No Luck, All Work
20 years ago last Thanksgiving, I left a great job with a brilliant-by-most-standards future and launched One Lucky Guitar, Inc. (OLG), a boutique creative agency. Our mission statement is “We communicate brand soul.”
In everyday terms, this means a client might call us up and say, “Hey, we have this complex message to communicate; can you help us develop a sophisticated, smart and engaging solution?”
By the way, that call may come on a Friday afternoon.
Oh, and the complex message needs to be communicated by end of day Monday.
So, whether you’re an art director, a CEO, a teacher or a government official, how do you build a culture that’s on-call with innovative, smart, original ideas over and over (and over) again? A few lessons from the last two decades:
Learn to fail. In fact, learn to love failing. Not every idea is a winner. Embrace velocity, embrace the opportunity. Time and again, OLG and OLG’ers have succeeded by courageously taking the shot.
Collaborate, don’t compromise. Every project we do has dozens of forks in the road, dozens of points of tension, dozens of points of view. When developing solutions, we share often and early. We’re confident and vulnerable. Then we collaborate as we test, refine and build upon the ideas. Imagine if each of those is a moment of compromise. Now, imagine if each is a moment of collaboration. Magic.
Be insatiable. In our work at OLG, we’ve climbed mountains we never thought we’d climb—or even have the opportunity to climb. But when we get to that mountaintop, we don’t build a house, or a lodge, and put our feet up in front of the fireplace. We pop a tent for the night, then look for the next mountain.
“Be a goldfish.” Learn from Ted Lasso, and forget your failure—or your success—ten minutes after it happened. You won’t torture yourself with the past, and you won’t rest on your laurels in the future.
Neverending curiosity. We wanna know everything, about everything. Specifically, the why. When we know the why—which we call “brand soul”—it’s like strapping a jet pack to our Sharpies. And, it makes our work true.
Great ideas everywhere. We don’t legislate who or where a game-changing idea can come from. Period. Or should I say, exclamation point!
Join a band. I have a pretty sweet job. Best part? Easily, the people I get to work with, and for. As OLG grew, I very intentionally didn’t hire “nine more Matt Kelleys.” We have particular, unique, complementary points of view and skillsets, which helps the music we make be endlessly vibrant, interesting and alive with electricity.
Let the secret out. For OLG’s twentieth anniversary last November, I decided to treat myself to an Oxford Pennant banner, and tip our cards. It hangs proudly in the center of our office, the secret there for all to see: “NO LUCK. ALL WORK.”