All posts tagged: agency-journey

Agency Journey Episode 20 (Y15M11)

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Towards the end of last year, we had a client engagement that did not go well. Without getting into details, here’s what happened: the matter got so serious that we needed to get professional liability (errors & omissions) insurance involved. The insurance company assigned us a lawyer and there was a date set for mediation, where, hopefully, we could settle on an amount and move on. This case hung over us like a dark cloud […]

Agency Journey Episode 19 (Y15M10)

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We’ve been steadily plugging away with the business–cleaning up at-risk accounts, cutting costs, launching projects, and winning new work. As I mentioned last month, my focus is ensuring that we’re executing as a company and holding each other to high standards. I think we’re headed in the right direction. About Agency Journey: This is a monthly series detailing the happenings of my agency Barrel, founded in 2006. You can find previous episodes here. Highlights A Couple of Launches […]

Agency Journey Episode 18 (Y15M9)

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It’s much easier to publicly share and write about business when things are going very well. I almost thought about skipping this month (or perhaps never writing this series again) because frankly, it’s been a very tough period for me as an agency owner. The business has struggled in various ways, and there’s a measure of shame and disappointment in talking about how things haven’t been going well. However, after much reflection, I’m convinced that […]

Agency Journey Episode 17 (Y15M8)

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Barrel Agency Journey Episode 17

Every now and then, I’ll take screenshots of meeting agendas and notes from exactly 1 year, 2 years, and even 3 years ago and share it with my partners. Part of the exercise is to show how similar themes pop up over and over again, but the more important reason is to reflect on how our understanding of certain topics has evolved and deepened over time. We often cringe at the shallow, surface-level understanding of […]

Agency Journey Episode 16 (Y15M7)

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The last month of the year really felt like an all-out sprint at Barrel. We launched websites for clients, began new engagements, and closed new deals–a mad dash to set ourselves up for a strong start in 2022. Thankfully, we have some time to rest up and recuperate before things pick up with full force in January. About Agency Journey: This is a monthly series detailing the happenings of my agency Barrel, founded in 2006. You can […]

Agency Journey Episode 15 (Y15M6)

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The past month has been a whirlwind of activity at Barrel, not to mention a number of stressful happenings at home especially with our two young ones (e.g. sleep regressions, potty training mishaps, school challenges, getting sick, etc.). I’m so grateful for Thanksgiving and the chance to rest up and slow things down a little bit before one last push to end 2021. About Agency Journey: This is a monthly series detailing the happenings of my agency […]

Agency Journey Episode 14 (Y15M5)

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Missing the Office Vibe I’ve started going into the office at least once a week. It’s been a great change of pace from being in my home office (bedroom) and a chance to serendipitously run into people I know and catch up with some folks face-to-face. We decided to keep our Manhattan Barrel office even as offers to fully sublease it were available. We’ve sublet some desks and also let friends and Barrel Venture Partners […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

Agency Journey Episode 6 (Y14M9)

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My brain’s been on fire the past couple of months as I’ve been processing and applying concepts from a few books that have resonated deeply with me. They are: The Courage to Be Disliked by Ochiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, The Three Laws of Performance by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan, and An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. A common theme that runs through these books is […]

Agency Journey Episode 5 (Y14M8)

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Refreshed and back from the holiday break, it’s been a very fast-paced and intense January. Let’s jump in to episode 5. About Agency Journey: This is a monthly series detailing the happenings of my agency Barrel, founded in 2006. You can find previous episodes here. Highlights A Week of Looking Ahead The week of January 11th was a crucial “planning” week to help us prioritize initiatives and set goals for 2021. One session, two and half hours long, […]

Agency Journey, Episode 4 (Y14M7)

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Barrel Agency Journey Episode 4

One question that’s kept up coming up again and again in my mind the past few weeks has been: “Are we in a better place than we were a year ago?” In other words, what kind of progress have we made? One bit that’s been a damper towards the end of the year has been the slowed momentum in new business won and receivables collected in Q4. While we’ll finish the year slightly above where […]

Agency Journey, Episode 3 (Y14M6)

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The past four weeks haven’t been the smoothest of times. We’ve had some hiccups in delivering for our clients that’s led to frustration for our clients and scrambling on our end to make amends. New business activity has also been slower than we’d like, so our numbers aren’t looking great at the moment. I trust that things will improve and we’ll find a way through these rough patches. What I’ve come to value more and […]

Agency Journey, Episode 2 (Y14M5)

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As someone who grew up watching and playing a lot of sports, especially football and basketball, the final quarter of the year in business excites me in a way that the 4th quarter might motivate and energize a competitive player. If there’s anything left in the tank, I want to put it all out there. Knowing there’s a holiday break to end the year, I want to give it my all and get lots of things done […]

Agency Journey, Episode 1 (Y14M4)

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Intro to a New Series I’m 14 years and 4 months into running Barrel, a digital agency that I started with Sei-Wook Kim back in 2006. We’re a team of 30+ full-time employees and dozens of contractors all over the world. We work with a number of brands and organizations to build and optimize their websites and help them on their marketing efforts across email, social, and search. We’re on track to do about $7 […]