New Business Success Starts With Your Ad Agency Setting High Expectations

A homeless man provides a life lesson
by Todd Knutson

My son got a powerful dose of wisdom from a homeless man yesterday. When I heard the story, I couldn't help but think about the applicability of what he said to business in general, and to ad agency new business in particular.

Here's the background. In Atlanta, as in many other cities, if you want to get better at a sport you need to play on a club team. My son has been playing soccer with a particular team for about seven years. This year, though, he decided to try out with another club that's known for attracting some of the best players and coaches.

On the way home from the first tryout, he was very pessimistic about his chances of making the team, complaining that everyone was better than him. My wife would hear none of it, and being the calm, demur person that she is (not!), and being up to her ears with his 13-year old attitude, she gave him a piece of her mind. The central theme was setting high expectations for yourself and never giving up. Much of this took place at a stop light; neither of them realized that someone was listening.

The next thing they knew, a homeless man was at my son's window saying,

Son, listen to your mother, like I should've listened to mine. If I'd set high expectations like she told me to, I wouldn't be homeless today. And son, you don't ever wanna be homeless.

What a statement, and what a lesson! Both son and wife were speechless.

I've been around many an agency or new business person who have set really low expectations for themselves or their agency. Perhaps it comes from the way they were raised, maybe from insecurity about the sales process, or perhaps lack of confidence in their creative product. But in any case, it's demotivating. Do you want to work where "same old, same old" is okay?

Contrast that with the CEO who has a vision and sets big hairy audacious goals for every department in the agency, and gets everyone to believe that together they can win.

Setting high expectations is the difference betwen maintaining the status quo or going backwards versus experiencing growth and opportunity. Which do you want in your business life? Are you challenging yourself and your agency's new business process? Are you setting stretch goals? Are you striving to learn and grow as a person so you can contribute more in your current role and create opportunities for yourself in the future?

 

 

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