It’s funny to look back on the first two anniversaries of Richardson Media Group. Celebrating those first and second milestones felt incredibly gratifying. With each one, I allowed myself time to acknowledge the hard work we’d put in and the newfound accomplishments we’d earned.
In contrast, our third anniversary this past August 1st came and went without even a requisite glass of bubbly, much less any other fanfare. I will admit to drinking a glass of red wine when I got home (as I always do) but I didn’t pause between sips to contemplate anything special. Tuesday was just a regular day at the office, full of phone calls, media plan negotiations, and signing off on monthly operating expense checks.
What does this say about where we are at today compared to when we started?
Here are a few thoughts:
"I remain incredibly inspired by entrepreneurship and derive strength in finding opportunity despite the volatility of today’s economy as well as the ever-changing marketing industry."
Truth is, the journey continues and every day confronts us with new challenges. Doing our best work, keeping open channels of communication, seeking partnerships with other talented marketing folks, and prioritizing ongoing professional development will serve us well into the future.
Happy belated third anniversary, Richardson Media Group.
Maybe we’ll get a cake next year.
This summer, a couple I know from my hometown embarked on a cross-country motorcycle tour, riding from Northern Massachusetts to the Midwest and beyond. Throughout their extraordinary trip they have been posting photos on Facebook for all to see. Colorful pictures highlight their many stops: big cities and little towns, national parks, other famous landmarks, and less recognizable but equally interesting local diners, campsites and roadside attractions.
Other friends who live in Maine and share a mutual passion for sailing and the sea, stepped out of their corporate careers, leased a catamaran and launched an island-hopping business, hosting paying guests on forays around the pristine waters of the Caribbean, complete with gourmet meals, endless sunshine and magnificent, crystal blue vistas.
I could go on with many more examples of people I know who have stepped out of their comfort zones to explore the world or take on new challenges that test their mettle. I’m inspired by all of them. Truth is, there’s a courageous bloodline running through my own family, as well. My parents are both published authors, multiple times over, and my brother is a filmmaker, taking his camera around the world to capture unique stories. I’ve noticed this trait in my own children, too. As they grow into young adulthood, each has embraced change, willingly taken on diverse challenges, and stands poised on the brink of a fulfilling future.
While I may not favor motorcycles or sailboats, my personal adventure vehicle of choice has been my career. Years before I chose to open the doors to my own business, I sought to stand apart, work harder, and always keep learning on the job when it would have been far easier to maintain the status quo. My eagerness to achieve wasn’t always popular with my work peers, and caused its share of conflict with my bosses, but it has served me well. Without even knowing it at the time, I have been preparing myself for this moment.
Next week, exactly one month shy of my third year in business, I will welcome my first employee to Richardson Media Group. After months of careful consideration, I have hired a seasoned, intelligent, motivated and incredibly creative woman to incorporate her talents and inspiration into my growing company. This is a new journey for both of us, and admittedly the itinerary is still a little uncertain. My hope is that we’ll navigate the path as smoothly as possible, all the while building our own GPS to rely on for when the road gets unfamiliar.
I’m looking forward to writing more about this next chapter in my business, publishing as frequently as I can, just like a traveler might send postcards home from the road. As this series goes along, I’d love to hear from you, my readers, about your own stories of adventure, career or otherwise.
Let’s celebrate the daring, sometimes terrifying, but ultimately meaningful leaps of faith we all must take to find our best selves.
It’s Patriots Day here in Massachusetts, a state holiday that marks the anniversary of the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord, as well as this year’s 121st running of the Boston Marathon. As a kid growing up in the Boston area, I’ve enjoyed watching this marathon spectacle, taking my place among throngs of fans along the route. If you haven’t seen it in person, it’s truly awe-inspiring to observe the physical prowess and mental toughness of the tens of thousands of athletes who lace up for this incredibly grueling test of endurance and strength. Today’s forecast is sunny and a bit warm, sure to bring out even more crowds than usual, but possibly creating some challenges for the athletes who prefer their marathon weather cool and damp.
