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Build a Better Agency Podcast

Scale and grow your agency with better clients, invested employees, and a stronger bottom line, with Drew McLellan of Agency Management Institute.
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Build a Better Agency Podcast
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Now displaying: 2021
Nov 29, 2021

Everyone wants to make and have more money but understanding all the available financial options and opportunities can be overwhelming. Many agency owners are juggling debt, income, personal and professional mortgages, and complex investment plans, most of which are managed by advice we were given by our parents when we were young. We’ve heard of ways to use our money to make money, but it all sounds a little impossible to believe.

Adam Carroll is one of the nation’s top financial educators and he is here to cut through the confusion and show how viable many of these options really are. Adam is a long-time friend of the Agency Management Institute, and this conversation is his third visit to the podcast and follows his well-received appearance at the Build A Better Agency Summit.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Adam and I discuss a lot of the available tools and methodologies available for helping people reach financial security and freedom faster and in much bigger ways than might seem possible. We look at ways to double your money in 3 years, better understand the power of compound interest, and identify the different kinds of legacy. We talk about how we all need to start thinking about wealth differently by starting to ask ourselves bigger, different questions about our goals and dreams.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Make More Money

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Understanding the “Shred Method” for reducing debt
  • How to double your money in 3-5 years
  • Why it doesn’t make sense to hold onto a long-term mortgage
  • The power of compound interest
  • Identifying the 4 kinds of legacy
  • Equity planning
  • How to start thinking differently about wealth
  • The importance of joining a Mastermind
Nov 22, 2021

As part of our succession planning work, we have seen and worked with owners going through every stage of agency life. We’ve seen agencies evolve and dissolve and there are complexities along the way regardless of the journey. One of the most complicated relationships can be between partners, whether that be partners who own and run an agency together, or an agency owner who is transitioning to selling his agency to one or more employees.

In this solocast, we’re going to look at the important elements that make a strong partnership agreement. These documents can be created internally or developed with outside guidance but regardless of how it comes together, it must clearly define how all opportunities and challenges will be met as the agency moves forward. Think of it as a prenuptial agreement. You want to write it when things are good and the future is bright so you have a rulebook to turn to when things get difficult.

Agency partnership is a thrilling but complicated relationship. If you take the time to clearly define the rules of the game, you set a solid foundation on which the agency can grow. AMI is here to help you make the most of this adventure.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Partnership Agreements

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Who benefits from a Partnership Agreement
  • The need to outline out the company is established and divided
  • If and how ownership percentages can change
  • The importance of spelling out each partner’s contributions and responsibilities
  • Why you need to specify how money is handled
  • What it means to have partnership authority
  • Outlining conflict resolution
  • The important clauses of partnership agreements
  • The need to include incapacitation, divorce, and death language in these agreements
  • Explaining the methodology by which you will define valuation
  • Defining how the business can be dissolved
Nov 15, 2021

As agency owners and leaders, we all want to succeed at the long game. We plan and work with the hope that it will lead to long-term success. But it can be difficult to hang in there when faced with uncertainty, and we constantly wonder which bets are going to pay off and when we need to pivot. Fear can paralyze us or force us to make decisions that undermine a potential payoff because it all feels a bit like a guessing game.

Author and keynote speaker Dorie Clark is a world-renowned teacher and coach. She’s been on the podcast before (episode 152) and returns with tips and insights for how to leverage the long game, based on her new book of the same title, to avoid a lot of mistakes created by this fear and uncertainty.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Dorie and I discuss a lot of tools that help build a successful long game. We talk about ways to build more breathing room into a busy life, the need to track progress, and how to recognize the indicators that you’re on the right track. We look at the importance of building the right support system, how to find more focus, and why it’s so important to acknowledge and celebrate the small successes along the way.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

The Long Game

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Defining and Creating “White Space”
  • The need to track progress
  • The indicators that create success in The Long Game
  • The importance of having people around you who understand your business
  • How and where to focus for The Long Game
  • Why it’s important to acknowledge the successes
Nov 8, 2021

Putting yourself in the center of a community is a powerful tool for any agency owner, but that just scratches the surface of what is possible — if you make one small tweak. Imagine putting your client at the center of a community instead of yourself. An ecosystem of businesses, experts, and tools, all designed to help your clients become even more successful. This shift allows us to completely redesign how many of us think about biz dev and how best to serve our audience. And this is also how we can keep leveling up without having to know it all ourselves.

