On how being grateful serves me…

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On this episode, I talk about being grateful. I have written multiple times about gratitude and the importance of deploying it personally and professionally and I continue to be impressed by the power and impact it has on my mind and day to day interactions.

I added a gratitude journal to my life in 2018 and I think I first got the idea from Tim Ferriss. For me it helps me set the stage for a great day and reflect a little on the day, week, month or even life prior to that day. This helps me shift gears and get my new day into focus. I can tell you that when you begin the day with some gratitude reflection, you are pushing away from shore with some real wind in your sails. As an entrepreneur, this is even more important because you need to be as focused as humanly possible to navigate the rough waters that come with being your own boss.

Only positivity comes from it and I tend to get more done and allow less to really upset me or take me off my game. So not only does it feel good to stop and give thanks, but it actually helps yield better business results. If you are like me and are always seeking ways to get an edge or productive ways get ahead, then this is a smart move for you.

In my case, by appreciating the employees and clients who put me where I am, I find that I am a better leader and more empathetic in most situations. Trust me, I still get frustrated and aggravated by silly things, but much less so than I used to. I use my daily journal as a way to reset and not let the things that were annoying me from the day prior linger for too long. Remember, I am grateful to even have clients and employees to be annoyed about…

Does that make sense?

 

 

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On Hump Day Hype

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Every Wednesday I send an email to my team to make sure they don’t succumb to the malaise that can come with “Hump Day.” Most people are going thru the motions at work and I find the day they are most susceptible to the lure of less work or checking out is Wednesday.
The best way to get them to be motivated is not to yell or mandate, but to light a fire in their belly and encourage them to want to be great for themselves and not necessarily for me or the company.  If they see it as serving themselves, they can be selfish and own the effort rather than being told to and potentially resenting it or tuning me out.
During the interview process, I try to hire awesome candidates who seem to have more curiosity than apathy in any aspect of their lives. People who are seeking self-improvement and constantly learning new things are the types that work best for me and who will take a reminder to be great and internalize that message the right way. At least that is the hope…
Today’s message:
Squad-
It is the middle of a rainy work week and it is easy to be a step slow and a little unenthused. Dont fall victim to that mentality and dare to be different than most.
 
If you develop good habits you can maintain high productivity levels, despite the temptations to do otherwise. The foundation can be laid by me, but the mindset and effort lie with you.  I (and your clients too) am counting on you to be better than the rest.
 
We are all different people with varied origin stories and backgrounds, but all of us should share the interest in being our best selves.  Today, that is all I ask of you.  
-Adam
Let’s see how it plays out.

 

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Sircle Squad Profile: Ilana Strauss

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We just hired an amazingly talented new content creator after she won us over during her trial internship. We love to hire via our farm system and when a talented young recruit stands out, we know we have a real winner.  She just joined our squad and we wanted you to get to know her too. We sat down with her this week, and this is what we found out:

Full name/nickname: Ilana Strauss. No nicknames really (we are working on that!)

Age: 22

University and Major: Towson University, Class of 2017. Major: Art + Design with a concentration in Photography. Minor: Mass Communication

What made you choose Sircle Media?: I chose Sircle Media for several reasons. First, by working here at Sircle, I am able to combine two of my passions: photography and social media. In school, I majored in photography where I learned all about the art form from the technical aspects, to the history of photography. Simultaneously, I was studying mass communication where I learned about advertising, marketing, and even took a class specifically on social media and branding. Sircle Media allows me to take everything I’ve learned over the years and apply it to the real world. Another reason I chose Sircle, is because of the company’s culture and work environment. I am able to work alongside an amazing group of creatives that offer their unconditional support and guidance. With their encouragement, I have been able to step outside of my comfort zone and experiment with different projects.

Most surprising discovery/realization after working here?: One thing I learned quickly from working here is how different each and every day is. One day I could be on my hands and knees, styling potato chips for a photo and the next day I could be shooting at a restaurant on the other side of Manhattan. I love how no two days are exactly alike.

What is the best part of your internship?: The best part of this internship has been Sircle’s team environment. Since day one, everyone has made me feel like I was an integral part of the team and that my ideas and opinions were valued just as much as anyone else’s.