I’ve never run a marathon, but I’m no stranger to long-distance athletic events. The closest comparison I can make would be my participation in numerous 3-day cancer fundraising walks, the first one back in May 2000. Walking has always come easily to me. The tougher part is sleeping in tents, showering in the back of a tractor-trailer truck and suffering through three days of port-a-potties. Suffice it to say, I’ve never been much of a camper.
Over the past few years, I’ve added another endurance feat to my portfolio: I’ve launched a small business. Among the many obvious connections between owning and operating a small firm and long-distance running (or walking) there are a few qualities that winning athletes and entrepreneurial types share. Achieving success over the long-term in business, sports, (or life for that matter) requires certain characteristics.
Not everyone is well suited for running a business, much less running a marathon. I have people tell me all the time that they don’t know how I do this on my own. I respond by saying I don’t feel alone. A strong competitive instinct, sense of curiosity, perseverance, tolerance for risk and plain old luck sit across the desk from me every day. These inner attributes and a solid network of industry associates have led me to where I am today, somewhere along my own marathon route to success, the finish line still nowhere in sight.
January symbolizes fresh starts and new beginnings. Like many business owners, I’m excited to flip to a new page, eagerly anticipating the clean slate that lays before me, ready to fill it with projects, plans and new adventures. Now that I’m through the holiday rush, I’m trying to give myself a short break to reflect upon what went well and what didn’t (and why) over the past year, and indulge in a bit of quiet contemplation and goal-setting for the year ahead. I feel I’ve more than earned it.
Here at RMG, the New Year also marks a time for assessment and re-evaluation on both sides of the client-agency fence. I welcome this cyclical tallying up of successes and failures as a natural and healthy part of doing business. It’s important for my clients and for me, in my role as their agency partner, to consider the pros and cons of continuing to work together and for us to share our future intentions. Going through this process may be a bit cumbersome, but ultimately should result in a better outcome for each of us.
The investments we make in building trusting and productive partnerships with our existing clients can come at a huge cost to our ongoing lead generation and new business efforts.
Annual contract negotiations can be stressful in any industry, but for small marketing firms like mine, losing one large contract can be devastating. No business owner intends to get into the situation where she is overly dependent on a single client, but it’s very easy for that dynamic to happen. We, small shop owners tend to run lean in almost every area: staffing, supplies, infrastructure, and our greatest resource of all, time. The investment of time and energy we need to make to build trusting and productive partnerships with our existing clients can come at a huge cost to our ongoing lead generation and new business efforts.
Let’s say for the purpose of this article you’re fortunate to have some client relationships that you'd like to re-sign for another year. Here are five tips to remember as you seek the contract renewal win-win:
As unpleasant as it is to lose an account, the truth is, even when you do absolutely everything you can, some degree of client attrition comes with the territory. The more you can prepare yourself financially and emotionally ahead of time, the quicker you’ll rebound from a non-renewal.
Here’s to a successful contract renewal season and a prosperous and creative 2017 for all!
A collection of muddy cleats, old shin guards and slightly deflated soccer balls has filled our mudroom for the past decade or so. We’ve logged thousands of hours with drop-offs and pick-ups, fundraisers, equipment purchases, summer camps, physical therapy sessions, pep talks, spaghetti dinners, loads of laundry, not to mention a plethora of thrilling wins and disappointing losses. My daughter started playing soccer back in kindergarten, kicking daisies around the field with her friends, and has grown into a smart and talented offensive player. Last night marked the bittersweet but hard-fought conclusion to her soccer career.
My daughter has always had a keen sense of where she fits into the world around her. A senior in high school now, she’s acutely aware of the finality of certain things, along with the possibilities that lie ahead. She is poised on the brink of a new stage of her life post-high school, entering college and moving away from home, a transition that’s both awesome and humbling to contemplate. This soccer season, which ended on a dramatic note at the semi-finals of the state tourney, with a 2 -1 loss to the top seeded team in the southern division, was one of those milestone moments. Her team made it farther into the playoffs than any other high school soccer team in our town’s history, and we are over the moon proud of all of them for their accomplishments both on and off the field.
