Every agency is different, and they all seem to talk about culture. In this episode Rob and Don talk about how they’ve shaped the culture of MOCK, the agency.
Don Mock 0:20
Alright, Rob, who’s going to talk first?
Rob Broadfoot 0:22
Well, you just did.
Don Mock 0:24
I’m going to talk first evidently, all right. Episode Six, everybody. Figured for today’s event, we could talk about office, and work, and agency culture. But that might kind of be interesting for those of us, or not necessarily those of us, but people on the outside world. What’s it like working at an advertising agency, or a design studio, or design firm? What’s the difference between very large, large, gigantic, goliath, multinational agencies, versus, here’s the six person boutique, down the street and whatnot? Thought that could be kind of interesting, both of us have had the benefit of working in a lot of different types of places. And then that clearly has shaped how we built our little agency culture, and sort of what what speaks to us. So I’m gonna turn it over to you and start riffing on thoughts, questions, you know?
Rob Broadfoot 1:16
Yeah, I think agencies in general, regardless of size, small, medium, large, always seem to talk about culture. And I think that it’s more prevalent in an industry like this, because it’s a creative industry. Because you have, I don’t know call it more artistic personalities at play.
Don Mock 1:35
Rob Broadfoot 1:36
And with those..
Don Mock 1:37
Wacky creative folks, what are they doing back there?
Rob Broadfoot 1:39
There’s a nose ring. So, I think that that’s probably why agencies tend to talk about culture a lot. Because you do, it’s a very eclectic sort of environment, you get a lot of different kinds of people under one roof. Good, bad and ugly. I mean, sure, it happens. And I think that, in certainly in my past, with agencies, I’ve seen a lot of different types of cultures. I’ve been in places where there is no real culture to speak of. It’s very siloed and..
Don Mock 2:05
Rob Broadfoot 2:06
Very, you know, whatever else. But then I’ve also been in places both permanent or freelancing along the way where it’s, it’s like party. I mean, it’s like we’re we got game rooms happening and it’s a lot of, I don’t wanna say forced interaction, but, there’s not a very clear delineation between maybe an out of work social life, and an agency social life.
Don Mock 2:30
It’s kind of like the the clock strikes five, but everybody’s playing pool or playing foosball or playing Playstation or whatever the deal is. During next thing, you know, you’re still at work at nine o’clock at night. That type of place?
Rob Broadfoot 2:40
Don Mock 2:40
Yeah, I freelance that those types of places.
Rob Broadfoot 2:43
I think that that for me anyway, I think the older the older you get, certainly and when you when you start to have a family, I guess in my case, you start to well, it’s easy when you’re when you’re young and you’re single, my agency life and that’s my social life, great, super fun, the time and place for it. But I think for for me, I think it got to the point where it’s, like to go in the office, to work really hard, love the people I’m working with and, those interactions, but then it’s okay, time time to shut it off. And, got responsibilities at home, I gotta go home and change diapers, and read bedtime stories.
Don Mock 3:21
Well, maybe we’ll work backwards in terms of I think let’s talk a little bit about our agency culture alright. And then we can sort of go backwards into why it is the way it is.
Rob Broadfoot 3:30
Fair. What is our agency culture like? I would say that we are. We have a good time. But we’re also all really focused on the work. So I think that we have a lot of, and it kind of ebbs and flows based on our employees and who’s here, because we’re a smaller shop, it makes a big difference when somebody comes or goes. It changes the overall dynamic.
Don Mock 3:58
Well, if I was to describe it, let me to jump in here. I’m reminded of when we interview people, or when we do acquire new people in the office, one of the well, what’s it like to work here? And that’s generally speaking, where one of the two of us will leave the room or just say let’s talk to other people about what it’s like to work here because our, our perception of the office is different, I guess, potentially, right?. But I always define it as we are a work hard and efficient while we’re here, and then get out of here. Maximize the time that you’re here. So we are definitely a little bit more head down working, being efficient, right? Versus the like freewheeling time is nebulous, and we’re drinking beers at three, but we’re playing foosball, but we’re coming up with ideas at seven and this and that. I think it ties back into one one thing we said a little bit on an earlier podcast. Which was about the idea of not necessarily burning the midnight oil and getting away from work, right?
Rob Broadfoot 4:54
Don Mock 4:54
It’s like get in here. Everybody’s got their tasks and their things that they need to do, we do our traffic meetings. We do all that good stuff. Everybody’s got assigned projects and assign deadlines. And then, manage your time effectively, have fun along the way. I mean, obviously, there was a lot of laughter in the office and breaking and talking about sports or talking about, whatever TV show, XYZ HBO, Max, whatever the case may be, right? But it’s not to the detriment of where, oh, man, we goofed off so much, we’re all here at seven o’clock. I don’t want that. Right?
