Tips for Remaining Resilient

Tips for Remaining Resilient

Throughout the ups and downs of a career, remaining resilient is key to staying grounded, growing, and becoming successful. While technical skills and an understanding of your field are largely important, the significance of soft skills, such as resilience, cannot be understated. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that it can be easier said than done to face challenges and see the light at the end of the tunnel. So how do you stay calm in the face of adversity? Here are some tips I’ve learned from my career in advertising and as the founder and head of my company, Fingerpaint.

  • Learn from your mistakes. Not every decision you make in your career will be a good one. But it’s important that you own these choices and are receptive to learning what went wrong and what to do in the future to prevent repeating any missteps.
  • Choose how you respond to challenges. It’s easy to become negative or discouraged when faced with obstacles. Taking a step back to keep your emotions in check will benefit you immensely. Whatever you’re facing is temporary, and staying positive will make the obstacles more manageable compared to dwelling on the negatives.
  • Build relationships. Resilient people know that they can’t get anywhere alone. Fostering diverse and supportive relationships with those around you will help ensure you have a supportive team and continue growing throughout your career.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. One way to build resilience is to stay constructive when faced with problems. While it might be easy to let challenges paralyze you, preparing for the present and future can help mitigate obstacles.
  • Take time to celebrate. Resilient people remember to celebrate triumphs along the way. A win can help fuel you through the next challenge you face, so it’s important to take a minute to bask in your successes.
  • Find your meaning. One of the most important ways to stay motivated is to curate meaning in your career. By having a sense of purpose, you can stay grounded as you pursue it and maintain a healthy perspective on the challenges that come your way.

While resiliency likely cannot be learned overnight, putting these tips into practice can help you meet and overcome even the most complex challenges that you encounter over the course of your career.

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3 Qualities to Look for in Job Candidates

Finding, recruiting, and hiring the right talent for your business can be a stressful process. You might be overwhelmed with candidates, half of whom don’t have the experience you’re looking for. Out of the ones who do, you only have limited time to get to know them before extending a job offer. So how do you cut through the clutter and find people who truly care about your company and the work you’re doing?

Through my experience founding and growing three companies over the course of my career, I’ve determined a few key qualities to look for when interviewing prospective employees.

They don’t have a noticeable ego

At my advertising agency, Fingerpaint, an important part of our culture is that we don’t have titles because we want junior employees to feel empowered to contribute. But this policy is also in place for another reason. It filters out candidates who have an ego and would sacrifice a great career opportunity simply because we won’t give them a title. We value our employees having a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude toward their work. Everyone is expected to be a team player, even if a necessary task isn’t exactly spelled out in their job description. People who come across as having an ego might be less likely to readily jump in when their teammates need them.

They understand your company and culture

This one seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but its importance cannot be overstated. Candidates should have a basic understanding of what you do and how their skill set would lend itself to your company. Not only does it show their dedication but learning about your company and its culture can also help them decide if your company would be a good fit on their end, which can make the hiring process more efficient for everyone involved. After all, candidates who don’t come prepared to the interview might not come prepared for the job.

They bring a new perspective to your team

If everyone who worked for a company was exactly the same, its work would probably be pretty lackluster. At our agency, we know that we can’t do the work without everyone’s expertise. Although they have different backgrounds, each employee brings something new to the table that ultimately makes our work better. This extends not just to a person’s qualities as an employee, but also to what makes them who they are as an individual. Diversity of all kinds in the workplace has been linked to many benefits, such as higher revenue, so seeking out and hiring people with unique perspectives, no matter what they may be, is always worthwhile.

While hiring can be a daunting task, keeping these principles and recommendations in mind will help you recruit talent who perform better, are more engaged in their work, and ultimately further your company’s success.

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Philanthropy Series: The Benefits of Strategic Philanthropic Initiatives

This is part three of a three-article series on integrating philanthropy and corporate giving into your business’s culture to increase community involvement and, where it makes sense, to help your company grow.

One of the most important cornerstones of establishing philanthropy in your business is making an authentic commitment to the communities, organizations, and people you set out to help. At our advertising agency, Fingerpaint, we’re always extremely conscious of how our philanthropic commitment is perceived by those in our industry and communities, and we never cross the line to appear self-serving or too quick to talk about our contributions.

That said, philanthropy is often implemented into a business not only because it’s the right way to run a company, but also because it can supplement your business in more ways than one. By participating in charity events, allowing time and resources for your company to do pro bono work, and conducting fundraisers, your commitment to philanthropy can connect you to potential clients, provide further insight into the challenges facing your industry, and give your company opportunities to have a louder voice in whatever space you work in. 