Of all the teams my daughter has played on, this one seemed extra special from the start. While many of the girls had played together before, in different combinations across a series of town, school and regional leagues, this particular group had a terrific chemistry. It wasn’t about their individual talents or the resources they were given by their coaches and parents. What made this team exceptional was how they figured out so early on in the season that they had a choice. Either they were going to do this together or not do it at all. As a team, they chose to work harder than ever, creating a beautiful web of their unique talents, bringing the energy, spirit and collective determination they needed to earn the playoff berth and stand on the cusp of the state championship platform.
My daughter and the other seniors took their status very seriously. While not a captain, she was one of seven elder players who modeled team play, enthusiasm and persistence throughout the season. Not that the underclassmen girls needed much encouragement! Watching one of their recent games, you would not have known anyone’s rank in school, because they performed seamlessly as a fully-coordinated unit, each one picking up what the other put down, covering for each other, giving and accepting support in a series of intuitive actions that led to those much-coveted post-season wins. From the sidelines, it was a beautiful sight to behold.
The team's decision to focus on mutual respect and collaboration over individual glory has reinforced my own priorities as a female business owner. Every day, I think about what will help me to grow my company and improve my services. Just like the soccer players, I believe it all comes down to developing a well-orchestrated team, with a common goal. Since starting my business, I’ve been fortunate to connect with a variety of independent contractors and other small-to-medium size companies who offer services that dovetail with my own skill set. Some of these relationships have evolved into long-term partnerships, while others haven’t lasted but I’ve benefited from every interaction, even the less successful ones.
Here are six (6) things I’ve learned from watching my daughter’s soccer team that are relevant to my life in business:
1. It’s impossible to do everything by yourself. Teams are just that, groups of people working together. Nothing spells B-U-R-N-O-U-T quicker than telling yourself that you don’t need help. Whether it’s mentorship, financial advice, marketing expertise or a million other roles, it’s important to be open to outside support.
2. Listen to your inner voice. Just like an athlete must to keep tabs on her physical and emotional condition in order to play most effectively, we, business owners need to keep our finger on the pulse of our business’ health at all times.
3. Set your goal. A soccer game’s objective is to get the ball into the net. Everyone connected to the game understands that singular goal and works to achieve it. In business, it’s just as important to state your company’s objectives up front. Explicitly communicating your company’s purpose is an essential step towards accomplishing your goals.
4. Practice, practice, practice. That old saying is true, and it applies to many endeavors, not just sports and business. An athlete wouldn’t think of competing without training hard, and a business owner needs to continually sharpen her skills and knowledge, staying ahead of the latest research and technology to earn her customers’ trust.
5. Everybody loses, once in a while. It’s an awful feeling to lose, especially when you played your heart out but it’s going to happen to all of us, at some point or another along the way. It’s HOW we lose and what we learn from the loss that matters.
6. Have fun! Yes, competition can be a grind. It’s exhausting, repetitive and sometimes even painful. Despite all that, the girls’ team found creative ways to enjoy the experience, sharing meals together, dressing up in costumes, making posters, and often sending funny or inspirational group messages to each other, all in the name of fun. The fun helped them weather the tougher parts of the season.
I have my share of grueling days, when I log into my laptop before dawn and leave the office feeling spent way after dark. But I’m trying to have some fun, too. Setting up coffee dates or drinks with colleagues, participating in a charity event, taking a walk with a fellow working mom who understands the challenges we all face in today’s multitasking world. Sometimes it’s as simple as a quick text exchange with a friend during a hectic day that can boost me up a bit. Whatever it takes, making it fun can sustain even the most ambitious business owner.
Note: This blog post is dedicated to the Amesbury High School Girls Varsity Soccer team who recently earned the 2016 MIAA Division 4 title.
Congratulations on your stellar season! Your determination to succeed and your collaborative spirit is an inspiration to us all. In many ways, you’ve brought our entire community together, as only young people can do. It’s been an honor to cheer you on!