would learn a ton by coming to this conference. We are almost at the end of the early bird pricing. So in the start of 2020, the price for the conference goes up. So please spend some of those dollars rather than giving them to the tax man, spend some of those dollars on you and your team for 2020. We would love to have you join us. I want you to get a ticket before we sell out. And I’m excited to be there to introduce you to some amazing people both on and off the stage. So I hope you join us.

All right. So here’s what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about 2020. It’s interesting. I hang out with agency owners, or talk to them on the phone, or get late night texts from them, all of which I love, every single day of the week. And I love being that integral part of the people we serve’s lives and their businesses.

But there’s a tenor of worry that seems to be more pervasive this year as people anticipate going into the new year. There seems to be this sort of looming, waiting for the other shoe to drop. And for each of you, it’s going to be a little different. For some of you, you have a gorilla client, and you are waiting for them to break up with you. For some of you, you’ve got a key employee that other people are sending them LinkedIn messages and knocking on their door every single day. And you dread the, “Hey, do you have a minute?” Knock on your door because you’re afraid they’re going to give notice. For a lot of you, you’re concerned about the recession.

And we’ve done quite a few episodes lately. I’ve been feeling and absorbing how you’re all feeling. And I think feeling it as well to a certain extent. So if you go back to the last couple solo casts that I’ve done, episode 2010 was a reminder that even when things are challenging for us as agency owners and leaders, we have a pretty good life. And we have a lot to be grateful for. And one of the tragedies I think for many agency owners is that we live in anticipation of what might happen next, as opposed to living in the moment and celebrating, soaking in all of the good. So if you need that reminder, head back to episode 2010 and take a listen to that.

And then in episode 2015, I talked for the whole episode about how to recession-proof your agency. So I’m feeling your worry, and what I want to do is I want to help you relieve yourself of that worry. And I want to help you set yourself up for success in 2020. So that’s really what this episode is all about.

So we’re coming up on the New Year. A lot of people are making resolutions. I’m sure the most common resolution is some aspect of weight loss, or strength training, or getting back to the gym, or doing something to make our physical self healthier. And one of the things that they always talk about it when you go back to the gym, or go back to the yoga studio, or whatever it is you love to do, or you do even though you don’t love it, is about strengthening your core. And really, that’s what this episode is all about, is how do you strengthen your core, your agency’s core so that you are stronger and more fit, and you feel more confident going into 2020? I want to help you shed this fretting. That’s a great word for what I’m feeling from you.

People are not panicked. Agency owners are not freaking out. But there is this underlying fretting that many of you are going through. And I want to help ease that. I want to help relieve that for you. So we’re going to talk about how to strengthen your core as an agency owner or agency leader, and how to strengthen the agency’s core so that you can go into 2020 with confidence and courage, just like by the way, you need to go into every year.

So I’m not sure what it is. I don’t know if it’s the political climate here in the U.S. I don’t know if it’s the pending election. I don’t know if it’s the news stories about the economic bubble that has to burst sooner or later. I’m not sure what it is. And it’s probably a combination of all of those things. And honestly, part of it is you guys are kind of [inaudible 00:08:41], right? When things are going well, which for most agencies is right now. Most agencies are doing well. They’re thriving, they’re profitable. But whenever we’re doing well, we always are thinking what’s around the corner, what’s going to upset the apple cart? So I want to help you strengthen the core so that you can ease this sense of fret. I’m not sure if that’s a phrase or a word, but you’re fretting. And I want to relieve you of that fretting. So let’s talk about some ways to do that.

So the first thing I want you to do is way back in 2015 when we launched the podcast, I did an episode where I talked about annual planning. And I want to circle back on that. And there are two documents, and you’ll find them in the show notes. There are two documents that I want you to download and I want you to participate in the activity of completing them. And the first one I want you to do is the Agency Owner Life Plan. And now if you’re not an agency owner, that does not mean you shouldn’t have a life plan even though the title on the top of it says Agency Owner Life Plan. As an agency leader, whatever your role is, I want you to complete the life plan. And here’s why.