Rob Broadfoot 5:25
Don Mock 5:26
The goal of the company isn’t necessarily to impede everybody else’s life. It’s like, get in. Everybody do their do their gig. And then, come 5:27, 5:28, we’re pulling the blinds, we’re turning the lights off, and everybody’s getting ready to go, you know?
Rob Broadfoot 5:41
Yeah, I think we’ve all we’ve all been in that situation where we’re, there’s a big pitch or something like that. Oh, my gosh, I’ve stayed here all night. To finalize this thing for the deadline of the thing?
Don Mock 5:52
Yeah, I’m not into that, are you into that?
Rob Broadfoot 5:55
It’s a younger man’s game.
Don Mock 5:57
Well, even today, we’ll do a little pitch in here, do a little this or that. But, I am definitely having a family as well, more of the get in early with a pot of coffee, you know what I mean? And the phones aren’t ringing yet, and things are happening and do the early shift, right? Versus the night shift. And again, not that that happens very often, or frequent or ever really. Because we do do a good job of managing client expectations, and then managing delivery schedules and things for all of our employees, and clients and whatnot, to be quite honest.
Rob Broadfoot 6:29
I think, to your point, it’s because we are the size that we are, and we sort of model ourselves on being very efficient. Everybody that we interview, or bring in, or hire is, we always make sure that, we use all of the generic word, the self starters, and sort of entrepreneurial spirit.
Entrepreneurial spirit, I knew you’re gonna say that.
We use that one a lot.
Don Mock 6:29
I was gonna say it too. Because we say it a lot.
Rob Broadfoot 6:34
It’s important in terms of the way that our model is, you know? We’re all doers and we’re all doing stuff, and so we’re all responsible for time management. We always make sure to bring on people that we feel confident that they have that skill.
Don Mock 7:12
Rob Broadfoot 7:13
So we’re busy working, we do a tremendous volume of work in the shop. The size that we are, and we still get out of here at a decent hour to go home. I think that’s a byproduct of people being able to manage their time wisely and stay on top of everything.
Don Mock 7:28
I think it’s also important to note that both of us are doers as well. And so quite candidly, and maybe this is sharing too much, giving away the secret sauce here. But, I don’t have time to run around the office and manage every single person, every single project, every single one. Are you on time? Or you’re on budget? Or you’re on schedule? Are you? Do you have any questions? Do you know? That traditional, it’s like, no, I expect you to be able to manage everything. And then if there’s a question, or a thought, a comment, a concern, or whatever, raise your hand. Come knock on the door, whatever the case may be. Everybody should be a self-starter, and have the autonomy to be able to problem solve, and to your earlier point, we are creative people. There’s different ways to solve, a communication objective, dare I say, right? So, it’s important to let people have the freedom, to be able to manage that schedule accordingly. As long as everybody’s hitting deadlines, and whatnot.
Then also, part of that, too, is that because it is a creative industry, and because not everybody works the same creatively. Like when does the inspiration strike? Is it in the afternoon? Is it in the morning? I don’t know, it’s different for different people. And so it’s important to foster that, and to let people be true to themselves, and create to the best of their ability whenever that happens.
Well, we have mentioned, you know, creativity is not a light switch, right? And sort of that creative process and the block, but hey, 8:30. Click. Lights are on, we’re expected to be going, going, going. So, it is a year long career battle, dare I say, to determine when you are your most creative. When are you going to come up with ideas? What’s your sweet spot for that? What’s the sweet environment for that? When is a good time to just have production work? You know what I mean? Just already executing the ideas that you may have. And that’s very astute of you to point out that different people, just like the just like the thought that some people are morning people and some people are night owls, right? Managing a team of only creatives in the office. People do have different work sort of nuances, right? It’s kind of interesting to think about.
Rob Broadfoot 9:33
Yeah, it’s true. I would say, for me like 85% of the time, morning is always going to be, it’s always going to be more prolific. I don’t know if it’s going to be better ideas, but it’s always going to be more prolific. It’s always going to be more ideas.
Don Mock 9:47
Yeah, but question for you. Was it always that way?
Rob Broadfoot 9:50
Well, it’s not always that way. Meaning that the other 15% of the time, it’ll be a random I don’t know, Tuesday, Wednesday afternoon, and all of a sudden it’s like four clock and I get into rhythm. And there’s really no rhyme or reason.
