It was September of 2007. I’d spent the morning consulting with a digital agency in Boulder on how several of the big brands they were managing needed to leverage social media — at the time, that was limited to a bit o’ Twitter, a blog, and influencer outreach — and one of the VCs from the startup I’d left a couple months before wanted to catch up and debrief over coffee nearby.
I’d started WideFoc.us at a favorite coffee shop in Denver, with the thought that sitting on patios and working on projects that interested me sounded exponentially better than being cloistered away in a fluorescent-lit office.
Over tasty dirty chais, the VC guy — one of the smartest people I’ve ever met — and I chatted about how the startup was doing, my experiences in the last few weeks that I’d been part of the team, and its future direction. Eventually, the conversation turned to me, and what I was doing with WideFoc.us.
“Pull up your website for a second,” he said, “I want to show you something.”
I opened my laptop, connected to the painfully slow wifi, and typed in the URL that people never forget once they see it. The first WideFoc.us website was something I built on my own on the same Typepad platform I was using for my blog. It was nothing fancy; a header with the logo, marketing copy, and a list of services provided.
“See how you have ‘marketing strategy,’ ‘PR,’ and ‘copywriting’ at the top of the list, and ‘social media’ way at the bottom?” The VC dude asked me. “Just get rid of all that stuff and put social media at the top. You’re going to be busier than you can imagine.”
From that moment on, when people at cocktail parties or networking events asked what I did, I’d answer, “Social media consulting.”
And every time, they’d say, “Oh my gosh! We need that. Can I get your card?”
I was so busy, I made my first hire within a few months of that conversation.
Did I mention the VC investor had a PhD in divinity?
This month, we celebrate 10 years since I built that rickety website and started taking on clients — mostly marketing collateral development and copywriting for businesses and nonprofits at first. Now, we work with companies around the country, field a full team of professionals, and have our own beautiful office, with a big garage door we open on temperate Denver days. Our range of services has evolved as social media outreach and engagement strategies have grown (though some things haven’t changed), and we’re always busy these days.
But the work aesthetic that I envisioned for myself on the patio at ink! Coffee on a sparkly August morning is still an essential part of our company culture. We only do office hours Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so none of us feel stuck in a grind. The team can work from wherever they’d like the rest of the week, as long as they’re available to clients and keep up with their assignments. We’re a team of creatives, so I try to support our people in their side hustles with a 30-hour work week and flexible schedules.
That’s made for a spectacular 10 years, personally and professionally. We’ve had our struggles and our successes, and the dynamic nature of our industry means we’re in a constant state of growth and development.
I’m not always the perfect boss or business owner, but I’ve learned a great deal along the way. I’ll be sharing the big lessons here later this year.
In the meantime, thank you. Thank you to the teammates who’ve helped WideFoc.us change and grow over the years. Thank you to our former and current clients, who’ve been such an integral part of our evolution. Thank you to our strategic partners — creative agencies, SEO companies, digital strategists, content developers, graphic designers, and PR organizations — who’ve believed in us enough to put us to work for their clients.
And thank you to our families and friends, supportive and patient, who were always there when we needed them. We wouldn’t be here today without you.
Hugs all around,