This is the third of six summer specials of the agency leaders newsletter. In each edition, I'll suggest some prompts to think about when you get some time to yourself to think and dream about your agency. Make sure to rest lots first, but add in a day or two away from work here and there over the summer to just read and think. Creative businesses need their leaders to take this space for thinking or they stagnate.

Reflections on the board

I know it's the summer, but it's not the surf kind of board :)

Imagine that I've just joined your agency's advisory board. In advance of the first meeting, you and I are meeting for a couple of hours one-to-one.

The idea is for me to really dig into understanding your agency so I can be useful straight away. I want to find out what's going on behind the scenes, what problems you're tackling, what issues are on the horizon, what stresses lurk at the back of your mind.

What would you dread me asking about, or spotting?

Why?

How do you or the agency benefit from keeping this issue suppressed? Or would it be better to face up to it?

Why does the issue exist in the first place?

What's held you back from sorting it out?

What first steps are needed to tackle that issue now?

How might your quiet heroes be able to take some parts of this issue off your shoulders, and act on some of these first steps to tackle it?

Summer reading recommendation

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.

A respected entrepreneur and investor lays out the bare reality of the tough stuff you have to face up to as a founder,  including firing friends, poaching from competitors, what to do when smart people are bad employees, and how to manage your own psychology, while the whole company is relying on you.

From the blog

Some highlights from our posts for agency owners in the last year to catch up on or revisit:

  • We did some research with agency founder-CEOs and one of the big issues we found was most people feel lonely and isolated at some time or another. Part of that is carrying the silent burden of some the issues this week's reflection was designed to surface.
  • Another common problem was founders feeling they were always learning the hard way. An advisory board can help bypass that, by bringing in experience and insight from others who understand the business (and the advisory boards we run for agencies don't just bring our own experience, but insight from lots of research and interviews too)
  • I wrote before about agency owners moving from mining to sculpture, and this week's reflection — solving some of the pent up problems, is definitely

Quotes of the week

“You're trying to escape from your difficulties, and there never is any escape from difficulties, never. They have to be faced and fought.” ― Enid Blyton
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

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