As many of you know, community is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, which is why I was excited to talk with my guest, Pam Slim. Pam is a 30-year plus business veteran, coach, and author with decades of experience building communities. Her latest book, “Widest Net” is all about helping companies reach their audience. If you have ever caught yourself thinking, “I know my thing. I know my point of view. I know who I want to reach, but how in the world do I reach them?” then you should probably be reading Pam’s book.

Pam was also our guest back on episode 142 for anyone who wants to soak up even more of her brilliance.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency — Pam and I address the myth of the sole owner needing to hack their way through the wilderness, and instead, how to provide agency owners with a way to see themselves as part of a coalition striving to help their clients.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

client-focused community

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How you can show up as a strong member of the community.
  • How to embrace the ecosystem model because you are in it either way.
  • The benefit of using the community around your clients to define your niche.
  • How to get intentional about building your community.
  • The benefit of being the “weirdo” in the room.
  • How to select the right community, so it isn’t a competition.
  • Why this sort of strategic work helps you win long-term.
  • Why PB&J relationships are the gold standard.
  • How you can feel like you are everywhere to your clients and prospects.
Nov 1, 2021

The federal government and 36 of 50 states in the U.S. have research and development tax credits that many agency owners incorrectly believe our agencies are not eligible to receive. In reality, many AMI agencies take full advantage of these credits, sometimes earning back in excess of $100,000 a year. Needless to say, it’s important for your agency to explore whether or not you are eligible for these benefits because the impact on your bottom line could be a huge win.

Mike D’Alessandro owns a company called Research Tax Credits. For 14 years he has been specializing in research and development (R&D) tax options. These benefits are designed to stimulate the economy by creating competitive tax advantages for small business owners, including advertising and marketing agencies.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Mike and I take a deep dive into the R&D tax credits that many agencies mistakenly believe they are not eligible for. We look at the history and eligibility of these credits, how they are determined, and what parts of agency work would be covered. We talk about whether these credits carry forward and if you can retroactively apply. We also discuss if these credits can increase the likelihood of an audit and the process for applying. It’s a big opportunity that man

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

R&D tax credits

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The history of the R&D tax credit
  • What does it mean to be eligible for an R&D tax credit?
  • What is a wage-driven credit?
  • The parts of the marketing business that is included under this credit
  • Does the federal credit carry forward?
  • Why wouldn’t someone utilize this credit?
  • Can you retroactively apply for these credits?
  • Does applying for this credit increase the likelihood of an audit?
  • The application process

Ways to contact Mike D’Alessandro:

Tools & Resources:

Oct 25, 2021

The conversation of diversity, equity, and inclusion and DEI policy creation is something on the minds of many agency owners. How to tackle such a delicate and complicated topic can be overwhelming and confusing. The fear of getting it wrong or not doing enough can lead to no action at all, which we can all agree does nothing to further the cause. But how exactly do we begin and how do we get it right?

