Friday, March 25, 2011

Who Am I, Who Is My Agency – Am I More Than My Creative Shop?

You Need A Life Beyond The Work
– Remember Poor Vincent!
How do you keep your firm from managing your life? It is important to realize that most agencies come into existence based on a single person's (or a small group’s) vision or ability. This is also true for many nonprofits and start up companies. And it is this vision and passion that makes the agency valuable to the client. What happens though, is the business and the individual become one, with no way to separate the two.

The place to start is by beginning to build a personal life that is separate, and equally or more important. 100 hours a week at work leaves little for family and other interests. You must work at building a "persona shell" that is you outside the firm. Define it, craft it and defend it like you would your most valuable and important client account. In addition it is key to have a team of people that make the agency or business come alive. Grow beyond one to many. Shape the vision as the owner, shape the culture (never leave culture to chance) and build the team – but be more than an army of one.

This simple act of saying "I will have a personal life" is the first step. The next is sticking with the building of a separate life. A few simple questions:

* How many family or personal activities (birthdays, holidays, trips, school awards, dance recitals) have you missed in the past month? Three months? Six months?

* Have you been with a family member, a friend or at a fun activity and the whole time all you can think about is "that burning issues at the firm?"

* When asked to talk about who you are, do you answer first and foremost, your job, your company and your business accomplishment?

If you answer yes to any of these you are a firm freak-azoid. You are addicted to what you do. It is what you are. While this is great for building a successful creative agency - in the end your creation will not be able to grow past you, beyond your abilities. Your life span and energy level will be that of the firm’s. Never more and likely less.

It is also important to surround yourself with key players that are more talented, creative and capable then yourself. A team is more powerful than a stand-alone person. Also it allows individuals within the team to have time off, personal space and a separation of church and state (personal and firm) when necessary.

"If there is anything in the world that can really be called a mans' property, it is surely that which is the result of his mental activity."
- Schopenhauer

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