A guide through your time at Journey Further
Forever evolving, this is v1.0 and we'll update it as we evolve
Something to inspire you
Something to turn to when you're unsure
A list of HR policies and procedures. We have them if you need them, just ask Jimmy
“We have in our power to begin the world over again”
In (about) January 2017, three men met to discuss a new venture. Their mission - to bring Clarity At Speed to the world of digital media. Together, they founded Journey Further, and performance marketing entered a new era.
Every new agency starts out with the best of intentions. From our experience the problems start as the agency grows, and their reason for being becomes eroded. Quality is replaced with expedience, and as long as a client isn’t complaining, everything’s fine. The focus shifts from making the client happy to making the client profitable, and the real losers aren’t just the clients, but everyone involved.
When Robin (the business guy), Chris (the numbers guy) and Matt (the creative guy) looked at the industry, they saw:
Lack of training and oversight
And they were not impressed. But rather than just grumble about it down the pub on a Friday evening*, they decided to do something about it.
*OK - as well as.
"What we think, we become"
From the outset, Journey Further was going to be different. The client became the centre of the universe, with direct access to the people working on their complex accounts. No needless layers of bureaucracy, contributing nothing but confusion, whilst slowing everything down. Instead, Journey Further was based around a different philosophy:
As agencies grow, speed is often the first thing to go – clients are lucky to get an update on the previous week before the end of Monday, and monthly updates can take weeks. When they ask for things, they are fobbed off with quick, simple responses, or they wait (and wait) until it’s convenient to provide what they need. But does it need to be this way?
As an agency, it’s essential that we are open.
Open to try things – learning from your mistakes can be painful, but it is effective!
Open to be different – there are many different personalities here, and not harnessing that is just throwing away an opportunity to stand out.
Open with the clients – we shouldn’t have any secrets from them; we work for them.
Immediacy is easy when there are just a few of you – but as a company grows, this is frequently the first thing to diminish.
Immediate feedback – everyone should know how they are doing.
Immediate responses – if you (or a client) requests something, it takes a moment to acknowledge it.
Immediate results – the client shouldn’t have to wait for us to provide something we know they are going to want.
We are professional rebels. We don’t do things the way they’ve always been done – you’ll never be exceptional that way! The only way to be truly great is to be pioneering.
Pioneering approaches – is there a better way? A faster way? A nicer way?
Pioneering attitudes – you can’t achieve anything you believe is impossible. The sky isn’t the limit, it’s the start point.
Pioneering philosophies – we learn from the greatest business minds (and Navy SEALS).
Togetherness is perhaps the key to building a team. Without it, we’re just a bunch of people in a room.
Learning together – we are constantly sharing new ideas and new approaches.
Playing together – from summer holidays to Friday nights down the local.
Working together – we sit together, not grouped into our departments and tucked away on different floors (or in different buildings).
Putting all of this together, we have become an agency where people are comfortable with what they are doing, confident to say what they are thinking, and competent to deal with anything that our clients throw at us.
“Hire people smarter than you. Fail early, fail often. Listen to everyone’s ideas. Face toward the problems. B-level work is bad for your soul. It’s more important to invest in good people than in good ideas.”
We believe that attitude is critical to being part of what we are building. Bringing in people that don’t just want the job because it pays well, but because they buy into the culture that we are building.
It’s no coincidence that most of the people that work here joined because they heard about us from other people that worked here. For example:
Jack joined right at the start.
He spoke to Kim, who (eventually) came on board.
Catherine liked what she heard from Kim, and in she came.
Daryl heard about this, and wanted to be a part of it.
Victoria followed soon afterwards.
"I like to make a good impression"
The first day working at a new company can be a little intimidating. Rather than throwing you in at the deep end, we ease you in gently. And what could be less intimidating than a one to one with the CEO or MD?
Seriously, it’s more of an informal chat over a cup of coffee, about the latest news within the company including how and why the agency exists.
After that, you’ll get to meet the team (who are very friendly), get set up with your nice new laptop, have a nice lunch, have another nice chat about your wellbeing with Jimmy, and there’ll still be time to play a board game and do a quiz! Sounds exhausting…
The point of all this is to demonstrate our corporate culture, rather than simply tell you how amazing we all are (which we are btw).
