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3 Steps to Stop Inflicting Help On Your Agency Team

The aroma of vegetable soup wafted up the stairs to my office. Moments later, my wife called, “Dinner’s ready!” “Mmmmm … I love homemade soup,” I thought. Rushing down the stairs and past the pantry, I spied a tube of crackers, grabbed them, and headed for the dining room. My wife sat at the table, waiting for me, smiling. Her smile vanished as she saw the tube of crackers. “Oh, this isn’t good enough? I really tried to get everything you like. I even brought out the oyster crackers …” Confused, I looked at her. Then, I looked at the table. She had arranged a beautiful spread of crackers, sliced cheese, chips & dips, salsa, veggies and grilled sandwiches to go with our soup. And there I stood, tube of crackers in hand, inflicting help. Acting Without Asking Inflicting help occurs when the helper acts in a way they feel as helpful but the recipient does not. It often stems from the helper not asking if, how or when someone would like to be helped. Instead, the helper jumps in and acts without asking. “But, I was only trying to help!” I was trying to comfort her. “I didn’t know you had all this out. I smelled the soup, saw the crackers, and grabbed them to be helpful.” We quickly sorted things out and went on to have a great meal together. Looking back, it was an interesting interaction, and it holds some lessons for agency managers. Because too often, well-meaning agency owners or managers inflict help on their teams. And when we realize what we’ve done, we might exclaim, “But, I was only trying to help!” Step One — Stop and Look Inflicting help is almost [...]

By |July 31st, 2018|

How to Scale Your Agency — Overcome the Wizard Complex

At UGURUS, a business school for digital agencies, my team and I spend thousands of hours a year consulting and coaching owners in groups or one on one. Our aim is simple: To help you achieve freedom in your business and life. One of the ways we do that is by helping digital agency owners work ON their business, not just IN them. “When you recognize that the purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life, you can then go to work on your business, rather than in it, with a full understanding of why it is absolutely necessary for you to do so.” -Michael E. Gerber, E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It For agency owners, achieving freedom usually means: Working fewer hours (less than sixty is a start) Making more money (getting paid a healthy salary) Sitting in fewer seats (helping you do better work) There’s a commonly-accepted fallacy out there that most entrepreneurs are working towards an early retirement and days filled with sitting on the beach drinking fruity cocktails. However, most entrepreneurs I meet love the work they do, and have no intention of retiring early. The standard definition of the term “exit” in entrepreneur-speak is to sell your business, but most agency owners I meet aren’t anywhere near this point. They haven’t built a company that is worth anything beyond themselves. They’re involved in every aspect of the business from generating leads, converting those leads into clients, and delivering the work. They’ve built themselves a job. A stressful. Demanding. Underpaying. J-O-B. For these owners, “exit” means being able [...]

By |June 26th, 2018|

The Agency Owner’s Job Description

Here’s the ad agency structure kernel of truth you’ve been denying for too long. You can’t own/run a successful, scaleable agency and still be in the weeds of client work. You just can’t do it. I work with 200+ agencies a year and whether they’re small (1-15 people) or large independently owned agencies (100+ people) — if the owner is still servicing clients, they’re not servicing the agency. If you were hit by a bus or abducted by aliens, ideally your agency would carry on.  If your absence would dramatically change your agency’s monthly AGI, then congratulations — you just created company so you could be a day laborer. You simply traded one job/boss for another job/boss. And I’m betting your current boss makes you work worse hours for worse pay. What a jerk, right? Actually you're right. You shouldn’t tolerate that life anymore. Not only is it a lousy job for lousy pay but you can’t grow your business because you’re the bottleneck. The sticking point. The black hole where ideas and innovation go to die because you don’t have the time to think them through or execute them. If you are working in the business, you aren’t working on the business. Which means your agency will not scale/grow and no one will want to buy it because you’re too integrally involved. And if all of that's true -- why in the world would you take the risk, the pressure, the heartburn, and the worry? Just go get a job. So what should you be doing with your time? Here’s how a strong agency owner should be spending his/her time (roughly) every week. This is your agency owner's job description. Granted this is ideal [...]

