Letters From Stan

Can a Loss Be an Accomplishment?

Stan Richards

Dear Casey,

Someone asked me the other day what I consider to be our biggest accomplishment in 2016. Since I’m already well into 2017 and focused on what’s yet to come, it took me a minute or two to look backward – something I’m not very good at.

(If we’d entered the agency in the A-List competition conducted by Advertising Age, I could have just gone to our submission and cited a few highlights. But we haven’t participated for the last few years. If you want to know why, ask me.)

Last year was a year of strong organic growth. Charles Schwab, for example, for whom we steward three lines of business already, moved all their digital work our way. We are now their digital agency of record for their retail business in addition to the work we do for their other units.

But organic growth wasn’t our biggest accomplishment. Big, yes. Enormously rewarding, absolutely. Confirming of strong relationships, you bet. But not quite our biggest.

Our win rate for new business was an astonishing 85 percent. That’s higher than any other year that came before it. (Thank you for continuing to bring us opportunities.) We added clients Famous Footwear, KeyBank, and Boston Market, to name a few. That milestone would rank right up there at the top for most any agency.

But that wasn’t our biggest accomplishment either.

When I look back on 2016, I believe our biggest accomplishment began with the loss of Chick-fil-A. I know it seems odd to look at losing a 22-year client (all because of a management change) as an accomplishment. But when you consider that the accomplishment isn’t in the loss, it’s in the recovery, then it makes more sense.

After the emotional upheaval (you can imagine how hard it was to accept), we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and promptly replaced their billings (and then some) in less than a month.

I think that was our biggest accomplishment.

In the face of that kind of adversity, we did what we always do. We didn’t fire people and reorganize. We just went about our business and focused on the work.

I don’t know what 2017 will bring. I don’t know what our accomplishments will be. But I know that in February of 2018, I will have spent another year coming in every day to work with people I love to work with, doing the work I love to do. And that, in itself, is an accomplishment I wish for everyone.