Don Mock 10:04
But, earlier in your career, would you say the same thing? Was this still an 85% slant towards the morning?
Rob Broadfoot 10:10
I think so.
Don Mock 10:11
Rob Broadfoot 10:11
I think so.
Don Mock 10:12
Rob Broadfoot 10:13
I think generally speaking, yeah.
Don Mock 10:16
I think from the from an on the box graphic designer perspective, when you’re really, really early in your career, coming out of college and whatnot, you’re still, dare I say, learning the programs and learning all. You haven’t ramped up your speed yet, right? So everything still takes a little bit longer. So I think a lot of us were probably more night owls than we realized, because we were just, where it’s more time or runway, right?
Rob Broadfoot 10:39
Don Mock 10:39
And then the faster you get a more efficient you get with being able to execute the vision you have in your head, you kind of start to transition more towards an early bird. So I’d say the first half of my career, I was definitely more, you know, Night Owl-ish. Just because the habits, I’ve formulated in college for four years, and then afterwards and whatnot.
Rob Broadfoot 10:59
Well, in school, you’re not really on..
Don Mock 11:01
Not bound by a clock.
Rob Broadfoot 11:02
You’re not bound by a clock. And now and I think you and I have talked about this in the past, when we were teaching. It’s like, you teach students and it’s, whatever, seven days, seven days to work on,
Don Mock 11:15
I’m not gonna see you till next Wednesday.
Rob Broadfoot 11:17
A brochure or ideas. It’s like, well, no, I need it. You don’t learn. It’s not until you get into the real world. You’re like, oh, wait a minute, and then you start to see sort of, oh, there are lanes and there are timelines and deadlines.
Don Mock 11:32
You have the luxury of, I have ten weeks to do something. You know, twenty-four hours a day, right? You know, and then all of a sudden, you’re dropped in a land of I need it after lunch. And you’re like, holy shit, what’s about to happen, right?
Rob Broadfoot 11:44
Well, it’s also too we always talk about, deadlines compel focus. We said that before. But, it’s true in that for us in the way that we work. We also say moving at the speed of business. That’s another catchphrase that we use. But it’s also like, for us, luxury isn’t, oh four months to work on a logo. Or four months to develop a campaign?
Don Mock 12:08
Rob Broadfoot 12:09
More time doesn’t buy us really, anything, I think. We’re so used to going and getting things done quickly. Executing pretty quickly that I would almost prefer the pressure of less time.
Don Mock 12:25
Well, it’s true and that deadlines compel focus, and we often say, moving at the speed of business, because, if the trade show is on March 23rd, I’m making that up.
Rob Broadfoot 12:35
The trade show’s on March 23rd.
Don Mock 12:36
Well, then, you know, the production company needs all the files at least three weeks beforehand. You got to do the photoshoot a week, like it, things happen and you can’t you have immovable dates and immovable objects. So I think our pragmatic business approach to design, which is so unique, I think, because it truly is a collection of creatives, talking about deadlines and things like that. Definitely has shaped our culture. We haven’t talked about the dogs.
Rob Broadfoot 13:06
It was funny you say that. Yeah. Literally just thinking that.
Don Mock 13:08
Dogs are part of the culture too.
Rob Broadfoot 13:10
We’ve had several over the years. Let’s name them all going backwards. All right. Currently in the office. We have Lulu who’s the newest member. She’s my Border Collie. We have Daisy. Who is..
Don Mock 13:22
An English Cream Dachshund. Very strange.
Rob Broadfoot 13:24
Don Mock 13:25
She is three, something like that.
Rob Broadfoot 13:27
Yeah. Between two and three.
Don Mock 13:28
Oh, yeah. 2020, and we’re in 2023. So it’s two and a half-ish. Something like that.
Rob Broadfoot 13:32
Before that we had Leroy.
Don Mock 13:34
Oh, yeah, we did have Leroy.
Rob Broadfoot 13:35
Who’s the Corgi.
Don Mock 13:36
Rob Broadfoot 13:38
Before that we had..
Don Mock 13:40
Was that handsome Douglas?
Rob Broadfoot 13:41
Don Mock 13:42
Oh, we did have Veda. Okay.
Rob Broadfoot 13:43
Veda in the office. Some of these are dogs that have moved on with some of our employees.
Don Mock 13:47
Rob Broadfoot 13:48
And then before that we had Douglas.
Don Mock 13:50
Rob Broadfoot 13:50
Don Mock 13:52
That was it. Douglas was kind of what kicked it off.
Rob Broadfoot 13:54
I think he was kind of the first one.
Don Mock 13:57
Now in our old, old office space, did we have any dogs that went in? I don’t think we did.