Happily, we don’t believe this. We read a book called Radical Candor by Kim Scott (an American, hence the mis-spelling of Candour) which identified people as Rockstars and Superstars.
Rockstars are forces for stability (hence - rock), they are happy to be doing what they are doing (as well as they can) and aren’t ambitious to progress up the corporate ladder.
Superstars are always looking to move on to the next thing, to progress and make things happen.
To be great, an agency needs both of these people. But one of these groups tends to progress quickly through a company, and the other is left behind (until they get cheesed off and leave).
Our belief is that you shouldn’t have to become a manager to get anywhere – managers are an important part of the team, but no more or less important than the people they manage. Your place in the corporate hierarchy isn’t a reflection of your value to the company. And whilst not everyone can be a manager, we can all be leaders. Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
So if development isn’t the same as moving up the corporate ladder, what does it mean to us? Quite simply, it’s becoming better at what you do and helping others to do the same, always looking to push the boundaries of what is considered achievable.
"Good feedback is the key to improvement"
Louis XVI (Bill Gates)
In order to improve, you have to know what you are already doing well, and what you can be doing better.
Giving feedback isn’t easy. Then again, receiving it isn’t always a lot of fun, either. But it’s essential to improving, so we make a point of putting it squarely at the centre of what we do.
After every mission, Navy SEALS have an after-action review. This isn’t to assign credit or blame, but to figure out how they can be better on the next mission. We like this idea. So after every client meeting, sales pitch or industry event, we have our own after-action review. We are the Nerdy SEALS.
We said that not everyone can be managers, and that’s true from an organisational standpoint. But we can all manage each other – in fact, we have a duty to each other to do so. You can only progress through identifying areas that you can improve upon and working on them – doing this without honest feedback is almost impossible.
After Action Reports aren’t the only feedback, though. You should have a one to one with your manager, where you can talk through your work, and areas for you (and them) to focus on.
On top of this, we have 360 reviews every year, where we talk to everybody that you work with – clients, team managers and other team members. You then talk through the results from this holistic review with your manager, which tells you (and us) how valuable you are to the company. This is then factored into your annual salary review.
"You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have"
Assuming that what we do is the best possible way to do things is a little arrogant. That said, we do things differently from other agencies because we believe that our way is better – but it can always be improved.
We are always ready (indeed, keen) to be challenged on what we are doing and why? And the same should be true of everyone here. So feel free to challenge each other on the ‘whys’ as well as the ‘hows’, but also challenge yourself. Is there something we are doing that we shouldn’t? An opportunity to do things better than we are? A better approach?
Want an example? Journey Further had no plans to be anything other than a biddable agency. The plan was to create a new approach to manage Paid Search, Programmatic and Social campaigns. Within 2 years, we’ve already realised that the same philosophies can be applied to SEO and PR – so now, we do those as well.
There are three frogs on a lily pad, and two decide to jump off. How many frogs are there on the lily pad?
The answer is three of course – merely deciding to do something doesn’t change anything; it takes commitment and action.
Ultimately, the only way to know whether there is a better way is to try something, and see if it works. And that means that you’ll make mistakes. But if there is a better way, not trying something new is a bigger mistake – you just can’t see it.
Mistakes are a part of learning, as long as they are the right kind of mistakes. If a mistake is avoidable, but you make it because you didn’t think things through properly or were careless, that’s not a lesson you should need to learn. The greater the potential costs of a mistake, the more carefully you should think things through! If you aren’t sure, ask someone else for help.
"Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we can have a lie in"
Finding areas in which to improve, trying things and learning from your mistakes are all great tools for development, but potentially a far less painful and easier way is to read about other people trying things and learning from their mistakes.
We have a book club, where we all read a book and discuss what we can learn from it. This is what led to after-action reviews and our embrace of feedback, our approach to your first day, and Deep Working (more on this later), to name just three examples.
