Become a hunter. New business is ultimately my main job, 24/7. In this industry, if you are not a salesperson, you are a sales support person. Having a “hunter” mentality is essential when you are starting a new agency.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Megan Harris, Managing Director of SYZYGY, a leading Digital Marketing Agency in NYC.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Pretty early on, I figured out that digital marketing was my industry. But it took trying on a couple of other careers first. At 22 years old, I parlayed my new degree in journalism into a job at a traditional advertising agency. I left that job and Seattle after a year to take an internship at Deutsche Bank in London. I was there just long enough to find out that I never, ever wanted to be an investment banker. So, I headed back over the pond and landed in Chicago, where I had the amazing luck to be hired as an account manager by Razorfish, a digital agency leading the way in this emerging field. Digital marketing was exploding and while I literally knew nothing about it, I was hooked. Razorfish gave me the chance to move to its London office, where I learned and grew as a manager. I was promoted every couple of years and found myself heading the media practice and sitting on the executive board of Razorfish EMEA.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I uprooted my life after almost 10 years in London to make the move to New York City and work for SYZYGY. I left my friends, sold my stuff and said goodbye to a city I loved to take a new risk. On day five of my new job, I took our then only paying client out to dinner to introduce myself. Within the first 10 minutes of the conversation, he let me know he was putting our business out to pitch. While he made this decision before my time, it was one that could impact the future of our agency. My credit card bill and new ridiculous sofa I had just bought (and could not afford) flashed before my eyes. This was not my plan. I had to think fast and put myself into hustle mode. And it hasn’t stopped. Curve balls come at you all of the time. Knowing how to think on your feet and pivot is essential. I’m glad to say we not only kept that client’s business but also grew it into award-winning work.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The view. Both literally and figuratively. We are located on the 40th floor in in downtown Manhattan with amazing views of the city that would make the most famous instagrammers jealous. And our view on the world is similarly unique and distinct: to be fiercely curious and always ask the “why” behind everything we do. Sounds simple. But putting it into practice on an everyday level takes discipline, and hands-down, it produces impactful digital experiences.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Make sure the Fresh Direct snack order shows up on time because God forbid the team goes without kale chips for even a second. (kidding) Lead with empathy. Allow people autonomy. And don’t take yourself so seriously.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I have had many wonderful mentors in my career. But now as I lead a company myself, I look outside my industry for mentors who can inspire and teach me things that were never on my radar. It’s interesting as all my mentors in the past have been men as that was all that was available to me at the senior level. I am now seeking out female mentors and peers to learn from. It’s been eye opening and motivating to find how open people are to helping/mentoring.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I work in the ad world which is often still a man’s world. I advocate for diversity and consciously think about how I can help change unconscious bias in every professional conversation I have.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became an Agency Leader and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Become a hunter. New business is ultimately my main job, 24/7. In this industry, if you are not a salesperson, you are a sales support person. Having a “hunter” mentality is essential when you are starting a new agency.
- Find your spine. Identify the 3–5 people in your company that create the spine or backbone of your team — those who are ninjas in everything they do who can lead product and culture. Having this spine will allow you to step away from the day-to-day if needed so you can focus on growth.
- Eating your feelings won’t make the challenges go away. Trust me on this one. Put down the cookie.
- Always be game day ready. You never know what opportunities will come knocking at your door at any given moment.
- Put everything in perspective. We are not saving lives. We are doing digital marketing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
I’m not the first one to say this, but by far this is my favorite: Some of the best experiences of your life are on the other side of fear.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this.
Tracee Ellis Ross. She is a founding member of the Time’s Up movement. Tracee pushes us out of our comfort zones with an authentic intention to help our culture move forward. She is fierce and passionate in everything she does. She is hilarious. She advocates bravery and owning your life. And she does all this with impeccable style.
Thank you very much!
Originally published at medium.com