Nikki McCord returns to expand upon the conversation we started in Episode 304 (“The ROI of DEI). Nikki consults people and companies on how to make committed changes, in both policy and behavior, surrounding the topic of DEI. She’s a passionate expert on the subject and the discussion is sure to inspire ideas and action.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Nikki McCord and I talk specifically about the concept of DEI policies and how to best approach them. Beyond that, we look at the way tiny shifts can make a big impact and why we need to give ourselves permission to make mistakes along the way. Beyond our own agencies, we also discuss how to incorporate these challenging conversations into our work with clients and vendors.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

DEI Policy

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What should be included in a good DEI policy
  • The difference between a policy and a statement
  • How to rethink your approach to a DEI policy
  • Tiny shifts that make a big impact
  • The importance of authenticity
  • How to guide clients through DEI conversations
  • How to get through the fear of making mistakes surrounding DEI

Ways to contact Nikki McCord:

Tools & Resources:

Oct 20, 2021

Laurence Lameche is a London-based real estate investor and coach who has mastered the art of buying properties through creative terms-based deals and cutting banks out of the equation. In this episode of the Smart Real Estate Coach podcast, Laurence shares how he was able to purchase three valuable properties in London for just the price of a football ticket, and he explains how to build a powerful network of connections in the real estate business even if you’re a shy introvert.

Resources:

Additional resources:

Smart Real Estate Coach Podcast Sponsor:

Oct 18, 2021

At Agency Management Institute, we are often called upon to help agency owners plan their next steps when it comes time to sell. This may lead to the owner wanting to hand the reins to a current employee that has proven to be the right person to take over owning and running the agency. There are challenges that the seller has to contend with, but there are just as many challenges, and mistakes, the potential buyer needs to keep in mind.

As an employee presented with the chance to take over ownership of the agency, it can be a daunting undertaking. To try and offer some guidance, I’ve identified the five most common mistakes that I’ve seen made by employees who are buying the agency from the current owner. We’ll look at the importance of pushing for a clear process and plan for the owner’s exit strategy and how to avoid miscalculating the risks. I’ll share some of the emotional challenges to expect, as well as the importance of tough conversations. Finally, I’ll explain why it’s not only helpful but necessary to put together a team that can help guide you through the transition period, and beyond.

Agency ownership is a thrilling undertaking. If the opportunity presents itself, you should absolutely give it serious consideration. Just be smart about the steps you take. AMI is here to welcome you to the adventure.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Buying an Agency

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The need to push for a process and plan when buying an agency
  • The error in miscalculating the risks
  • The emotional challenges of agency ownership
  • The missed opportunity in tough conversations
  • The need to put together a support team
Oct 11, 2021

“Culture” and “Brand” are two concepts that are often thought about and discussed as completely different topics. We don’t often consider how one might not only affect but define the other. But the truth is, they are very much the opposite sides of the same coin, if that coin represents the calling card for your agency or your client’s company.

Agency owners and authors Mark Miller and Ted Vaughn have literally written the book on the connection between culture and brand. In examining the challenges and successes of both their own clients and research into other companies, they defined six patterns that define culture and the traits that make these patterns successful.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Mark, Ted, and I take a deep dive into these six patterns – or “layers” – and how come to define an agency’s success. We explore everything from different kinds of trust to the need to sometimes fire a rockstar employee. We look at ways to inspire an invitation to difficult conversations and why it’s so important for creatives to advocate for themselves. We even define the first step an agency can take on the quest to improve, fix, or define a company’s culture in a way that leads to a winning brand.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The links between a winning culture and brand
  • Why culture is so important in a conversation about brand
  • Functional vs. relational trust
  • 6 layers of marque culture
  • How to tell if a problem is caused by a system or a person
  • Why creatives need to advocate for themselves
  • How agency owners can inspire a truth-telling environment
  • Where to begin on the journey to fix culture
Oct 4, 2021

There is no shortage of advice on how to be a better agency leader, but much of the advice out there is esoteric or theoretical. The ideas are grand, but a solid, tangible game plan is rare. Without clear steps to take, old habits and behaviors easily return before these new ideas have a chance to create lasting change.

