What Have You Done for Your Agency's Success Lately?

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A great career in this business can be like a match. A spark ignites into a billowing flame that quickly becomes small and as quickly as it appears and then it's gone. To realize how accurate this analogy is I suggest you talk to your younger employees. Mention a few names of creative people
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that dominated the show awards during the '90s. Quizzical looks, right? This is a lesson for small agency leaders. Gain some laurels, but don't dare rest on them.

When you show your best work to prospective clients how old is it? One year? Two? More? I have a rule that we will completely replace our portfolio every two years. I believe if we don't, we're jeopardizing our opportunity to achieve success.

Just because you've been around for a while doesn't mean you have to act like it. Don't accept the negative trappings of age. Don't let yourself go. Stay in shape. That's why looking back is not permissible. What's done is done. Yesterday's work should pale in comparison to what you do today. Make it a rule to be greatly distressed when you don't beat yesterday.

When I was a junior in college I remember celebrating my ad professor's 43rd birthday. Rob Lawton was a CD at an agency in Dallas and I thought that he hung the moon. I also thought people over 29 were death walking, but Rob was ageless. He never stopped pushing himself or his students to be better.
A great career in this business can be like a match.
I believed in Rob because he realized that this business should be about constantly moving onto something new, something better than before. I try to be just like him in that respect. I still want to do my best work today and beat it tomorrow.

If you want your small agency to succeed I believe you must make your match burn until it burns your fingers. Have you ever lit a match and seen how long you can hold it lit? Remember how you used your fingernails to pinch the very end and let it burn you just to get it to the very end? That's the way to win.

I read an interview of Stan Richards recently. He is 75 years old and his agency is celebrating its 30th anniversary. That means Stan started The Richards Group at an age when a lot of people are thinking about doing something other than advertising. Stan said that he's going to do ads until he croaks or he becomes ineffective. I applaud that. He realizes he can become ineffective and I'm sure that's why he hasn't. A number of years after I graduated I learned that Stan Richards helped design the advertising curriculum at my university, Texas A&M, Commerce. This was before the portfolio schools, but it was an amazing program, well ahead of its time. In some ways, it was superior to the ad schools today because it actually taught you how to execute an idea as well as think of one. People like Rob Lawton and Stan Richards are models for small agency owners. Be ageless, relentless in your pursuit of your best work. Stay hungry. Show the young minds that are so vital to your success that you're worth following. And make them run a little to keep up with you.
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