On June 1, 2020, we celebrated 14 years in business at Barrel. I’ve been with the agency for seven years, exactly one month shy of half of that time.
I came to Barrel on a freelance design contract. I was one year into my first job post-college. It wasn't going as I had hoped and Barrel had everything I was looking for. At the time, a freelance position was scary and exciting all at the same time. The future was unknown but I gave it my all and it paid off.
Needless to say, it's been a special experience. Seven years ago, I never would have thought a "job" could have such a profound impact. I feel lucky to look back over the years and only see progression.
Among the partners, we have a saying: "No good days, no bad days. Just days". This couldn't be more true about our history. Rather than focusing on the past, we do our best to look forward. Every misstep is an opportunity for growth.
To keep this spirt alive, we practice constant communication and consistently hold each other accountable. As a leadership team, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle of the day and lose sight of what's important. To make sure that's never an excuse, we have a 2-hour weekly standing meeting, annual/quarterly planning meetings, monthly dinners (pre-COVID) and since transitioning to a remote company, we meet at the end of every day.
It's been incredible to see the impacts of this level of communication.
In celebration of our 14 Year "Barrelversary", we set time aside to reflect. In absence of dining out, we set up a Zoom call and all ordered the same bottle of wine in advance (8 Years in the Desert by Orin Swift).
We each prepared for 14 lessons we valued the most in running the business. This was a lot of fun. I had never really spent focused time to reflect on what lessons the past had taught me. Once I got to thinking and writing, it was hard to stop. The hardest part was slimming it down and prioritizing.
Below are the 14 lessons I landed on:
Here's a look at what the others shared:
With almost 45 years of collective experience, we enjoyed seeing where there was overlap and how we each prioritized different themes.
Whether you're working in an agency or not, I highly suggest this activity. It's a different way of looking back. It makes you realize how everything that has come before has made you who you are today. For me, it reminded me how grateful I am for the past and what it has given me today.
In the words of Keith J. Cunningham in his book, The Road Less Stupid:
"Pleasure is about stimulating the sense. Happiness is found by being grateful for what I've got. Success is getting what I want. Fulfillment is giving what I've got."
I think we'd all be happier with a little more gratitude.
What are the most important lessons you've learned over the past 5 years? How have those lessons changed who you are today?