If I Knew Then What I Know Now … I’d Know Getting Back Into The Major Leagues Ain’t Easy

Growing up in southern NH, I was surrounded by three successful entrepreneurs – my great uncle, grandfather and father – so I always believed that I’d have my own business.

It was important for me to attend a large, diverse, urban university to gain a different perspective and prove to myself that I could excel on a bigger stage and Boston University definitely delivered.

As a first generation “digital native” I was able to score a full-time job between my sophomore and junior years that put me on a seven-year trajectory that would form the foundation of my career.

It was 1998 and NetMarquee was a six-person company that produced content for Fortune 500 companies to put on “these things called websites.” We sold articles and gave content management, email, database services, and measurement tools away for free. But it was the reframing of these offerings and a new pricing model that led to us becoming one of the first internet marketing agencies. And, we took off.

A series of mergers and acquisitions made us part of one of the largest digital agency networks in the world at the time and we became owned by publicly-traded holding company, Havas.

As a digital subject matter expert in a global marketing network, I quickly became a go-to resource on many high-profile clients including Campbell Soup Company, Guinness, Intel, Royal Caribbean and Virgin. The work was challenging yet groundbreaking and, therefore, highly rewarding for a creative professional.

I didn’t really know how these clients were won, how the fees were structured or even what the entire range of services that our network was providing them.

In 2005, I left and joined the agency that I would eventually acquire and evolve alongside a top-notch team that I assembled. We became GYK Antler – now a Forbes Top 25 Small Company in America.

At the beginning, I assumed that with the pedigree of our team, all those awesome clients would immediately (and happily) hire a random New Hampshire-based independent agency that was unproven on the big stage.

Boy, was I wrong.

Iconic brands want agencies (not just people) that have worked with iconic brands. Or have produced famous campaigns. Brand managers dream of working with Ogilvy starting before business school. Nobody ever got fired for giving Wieden+Kennedy a shot. Big city people seem to have more confidence in other big city people.

But GYK Antler? We needed to methodically build our client roster up over time, produce numerous widely recognized campaigns, and overcome false negative perceptions associated with New Hampshire (more cows than people?) by demonstrating that New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” attitude is actually a major asset.

We may not quite be back in the major leagues yet, but we are scrappy, determined and put no limitations on our potential. And we now better understand that shortcuts cannot be taken because the current agency performance is what matters. Ultimately, we are in control of our own destiny. We will have to earn the opportunities ourselves this time. And we will.

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