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor?: The person I work most closely with on the team is Reid, the Media Director. I’ve learned so much from working alongside him. From walking me through new editing techniques in Photoshop to giving me full responsibility and creative direction over several different projects, Reid has been an awesome mentor and I look forward to working more with him. I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to know Adam, the President, over the past several months. Adam has been an incredible leader and continues to inspire me. His motivational emails remind me of the importance of not only working hard at this job but also focusing on improving myself as an individual. He is also extremely approachable and I know I can go to him with any idea, question, or concern.

The advice you would give to a future intern?: The advice I would give to a future intern is to truly take advantage of everything Sircle has to offer. You are sitting in a room full of talented designers, photographers, and social media managers. There is so much to learn and everyone at Sircle is willing to help you grow.

Bonus Questions:

Three songs that never fail to get you hyped: September – Earth, Wind & Fire, Kill the Lights- Alex Newell, Jess Glynne & DJ Cassidy and I Wanna Dance With Somebody- Whitney Houston

What is something about you that people would be surprised to know?: I played goalie for my intramural and travel soccer teams for 8 years

What cartoon/movie character were you inexplicably afraid of as a kid: I really loved the movie E.T as a kid until my parents brought home an E.T toy for me, unaware that its eyes glowed in the dark. After that, I was terrified of the character and could never watch the movie again. (I hid the toy in my closet.)

 

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Fault vs. Responsibility – in a service business.

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At Sircle Media, we are a service-based business working within the social media industry. I tell my team that we all have a responsibility to ourselves, to our company and to our clients to take ownership of any situation and deliver hard work and great service at all times. It doesn’t mean the customer is always right and in fact, they are often wrong in their approach and treatment of situations with us.

The reality is that most people struggle with managing their own work, let alone people under them or agencies that are serving them. Most people don’t respect authority and don’t know how to be their best selves or to deploy empathy and understand the other side of the conversation. If you want to be “a boss” when it comes to customer service, then you need to dare to be different.

I encourage my team to lean into the issues and never shy away from them.  To be vocal and confident and not cower and acquiesce just to play nicely. We work hard to make sure our clients are happy, but at times the path to happiness might be bumpy and unpaved. Some clients don’t want to be told what to do or that they need to improve on their end and as a result, they have a high churn rate with agencies. They won’t change and so the vendor is the one to go automatically. They place fault on the outsider rather than taking responsibility to fix it.

It is on us then to dig deeper, be even more solid in our work product and communication and to win through taking responsibility and owning our own actions.  When we do that, we are on the right side of history with each relationship and we will win much more than we lose. Those are just the facts.

I love this little rant about fault vs responsibility from Will Smith. I think it applies to our work with clients and is a great guide for life in general. Things happen to you personally and professionally all the time. The question is, how will you respond and fix the situation?

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On finishing up my year of being 40…

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So today is my final day of being 40 years old and here is what I learned this year:

1- Age is just a number and I feel more motivated, hungry, focused and energized than when I was in my early 20′s.

2- Old friends, with real roots, can come back in your life and it can be awesome.

3- I sat down with Chris Heller, one of those old friends to do a podcast and it was a really special conversation and I learned a lot about myself. I recommend that type of exercise to everyone.

4- Doing the right thing is always the right thing.

5- Meditation is real and being mindful is a game changer.

6- I have a herniated disc in my back (came out of nowhere in May) and it stinks. Don’t take 100% healthy days for granted.

7- I made a commitment to go even harder than normal at work this year and there really is no limit. Commit fully and be amazed at how much further you can go.

8- Gratitude needs to be a part of your game. We are so lucky to be alive and we only get one at bat.

9- Reading is crucial and I think I still prefer real books over digital devices.

10- That being said, podcasts and audio are everything. I consume massive amounts of content on the daily now.

11- You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree…

12- I am definitely a morning person.

13- Kids grow up quickly and it is so important to be really present with them. (working hard at getting better at that)

14- I am awful at keeping up with friends and family on the phone. Text and email are much better for me.

15- My Spanish skills, while once a strength, are terrible now.

16- It is important to focus on where you are going, but it is equally important to remember where you came from.

17- This Is Us is an all-time TV Show.

18- Donald Trump is an ass clown.

19- I repeat, Donald Trump is an ass clown.

20 – I committed to doing 40 things for my 40th birthday as part of Chris Heller’s BE40 Facebook Group and though I did fall short (which I was at first annoyed with myself about, but now I am ok with it) I found out that:

21- Canyon Ranch is amazing and everyone should go.

