Today, April 24th, is the official two year anniversary of SPEAK Strategic. Well, technically, I started the company in late December of 2015, but we didn’t “launch” to the public until April 24, 2016.
The last two years have been, pardon the cliché, a roller coaster. SPEAK has seen its ups and downs – but thankfully, mostly ups.
I’m not a businessman – or, should I say – not a natural one anyway. I’ve made some serious mistakes along the way and I’ve gotten lucky more than once. Okay, maybe like a thousand times. This has been a learning experience for me as it is for most business owners without an MBA. I’ll be the first to say I’m not the most organized person. I sometimes lack discipline and structure in my day-to-day life. And I’m extremely ADD. All of these attributes have made starting and maintaining a business even more difficult. But as I reflect on the last two years, I realize sometimes the best way to learn how to swim is to jump in the deep end – and almost drown.
That’s basically what this has been like the last two years. My ambitious idea of starting a top-notch political PR firm has actually worked (so far). And those weaknesses of mine? I still have them – probably always will – but I’m so much better than I was two years ago because I forced myself to accept that my weaknesses are what they are – and I found ways to supplement them with a talented staff or a different routine.
Speaking of talented staff, I can’t say enough about the people around me. We are a motley crew if there ever was one. We are all very different but each person has his or her own incredible talents that make everything just…work. That’s what I’ve found to be the secret to a great company – surrounding yourself with smart and honest people who are genuinely invested in the endeavor. I try to be a laid back boss. I’m not a stickler for being in the office right at 9am or staying until 5pm. I’m okay with someone leaving early to beat traffic or to meet a friend who’s in town for a long weekend. We have a policy at SPEAK – always be honest, no matter what. I’d rather an employee tell me they are running late to a morning meeting because they went out a little too hard last night than tell me their car didn’t start. Once you lose honesty in a company, it’s hard to get it back.
Another reason I think we’ve been decently successful so far is due to our overall principle regarding work. I don’t believe in living to work. You should work to live. And if you’re not living, you’re dying. Life is too short to have a jerk boss who makes your life hell because he can. If you don’t enjoy what you do, you’ll never be 100% committed to it. If you don’t enjoy walking into the office every morning, your productivity and creativity level goes down substantially. And at a small creative firm, we need all the productivity and creativity we can get. I’ve also learned that to have a productive team, trust and loyalty have to go both ways. I trust that the team has the company’s best interest at heart, and I hope they trust that I have their best interests at heart, because I do and I always will.
SPEAK may never become a large corporate firm with dozens and dozens of employees. And I’m okay with that. I only care about producing a quality product for quality clients – with, of course, a quality team. (I promise not to say quality again)
And right now, we do that. All of our clients are good people who we believe in and enjoy helping. From local law firms to national political candidates to global tech companies – we’d go to the mat for all of our clients because we don’t put quantity and dollars over quality (oops) and attention. Don’t get me wrong - dollars are nice. But if you put in the time, attention and quality (Jesus…) work, the dollars will come. And so will the clients.
Recently, SPEAK has been killing it. We have more business than ever before and more revenue than ever before. We have our largest staff to date and an incredible office. We’re producing our best work and we’re having a great time doing it. At times it can be a bit overwhelming. And as a notorious micromanager, sometimes I put too much on my plate. But every day I’m getting better at delegating and dealing with the unprecedented work load. And my staff continues to step up and make me a better manager and boss.
So, here’s to two years of SPEAK Strategic. To our wonderful clients (past and present), amazing staff (past and present), and our supportive and understanding families, thank you for letting me do what I do. I promise to keep getting better, never stop having fun, and to stop saying “quality.”