B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1648 · 4 months ago

Crisis Builds Resilience with Chuck Hengel

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode Benji talks to Chuck Hengel, CEO and Founder of Marketing Architects.

This discussion centers on 4 distinct moments in Chucks 25+ years career where crisis built resilience, creativity, and unity in his team. Discussion includes how we can actively choose our response and the process necessary to make our organizations "anti-fragile".

Welcome in to be to be growth. I'm your host, Benjie Block. Today we're joined by Chuck Hangel. He's a CEO and founder of marketing architects. Chuck, welcome to be to be growth. Beni excited to be here. Love your show. Thank you, sir. So, Chuck, first off, I think a congratulations is in order because recently you celebrated twenty five years at marketing architects. So fantastic achievement and congratulations on that. Thank you. Yeah, we're a little paranoid as an agency. We think of ourselves as a startup every year, but we've made it a long time, so we are thankful for that. I love that you keep the startup culture alive and that heart alive, because there's something so unique about it and it's obviously in your blood as a founder. So it doesn't matter how many years pass, if you choose to have that culture, it bleeds into to everything you guys do and that's wonderful and we actually want to tap into your twenty five years at marketing architects on this episode. Right. One thing that you and I have gone back and forth about and what we really want to drive home today, is this idea of the opportunity that crisis actually creates individually, but also, obviously, in organizations, and the resilience that can happen there. So, Chuck, tell me this. Do you remember the first time in business where you had like just epic or some sort of big, sort of crisis moment, and to walk me through what you remember about me that first crisis that you ever hit? Yeah, that's a walked on memory lane. We think of ourselves as an agency that I was always looking forward, so we don't look back a lot, but that question definitely brings out many times where we're lucky to be here. Actually, my first real crisis was at a time where I finally reached a level where I was an executive and I had more responsibility for the problems that we're being creative and I think I'm there's probably crisis is before that that I didn't pay a lot of attention to. We had a scenario when I was with the prior agency right before starting marketing architects, and we had been making media commitments to get better value for our clients and media. Then we had to meet the demand for those commitments and what had happened with one of our big ones is we want upside down. We couldn't meet the weekly demand to fill the space that we had acquired and our losses were approaching a hundred thousand dollars a week, which we could not sustain. And the executive team got together because we were not able to solve this after seven or eight weeks, and we overwhelmingly thought let's renegotiate this commitment and because we're never going to survive us, and survival got to be our primary goal in the CEO at the time said no, we are not going to renegotiate that commitment. That's a core value of ours. We're going to keep the commitments we make. We've got to figure out a way through this and we didn't see a way through it. But that resolve to not negotiate our commitments put us in a room and made us think at a level that we wouldn't have been able to think, I think, without that pressure of really seeing the agency probably go under and we figured out a way to make it happened and keep those commitments and see the agency survived. It didn't feel good to be at a company you loved and potentially see the end of it and didn't feel good to maybe have a solution that would have been a shortcut to survive and not pursue it. But in the end, by holding strong, we found a way through it and we became far better. And what was interesting was the crisis itself caused us to think in a way we hadn't done before, and we use that to accelerate the overall growth of the agency, not just to solve the current problem, but to have more resolve and have more strength. And we really updated our sales and marketing strategy because that was the issue we had. We didn't have enough clients, and we use that to accelerate growth. That ultimately put us in the upper range of the type of agency we were and we eventually sold down to Coom. So we really use that to springboard into greater things. I think about that moment that you're at this crossroads where you have this option. We can renegotiate right like...

