Change Can Be Harder When You've Grown Up With the Shop

After 10 Years, It Was Time to Say Goodbye to an Old Friend

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I won't forget the moment that my staff looked at me, about two months ago and, in not these exact words, gave it to me straight: Peter, it's time.

I knew what they were referring to. Our look no longer reflected the agency I had started 10 years ago with little more than a borrowed computer and whatever was left from my last paycheck at a crash-and-burn dot-com.

Back then, I was the agency. Any prospective meeting was held at La Colombe, a coffee shop near my row home. I'd advise the person I was meeting with that the offices were being cleaned, or that the staff was away on a retreat. I'm not sure if anyone ever bought it, but a shout out to those who played along to make me feel like a real business.

So as a gang of one, it was kind of cool to have this AgileCat mark.

The cat -- leaping into anything and everything, head-first always, not knowing where I would end up and only occasionally scared of what lay waiting for me between the leap and the landing.

In some ways, 10 years has gone by like a flash. In other ways, especially in the rough-and-tumble economic downturn, it's felt like a 100 years.

And the Cat's been with me through those times. Jumping into things. Over the years, more and more people joined me in the craziness of small-agency life, going head first, getting hurt and breaking figurative bones.

But getting up every time. Every time. It was, and is , always easier to do this when someone reaches out.

I introduced the new us at our 10th-Anniversary party on Cinco de Mayo, because May (the fifth month) plus the date (the fifth) = 10. Damn, I could have been in Da Vinci Code!

After the crowd viewed an animated video put together by our creative team, I had to give a brief speech on the old cat and the new cat. It came down to forward movement. I told the story of my first year in business, surely a lean and mean time. In one particularly embarrassing incident, I tried to check out $30 worth of groceries at a food store. The cashier gave me a look that told me one thing: no dice. Nothing in my account. So my humiliated 30-year-old self got on my bike (A car? Are you kidding?) and pedaled back to HQ, found a recently mailed Amoco gas credit card with the PIN number, went back to the store, got out some cash (at a 25% APR no doubt) and successfully bought the goods.

With the bag of food in my basket and a lump in my throat, I pedaled home. There were no clients, no prospects, just bills and bill collectors. My friends were in the middle of growing, successful careers and here I was, the CEO of one-man-ville with hardly the means to eat. But as I approached 318 Carson Street , something struck me. If this would not beat me, then what ever could?

So I just kept moving. Sometimes it felt like a bad limp, other times it was like flying. It always felt like I was doing what I was supposed to, though. Still does.

And one of the things I'm supposed to do is change. So this week, I -- we -- retired the old logo. It went the way of the old website. That old cat carried me through a lot of tough times and good times and I'm sad to see it go. But its spirit lives on in the new one.

Peter Madden is founder-president of AgileCat, Philadelphia
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