Author: Peter Kang

Agency Survival: Handling Challenging Times for the Business

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We’ve been through our fair share of ups and downs at Barrel including some close calls on remaining solvent as a business. Through these rough times, we’ve learned some approaches to help us be more resilient as a business. More importantly, we’ve learned that the ability to survive (and eventually bounce back) requires a mindset that can hold two opposing views: the worst-case scenario where everything burns down in flames and the optimistic view that […]

Agency Journey Episode 13 (Y15M4)

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The Unstoppable Force of Adaptation I sometimes find it frightening to realize how quickly we as humans adapt to new situations and take for granted or get used to situations that, just days or weeks ago, seemed out of reach or a very remote possibility. This goes for good things, unfortunate things, and everything in between. We are adaptation machines. We’ve been making a great deal of progress on many fronts at Barrel. We are […]

The Five Omissions of Reward-Centered Leaders from “The Motive” by Patrick Lencioni

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In The Motive, a leadership parable by Patrick Lencioni, he shares two types of leadership approaches: Reward-centered leadership: the belief that being a leader is the reward for hard work; therefore, the experience of being a leader should be pleasant and enjoyable, free to choose what they work on and avoid anything mundane, unpleasant, or uncomfortable. Responsibility-centered leadership: the belief that being a leader is a responsibility; therefore, the experience of leading should be difficult and […]

Agency Journey Episode 12 (Y15M3)

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Capping Off a Full Year of Reflections I began Agency Journey last September as a way to make space to reflect on the many decisions and various efforts that go into running Barrel. My hope was that in creating a record of my thoughts, I could A) personally benefit from the exercise of examining  and looking back on different highlights and challenges and B) help others by sharing my learnings and mistakes. The series has […]

Operating Rules Vol. 3 (Diet Edition)

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Note: This is Volume 3 of my “Operating Rules” series. Check Volume 1 and Volume 2. I’ve come to appreciate diet as an important lever for influencing my day-to-day wellbeing and also for giving me confidence about my long-term health. Eating is something we do multiple times a day and what goes into our body ultimately determines how our bodies function and feel. A lot of my food knowledge comes from years of watching videos […]

Agency Journey Episode 11 (Y15M2)

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I’m writing this after a full week away from work. My family took a trip a few hours north and stayed at an Airbnb, exploring the local towns and parks. While a vacation with two young children–especially with one who’s going through a sleep regression–wasn’t necessarily relaxing, I enjoyed the opportunity to take my mind off of work and to create some nice memories. Additionally, it was very rewarding to know that the business was […]

Five Types of People Success to Celebrate in Business

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I’m pretty certain that when I’m an old man looking back on my time as an agency business owner, the thing that’ll matter most won’t be how much money I made or the prestige of the clients we worked for. The actual work we did for clients will also largely be forgotten. What will matter to me the most, by far, will be the relationships I had with the people I worked with as well […]

Transformative Books We Read Together as a Leadership Team

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Incorporating Reading Into Our Planning Meetings At the start of each quarter, the four Barrel partners meet for an all-day planning meeting. The format of this meeting used to focus heavily on identifying various issues in the business and putting our heads together to see if we could resolve them. The goal of each planning meeting was to come away with a solid slate of key initiatives to accomplish over the next 90 days. Four […]

Agency Journey Episode 10 (Y15M1)

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We’ve been gradually increasing our headcount as of late to keep up with growing accounts and new projects. We’ve also been hiring for non-billable roles to support with different business functions. These are all important investments as we look to scale the agency. However, a lesson for me to keep in mind is that headcount does not necessarily equate to success. I recommend this short 10-min podcast featuring Greg Alexander, the author of The Boutique, where […]

Minimizing Regrets With How I Spend My Time

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“If you can project yourself out to age 80 and sort of think, ‘What will I think at that time?’ it gets you away from some of the daily pieces of confusion.” – Jeff Bezos, on his Regret Minimization Framework Bezos recalls how he made the decision to leave his cushy hedge fund job to start Amazon. He used what he called the “Regret Minimization Framework” to think of himself at age 80 and imagine […]

My Personal Finance Snapshot (June 2021)

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It’s been almost 9 months since my last personal finance update. You can see all my past personal finance updates right here. Over the years, I’ve gone from talking about personal finance tools to focusing more on asset allocation, the investment decisions I make with my money. Note: All content here is for informational purposes only and do not constitute any investment advice. Please do your own due diligence and make your own investment decisions. […]

Agency Journey Episode 9 (Y14M12)

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There’s momentum and energy in the air at Barrel. And it’s not only because we launched new work for clients or won new business. It’s the result of committing to big goals, making hard decisions, and following through on proposed changes. It’s operating from a mindset of “why not?” and “why not us?” vs. one of fear and scarcity. It’s taken me and Sei-Wook nearly 15 years to find our way to where we are […]

Minding My Own History

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“The historian always oversimplifies, and hastily selects a manageable minority of facts and faces out of a crowd of souls and events whose multitudinous complexity he can never quite embrace or comprehend.” “Obviously historiography cannot be a science. It can only be an industry, an art, and a philosophy—an industry by ferreting out the facts, an art by establishing a meaningful order in the chaos of materials, a philosophy by seeking perspective and enlightenment.” (Will […]

Agency Journey Episode 8 (Y14M11)

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Even after all these years, it still stings when I learn that a Barrel team member has decided to give notice and move on from the company. There are many reasons why people leave, but I can’t help feel like we’ve let them down somehow. It stings the most when I first hear the news because my mind races towards thinking about all the things we failed to do to keep that person. With time, I chill […]

Portfolio Spring Cleaning & New Investment Approach

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I spent a cloudy Saturday afternoon analyzing the stocks in my various brokerage accounts and decided to emerge with a clearer idea of my investment approach moving forward along with some “spring cleaning” to-dos that will consolidate my portfolio. A Bit of a Mess The best way to view my portfolio was to use Personal Capital (disclosure: referral link), which pulls in all my portfolio info from across all my investment accounts, and open up the […]

Recent Stock Buys #3: Redfin, Twitter, Dropbox, Teladoc, and More (March 2021)

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This is the 3rd edition of Recent Stock Buys, where I share my thinking behind recent stock purchases. Disclaimer: I’m not an investment professional, so please don’t take any of these posts as investment advice. I’m simply looking for ways to get good returns while learning about businesses. Intro I was hoping to ease off on the buying in March and adopt a more “watch and see” attitude after heavy activity in February, but as the market slid and […]

Finding Value in Quantity

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There’s the oft-referenced story from Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland, taken from the section on “Perfection”: The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure […]

Agency Journey Episode 7 (Y14M10)

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It’s been over half a year since I started writing these and looking back on my previous posts, it’s incredibly humbling to see that the ideas I felt so sure and optimistic about at the time didn’t pan out the way I thought. Likewise, there are areas that I felt we had largely figured out or were trending in the right direction but in hindsight, it looks like we’re still trying to find our way. […]

Client Experience vs. Quality Work

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“Deliver quality work and the client will be happy” is something I used to tell myself and our team members at Barrel over the years. Upon deeper reflection, this isn’t necessarily true. In recent years, we’ve talked more and more about the “client experience” – what it looks and feels like from the client’s perspective to work with an agency like Barrel. Do they feel like they’re taken care of? Are the cadence of communication and […]

Dark Moments and Counters

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I’d like to think that I live a happy and blessed life. And on most days, I feel pretty good. However, I would be lying if I said things were always smooth sailing. Like most others, I have my darker moments and they come at unexpected times. I wanted to catalog some of these (along with how they spiral down a darker place) and also share some counters that have been helpful for me to […]