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Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

Aug 19, 2020


Last episode we got to hear our guest, Taylor Watt, discuss her experiences working for various agencies. They have ranged from horrible to great. Today we’re talking about what we can practically do (and what we have done) to create a genuinely great company culture. Different personality types and management styles have to be taken into account along the way. Our guest Taylor Watt shares practical tips from firsthand experience that have created a more balanced work/life relationship for her. We’re discussing how personality impacts performance under pressure, how to strengthen working relationships amidst a changing industry landscape, and what it means to have “work hours” and “non-work hours” when everyone is working from home. Keeping spirits and motivations high when everyone is separated is a tricky balancing act- so today we’re bringing some practical advice for agency and business owners alike. 


Top 4 Curtain Pulls in this episode: 

  1. Contrary to the social media accounts of every business, “culture” is not one size fits all. It’s not standing desks, snack bars, and company relay races. True culture takes into account the personality of your team and the pedigree that you want to create within your organization. Having healthy, balanced, and committed humans is the only way to success, so you must define that and move with intention towards it.
  2. As a leader, you MUST be healthy and have emotional intelligence - this is not an option. When giving feedback, keeping someone’s personality type in mind can be the difference between motivating a positive end result and leaving them frozen in inaction. 
  3. “Businesses run by processes, and people run the processes.” So in taking care of your employees, creating systems and processes for them to follow, you are setting the business up for success in the long-term. 
  4. Having solid, reliable systems and processes internally and within client projects is extremely important. From a completely practical standpoint, establishing systems and making sure everyone is on the same page helps to increase accountability while providing freedom for self-management. 


About Our Guest: 

Taylor Watt is a Marketing Manager at Metacake, running marketing both strategically for clients as well as Metacake’s internal marketing. She has her hands in many other Metacake projects as well- from writing blogs to 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. 




  • Click Happy by Molly Pittman- A guide to a meaningful life and career in the digital era. 



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:

[1:04] Bob gives a brief recap of last week’s episode. “We talked about some of the negative experiences that Taylor had in a larger agency, and then we talked about changing those, and what the culture is that even exists in our own agencies and backgrounds. Today we want to talk about some real practical steps and examples and ways to move forward in a more healthy way.”

[1:35] Brad shares that over the last five years or so, he’s been on a journey to creating more health internally within his business. He often feels like if he misses 15 minutes of productivity during the day, he has to make up for it later with time away from family. It’s a big struggle for him as a solo agency owner. 

  • He speaks on not having your day so scheduled that you don’t have time for the human element of ownership. When it really comes down to it, the people in your organization are more important than the organization, so treating them as such is incredibly valuable. 

[3:34] Ken adds that its really a question of “What is the best strategy to creating a successful business?” Which is turns out actually means not burning people out. 

[4:30] Bob asks Taylor for some practical or helpful advice that other agency owners who may be listening could employ.

[5:00] Taylor mentions our last episode and again stresses the importance of processes. “Systems are important, accountability. Making sure that every employee with you is set up for success, because if you do your due diligence there, after that, it’s all on them, whether they’re successful or not.” 

  • Taking time to focus on your employee’s physical, spiritual, emotional health if possible. 
  • While a 10 or 15 minute conversation with an employee may feel like wasted time, it is really motivating them to work and so it’s not a waste of time, you’ve just invested your time into your employee. 

[6:05] Bob speaks about emotional intelligence and how important it is to know your employee’s personality type, as your feedback may be really encouraging to some but inhibit productivity in others. 

[7:17] Ken speaks on Metacake’s take on personality types. “We all have personality tests or profiles for everybody. That’s been a fun team activity, but it’s been really helpful.” 

  • With different personalities, values are different, the ways that you motivate and inspire people changes. 
  • Metacake’s team members take both the DISC assessment and the Enneagram test. 
  • Dealing with creative personalities may not be intuitive for many agency owners

[10:43] Taylor suggest creating a sort of questionnaire for new employees to fill out- something that asks them about their ideal work environment, their ideal boss, where their motivation comes from. 