...it was something that was actively being thought about in the agency. It's something that we could do. But to have someone that's your senior come and say no, that's not our culture, no, that's not what we do. What does that do for you as a young leader to see that kind of spearheaded leadership and how does that impact you moving forward from that that key decision? Yeah, it's interesting. He was outvoted eight to one and he stood firm wow, to keep more commitment, and I remember that resolve and I remember his can do spirit and I remember him having to pick all of us up to believe that we could do it, and all of that made just an amazing impression to me and I've always in my head think about that moment. A lot of man, you can be actually really unpopular. It was a leader for a period of time, but if you're following right principles, those first principles that are really going to drive your business, on the far side of that, once you get through that period of time, you're going to have far more respect and I think that's that economy of in time. You start a business, you know sticking to your guns. Sometimes you want to hear that your idea is contrarian and people don't believe you can make it work and that you're going to fail. Those are often times the best ideas that, when you see them through, help you find, you know, fertile new ground that other people aren't occupying. So you almost have to become familiar, especially in startup mode, with this idea that you're walking this ridge line on the one side is certain death and the other side is the promised land. Yes, and you have this level of fear, but that, if you have the belief that you're going to get through that. Those are the kind of characteristics that are I think it'd be predictive if you'll be around a long time. HMM, the ability for a leader to go through a season where they're disliked. You can easily romanticize leadership when you're not sitting in that seat and think of all of the perks of being a leader, but there's obviously clearly seasons like the one you're your boss was walking through. We're going. I know it's an eight to one. I'm highly outvoted, but I'm taking the unpopular opinion and that unpopular road, because I'm seeing things that other people aren't seeing, which is a key mark of leadership. Right, you're leading with vision and you're leading with character and that course that you're paving for those in your organization, that that's what puts you in that that place of good leadership. So I really respect that decision, and obviously you do two years and years later, but obviously, seeing it in the moment, I'm sure it was very difficult for you. Huh. Yeah, it was formative and I think, yes, every leader has a level of authority. If you run a company or lead a team with people, those types of people have similar levels of authority, but they all have very different levels of trust and belief from their team, right and ultimately those are the characteristics that allow you to succeed and those are the things that when you enter a crisis, those are the things that are going to really stand out. Now, your level of authority of what to do next, but does your team believe in you? Do they trust you? HMM. And decisions can be unpopular, but if you've been consistent in the past, people are going to wonder why are you thinking about making a decision that way and more likely to ultimately follow that type of decision. So crisis preparation happens long before the crisis actually occurs. And so that really sets up where we're going to go, because we're going to walk through a few more scenarios that you then faced down the road. But I think you just mentioned something that's critical to say here towards the front end of this episode, which is that crisis has the opportunity for resilience to be kind of birth there. But if you don't have a culture that's already set up to think that way, crisis obviously clearly can also destroy you. Right Chuck. Absolutely. I think that's well signed, Benjie, and I think it's why in business there's so many dimensions to leadership and that's...

...what really makes it fun. It's the ability to look around the corner to know that you're probably going to face crisis. If you think you're getting into business or getting into leadership and you're not going to have neardeath experiences, for lack of a better description, then it's probably not the right role for you. But if you prepare yourself and you do the kind of things that get you ready for that, you'll get through those. Okay, so you've learned some of this by going through crisis, but let's talk about crisis preparation for a minute. What's been key to you, when things are going well, to be thinking about, Hey, I know another crisis will hit at some point. Let's have our team ready. What are some of the things you're thinking about in those seasons when crisis hasn't hit yet, but you know your you have to have your team ready. This could be a really long conversation and it's one of my favorite topics. And, for example, you can think about your business model and think about is it anti fragile, and that means, for example, do you manage your cash well you have you thought about having a reserve? Do you have the ability to have some level of variable comp that you could pull back comp but have people understand if the changes occurred? Are you very team based? Do you know how to collaborate, especially when you're under pressure and there's some anxiety where people might not be as willing to speak up or to stand out? So there are a lot of just real practical steps that you can take to prepare your business for crisis that actually make you better as well in the good times. We actually assess people's personalities and how are they under pressure, and we're all just kind under pressure are you and I are socially on this call might be very different of how we each would be under pressure. Some people get really calm, some people become introverted, some people become extroverted, some people really like to gather and by knowing how people are under pressure, we actually can look across her team and get very consistent reactions. There's the cheerleader and the people that are positive, and there's some people you just see it in their faces. They're thinking and they're wondering. You know, and we and we like those kind of people as well. So all of those are steps you can take to survive when the challenge is going to be presented to you. Okay, so one more question before we get onto this. The second scenario, in the second situation where you face crisis, when you know the culture of your team and you know certain people respond certain ways, is it just so that you kind of know what to expected, or are there things that you're inviting the team into in order to grow and how they kind of think about crisis management and resilience? Like you're inviting them into a different way to respond? What does that look like once you have that knowledge? Yeah, that knowledge actually started from our desire to be a very creative business and understanding when people can do their best work. In knowing that when your stressed or constrained, most people are thirty to forty percent less productive. So then knowing what those triggers are for people there's value. And just the Daytoday, some people like a lot of autonomy, some people like a lot of close management, those kinds of things. In one version the person's understressed. The other version loves to be connected with every single day. Some people say it micromanagement. So in the process of doing that we found that we could figure out what our resolve was long before the crisis hit because we knew what the diversity of the team was. And they're just practical ways to do that. We just use an online assessment that we then have everyone in the company know what everyone's profile is, because there's not a bad profile, it's just who you are as a person. And then you when you approach the person, you know how to approach them. In crisis there are certain people you approach one way and there's another way for other kinds of people, and we know that ahead of time and we spend time together as a team. Allow what's a quarter. We try to spend a couple of hours together just reconnecting with who we all are as people, and that time in that investment really pastied and in these key moments of time yeah, I heard someone talking about have you heard of the platinum...

...rule? I haven't. Okay, so I hadn't either. I literally just heard about this this week. So maybe we'll start hearing more about this in business. But obviously we know the golden rule, like do on to others as you would have them do on to you. The platinum rule, the idea behind it is do onto others as they would want it done onto them. So well, I let you're hitting on that exact point right there. Is that sometimes we treat people how in crisis, how we would want to be treated, but because they have a different response, we're not treating them how they need to be treated right. We don't. As leaders, we don't communicate to their communication style, we don't lead in a way that really works for them and lends itself well to how they're wired. And so you're touching right on it. I had just recently heard about it, so maybe we'll start hearing more of the PLATINU rule. I had never heard of it, but I love that point, Chuck. All right, let's go to a second time of crisis that you experienced. Really this will be the first one we highlight where you had actually stepped out, you had started marketing architects. Give us. I guess when we first talked about this you brought up eleven and I had never thought about the impact, honestly, that it had on the marketing industry. But it had tremendous impact. So walk me through sort of the crisis that obviously you were faced with and some of what happens after right. We are now in our fourth year. So we had revenue, we had clients, we hadate clients at the time and we were not out of the woods yet, but we had some momentum and I was in the air of the morning of nine hundred and eleven when the first plane hit the tower and so we were grounded in Kansas City. That's as far as they got and we quickly went inside the terminal and we saw on the screen the second plane hitting the second tower and the first concern we all had was everyone safety in the airport and the people around us, and our office is really worried about us. If you remember, there was training of some of the terrasts that occurred in Minneapolis. I could have been very likely on one of the planes that was destined for a tower or some other place, and so we were thankful, but we quickly took action. We figured we weren't going to be able to fly. So we got two hurts and already there's a longline forming for people to rent cars and the gentleman in front of me was renting. They asked where he's going and he said Washington DC, and he said when are you getting back and he said I don't know yet, and he opened his idea and nose are it was an FBI badge. So they are already mobilizing people from around the country to get to the center of where all the disasters happened. So we knew it was very serious and on the way back we were talking to the Home Office. Clients are already calling us because advertising, for the most part, was paused across all major media channels. So we had to have a practical discussion. What's going to happen if advertising doesn't come back. We no one knew where this was going to go, where they're going to be more attacks, and clients for telling us they were going to pause all our advertising for a period of time and we were worried about that because we did not have the cash flow to survive very long. So over those next couple of days we got on line with our clients because there was still no advertising taking place. We had long discussions about I felt we should continue to lean forward and move forward and continue to advertise and continue to be part of the solution, part of the economy. Seven or eight advertisers agreed, but one didn't. So that left us in a place needing to replace a client. So what we tried to do is we tried to get the very first flight out of Minneapolis the day flight started. Think those four or five days later. We couldn't get flight number one, but we were like in flight number twenty or thirty when we flew to Washington DC, the dollars airport where one of the planes took off and we were the only two passengers on the plane. Nobody was flying yet. Wow, food Washington. We drove to the Pentacon to pay our respects and then we did a cold call with the prospect we had and we showed up and they...

...raise their hands. What are you doing? Why are you here? They were upset at first and we said we're here to pay our respects, we're also here to talk to you about advertising. We ended up having lunch with this company and by the time we left that afternoon we had another advertiser. When we win in the Dollis Airport, I think we only saw five or six people in this entire airport. People are very afraid to fly. So we got back and we're very worried about what was going to happen to performance in our advertising. So we had to guarantee results to our clients because they still were afraid to be on air. So when we started to see results come in, we are getting like twice or sometimes three times the amount of response we normally expect. HMM, now we're panic that maybe our orders were running more than they should, since not many people are advertising. So we started called stations. They said no, we're running the normal load that you order, and we quickly realized that people were ordering at double and triple the rate. So Americans, yes, they were concerned about terrorism, but but commercial speech and shopping. It's part of our DNA. So we thought when this first went down, first of my safe. Second, are we even going to be able to be a going concern? Where our clients even going to get through this? We thought they might all cancel on a long term basis and we'd have othershes to deal with. So not only did we keep seven of Eight on, we landed an eighth client and that was our fastest growth. Ears still to this date that were other people are hunkered down and not advertising. Response was through the roof for many, many, many months, and that was even at a time where direct response wasn't as popular as it certainly is now. But people are taking every opportunity to shop and buy and to live a normal life. And so what we really learned was where we thought, on one hand, this could be the end and everyone was saying you got to hunker down, you just got to stick to your knitting, you have to let this blow over, wheeling into that and we found there was clear space out there. Other people weren't traveling, other people weren't prospecting, other people were in trying to grow their clients businesses. Every one of our clients that year reported that that was their best year out of any number of prioriars, as well as those next few years when things got back to some sense of normalcy. So that was just a great lesson that you know, you can make really good things happen again. You have to have belief. But in a crisis there's going to be clear space, there's going to be opportunity. Often that isn't going to be available in normal times and we are able to find those, those positive moments in a period where people are really worried. Yeah, really worried and clearly making a different decision than the one you made. So you don't have like a bunch of examples to follow and go okay, we can just kind of early adopt. You're kind of having to straight up be the forerunner and do something different. I wonder what gave you. Was it something internal chuck for you, or you were just like everyone's zigging and working a Zag? What leads to that different mentality where you're going no, we need to get on one of the first flights out, we need to go to DC, we need to pay our respects, we need to actually get in front of a customer when most people are doing, you know, the opposite. Yeah, I think it helps that I've been in advertising my entire career and I just really believe there's value and commercial speech and there's value in communication and there's value and branding. You know, think about the power of a brand where you take a product that and you make an add that makes people like the product better. They get more enjoyment from it. You're building their brand and you didn't have to chop another tree down or burn moyl oil or add more natural resources to the mix, just that people start to enjoy more. So I've just been a fan in general of advertising and it just never occurred to me in a period of crisis that we cut out that part of our economy totally, that people find value, that people still shop for fun, they love to research products, they love to be informed. Yeah, there are times you want avoid the ads in the content that you're watching. That is true, and there's bad advertising,...

...that is true, but good advertising done well offers value. So I came from that place. I came from that place. And yes, we were worried about was there going to be another terrorist attack? And there's going to be potential other challenges going on, but I'm not in control of that. Yep, control the controllables. We controlled what we could control and we can control how we responded and I didn't take on it's the old circle of influence and circle concern. We could have been very concerned about everything, but we stayed concerned about the things that we could influence and we did our part to keep the economy going and I feel great and our clients were really rewarded for that and ultimately we had a very fast growth year and we are able to hire good people. Just all of it turned out to be a very scary time to a real net positive for our industry. So for us, the people in our industry that leaned into that, and for our clients. HMM. Yeah, crisis builds resilience, but also it gives you an opportunity to choose your response, and you just touched on that and that's something we definitely should highlight here in this episode. If there's some one takeaway we have in times of crisis, it's evaluating and reevaluating our attitudes towards circumstances and choosing how we respond, choosing our actions and, like chuck just set, controlling what you can control, which it leads to an interesting switch as we go into a third crisis you experienced, because what's unique about what you said coming out of eleven, I could understand how people still need to advertise. It's a very unique situation when we're talking about terrorism in this ex essential threat. But the two thousand and eight economic crash is one where when you just think intuitively, okay, the economy crashed, so advertising and people spending your you like. How you pivot from that is vastly different. It's a completely different type of crisis, and so you experienced something very different and had a very unique response. Walk me through the two thousand and eight economy crash and the the crisis you had to deal with in the wake of that. Yeah, so now I'm going to point in my career I'm feeling and getting good with crisis. We've been rewarded for how we've addressed crisis. And so the economy hits, we had a lot of high ticket, high considered purchase clients that, when the economy crashed, they went away. We had a couple clients are our mortgage companies. They called US and said we're done. HMM. People weren't originating mortgages, they weren't refinancing their home. So we saw a significant loss of clients almost immediately, or at least over a two or three month period of time, and we had faith that we're going to prevail through all of that. So we stayed the course and a year went by and we weren't regaining any met revenue that we lost. We had started from a period of healthy profits, because we now are well into our some of our really great growth years. So we didn't need to lay anyone off. We need to make we didn't have to make adjustments, we just took the hit to revenue and profitability. A second year went by. We still want recovering. So now we're starting to get worried that our faith and the calm that we showed that maybe we should have been responding to this more than we were. We just felt like the economy was going to come back, our clients were going to come back, and that wasn't happening and we didn't know what to do. And we saw, though, that consumers were shifting their purchases to less considered purchases, better value purchases, lower ticket purchases. They still needed a grocery shop, of course, but instead of buying a whole beauty regiment, they were still buying lipstick, for example. In the beauty space, okay and but we had no experience with that. We were more experience with high ticket, high considered purchases. That still hadn't come back. So we did something crazy. We said, you know what, we need to get and gain experience and better value lower ticket items. We don't have it as an agency. The techniques and ways that you market products like that are...

...different, the offers are different, the creativities different and we didn't have experience with that. We're having trouble to convincing people that we could help them without that type of experience. So we decided to look across the product landscape. We evaluated a hundred different products and we decided to launch a few of our own products, trying to find a winner. So we thought we'd have to test ten or fifteen things to have success. We tested five things and two worked. The one I'm most excited to talk about is the hurricane. We spend time looking at how do we innovate and create a new category of Kane? At that time, a cane basically had been a stick for thousand of years. If you looked online or in a store, it was a usually a round handle with a straight shaft and you would walk with it. Yep, and we found that was nearly optimal. So we put our creative hats on and we learned all sorts of things. We learned that seniors didn't change their favorite color to gray as soon as they became sixteen older. The they still loved color. They still love to be inspired, they still love to be mobile, and we brought all of that to the development of a whole new category of Kane that if you look at the walking Kane category, it's been transformed through our efforts. We had to do product development, design, we had a source this internationally. We dealt with logistics, we stood up a website, we did all the channels outside of the channel that we were doing at the time, which is TV. So we we learned all the cross channel marketing techniques. We learned about returns, we learned about the whole thing credit card processing and it became a very successful brand that it took off. Three years later we sold that to drive medical and in that process we regained our Mojo as an agency. Yes, there's tremendous amounts of capability that we didn't need, but we needed have an understanding of our clients businesses and we gained it by being a client our self. We're still very proud of building a product that's been very transformative to the mobility category. The issue when you start to age and lose mobility, you take too long before you get some help, and following is the number one reason a senior enters the hospital. Over half of hissits are falling. So they don't take enough time to be attentive to when they need mobility help, and we really help that. We had just thousands and thousands of testimonials. That said, you saved my life. You gave me the courage to use some assistance to maintain my mobility. You help me move again. You gave me mobility. I was afraid to move about. I was embarrassed to use the traditional kine and I'm proud to use this. So we regained our Mojo, we regained an updated our marketing tactics. You know, we built some new capabilities to improve the funnel for our clients. You know, we improved our creativity. So all of that. Then we exited that and gave us some clear sailing that we really used to leverage to build. I would say, stay in the core as long as we did. We were too patient. So there's your catch twenty two. To you don't want to react in crisis mode without thinking through your actions, but you probably wanted to take more reaction than we did. Two years was too long to rethink our model. That was too much faith to have that things were coming back. So we're excited about the speed that that brought into organization because the amount of work we had to do it to launch a brand like that from the ground up. We were having to make decisions that we've watched clients take, you know, months to make, that we had to make in minutes because otherwise we never would have had this thing live and growing and it stimulated a level of progress again from that crisis that we've never looked back from. It's gotten us to the next level. We could obviously spend an entire episode just on that story and breaking that down, but I think it's so valuable to press in on a couple pieces of that that I find very interesting. One you say now, in hindsight, two years was too long. I would say it's a great lesson for everybody listening, because a lot of people two years in wouldn't be willing. I mean they...

...be all, oh, shoot, we're losing all, you know, like it's not coming back. They're waking up to it, but they're not going. We're going to innovate in a completely brand new space that we know nothing about. That would just be a moment where people throw up their hands, almost going back to your first example when you're outvoted eight to one. It's just kind of like, well, we could you know, it just feels like one of those types of pivot moments where you've been doing it one way for two years and now we're choosing, we're making a conscious decision to do something different, completely different, out of the scope of what would maybe even be normal. So one question that I have hearing you say that story, Chuck, is just take me back to the creative meeting where that gets thrown around, like how do you come up with we're going to evaluate these products? How does that become even an option for you guys to do something like that? Yeah, now I thinking back, I do remember we were aligned as an executive team. It felt like a crazy idea, but we had a hundred percent alignment that we should do it. I joked years later with our head of creative I said I were you really on board with that, and he said I was, because I know that even if we were wrong, we would make it happen and make it right. He had that much faith in the company and that's why he said such a great cure with marketing architects. So yeah, we really were reflective, I guess, and you know, we went for something that a lot of people wouldn't recommend doing. It would be considered outside of your core but it stimulated progress we never would have been able to do if we just were sticking to our knitting and stick into our core business. So I always think about advice being right for the time. Not all advice works at all times. So, for example, when you start a company, you're told you need to delegate as fast as you can, but in reality, a founder she stay very close to things because those are the things that are going to trip you up. If you're not aware of everything going on, if you stay too close to things for too long, well then your micromanagy and you're going to lose your key people. If you're at a large corporation, you never want to micromanage under any circumstance. You work through your team at all times. So management advice and crisis advice can be a little different based on the type of crisis, the age of the company and where you're at. I think the key is to have faith that you're going to prevail and but to go after it in a way that it clearly has, a way that it's bold enough that you're going to use that to get through the crisis. And sometimes no reaction is bold and sometimes a complete change is bold. And if you consider that and you get alignment with your team, I think you're going to have a lot greater chance of being successful in navigating the challenge you're facing. Yeah, alignment transfers crisis to crisis. Response is going to change right the medium of the things we use, the tools we use, the all of that stuff is is up in the year, year to year, moments moment sometimes. But I love that because mindset and alignment are things that we ultimately can bring to the table and and benefit from. And I love it again. We're going crisis builds resilience, but in this situation, crisis also builds creativity, and crisis allowed for things that weren't in the normal purview, allowed for you to learn things and try things that then made you closer to your customers in the long term. So when we look at crisis and our attitude in our mindset going into it. Leaving this episode right, we we could be thinking what can I see creatively now that I'm in crisis or having to respond to crisis, that I couldn't if this experience wasn't happening to me, wasn't happening to our company? The creativity that comes in those moments is, I think, a blessing in disguise, if you allow it to be. Let's push this conversation forward. Chuck to one final crisis which we all experienced here in the last...