We have these book discussions on a Friday, and we don’t just keep our thoughts to ourselves – our book club has expanded to include many people and companies we don’t even work with (320 members at time of writing). And it’s continuing to grow.
But this isn’t the only way that Fridays are a bit different at Journey Further. We have a weekly ‘Learn Together’ session run by one of the team. This could be about anything from better ways of working, to philosophical ideas, to what interests us. We’ve discussed everything from wine and cheese to playing the hurdy-gurdy!
We try to keep lunchtimes free on a Friday as well, so that we eat together if possible. Part of the design of the new office was to make this practical, and it’s a great opportunity to catch up with people you’ve not spoken to for a few days.
Then there’s Journey Further News – a YouTube update on the week’s activity, a celebration of those who have triumphed (professionally or personally) and a look ahead to the coming week.
Fridays end, as all good things do, down the pub – and the drinks are on the company. Again, it’s a chance to catch up with people about anything you like, from your favourite client to your Fantasy Football Team.
"The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm"
Part of being Open as an agency is trust. We hire people that buy into the agency as a concept, rather than as a stepping stone. And we develop a sense of togetherness.
As a result, we trust everyone in the team. If a team member needs (or wants) to work from home, it’s not only allowed, it’s actively encouraged. And it’s not just for people that need to look after the kids for a few hours. One of the things we picked up on from the book club was the importance of Deep Work.
Working in an office can be quite distracting, and sometimes you really need to concentrate on what you are doing. We’ve designed the office to create spaces where you can work with fewer interruptions, but if you prefer, you can work from home, a library or the local coffee shop – whatever works for you. As long as it benefits the business, you don’t need permission (though it may help to let your line manager know where you are before they get worried!)
We’re also flexible on when you start and finish work. Many companies claim this, but they either mean that you can start and finish a bit earlier, or they want you to stay until 10 at night. When we refer to flexible working, we mean that you can start and finish whenever you like (subject to meetings).
The point is that you know you best. We trust you to do your job to the best of your ability, and let you decide how best to do that.
"The team that plays together stays together"
We also have a monthly curry club, sampling the delicacies of the local Indian restaurants, in a never-ending quest to find the perfect Lamb Bhuna.
Then there’s our regular social events – from quizzes and picnics to escape rooms and crazy golf. Never the same, often anarchic, and always fun!
And then there’s the Summer Smash (or Summer Splash, depending on who you ask). A summer holiday for the entire company. Last year, we sent surfing in Snowdonia – this year, who knows?
These activities aren’t just important from a team-building perspective, but also on a personal level. We believe that in exactly the same way that our team are responsible for the wellbeing of the company, Journey Further is equally responsible for the wellbeing of our employees.
To this end, we organise many activities and events (all optional, of course!) for employees:
Every Tuesday morning, we have a yoga session at 8am
We play 5-a-side football every week (unless it’s cold, raining, or we’re hungover)
We do regular charity runs (and even have a weekly running club)
We have a deal with a local gym, which many of us go to regularly
We’ve partnered with Chakra – Corporate Mental Health, who offer a vast range of things to get involved in
"You guys are monsters"
Too often, agencies see the client as an inconvenience, rather than being their raison d'être. We believe that it’s not sufficient to manage their accounts, we need to understand their business. Only then can we truly act in their best interests.
If a client asks us to do something, they believe that they need it. Simply doing what they say isn’t offering great service – it’s limited to their understanding of marketing, rather than ours.
Instead, it’s important to work with them. Understand what they really need, and why. Make their lives easier. Help them to make better decisions. That way, they understand not just what we are doing, but also why. And we understand not just what they need, but also why.
Maybe they ask for their monthly report as soon as possible each month. If we understand that they need it in order to present a report to their board on the third of the month, then merely getting it done as soon as we can fit it in isn’t enough. We need to get it over to them as soon as we can – not when it’s convenient.
The results can be spectacular – here are a few quotes from our clients:
You guys are monsters (in a good way)
You're the best agency ever!
The work that you have done for us has been outstanding. You guys deserve all the success that you are getting
Journey Further has been an important extension of our small London office and a big part of our success is due to your support
Honest, dependable and great results
Awesome as always
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry