What’s On This Month: From bouncing back from burn out to successfully merging teams

9 months ago

Every month Agency Hackers put on a variety of helpful and interesting online sessions- check out August’s offerings below



As we enter yet another new month, we are presented with a broad array of exciting online Agency Hacker events that promise to offer something for everyone. From informative talks about how to write compelling credentials that best showcase your agency to open discussions about suffering from burnout and how to avoid falling into your own burnout, there is plenty for you to get involved with.

These online events connect some of the biggest agencies with each other and help founders and company leads share tips on resilience and adaptability. So as we delve into this month’s line-up, we can discover an array of seminars and discussions designed to help solve problems and stir up some creativity, and encourage global connection. Check out the full line-up below.

What’s On

Tuesday 8 August, 2pm- Creative Mastermind: How far should you go when pitching?

Kieran from Digit is running an event
Digit’s Kieran Anderson is running an online session

This months creative mastermind is all about pitching and how far you should ‘push the boundary’ of a brief. Digit’s creative lead Kieran Anderson, who is leading the discussion said: “We lost a job last year because we only pitched what was in the brief. The brief was purely about transforming the website, but another agency went in and won by pitching a transformation of their entire brand- and we were taken by surprise as they were already quite an established brand. It’s made me question, how do other creative directors gauge this when pitching for jobs?”

So now he is asking other creative leads and agency leaders: When it comes to pitching to brief, how far do you do? Do you stick to the dried outlined or go above and beyond? Is It worth pitching outside the box?

  • Find out more information about the discussion and register to get involved here.

Thursday 10 August, 2pm- HR & People: Supporting staff going through menopause

Change It Up's Kayley Wilson
Change It Up’s Kayley Wilson

This session is aimed at providing practical tips on how to support staff members who are going through the menopause. Founder of Change It Up, Kayley Wilson will be running the session to help you to recognise the impact that menopause symptoms can have in the workplace.

Kayley, who was running a successful law firm when her symptoms began found that she soon began battling suicidal thoughts and changing her career, said: “It’s scary, but you have to be prepared. Knowledge is power- it lets you take control. And when those symptoms hit, you’re more likely to be in a better place.”

“Within a 12-week window, I went from being a super confident person to not being able to drive my car, I didn’t want to be left alone. I was having panic attacks, and my life changed very, very quickly. But when I presented all this to the GP, they didn’t say, ‘That’s menopause’, they just said, ‘We’re prescribing you some anti-psychotic drugs and anti-depressants’. I left, tore the prescription up and cried.”

  • Find out more information about the session and register to get involved here.

Tuesday 15 August, 11am- How to write a compelling creds deck that coverts

Rachel Raphael
Rachel Raphael will be running this session with her co-founder Caroline

In this session, Rachel Raphael and Caroline Sparkes, co-founders of Outskirt Collective, will be taking attendees through how to create a set of agency credentials that really showcases an agency’s value, and also the things all leaders do, but really shouldn’t. 

Rachel says: “We have seen a lot of creds. We work with clients and intermediaries, so we know what they’re interested in. It’s all about telling a compelling story in your deck, and putting the client in the centre of it. Talk about benefits, not features. What are the problems that you solve? And for whom?”

This online session will help agencies to start thinking about cred decks as an agency CV and explain how to best demonstrate skills, values and projects that have been completed in the past.

Caroline added that the biggest mistakes founders make is being too ‘agency-centric’: “You’ve got to think about who are you actually talking to, and what’s going to chime with them. It’s that old age thing of, ‘Don’t tell me you’re funny, make me laugh’. With creds, it’s: ‘Don’t tell me you’re a storyteller, tell me a story.’”

  • Find out more information about the session and register to get involved here.

Wednesday 16 August, 11am- How to come back from burnout

Gellan Watt
Gellan Watt will be opening up about his past struggles with burnout

This session will be an open and honest talk led by Gellan Watt- he will share the full story of how he lost his battle with burnout, and why he now coaches other agency leaders in ways to avoid doing the same.

Gellan said: “I lost my battle with burnout. I only put myself in the places where I felt safe, and that was work. But secretly, behind closed doors, I was drinking like a lunatic. In the end, I had to get out of the business.”

Gellan’s burnout journey spanned across five years, and ultimately resulted in him having to sell his agency. “I first started spotting the signs of burnout in 2011,” he says, “I was feeling stressed and anxious, to a level that I never really had. Everything was difficult.”

“Then, in 2014, I had a death in the family. I was with this person when they passed away at 6am, and by noon, I was sat in my office. I just didn’t know what to do with myself – work was all I really knew how to get right.”

At the time, the agency was turning over £60m in revenue each year, with a team of around 400 staff. But despite being surrounded by people who thought he was brilliant, Gellan began to withdraw further into dark habits. 

“I just had nothing left in the tank to engage with my emotions. I started finding decision-making very hard. I felt almost cognitively impaired for quite some time, although I was still working insanely hard. I escaped all of how I was feeling with drugs and alcohol,” he says.

“But most importantly, I didn’t ask for any help. I didn’t change at all. I literally just had this superhero image of myself and thought, ‘I’ve got to get through this’.”

  • Find out more information about the session and register to get involved here.

Tuesday 22 August, 11am- Generalists vs Specialists: How to create a harmonious team

Bec Chelin
Bec Chelin will be talking through how to create a harmonious team

In this session, Bec Chelin, director at Manifest will take attendees through how her agency developed a harmonious team of both specialists and agency generalists and how they are now able to better service their clients.

Bec said: “It came as part of the evolution of our proposition. We’d moved away from being a PR & comms agency – where we needed a team of people who could do a bit of this and a bit of that – towards a brand communications and strategic consultancy model.

“For that, we needed people with in-depth insights to help identify consumer problems for our clients that nobody else has found. It takes a well-qualified brand strategist to turn that into something meaningful, so the proposition change created a need for more specialists.” 

“Teams of specialists are phenomenal, but you tend to find that people who are such experts in their field don’t always think beyond their field. And really, you want someone who can stand back objectively to find the best step forward for the business – impartial to the wants or needs of any specialist team.”

  • Find out more information about the session and register to get involved here.

Tuesday 29 August, 2pm- Operations Mastermind: How should you approach merging processes

Jonny Tooze is running the mastermind
Jonny Tooze from LAB Group is running this months Operations Mastermind

Jonny Tooze, founder and CEO of LAB Group, will be talking to attendees about how he merged his team’s processes and cultures and how to figure out how bigger jigsaw pieces fit together when going through the M&A process.

He said: “When you merge teams, the reality is that particular disciplines need a particular sort of environment, and that environment is created by culture. At LAB, we hate the concept of cultural integration. It feels like some sort of totalitarian state trying to make things work. The most important thing is just respecting the culture that’s needed for what is being executed.”

Merging operations and ways of working can look different for every business and running an agency group can be even more complex.

“When you’re integrating something, it’s almost like transplanting an organ,” says Jonny. “It’s never going to be a perfect fit. And if you’re not constantly monitoring it, then it’ll be rejected.”

“There’s always going to be some legacy feeling that’s not quite right, or maybe a power struggle here and there. I think you’ve got to be constantly working on it.”

  • Find out more information about the session and register to get involved here.

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