Elasticity was founded on Jan. 1, 2009, and as we approach 2024, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about our 15-year journey and what lies ahead.
It often surprises people to learn that I never thought I had an entrepreneurial bone in my body. I’ve since realized the ways of my error, and as a result, I find each year we are still a going concern to be miraculous. Over a decade and a half there have been a range of emotions and experiences: Extreme ups and downs, plenty of in-betweens, people have come and gone, there’s been happiness, sadness, anger, unadulterated joy and every other possible emotion therein. I’m not sure I’d change any of it.
In no particular order, here’s 15 reflections over 15 years as we enter 2024:
- We Were Right: I am not trying to gloat. Truly. I state this more with a sense of relief, in fact, as well as pride. When my partners and I left our former employer, our notion was that disruptive creative content combined with algorithmic technology was the future of how brands are built and marketed. It not only happened, but it has evolved at breakneck speed and we’ve been well positioned in the marketplace from our founding.
- Thank you, Jim Gallagher: Elasticity launched as a subsidiary of another agency, but we were more like a distant, really ugly cousin with herpes. We were thrown some client breadcrumbs in the agriculture space and were working with the former Monsanto (now Bayer) out of the gate, which was really nice. But our true first client that we brought in ourselves was Charter Communications (now Spectrum). We significantly grew the account from a small SEO retainer to managing social media for both Charter consumer and Charter Business. After Charter merged with Time Warner–becoming Spectrum Communications–and relocated in 2016, we managed to retain their business for a few years, continuing to deliver amazing work driven by innovative thinking. Thank you, Jim Gallagher, our first Charter client, for believing in us and for being a tremendous partner.
- Celebrate Good Times: Forgive the Kool & the Gang reference but it is imperative that we celebrate the wins. Celebrate them with your teammates. Celebrate like you’re STEMulis Maximus! You do not need permission. Our team works hard, putting in the hours and cognitive sweat required to deliver on our promise. When we win, we need to celebrate the people who make that possible. To quote AC/DC, “Have a drink on me!”
- Growth Is Hard, Part 1: I may spend even more time with my two partners than I do my wife, and business partnerships are actually a lot like marriages. One aspect of any partnership that’s often overlooked is that they require a commitment to a continuum of growth. I’m not talking about wanting to get bigger and more profitable (I’ll get to that sort of growth later). What I’m talking about is personal growth, individual development and spiritual evolution. It can be incredibly challenging as it forces you to look very intently at yourself and say, “I have to change. I have to be better.” But the three of us who lead Elasticity have always been very committed to personal growth and it’s a nice bond we share that I believe has been the foundation of a successful partnership.
- The Boomerang Never Fails: Trends come, trends go. Bell bottoms were cool in the ‘70s and hated from the ‘80s – 2010. Then they were cool for a spell again. Same with mustaches and mom jeans. After years of sitting together in conference rooms and offices to come up with great creative ideas, COVID-19 threw a grenade on the traditional workplace. COVID made an indelible mark on every thread of the fabric of our culture. But arguably more than anywhere, it has impacted how we collaborate. The self-isolation that many workers have fallen in love with, however, may be fleeting. Right now, we are stuck somewhere in between, but the pendulum is going to continue to swing on this issue and anyone who manages a business is going to wrestle with it. We will continue to work our way through it.
- I Must-Ache You a Question: Speaking of mustaches, before entering the Elasticity era of my career, I was a short-time sports television producer and then a longtime PR guy. In my heart, I have always been a content creator. I love making stuff. So, in 2006, when I began developing an effort to “bring back the mustache” with a few others—at the heart of it was a passion for content. I never knew it would fundamentally change my career. But alas, it did. It just sounds so remarkably stupid to write or say it out loud that I rarely do. But building a community around reviving the mustache as a fashion trend changed my life, my career path, drove many people to hate and some to admire me (like three or four people) and perplexed a nation of clean-shaven mortals. I won’t go into the details about the “how” as Google can answer that for anyone. But I would not be part of Elasticity—and I don’t know if Elasticity would exist—were it not for the American Mustache Institute.
