Mar 02, 2022

It’s Bittersweet: Polly is leaving ABN, with Josh Dougherty

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Polly Yakovich is Co-founder and CMO at A Brave New, a Seattle digital marketing agency focused on helping businesses accelerate their growth through inbound marketing, branding, and web design. She specializes in working with clients to identify barriers to their growth and overcoming them with strategic content and marketing tactics. She has more than fifteen years of experience in digital marketing and branding.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Josh and Polly built A Brave New and their lessons learned in that process
  • Key challenges businesses face as they start out and begin to grow
  • How to build a working relationship that can thrive under stress
  • Why now is the time for Polly to leave A Brave New and what she’s doing next
  • Josh’s vision for A Brave New going forward

Additional Resources:

Show Transcription:

Intro: Welcome to A Brave New Podcast, the podcast all about how brave entrepreneurial companies are unlocking their business potential using inbound marketing. Here is your marketing expert and host, Polly Yakovich.

Polly: All right. Welcome back to A Brave New Podcast. I am your host, Polly Yakovich, and I'm joined again by Josh Dougherty.

Josh: Hi, everybody. Good to be here.

Polly: Today we have some bittersweet news for you, if you haven't heard it yet... Pause for dramatic effects.

Josh: There's suspense here.

Polly: We've been using the word bittersweet a lot because that is actually really how it feels, I think. It's very descriptive. But I am actually leaving A Brave New at the end of February. So by the time you hear this podcast, I will officially be done.

Josh: Yeah, it's a big transition for us and I think I've gotten a little bit stale to the word bittersweet because I've seen it in a lot of stuff we've sent out, but it does describe, I think, the end of an era for us. Even before ABN, I think it's been about 12 years that we've been working almost every day together.

Polly: Crazy.

Josh: Crazy transition.

Polly: Josh is going to be the sole owner of A Brave New going forward. And I can honestly say that the past eight years since we started our company and obviously longer going back as Josh alluded to working together in agencies before this, have been some of the most exciting and challenging of my life.

And I don't think that either Josh or I could have imagined the agency that we've been able to build together, the work we've been able to accomplish, the incredible clients we've been able to work with, our amazing and smart team that we've put together, and those partnerships have just been so rich and rewarding.

Josh: Yeah. It's kind of incredible if you think back to... I remember having initial conversations with our original founder, Jake, as well and thinking maybe we could survive the three of us on our own. Or I remember sitting, I think we were in Greenleaf in the ID talking about starting a business and I'm like-

Polly: Which is such a great restaurant, by the way.

Josh: It's a good restaurant. But it's wild how the kernel of an idea becomes something that is established and growing and also been almost a decade.

Polly: It is. So just to let you know, if you care, you might have seen that my husband and I started a butcher shop and restaurant in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle a couple of years back. It's called Beast & Cleaver and it's just been growing like a little weed.

And it is really fun and exciting and a totally new industry for me, but it's just suffering with my part-time in the evening between 10:00 and midnight that I no longer want to be up working on accounting for a restaurant.

Josh: I mean, who wants to be up doing that ever?

Polly: I don't know. Maybe somebody crazy, but not me. And as much as I tried to do both, well, it just isn't working anymore. So it's really time. But it's not all sad. And Josh and I have been friends for so long. We live down the street from one another.

I'm excited to be one of the first calls he makes when he has a problem that he wants my help thinking through. And we thought rather than having a small cry about the ending of something great, we would do just a really little bit of a nostalgic look back on our agency.

Polly: Josh kicked it off a little bit by talking about how we started, but we thought it might be interesting from an entrepreneurial perspective to talk about how we started, why we started and how A Brave New has come to be this exciting dynamic place that you can't give part of your energy to because it's so full of life and so busy and blooming.

I thought about doing a look back podcast because this is actually technically my 47th podcast. And the OCD in me is absolutely dying at the thought of not being able to finish on a round number. So I'd like to be invited back to three more so I can hit 50. But I didn't want to go through and count all the things I've done because then that seemed really tiring.

But we wanted to take just a little bit of a trip down memory lane and talk about how we started. So Josh already said, we started with three founders, not just the two of us, if you didn't know that. Our original third partner is a developer.

And we did a lot of that in the beginning, a lot of web development work, a lot more technical work. He was actually the first full-time employee and he actually took the same journey I'm about to take a few years back and decided it was time for him to pivot and do something new. And so the cheese stands alone, Josh.

