Happy 5th birthday, Thinkso.
I have two children. One is a precious, precocious three-year-old named Amelie. The other is Thinkso.
Thinkso turned five last month, and I’m struck by the metaphor at hand. When human beings hit this milestone, they have finally left those wobbly, fragile toddler years behind. They are steady on their feet, masters of the daily routine, and focused on bigger things—like starting life-long relationships and moving from the 48-piece puzzle to the 100-piece one.
Thinkso had a less bumpy toddlerhood than most small agencies—and even some big ones—in this economy. We were blessed right from the start with loyal clients, a partnership comprising diverse skills, and some good timing. Still, we had our share of growing pains. For example, no matter how good you know you are, it’s still a challenge to convince Fortune 500 companies to hire an agency that hasn’t been through a winter yet—especially when none of its owners is going gray yet. Somehow, we pulled it off. The New York Times, Travelzoo, United, and so many more, most of which are still our clients today.
Other bumps? Growing out of an office space in the first year and still having four more years on the lease. (We expanded across the hall.) Committing to hiring not only great designers, but also “good” people who fit our cultural vision. (We now have a team that feels more like a family and a system for seamlessly adding staff as we need to.) Making sure that we’re exceeding client expectations, meeting our financial responsibilities, and keeping it all fun for everyone. (We instituted mandatory happy hours and lots of extracurricular activities.)
Just as every new experience fills a toddler with joy and wonderment, we also had some pretty magical moments in our first five years. Invited to participate in a major pitch, the partners traveled to Kuwait, where we handed out our Arabic business cards and smoked hookah. We got some pretty great viral PR with the election debate bingo cards we made for our own entertainment. One of us had a baby. One of us had his hair shaved into a Mohawk when he lost a bet (to his daughter). Snackwars. Compost. Independence Days. Obama. Great moments that are now our “early memories.”
We have so many wonderful, supportive clients, vendors and allies for which we are extremely grateful. To round out the whole toddler metaphor, I’d like to mark the end of these five years by offering a personal thank you to a few of these people who nurtured Thinkso through our infancy and helped make us the happy, thriving five-year-old we are today: Steve Beard, Claudia Freeman, Alyssa Davner, Stephanie Berger, and Michael Bierut.
On the shelf in our reception area we have a small framed photo taken in Thinkso’s first month: Brett and I, four computers, two dogs and a box of Nilla wafers…on folding tables in my living room. Luckily, this scenario didn’t last more than a few weeks. But I look at that “baby” photo every day to remind me how far we’ve come and, more importantly, how much is possible for the future.