Author Jonathan Raymond’s diversified background led to an interest in figuring out how leaders could grow their business in a way that was in alignment with their values. He has developed some interesting ideas and action plans for how to inspire your team to want to follow you.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jonathan and I take a pragmatic approach to leadership. We examine how to recognize when you’re undermining the team and how to create clear expectations. We explore a 5-step method for managing performance. And we discuss the link between personal and professional development. Becoming a better leader starts with a desire, but requires a plan of action. Hopefully, this conversation offers a bit of both.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to recognize when you’re disempowering your team
  • The need to set clear expectations
  • A 5-step method for managing performance
  • Understanding the time limit on feedback
  • Why pattern recognition is important in agency leadership
  • The power of uncomfortable silence
  • Why personal and professional development aren’t different
  • 3 reasons why poor behavior isn’t called out
Sep 27, 2021

The world of neuroscience might seem like an odd place to seek out powerful marketing tactics, but there’s no denying that effective marketing isn’t just about being great creatively. Art might draw attention, but human nature and how our mind works is what inspires the buy. Understanding neuro-marketing and what triggers the mind of an audience can only improve the rate of success.

Dan Russell runs Vivid Labs, a conversion optimization agency that has developed neuroscience-inspired marketing strategies. He moved out of the service space so he could teach agencies and other businesses how to utilize these techniques for business growth and success.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Dan and I talk about the different ways neuroscience insights can be used effectively in marketing. We discuss how his team determines what tests to run that are both practical and ethical. Using real-world examples, we take a closer look at a few effects that marketing agencies absolutely need to know about and incorporate.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Neuro-Marketing

Neuro-Marketing

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What is neuro-marketing?
  • How to determine what scientific tests apply to marketing
  • Ensuring tests are both practical and ethical
  • Why the physical world can trigger more effects than the digital world
  • Nuero-marketing effects agencies need to incorporate
  • The importance of video to increase conversion
Sep 20, 2021

No one needs to tell you that it’s easier and more cost-effective to keep existing clients rather than continuing to hunt and pitch for new ones. There’s an obvious need to genuinely nurture these relationships, but oftentimes this advice is more theory than tangible. It’s rare to find a clear game plan for creating lasting change that is simple, even if it’s not always easy. This conversation sheds light on that challenge and how to solve it.

Author and keynote speaker Shep Hyken is one of the world’s most well-known and well-respected experts on client service. He is dedicated to helping companies create customer experiences that bring them back over and over again. He does so with insights and gusto intended to challenge how you approach your crew, clients, and customers.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Shep and I discuss more than just the theories of creating good client relationships. In addition to talking about the need to create a sense of amazement and the downfall of settling for “fine,” Shep outlines the specific, tangible steps that can be taken to create a culture that is focused on the customer experience and how to make sure your clients won’t even consider looking anywhere else for what they need.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Client Service

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why it’s important to measure a client’s likelihood to return
  • How to create a sense of amazement with your customers and clients
  • The problem with “fine” in client service
  • The #1 culture-changing tool
  • A 6-step process for creating a culture that is focused on the customer
  • Precisely how to create an “I’ll be back” experience
Sep 13, 2021

At Agency Management Institute, we have repeatedly found ourselves in the position of helping agency owners figure out their exit strategy. Ideally, we’re talking about this many years before they’re ready to execute on whichever outcome makes the most sense for them and their agency. The typical scenarios are: Just making a fantastic living off the agency until you’re done and then closing up shop. Others want to sell to an outside buyer. But for many, the ideal scenario is to sell the agency internally to someone they’ve been grooming as a successor. This is often where we come in to assist.

Any sale is complicated, and everyone wants it to go as smoothly as possible. Which is why we’ve identified some common mistakes and the best ways to avoid making them. They’re all understandable and easy to make choices, but fortunately so are the fixes so you can just avoid them all together.

Whether you’re thinking of selling your agency in a year or it’s much further down the road, knowing what to avoid now is the best first foot forward.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Selling The Agency Internally

Selling The Agency Internally

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The problem with gifting employees shares
  • The importance of hiring outside guidance
  • The need to fully structure the deal
  • The lack of an owner’s transition plan
  • The mistake of not being prepared emotionally
Sep 6, 2021

Creativity lives at the center of every agency, but finding, nurturing, and retaining the best fit creatives can feel like an impossible task. Someone with an impressive resume who interviews wonderfully can suddenly feel like a mismatch once they’re actually in the role. It can feel like a guessing game, which is especially daunting for such an integral part of the team and your agency’s success.

