Why Small Agencies Are Great at Incubating Talent

Youth, Passion and Intelligence Are Our Strong Points

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Anthony DelMonte
Anthony Del Monte
Every time I am in a meeting with some of my staff and I hear a prospective client say aloud, "Wow, you guys are so young," I think to myself: "WTF?! I was a regular at Studio 54, I remember what free lunches tasted like in 1976 and -- duh! -- we are a digital agency, so of course we are young."

What I actually say is something to the effect of: "Our collective experience in advertising and the vibrancy of our staff is the benefit of working with us."

If I wanted to be curt, I'd also add that age is less important in 2011 than relevant experience; because when it comes down to it relevant experience is why we are all being hired.

The question of youth, however, does expose a reality of smaller agencies. Our staffs are typically younger because we can't afford to hire the proven best. We have to hire the best before they are proven and incubate that potential.

For Squeaky, we have always hired on two pillars: passion and intelligence. We believe both can be harnessed for the same result, and both are prime for incubation.

Take passion for instance. Passionate employees are typically energetic, optimistic and open to challenges. Hiring a passionate person allows them to embrace their dreams within your culture and thrive in their vocation. This inevitably leads to high energy, innovative ideas and great work -- all hallmarks of small agencies.

Now, let's look at intelligence. These employees are more prime for putting their ideas to work because in the age of the internet and connectivity, ideas are a commodity and intelligence allows for the application of that commodity.

When you hire both passionate and intelligent people you establish a balance of performance and pragmatism, providing a foundation that is unshakable.

The small agency is the incubator for the advertising industry's talent pool and always will be. Small agencies have the culture, access to opportunity and teaching environment that is prime for growing talent. Sure, small agencies lose some candidates along the way, but they also retain a lot and -- best of all -- you put yourself into a position where you are always growing.

Activating the hubris of "Why not?" is uniquely young, and youth is the engine of possibility. When it comes down to it, that's the stuff we are slinging isn't it? So the next time you're challenged for being a little young, simply say, "Yes, we are. And that's why you should engage us." If that's not enough, just tout some other young enterprises, like Google, Facebook and even the president of the United States.

Anthony Del Monte is founder and president of Squeaky Wheel Media, New York.
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