Published on Jan 6, 2020
If you have been a close connection of mine for a while, you might remember that every year around the New Year, I like to write out a look back paired with a look forward. While I believe the exercise in doing this is a great frame of mind for context, it has also become somewhat therapeutic for me. In our lives, we all tend to get caught up in the daily stresses and details of work life. Sometimes, taking a moment to reflect and look forward can be just what is needed for a fresh perspective on your place and role within your career.
Sometimes when looking at our team and the work we accomplish on a day-to-day basis, I am left in awe. We now have two active locations, each with its own client base, and a team of 22 people strong. We are blessed to be able to be working with over 60 clients heading into 2020. While no team is ever perfect and we are striving to create a culture of continuous improvement, I am extremely proud of the team we have built together over the years. If you are reading this and you are part of #TeamBC, you have so much to be proud of. The way you all carry yourselves on a daily basis with your clients and in the office is something worth fighting for!
I mean, let’s do the math once. Our team works with over 60 clients on a daily basis and let’s say we help them post several times per week. That means we are creating all-original photo/video/graphic/written content for them at a clip of over 200 pieces of content per week. That includes photography, video production, and the voice that our clients rely on! Beyond all of those numbers, it is how you all act as people that I am most proud of… and you should be, too.
The term “Long-Format Content” is somewhat of an internal term for our team. But basically, it entails re-occurring episodes of video, podcasts, articles, or a combination of sorts. Generally speaking, I have observed that while faster content gets to be more authentic, raw, and quick (FB/IG Stories, SnapChat, TikTok, etc.), longer and more valuable content that dives deeper into subjects has also grown in popularity. This means that there is ever-increasing popularity in podcasts, short digital films, behind-the-scenes peeks, video episodes, and so forth. Over the last year, we have really drilled down on our processes and strategies to bring this strategy to life for a few of our clients. We can’t wait to roll out more of these efforts in 2020 as well.
In order for us to walk our own talk, we have adapted Long-Format Content strategies for our own presence. For us, this manifests itself in “The Sponge Show.” It is an audio/video podcast series that highlights and elevates local leaders in the Fox Cities that represent entrepreneurship, community involvement, professional leadership, or just making a change for the better. Over the last year, we finished up our first season and started our second one. Most of our episodes are consumed by thousands of people (either listening or watching) and it has become one of the most valuable things our brand has launched to date. I truly can’t wait to see what it leads to next.
This move for us might not be a splashy headline but it became a huge turning point for how we work with our clients at BConnected. Essentially, here’s the gist: due to Facebook back-pedaling after the political fallout over Russia, the election, and Cambridge Analytica, it became clear to us that the best thing to do for all of our clients was to set up a Facebook Business Manager Account that our clients would all individually own and they would then turn around and give us access to their Pages and Ads accounts.
Without going into too much detail, this is now a central part of the value we bring to clients. First of all, we advocate for setting up a completely transparent Admin system behind the scenes for all pages we manage and all social media ads we purchase. Second, we were able to help adapt to this big shift without our clients asking for it, showing everyone that part of our value that we bring to our clients is to adapt to the industry and worry about the changes so that they don’t have to.
Over the last year, our team was fortunate to have the opportunity to take on probably the most rewarding project I’ve ever been a part of. What started as help with some social media posts, eventually evolved into a full feature-length documentary for an outstanding local organization. “Return To Nam” is the story of healing for 52 Vietnam Veterans who go back to Vietnam 50 years later with the help of Old Glory Honor Flight.
Not only am I incredibly proud of the end product, but I’m also completely humbled and grateful for the team that stepped up to the challenge. This became a true passion project for all of those involved. For complete transparency, this started out as a paid gig, but beyond the initial social media video efforts, a majority of the film ended up being pro bono for our team. The stories are all incredibly inspiring, and the end product is something we can all be proud of.
Over the last couple of years, my role within the team has really transitioned from “Leader by Example With Clients” to “Leading Our Leaders.” This hasn’t been easy for me every day but I’m getting there. With this transition, one of the most rewarding experiences that I have seen is the recognition of success and leadership from our fellow team members. This year, my wife Vanessa, became the third person from BConnected to receive the Future 15 Award in the Fox Cities. I could not be more proud of her, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
BConnected as a team also was awarded the “President’s Award” from Appleton Downtown, Inc. this year. In their words: “This award is presented to an individual, group, or business that goes above and beyond in its partnership with ADI and its commitment to downtown.” We truly love to be Downtown and part of the vibrant cultural scene that it comes with. The more successful BConnected becomes, the bigger the difference we can all make!
Without sounding too cliché, the upcoming year is going to start out with me defining more of my vision. I want to be able to illustrate to more people WHY I do what I do (and I think it would surprise a few people). My hope isn’t that I try to create copy-cats within our company or networks, but it is so that others might be able to dig deep and find their own unique motivation and north star that guides them through the day-to-day dealings of life. By having a shared vision and purpose, we can all be more open with continuous improvement, and we can build deeper trust that we are all coming from a good place. This doesn’t happen overnight, but I need to be the one that starts it at BC.
In the middle of May, we are going to be getting ready to move into our new offices for our Appleton (HQ) branch of BConnected. If you are close to me or have ever visited our offices, you have probably heard me downplay them. I’ve always tried to work towards an office that we can be proud of and feel encouraged to bring clients to us (instead of always meeting them elsewhere). After 9 years of hard work, I believe we will finally have that heading into the summer months. My hope is that it instills a sense of pride in our workplace and that it helps to recruit high performing individuals in the future as we continue to grow.
Over the last year or so, we have taken the bold move to do away with our company values and instead institute a series of “Basic Behaviors” that define how we behave as team members at BConnected. Ultimately, when you think of why you should have company values, you want team members to behave in specific ways. Our focus on Basic Behaviors (we have 19 of them) allows us to more efficiently coach and hold each other accountable on a daily basis. We are going to keep diving deeper into them, re-evaluating them, and highlighting our progress with them within our team.
To keep it simple, we hope to take Return To Nam to as many Midwest Film Festivals as we can. We think we have something really special on our hands and we want as many American citizens and Veterans to see it as possible.
As I mentioned earlier with “Long-Format Content,” if you have made it this far I will be brief. As a team with all of our clients, we are going to be focusing on more authentic and quicker Micro-content while pushing for more meaningful, deeper, and valuable Long-Format/Macro-content. If this jargon doesn’t make sense to you PLEASE shoot me a message or leave me a comment I would be happy to talk through our philosophies!
I was reading an article about how “2019 was the year of mental health.” I don’t believe anyone is immune to this. As our company continues to grow, the decisions I have in front of me become heavier and more consequential. I am starting to learn that I am transitioning into the next phase of my leadership within the company. In order for me to be a more effective leader with our team, I need to take care of myself. To tell you the truth, it is the challenge I am most fearful of. I don’t want it to change who I am in the office. I don’t want it to affect me as a father/husband. And most importantly, I don’t want it to affect how I look at myself as a person.
If you have made it this far in the article, thank you for being a great friend, connection, or supporter. The people in my life mean the world to me and I hope I am able to bring as much joy to all of you as you bring to me. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2020!