When you start at an agency and when I start at an agency, I don’t know about you, but I was the perfect combination of arrogant and ignorant. I was 30 years old. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no idea how risky a venture I was embarking on. And I’ve told a lot of you this story of how my mom used to show up all the time with coolers of food. And she would say, “Well the grocery store by my house had a sale on, or eggs,” or whatever. And it took me a while because I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box, it took me a while to realize that what she was really worried about was if I was feeding my 18 month old daughter or not, because she thought I was insane for starting my own business when I had a baby, and I just gotten divorced.

So I know it’s a risky business. So in my opinion … by the way, things are fine. We’re celebrating 25 years in 2020. So all is good. Mom’s worries were for not, but I adored her for being the worrier that she was. But anyway, it’s a risky business. And all of us feel that, we feel the pressure of it. Most of us have our mortgages or a house tied to the line of credit for the agency. When things are rough, which they sometimes are in agency life, we’re the ones that don’t get paid. So we carry the burden and the worry of that all the time.

And here’s my opinion about that. If you’re going to carry the burden and the worry, you should also get the benefit. And I believe that being an agency owner or being in a leadership position of an agency is one of the luckiest, best things in the world, because it allows us to build our life and then allow the agency to help us serve that life.

I have a friend who talks about being the architect of your own life. Adam Carroll. Does a great podcast. You need to check him out. I’ll put a link in the show notes. But Adam talks about being the architect of your life. And there is no one who is better suited and better armed to be the architect of their life than you, the agency owner or leader.

So I want you to download this life plan, and I want you to fill it out. And it’s going to ask some questions that on the surface look easy. But if you actually do it with thought, it’s going to take you a while.

So when I first started doing this, which was probably 20 years ago, it would take me weeks. I would just sort of let it percolate and simmer. And then I would sit down and do it. And now, because I’ve been doing it for so long, for me now it’s about refining the document, not starting from scratch. But I want you to give it the time that it deserves. And most of our clients are going to be in hibernation until the middle of January. So this is the perfect time to do this planning.

So I want you to fill out the Owner Life Plan, and I want you to identify things like what kind of legacy do you want to leave? Who are the people you want to surround yourself with? What do you want to be remembered for? What kind of a mark do you want to leave on the world? Those kind of big, meaty questions. And I want you to fill that out first.

And the reason why I want you to fill that out first is because the second document I want you to fill out is the Agency One Page Business Plan. So it’s going to have you identify in six key categories the number one barrier in that category. So for example, let’s say it’s financial. What’s the one thing in terms of your agency’s finances that is in the way of you having a record breaking year in 2020? Is it your financial reporting? Is it that you’re doing time sheets in one software, project management in another software, and accounting in a third software? Is it that you don’t do time sheets at all? Whatever it is. So you’re going to walk through and you’re going to identify the number one barrier to success in each of these categories. And then you’re going to identify if you were to tackle that challenge, if you were going to fix it or eradicate it, what’s the first thing you have to do to step into resolving that issue?

And then, and this to me is the key to the success of this form. Along the left side, you have to prioritize those items. So what is the biggest barrier that you need to move? What is the second biggest barrier, etc., etc. And then what I want you to do is I want you to sit down with the leadership team, and I want you to share those. But first, what I want you to do is I want to make sure that your life plan and the business plan are in alignment.

There is no reason for you to take the risk of owning an agency or being a leader inside of an agency if it doesn’t also help you accomplish your life goals. I don’t care what they are. But the agency should serve your life. Your life should not serve the agency. We are privileged that we get to do that. So I don’t want you to give away that privilege.

So do the One Page Business Plan, check it against your life plan to make sure that those are in alignment. And then sit down with the leadership team. And another great exercise by the way is to have everybody on the leadership team do the One Page Business Plan separately, and then come together and decide what the real answers are based on your collective wisdom. So I want you to do the life plan and the business plan.

