Minus the pomp and circumstance, I joined our U.S. GM Steve Burkhart in delivering the State of the Agency to our U.S. staff this week.
I look forward to the presentation and the give and take with the team. The preparation forces me to step away from the day-to-day fray, take a breath, enjoy a cup of root beer yogurt and think about the future. When I say “future,” I mean the next three-year horizon for the communications industry (not mankind).
This year I talked about the Agency’s aspirations.
There’s a great scene in the movie “City Slickers” when Curly shares with Billy Crystal the one key to life.
Right, one thing.
Corporate missions and the like tend to suffer from sprawl, a byproduct of pacifying a zillion stakeholders. At the same time, I found that I couldn’t settle on just one overriding aspiration.
I ended up with two.
The first revolves around the work. We want to deliver extraordinary work that is truly world-class. So many variables go into this aspiration, the courage of our staff, campaign budgets, reward systems, training and clients with guts, to name some.
I’d like to touch on the reward system for a moment. Recognizing and rewarding folks based on what they accomplish for clients breeds a client-centric mentality. Unlike 99 percent of all PR agencies, we don’t measure account professionals on billability (billable hours). Instead, we believe that if we do great work and meet or even exceed the client’s expectations, financial performance will naturally follow.
The industry recognition in the form of 20+ awards this year offers one indication that we are indeed producing extraordinary work.Seeing existing client assignments expand is another proof point. As our campaigns increasingly move into the digital sphere, quantifying success with hard numbers is yet another indicator that reality aligns with this goal.
The second aspiration gets into a squishy space. As part of my talk, I showed the photo below:This photo was taken last month when an impromptu reunion took place around Maureen Tseng’s visit to the Bay Area. Mo was the first person we hired in Asia after opening our office in Singapore. We’re fortunate that she’s still part of the team.
Ray Schuster (the dapper fellow in the blue shirt) relocated from Silicon Valley to start our Asian operation in Singapore in 1996.
William Gaultier, introduced to us by Mo, worked in our Silicon Valley office for several years before launching his digital shop e-Storm.
Mo also brought her talented niece, Lauren Ho, to our attention; she’s now an account manager in our Silicon Valley office.
Paula Larson was an incredibly hard-charging VP in our Silicon Valley office for eight years who helped shape who we are today.
I could go on and on.
The point is that the Agency served as the “frame” for these amazing relationships to come about. I want to be this type of company as well.
- Care for people
- Extraordinary work
That’s how I think of our aspirational foundation.
Of course, we’re striving to perform financially as well.
We just don’t view it as the lead pin.