[12:27] Brad talks about how as agency owner, it can be difficult to give feedback sometimes because things do come off harsh. He speaks on the difficulty he has with presenting criticism in a softer light, and stresses the importance of measuring your words as an agency owner, as those words can carry a lot more weight than you realize. 

  • Brad continues that learning to speak to people in a way that lifts them up and inspires them, encourages them to to better- these are the skills that create truly great teams and relationships. 

[15:00] Taylor shares a book she’s read this year, “Click Happy” by Molly Pittman. “At one point she said, especially in this industry, people value and prioritize people that work overly hard… it’s a quick road to burnout and actually a really unintelligent way to go about your business or your work.”

  • The smart way to work is prioritizing the most important things and working on cutting out and delegating the small things. 
  • Agency culture in general glamorizes being busy, and glamorizes hard work… “And I realized that later, after reading the book, that yeah I’ve been doing that.” 

[18:00] Ken speaks on managing that culture at Metacake. While you want to encourage employees who do go above and beyond, ultimately creating an environment where employees can have a reasonable expectation of personal life versus business life is the key. 

  • While Metacake does rarely require work outside of normal hours, the balancing act is making sure that burnout doesn’t creep up and is managed in a healthy way. Respecting work hours and expectations for those hours is the place to start. 
  • The same is communicated to clients- “Our people are not in on Saturday working, we’re not going to be doing anything specific for you during that time, unless it’s an absolute emergency and there have been those times.”

[20:00] Bob relates this concept to working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. He asks Taylor how that’s worked for her.

[25:07] Taylor says that some people on the team have done well and thrived, while others have really struggled. Personally, she is a people person so it’s been a struggle to maintain energy levels and motivation while working solo.

  • She speaks about the spontaneous creative conversations that come up when everyone is in the office together- you can’t really plan for those so that is a definite downside to working from home. 

[31:00] Brad shares that one benefit to working for home for him, although it was struggle to get there, was realizing that by taking a half hour or so to do something other than work, to do something with his hands that maybe was more creatively challenging, helped him show up for meetings and work in a more centered way later on. 

  • “I found that I never knew I needed that until I actually did it. And Covid forced me to do that- or at least put me in the position to do that.” 

[32:45] Ken shares his experience with this topic and plans that Metacake has for their future work. 

  • Eventually there will be a blend of working from home or working at the office, but I’m still questioning the requirement… “It’s more like we’re in an open workspace… like hey these people will be in on these days so if you want to go hang out with them, you can.” 
  • The ultimate goal is getting people to work smarter, not harder. 
  • “And also, how do you have a fun, healthy life… having the flexibility to work from anywhere, we’ve had people that have gone and visited their families for weeks and work from there. And that’s great.” 

[33:45] Brad speaks about the importance of systems and being able to trust that ALL of your employees have what they need to follow those systems and do a great job while having the freedom to live their lives as well. 

[35:05] Ken stresses the importance of this as well, because your business needs to be a system. “It can’t just be a freeform thing... Because it’s not scalable that way… it’s not predictable and consistent. And so how do you create what is seemingly very flexible, but actually very systematic.” 

[35:37] Brad: “Business runs by processes and people run the processes.” 

[36:45] Ken shares that managing the mental health side of people’s lives is also important, so Metacake provides an every-other-week one-on-one meeting with both owners to connect and share their working experiences. Creating that human connection on an individual basis is so important to building trust and get real feedback.

[40:06] Ken speaks on the challenges of working with a team who is mostly younger and spread apart and away from their families. “How can we create genuine environments where people actually enjoy their work?” 

  • Finding the balance between managing the somewhat chaotic world of parenting while working from home is important. As a business owner, prioritizing connection with co-workers and feeling like a valued member of the team will make the process of doing life with family that much easier and healthier for your employee. 

[42:30] Taylor shares how Metacake has broken days up into working remote as a group and getting lunch at new places together. A fun activity like Top Golf during the day followed by lunch and remotely working- also about a year into her job a manager encouraged her to get her nails done and gave her a gift card. 

  • That really went a long way for her! Small gestures make a big difference.

[49:00] Taylor continues- Metacake as a primary team member in charge of planning these sorts of activities, and gets team input as she plans so that everyone is sure to have a good time. Making sure that everybody is interested and engaged together is key!