22- Wo Hop is overrated.

23- Cryotherapy was ok, but not amazing.

24- iFLY was fun, but not worth a second session.

25- Going to Ann Arbor with Brett Goffin and no families, was one of the best weekends of the year.

26- Drinking expensive bottles of wine with Noah Yosha was really fun and educational – happy 41st birthday to him today BTW.

27- Not sold on guided meditation classes (yet), as I still think I prefer to do that alone.

28- My ski trip out west with the family was everything I could have hoped for and I am heading back in a few weeks.

29- Daughter date nights were top notch and a mandatory, ongoing tradition.

30- Cooking dinner for the family was not amazing. I am not so skilled in the kitchen to be honest.

31- Live music in NYC was a nice change of pace and something I will continue.

32- Pro soccer game was a lot of fun and I will do it again.

33- Broadway is such an amazing NYC treat and I need to take advantage. Starting with Dear Evan Hansen this Saturday night. (will I cry?)

34- Weekend away with my wife sans kids was special. Need to run that back.

35- Saw LeBron play live and still prefer Jordan.

36- Not 100% sold that I am a Mets fan anymore.

37- Been eating less meat and it has been a good thing. Won’t give it up for now, but don’t need it as much.

38- I care about my wife turning 40 (this year) more than I did about myself last year. She is more important, for sure.

39- Surrounding yourself more with winners is a smart move as is limiting time around negative people.

40- Life is good.

Bottomline is that 40 is an excellent time to sit and reflect on things. The way I see it (despite my herniated disc) it is a time where you are really in your prime personally and professionally and have a lot of control over your own destiny. It is mission critical to be in tune with yourself, be confident and make sure you focus your time and energy on the important things. Looking forward to 41 and will look to top 40. Stay tuned…

 

 

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On only wanting to work with good partners…


On this episode, Adam talks about wanting to only work with good partners/people and being ok with walking away from those who don’t fit that description. We are big believers in top-notch service, hard work and lots of over-delivering for our clients and in return, we look for respect and solid collaboration.

At times, we (as all agencies do) experience partners who do not live up to their end of the bargain. Some clients can be rude, unprofessional and just terrible to work for/with and in those instances, it is ok to walk away. When the client/agency relationship ends, it is usually seen as the agency who took the “L”. That might be the perception, but the breakup might have been the client’s doing and not the vendor.

As Sircle Media has grown and matured, that has become more and more apparent and we have really gotten comfortable with that. We know what we offer, and most of our clients do too. For the vast majority of you, we appreciate you more than you know!

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On winning customers back…

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In 2017 we had a stellar year at Sircle Media and I am very proud of all that we accomplished. We grew our staff, expanded and diversified our offerings and brought on a number of new and higher profile clients. By all measures it was solid.

What I am perhaps most proud of, are the clients who returned to Sircle after leaving us prior. In the agency space, there is a lot of churn and turnover on retainers and contracts. Sometimes you lose business because you messed up and deserve to, but more often than not it can be for silly reasons outside of your control. Losing clients sucks, especially from a competitive and passionate person like me. Unfortunately, this is what I signed up for and it is a way of life I have had to become accustomed to.

Our number one reason for losing clients is a new Marketing Director or decision maker of some sort transitioning in and pushing us out for no rhyme or reason. The analogy I always use is that it is comparable to a new President who wants to come in, flip the table over and put all new people in their cabinet seats. A new leader wants to make moves to earn their keep and often doesn’t want to inherit a legacy agency that they didn’t select. We would argue that if you have a great Secretary of Defense in place, you shouldn’t just fire them, just to fire them. They just might represent the stability you need to make that new role a success. Unfortunately, they don’t even want to hear that.

Regardless of their reasoning, when we do get the notice from a client that they want to leave our agency, rather than getting angry, frustrated or even petty we go the opposite direction. I teach my team to deploy empathy first and foremost and realize that the other party is doing it, for what they think is a good reason for their business. We immediately pivot to customer service and hand-holding mode. We look to set them up to win without us and shower them with love and attention during our winddown month. Every former client would attest that we were rock stars in our darkest hour and that is a distinctly different posture than they are accustomed to.