And then I want you to start opening projects, or tasks, or jobs to tackle the number one thing. And I want you to stay focused on that number one thing until it’s resolved. Then I want you to pull the team back together, make sure that the other items on the One Page Business Plan haven’t changed. Because it might take you a month. It might take you six months. Might take you a year to move number one. Whatever it takes, I want you to revisit the plan. Are the items in two through six still correct? Is the priority order still correct? And then I want you to tackle number two. And I want you to keep going back and doing this, and using this plan to really identify the big boulders that are blocking the path, and move those boulders aside. So that’s strengthening your core number one.

The next thing I want you to do to strengthen your core is I want you to think about biz dev. I want you to make sure that you’ve got an active, defined business program that puts people into the top of the funnel and then moves them through the funnel. So I want that because whether we’re going into an economic downturn or not, one of the things that is true, one of the patterns I’m seeing is that clients … sorry, prospects are taking a longer time to decide whether or not they want to become a client. Which means that you’ve got to have more people in the pipeline. You’ve got to be working that pipeline on a regular basis. And let’s be honest. If that’s not on your calendar, if you haven’t blocked the time off, if you haven’t opened up jobs inside your project management system because a lot of biz dev activity is not stuff that you the owner or leader should be doing, but is stuff that either your creative department or somebody else should be doing. If that’s not as woven into the agency as client work is, it’s not going to happen.

You spend your entire life putting out fires. You walk in the agency office door, or if you’re a virtual agency, you boot up slack or whatever. Whatever it is, you go into your virtual office. And all of a sudden, there are fires all around you. And you spend your whole day identifying which fires are the hottest. You go and put out that fire, and then you run from fire to fire. Sometimes they’re client fires, sometimes they’re internal fires. Whatever it may be, you’re a firefighter. That’s what you do.

And if you don’t have these things on your calendar and you don’t have them blocked off, then the fires of the day … remember that old thing back when we were joining our first agency or starting our career, and they had that grid, and they talked about the difference between important and urgent? Biz dev rarely is on fire, unless you’ve lost your biggest client. It is rarely the urgent thing, but it is absolutely the important thing.

So I want you to fill up that sales funnel and I want you to be working that. So again, you have about a month before things really fire up again in the agency, before clients come out of their holiday hibernation and are ready to tackle 2020. So use that time to build out your sales plan.

If you would like some help with that, we have an amazing workshop. I’m super excited about it. It’s brand new content. January 23rd and 24th, we are going to be teaching agency owners and leaders exactly how to build and nurture a sales funnel. Not only are we going to teach you how to do it, but we’re going to make you do it in the workshop. It’s going to be very hands-on. You’re going to leave with a plan, literally with a calendar and assignments of who’s going to do what inside your agency.

Now I’m sure when you go back to your agency, you’re going to have to tweak it a little bit. But it’s going to be 99% done, which means that you can kick off the new year ready to absolutely kill new business. So if you’re curious about the workshop, head over to the Agency Management Institute website. And under training, then it’s workshop, and you’ll see the Build & Nurture Your Agency’s Sales Funnel. We would love to have you in Florida in January.

All right. So I want you to do the life plan. I want you to do the business plan. I want you to have a biz dev plan. And then I have some other things I want you to do, but first let’s take a quick break. I’ll be right back.

Hey, sorry to interrupt. But I want to just remind you about the Build A Better Agency Summit. So as many of you have heard me talk about before, I am sticking my neck out and I am saying it’s ridiculous that there is no conference built specifically for truly small to mid-sized agencies across the globe. And it is time for someone to do it. And then I looked in the mirror and I said, “Actually Drew, it’s time for us to do it.” So we are. May 19th and 20th of 2020 in Chicago. Some amazing presenters and speakers. And some of the topics are things like building your agency’s value. So whether you want to sell the agency or you just want to use it as an ATM machine, how do you get more value out of your agency one way or the other? And how do you decide which way you want to go? Do you want to build an agency to sell? Or you want to just run it, use it as the ATM machine, and someday just close the door? What does that look like? How do you earn a profit every single year? And we’re going to show exactly how to do that.