Josh: Yeah. I mean, I think the whole journey, as I reflect back on it, and probably where we're going for hopefully the next eight years and beyond that is that nothing goes in a straight line.

Polly: No, it doesn't.

Josh: I think back to the things like our initial clients, the stuff we thought we would do, our first project that we worked on was a paying personal branding project for a speaker named Bill and-

Polly: A long distance runner.

Josh: A long distance runner.

Polly: We were absolutely thrilled he paid us like $1000 to come up with a brand and website for him, right?

Josh: Yeah, exactly. And I think at that point we were like, oh, we're going to be a technical development shop and we're going to do branding and we're going to... Because all that makes sense in connection.

Polly: Totally.

Josh: But it was what we knew. And I think that's the encouragement to me as I look back is that everything is both an intentional trajectory, but it's also that dance of seeing what's in front of you and making decisions based on the decisions you have at your disposal.

Polly: Yeah. I think our big idea in the beginning, it's interesting to see how all of the fluff of it got peeled away, but the kernel of what was there is still true because our big idea was that we were all practitioners and we wanted to be more of a consultancy than an agency and really practice deeply what we felt we were best at, which is strategy and branding and planning.

I think our name was kind of ahead of the time of where we actually were from the work we were doing, but we wanted to get people out of their comfort zones and really think about disruption and innovation and how they could be brave and what new things that they could try in a smart, planned, measured way that would bring them business transformation.

Josh: Yeah. And I think the funny thing is that through all the evolutions, those things still hold true. I think the relationships where we struggle are where we've just trying to accomplish things for the sake of getting that work done and not actually focusing in on the strategy where with clients that have a big idea.

We can really still push them forward. I think of some of the other things that we started out with was coming out of a larger agency wanting to create an agency that was more open, more transparent, more less red tapey.

Polly: Yeah, less bureaucratic.

Josh: Less bureaucratic. Maybe we've become-

Polly: Less than 30 days to create an email.

Josh: Yeah. Maybe we've become too less bureaucratic at times in our history.

Polly: That's true.

Josh: But everyone learns that. And I think it's fun to see, and we'll talk a little bit about kind of the pivots we've gone through, but all those things still hold true. We're still about big ideas and unlocking potential for people through that marketing.

Polly: Yeah. I think our first two clients were first, this guy who wanted to have a speaking career that sat in Josh's living room and we were like, oh my God, he thinks we were a real company. And we were still working our other real jobs and had to meet him in the early evening or something outside of business hours.

And then we went from there kind of quickly into a word-of-mouth project that somebody hired us to do for a fortune 100 huge company creating this new, innovative thing. We wrote a blog post about this recently. And so I think one of the early lessons-

Josh: That's some good adhering to your NDA still years on.

Polly: I don't know. Is my NDA still in force?

Josh: I don't know. But you're still adhering to it well.

Polly: I don't enjoy being sued. So it's something I try and stay away from. But I would say one of our key learnings from the beginning that we kind of have to remind ourselves of... And you can't do this forever because you do have to create boundaries, but is to say yes.

And then to say yes to things that you don't know how to do in the right way that might bring you out of your comfort zone, that make you stretch that you're not sure about. Richard Branson is really famous for saying, say yes and then figure it out.

But I do think that those are some of the key learnings in the beginning that were really great because we knew we could build something great, and we knew we had the experience to do it. We just haven't done it exactly that way before. But we just jumped in because everything was opportunity.

Josh: I think another learning that I think about is that there's always someone who knows more than you to talk to. And that might mean they know a 10th more than you, or it might mean that they're a genius. But one thing that I was struck with at the beginning and kind of happened over the years is the incredible generosity of people if you just ask them to be like, how do I approach this?

Or how do I think through this? And I don't think Polly or I or our original founder, Jacob, would've been able to get through the processes we went through without having that bold willingness to ask, and then having smart people around us who are willing to offer their advice to maybe even just say two words that would clarify or thinking around something.

Polly: And I would say to anyone who's thinking about starting a thing or has always wanted to start a thing, a couple of thoughts that stick out from those times. One, I do talk to people and sometimes get to mentor people on entrepreneurship or starting a new venture company side hustle, what have you.

And the number one advice is always just start. You're going to figure it out. You're going to use everything that you have. The biggest hurdle you have to overcome is actually thinking you can do it and getting going and letting that ball start rolling.

But one of the things that we did in the beginning that Josh just said but that I wanted to expand on is we had a network of mentors, some overlapping and some not, who we really got a ton of confidence from in the beginning because we were like, we think we can do this, but we're not sure. And should we? And whatever.

And they all unanimously were like, you three can do this. We believe in you, you're smart, you're going to be successful. And so sometimes it's really nice to borrow other people's confidence when you're not sure or you haven't walked that path before. And they all had. And they just gave us the confidence of having done it and believing in us.

And so that's another thing I would say if you're looking to start something new or you're feeling like you're unsure, is definitely ask for help, ask people to mentor you. People who have done this before have all been the beneficiaries of other people giving them their time and grace and wisdom. And are very, very happy to do the same for you.

And so, make sure you're surrounded by people who can not only lift you up when you're feeling like, ooh, I don't know if I can do it, but that'll also give you smart, sober advice. Because those same mentors at other times have been like, stop doing this immediately and stop shooting yourself in the foot these ways and pivot over here.

Josh: Something I was going to say about that is on a personal note, I don't think that chatter goes away over time of can you do this? So you just get smarter about being able to harness it for your success.

And I think also being able to understand, having those voices around you gives you the opportunity over time to understand when that chatter is something that's an actual gut feeling that you should listen to and when it's just the fear in your head, because all of us have that.

Polly: Yeah. So let's talk a little bit about some magic moments along the way or pivots, as you will, because a lot of these magic moments showed up and we changed our business quickly. So one of the first ones, I think we came out of a nonprofit agency and a lot of our background was in nonprofit work and we thought we would do a lot more of that.

And we worked for some environmental charities and animal shelters and built some websites. And all of our clients were really small on the smaller side and took a lot of work. And we felt like we were just churning a lot over a few small clients. And luckily, we were fortunate from the beginning to have one more big, substantial client that we needed to balance out over time.

So, we weren't reliant on just one big client. But they were a real opportunity for us to be like, actually I think we need to lean into we're doing better work for this bigger client because we're more involved throughout the organization and also getting a bunch of small little projects is hard.

Josh: Totally.

Polly: And so we really just resigned all of our small accounts and just made the choice and did it. And we were like, well, we think it's going to work. Finger to the wind.

Josh: Yeah, it was crazy and it worked and all at the same time.

Polly: I don't know if that's advice or just luck.

Josh: I mean, I think a little bit. I think other thing that I reflect on is there comes a point with everything as you think about that nonprofit work that I grew up, I learned how to be a great digital strategist working on with nonprofits where you can harness the discipline that you get from a small budget nonprofit and bring special value to other clients.

And so, it's really interesting at each of these moments, I feel like where you learn from the past, you refocus where you need to go and then you are brave enough to take the next step.

And I think that's something that I've really always appreciated about Polly and my partnership because it's like there's been times when I haven't wanted to make the next step and there's been times when she hasn't, but there's always been one of us that's brave enough to just say, take the next step. Then you're forced to move and then you can keep going.

And I think the next pivot after we resign those clients was to really focus in on being focused on retainers and how do we get into clients in a retainer way where we are creating, I think, repeated value for the client and repeated revenue for us. Because I think a lot of times we were like, oh, agency people just want retainers because it's stable and hell yes, we do because it's more stable.

Polly: But it's impossible work to stop and start. You can't stop and start SEO, you can't stop and start organic growth, content search, anything.

Josh: So having run up against that so much and being like, we'll run that two month campaign and then not deliver any results. Sounds great. We made that switch. And I think now as we look eight years later, we went over the last four years I think we've been really focused on only really large retainers. And now we're shifting back to say, what is a hybrid?

This is funny coming out of the pandemic. I was reflecting on this. But what does a hybrid look like? What does a smaller retainer that feels more like a project to a client but creates that stability and that ability to drive results for them look like?

And so we're now exploring how do we move from maybe large scale retainer where we're doing a ton and we'll continue to do those and continue to be happy to do those, but to an engagement that maybe is six months long and is more limited, but still has the runway to be successful for both the client and for us as an agency.

Polly: Another big change that happened for us happened when we read the book, Traction.

Josh: Man.

Polly: We realized that we were running a business, making smart decisions and generally being smart people, but we didn't have the right levers in place to quickly pull and understand all sorts of foundational things. We didn't really have our mission, vision, values securely in place.

We weren't looking at key milestones and using the power of the agency to work towards them on a consistent and disciplined way. We weren't looking at our finances maybe in a disciplined enough way.

Josh: Yeah. And I think in many ways we were just doing enough admin to get by instead of saying this is... Which is funny because we both really appreciate building things. But traction forced us to say, you've got to spend a good portion of your time building the ship that you're sailing, not just heading towards the destination.

Polly: I would say almost every entrepreneur that I've talked to ever has read this book and probably has moved past it at some point. But the building blocks if you are running a business or thinking about starting your own business are definitely there. So I would pick it up. And lots of people now will administer Traction for you and help you come in as a consultant and run it with your organization. But many peer networks use it.

Josh: If I was going to do it again, then I think that's how we would do it because if you're trying to self-administer it or self-facilitate it, it's really hard to hold yourself accountable.

Polly: It is.

Josh: I think the next major change was when we decided we were going to get really focused in our offerings of what we're doing. And so like Polly alluded to when we started out, we were really focused, I don't know, on doing everything digital, anything and everything.

In fact, originally, we had a bunch of... This seems so funny thinking that. But a bunch of Google search clients. That work, I just am not good. We have a partner, Alphametic, now that helps us with of stuff and they are great and I'm happy to pay them to do it.

Polly: And the more I learned about it, the more I was like, I don't want to be doing this. Just personally, it's not my jam.

Josh: But once you become known as those people, that's the only thing you can sell. And so there's awesome experienced people doing that. But we realized we needed to elevate to something that still had production involved because I think everyone always appreciates getting an end product and that's what we wanted to do. But we switched really to a hard focus on brand content, web design, and inbound marketing so that we could...

And really, I would say over the last few years, and we'll see how this evolves, primarily focus on inbound as the fulcrum of everything we were doing because we believe that the inbound methodology of attracting people rather than coercing them to take action is how the world should work. And then really focusing on brand and web design as fuel for that inbound program.

Polly: And you heard me recently talk about it, but even as B2B programs, particularly B2B programs or organizations selling a high value product or service as they move more into an ABM methodology, that inbound foundation is still incredibly important and still supports that shift. And so it's really nice to see, even as things pivot and change, that those foundational pieces are still really true.

Josh: Yeah. I think one really plays an important part in building that brand credibility and awareness and loyalty, and then the other one comes back more from a direct response perspective and helps you convert stuff, which is a blast from the past in our background, but really appreciate. If any of you are listening from our direct response background, thank you for all the things you taught us because it's still really valuable.

Polly: And then as part of that too, just getting more targeted. You'll hear all over the place important for you to really work on your niche and really working on we can't do everything for everyone. So who do we work really well for? What does our product fit into in that high value B2B space? It really fits into healthcare really well and we have a lot of experience working for healthcare clients.

Josh: And then it works for tech clients that we've worked with who are selling a high value product, not like the SaaS, I think-

Polly: Subscription kinds of-

Josh: ... low level subscription. We certainly have SaaS clients that have more of an enterprise engagement, but not for the $2 a month subscription. And so those two areas...

I'm laughing about these magic moments as we talk about them because I think about all the times, Polly, where we were like, that's true, but we're going to do this a little bit different than everyone else has done this. So we're not going to really go down that path. We're going to do X, Y, Z. And then we finally realized-

Polly: Fast forward two years later.

Josh: Made the decision, a niche is pretty important. Turns out people knew what they were talking about. So I guess that's a lesson. Be humble. Be willing to change your tech as you're going through.

Polly: It's a good turning point too toward a magic moment for us, which was finding a peer network. And I know that looks different for every industry, but having these voices from other people who are like, I know you think that you're smarter than every other person that ever walked the earth, but let's tell you about our collective group experience and learn together so you can save some of those potholes.

And so that's been a really important one for us and one that I would encourage you, if you don't have a peer network of people who can share about your organization, how they're growing theirs, what some of the challenges are, how they rose to some of those. Just absolutely invaluable.

Josh: Yeah. I mean, I think about even our agency network, we meet with them twice a year.

Polly: In person.

Josh: In person. Well, theoretically. It has been less in person over the last couple of years.

Polly: True.

Josh: But I think about how invaluable they are to have that conversation. I just talked to one of them a couple weeks ago because this has been in addition to a bittersweet season, I think a really challenging season to work through as a business.

But having the chance to talk to Betsy, I don't know if she is listening, and have her walk me through those experiences she's had is an amazing experience of being seen and also being understood and encouraged at the same time. So I think that's really the value of a peer group.

