November 3, 2017

Finding Your "Why"

Julie Avila

In my role as VP, Client Success at PartnerCentric, I lead a large team of very talented and tenured account directors and managers. Everyone’s common goal and purpose is to provide the highest level of service and support to our clients at every stage. Because PartnerCentric encourages and nurtures continuous learning for every employee, I am always looking for inspirational, engaging and informative business-minded books for the team and for myself. I recently read Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action” and it strongly resonated with me.

If you haven’t read it, Sinek discusses how many leaders talk about what they do or how they do it but few leaders talk about why they do it. Why does their business exist? Sure, there are processes in place and a service or product to provide. And the whole “making money” part is helpful too but there has to be more to it. Sinek makes the point that when we start with the “why” in everything that we do, we inspire action since the “why” engages our feelings and emotions.

What We Do and Why We Do It

In its most simplified form, PartnerCentric is a performance marketing agency that effectively manages the third party affiliate relationships for brands on a performance basis. We ensure that these relevant affiliate relationships are cultivated, nurtured and maintained by seasoned industry experts who can seamlessly get our clients the best rates, the right relationships and, of course, ROI. That’s our “what.” Our “why” goes much deeper than that.

We do what we do to help our clients protect the integrity of their brands by utilizing our expertise to get them new customers and sales through meaningful partnerships. We also do what we do because we believe in this industry and want to push ourselves to innovate beyond the borders of what’s expected. After I read the book, I thought about ways we could focus more on the “why” in our everyday roles. After all, there are other performance marketing agencies in the space but we feel we are unique in our composition, our level of service and our attention to company culture, especially when 40+ employees work remotely around the country.

Our “Why” Focus

Our entire organization practices "Deep Work" (based on the book by Cal Newport) every Friday from 10:00 to noon in each employee's time zone. As an official company policy, employees can “sign off” from their Slack and emails and just focus on honing their skills, coming up with unique strategies for clients, listening to webinars and reading business books that they’ve purchased with our PartnerCentric book allowance. Every employee then presents their Deep Work findings on our Tuesday all-team chat on Slack. Additionally, every employee (regardless of title or seniority) is also encouraged to present their ideas for organizational and process change and those ideas are considered by leadership. Why do we encourage that the team do these things? To keep learning and prevent stagnation. In fact, this year we hired a Manager of Team Success to ensure that our team feels supported and has the training, resources and support they need to provide the best customer service and expertise to their clients.

We also are making a concerted effort to think differently. When we share reports with clients, we always ask about their larger goals to ensure that we’re working towards them. During annual reviews, every slide must feature key takeaways from our findings. If a client says something like, “We want to see more recruitment and productive publishers” we don’t just start to dive in with a recruitment plan. We ask how it ties into their larger goals and purpose. Why do they need more productive publishers? Do they want more site traffic, more conversions or to stand out from the competition? Do they want more social referrals or more traffic directed to their own site versus their Amazon marketplace?  Each of those reasons will have a different strategy for execution so we want to understand the reasons behind statements like these.

My “Why”

So what is my personal “why?” When I was asked that question recently, I was surprised that it caught me off guard. After a day of reflection, it made me realize how important it is that everyone think about their “why,” whether it’s personal or professional...or, as is often the case, a mix of both.

My personal “why” starts with my family and by working at PartnerCentric, I have the work/life balance that so many crave. I am able to go to soccer games and see school plays while still managing a team and bringing my A-game at work. I think that for me, it’s important to work hard and play hard. Every day is an opportunity for growth and new ideas and I enjoy getting the chance to work with a fun and dynamic team that feels this way too.

Being in the service industry, there are a lot of options out there for clients to choose from. Our “why” (a common goal and trust) is what leads to this "ownership mentality" our employees feel. I'd like to think we have developed an atmosphere that breeds trust and innovation and a sense of belonging. And, at the end of the day, that is what gets me up in the mornings.

You’ve heard my “Why.” Now it’s your turn. Why do you do what you do? Want to chat about it further?

Drop me a line at Julie.Avila@partnercentric.com.