And around the idea of agency thought leadership, what does that actually mean, and what does it look like? And how can you as busy as you are, as busy as the agency is, how can you go down that path and how can it serve you with an incredible ROI? And we’re going to talk about some of the agencies that are knocking it out of the park. And you’ll meet some of there because they’ll be there as attendees as well.

So the content is going to be awesome. If you’re struggling with impostor syndrome, if you are struggling with how to concisely tell a story in a way that is so compelling, people can’t help but be drawn to it. If you are worried about how to build up wealth outside of the agency and you want to talk to some experts who are doing that in real estate and other places, the Build A Better Agency Summit is the place for you.

So please grab your ticket. Just head over to agencymanagementinstitute.com. And the very first choice on the nav bar is BABA summit. So Build A Better Agency Summit. Click on that, and that’ll take you right to all the information you need, including how to register. So I hope to you see in Chicago in May, but now let’s get back to the content.

All right, welcome back. We are talking about how to strengthen your core, go into 2020 strong, and confident, and ready to kill it for the year. And we’ve already talked about some planning things to do, whether it’s around the agency internal challenges and also around biz dev. But now what I want to talk about is I want to talk about people. And I want to talk about love. So in episode 208, I interviewed my good friend Steve Farber, who just wrote and released a great book called Love is Just Damn Good Business. And if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. He is also the author of my all time favorite business book, which actually is also about love called Radical Leap. It would be a great holiday gift for you to give them to yourself. I’m a huge fan of his work and his thinking.

But one of the things he talks about is sort of weaving this idea of love, that we tiptoe around the word love. But we can really weave love into the culture of our organization, the way we treat our clients, our employees. And I want 2020 for you to be the year of love. I want you to love on your people. I want you to love the clients you work with. And I want you to love the work. Because we all got into this business because there’s something about it that we love. Very few of you just said, “I want to start a business. Dry cleaner or agency? All right, I’ll go with agency because the equipment is less expensive.” That’s not how most of us started our business. Most of you are really accidental owners like I was 25 years ago. I loved the work. I loved agency life. I love the creativity. I love the strategy. Hung up a shingle. And 25 years later, here I am running the same business that I started back then.

So you do it because you love it. But somewhere along the way, I think one of the things that wears down our core is that again, it’s this fretting. It’s the pressure, it’s the worries. It’s making payroll. It’s all of those things.

So I want you to infuse more love. Because I am a firm believer that if you love in a bigger, bolder way, you will get that back in return. So I want you without expectation of any ROI, without expectation of reciprocal love, whatever it is. I just want you to be more loving. And what I mean by that is when it comes to your employees, and remember, I hang out with a lot of your employees. The number one thing that they want is more time with you. They want to be mentored by you. They want you to recognize and notice when they’ve gone above and beyond. They want to just hear how you think, and how you process, and how you create strategy. They admire you. They respect you. And they’ve chosen to work for you. Every one of your employees could get a job tomorrow making more money if they went on the client side. We know that. We know that’s the reality of our business. They choose to be at an agency number one, and they choose to be at your agency number two, because of you. But you’re so busy running around like a chicken with your head cut off. And you’re in so many meetings, and you’re traveling to see clients, and you’re doing all these other things, that one of the sacrifices that you make is that you don’t spend as much time with your team.

And I know you guys. I know you love the people that work for you. I know that they are people that you feel great affection for. You have great respect for their ability. And being with them, and talking about the work, and producing great work together is part of what fills your soul and spirit, is part of what strengthens your core. So you can strengthen their core while strengthening your own core by making time to have more interactions with them.

So hopefully, you’re doing your one-on-ones, and hopefully you’re in the office. But what I’m talking about is that they just get more access to you in a way that feels more personal.

So depending on your agency size, one of the things that I started years ago was this thing called dinner with Drew. And what I said to my team was, “I know we don’t get to spend as much time together one-on-one anymore. So I’m going to start these things called dinner with Drew, and we’re going to rotate. So you’ll find out what week or what month your dinner with Drew is. It’s absolutely optional. You don’t have to go. But if you want to have dinner, I’ll pick up the tab, you pick the restaurant. And we can talk about whatever you want. We can talk about our kids. We can talk about life. We can talk about politics. We can talk about work. Whatever it is that you want to chat about, I would be happy to do that.”

