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Lessons Learned from 15 Years Running Our Own Agency

It’s hard to believe it but today marks 15 years since Visceral opened its doors. We’ve learned a lot in that time. We’re still learning. We’re always learning. It’s one of our core values. It’s been a roller coaster of an experience, and one that we’re thrilled and grateful to still be on. As we look toward the future of how we’ll continue to shape our small but mighty company, we asked folks to look back and share their words of wisdom for anyone else who’s trying to build their own organization.

Jay Buys
Co-founder & CEO

“Always bet on yourself. Never stop learning. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong damn room. Don’t waste time on your competition. Your biggest competitor is the company, or the person, you were yesterday. There’s no such thing as work/life balance. It’s just life, make the most of all of it. Find the symmetry between profit and purpose. We need to make saving the world profitable so that more people want to do it. Failures are just steps on the path to success. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small. When all else fails, just listen, be kind and try to help.”

Matthew Billingsley
Co-founder & Creative Director

“Get comfortable with the word “no.” It’s a powerful word that you should have easy access to. Early, when Visceral was still being shaped there wasn’t a plan for anything aside from getting work, and enough of it to feel safe, in the door. That meant we said yes to everything that crossed our desks. That was fine for a while, but too many yeses gave way to doubt and unnecessary stress. Most importantly, it kept us away from opportunities we were better suited for. It finally clicked once we understood exactly who we were as a team and what we wanted to become as an agency.”

Allen Hopper
Chief Creative Officer

“Continually evolve. Experiment and explore new approaches, new tools, and ways to collaborate. Keep what works and fearlessly disregard things that don’t. Communicate—often and honestly. Even at the risk of being annoying or redundant. Do this to ensure that you’ve thought through all facets of a given challenge, have a cohesive plan in place, and collaborate closely with your team to execute it. Finally, have fun, the best ideas emerge when you aren’t working on the work.”

Dana Jensen
Production Director

“Find people who you believe in and trust — not necessarily the person with the most experience. Invest in their potential. Discover the values of your company and make every decision in concert with the values. Stay organized and double-check everything you do. Be open and transparent about the goals of the organization. Embrace change and continue growing. Communicate and brainstorm more than you think is necessary.”

Travis Johnson
Technical Director

“Invest in and trust your employees. Make learning and evolving a core part of the business. Be genuine and thoughtful — people notice and it makes a difference. Develop deep relationships. Partner with your clients. Find a balance between heads down getting shit done and heads up big picture thinking. Some of the best ideas are formed over a round of beer or a game of pool. Have fun :)”

Misha Trombley
Senior Developer

“Stay curious, humble, and open; “this is the way it’s always been done” is not a reason to keep doing something. Each team member has their own strengths they can build on given the opportunity. Put effort into learning, challenging yourself, and trying new things; you might make mistakes, but you might discover a new passion or talent. Share resources, knowledge, and time with your team and clients.” 

Mica Liversidge
Senior Designer

“Never be bored! Allow your team to be constantly inspired and encourage a culture of experimentation and exploration. Listen to diverse ideas, especially when they are different from your own. Be comfortable with feedback because that is what makes you grow. Constantly question. And through it all, have each other’s backs.”

Natalia Tamburini
Project Manager

“Show your people that you genuinely care about them and watch productivity soar. Also, give your staff and your clients the opportunity to be adults; I bet you they’ll surprise you. Aim to always be bettering; even if you’re doing a good job and showing up, keep seeking for opportunities to be challenged and to grow. Don’t be afraid to create your own path: as an individual and as an organization; if it’s not already being done, maybe that’s the problem, and you can be the solution.”

Nick Peddie

“With compassionate support and open communication you can lift the spirits of your team, increasing performance and morale. The inexperience of a driven individual can be their biggest tool. “Sucking at something is the first step towards being sort of good at something.” Continued learning, as a team and as individuals, is key to growth and staying relevant. Personal check-ins can create strong bonds and inspire more focused work.”

Lastly, we’ve said this before but it bears repeating at every opportunity; Visceral is about people. Our team, our clients, our partners, our community, and anyone and everyone that works hard to make the world a little bit better today than it was yesterday. We are proud and grateful to have made it to our teenage years and can’t wait to see what the future holds.