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Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

Aug 12, 2020


Today’s episode we’re diving into the various experiences of Agency culture with guest Taylor Watt, Marketing Manager at Metacake. After changing lanes from teaching to advertising, she began working for a large agency with a long history and big name. The experience wasn’t pleasant, to say the least, and after a tumultuous learning curve she found her place at Metacake. Today we’re talking about Taylor’s experience of working for two totally different companies doing somewhat similar work, the company culture has impacted her performance and life in general.


Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode: 

  1. Employees don’t have to feel fear in order to be productive! Give your employees a healthy, stable, respectful and encouraging environment and the results will come back to you tenfold. 
  2. Healthy Leadership is evident from the outside, and healthy culture is intentional. Everyone will feel the result- you, your employees, AND your clients!
  3. Human relationships should be the priority, with the work being secondary. If your team doesn’t feel respected by leadership at a basic level, feedback won’t be received in a way that is constructive and supportive. 


About Our Guest: 

Taylor Watt is the Marketing Manager at Metacake, running marketing both strategically for clients as well as Metacake’s internal marketing. She has her hands in every Metacake project- from content creation to strategy for Metacake’s YouTube channel. She is passionate, kind, funny, and incredible at her job, truly invaluable to the Metacake team- she also has a really cute dog and makes a mean stack of pancakes. 


For more tips, discussion, and behind the scenes:


About The Guys: 

Bob Hutchins: Founder of BuzzPlant, a digital agency that he ran from from 2000 -2017. He is also the author of 3 books. More on Bob: 

Brad Ayres: Founder of Anthem Republic, an award-winning ad agency. Brad’s knowledge has led some of the biggest brands in the world. Originally from Detroit, Brad is an OG in the ad agency world and has the wisdom and scars to prove it. Currently that knowledge is being applied to his boutique agency. More on Brad:

Ken Ott: Co-Founder and Chief Growth Rebel of Metacake, an Ecommerce Growth Team for some of the world’s most influential brands with a mission to Grow Brands That Matter. Ken is also an author, speaker, and was nominated for an Emmy for his acting on the Metacake Youtube Channel (not really). More on Ken: 


Show Notes:

[3:15] The Guys introduce Taylor Watt, Marketing Manager at Metacake. 

[3:33] Taylor: “I grew up in Nashville, I went to a little Christian college called Lee University… My roommate was in advertising and I was always so envious that her work seemed exciting and more passionate… so I made the switch last minute and spent a little extra time at Lee and got my advertising degree.”

  • She got a job right out of school at a big agency in Nashville and the experience was not great, but eventually moved on and found Metacake. “I’m so grateful I switched majors and that I get to do the work that I do.” 

[5:28] Bob asks: “At the big agency, what was the expectation that was going on?” 

[5:41] Taylor responds: In college, the expectation in advertising is that you’ll get a great job at a big agency, work hard and make big money. Fast paced, working with lots of clients, trendy office setting… those expectations were set and fulfilled by the agency life. 

[6:30] Brad asks: “What was the first sign that made you say ‘Hey I’m not going to like this?’”

[6:37] Taylor: “Well I didin’t really know what to expect, this is the first big girl job that I had, but you’d think that an agency that had been running for decades, that there would be some sort of formal training. There is no formal training.” 

  • Taylor shares that there was zero guidance with extremely high expectations from your management. Long hours were expected, so she stayed late every day to try and keep up with the expectations. 
  • She never made plans after work because of this, and the year and half of working there was made even more difficult as a result.

[7:45] Brad: “What would happen if you just told them you had to leave? What if you had kids, were they flexible with that?”

[7:57] Taylor: “The people with kids would just leave, but I think it’s like if you’re young and single, it’s kind of expected that you’ll stay. I’m very submissive by nature, so I would just keep my head down.”

[8:20] Taylor that she had no trouble with trying hard, with working hard. The company didn’t provide laptops, so working late at home wasn’t an option. They offered laptops to check out but the technology was old, no cloud saving or easy access. This made the late night mandatory. 

[10:00] Brad talks about it’s common for old agencies that have been around for a while to still be doing things the same way they’ve always done them. There is a culture that this is the way things are and they’re not going to change, are not possible to change, because this is the way it’s been for decades. 

[11:15] Brad asks: “Do you feel like your coworkers had the same experiences?” 

[11:30] Taylor: “Yes I think everyone else had the same experience and concerns… there were five of us all about the same experience level… I think everybody had the mindset that you just had to prove yourself and eventually work your way up.”

  • She did confide in management and ask if things were normal, if this was the way things normally happened. Sick days weren’t really days off or sick days, you were still expected to work. 

[12:15] Ken: Talks about how working hard and “paying your dues” isn’t necessarily a bad thing- there is a certain amount of experience necessary to be totally trusted. The process of going through fire is an experience and it’s good for you! But poor leadership through that process is what’s messed up and is more dysfunctional than it is intentionally difficult at certain stages. 

[13:20] Taylor speaks about how a lack of kindness and respect breeds an environment of fear, and that’s not a healthy place for anybody to be. 

[16:00] Brad discusses his experience as a single owner of his business. It’s challenging to not let the stress and fear of everything falling apart get to you and create more trouble than is necessary. He shares that he once had a boss tell him “Brad, it’s just advertising,” and that has stuck with him through times of stress and steep learning curves. 

[18:33] Taylor talks about one pitfall at the big agency she worked for- “It was so big and the team is so big and there were no systems and processes.” When things went wrong she was very hard on herself but in reality she was sort of set up for failure and lack of guidance. 

  • She speaks about how different it is at Metacake. There are systems and processes for everything, a project manager that everyone is in touch with and everyone is very transparent about their daily tasks and work. This provides accountability and gives peace of mind so everyone can know that no balls are going to be dropped. 
  • Aside from that, “It’s just a pleasant place to be, also it’s an inspiring place to be.” 

[22:30] Brad asks “If you need to take correction from a boss, what is the best way to correct without diminishing your confidence and spirit?”

  • The Guys discuss previous experience of negative feedback from a boss, Taylor shares a story about a boss that spoke unkindly to her via the team Slack channel so everybody could see. When she confronted this boss, there was an aggressive response in return and it was very discouraging to her. 

[37:21] Taylor speaks on receiving criticism or feedback- she always goes to the compliment sandwich. Start with the way they are doing something well, then give the criticism with suggestions on how to improve, and follow up with another soft compliment. That way the employee doesn’t feel attacked or discouraged, but lifted up and respected. 

  • “I think young people need to learn how to take correction and not let it just destroy them. And you need to humble yourself and that’s how you learn.” 
  • She speaks on corrections given by Ken. “It never hurts. It’s always like ‘Oh well I feel kind of dumb, but I’ll go fix it,’” 

[39:25] Brad: “Is that because you know his heart and you know that no matter what he does, he’s for you?”

  • It’s really about the intent and the care, the work relationship where you know you’re cared for and supported and that someone has your back. 

[40:38] Bob speaks on how our work does not define us as human beings. This mindset and belief about life creates subtle difference in the way that we interact with each other, and the results of this environment are felt immediately 

[42:00] The Guys talk about how the biggest pitfall for many agencies is the breakdown in the team relationship- in doing the work, it can be easy to forget the human element, which results in an environment of fear and high pressure with little reward.