And for many, many years, we did that. And you know what? They loved it. They enjoyed the time, and every one of them showed up differently. Some of them showed up and they really did want to just talk about our kids, or parenting, or life. And others came with a list of things they want it to talk about, and many of them were work-related. And I just let them own that time. And it’s absolutely strengthened our relationships.

Now if you travel a lot like I do today, or you have an agency of 50 people, maybe that’s not practical. So a lot of agency owners will have breakfast with Bob. And I’m not sure why, if your name does not start with the same letter as breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this does not mean you can’t do this. But where they’ll just bring in bagels, or donuts, or egg sandwiches, or whatever. Smoothies, whatever your thing is. And they’ll just sit for an hour in the conference room and answer questions, or have conversations, or tell stories. But it’s just an opportunity for the employees to get more of your time. So that’s idea number one in terms of loving on your people.

Number two is you absolutely need to be mentoring some of your folks. There are key people inside your organization that have the opportunity to get better both from the agency’s point of view, from the client’s point of view, but also just as people that they can grow personally and professionally if they get a little more of your time and attention. So you need to identify some of those superstars and invest in some one-on-one time, some mentorship time with them. I have never, ever, ever seen an agency that suffered when the agency owner did that. All I have seen is good that comes out of that sort of planned, purposeful interaction. So I want you to do that.

And then the other thing I want you to do is I also want you to spend more time thinking about the kind of work that you and your agency love to do and the kind of clients that you love to do it for. And if you go back to the recession episode that I recorded, episode 215, we talked a little bit about sort of looking at your clients in terms of the value they bring to the agency in terms of AGI, profitability. So I’m not talking about that. That’s important, and I hope you listen to that episode and did that.

What I’m talking about is there are some clients that I know, and I think about my own agency, that we would literally bust a gut to help. Because they’re good people, they’re appreciative, they’re collaborative. So when we built out our persona of our best clients, our best fit clients, you can download our sweet spot client filter to help you do that.

When we did that work, it became very clear to us the kind of people that we really enjoyed working for and that we could deliver incredible results because they made it easy to be a part of their team. And I want you to spend more time in 2020 being really thoughtful about who your agency serves and how you serve them. So be better about defining who you will and won’t work for. Be more judicious about who you go after. Not just in terms of the industries or things like that, but also just the kind of people you want to surround yourself and your team with.

And then I want you to love your clients in bigger, better, bolder ways. I want you to appreciate them. I want you to stop … every agency I’ve ever been in, an AE comes back from a meeting, and client has changes or whatever. And everybody’s [inaudible 00:30:58] grousing about that client. I want one of your goals to be that you have ways to remind your team that those clients are the ones that make it possible for you to have payroll money, for them to have mortgages and take their kids on vacation. These clients are a gift to our agency. And if you have clients that you think that is not a gift, then you need to figure out a way to replace them. But I want you to infuse into your culture the celebration of your clients, getting to know them better as people. But really recognizing them as the gift that they are. Because honestly, everyone on your team is going to work harder and more diligently for somebody that they like.

And in many cases, especially if somebody doesn’t have a lot of client interaction, the only thing they know about the client is that the client makes changes, or has crazy deadlines, or whatever it is that all clients do. But they don’t really know about the client. They don’t know about their kids. They don’t know about the charities they serve. They don’t know about the fact that they’re an industry leader and that you have the privilege of serving them.

So I want you to find ways to weave the notion that our clients are a gift and we should celebrate them. Some agencies will do a client profile where they introduce a clients, air quotes introduce a client to the whole agency once a month at the all agency meeting. It’s a five minute, think of it like a dating profile. “So let me tell you about Babette. Babette is the CMO of this company, but she loves fly fishing. And here’s some pictures of her and her kids. And she’s on the board of this amazing children’s charity. And here’s what she does.” So I want you to infuse the love of clients into the business in 2020. That is a great way to strengthen the core.