Jamie Roberts has been a creative at agencies large and small. She grew up on the art side of the business and realized that all creatives are not wired the same. They might have similar skills but where they live on the spectrum of that skill defines their strengths and weaknesses. With this knowledge, she identified five key traits that can help agencies find creatives, or better understand the creatives they already have.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jamie and I explore the spectrum of these five key skills. We discuss how understanding them can simplify hiring decisions that lead to long-term success for both the agency and the new employee while also giving more insight into how to best leverage your existing creative staff. I even put Jamie’s skills to the test with an off-the-cuff discussion on where she believes I fall on the spectrum of these five skills.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to rethink the approach to creatives
  • Understanding creative traits on a spectrum
  • Responsive vs. deliberative adaptability
  • Abstraction vs. analytical curiosity
  • People vs. process agility
  • Collaborative vs. independent confidence
  • Broad vs. deep commitment
Aug 30, 2021

All agency owners strive to be great leaders but that can be a daunting task when there are so many things that demand attention on a daily basis. And understanding what defines a great leader and how to learn and implement those skills can be equally overwhelming. When it feels like the focus needs to be external on building the company and growing client relationships, time dedicated internally to processes and staff development is often rushed, minimized, or pushed to another day.

Author Deborah Coviello has studied what it takes for a CEO to elevate not only their companies but also their people for long-lasting impact. Defining an agency’s “True North” creates the guiding star to ensure the entire team is moving in the same direction. She also believes a focus on people development sets the foundation for the greatest success.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Deborah and I look at various elements that create a great CEO. We talk about the need for clear processes that have the future in mind, the importance of prioritizing proactive internal growth, and how any team member can be a high performer if you have the right conversation with them. We also discuss the insights an agency owner can gain by taking time away and why mentors and coaches may hold the key to a CEO’s success.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Rethink Leadership

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The elements that make up a “CEO’s Compass”
  • How a company benefits from defining their “True North”
  • Why the right processes are critical to success
  • The need to rethink leadership to prioritize doing something proactive to grow your company internally
  • What are we doing that’s right and wrong for growing our emerging leaders
  • How to improve the way we give feedback
  • The importance of finding a coach
  • The insights gained from three words: continue, start, and change
Aug 23, 2021

As we continue the push into a post-pandemic world, many agencies are taking a hard look at how they approach business and what they want this new future to look like. Many are implementing long-term changes inspired by what the last 18+ months has taught them. Others have been inspired to make changes toward a more focused vision. Success with these changes starts with becoming crystal clear on what kind of agency you want to be.

In over 300 podcasts, I have never repeated or reposted an episode. Until now. Episode #100 entitled “Are You A Wonderbread Factory or An Artisanal Bakery?” is probably the single most common episode people mention when they bring up past episodes. The response has been so positive and consistent that it felt like a perfect episode to revisit as a guiding light toward defining your agency’s next chapter.

In this solocast, I discuss the spectrum of how agencies can do business, from the creative-driven, custom-designed artisan way to the numbers-driven, one-size-fits-all factory approach. There are pros and cons of both sides, and many agencies live somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. But having agency clarity about where you are and where you want to be is the surest way to ensure the kind of success you are striving for.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why this topic seems more relevant today than when originally recorded
  • How agency focus sets up agency success
  • Defining the two ends of the spectrum of how agencies can approach business
  • The pros and cons of running a wonderbread style agency or an artisanal bakery
  • How to approach shifting your agency’s focus
Aug 16, 2021

An agency’s success or failure is reliant upon the owner’s leadership skills to a certain extent. There are many elements that ultimately create an agency’s legacy, but the strength of the leadership is one of the cornerstones that holds it all together. Most teams are built with people who have come up and through the agency world, so by the time they step into a leadership role, there’s a risk that they’re doing it the way everyone else has done it. If you want to have a next-level agency, it might be worth the effort to reexamine and sharpen your leadership approach.