By |June 1st, 2015|

Hey agency owner – make 2015 the year of action

My wish for you -is that 2015 is your year of action! I don't know about you but as much as I love the holidays, I look forward to this time of year as well.  The slate is clean and for the first couple weeks in January as things rev back up -- it's the perfect time to finish your annual planning. Want to have a spectacular year?  Here's how to give yourself a fighting chance. Complete the One Page Business Plan for the year and follow it. Institute a bonus program that gets every single employee focused on AGI (ask me more about the AMI model) Have an aggressive, unstoppable new business system and assign a bulldog inside your agency to manage it Resolve to be a owner of action this year What do I mean by being an owner of action? I think one of the human truths that cripples many agencies is that their owners are too slow to take action.  You either overthink everything or you are a little passive/aggressive and hope if you ignore an issue, it will go away. I know running an agency is complicated and exhausting -- but honestly, sometimes you are the one who makes it that way.  (I can say that because I've also said it to the guy in the mirror more than once!)  Are you sometimes going to make the wrong call?  You bet.  But more times than not, you know what you need to do. You're just afraid to do it. Owning an agency takes a blend of insanity, courage and confidence. I think he recession beat a lot of that courage and confidence out of agency owners.  The ones who are back and kicking ass are the [...]

By |January 12th, 2015|

Hey agency owner – want some fun company Christmas party ideas?

Are you ready for some fresh company Christmas party ideas?  Most agency owners feel kind of blah about their agency's annual holiday party.  They spend a lot of money on it but don't really feel like their employees really appreciate or look forward to it. Of course, when I ask them what they do, they sheepishly say "well, we have a nice dinner." Come on people -- you own an agency.  Surely you can get more creative than that!  Here are some company Christmas party ideas that Agency Management Institute's agencies have implemented over the years.  All of these could be augmented with food and drinks, if you want. Remember -- just because you love a fancy meal doesn't mean it's the only or best way to celebrate the season.   If you have a lot of millennials on your team -- they might like something with a charitable bent or something more casual. Why not mix things up with one of these Christmas party ideas? Give all of your employees $200 and take them to a local or specialty mall. Give them 2 hours to buy themselves something that they think Santa won't put under the tree.  Then, gather for lunch/dinner and everyone has to show what they bought (You can add a secret santa or charity twist too) Touring a winery/doing a tasting Adopting a family together and then delivering all the food/gifts together (and then usually going out to dinner afterwards) Having a party at one of those pottery/do it yourself art studios and everyone gets a set amt to choose an item to paint/fire etc. Renting a Hummer limo and doing a light tour (with snacks/champagne/hot chocolate in the limo or dinner afterwards) Ringing [...]

By |December 1st, 2014|

Advertising agency management tip — employees first

Looking for tips on advertising agency management? Look no further. I just attended a Disney Institute event where I was reminded of Walt Disney's business philosophy. I am paraphrasing here, but basically Walt said, "If you take good care of your employees, they'll take good care of your customers. And that takes good care of your bank account."  In other words -- employees first. Agency owners are so busy with advertising agency management, chasing after new business and putting out fires that it's easy to take the employees for granted.  (Unless they're the ones on fire -- then they occupy all of your attention!) The speed of agency life often gets in the way of an advertising agency owner really focusing on if they're setting up their employees to be successful. Now when I say employees first in advertising agency management -- I'm not suggesting they only work 35 hours, get foot massages at their desks and that you keep the fridge stocked with caviar. We all know that working at an agency is not for sissies -- it's tough stuff. The deadlines can be killer, the clients are demanding and when the work load is heavy -- the days are late and long. All the more reason to create an environment where your employees know that you have their back and you want them to be successful. What does an employees-first agency look like - it has vision/values that defines who they are The agency has a profile of the kind of person who thrives in the agency (hire for attitude, train for aptitude) The agency has a strong sense of its own traditions and heritage and a way to share/teach them to new recruits There's [...]

By |September 18th, 2014|
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