...few years, which is covid. Tell me a little bit about what Covid is taught you and your response in in the wake of obviously a being a global pandemic. Yeah, I think we all know the story hasn't been fully written on Covid. So I think we all have to be careful and understanding that there's still a future we have to navigate. But that being said, there's definitely a history now behind us and it also was a crisis for almost all industries. We saw clients that were not essential. Industries had a shutdown, so we had the same impact to revenue that we had in the O financial meltdown, and so it had all the same kind of challenges. The difference, of course, was the government stepped into intervene to bring back the economy faster than any of us thought would be possible. But we had now had a lot of history to how to respond to this and we were amazing. I think I never had to speak to the company. Every executive just knew how to lead. The teams were prepared. We all went home, we all got to work. People said they felt more aligned than ever because we were zooming, staying in touch, we were communicating, we're using all of our TEX STAC to its fullest and we knew we had to recover revenue, but we've done that many times. We thought client first. So how do we help their business? And we have a lot of capabilities to help our clients and we deployed those. We tracked workload. Our workload was triple what it was pretty wowvid. So we can look at number of orders in the system and those such things, and the team was willing to do that work, all the while navigating childcare changes, navigating family dynamics that were changing, finding finding space of where to office in their home and all of that. So we were amazing and that we were well prepared for that. Our clients quickly rebounded. We quickly found there were a lot of people that could benefit from the pandemic. They were in essential industries and they were looking to market and grow their company and we picked up a lot of business amongst those types of clients and we had a really good year over all, not initially where we took a big hit to revenue, but we ended up the year in a really good spot. We stayed positive, we stayed calm, we were very decentralized. We let as many people make decisions as possible, knowing that they were close to the client, they're close to processes and they were going to be responsible people and it was the best time that I've ever seen in my history and business of a team stay in calm but still making bold decisions. We decided early on, just a couple months into this, that we were going to be at work from anywhere full time company. We had beautiful class a office space, but, you'd expect from a great agency, it was covered by local media because we did the lunch thing on site and all sorts of crazy things that you'd expect that an agency. We left that all behind. We are more productive in this new environment. We've now hired, I think we're up to thirty five people around the country. We have a more diverse team, we have a bigger variety of talents. So we decided to use our experience and let's make some bold decisions and really lean into this period of time that some people would call a crisis. But you know, how do we contribute? How do we change? How do we do things differently? And yet I didn't make those bold choices. It's been fun to see that happen across the company. It's been fun to see people's personalities come out in new ways. People that maybe we're in a board room with fourteen, fifteen people in a meeting that we're afraid to participate now get in a Gazoom call where we're all equal because we're a little square earth, and now we're contributing. You know, we let people moderate meetings that hadn't been stepping up to do that. So it's been just a time where we've just...

...seen everyone dig deep into their talents and be able to use those. We had our best growth year now last year, coming off covid and so again we've used the crisis to make some bold decisions and to me it's spend my best year in business watching other people accomplish great work, and that's ultimately when you're running a company, if you can get to a place where you worry about everything but you're not responsible for anything. That's been a great goal and I think I've really been able to live that truth this year that we've got an amazing team and this was the last two years, a chance for them really to step up into lead, in to grow, in to learn, and they've they've done all of that. So we were very concerned, like everyone was, when it first hit, but it's been again a boon to our most of our clients and to our agency. And at the end of the day, when you're going you're growing your clients businesses, well, you're going to grow and when you're growing to clients businesses, you're changing lives and that, at the end of the day, is the core of our mission statement. How do we change lives through business growth? And that certainly has happened the last two years. There's one thing you said there that I do want to ask a follow question on. You talk about any leader right could be very top of the organization or different apartments. But there is a a level of concern and worried that you sort of have over what's, in your perview, that's needed as a leader, right, but then there it can go to maybe all out fear, like you're just trying to micromanage and just trying to control what's happening. How has that change over the years? For you, Chuck, to learn some level of health. What does that look like? So we have some advantage and