The client connection

Our philanthropic causes are sometimes tied to existing or potential clients. By lending our support, we’re often connected to clients who are also stakeholders of the organizations we partner with, and they love to see us go above and beyond. Being involved strengthens our existing partnerships and fosters new connections that can help our business grow in the future, all while giving back to the community in purposeful, strategic ways.

Connecting the dots

As an agency in the health and wellness marketing space, we’re always looking to better understand how patients, healthcare providers, and other industry stakeholders approach different diseases and conditions. By participating in philanthropic events that support many of these diseases, we’re able to build relationships that give us access to the exact firsthand accounts and insights that help inform our work and make it better. Being educated and empathetic enables us to more effectively communicate on behalf of our clients to improve health outcomes, and it is an important part of our work.

Industry engagement

Events, pro bono work, and other initiatives aren’t just extra tasks on a company’s to-do list; they’re genuine ways to keep an ear to the ground and stay apprised of all that is going on in the industry. By going beyond writing checks for nonprofits tied to your business and actually participating in the conversations and work they’re conducting, your company can create an authentic commitment to your industry while also doing good in the world.

It’s my belief that using a company as a vehicle to impact causes that are truly important to your community will help your business be that much more successful. Learn more about my approach to philanthropy, business, and more on my website.

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Philanthropy Series: How to Establish Philanthropy in Your Company Culture

This is part 1 of a 3-article series on integrating philanthropy and corporate giving into your business’s culture to increase community involvement and to help your company grow.

When trying to establish corporate giving as a part of your business, it can be difficult to know where to start. I founded my full-service advertising agency, Fingerpaint, back in 2008, and even then, I knew I wanted to make the culture special and unlike anything I was seeing in the business world at the time. For me, philanthropy wasn’t merely a buzzword or an annual company volunteer day. Instead, I wanted it to be a foundational core value that was part of the empathetic, people-first culture I aspired to create. But how could I ensure that this value was incorporated in every part of our business and could even help us grow?

The first thing I did when our company reached a size large enough to support such an initiative was hire a full-time community relations and corporate philanthropy lead to centralize our efforts. By creating this position, we solidified philanthropy as a driving force in our culture. Our community relations lead has deep connections, and this position ensured that philanthropy wouldn’t fall by the wayside if delegated to employees who have other responsibilities. Sure, our philanthropy director relies on other members of our staff to carry out her vision, but without her, we would not be able to do what we do.

We worked with our philanthropy lead to institute a corporate giving philosophy that was genuine and made sense for our business. We established pillars of giving so that when opportunities came up to help those in need (and there is no shortage of those), we can confine our philanthropy to areas that align with these pillars and, by extension, our culture and mission. Some of our pillars have nothing to do with our business and are simply causes our employees care deeply about. Others are more strategic and enable us to grow connections within the space our business operates, both to help us expand our expertise in those areas and also to maximize our involvement in our industry. These guidelines are important; they help us stay in line with our vision and reach the goals we set for ourselves.

Finally, we made sure we gave our employees plenty of opportunities to be involved and buy-in to generate excitement. This is vital when establishing philanthropy in your company and will help your initiatives succeed. Between volunteering and donating goods, money, or professional services, employees have several chances to give back throughout the year and be part of this special aspect of our culture.

While I could talk forever about how to ensure corporate philanthropy is integrated appropriately into your business, these three principals should help you get started. In future posts, I will share the benefits that philanthropy has created in our company culture and what to look for in staff dedicated solely to your community relations efforts. In the meantime, you can learn more about me and how this philosophy has helped me grow an $80-million company by visiting my website at

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How Eliminating Titles Made Our Company Culture Better

In most industries—advertising included—job titles are useful for conveying experience level, function, and responsibility. But I’ve found that they can be an ineffective way for a company to recognize its people, lead to inflated egos, and damage a company’s culture. As the founder of three agencies over the course of my career, I’ve been able to experiment with different business models before settling on a unique “no titles, no offices, no egos” approach at my current company, Fingerpaint.

Basically, this means that employees are recognized only by their job function, such as account service, developers, etc. We don’t have corner offices (I even sit in a cubicle along with the rest of the agency), and we don’t tolerate the big egos that having infinite prefixes or suffixes attached to one’s name can sometimes lead to. Titles can really get in the way of collaboration and as an extension, creativity and work potential. Many people might scoff at our approach, but I believe it’s one of the key components of Fingerpaint’s culture that has contributed to our continued success. Below are some proof points that we’ve noticed while working with this business model.