- Don’t Fear Failure: We fail as an agency on a regular basis and it’s not a bad thing. Why? Because we don’t fear failure. We embrace it and would rather go into a creative pitch with a client or even a new business prospect and show them our best, most disruptive thinking. Of course, we’re always going to have a more conservative option. It’s not uncommon for us to present three unique creative concepts. But you have to swing for the fences whenever you possibly can.
- Growth Is Hard, Part 2: We started with three of us. Today we are about 35 in seven or so states. Growth is great, but growth has to be measured, nurtured, carefully cultivated, and not done simply for the sake of growth. I’m proud that we have not blindly sought to grow for growth’s sake. In a sea of soulless corporate marketers, our souls are still relatively intact—and that’s a good thing.
- Communicative Communication: When it comes to interpersonal communication in the modern age, humanity really, really sucks. We send pithy texts and Slack messages that lack context, slide into DMs and rarely have nuanced, meaningful conversations. For God’s sakes people—WE ARE PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATORS! Pick up the damn phone. Get on a video call. Or, hold on, this may be crazy … actually meet people face-to-face and shake hands or hug it out. Be honest with your colleagues, clients, and friends. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations. Over-communicate.
- Winning and Losing: We win together. We lose together. If you do it alone, it’s like a tree falling in a forest without anyone there. No one knows if it really happened. Those who have not grasped this concept have not lasted very long at Elasticity.
- We Built This City: “We Built This City (on rock’n’roll)” by Starship is one of the worst songs ever. Horrible. Anyhow, I’ve never forgotten who built Elasticity: Our people. We have all played a role. Some remain, some hit the bricks, some stayed a long time while others did not. But thank you to everyone who has graced us with your efforts—from Intern Ken and Jessie to Nick, Ashton to Rachael, Emma to Kiana, Laura, EA, Coco, Danica, Pocket Chips, Eboni, Daniela, Miranda, Callahan, Destiny, Ketzer, Simple Yack, Jamie Pesek, EK (good work EK!), Derek, Cassie, Christine, Sutherland, Mary, Brad, Mallory and Mallory, Denny, Sheila, Zach, Patrick, Courtney, Kristy-Kelly, Colby, AJ and AJ, Jason and Jason, Collin, Jennifer, Jen, Alex and Alexis, Benji, AA, Deuce, Meadow, Meg Ryan Not The Actress, AA, AAA, Minimus, Sarah, Stiles, Stephanie, Viz, ICP, Britt, Briar and many, many more (PS: If your name was left off of this, I’m sorry. It was not done purposefully, spitefully or meant to harm you in any way. Rest assured, you are loved and revered. I promise.).
- Growth Is Hard, Part 3: I alluded to this before—and I’m sure this is why I truly respect my partners–but if you want to impress me (and next to no one wants to for some reason), nothing does it like a commitment to personal growth and self-realization. And if you are sitting there reading this and saying to yourself, “Not me. No way. That’s someone else.” Well, bad news—that means I’m most certainly taking about you. Just be honest with yourself and understand who you are. It’s amazing how many people are so out of touch with their own reality. The smartest people in the room and those who think they have every problem solved are generally the ones who most struggle to work as a part of a team. And everything we do—EVERYTHING—revolves around teamwork.
- Tolerance: Thank you for tolerating me. I know I’m a lot. I am a highly flawed upright mammal and appreciate your tolerance more than I can say.
- A Fresh Start: Not that we necessarily need it, but I view 2024 and our 15th anniversary as a time for a fresh start for Elasticity. This is a collective sentiment amongst my partners and our team as you can see by our annual poster. The past year has been challenging on many levels. Thus, I’m looking at 2024 the way my Catholic friends treat Sunday mass after going out on a Saturday and getting blacked-out drunk and destroying public property. Everything is wiped away! Clean slate! Let’s start anew.
- Success: A few friends and business contacts have told me that I’m successful. That is not true. I am part of a culture and community of Elasticians past-and-present that have created and continue to create a legacy of success. I’m just thankful that I can be a part of it. Thank you all.