Today Matt and Chris are reflecting back on 2020, The Year That Was, and looking forward to the future of Rusty Monkey. We’re feeling excited and optimistic about the goals we’ve set for ourselves, and we want to share those with you to inspire you to think about your business goals differently.
A lot of businesses have purely financial goals, and financial goals are important - money is the fuel that runs your business. But you don’t own a car just so you can put fuel in it, right? You own a car so that you can go places. So why would you run a business just to make money?
We think it’s important to set OKRs that mean something to your team, that will improve their lives and the way your business functions. What do you think?
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Hi. Hi Matthew. Welcome to 2021.
And it's radio DJ voice week.
We can't keep that up. That would be awful.
Or we could do fairground, which is the same voice.
It is the same voice.
Fast ride, fast ride. Scream if you want to go faster. Um, okay. So it's us. It's Matt and it is Chris.
Yes. And, um, we're in a reflective mood, really. Because, it being January, we want to set a course for our company this year, and maybe you want to do that too. So we thought we might reflect on what we did well last year. So, Matt, what did you think was the best thing that we did last year?
I loved rolling out that pandemic. I thought that worked out really well.
Well, it was definitely successful.
Yeah. Um, it was a really challenging year, I guess, not just for us, for our customers, for, maybe for you guys. We saw some other companies, they, they had really good opportunities from everything that happened last year. I think what I find really interesting is, is maybe what's happened to us as people, I guess, with regards to what we care about. And I'm pretty sure, I mean, I shared it with Russ actually, um, uh, our finance director, uh, we had some sort of financial goals over here, which is fine. It's good to have financial goals. You need to, you need to have them in mind. And to see if we had if we had hit them in this, in this dreadful time, and we really did not hit them at all, but, um, I think most people's goals went in the bin last year, like radically went in the bin. And I think, um, while we did okay and we're really happy with, um, how we did, I think the biggest thing for me is what we're now talking about is probably less about our financial goals and more about our team and our happiness and important cooler stuff than just the dollar bill.
Yeah. I mean, through our company culture, the money should flood in. But it should be a by-product.
Spewing through the letterbox. We're normally drowning in it and rolling around.
I mean, as Simon Sinek would say, you shouldn't be in business just purely to make money.
Because that's just an awful way to live.
And I don't think we were, I don't think that's where we were, but I kind of think that this year has reset other people's minds as well as to what's important to them. And I think that's kind of cool. And I think, um, we've been in a really interesting position where, um, actually we've seen the power of, bringing happiness into the business, what that means, I guess. And it's, we're still working on it. We're still trying to improve that.
Yeah. And it's interesting because, uh, my highlight of last year, um, wasn't work that we'd done with a client. It was actually work we'd done internally with the team. I really liked teaching some of the photography stuff to some of the other guys, uh, Emma has done really well learning some of that. Just passing on some knowledge has been really nice. And through the lockdown, I listened to some really good podcasts around mental health and just putting that to the team. And even just one person coming back going, I felt a bit crap this day and I listened to the podcast and I felt much better. Just opening up some conversations around mental health and making people's lives better. We say that is our 'why' message and I really want to get across that that is why we exist. We exist to make people's lives better, be that our staff or people using the products of our clients, or just our clients, you know, that's what I'd like.
I think that's reflected in what we've been trying to do as well with our Save a Business campaign and, um, how we've kind of restructured ourselves a little bit as a business. It's something we haven't really shared or talked about a lot, but we've started creating little, uh, gaming references inside our own business to make work a bit more fun and interesting. You know, we, I shared an idea a few vlogs ago about my ideas of thirds, you know, having sort of headroom, and these other two bits, but we've kind of found the idea of computer gaming or tabletop role-playing gaming, kind of ideas around the world of game logic fits what we do really well. You know, so having people dedicated to a main quest, um, and making sure that's delivered using Sprint, which is really cool. And then we still want them to do these side quest things every so often. So occasionally a damsel in distress might, or prince in distress, might run into our main quest path and ask us to be saved from bad barbarians or something like that. So it's, I think that has been a really fun thing to sort of slowly start rolling out across the business. So we understand what we're doing, for who, and why. Are we saving somebody? Are we saving the day over here just because somebody needs something really quickly? Or are we, you know, delivering something through our main quest. That was kind of fun.
Yeah. I think it's been a really interesting year, just philosophically for us. I think this year we've managed to get through to, uh, or spread the message across our entire team that we don't want to be waiters. We don't want to have people go, I want to have, I want you to do X, Y, and Z, and I want that by Tuesday. That's not how we work, in a way. We want to be solving problems and helping people rather than just doing things.
But I think what's really cool is some of the companies and organizations we work with, as we share those philosophical ideals with them - struggling to get my words out today - is ...
Hungover from the Christmas break?
No... Well, I'm just thinking, it's uh, because we record these in the past, it's our Christmas party that's about to happen out there. So I'm just thinking about all the port and cheese.