That and knowing that, oh, there are best practices and they aren't just called best practices for fun. They actually are and they work. And being able to battle with those people or work with those people to understand what does that best practice mean for me? It's really valuable.

Polly: Another thing though, kind of the last thing we wanted to touch on in our sort of pivots, magic moments is just really how we've approached building our team internally. And that is a real challenge and an ever evolving challenge.

Josh: Yeah. The hardest thing. It's the hardest and most rewarding thing at the same time, but it really comes down to the fact that you are only as good as the people that you have next to you working every day, which is, I think, has been a challenging lesson for me to learn over time because we started out with, I think, the three of us as founders being very able to accomplish everything.

Because we almost had a telepathic ability to work together, which doesn't exist until you've worked together for a long time. So figuring out how do you build that in a team and also respect everyone isn't in the same place as you necessarily is challenging.

Polly: And just really adapting to the three of us worked very flexibly and nimbly and without a lot of structure because we liked that and could do it. But once you brought people in and you hit certain levels of numbers of people on the team, we really started to break down because we didn't have systems for people.

And it turns out that systems people are very lovely to have, but they also need a system where they're very frustrated to work for you. So I think really being able to adapt to our team and learn a lot about what it means to be a leader who serves your team and sets up an environment in which they can be successful and not just you is hard and that takes a lot of time.

Josh: Yeah. And I think too, this is an encouragement that I received from one of our mentors yesterday, there's a temptation when you like to be freewheeling. It's kind of funny, freewheeling OCD Josh over here. I like to not have constraints on myself, but I have a very specific opinion about how I want things to be done.

And I think, Polly, you can be similar, but probably not as intense about that. But he was saying you may not like this process for yourself, but if you have expectations, you've got to actually put it down in writing and build out the guardrails of how someone does something, the expectations of where quality comes from, all those sort of things.

And I think I've spent a couple of years trying to farm that out to other people because I'm like, oh, I'm not a systems person. It's actually, I have a pretty good idea of this system. I just need to actually spend the time to write it down.

And so, I think that's an encouragement if you're one of those visionary people as well, but you do have a very specific idea of what you want. To lean in and try to create that before you get too big so you don't have maybe some of the start stops that we've had throughout the process. I think we've ended up in a good place and we are ending up in a good place, but it's start stop.

Polly: I feel like sometimes we wasted a little bit more time than we needed to. Which brings us to the lessons learned in a fun way. Fun lessons learned. If you could wave your magical wand and change one thing about the agency the last eight years, what would you change?

Josh: I kind of just talked about it. I think I'd be much more intentional about process development and setting people up for success rather than just letting them figure it out.

Polly: Yeah, that's a good one. Mine was to make perfect hiring decisions.

Josh: That's kind of-

Polly: Which is funny, but the true side of that, the real side of that is that many, many times over the years, we were like, oh my God, we have a person in. Oh, so and so's friends, sisters, cousins, brother says this guy is so great. We should totally get them in there.

And we didn't do our due diligence about their experience, we didn't necessarily take them through exercises to learn how they could think about a thing. We hired people quickly when we should have taken more time and it's burned us a lot.

Josh: Yeah. I mean, I think those two things are combined.

Polly: Wrong hiring decisions are extremely more painful and expensive in every way than you think.

Josh: I think the thing we've learned over time is that they're not just painful for you, they're so painful for the person who's the wrong hiring decision.

Polly: And the whole agency.

Josh: Yeah. It's an all-around... Take some more time. You'll do everyone and the entire system a favor.

Polly: I mean, our answer has been to build a lot of time into the hiring process, assessments, et cetera. What is something that you think broadly you've learned over the last eight years that you're going to take into your next eight?

Josh: That it's important to have a place to walk to for lunch quickly.

Polly: That's true. That is a very practical take away.

Josh: I kind of judge offices by which had the best place to go to. But I think honestly-

Polly: Because when you're hungry, you are not doing good work.

Josh: Exactly. And you always aspire and should aspire to take a lunch break, but that often disappears.

Polly: Yeah, it's true.

Josh: But in honesty, I think... Actually that was very honest and very true. But also I think the other learning I would say is how important alignment is. And I look back, Polly, at our years working together when we were moving the best together, how things just clicked naturally.

