Reflections on building an agency, by Chiquita King, founder and managing director, Cocogun.
Our third birthday recently gave me cause to look back and reflect on some of the things we’ve learned since we opened our doors in April 2019.
A series of important lessons informed partly by building an agency and partly from three days of binge-watching one of my favourite TV shows of the last ten years, Ted Lasso. Here are my key thoughts:
Be a Roy, not a Nathan
There’s a powerful integrity in being yourself – as an individual and as an agency – which will always trump the insecurity of trying to be someone you’re not.
The more curious we are, the more we understand. The more we understand, the less we judge and the things that once sought to divide us seem insignificant.
We’re not for everybody
And how liberating. It means we are not transactional in nature. It means our partnerships with clients are founded on much more than just supply and demand. Our clients share our values and our creative ambition. And when we’re in your corner, we’re in your corner.
You can’t hide energy
The energy we bring to a meeting, a conversation and an idea can make all the difference. It permeates everything and influences the trajectory of our thoughts and conviction. How we show up is as important as why we show up.
Winning is important but not everything.
When we don’t win, we learn. And that is of equal importance. It also demands that we stretch ourselves and reach heights we didn’t think we were capable of. Learning paves the way for better.
The power of acknowledgment
Ted once said, “You could fill two internets with what I don’t know about football.” A great reminder that being the leader doesn’t mean being the one who knows everything. Our agency (and this business) is filled with inspiring, intelligent humans. I love learning from them. And I love seeing our people grow taller in their chairs when we acknowledge their efforts, their brilliance and watch them reach every ounce of their potential and then some. I’m surprised by how much they are finding new ways to have us reach new potential too. We’re all students.
Putting people ahead of profit is sustainable
When we opened our doors, we made only one commitment and it governs all other commitments. Put people first. As a result, we’ve never had to have any other rules, mandates, philosophies, policies or debates. Putting people first makes for a thriving culture, happy clients and yes … money.
Has our first three years been challenging? Absolutely. But has it been fabulously rewarding? Without a doubt. In the words of my friend Ted, “I feel like we fell out of the lucky tree and hit every branch on the way down, ended up in a pool of cash and Sour Patch Kids.”