On Leadership

Posted in All, Modern Business

It’s been a while. I used to write and manage this blog entirely on my own, and then we got too busy and hired other people to write it for us. Beyond the fact that I had approximately zero time (or brain space) to sit down and write, I also thought it would be interesting to hear from some other voices in the company, to get a little more focused on the specifics of what we do and what we know, rather than the type of post I tend to write, which is a little more conceptual and life-centered. All that said, here I am, back at the drawing board.

This year, Command C celebrated our ten year anniversary and here’s what we are doing to celebrate: we’re starting over. This is a half truth. What we are really doing is taking everything we have learned over the past ten years, stepping back, and leveraging that to intentionally and purposefully pivot. We are still knee deep in this process, so instead of making sweeping convictions about who the new Command C is and will be, I want to talk more about the process we are undergoing–I’m undergoing–as the founder of this company.

First though, I want to express some gratitude. Not only do I feel it, but it will also lead into the why behind this shift. The past four years have been phenomenally successful for us. In each of those, we have either doubled or nearly doubled the work we have produced while remaining a lean and nimble company. Our team and caliber of client roster have grown, but we have held tight to the things that make us us: our attention to craft and detail, strength in our smallness, and our commitment to enjoying the work we do on a daily basis. So, thank you to our clients and thank you to our incredibly talented and committed team for making this happen.

Now, the why. I can’t tell you the number of times I get asked if my goal is to sell Command C, as this is a common trajectory for small, successful digital agencies–they get swooped up by the big guys. While there are many aspects of the idea of getting bought that are appealing, this is not my goal. I learn too much from and love too much of what we have built, in other words, I find joy here. With that clarity, as we grow, I find that all of a sudden I am running a company that is operating at a whole new level and in a whole new arena. And that is why we are stepping back and reassessing, because I want the foundation underneath us to both be intentional and to support us through this growth.

At the beginning of May 2014, I started working with an eMyth business coach. I read The eMyth some years ago and have come back to it time and time again over the years. I have implemented some of this stuff on my own, but the truth is that this is hard, deep, challenging work that I needed help with.

The eMyth is built on the core concept that there are three main business personalities: the technician, the manager and the entrepreneur. Most small business owners go into business for themselves because they are good at something and think, ‘Hey, I’ll just do this on my own…’, and as such they end up in the technician role.  I am certainly no exception to this rule. The technician is the one doing the actual hands on work of the business, which is obviously crucial, but without an entrepreneur, or someone working on the business, the business trajectory can be left somewhat blurry and lacking. For the past ten years I have been so caught up in doing this business, and I have loved it, but as we grow this is becoming increasingly challenging, and I find myself more and more intrigued and inspired by working on the strategy, visioning and trajectory of the business.

So what is really happening here is that I am undergoing a radical shift that is trickling down into the veins of Command C. The most challenging part is that this requires some real slowing down and doing nothing. It requires some deep letting go of the doing, which a part of me L-O-V-E-S, handing that over to my team, and letting the vision of who I want Command C to be over the next ten years (and then the next ten) come to me.

So while I don’t have any clear cut answers or declarations to make quite yet, what I did want to share is that there is something about being in the process, be it the web design process or the process of refining and redefining your business, that I find deeply compelling. It is where the magic happens. Letting go is tough, but I am finding real value in entrusting myself (and Command C) to a system rather than an outcome. And it occurred to me that this is exactly the space and mindset from which our most successful web design projects emerge.