I then try to keep in touch and root for them from the sidelines, in order to stay on their radar and to let them know that while we are no longer dating, they are still a former love that we care about very much. In a rough and sometimes unforgiving world, they appreciate that more than you would think. We invested a lot of time and energy together and developed a loyalty to their brand, that doesn’t just disappear because they’ve stopped paying us.

When your team handles adversity like professionals and does everything with integrity and class, you create a long-term impression that has lasting effects. Life is a marathon and if you treat it that way and stick around long enough, good things tend to happen. So to all of those returning customers in 2017, I say thank you. To all of the other ones out there, it is never too late to come back. You know where to find us.  #Squad4lyfe

 

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Sircle Squad Profile: Michelle Paltan

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We have a wonderful new intern, trying to earn a coveted spot on the #SircleSquad in 2018. Her name is Michelle Paltan and we asked her some questions to get to know her better.  Enjoy!

Full name/nickname?  Michelle Paltan, tons of nicknames–at Sircle my nickname so far is MP.

Age? 23

University and Major? The University of Tampa, Class of 2016. Advertising and Public Relations major, with a concentration in PR.

How did you find out about Sircle Media?  How ironic is it that I found Sircle Media through social media?  Not that ironic I suppose, since it’s how our whole world is functioning these days. So, Adam posted in a Facebook group for social media jobs and internships, that they were in need of Social Media Managers and interns. He touched upon the different types of clients they worked with and the culture at Sircle and I saw the opportunity and knew I had to go after it since it seemed too good to be true or to pass up.

Most surprising discovery/realization after working here? That it wasn’t too good to be true.  It’s a social media marketing agency that is filled with smart, scrappy, and hustling individuals that focus on different attributes that together, make up great social media marketing and strategy for clients.  I knew that this would be a great learning experience, but I didn’t expect how fast I would start learning first hand. Right out of the gate, I was working hands-on with tasks for clients and learning new approaches to managing the different aspects of social media like scheduling, strategy, creative content planning, and more.

What is the best part of your internship? This is hard to limit to one thing, but I would have to say the people.  There are many talented, bright, encouraging and intelligent people to learn from and to use as resources but at the same time, it is a small company where you aren’t being ignored.  You can ask questions, get critiques and share ideas, without feeling judged in any way whatsoever. The comfortable culture allows you to take away knowledge that you can apply to other areas beyond social media.  Whether you are interning for a Social Media Manager role, or on the creative/design side of the agency, you can still learn from other departments and figure out how to benefit from those different skills and resources.  What’s important in your work environment (and life in general I suppose) is who you surround yourself with. I can say that this culture is ideal for growth, learning, and self-confidence.  We also have a lot of fun along the way, which is a huge bonus!

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor? I’ve had the good fortune to work with Adam, The President, and Sara Lerner, The Managing Director intimately over the past couple of months.  Adam and Sara have been inspiring leaders that I will continue to look up to and learn from, regardless of where I end up in the years to come.  Adam has a great philosophy about life and business and is a mentor that is available to everyone who is a part of the company. He has developed a bulletproof method of creating success for clients and the employees at Sircle. Sara is a super smart, strong leader who has mastered the art of multi-tasking, problem-solving and developing strategy methods for social media that will yield success for all clients.

The advice you would give to a future intern? Attention to detail is the most important thing in everything that you do or create at Sircle. We work in both social media and service, so it is very important to be spot on with communication and deliverables. You must really be on the ball to be successful, that is for sure.

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On the long and winding road of entrepreneurship…

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Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It is a constant barrage of stress, issues, fires and losses, balanced (only sometimes) with flickers of greatness and short-term wins along the way. I have heard it often compared to jumping out of an airplane and only first starting to build the parachute mid-air. I think that visual is a fair one.

We are living in a time, where it seems kind of cool to run your own business and I think it is seen as the easier option when compared to being an employee at someone else’s business. It is not, this I can promise you. Sure, calling yourself a founder and hanging out and not working all day is very easy. Actually creating an enterprise that is built to last and showing continuous growth year over year, is a very different task. If you want to win in that game you need to know that:

1. The buck stops with you: You are now responsible for all of the decisions. Entrepreneurs have an incredible opportunity to create something from nothing, which you cannot generally accomplish when working for someone else. With this upside, comes the downside of making all of the big decisions about what must be done, when and how. You can’t wait for things to happen, or for someone to tell you what to do, you must make them happen for yourself.

