A partner makes everything slower, riskier and vastly more complicated
Two very important people to me are getting married this weekend. One of my oldest and closest friends and Linda Ho—our brand manager. I never imagined missing an employee’s wedding who’s been with us under three years would be so disappointing. But, I am bummed out to miss it. You want to be there for your important people on their wedding day. There’s a reason they call it the big day. This is the day you proclaim to the world “I picked someone, y’all! I picked a person to partner up with until I die or they die.” Jeez Louise that is a big day.
You can do this in work, too. But, you definitely do not have to and there are far less consequences. Namely, you don’t have to be alone without a business partner like you do if you don’t have a life partner. But you should not pick any type of partner because you’re afraid of being alone. You also shouldn’t pick a partner because you need them. You should only pick a partner because you want them.
I have spoken to several agency owners who started with a partner and it eventually fizzled. Or maybe it exploded? Frankly, I think I could have built up this company faster without Jeff. I think I could have made more money without a partner (turns out you have to share the moola when you have a partner). I never needed a partner. I didn’t even want a partner. I just wanted to partner with him.
I’ve mentioned before that Jeff and I follow the partners at McGarrah-Jessee (the best agency in Texas*) very closely and attempt to emulate their success. I reached out to Mark McGarrah and asked him his thoughts on partnership. Here’s what he said.
The partnership side of this business is probably the most overlooked and likely the biggest reasons for success and failure. I didn’t know any of that when we started, I just knew Bryan and I had worked together for 10 years at other agencies and we respected each other. I knew he was talented enough to lead the kind of creative work I wanted my reputation attached to and he must’ve felt I was good at something. Our first office was 300 square feet. Literally**. So by default our desks were in earshot of each other. 21 years later with 26,000 square feet of office space, he and I still share an office.
Partners have to take a personal responsibility to not let anything fester. Bring it up, talk about it and move on. It’s like a marriage. And if you’re married, I’m sorry because having 2 wives is hard.
We’re closing in on six years of our partnership. And, I think I am most grateful that I have had someone alongside me who knows exactly how hard this has been. He knows exactly how much fun it has been too. Without a partnership I would feel very isolated and alone in the bad times and perhaps more so in the good ones. When no one fully understands your fight, then no one fully understands how damn good a win feels. Your spouse gets some of it, your team only knows the half of it, and your kids don’t care (thank goodness). But, your partner has been there the whole time and knows every single ugly, wonderful, inexplicable, painful part of it.
So, here’s to all the partners. Jeff & I; Mark & Bryan; Greg & Jorge; Katie & Kevin; Thomas, Jose & David; Eric, Hai & Frost; Chet & Brent; Barbara & Lisa; Amber & Lauren; Jennifer & Bryan and the millions of other interdependent duos. It’s harder, slower and vastly more complicated, but in the end, it’s so much fun to know exactly who to call when you’ve got good news.
And, here’s to Adam & Isabella and Linda & Chris. Marriage rules and I am immensely excited for you all to start your partnerships this weekend. Just remember when you clean a dish to put it away and don’t leave it in the sink to “soak.” You can’t get away with the crap anymore, you’ve got a partner to think about.
**Our first office was 300 square feet too. Literally, too.