Saturday, May 1, 2010

Celebrating Mistakes: Everything I know about launching an agency I learned in my first six weeks in business

This week, we celebrated the arrival of our agency’s first schwag in the mail by taking a bite of humble pie and reminiscing on our favorite business blunders so far. Our top 5 Tim Gunn-inspired “make it work” mistakes are below.

1. We really heart Chuck Scarborough. Only an insider or incredibly observant viewer might have noticed that our client Chef Ryan Brown’s first TV interview was as amusing as his first print quote (more on that below). The anchor, David Ushery, was so engrossed in his guest, he had no idea the close-up of the gift certificate was actually made out (per our direction) to Chuck Scarborough, who had called in sick that evening.

2. "Limited edition business cards? You should really try VistaPrint.” At our first official media networking event as Cuttlefish Ink, we arrived without the specially designed and cut business cards we had proudly created. The last minute solution involved tearing out sample business cards from a sheet we had in our bag while standing at the bar. One of the “limited edition” cards made it to our new friend Zohar Adner, who after his teasing was done, ended up referring us to his amazing friend Kara of The Ted and Amy Supper Club.

 3. At Cuttlefish Ink, English is optional. Because we’d decided Cuttlefish Ink would only partner with businesses we could personally stand behind, one of the first “dream clients” we’d identified was Itzocan, our favorite Mexican restaurant in the city. To our surprise after 3 years eating there, in the course of our first business meeting we found out the owner did not speak English (nor did we Spanish). Not to be deterred we agreed to conduct all correspondence and recipe exchanges in-person, facilitated by his amazing server Vicki, who translates. While we did have to turn down our first request for a Cinco de Mayo themed in-studio on "WNYW's Good Day Street Talk," the opportunity to get the word out about this gem is well worth the extra effort.

4. Reporters love chefs in the dark. During an interview for a feature about Earth day with Crain’s Business New York, Chef Ryan Brown casually mentioned he’d rather be writing a recipe than trying to figure out how the recently passed healthcare reform affects him. The reporter loved his disinterest so much, she quotes him in her story on the topic, inadvertently making his first ink with our agency “I’m completely in the dark.” The mention miraculously elicited a call from a BBC producer who requested a follow up interview. 

5. That's how the cup crumbles. While she may be good at pitching and strategizing, Shira’s strengths have never been in her dexterity. When our new mugs with our logos arrived, she excitedly picked up the first box only to break two in her first 15 minutes around them.  Only 70 left to go.

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