advertising. We study psychology a lot and so we get into the brain and the science of the brain and there is some debate. Most people would agree with the statement, not everyone, but how we feel as a choice, and so you can plan just and decide how am I going to feel when the next crisis hits, and it's hard to completely control that. So there might be a period of time that the stress is off the charts. But you have to decide as a company, choose? Not Fear, but I'm going to choose bold action, and it definitely is helpful if you have some awareness of how you make choices in your life, how you feel about things, how you respond to people and practice that, and if you do, then periods of crisis aren't going to feel like that, they're going to feel almost like opportunity. I wouldn't push it all the way that it's just opportunity, because sometimes you come out not as well as you were prior to the crisis and that's success because you got through it. But if you can actively make it a choice and then make that an organization choice, so other people believe that we're making a good choice by going after something new, by extending ourself in new ways, and we're not hundered down and they get more empowered, not less empowered. You know, you decentralized decision making. All of that leads people to really see the crisis as more opportunity than crisis and to choose for themselves. Yes, this is a good thing, and what was great about marketing architects providing stability to people's lives. Many people were really impacted by this. I'm not diminishing that. Many people lost family members to this. They dealt with childcare crisis is, they dealt with family dynamics, they had to navigate, they dealt with a lot of stuff and that is difficult and I'm proud of the fact that we could provide some stability through marketing architects, through our company, so that people could put some time into those other aspects of the lives that they had to navigate for themselves. And I think if you can do that as a company and put it in its proper place for people, because it's very few people's be all, end all goal in life, but it's a key part of how people live their life. In the fact that we've been able to navigate...

...crisis and not have that creep so far into people's lives that they freeze and it impacts everything else they do. I think that's that's a real gift of this topic and thinking about that, so that no one's ever going to have a hundred percent of their personal life going well. Yet a company can only help so far with that. So we really I think we're able to keep our company putting in the right context for people so they could navigate all those other things. We helped where we could and, for example, great text support and helping people set up their offices. We change some of our benefit programs to support people through this. So we certainly are aware where we could help, but the best help was to provide a great place for people to come to and feel like there wasn't a crisis. Yeah, Yep. Well, there's so much I'm taken away from this conversation with you, Chuck. I'm thinking about how crisis can not only help birth and fuel resilience, but how it also can, if we choose to take on a mindset, it can fuel creativity some new levels of unity. How we get to decide what our attitude is, what our response is, what we see in the midst of crisis. I think you you touched really well, maybe even not directly but indirectly, on the power of overcommunication during crisis. So it's something that happens outside of the moment right it's just becomes part of the culture. But then, because you naturally have that, then you can overcommunicate when crisis actually does hit. In that that can help things a lot. You also mentioned a couple questions I want to highlight here. You said, is my business anti fragile and are we team based? That's a couple questions that I wrote down that you said that I think we can be asking ourselves whether you're going through a crisis right now or not. Just take a valuation of Your Department or Your Company? And those are some great questions that I'm walking away with. Chuck, thank you for taking time here on be tob growth today. For those that want to stay connected with you and marketing architects, where can they do that? Where's best to follow you guys online? For me, I you can get me up on Linkedin. I'm really responsive there as well as you can go to marketing Architectscom and you can reach me through there or any other member of our team. Wonderful. Thank you for taking time and being on the show today. Awesome. Thank you, Benji. Enjoyed it well. If you loved this episode, be sure to leave a review or a rating and you can subscribe wherever you're listening to this. We love to connect, so you can also find me on Linkedin. Just Search Benjie Block and I'd love to talk to you about business marketing life and we will be back very soon with another episode. Keep doing work that matters. Is the decision maker for your product or service, a BEDB MARKETER? Are you looking to reach those buyers through the medium of podcasting? Considered becoming a cohost of BB growth? This show is consistently ranked as a top one hundred podcast in the marketing category of Apple Podcasts, and the show gets more than a hundred and thirty thousand downloads each month. We've already done the work of building the audience, so you can focus on delivering incredible content to our listeners. If you're interested, email logan at sweetfish Mediacom.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (1737)