Karl-introSometimes I feel like I am running on a treadmill that never stops; and that it even gets faster as each day I get further and further behind. Eventually, I know I’m going to fall off, but reaching over and pushing the button to slow it down or stop it seems impossible.

Recently, I pushed the stop button for a whole day, and spent it attending a fantastic event. Turn Down the Treadmill, a one day workshop by Karl Sakas of Agency Firebox, was the best time I’ve spent in a long while. It took place in an idyllic location on Bass Lake… just about thirty minutes away from Raleigh in the bedroom community of Holly Springs, NC. I wasn’t sure about the drive, but then when I saw it…Bass-Lake-Holly-Springs

I realized the drive was completely worth it, if for nothing else than to see a beautiful part of the area I haven’t seen in the 30+ years I’ve lived here. Something about that extra drive time was good for me too; by the time I arrived, I felt like I’d left my daily grind behind – at least for the day.

harvest-oak-city-coffeeUpon arrival, we were treated to coffee from Oak City Roasters and pastries, sponsored by Harvest time tracking. Karl Sakas and his brother Karl (no, that’s not a misprint!) welcomed me and I got to know the others at my table.

Karl started the day by having us get to know each other and introduce each other. A little different, but a clever exercise since it helped us break the ice. My fellow attendees were all also agency people; although we had different titles, like Director of Client Services or Marketing Manager, we realized that we all spend our days working with clients to deliver marketing programs. Technically, we were all competitors. This made for a really interesting dynamic.

Next, we started an exercise independently – what would you do if your biggest client called you at 5pm on a Friday and left you a message that said they were canceling service? Who do you tell, what do you do first, second, last? How does this impact your day and your schedule? After we were done with independently noting our responses, we discussed together. The conversation was highly useful, in that we were all able to share strategies and responses for something that happens to all of us, but they were all slightly different. I learned a great deal from my peers that I hope to put to use the next time I face a client crisis.

Then we went into a discussion about our personality types, reviewing our DiSC profile results. Again, great discussion. For those of you who don’t know, the Myers-Briggs test (you know, ENTJ and such) is a test of how you process information. The DiSC assessment tries to use your answers to predict what you’re likely to do; how you’ll be likely to respond in certain situations. Knowing your results as well as the results of others you work with can help you identify each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and communication patterns. Knowing these patterns increases your likelihood of long term success.

Success was the order of the day as we went on with our various exercises, from discussing how our teams were set up (Karl offered 4 key agency staffing models) to how we control client expectations. We wrapped up the day by talking about scheduling, goal setting, and planning. I took away some fantastic skills and ideas that I already put into practice, and while I haven’t seen any results yet, I expect to. At a minimum, I was far more focused and goal-oriented this past week.



Karl-takeawaysThe day was all about answering three key questions, which Karl shared at the outset:

  1. How can you be more energized and less stressed at work?
  2. How can you bill an extra 15K a year, or go home on Fridays at 3pm? (your choice)
  3. How can you finally reach your current goals at work? (when the phone keeps ringing)

Without a doubt, these three questions were answered and they are achievable. It requires a fundamental shift in how you value your time, beginning with stopping the treadmill for one day and spending it with Karl and Agency Firebox.

Thanks to Harvest, TOPO Organic Spirits, and especially Bass Lake for sponsoring this great event. There’s nothing quite like taking your lunch and breaks like this:

The next Turn Down the Treadmill event is coming! You should be there. Sign up for the Agency Firebox newsletter to find out when and where.