Our Young Agency Gets More Aggressive

Is It a Sign of Aging or a Sign of the Times?

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Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
I'm not sure if it's the economy, being basically a start-up, the new kid or just plain old getting older, but I'm noticing that I'm changing the way that I approach business. I've never really had a "killer instinct," but it feels like I'm starting to get more aggressive. I don't think it's necessarily bad, but it is a zone that I am not exactly familiar with. I keep going back to what Phil Johnson told me about Small Plate Radio: "Great model, but you need a business mind behind it." I took it to heart and have suddenly shifted my mentality a bit.

I think the "big tip" for me was RAB 2009. Andy Stefanovich's keynote fired me up. Then hearing brand managers and key decision-makers of some major brands made it clear: There is money out there and it's up to us if we want it. That means coming to the table with better ideas that are easier to execute and track. These folks offered up a surprising amount of candor and I immediately felt emboldened to get home to Portland to start stirring up some ideas. It's an energy that I haven't felt in quite awhile.

That's not to say that we will have a fundamental shift in the way we do business. We have a model that seems to work but, like anything else, it is a work in progress and can always stand some tweaks. We are a creative-driven company that prides itself on having a lot of heart and passion, but the sales and development side has been creeping in and that will only continue to grow. It's uncharted territory for sure, but now the "business side" is clearly becoming most important.

It doesn't feel like we're that different, but people have noticed a change in the way that we do things now. There is more urgency, there is much more focus and there is a definite bent to developing business as much as possible. To me, the hunt is kind of fun now. That may be insane in light of the current state of affairs, but knowing that there is opportunity out there is exhilarating.

Before I go running out to buy "The Art of War" or reread "Winning" by Jack Welch, I'm curious to know if this is natural. Is this just a result of our agency "growing up" a little more? Or is this the way it's supposed to be in the course of events? I'm not really sure at this point, but I know that it certainly feels right.

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