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The Keeper of Our Company’s Soul

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Bob and asked him point blank: “Do you think this business is good and worth continuing to grow?”

That’s a loaded question and a lot to ask from someone - but it’s the question I had been struggling with for a handful of years.

Last year, during a strategic planning session with Bob, I struggled to give him 5 goals I wanted to hit in 3-5 years (we were using the Hoshin method for about 35 minutes, and I have since moved on from that).

I can look across the horizon and see my peers. I know what many of them consider success: How much money was made? How large a “brand recognition” is. How many people are on the payroll? How attractive you are to be an acquisition target.

But none of those things are ever how I’ve defined success.

Success is less quantifiable because it’s how I feel about our company.

Oh yeah, business analysts and peer CEOs love this as much as my strategic leadership team does.

🧠 I know it’s my job to provide vision and direction to the team.

🧠 I know it’s my job to ensure everyone knows where we’re going, but the truth is that creating an artificial vision to fulfill some checklist on the Things CEOs Should Do is bullshit.

Instead of creating measurable goals that we have to hit every quarter and yearly to get to some endpoint in the future, I’ve redefined my job as the Keeper of Our Soul.

What the actual hell is that? I’m sooooo glad you asked.

I believe that BS+Co. is an organized group of people that want the same thing: to offer marketing services in a way that has never been done before, to the benefit of our companies and to us.

👉 Because we’re attempting to deconstruct everything about #agencylife, we can’t use the same metrics of success that other service-based organizations use.

👉 Because we’re radically redefining what success is, we have to create new metrics.

👉 Because we are literally willing to burn our own house down to fulfill our mission, any metric that is too self-focused quickly becomes something that makes everyone uncomfortable.

Just a pause here because while I’m all for changing the mother-effing world that doesn’t mean I am not an intelligent businessperson. Some things are CRITICAL to the health of this group of people that we call BS+Co. We have strict rules around things like profit margin and utilization. As an organization, we ensure that while questioning everything about services, our company remains fiscally sound, and our internal processes support a healthy framework for operations.

Excuse me while I climb back on my soapbox.

As Bob and I continued our strategic planning sessions (yes, sessionS, it took way more than one to convince me this was even necessary), I slowly began to shift how I was approaching his questions about my vision and our goals.

I pushed back on damn near everything traditional, and I finally found a way to describe to Bob what I saw for 3-5 years:

“Bob, we’re still a proof of concept. We’ve been successful in going to market with our message, but can we consistently identify the right team and attract the right companies to scale?

I see us as a science lab. One in which we’re questioning everything and applying theories of high performance, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in relationships.

I can’t create goals around revenue because revenue is only a trailing indicator that what we’re doing is working.

Instead, I’d rather measure the health of the Soul of Our Company.

I’d rather be led by what we’re trying to accomplish versus being pulled but what we think success should look like.”

At that moment, we looked at each other and got excited. We ARE a lab, we ARE proof of concept, and frankly, I would argue that every company is still a proof of concept, but that’s another article.

I know that a million different things influence my feelings:

🛏️ How well I slept the night before
🥺 What particular blend of hormones I’m working with at that given moment
🍲 How hungry I am
📅 The events of the days before and what might be planned for the days coming

However, I am learning to be incredibly proud and reliant on my intuition. As Bob once said to me, “If you have a slight twitch in your gut that something isn’t right, you don’t have to say another word, I trust you.”

Oh yeah, I cried at that.

🤍 The Soul of BS+Co. can’t be distilled down into a spreadsheet or even sometimes articulated into words. It’s the collection of the data, conversations, and overall sense of well-being that I constantly tune into.

🤍 The Soul of your Company is the most valuable thing you have. It highlights what’s working and makes glaring obvious what’s not. It’s what gently moves you toward the noble purpose of your company or stops you dead in your tracks if you’ve lost your way.

🤍 The Soul of your Company is what attracts the team and customers that were destined to be aligned.

🤍 The Soul of your Company is the only thing that can’t be shaken by the economy, COVID, bad decisions, or anyone else’s perspective.

Back to the question about whether our company is good and worth scaling: Bob’s answer was spot on; he said, “Britt, what is good? Is ‘good’ a number or an achievement of a goal? No. Good is having a positive influence on people. We will have peaks and valleys, but neither of those defines whether we are good. We are good because we compromise on nothing that matters and continue to be led by conviction rather than fortune.”

Good will look different for every company, but the definition of good won’t be found on your P+L or in brief from leadership; it will be found instead by the Soul of your company.

So my question to you: who’s keeping that in your company?