I-ology has officially reached the age of adulthood. It’s sometimes hard to believe it’s been almost two decades. The company has experienced so much over these years, from the advancement in technology to the amazing people who have impacted its growth and vision.
As a team we celebrate its 18th anniversary this month, however, as an individual I celebrate the opportunities and lessons I’ve learned by building this business from a laptop in a bedroom to this amazing office in Scottsdale full of talented, creative entrepreneurs. This business has taught me so much since its inception, but the following five lessons stand out and continue to inspire me.
5 Leadership Lessons Learned
- Be aware of your “aha moment.” There came a point where I almost sold the entire business, handing over 100% of my ownership, so when I explored a new model which would bring my ownership to 51% it just didn’t scare me anymore. So, I chose to create an environment where others had the opportunity to earn true ownership in what they where helping to build.
- Every relationship is an opportunity – sometimes even the most unexpected. I look at every relationship as an opportunity to learn more from an individual or how that relationship may evolve over time to something I wasn’t even thinking about in the moment. Recently, I-ology welcomed one of our newest team members, Candi Luciano as VP of Digital Brand. Years ago, Candi and I were competitors; each of us owning our own competing agency in what seemed to be a small, competitive market. Over time, Candi and I stayed in touch. As a leadership role developed at I-ology, I reached out to Candi for recommendations – it just so happened that she was the right person for the role.
- Find your bravery. I’ve always wanted to create an environment that true entrepreneurs could call home. So I decided to create a structure and offer true equity at every level of the organization. I counted on the fact that no competitor could or would offer to give up half of their business, especially to the people below the executive level and so far that’s been true. I also wanted to develop amazing and lucrative opportunities for amazingly talented people. I had to be brave and trust that the right environment would push us all to create something truly great. After the past three years, I can say that IS truly what has transpired.
- Don’t build a plan based on what could go wrong – don’t design for the exception. Through this organizational change, it was a real challenge to find strategic advisors who didn’t try to talk me out of giving away pieces of my business because I might make a mistake and bring someone on who turned out to be a bad partner decision. I chose to move forward accepting that I might make a wrong decision, but I was willing to pay that potential price for the opportunity to make many great decisions along the way!
- Give ownership and let go. The past 18 years have been amazing, and I look forward to many more. I often call I-ology an “18- year old start up.” We have the stability, longevity, and sophistication of an 18 -year old business, but the agility, innovation, and excitement of a growing entrepreneurial business. I bounce out of bed every morning excited to see what’s being created at I-ology by its future owners!
I am so grateful to the clients that have trusted us over the years and I am even more thankful for the I-ology team that has signed up to take I-ology to the next level. My conclusion is that you really can teach this old dog new tricks!