Rob Broadfoot 14:01
Don Mock 14:01
We didn’t bring any dogs. I didn’t bring any dogs.
Rob Broadfoot 14:02
Don Mock 14:03
No, I had Morrison come in the office, once. He barked, and barked, and barked. I was like, that’s it for that. I don’t have time for that, you know? And this was before zooms and all that stuff. It’s just more like, dude, I can’t have you barking every time the phone rings or whatever. So that was a that was a one day trial. And he did not pass.
Rob Broadfoot 14:20
Yeah, so if you’re a client of ours or a potential client, you have to be a dog person. Yeah, it helps.
Don Mock 14:26
It definitely helps. It’s a plus.
Rob Broadfoot 14:27
It’s a plus.
Don Mock 14:28
I love having dogs in the office, man. I think it’s great. I think it’s a fun little therapeutic thing. And a nice little break. Hey, pet the dog. Everybody loves dogs.
Rob Broadfoot 14:36
The new mail person.
Don Mock 14:37
Does not like dogs.
Rob Broadfoot 14:38
Does not like dogs.
Don Mock 14:40
It’s like a cliche.
Rob Broadfoot 14:42
It’s true, it’s so strange.
Don Mock 14:43
She does not like dogs. It’s pretty funny. What else can we talk about culturally? We kind of got off topic a little bit about our own dogs. I mean, I am reminded a little bit of the traditional agency model being, half account, half creative, right? And then, In your larger shops, it’ll start to skew one way or the other. We are an example of the extreme skew to the creative side. But I’d say most shops are kind of more account heavy, right? More account director Jr. wood chucks, you know, everything from the junior account planners, and whatnot, all the way through your account directors. Then the creatives are kind of shoved over in the corner, never to be seen. But I think throughout both of our careers, we’ve worked in a multitude of different places, creative forward or account. Obviously, both being on the creative side. We’re definitely a fan of our model and it’s worked well, you know, for us.
It’s more fun that way.
Yeah, for sure.
Rob Broadfoot 15:39
I mean, I think it’s really it. You know, we have a good time here. We enjoy ourselves. We talk a lot about movies, and TV shows, and various sports.
Don Mock 15:49
We’re all sports heads.
Rob Broadfoot 15:50
Sports heads. That’s our quick segue to get out of here. The new rumor is this: Joseph Martinez is leaving Atlanta United.
Don Mock 15:57
I know. Crestfallen.
Rob Broadfoot 15:59
TBD, on how that impacts the greater culture of Atlanta United.
Don Mock 16:04
I think it’s going to impact it tremendously.
Rob Broadfoot 16:05
I think it will, too.
Don Mock 16:06
I mean, people for years have been yellin, build the statue, build the statue outside the stadium. I would say to a certain extent, there could be a big argument that Joseph Martinez is Atlanta United. And Atlanta United is Joseph Martinez, for the first five or six years. I mean, I’ve never witnessed an athlete like that in my life. And in regards, talking the talk, and then backing it up repeatedly. And winning every single possible award and crushing every single record and things like that, really a unique individual persona. For the City of Atlanta.
Rob Broadfoot 16:40
And out there in the city with the fans and people, you can go find him anywhere.
Don Mock 16:45
Yeah, yeah, it’s pretty cool.
Rob Broadfoot 16:46
There’s a lot of meet and greets everywhere, and things.
Don Mock 16:48
I think the culture of Atlanta United will definitely change.
Rob Broadfoot 16:51
I know. I don’t know where it’s gonna go.
Don Mock 16:52
We’re both season ticket holders. That’s why we’re talking about our culture and how our culture will bleed into Atlanta United. We’re still gonna support.
Rob Broadfoot 16:59
Yeah, we’re not going anywhere.
Don Mock 17:00
Rob Broadfoot 17:01
We are the culture.
Don Mock 17:01
Still rowdy and proud.
Rob Broadfoot 17:02
We are the Atlanta United culture.
Don Mock 17:04
Well, you’re much better soccer player than I am. So, I can be the..
Rob Broadfoot 17:08
I don’t know about that.
Don Mock 17:09
I would say tackling dummy. But that’s not even. That’s not even a thing. I can be the, pretend guy that you shoot over the wall, pretend wall and be the wall. Exactly.
Rob Broadfoot 17:18
So all right. Well, that’s a little bit about our culture. We’re getting off topic here. But, thanks for tuning in. As always, you can find us online at mocktheagency.com or the various socials @mocktheagency as well. We’ll see you next time.
Don Mock 17:31
All right, thanks guys.