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Giving Thanks: Five Things We’re Grateful for This Thanksgiving Season

by Nathan Miller

Nov 24, 2023

Posted in Culture

Formada VP of Brand Strategy, Nathan Miller, sits on a shelf with his arms crossed over his knee. He is shot and black and white and flanked to the right by a teal and blue rectangular graphic resembling a ladder.

The Importance of Reflection, Gratitude, and Action

I really try my best to maintain a grateful attitude. You know the drill — don’t dwell on the past, and don’t worry about the future. Be present. Be here now. Appreciate this moment. Mindfulness, etc. 

Admittedly, I’m not always so good at this. I am incredibly thankful for what we’re building at Formada. But like a lot of folks, I imagine, I get caught up in the small stuff. I succumb to the stress of the insignificant. It’s human nature, I suppose. 

It’s easier, it seems, to get wrapped around the axle than it is to maintain a healthy sense of gratitude. That’s just one reason why I welcome the holiday season. It signals the ending of another year and the coming of a new one. Accomplishments and new beginnings. 

The perfect time to reflect, not dwell, on precisely who and what I’m grateful for in terms of this business. 

Our Clients

While I haven’t been an official part of the Formada team since day one, I did witness much of its origin first-hand. 

And I was reminded at our recent annual planning meeting of when Meghan and Garrett first decided to go into business together — they put together a business plan, quit their corporate jobs, and set out to make Formada real-life, honest to goodness business. 

Which meant that they needed real-life, honest to goodness clients. But when you go into business for yourself, you don’t have a sales team or a marketing team or a finance team. You are all of those things. (And a whole lot more.)

But through a mix of determination, resilience, and well-earned professional expertise, the clients started to come. Day by day. Month by month. And now year by year. 

I’m so incredibly grateful for the clients we have. We’re not the sort of agency that is looking for turn and burn-style relationships. And that’s perhaps a bit unusual in the agency world, but we’re happy to be offbeat if it means we’re partnering with businesses who want something out of the ordinary. 

Formada is a digital marketing agency that is all about growth. We’re looking for businesses that want to grow with us. 

Fortunately for us, that’s exactly what our clientbase is composed of. We push each other to be better. We’re achieving incredible results, together. 

Thank you to everyone who has chosen to work with us, who has referred new clients to us, and has provided us with the support that has brought us to where we are today. We truly couldn’t be here without you. 

Our Team

In December of 2020 — everyone’s favorite year — David Kerr and I became Formada’s third and fourth official full-time hires, just after our two Founders. 

We were a small, scrappy team, putting our all into every project, wearing as many hats as our noggins could hold, and taking advantage of every opportunity we could uncover. 

So much of that remains the same. We’re still scrappy. We’re still giving it our all. But our team and our service offerings have only grown. 

Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible people, and Formada is no exception. Talented, insightful, driven folks — every single one of them. 

Here’s something that you don’t understand about being a part of a healthy startup in its earliest stages: There’s nowhere to hide. 

What I mean is that your contributions, or lack thereof, are immediately evident to everyone around you. With each decision you make, you have the opportunity to either drag everyone down or lift everyone up. 

And the incredible thing about our team is that everyone is that rare combination of subject matter expert, skilled technician, and customer service specialist. Perhaps most critically, they are all builders. Savvy enough to start their own successful businesses, but share the vision of what Formada can be at its best.  

I’m sincerely grateful for this team. I’m proud of them. We’re lucky to be doing this together. 

Our Founders 

It’s not lost on me that I have a certain built-in bias when it comes to my opinion of at least one of our founders. (Hint: It’s not Garrett.)

In my position, I’m very much focused on bringing the unique combined talents of Meg and Garrett to life for the rest of the world to engage with. Formada is the house they’ve built. Our team is building the furniture. And I get the pleasure of inviting everyone over. 

Having known Garrett for over a decade now, I can tell you that there are few other people who possess the level of compassion, consideration, and commitment that he does. 

From day one, he’s had a vision of how to create a thoughtful, scalable operational engine for this business, has put it into practice, and has never stopped innovating it — all while happily taking in others’ suggestions, identifying new service opportunities, and supporting the team’s professional development. 

He’s also something that is grossly undervalued in our warped alpha grindset corporate culture dialog: He’s nice. And that’s worth so much more than you can imagine when you’re building something from scratch. 

Garrett and Meghan complement each other as founders so perfectly. She and I have known each other quite literally since we were kids. She’s always had the ability to engage people in a way that is entirely unique to her own personality. I’m still fascinated by it. 

Meghan has a tendency to downplay her skills, but I’ve seen her in action, and I can tell you that if she’s dedicated herself to something, good luck keeping up with her. Her research is exhausting, her delivery is endlessly charming, and her sense of empathy is 100% sincere. 

You can immediately sense when a leadership team is out of alignment. These two don’t agree on everything, nor should they, but they have the valuable ability to debate healthily, and be in full support of each other when the best idea rises to the top. 

This approach empowers us to do our best work. Speaking of…

Our Autonomy 

Not too long ago, Meg published a brief essay about the difference between freedom and autonomy. I loved it. Here’s an excerpt from it:

It’s funny. When I first started this business, I thought that the thing I was after was freedom. 

But after five years of leading a business, I can tell you with absolute confidence that you should 100% not start a business if your primary motivator is freedom.

I thought I was after freedom. I even said I was after freedom. But in reality? I was actually looking for autonomy.

Think about it: Freedom is the absence of constraints. But in the earliest days of any business, especially when you’re bootstrapping it, your experience is about 90% constraints. 

We were constrained simply for being a brand-new business. That wasn’t freedom. But upon closer inspection, there was something even more valuable that existed in owning my own business: Autonomy.

Autonomy is your ability, as an entrepreneur, to self-govern according to your values.

I didn’t need anyone’s permission. I had my own. All of the frustrations in business I had in the past found myself bristling against were no longer there. The fences were torn down. This world was mine to create. My own rules. My own standards. My hypothetical ideal.”

This concept of autonomy is one that lies at the heart of our business. We believe that Autonomy creates a sense of accountability that encourages action.

We don’t want to micromanage. We don’t want to be micromanaged. 

Being able to work in an environment where the process is clear and the goals are well-defined allows all of us to do our best work. There’s a sense of trust that exists between all of us internally that I believe our clients can feel. 

They’re trusting us with their brands and their budgets. They deserve to feel confident in choosing us for their marketing.  

Our Future

In preparation for our recent annual planning meeting, I worked very closely with Meghan and Garrett on developing the agenda for the day. 

One of elements that was particularly important to everyone was reminding everyone of Formada’s origin story. The business has grown so steadily over the past five years, that it’s easy to forget that it was created over a basket of Red Robin Bottomless Fries. 

Some business plans are drawn on the back of napkins. Others with the aid of Campfire Sauce. 

We’re coming from a place where we know that there’s a better way to deliver marketing services than what’s commonly offered. We’re interested in our clients’ as people and the things that drive them to be in business. We want to feel like an extension of their team vs. just a vendor relationship. 

Seeing where we’ve been can tell us a lot about where we’re going, and based on our plan for the next five years, there are some incredible things ahead of us. 

There will surely be some challenges. A surprise or two. There’s no doubt about that. I think that will always be the case. It always has been. 

The journey so far has been absolutely worth it, and I’m thankful to every person we’d had the pleasure of working with over the last five years in being a part of our story. We appreciate you all — take care! 

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