Why I Started My Own Damn Agency

(The Top 5 Reasons)

Okay, I know the title comes off a bit angry. I’m not. I’m defiant. See definition below.

Defiant: [dih-fahy-uh nt] characterized by defiance; boldly resistant or challenging: a defiant attitude.

I’ve been in the corporate world. A lot. I’ve met and collaborated with some of the most talented, brilliant creative minds in organizations small and big. Many of those creative gurus I am still connected with and some I am lucky enough to call friends. I’ve also learned a lot, from colleagues, bosses and even adversarial relationships.

But sometimes a fish has to jump into another paradigm.

And the agency world has changed. Dramatically. Can you feel it? Can you sense it? The agency zeitgeist has exploded and lots of folks are scrambling. All up and down the food chain, from C-suite execs to interns just out of school, there’s a new vibration happening.

This article from Business Insider is quite telling.

I’m not going to spend time here discussing what the new agency model is. Google it. There are plenty of articles and videos.

So why did I start my own damn agency? There are many reasons. I’m giving you just five below. But here’s the disclaimer: The reasons are my reasons and don’t necessarily reflect my partners or anyone else I may know.

The top 5 reasons why I started my own damn agency: (In no particular order.)

1) Choose Myself — This may sound self-centered and it is. I have learned this year through a divorce, my father’s death and unstable employment that I MUST fill my own cup up first. This is not a new idea. As a gushing fan boy of James Altucher, his many books including Choose Yourself, his podcast, his nebbishy weirdness and copious amounts of advice, I need to choose me first.

2) Agency Zeitgeist — As mentioned above, the old agency model is dead. Really. Even colleagues I know who are deeply ensconced in their gigs are feeling it. That doesn’t mean everyone should up and quit their jobs. I’m not suggesting that. For me, it means to take the mile-high view — the long term strategy. What is happening in the industry? There are folks who are lot smarter than me, raising red flags and pivoting. My goal is to stay frosty. Stay aware.

3) Life Design — I met this really nice video editor when I was working on a consulting project this past summer. In our conversation he said that he had an apartment in NYC and one in beautiful Topanga Canyon, California. He travels back and forth each month as the jobs would dictate him to be on a certain coast. I asked him about it, and he said, “Well, dude, I like to design my life that way.” I thought long and hard about what he said. ‘Design my life’, sounded obnoxious and definitely pretentious. Yes, I was jealous. I also knew in my heart that what he said was exactly what I needed to hear. Why not? If he could design his life and live the way he wanted, why couldn’t I? Boom.

4) A Better Way — We’ve all been there. Another pointless meeting. Another bloated process that slows down the goal. Another costly piece of project management/creative enhancing software that’s supposed to streamline the work flow but takes 6 months to understand, wastes precious time and bogs down everyone’s workday. But hey, it’s Agile. Another day of one part of the organization NOT knowing what is being created in another part of an organization. THINK: silo. My team and I knew there was a better way. One that was nimble, extremely fast, could iterate and pivot on a dime, and absolutely be FUN — see reason 5 below.

5) Fun — This may seem trivial or frivolous but fun really is our secret sauce. Why? Because that’s the way we want to work. Bringing fun into the workplace, infusing joy in our organization is critical. Fun raises all business and company culture boats. It’s also backed by reams of evidence based research and empirical data. If you don’t think it’s important and that the fun-factor in your organization is silly, check out former Harvard professor, Shawn Achor’s work. You can start with his TED talk which has over 16 million views.

And let me be brutally honest, I started my own damn agency because I am lucky enough to have been asked by four other brilliantly smart people to be part of their team. Sure, it’s lucky but in an age of uncertainty, it’s good to know that you have brilliant friends who think highly of you.

Jordan Jacobson is a partner and Creative Director with RGB Matters.