Ryan Carey is a ranger-qualified army vet who now heads up White Label IQ, our presenting sponsor here at the podcast. His background and experience have given him unique insights into leadership that allow him to come at agency life with an inspiring perspective.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Ryan and I explore military-inspired leadership and how it can benefit agencies. These worlds might seem vastly different but they both share a need for clarity, communication, trust, respectful disagreements, and unflappable dedication to the team. We talk about all of these things, sprinkled with Ryan’s true-life stories from the front lines, with the hope of challenging and improving how you think about leadership.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The need to ensure clarity on a client’s definition of success
  • Tips for avoiding micromanaging your leadership
  • The need for clear processes
  • Why it’s important to not get complacent, even when succeeding
  • Absolute vs Participatory Leadership
  • How to respectfully disagree
  • The importance of trust
  • Challenges of splitting-focus
  • Military experience that benefits agency success

“As you continue to develop a project with a client, you’ve got to continue to ensure it’s aligning with where they’re wanting to go because they’re learning too in the whole process.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET“In leadership, it’s easy to get into a micromanaging scenario, especially when it’s client-facing.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET“I think it’s very easy to become a line item on an expense report and not a benefit to the company.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET“The more that you build trust with people, the more that they’re going to be able to say something when it matters.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET“People can do amazing things and when you give them leeway and trust, they can take that very far.” - Ryan CareyCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Ryan Carey:

Additional Resources:

Aug 9, 2021

Whenever I fly, I wear a t-shirt that says “Be Good To People.” It’s a simple message that I sincerely believe in but the response to the shirt, especially during the pandemic, has been something I wasn’t expecting. It has inspired people to quite literally reach out and touch me with a pat of gratitude for the reminder.

We are overwhelmed, exhausted, confused, and scared, all things that can bring out the worst in people, so a reminder that kindness exists, is possible, and can feel almost revolutionary. The generous response to my previous solocast about anxiety has inspired me to take a closer look at the message literally stamped on my chest, in hopes of finding ways to expand on self-care in a way that more fully benefits our teams and clients.

In this solocast, I’m talking about the various ways we can be good to ourselves, our team, and the clients we serve. We’ve all been in survival mode and now it’s time to remember who and what we were surviving for. This is about relationship care.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Recognizing the ongoing challenges created by the pandemic
  • A call to take better care of yourself
  • A reminder to reconnect with the people that inspire you
  • The need to think about your team
  • The power of learning opportunities
  • Tips for enhancing client relationships
  • Relationship care as a holistic approach
Aug 2, 2021

There’s no denying that the call for diversity, equity, and inclusion has never been louder. In the middle of it all, agencies are trying to embrace change internally at the same time they are guiding clients on how to incorporate genuine representation, making us students and guides at the same time. It can be uncomfortable, awkward, and overwhelming, especially to dominant communities who have no real-world experience with marginalization.

Nikki McCord turned her political science degree into a career dedicated to influencing change and policy. When she started her own consulting firm eight years ago, she chose to focus on three things: strategic facilitation, board governance, and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). She does so from the crossroads of compassion and urgency.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Nikki and I dive into all the difficult topics, starting with why she didn’t want to do this podcast. We talk about the ways agencies get stuck when trying to diversify, the costs and ROI of DEI, how to handle the necessary discomfort of open conversations, and the roles we all need to play in order to create a better world for everyone.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Where we get stuck in the pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
  • The costs associated with DEI
  • How to handle the discomfort of diversity discussions
  • The ROI of DEI
  • The need for dominant communities to be a voice for change
  • What to be thinking about in the quest for a diverse agency
  • The importance of management buy-in for DEI
  • How to begin a DEI integration
Jul 26, 2021

Creating a solid tax strategy for your agency might not seem like the most exciting thing to think about but doing so has the potential to put a lot more money directly into your pocket. It can be daunting to try and understand all of the options available, especially when a lot of the COVID-related aid adds to the confusion, so having a solid tax advisor in your corner is more important than ever. But how can you make sure you’re getting the guidance you need if you don’t even know what questions to ask?