And there were no second thoughts and you could almost finish the other person's sentences, and how that alignment breeds further success versus, I think, the process that we've gone through in the pandemic and kind of with the growth of Beast & Cleaver as our goals have kind of separated it more.

It got a lot harder until we could be very honest about those intentions, which leads to maybe the other learning of just being really open about communication so you don't let lack of alignment fester. What do you think?

Polly: I agree with that. One thing I think I've learned as I look back over the last eight years, two things came to my mind is one is how made up everything is. Everything is a false emergency, right? And I used to tell my team this all the time, that it was like, this is B2B marketing, right? Nobody is dying on your operating table tonight.

Go to bed. Eat your dinner. See your kids. But I think it's important for all of us in this environment to realize we're doing important work and it's good work. But you're also living in a made up paradigm with made up deadlines and made up other things.

And I only say that to give you the freedom to think differently. Because I think often when we talk to clients and other people, they're living within this constrained box of this made up world, and it's like, but what if that box isn't actually there? And you could just-

Josh: Or it was two inches wider.

Polly: Yeah. You could step over here and do this other thing and try this other way. So I just really encourage, especially when I talk to young marketers and it's like, this is the way it is. I encounter this on the Beast & Cleaver side. Well, this is the way it's always been done in the restaurant industry. But why? If you just shifted this over here and did it at this time instead, it solves like 20 problems.

Josh: There's also no way it is.

Polly: Yeah, there is no way it is. And the people who know that are succeeding. So I just really encourage you. And the other thing is that I know this isn't entirely true, but almost everything is fixable. Almost everything is fixable.

So I know it's hard because it's always like, make lots of mistakes, making mistakes is the best, but then you usually don't have an environment it in which you can make mistakes. And this is what I mean about it's made up and everything is fixable, create an environment for yourself in which you can make mistakes and learn and grow because you are a whole person and you want to be growing.

Josh: And I think the minute you can realize... I was thinking yesterday. I was having a real challenge. And the minute I can step back and say, these things that feel like really high pressure right now are fixable and I've been in a day like this before and I will be in a day like this in six months.

And tomorrow will not be like this. It shatters that weird fake wall that you have in front of you that makes you want to just keep pushing and pushing and pushing instead of saying, you know what, I'm just going to move on and focus on something else.

Polly: Yeah. Or maybe I'm going to let this issue breathe for a minute and it might come up with some solutions of its own when I'm not pushing on it so hard. What's something you wouldn't change?

Josh: I think always being willing to try.

Polly: That's a good one.

Josh: Something I've loved about our partnership is whenever there's been a big decision, we'll look at each other and say, we're about 95% sure. Well, 95% is probably high.

Polly: Like 75% I think needs to go.

Josh: Like 75%. And then be like, but what's the cost of not doing it much higher than trying. So let's go for it. I mean, that's probably part of my personality. I think it's part of yours. Is that's what I want to be doing with my life. I don't want to be safe.

Polly: Yeah. I think mine is similar. And that is that I have always done a very good job and sometimes less good and I regret it, but usually of listening to myself. And I think it's really important to listen to yourself. As long as you're in a good centered place and you're not listening to your scared OCD frenetic self.

But to really listen to your deep self about what you need personally, what you want, what you want your career to be, what you want your life to be, what's the right thing to do in a situation. Even if sometimes your mentors are all saying to do A and you just know in your gut that doing A is not good for you and you have to do B, make sure you do B.

Josh: Yeah, I think that's really good advice. I think it comes down being centered. We talked a little bit at our year end podcast about how therapy has been impactful for me over this last year after finally starting it. But you have to take care of yourself to be able to make those gut level decisions.

Polly: You do. And especially if you're serving a team, it's like any parent. It's so hard to do this, but if you're a parent, if you're serving a team, I just learn over and over from experience, I can't give from nothing. You have to be well in order to serve people well and full.

Josh: And then you're going to do it a lot better, you're going to have a lot more empathy, and you're going to have fun because you're actually making decisions you want to be making versus letting the world happen to you.

Polly: Yeah. Easier said than done.

Josh: Sounds so easy.

Polly: We've had some dark nights. What would you do differently next time?

Josh: I thought the one thing that I would do is be less focused on growth for growth's sake and more focused on-

Polly: That's a good one.

Josh: ... doing things to an amazing level of quality where people look at it and their jaws drop and say, I can't believe these people did this for me.

Polly: Yeah, that's a good one.

Josh: And then growth follows, right?

Polly: Yeah.