But sharing these philosophical ideas with some of our customers has really changed the way they're sort of running their businesses. And I think that's, it's just a really cool thing to see, because I guess sometimes we see ourselves as a brand and communication and marketing agency, but really, I think we kind of slot into more of a business support role in a way, you know, we kinda, I just find that really fascinating how some of what we believe in, uh, some of our customers also believe in and they're passing it down to their customers. And I just, I love seeing that sort of spread out like a pandemic.
I think that's the kind of thing that has spread throughout this previous year. I think people are more open to business being done in a slightly different way.
I think they have to be. So I think looking ahead for this year, what are you excited about?
Um, I'm excited about working towards the eventual goal of shutting our doors for two months. Like, I remember that, I do remember that Do Lecture - I think it was a Do Lecture - where they, the agency man was like, uh, we are so, uh, in need, uh, that we can just close for a couple of months and we'll go on holiday. Uh, I just want to get down to that. I mean, it'd be brilliant - that we serve our clients so well and we can go away and recharge our batteries. I mean, I don't think we're going to get there this year, but just working towards that goal in the distance, even, it sort of excites me.
That goes back to the power of OKRs there, doesn't it. And that is one of our OKRs, to get that amount of headspace, that amount of hammock time, for our whole team. Um, I just think that would be a really great place to be and make our working lives loads, loads, more fruitful.
Yeah. I mean, it starts from the point of, um, if you're trying to get someone to be creative - cause we're a creative agency - you simply can't go, give me a creative idea in 10 seconds. Go. It just doesn't work. But if you, if you take that back and back and go give me an idea, a creative idea, have two months off, come back with lots of creative ideas - then you're more likely to get those killer ideas. So just giving people space to have their own headspace, and come back and be refreshed, and help our clients.
I mean, it's a, it's a brave set of kind of goals we've put together in our heads and sort of down on a spreadsheet somewhere over here as well. But I mean, the, the idea of having a business where we serve a handful of customers and no one else, we shut the doors to new business. I kind of find that a really interesting concept because it sort of solidifies our relationship with, with our existing customers. And we're not there with that yet either. But I think, again, it's something we would love to aim towards and I can see the real benefit and power - and I guess we're sharing, we're sharing our story here a little bit. We don't like to talk about ourselves too much, but we're sharing it in the hope it might inspire you guys to think differently about what you want to be looking ahead for this year.
Yeah. And I think it's sort of, it is important because when you're growing a business, you have to figure out why you're growing the business. You'll see a lot of, um, agencies like us, they'll go, okay, we've got a team of 10 people - let's keep growing. And you'll end up with an agency of a hundred people. Suddenly you've got a sort of sweatshop kind of place, whereas I'd prefer to have an agency of 20 people. And never grow any more than that. We all have the same vibe about us down the line. We just change the clients. You know, you don't need to just do more and more and more and more and more. Why are you doing that? You're probably not going to get any benefit out of it. I would get more benefit from having a smaller team help the businesses more rather than just churn out work.
Yeah. I just, I feel that model really fits who we want to be as a business. And, um, it helps us define our activity to get there as well, doesn't it. So again, what we're sharing with you here is some of our OKRs, and we have ideas of how we can get there and how that is achievable and what that looks like. And we don't really want it necessarily to go past that. And, uh, another thing I think we just literally learned today really, is the power of sharing your vision and all of these important brand communication things with your whole business and bringing them all on board so that everybody has that goal of what you're trying to do. And OKRs are great for that because people can see what they're doing to, to sort of hit that objective, to try and help get there.
Yes. And, uh, the vision which you're sharing amongst your team, it's so important for that to be in real English and, um, something that people can actually understand. Because most people, most companies have vision statements that are written behind the sort of receptionist, which no one believes at all. And it's just a load of bullshit.
Yeah. I mean, so much of it is about that. Hiring people who have your culture, who understand what you're doing as well, isn't it, you know, if your team isn't right and doesn't share your values, I can see that being, um, that business may have more friction in than ours would, say, because we have a good balance of the right type of person inside our business.
And a good test for that is that I think we could take all the people in our, inside our business, uh, all of our team. I think we could start up quite a few different businesses and still cope.
Yeah, I think that's a great idea. We're not going to do that. Screw all this stuff, in the bin.
I could imagine like a cycle shop, I could imagine a restaurant, I can imagine all these things where you could place the people in different roles and it would still be an amazing company.
Yeah. Maybe that's a really good test of your culture. How good could your team survive if, uh, placed in that different world? Yeah. It's a cool thought experiment.
Well, there you go.
There you go, some interesting food for thought we hope. Um, obviously nothing, no big, great takeaways here for you. Just a bit of a chat about what we think might be cool this year.
Yep. And if you've got any suggestions, pop them in the comments below or send us an email, we're very happy to receive them.
Yeah, and we haven't done this for a while. Here's a video you might like, here's a video we think you might like, and here's something else up here.
That seems like more work for me.
Well, get on it. Lazy pig.