The Path to Awesome

Yesterday, in an extremely lively brainstorming session here in the office, some co-workers introduced me to Robbie Novak. Apparently I live under a rock, because even though I have heard of Geico, I had never heard of the Kid President. After they recovered from the shock of this revelation, and after they felt I was sufficiently shamed enough to stop hurling wicked insults, they sat me down for The Pep Talk.

Now, as far as pep talks go, this one was a pretty darn good one. And while there are so many good sound bites in here, the one that still makes me laugh out loud is, "not cool Robert Frost". In fact, I think I may make a poster out of that and hang it in my office. Because isn't it true? The road less traveled hurts. There are obstacles, and challenges, and you don't have anyone to look to to see how to traverse it. You are on your own. The fact is, walking that road takes courage.

Yet, this is exactly what we at McDonnell Group are doing. A little over a year ago now, our founder noticed the winds of change blowing for our little energy-focused boutique in a very big way. In talks with our customers and with potential customers he was seeing the beginnings of signs that something was missing.

Now, no one likes to hear this, but having worked with my fair share of founders, I can assure you that they like it least of all. But to his credit, he understood that the flip side to change is opportunity. And with opportunity comes hope, and with hope comes dreams and drive and energy and determination. And me.

My first five weeks at McDonnell Group were spent calling all of our customers and running our annual Voice of the Customer research program. We assumed that what was missing was simply a way to describe what we did and that defining ourselves as a strategic communications firm would solve the problem. But that was not at all what we heard in our research. Our clients were asking us for more. Most importantly, they were asking us to be more...to help them be more.

We were founded as a firm with a deep energy industry expertise that powered effective strategy, research, and public relations. This is why our clients sought us out and why they stayed with us. But they wanted us to help them understand how strategy, research, and public relations fit together. They wanted to understand how to implement programs around strategy and around research findings to create value in their businesses. They wanted to develop strategy, define their culture and customer experience, inform their actions with research, and create integrated, creative and impactful programs. And they wanted one firm to help them.

Talk about two roads diverging. But we are taking the one less traveled. And yes, at times it is going to hurt. There will be obstacles and missteps. It's scary stepping into the unknown and daring to be, not just different, but authentically you. But in the end, we agree with you Robbie...when those two roads diverged, we decided to be on the one that leads to awesome.

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