Josh: This is a little bit of my return to someone who built websites and brands for people where that was entirely the focus. And so I think as an entrepreneur, sometimes I've been so focused on the growth numbers that I've forgotten the product has to drive the growth numbers.

Polly: Yeah. I would delegate faster, I think. I've always kept things too long partially because I think, oh, I should have done it and I can't hand it off now and I have guilt over not having set people up perfectly to do the perfect thing.

But I think delegating faster is really important, particularly if you know and if you're an entrepreneur or a CMO or a C-suite, you know that you have that je ne sais quoi that got you there. You know you have that special something. So be that.

Josh: Look at the French pulled out in conversation.

Polly: I know. It's one of my two French phrases. I took Spanish. But you know you have that extra thing. So do more of the extra thing. Delegate the other stuff. I mean, obviously you have to be able to do that. But if you can, do it.

And I think I talked about this with one of our awesome clients and entrepreneurs himself from Redapt, David Cantu, but he told me too that he always should have hired somebody before he finally ended up hiring him because that delegation always enabled him to do bigger, better things, but he always waited too long. And I think that's true of me as well.

Josh: I think anyone who is confident enough to start a business has trouble delegating.

Polly: Yeah, that's true.

Josh: The other thing I've reflected on that is this goes back, everything is so interconnected with the creating a system for success, you've got to figure out how to delegate in a way that works for the people too.

Polly: Yeah. All right. Well, what are you excited about? Let's finish on a high note.

Josh: I am really excited about, I think, a year that isn't under the shadow as much of the pandemic. So that's more just culturally feel. The vibe is really important for me. And so I think the last couple of years have been hard and I'm excited to spend in person time with our team, even though we're hybrid around the country.

And I think I'm very excited to be spending a year really dialing in, what is the ABN way to deliver projects at a larger level? I think we always knew what that looked like for a three to five-person company. But as we are at 10 now, and as we look at what does the future look like, it's like, what does that look like at a larger scale? And that's really exciting to me.

I'm also excited to just for all the conversations and the meetings and the relationships to build with current clients and future clients and the ideas that come out of it. I mean, that's why I'm in the agency business. I like that energy and the strategy and all those things. So those are probably the things I'm looking forward to the most. What are you looking forward to for you in the future?

Polly: Well, I'm having a real crisis of identity because I've been a marketer and in marketing for probably almost 20 years now. And so as much as I am excited to be building my family business, I love to build things, I like to do new things, I like to do things that I don't know how I'm going to do them or if I can do them.

And so that's really exciting for me. But I also have this bit of like, have I wasted my two decades of experience? So hopefully, you all out there will stay connected with me on LinkedIn. I hope Josh calls me when he has a question and just wants some thoughts.

I am definitely going to be staying connected to all my marketing friends and family, and maybe there'll be a project along the way that I'll have a fresh brain for that I can contribute with. But I'm just excited for a little bit more, I don't really actually believe in the word balance, but I'm struggling for a different word right now.

Just a little bit more time with my family, time for myself, time not struggling to stretch across two businesses that are really demanding, and just listening to that voice that wants a little bit more quiet and a little bit less rush and to walk my kid to school. So it's exciting. We'll link in the show notes.

You can definitely visit my restaurant and butcher shop's website, Beast & Cleaver. If you're ever in Seattle, come see us. We're a butcher shop by day and a wine bar and restaurant at night. I will be hanging around bothering these people here at A Brave New as long as I can and trying to stay connected in some ways, but Josh is going to be your able host going forward.

Josh: Yeah. And I would say if you like to try new things, you should just go into the butcher shop and ask someone to give you something interesting. It's the best way to experience a butcher shop because they actually know their meat.

I don't know what a good comparison is. The person in the wine or beer aisle at your specialty grocery store who can say, oh, this is the best thing. Same thing at this butcher shop. So you should go check that out.

Polly: It's been so lovely. Thank you for listening. I pass my baton to Josh.

Josh: Episode 47. You made it.

Polly: I know on an odd number. It's really killing my soul.

Josh: We could just go back and back date them. This would be a MacBook trick. So we just move the numbers so we start at number three.

Polly: See you next time.

Josh: All right. Bye, everybody.

Outro: Thanks for listening to this episode of A Brave New Podcast. Go to for more resources and advice. If you enjoyed this episode, show us some love by subscribing, rating, and reviewing A Brave New Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Polly Yakovich

Polly Yakovich



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