Have a clear vision but make sure it’s slightly unattainable, so that you have something to really strive towards. Like people say, a big, hairy, audacious goal.
When we started out 15 years ago, we wanted to create a nationally-recognised agency right here in the Bay of Plenty. People thought we were mad, but now we’re a nationwide agency working with clients all over New Zealand and across the globe – so sometimes being a little bit mad helps.
First of all, make sure that you have values. Don’t just chuck a few words on a wall and think you’ve ticked that box. Our values drive our culture. We have five of them and it defines everything we do from the people we hire, to the types of people we work with, and how we work with those people. It is integrated inside and outside of this company and it will never change.
I believe you should enjoy the clients you work with. It’s hard to do great work with someone if you don’t believe in their business and what they stand for. You should be proud to call them a client and try to have fun with them – after all you are going to spend a lot of time together.
If you think you’re going to start a business and work from eight to five, then good luck. Let me know how you get on. It is hard work. You need to be prepared to put in some hard yards and keep everything together when the going gets tough.
Make time for yourself. That sounds pretty cliché but it’s super important. I believe in exercising and keeping fit. For me, that means getting out for a surf. The rule in this company has always been to have an hour lunch break. Get out of the office, spend time in nature and find that time for yourself, because you need it.
Don’t make the same mistake twice. We learnt some hard lessons from the recession in 2008. It made us realise what not to do moving forward, and any lesson you take on board only makes you stronger.
I love creativity, new ideas, and beautifully crafted design. The moment I don’t, I’m out. But at this moment, I do. After 25 years in this industry I still love it and I’m still hungry for more. That’s what helps us do great work.
Success is never achieved alone. What I’ve learned is you need to bring people on that are better than you. I haven’t always done that, and it’s taken a long time to get there. But it’s important that you do because without the right people in the right places, you can’t succeed.
I’m definitely a serious person dedicated to what I do, but I still make sure that we have time for fun. Maybe it’s only every so often we all manage to get together and have a blowout – but we make the effort because it keeps us together and keeps us happy.
That’s a bit of a statement. I’ve seen other businesses grow quicker, double their size a lot quicker than us, but I’ve also seen them fall over too. I believe slow and steady does win the race. I’d like to work and move faster at times, but if you do things properly and you put the commitment in, the results will be long lasting.
Change is constant and it’s vital we adapt to it. As a business, we are changing all the time; bringing new products on, learning new skills, new technologies, adding experienced people in areas that we haven’t had before. It’s the only way to survive.
We’re always up-skilling and always learning. I align myself with people that I look up to in the industry. For example, Marty Neumeier as a global brand strategist and thought leader, who I thought at the time, I’d never be able to work with. I’ve now spent two years in California working with him. So reach out to people you admire, even if you don’t think they’ll come back to you, because often they’re keen to help.
I haven’t always done that, and I’ve learned the hard way with certain people that we’ve brought on board, and certain clients that didn’t fit. There’s always been a gut feeling there and sometimes we haven’t made that decision quick enough to go with our gut. But I’m learning to do that more and more.
In terms of flexibility at work, it’s about how we create that balance, but still have a service-based business with hefty deadlines. I think it’s about working with people individually as every person is in a different life stage. You know, if you’ve got something that you need to go to, you go to it. If the kids have got their athletics, don’t miss it. If they need you to walk them to school once a once a week, then walk with them.
This is a hard one to accept as I am a perfectionist at everything I do. But I’ve learned from a lot of successful people that 90% can be good enough and can get you across the line. There’s a saying that it’s better to be a flawed diamond than a perfect pebble – which is an articulate way to say 90% of excellence is better than 100% of mediocrity.
That’s it. That’s 15 insights from 15 years of business.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully you enjoyed these insights and maybe learnt one or two things to apply to your own business.
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