BL&T No. 005: Rising Above the Action of the Day

Agency Leadership

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.


"The human body is the best picture of the human soul."

Ludwig Wittgenstein


Every quarter, I join Peter, Sei-Wook, and Wes (the other Barrel partners) for an all-day planning meeting. We reflect on the past three months and define our focus for the next three months. The day always moves quickly and I leave feeling energized - even on Zoom! We met last week to prepare for Q4.

We consistently end these meetings with the same sentiment: "Well, we have a lot of work to do. Let's do it!" This time, there was one nuance - the work.

When looking back on previous meetings, we've found that we don't always see the big picture. When it feels like there's a lot that isn't working, it's hard not to be reactive. In time, we've found that these types of issues are better tackled in collaboration with those closest to the day-to-day processes. We can't expect to make them vanish on our own and truthfully, many of them will always be a challenge.

In our meeting last week, we didn't get hung up on these "pressing" issues; we gave them their space and moved on. Our focus for Q4 is not a bunch of band-aids to fix what feels like it isn't working right now. Instead, we defined the opportunities that we believe will take the business into uncharted territory. That's exciting.

As we ended our meeting, I thought: "We've come a long way. Let's keep it going!"

Fun fact: We used to hold our quarterly meetings on the weekend. It seemed impossible for the four of us to be out for an entire day at the same time. Last week, we met on a Thursday. While it might seem small, it represents something much larger: growth. Five years from now, I can only imagine what I might write about this meeting. I can't wait to find out.

Lesson? If you paint a wall and watch it dry, it may be challenging to see the color change as the paint becomes less wet. You may grow impatient or even tempted to try a new color. If you paint a wall and step away for a few hours, your experience will change. When you return, you’ll be surprised to find that the color is much closer to what you expected. Not to mention - your mind is clear and you've had a break.

Thought Starter

If I wrote myself a letter five years ago, what would it say? How would I reply today?

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