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How to Grow Personally & Professionally in 3 Simple Steps

 

February is an interesting month. It’s squeezed between the excitement of a new year and the anticipation of spring. It’s also the month my daughter turns 18.

While she is now old enough to vote, I worry she may not be ready to govern her life at college next fall. These thoughts keep me up at night, but I’m learning to embrace change because, ‘what’s the alternative?’

The same is true in business. When I birthed Candor in 2012, I never imagined my “baby” would become a fully-integrated agency. Heck, I won my first client sitting in my gym shorts and flip flops while chatting on a flip phone in my guest bedroom.

Needless to say, we’ve come a long way. Today, Candor is one of the fastest growing firms in Oklahoma. We’re housed on historic Film Row near downtown OKC — which is, perhaps ironically, one of the fastest growing districts in the city. We even have a cool building! Before being converted into an office space, Candor was the home of an old Pabst Blue Ribbon ice house.

Recently, we took a big leap of faith and added a 2,000-square-foot video production studio. The space includes a Facebook Live set in addition to a full edit suite. Video has become increasingly popular as a social media tool — and it’s not going anywhere. Here are a few things we know:

In addition to our building expansion, Candor recently had triplets. We added three new professionals to help with content creation, social media and video production. Adding new team members is always exciting, but it can create challenges with office space, onboarding and company culture.

So, what have I learned through the growing process?

  1. Control is an illusion.
    Being an entrepreneur is a lot like being a first-time mom. You want to control everything, including your well-meaning friends and family who tell you to relax and let go. But here’s a not-so-surprising secret: Business can’t grow until leaders relinquish some of their power. I’m pleased to say I’m no longer afraid to ask my colleagues to change a dirty diaper or two.
  2. Surround yourself with good people.
    Relinquishing power becomes a LOT easier if you start with this rule. At Candor, we hire folks with a can-do spirit. That may sound hokey, but it works. We simply don’t have room for entitlement. Good things happen when everyone works toward the betterment of others. Remember: You can’t spell Candor without ‘can do’! Okay, that definitely sounds hokey.
  3. Get out of your own way.
    Are you sensing a pattern? Sometimes you just have to let your family or coworkers do the heavy lifting. Whether dealing with a client deadline or a college application, real growth can’t happen if one person is always in charge.

Will someone please remind of me of this rule when my kid pulls out of the driveway for her first solo trek to college?

Sometimes You Have to Crack an Egg

I can’t imagine a business owner giving up $500 a month over a 33-cent item.

At least, I couldn’t until I heard Todd Duncan’s story on The EntreLeadership Podcast about a restaurant refusing to put a fried egg on his hamburger.

The manager couldn’t make the change because the eggs were intended for another special. Because of the confusion, she offered to pay his $70 bill – and lose his repeat business – rather than crack an egg.

As Duncan noted, it was an example of an employee thinking the rules outweigh the outcome. He argues today’s customers want something better. They want an emotional connection, which leads to higher loyalty and stronger sales.

Duncan found a great example down the street at Whole Foods. Employees immediately said they could find a way AND asked exactly how he wanted the egg. Duncan credits Whole Foods’ founder John Mackey for putting his employees in what they call “the yes world.”

The story made me think about my industry. People used to have a pretty narrow view of public relations: We cranked out news releases and internal memos, called editors and reporters, and got the right people to parties.

Our world encompasses much more now. We seek to understand every aspect of our clients’ businesses so we can collaborate on good strategic decisions. And, of course, we still advise on the right ways and places to share those messages.

PR had to change. We had to learn to say yes to the things our clients needed, whether it meant becoming video producers, data analysts or social media wizards.

In everything we do, it’s about achieving our clients’ goals, and finding ways they can please their customers, donors and other stakeholders.

Today, PR is about helping our clients figure out when to follow the rules, and when to flip their thinking to the bigger picture.

It can be complicated and scary, but I know what Candor says when we get a new request: Let’s get cracking!