Putting People First Works

The inspiration for eliminating titles came from my philosophy of putting employees first. And when we say we put people first, we mean all people, no matter how junior, no matter the department. In treating all employees with empathy, it was a natural extension to move forward without traditional titles as our agency grew so that we could ensure our founding values endured no matter how big we got. Our investment in our staff is so paramount because we know that for people to do their best work, they need to feel supported and valued as human beings rather than for the revenue they generate.

Creating Uncommon Collaboration

We’ve found that eliminating titles has been amazing for our culture. The approach creates an equal playing ground for everybody, no matter their experience level or job function, and it fosters an environment of unique collaboration. The 23-year-old employee feels comfortable giving input in meetings right alongside industry vets. Happier employees who believe their ideas are valued are more dedicated to their roles and thus produce the best work possible for our clients, while enabling us to keep growing and solving their marketing challenges.

Ensuring Career Growth

Just because we don’t have titles doesn’t mean there is no sense of organization or hierarchy within Fingerpaint. About a year ago, we instituted a comprehensive career progression guide that outlines specific job responsibilities and levels based on department, so employees know exactly where they stand and how to progress to the next level. A guide so comprehensive and concretely laid out is very rare in our industry, and our employees appreciate the transparency it provides. With clearly defined goals to work toward, our employees are more dedicated and tend to stick around longer than at the average agency.

Potential Problems

Our journey to becoming an 80-million-dollar agency did not happen without hiccups. We heard feedback from employees who felt confused about their career progression, and while our guide has largely quelled those concerns, there will always be those who simply don’t want to be in this type of environment. That’s okay with us. We believe that we’ve created a positive culture by eliminating the layer of distraction titles add, and the positives far outweigh any negatives.

While this business model may not work for everyone, we’ve certainly found success, and we’ve discovered that it attracts the types of employees we want at Fingerpaint to help us do our best work. I attribute our growth and accomplishments to our people. By eliminating the stress of worrying about their title or whether they can speak up in an already demanding industry, we’re able to more effectively focus on what is important: our clients and our work. To learn more about this philosophy, check out

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How to Lead When It Matters Most

It’s safe to say that this year hasn’t gone the way anyone planned. The coronavirus pandemic swiftly flipped the world upside down, leaving everyone struggling to adjust. Now more than ever, people look to those in leadership positions to unify them and ease their concerns as much as possible. This is true of employees, too. Leaders should remember that especially during tough times, their example will be remembered long after things return to normal. Believe it or not, difficult circumstances can cement a company’s culture and the loyalty of its employees.

There are a few characteristics that those in influential positions should try to emulate every day, but especially during times of crisis.

Lead with Calmness

As much as possible, it’s important for management to continue running a business as usual. Certainly, during times of crisis, we’ll all need to adapt to a new reality. But leaders should remain steadfast in their dedication to the company and commitment to getting their work done. Although a lot has changed in recent days, this sense of normalcy can be reassuring to everyone and a distraction from the constant headlines we’ve all been subjected to as of late. 

Lead with Clarity

Communication is always key, but especially now when many of us are leading virtually and don’t have the luxury of addressing employees at in-person meetings, swinging by people’s desks, or catching up over lunch or coffee. Continue to keep your employees in the loop on the policies and procedures you’ve established to address the situation, and communicate any updates to these plans. As a result, your staff will feel informed and empowered to carry out the great work they do every day.

Lead with Compassion

Nonessential businesses that have the capability to allow their employees to work from home have likely encountered a few hiccups in the transition to remote business models. Instead of popping by a coworker’s desk to ask a question, you must now do so electronically. Additionally, with schools out across the country, employees likely have to work alongside spouses, children, pets, and other family members. The responsibilities of home and work lives are clashing constantly, and good leaders should understand that. Lead your teams with empathy and give them the flexibility they’ll need to effectively manage everything on their plate. I built my entire company culture at Fingerpaint around this value, and it’s allowed us to grow from nothing to an $80 million, 350-plus employee health and wellness advertising agency. Employees will appreciate this beyond belief and feel comforted knowing that leadership recognizes everything they’re juggling.

As scary as the past few months have been, we will come out stronger on the other side. Even though our world may look a little different, if you follow these guidelines, your employees can take solace in the fact that when it was most important, their leadership showed up for them and did the best they could to make sure their workers felt supported and prioritized.

