Below is an email I sent out to everyone at Fat Atom Marketing. Enjoy:
Who Told You "You Can't" ?
As the IBJ has pointed out, we are a unique lot compared to most other companies. This is not because I have a grudge against tradition education (ok, well I do, but that is not WHY). It is because human beings are amazing, and capable of amazing things, and no one needs permission to do anything amazing. If people really understood and believed their capabilities, they would be ashamed of their progress. So why are you hesitating? Why do you doubt? Why do you ask permission? Why do you seek approval? Who told you "you can't"?
No One Has the Answer. No One Does It "Right".
Every industry, every business, every organization, and every system is in a constant state of evolution. No one really knows where it is going, and few understand where it came from. People wake up, see the world function (sort of), and assume someone made it that way, and that all-knowing all-powerful person (often referred to as "The Man") must know more than they do. Well, the truth is, electricity was discovered by a reckless guy taunting lightning with a kite, potato chips were invented by a grumpy cook trying to sarcastically slice and over-cook potatoes for a picky customer, the poor lady who discovered radioactivity died of radiation poisoning, and don't get me started about medicine (one word - "leaches"). I got news for you all, most of the stuff we have today is all just here from us "winging it". Stop thinking there is someone out there who knows what they are doing and then thinking less of yourself because your don't. Your guess is as good as anyone else.
Problems Are a Sign of Progress, not Failure
Losers, whiners, and politicians are people who look at a problem and say, "who broke this?" as if it ever worked to begin with. There is no golden age. There are no "good 'ol days". Everything today is the best it has ever been, but human beings have an amazing ability to find problems, so we all look around and say "this sucks." Finding problems is a good thing, because it is our ever guiding compass toward awesomeness. Your future is not dictated by problems, but how you look at them. If you gather problems to use as evidence of impending doom, then you will inevitable fail. If you look at problems as opportunities to improve, you will fail your way to success. Things fall apart because of people and their attitudes, not because of "problems". Every step you take forward in life will only reveal more problems and challenges to overcome, get used to it now. If everything is great, you're dead.
Persistence and Grace
"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - Calvin Coolidge
"The truth is out there." - Mulder
We are going to make mistakes, we are going to lose customers, we are going to have bad ideas (yes, they exist). We aren't going to be the best marketing company in the world, and you are not going to be the best [insert job position here], because you are smart, talented, or sexy (as we all know we are). You are going to be successful by never giving up, learning from your mistakes, giving yourself and others grace to be imperfect. Most of all, we will all be successful by knowing we can, and never settling for less than utter and compete awesomeness.
So... Who Told You "You Can't" ?
I ask this question honestly. I am amazed at how many of you have, at one point or another, said you didn't think you could do something. All of those things you have doubted, have been done. No one ever told me "You can". So the only difference I can think of is it must be that no ever told me "you can't". [Side note, I asked Aaron this once and he said, "High School".]
Ok, One Caveat
So after all that motivational talk, there is one caveat. You can't do it.... Nope, you just can't. I mean, you can't ALONE. Truly exceptional work is a group effort. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. By learning to identify and be proud of our strengths while also acknowledging our weaknesses is true humility, and that is truly powerful.
If you think others around you are holding back your brilliance, and you could just succeed if not for all the idiots around you, then you are on a short road to reality television. Most of the problems we have are because we don't work them out together, and rather look for blame. We look for what everyone else did wrong first, before evaluating what we ourselves could do differently.
You doubt? Just remember The Beatles. How many Ringo albums do you own?
None of us can know everything going on. When there is a problem, it is too easy to assume it is not your problem. The reality is that any problem you are aware of is your responsibility to fix until someone says, "I got this". Referring back to teamwork, this is all part of covering each other's backs. If your teammate forgot something, the right thing to do is remind them, or handle it in their absence. You would want them to do the same for you.
Human beings are amazing. We landed on the moon, but it took the talent of people all around the world. We just landed Wall-E on Mars! We would be flying around space on honeymoon cruises if we just could stop blowing each other up.
I believe Fat Atom will be a legendary marketing company someday, not because we are smarter, but because we can get the best from ourselves and each other.