Of all the things to think about as we begin a new year, one thought rises above the rest.
We need to keep it real and we need to keep it fun. Yes, fun. If you aren’t loving it and having some fun, then you won’t do well for yourself, your team or your clients. It’s harder to win consistently unless you are having fun playing this game.
W2O Group had a break-out year in 2017 achieving outstanding performance. We exceeded our revenue target and improved in key areas of efficiency, profit margin and service. We are consistently getting better at how we allocate resources, manage services and develop talent.
We have work to do to further optimize these metrics, but every single one of you should be extremely proud of what you are doing to ensure we “Become the Best!”
As we look back on the achievements of 2017, we must now turn our attention to what’s ahead. That’s the nature of business and certainly life. What makes our work so fulfilling and worthwhile is that there is no exact formula to produce magic. Solving complex business situations involves methodologies, data/analytics, insights, strategy, passion, experience, collaboration and sometimes a leap of faith, trusting your gut instincts.
If it was “Paint by Numbers,” then anyone could do it. It’s not.
I encourage you to celebrate the work we do for our client partners – as well as how we work together. We need to recognize and share our magic, not necessarily to promote ourselves, but to learn from what’s working well and to instill an attitude across the firm of what success looks and feels like.
This leads me to a key thought that should shape all we do in 2018: Keeping the “Why” ahead of the “What.”
We can never let the things we do replace the reasons we do them – insight, purpose, efficacy and results.
It’s always about the conditions and situation in which we involve ourselves. It’s about how we care for our client partners and the promises we make and, above all, how we respect and treat each other internally in the process of delivering on those promises. The more fun we have doing it with both with our clients and with each other, the better the results in my experience.
It’s too easy to default to the products, services, capabilities and models as a foundation for ascribing value. Are they important? Yes. Do they differentiate us? Yes. But, do they define us? Absolutely not!
This is something we must work on diligently all year to keep our north star intact.
As we go forward, let’s look at what we did learn this past year:
1. Technology “giveth” but can also “taketh” away – What I mean is that technology provides an ability to become smarter about purchase habits, behaviors, interests, opinion formation and predictive tendencies. By the same token, it can also disguise itself, confusing the truth and skewing reality. It’s imperative we pressure test everything we think we learn and everything we do, so that the integrity of the work is maintained.
2. Being Innovative comes with a cost – We continue to invest in our capabilities and in so doing disrupt the status quo. However, innovation cannot be optimized if our clients and our own teams are not engaged and getting their hands dirty in the insight and requisite benefits in programming and execution that it engenders. In 2018, it’s critical that we work with our clients to better translate data to insight to action. In so doing, move from intuitive-based solutions to precise communications throughout the marketing and digital spectrum.
3. Insight Integration is not a theme – Rather, it’s how we conduct our work. Period. Every client engagement. Every strategy formulation. Every program development. Every execution. Every measurement framework. All will be influenced and informed by insights generated from data/analytics.
I can assure you that 2018 will be every much what we experienced last year and probably more. While there are no guarantees in our lives or our work, there are a few things you can expect at W2O:
Learning & Development – We are investing in myriad training/development efforts on your behalf to better grasp everything from understanding our models, methodologies, and approaches, strategy development, program planning, manager effectiveness, consultative techniques and financial acumen. Keep asking for it and participate vigorously.
Diversification & Integration – We are continuing our efforts to strengthen integration of people, processes, capabilities in our work. This gives us the best chance at success in the marketplace. And gives you an opportunity to learn new skills and techniques that will enrich your career and professional standing.
Opportunities to Grow & Advance – We are scaling very quickly and with such growth comes new and interesting opportunities for career advancement and growth. This is what keeps W2O Group an incredible place to build your career.
So, please reach out to your colleagues, managers and leaders, and acknowledge the great year we just had thanking them for their efforts.
And then, embrace the year ahead and the expectations before us with a renewed sense of purpose, respect, diversification, integration, curiosity and learning. Let’s defend and maintain our no-assholes, no politics or game-playing culture. Let’s be direct with and responsive to one another and continue results-oriented discussions and constructive debates that focus on results vs. activities. Finalize your personal quarterly goals with your manager based on our overall business goals, because if you don’t know where you are going, you can’t get there.
Think bigger, better and bolder. And for the love of the game, have some fun!
Please accept my sincere wishes for a healthy, happy and productive 2018! And see you all along the long hallway soon.