10 Lessons in 3 Years To Rock Agency Life

Agency LifeWelp, it’s official. I’ve been in the agency world for three years as of today. 

Agency life is no moonlit walk on the beach. It’s more like a Tough Mudder, demanding dynamic action at every turn. But, at the end of the day, you feel accomplished—and rightly so.

Looking back, I barely recognize the professional that walked down PR 20/20’s bright blue corridor for the first time in 2012. I was terrified of failure and unaware of my potential. And now, completely transformed, I figured my three-year milestone was the perfect time to reflect on what I’ve learned and how I learned it. 

My Big 10 Takeaways 

1. Be a Sponge

Your coworkers are your biggest assets. If they’re offering advice, write it down. And, if they aren’t, ask to meet for lunch or coffee. We all have different backgrounds, talents and perspectives. Learning from those around you will only polish your own development. Plus, if you can find a solid mentor … you’re golden. 

2. FaceTime is Key (No, Not on your iPhone)

I geek out over my digital technologies all the time. But, surprise, surprise, your parents were right; emails aren’t the key to meaningful relationships. Schedule regular touch points, in person, to truly connect, whether with clients or colleagues or bosses. Bring a professional agenda and a personal one. Let your counterpoint see your intriguing personality beyond the marketing talent. 

3. Prioritize Strategically 

It’s hard for the type A personality to say “no” (take it from me), but sometimes saying “no” is the smartest choice. Stress is not good for your creative mojo, and neither is overworking yourself. In the words of Ariana Huffington, “Creating the culture of burnout is opposite to creating a culture of sustainable creativity.”

There will always be more work that could have been done. So, prioritize what matters most to you and to your career, and always say “yes” to that. 

4. Be the Big Idea Guru 

Once you’ve got efficiencies down, it’s easy to get lost in the daily tizzy of production. There’s great value in GSD (getting sh** done), but there’s more value in big ideas. Allow time to brainstorm long-term, larger-scale campaign ideas. It will differentiate your skillset and showcase the true value you can bring to an outsourced marketing team. 

5. Find Your Passion

Working at an agency, we all wear a number of hats (hence the hybrid marketer). They don’t all look spectacular, of course, but some fit better than others. What sets you apart? Determine your specialty, and focus on becoming the expert in that area. Think: What comes naturally? What do I find myself putting off?

6. Meetings Are (Often) the Enemy

Always question meeting attendance before you accept an invitation. Can you truly add value? Has the organizer sufficiently prepared invitees? If there’s no agenda and no end goal in sight, it’s probably a waste of time.

7. Find a Quiet Spot 

The open office is a tech startup’s bread and butter. But, in my opinion, open spaces don’t nurture creative thinking. Do some A/B testing with your creative genius, and figure out when and where you perform best.

Related read — How To Power Content Marketing Productivity & Creativity

8. Think Big Picture

Short-term account planning will probably end in short-lived wins. Becoming a good manager starts with holistic thinking, and ends in longer-term successes.

A well-defined, clear vision is key to feeling successful (this goes for your client too). Always make time for performance reporting and planning—if not monthly then yearly.

9. Keep Reading

Our education doesn’t end when we get that final diploma or certification. Take advantage of developmental resources offered at your agency (i.e. books, online training, webinars, etc.). It increases your intrinsic value as an employee, and personally, gives me a little motivational and confidence boost. 

10. Go to Happy Hour

Integrating yourself into agency culture is so important. To truly take part in something great, you must understand the people behind the work. So, always say “yes” to happy hour and agency outings, and remember that the memories will live on beyond your latest blog post.

Thanks to all my colleagues at PR 20/20 for helping me get here. Cheers to the next three years!

Agency Life

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