Craig Cody is a tax strategist and planner who has helped many AMI members better manage their money. His insights and guidance are hugely beneficial to any agency owner wanting to save money while also leveraging income and assets for personal and professional goals.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Craig and I discuss all things taxes. We look at COVID-related strategies that are still available. We explore surprising deductions to be found by better leveraging your home and how to get the most out of your relationship with your tax advisor, all with the goal of setting up you and your agency for the best possible financial success.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Agency Owner Tax Strategies

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • COVID-related tax strategies that are still available
  • Understanding The Augusta Rule
  • How putting in a home pool can be tax-deductible
  • Knowing the difference between a tax strategist and a tax preparer
  • What to expect tax advisor conversations to look like
  • The Defined Benefits Program
  • Common missed opportunities in tax preparation
  • Questions to ask a new tax advisor
Jul 19, 2021

We all know how critical account service people are to the success of our agencies. It’s a tough job. Account service people must balance the needs of the agency, the internal team, and of course, the clients. A rock-solid account service person can help you retain and upsell clients, delivering a higher percentage of profitability on both counts. Creating a strong and dependable account services team and process is key to your success.

Taylor McMaster is a former agency owner who discovered what she loved most about the work was the account services side of it. This realization inspired her to start a company that outsources account service people to agencies with the goal of improving agency-client relationships and allowing agency owners to step back from the day-to-day so they can concentrate on scaling their business.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Taylor and I look at several different elements to building successful account services. We discuss how to onboard new clients, ways to ensure you’re hiring the right account services people, and making the most of client relationships by understanding what they want and need from your agency. Strengthening your approach to account services gives you as the agency owner the freedom to put your focus on building your business.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Account Services

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to onboard a new client
  • Why agency owners aren’t always great at client services
  • How to hire strong account service people
  • Keeping the relationship fresh with long-term clients
  • What clients want from your client services
  • How to merchandise a client relationship
  • What agencies get wrong in client services
Jul 12, 2021

We spent a lot of the last year steeped in worry. It was inevitable, given what we’ve all experienced. But even when we’re not facing a global pandemic — it’s easy to get caught up in your own mind, given our work. It’s the nature of the beast for problem solvers like us, working in an ever-changing industry, where our decisions and performance effect so many. Expected but exhausting. In that constant chaos, it can be especially difficult to remember to be grateful.

Author Kristi Nelson turned her journey back from Stage 4 cancer into a mission to remind herself and others of the importance for gratitude. Many of us have been on the receiving end of a wake-up call. The Covid-19 pandemic created that for a lot of people in every corner of the globe. Kristi’s message is all about how to be thoughtful and intentional as we move forward.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Kristi and I explore gratitude, with a particular focus on how it can affect and elevate agency owners and their businesses. We discuss how being grateful can assist problem-solving by reframing challenges as opportunities. We also look at how to show up as a leader who savors uncertainty, why it’s important to cherish connections, and what the “Golden Rule” gets wrong.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Gratitude

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why it’s so easy to fall back into an unfulfilling groove
  • How being grateful can aid problem solving
  • Reframing uncertainty for gratitude
  • How to show up as a leader who savors uncertainty
  • Cherishing connections
  • What the “Golden Rule” gets wrong
  • How to find out what your team truly wants
  • Understanding liminality

Ways to contact Kristi Nelson:

Tools & Resources:

Jul 5, 2021

With the realization that this was going to be the 300th episode of this podcast, I unconsciously started to put an extraordinary amount of pressure on myself to create something that was fantastic and perfect. Agency owners live with an immense amount of pressure and expectation every day so this kind of thinking is normal. But that doesn’t make it healthy, helpful, or wise.