2. You must always be working on “the now” and “the later”: You need to execute efficiently on the day to day work, while also planning and prospecting for the future. As an entrepreneur, you have to project your mind forward and think about next month, quarter, year etc. Nobody else is out there bringing you new business, managing your renewals and developing the brand. It is grounding to know that what you do, or don’t do, today, will have an impact on your business down the line. This creates a sense of urgency and forces the winner to constantly put in the “extra reps” to produce better gains.

3. You have to have thick skin and be able to endure rejection: When you try and sell your products or services you are certain to hear a lot of no’s. It never feels good, but it is much more personal and harder to take when it is your own baby. You have to be able to set (and then stay) the course, despite the many rough water days that lie in your path.

4. You have to constantly be learning and tweaking: You can never have a “set it and forget it” mentality.  I think a lot of entrepreneurs want to set up their business, get it to a point where it is humming and then work less and enjoy the fruits of their labor. While that might be the case for some very lucky ones, that is definitely an outlier. For most of us, you need to be iterating, researching and modifying processes each and every day. You cannot get comfortable and can never put your feet up and relax. It is a constant uphill climb, and while it is ok to look down and be proud of what you have built from time to time, you do need to look upward nearly all of the time.

5. You must know your numbers:  While this is admittedly not my strongest skill, it is such an important element of success.  Meaning, if you aren’t watching cash flow and managing your pipeline religiously, it can be game over, real quick. You need to set substantial “reach goals” and drive towards hitting them from an offense POV constantly.  On the defensive side of the ball, you need to plan for potential puddles along the path and manage your overhead each month. I personally lean towards being more aggressive and investing in my people (compensation, perks, food, and fun) and marketing (website, collaterals, video), so I need to make sure I score a ton of points on offense to win my games.

8. You are always on: As an entrepreneur, especially one with employees and paying clients, it is an all the time thing. While you definitely have more control over your hours and location, you will always be thinking about the business. Usually, those thoughts are about what can go wrong and/or what you are not doing well. It is an interesting feeling of never being good enough, which is an uncomfortable and sometimes defeating view for most.  There is no reprieve, it is always there.

At the end of the day, you have to be totally focused and committed, super gritty and the kind of person who is ok with constantly being consumed by your brand and it’s success.  Plenty of people are in this role without these traits, and they will not make it long term. It doesn’t make anyone better or worse, it is just the way it is. It might take a very long time to build, and you might never feel as though you have truly succeeded. I can say that the road is long and winding, but beautiful and exciting too. I wouldn’t have it any other way…

 

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Why I am the Derek Jeter of social media…

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I know this one is a stretch, but hear me out.

So we are both originally from the tri-state area and both were accepted to The University of Michigan in the mid 90′s. Granted he did go on to win the World Series and Rookie of The Year Honors in 1996, while I had a 3.0 GPA and countless hangovers. Despite the rough start, my gritty spirit kicked in and I rallied back to have a 3.7 GPA because I wasn’t going out like that. I digress…

So we both moved to New York and spent our whole careers here. Every single day we got up, put on our uniform and went to work.  We both have confidence but rarely brag.  Both of us are, “rip your face off” competitive, yet we always compete fairly and honorably.  We despise losing, but would never cut corners to win. It really is about legacy over short-term gains, and that is what ultimately earns respect and admiration from others. #Re2pect

Being “The Captain” of my team it is imperative to remain even-keeled. I never get too high when we win new business or receive referrals or accolades, and I brush it off when we lose a pitch or have a client leave the agency. When running your own company it is a long season so to speak, and you need to go in knowing you won’t win all of the games.  Just like batting, if my career average is .300 I am a Hall of Famer.

We both work in highly competitive industries and have tons of competition, but never really sweat them. We know that we just need to work hard, put in 100% effort and just do what we are expected to do, and the rest will work itself out. It really doesn’t matter what the others around us do, because if we play our game then we will win.

We both married supermodels (at least in my eyes) and we are both gentlemen in how we approach the women in our lives. We are excellent teammates and always have the backs of those around us. Life is a marathon and how you treat people comes back around for sure. Act as if…

I even love how he partnered with Jordan, (my childhood hero) for a brand deal. Both are fierce competitors, but if you want the benchmark for doing things the right way personally and professionally then I have to go with Number 2, the best that ever did it!

 

 

 

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