And the last thing I want you to think about, the last place I want you to infuse more love into the agency business for you, the owner or leader, and this to me is at the heart of strengthening your core, is I want you to make sure that you are doing things that you love.

Now don’t get me wrong. Owning any business or being a leader in any business comes with a lot of crap we don’t want to do. That’s just the reality. And by the way, every job does. So even if you were an employee at a grocery store bagging groceries, there’s going to be stuff you don’t like. It’s work. So there are going to be some parts of the work that we enjoy, and there are going to be some parts of the work that just have to get done, and we have to just grit our teeth and do it. So I am not suggesting that you abdicate those responsibilities to someone else.

But what I am suggesting is that you balance the parts of the work that you don’t love with doing things that you do love, both inside and outside the office. So, I want you to think about why you got into the business in the first place. And I want you to think about the things that really give you pleasure inside the business. And for many of you, it might be mentoring your young people, or it might be spending more time with clients. Or it might be being really strategic about how to get money out of the agency and into other wealth building resources. For each of you, it’s going to be very different.

But don’t Rob yourself of the parts of the work that you love. I want you to make sure that that’s baked into your day, your week, and your month. And I want you to do it very purposely. So if you’re not sure what that is, go back to your Owner Life Plan, and see if that gives you some clues. What are some things there? How can the agency help you build the life that you want to build? Because I promise you those are going to be things that you love to do. And the agency affords you the opportunity to do some crazy things that most people never have a chance to do.

If you are listening to this in real time, meaning you’re listening to it the week of December 23rd, I’m actually in Antarctica with my daughter. So some of you know if we’re connected on social media, one of the crazy goals that [Kelsey 00:35:08] and I created a few years ago is we wanted to get to every continent before she was done with nursing school. And Antarctica is our last one. And you know what? If I didn’t own the agency and if I didn’t own AMI, and if I wasn’t traveling all over the globe to hang out with you guys, I wasn’t accumulating all of these miles, we wouldn’t have been able to do this. There’s no way I could have afforded to pay cash for all of these trips, and all these plane tickets, and hotels or whatever. But thanks to my good friends at United, and Marriott, and Amex, I’ve accumulated all these points that have allowed us to do that.

So I am sitting probably in a ton of layers of clothes in Antarctica right now, hopefully taking a picture of a whale or hanging out with a penguin. But what I’m really doing is I am creating an amazing array of memories for me and my daughter that we will never, ever lose. And the privilege of getting to do that is because A, of what I do for a living. But B, because I figured out what I wanted to do, what I love. And there’s nothing I love more than hanging out with Kelsey. And I made sure that I baked it into my calendar.

I’m crazy busy, just like all of you guys are. So for me to carve out a couple of weeks to go to any other continent, like I have for the past several years, that didn’t happen by accident. And it didn’t happen overnight. It was a year in planning, or certainly at least six months in planning. In most cases, it was multiple years that we had mapped out where we were going. And then it was being smart about hoarding my points and doing all of that stuff.

Every one of you has something you want to do that you love to do. Maybe it’s hanging out with your grandkids. Maybe it is fly fishing. Maybe it is owning a second home at the base of a mountain or by the ocean. Maybe it is starting a foundation or a charity. Whatever it is, when your business serves that hunger, that need, that love, that is strengthening your core. That gives you conviction to keep doing what you’re doing, because it is affording you in a very tangible way the opportunity to have the life you want to have. So whether it’s leaving early every day because your kids are done with school at 3:00 and you want to be home by the time they get off the bus, whether it’s a simple thing like that, or it is a big thing like a vacation home, or travel, or spending more time with your parents while they’re still with you. Whatever it is, let 2020 be the year where that becomes non-negotiable.

I want you to make sure that you build that into your calendar, that you build that into your budget, that you build that into your time, so that you are absolutely at the core getting stronger, because you are living a life that is fulfilling and joyful.