In this solocast, I’m going to talk candidly about the anxiety I sometimes create for myself when striving for a perfection that is unachievable. I’m going to invite you to look at all the different pressures you feel in your life and career in order to clarify which ones are real and which ones you’re creating through your own drive for excellence and some unreasonable expectations.

The truth is – our excellence comes from keeping a steady hand at the helm. It’s about the consistency and the tenacity we demonstrate by showing up every day. Our agencies are like ships and we are its captain. Our job is to pilot the ship to its next destination. There are always going to be storms that crop up, big and small. But we have weathered many before and we’ve got this one too. That’s our genius.

And, finally, I’m going to ask you to seriously consider the honest answer to this question: “No, REALLY, how are you doing?”

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • A personal story about creating pressure to be excellent
  • Recognizing the dangerous expectations we set for ourselves
  • The importance of self-care as an agency owner
  • Why simply showing up can build to excellence
  • Why it’s important to be honest when answering “How are you?”
Jun 28, 2021

If there’s one thing every agency has to be able to do, it’s innovate. We are paid to be creative thinkers on command. We have to be able to generate ideas on a regular basis that serves both the agency and our clients. This can be exhausting and stressful to deliver consistently, especially because it’s usually only the agency owner or a handful of leaders who can do this work. What if everyone in the agency had the skills and confidence to be an innovative thinker?

Author Carla Johnson has studied the art and science of innovation. The research she’s done and the methodologies she’s built are both fascinating and super useful. She believes innovative thinking is both innate and teachable. It’s been an integral part of human nature since the beginning of time and it’s her mission to help reignite a passion for it.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Carla and I explore all things innovation. We give this buzzword a clear definition. We discuss mistakes made in trying to find creative solutions. We look at ways innovative thinking can be enhanced and taught, as well as how to create a culture of creative thinkers in your agency.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Agency innovation

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Understanding the definition of innovation
  • Why innovative thinking is a skill we all have
  • Mistakes that keep meetings from being creatively rich
  • Is innovative thinking teachable?
  • Does groupthink help or hinder agency innovation?
  • Why adults are less innovative than children
  • The archetypes of innovative thinking
  • How to create a culture of creative, innovative thinkers
Jun 21, 2021

Culture has always been an integral part of any organization. We talk about it in different ways than we used to, but wherever people gather – they create culture. Often, that culture becomes one of the building blocks of an organization’s brand. But not always. The crossroads of brand and culture still holds a lot of untapped potential your agency can leverage both for yourself and your clients.

Theresa Agresta is a former agency owner who realized the cultural assessments she was using to build a brand created a whole different business opportunity that would allow her to dig much deeper into the connection between brand and culture. The fascinating work she’s doing through her company CultureTalk is something that could greatly benefit agency clients, as well as their own shops.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Theresa and I look at the ways culture can be used as a tool for agency growth. We take a deep dive into the definition of culture, while also exploring ways to change a company culture, use these insights to improve employee and client relations, and how embracing culture research can easily create additional revenue streams by enhancing what you can offer to clients and prospects.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Brand and Culture

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The data used to study brand and culture
  • The gap between what is expected and what is tolerated
  • How systems aid culture-related conversations
  • Tools for changing a culture
  • How agencies are using culture insights to better their work
  • Getting over the hesitation of a culture review
  • Using the insights in regards to employee relations
  • Utilizing culture research outside of brand work
  • Creating AGI from culture assessments

“By measuring organizational culture, there are many different connected business challenges that you can start to solve for.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“Culture exists in the delta between what leaders say they expect and what they actually tolerate day-to-day.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“One of the critical things that a system, a framework, and a language give you is the ability to have a real conversation about culture.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“If you want to help an organization tap into who they are at a gut level and show up authentically, it all starts with understanding their culture.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“It’s about creating awareness and acceptance for the differences and appreciating the value that different people bring.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET“Culture can be measured, it can be managed, and it can be led.” @TheresaAgrestaCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Theresa Agresta:

Tools & Resources:

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