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The Problem With The Pitch

Anyone in the advertising world is familiar with the request for proposal (RFP) and pitch process that clients use to find agencies and that agencies use to obtain new business. After spending years in the industry, I’ve worked on and attended countless pitches. Through that experience, I’ve become very familiar with the challenges the process presents—for both parties.

  1. Agencies could potentially pull a bait and switch

While pitch teams usually consist of senior leaders and subject matter experts within the agency, staffing needs and competing business could cause agency teams to shift once the business is onboarded. While expected to a certain degree given the numerous clients agencies juggle, baiting and switching the agency teams too often after pitches can cause distrust and start the relationship off on the wrong foot. At Fingerpaint, we value the trust of our clients and do everything in our power to make sure the teams feel comfortable with each other, have good chemistry, and can hit the ground running once the pitch is over.

  1. Things are a little too rehearsed

We love the opportunity to get a case study from the client and work on and present solutions in real-time. The client team gets to see how we work together, think on our feet, and approach the challenges they present in a more authentic way than a traditional pitch. Some of our most successful pitches didn’t involve an RFP process but instead entailed an interactive workshop where the client visited us and saw how we worked together in person, versus watching us present slides that we practiced countless times.

  1. You could be judging creative that the agency didn’t even create

It’s no secret that agencies in big holding networks share creative for pitches to demonstrate their experience in certain sectors. For example, a healthcare agency could pitch an over-the-counter medication brand using a case study for Mucinex. The client they are pitching to, however, would not know that the work for Mucinex was actually created by a completely different agency in the same network, likely the consumer shop. Therefore, the client is judging an agency based on successful work done by an entirely different group of people. This isn’t an issue with independent agencies.

To see if your agency is performing to your standards, try taking my free agency assessment. If you find that you need a new partner, keep in mind the common pitfalls of pitching and consider taking a different approach to the process. You’ll end up with an agency team that truly acts as an extension of your own, and the work you do together will be better as a result.

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What Makes A Good Mentor

At some point in many people’s careers, they may find themselves part of a mentor-mentee relationship. I’ve had the good fortune to be on both sides in my career as a marketer, and now as an entrepreneur and founder of the advertising agency, Fingerpaint. Whether the arrangement is formally set up through your company or it’s more casual, there are a few guidelines mentors should keep in mind to make the partnership as beneficial as possible for both parties.

First and foremost, if you are embarking on the journey of being a mentor, make sure you can fully commit to it. It’s easy to see this as an extracurricular piled on top of your day job, but the person whom you’ve agreed to mentor is likely eager and appreciative of your guidance. If you’re going to be their mentor, you should make sure they’re also a priority. Having empathy for your mentee will help you remember what it’s like to be in their shoes—whether they’re more junior to you or are just looking to learn more about a role or industry—and improve the advice you give them.

You should start your mentor-mentee relationship by establishing some ground rules and expectations to set your partnership up for success. Talk to your mentee about what they’re looking to gain from their time with you. Also, determine a communication cadence that fits into both of your schedules to hold you accountable. By first laying the groundwork, you can make the most of your time together.

As the mentor, it can be tempting to assert your role and nudge your mentee toward your own ideals. But make sure that when you meet, you listen as much as you talk. There is a certain degree to which this person must strike out on their own and be able to make their own decisions and, sometimes, their own mistakes. You can certainly help them assess the situation to learn what worked or didn’t work, but they should learn through doing as well as through listening.

And finally, remember that you can learn something, too. Some of the most fruitful mentor-mentee relationships occur when each party shares their perspective, regardless of who is the mentor. No matter who your mentee is, they may have different experiences, perspectives, and skills. A successful mentorship is both give and take, and mentors should keep this in mind to maximize the success of the relationship.

Mentoring can expand networks, provide valuable insight, and even open doors for both people. By listening to your mentee and understanding their needs, you can tailor your advice accordingly. In the end, you’ll form a valuable business relationship that will benefit both of you for years to come.

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Why All Work, No Play Doesn’t Work For The Office

Any company knows how easy it can be for employees to get caught up in the hectic routine of constant meetings and work—with little break until everyone’s tasks are complete, and it’s time to go home. This formula, however, doesn’t necessarily translate into a happy staff or the best possible work that a company can produce. I’ve seen firsthand what happens when employees are worked until the point of burnout with no reprieve.

That’s why we try to infuse our culture and work environment with opportunities for staff to connect with each other on a personal level to break up the never-ending distractions of calendars, emails, and calls. Below are a few strategies to incorporate fun into your company culture, and why it’s important.