And I’m not saying that your agency isn’t going to hit a skid and you’re not going to have trouble. I’m not saying that your family isn’t going to have challenges. Because you know what? That’s life. I know for fact and you know for a fact that there is never a time where there is no challenge facing us or in the road ahead of us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a strong core that A, prepares us to deal with those challenges. But B, allows us to also have joy around those challenging times. So I want you to strengthen your core in all the ways we’ve talked about. I want you to download the life plan. I want you to do the one-page business plan. I want you to make sure your biz dev stuff is strong. So I want you to do those planning, structural things.

And again, go back and listen to episode 215 on the recession planning if you need to. Then I want you to think about how do you infuse more of what you love into the business, and how do you share that love? How do you share that passion and that joy that you have for the people that work for you, the people that you serve, your family, and the things that fill your bucket? I want 2020 to be the year that you fill your bucket, that you do not deplete yourself. Some of you run yourself so ragged, and you’re so worried, and you are working these incredibly crazy hours. And at the end of the day, if there’s not something great waiting for you because of a result of all of the effort, it gets harder and harder to get out of bed and do that.

So I want you to not only love the people that you work with, the people you work for, but I want you to love yourself better. I want you to make sure that you’re getting to enjoy the fruits of your labor. And again, it could be anything on the spectrum. But make sure you bake more of that into 2020 so that you are strong at the core. And you can walk into this new year with confidence, and courage. And you know what? What’s going to come is going to come. I don’t know if we’re going to have a recession. I don’t know if it’s going to be in 2020, or 2021, or 2025. I’m sure that your client mix is going to change over the year. I’m sure for most of you, some of the people working for you today won’t work for you a year from now, but you’re also going to replace them with amazing new people.

So change is inevitable, and bumps in the road are inevitable. But if you have a strong core and you walk into those opportunities and those challenges with confidence knowing that you are prepared, then I think everything gets a little easier. And hopefully, it also gets to be more fun. It gets to be more joy-filled. I want that for you in 2020. And honestly, it is a reach away. You just have to do these simple things that you know you need to do to really make sure that 2020 is one of the best years of your agency. I want that for you. And I’m hoping you can follow these guidelines or recipes to get you there. Okay?

I think I have wifi. I’m not sure. They say that we have wifi, but they told us that in other places where it was pretty iffy. So here’s what I’m going to tell you. I am out there. I am always happy to hear from you. If I don’t answer your email for a couple of weeks, it’s because I don’t have internet, but I promise I’m coming back. And I’m always happy to hear from you at [email protected]. Also want to say that please keep leaving the ratings and reviews. As you know, we take all of those ratings and reviews. Here’s what I need you to do with that. Leave a rating and review wherever you download the podcast. Take a screenshot because a lot of your usernames are like fuzzy duck 12, and I’m not sure who that is, and I don’t need to know why your username is what it is. But I can’t always tell that it’s you. So take a screenshot, send me an email with it. And then we put you in a drawing. And every single month, we give away a free seat at one of our live workshops, or we give access to one of our on-demand workshops. So those are each valued at about two grand. Happy to do it.

This month’s winner, the December winner is Frank Strong. Frank, I will reach out to you and make sure we get you set up so that you can take advantage of that. And in the meantime, have a wonderful rest of the year. Let the introspection be about all the good things that you have enjoyed. Because even if 2019 was bumpy, there was good along the way. And I want you to slow down, and appreciate it, and strengthen your core so that you walk into 2020 strong. All right?

Many thanks as always to our friends at White Label IQ for being the presenting sponsor of the podcast. They are an amazing partner to many agencies. They’ve got a great tool that actually helps you project manage, which they are coming out into the marketplace with. But they’re also a great white label partner for dev, design, and PPC. And lots of agencies tell me just how wonderful they are. And as you know, my agency partners with them as well. So I’m always grateful to them to boot. So all right, have a great rest of the year if you’re listening to this in real time, and I will see you in 2020. Talk to you soon.

Thanks for spending some time with us. Visit our website to learn about our workshops, owner peer groups, and download our salary and benefits survey. Be sure you also sign up for our free podcast giveaways at agencymanagementinstitute.com/podcastgiveaway.