Brown Bag Marketing, which I founded in 2002, has seen a tremendous amount of change in the past 15 years. We experienced the invention of the iPod, saw it turn into a phone, then morph into a watch—and it keeps advancing. Our world is ever-evolving, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
While the world has changed, there are still a few enduring principles to surviving and thriving as a business. Here are five lessons I’ve learned that have guided me as I guide my company.
BE CURIOUS. Constantly look, read and talk to industry professionals. Make sure this is a core value of your business and hire people that have this trait.
MAKE DECISIONS. Make decisions even if you aren’t 100 percent sure. Don’t be worried about failing. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Nothing frustrates a team and slows down a company more than indecision.
STAY CLOSE TO YOUR PEOPLE. Studies show that 70 percent of employees say they’d like to spend more time with their managers. You need to stay close to your team members. Listen to their ideas and complaints. You will learn from them, and they will learn from you.
KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL. Don’t burn bridges, no matter how much you want to. It never makes sense. I always say, “Atlanta is a small big town.” Eventually, you could work for, with or against everyone.
CHALLENGE EVERYONE. Keep yourself and your team members sharp and ahead of the game by challenging them to learn a new skill, test an idea and think big, both alone and together. My #1 rule of problem-solving is that you must first try to address it without firing, hiring or spending a million dollars.
I have always said that we are in a people business. That is true both externally with clients and internally with your team. Former Ritz Carlton president Horst Schulze wisely says, “You manage things. You lead people. Leadership cares and involves people.”
With every challenge, moment of curiosity, and time of growth, I look to the people around me … and will continue to do so for the next 15 years.
Douglas H. Brown