Let your staff take ownership

We’re fortunate that we’ve created a culture where employees feel empowered to share ideas freely without fear of criticism. And as far as team-building opportunities go, it has certainly paid off. At Fingerpaint, some recent ideas from staff include a monthly, after-hours beer club, trivia nights, and more. By giving your staff ownership of the social calendar, it’ll be organic, and they’ll feel engaged and want to participate.

Make room in existing initiatives

You don’t need extravagant events or a huge budget to add some fun to the workday. Take a look at your current structure and budget to identify where you have a little wiggle room. Can you offer a gift or swag item around the holidays? Are there opportunities in your staff meetings to highlight certain employees in a fun and unique way? Unexpected moments will take your staff by surprise and will likely inspire engagement in your culture and an uptick in morale.

Reward hard work

Everyone in your company deserves a chance to unwind, and that’s especially true of those who have a history of longevity or high performance in your firm. We go so far as to offer a sabbatical to those who have been with our company for five years as a thank you for their dedication and an opportunity to truly relax and recalibrate. But aside from offering employees a month-long vacation, there are plenty of more accessible ways to reward your people. One of my favorites is implementing peer-selected awards in addition to traditional promotions or raises. This is a great way to honor those at all levels of the organization and ensure that no one’s hard work goes unnoticed. It’ll also encourage your staff to rally around their colleagues and share in each other’s achievements.

While a business’s success is certainly incumbent upon its performance, I believe that companies that take the time to provide opportunities for staff to recharge and bond with each other will have a more positive culture that, as a result, produces better work.

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Philanthropy Series: Interview With Fingerpaint’s Director Of Philanthropy

This is part 2 of a three-article series on integrating philanthropy and corporate giving into your business’s culture to increase community involvement and, where it makes sense, to help your company grow.

Ever since I started my health and wellness advertising agency, Fingerpaint, I wanted to use the company as a machine to do good in the community. When it came to establishing our core value of philanthropy, however, I knew I couldn’t juggle our charitable initiatives on top of steering the company. That’s when I hired Bo Goliber, an experienced community relations executive who has been with our company as head of philanthropy for nearly eight years.

I recently sat down with Bo for some insight on how she built our philanthropic initiatives from the ground up, how she views her role, and how she launched a successful corporate giving program at Fingerpaint.

Ed Mitzen: Thanks for joining me, Bo. To start off, would you mind sharing what qualities are most important for someone in a role similar to yours?

Bo Goliber: First and foremost, I think it’s important to hire a true “people person” with enthusiasm and passion for making a difference. That way, their excitement hopefully rubs off on others. A communications expert with experience in corporate partnerships, fundraising, volunteer coordination, and event planning is also a plus.

EM: That makes perfect sense, and you definitely fit the bill! When you came on board at Fingerpaint, what was important for you to learn about the agency to build our philanthropy and corporate giving program?

BG: First, I needed to truly understand what’s important to our company leaders and our staff, and then find out a little bit about the communities surrounding each of our offices. Then I had to find the common threads that would tie it all together. I like to make sure that our philanthropy not only helps our communities where there is a need, but is also relevant to our business and industry. Using this information, I was able to come up with a strategic plan that accomplished our objectives for establishing a philanthropic arm.

EM: Striking that balance of authenticity and strategy is really important to me when it comes to philanthropy. How do you think taking an authentic stance on philanthropy can benefit your business?

BG: I believe the workforce of today is looking for a company that’s dedicated to giving back to its people and its community. By establishing an authentic commitment to what’s really important and sticking to it, I think clients and staff can see the real impact of building meaningful and sustainable partnerships, and they will begin to connect that to their work and their everyday life.

EM: Finally, we know everyone at our company is super busy with their client work and day-to-day tasks. How do you rally the staff to engage in charitable programming in addition to their day jobs?

BG: Our industry really packs a lot into the workday, so finding extra time can be a challenge. Providing varied and accessible opportunities is important so that people can choose whether they’d prefer to give time, talent, or treasure (dollars). We also try to really listen to what matters to the staff and create opportunities to highlight those causes wherever possible. Not only does this do good in our community, but it also improves our culture and provides our staff with causes to rally around.

We’re so proud that philanthropy is and will continue to be one of the cornerstones of our culture, and we truly couldn’t do it without someone who understands how to establish a purposeful plan, motivate and engage our staff, and contribute so much to our people-first philosophy.

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