Rasta my Delhi based creative agency has been on the road for 10 years today! We do good work, are financially sound with an employee strength touching 30 people.
What does it mean to be around for a decade in the Creative business, in India? I don’t know for sure, but given we’re here, buzzing with quality talent, I’d say, we have persevered.
Perseverance is a hard word to spell and a harder thing to know.
Now with a decade turning yards to years, I feel qualified, sharing big blocks from the hard knocks.
There are 2 ways to persevere and the latter is better but usually follows the first:
Show Up, even if you’re eating dog shit everyday. That’s basically the first 5 years. You don’t have to change much, not yourself self at least, but be at that desk every morning. With enough dosh in the market and some foundational skills because of which you started out, you’ll live. If you can’t show up and/or the market is tiny or shrinking, you will perish.
“I’m being towed by a fish and I’m the towing bitt”.
— Old man and the Sea
Constantly Optimise for Team and Customers till you get to a point where you have a trusted team and good clients. This is how Rasta persevere’s today, but it took me about 7 years to get here (definitely 2 years late).
I’ll dive a little deeper on what this means:
Optimising for team means not getting bogged down by people movement (attrition, retention, morale etc). I’m not a natural at people, so it took me time to wrap my head around this. Optimising for people means when you have people trouble like a key member leaving & you didn't see it coming, don’t get too hassled. Get back to Recruiting & Training with lessons from the last experience, just do it better. And then do this again next time some other shit hits the ceiling. You have to commit to this. If you are ready to wait a bit, you will see the right talent come through the crucible & process take shape. A classic case of not committing to this is — lazy hiring, the one you do to either to satisfy your ego or just to put a bum on the seat. More on recruiting another day :)
Optimising for clients means finding and working only with those whom you can uniquely service well. These are clients who have similar values as yourself & which is something you can only gauge through the relationship between decision makers on both ends. Easier said than done that’s why this comes late. I wish I knew a short cut to get to this faster.
I’ll give you an example of what it looks like for us now.
Rasta is a good creative strategy and communications shop, if you want to build an authentic brand in the long run. So we try to work only with clients who want to be part of everyday conversations. We call this “Culture First” approach. Not easy because the perception of branding & communications is very subjective among business decision makers.
Some of them don’t care about garnering share of conversation, they only care about share of wallet. We are now going a step ahead and want to work with brands who want to have the right kind of conversation . What is right? we don’t know but we can define our right. Essentially, it is whatever we decide to persevere with.
So borrowing from Nir Eyal’s Behavioural classic Manipulation Matrix; we want to optimise our sales engine to work with brands who are in our Zone of Perseverance:
Rasta’s Zone of Sales Perseverance
I do not think you can Optimise before eating dog shit for a bit. I think you can apply this idea to individual careers as well but can’t be sure.
Anyway, thanks for staying with me on this. Congrats to us, the Rasta crew now and everyone who’s ever been on this ride with us :)
On to the next decade!