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The Evolution of Time & Space

15th April, 2021
Mark Rickmeier
Mark Rickmeier, Founder of Table XI, spoke with Varun Bihani and Jessie Coan on the Agencies That Build podcast about the impact time and space have had on his development.

When was the last time you took a break for yourself while you were at work? YES!

During your work day, or even afterhours if you’re a workaholic. It sounds crazy, right? But, it’s not. Consider this: when you spend your day constantly busy, what time do you have to process or implement the actions you’re supposed to take on? Mark Rickmeier, CEO of Table XI, brought this to light during our podcast by referencing how Warren Buffett and Bill Gates spend their time differently. While Bill Gates has a schedule packed with meetings and other activities, Warren Buffet keeps more open space, days where nothing is planned in order to take time to read, learn, and process. If the second- and sixth- wealthiest people in the US are controlling their time, then we all should be cognizant of how precious that time is when we’re working.

Rickmeier took this to heart and realized that the misperception that “being busy...especially as an agency owner...is valuable because you’re going to get involved in sales and marketing and recruiting.” When you’re jumping around between invoices, meetings, and emails, it doesn’t give one time for processing, implementing, or being productive. He has since made sure to dedicate time to think about moving forward, finding solutions, doing things differently, and to enjoy a bit of stillness to gather thoughts in order to perform action.

Busy is the new stupid!

Why? Because when you’re wasting time by filling your schedule with activities, you can’t take time to reinvest into your company. You should be working on making and protecting block time that you can’t get back. Value is not measured by a full calendar, but by taking time to evaluate the direction you’re moving in and if/how things can be done differently to increase efficacy and productivity.

There is a level of re-inventing, re-investing and re-energizing yourself that comes along with the pause taken to digest the influx of information you receive. Having time to find productive solutions to take action is the value. You can step away from the screen. You can take a walk. Find something enjoyable to do while you disengage from the distractions and re-align yourself. There are other people around who are able to manage the projects that need to be completed; if you take time to eat lunch away from your desk or enjoy a walk, the agency will not fall apart.

Rickmeier goes on to say that this can be hard to adopt as routine because we’ve been wiring our brains to always be on the go and looking for multi-tasking activities to fill in what we believe is valuable instead of enjoying the power of stillness that is needed in order to not burn out. Instead of bragging about how busy you are, brag instead about how productive you are. This aligns with time management that includes knowing how to delegate the right tasks to the right people and trusting that they’ll get it done.

Rickmeier noted that agency owners have to wear many hats and there doesn’t always seem to be availability to step away, but if you aren’t getting the time to perform evaluations and reset yourself, not only will you experience burnout, the company will suffer as well. He has integrated time blocks using Clockwise to act as a virtual assistant for time management, which has allowed him to mentor and show leadership to others in how to effectively take down time.

Does This Really Work?

Don’t think that this is all talk with no substance. Had Rickmeier been able to take the time in the early years of Table XI, they may have avoided an agency shakeup.

When they released themselves from their biggest client, other issues began emerging that weren’t seen before. This is when Rickmeier noted that the lack of cash is the one metric that can kill a company. Your agency can build if there’s low revenue, you can find the right people for projects, but you can’t maintain an agency if the cash dissipates from the one or two high-end clients that are no longer paying the bills. Having that abundance of client concentration risk (CCR) and not diversifying shook the company because the time that could’ve been spent making the agency more efficient and productive was lost on this one client. Once ties were cut, Rickmeier saw issues with invoicing and collections, the pipeline, and understood the importance of lowering CCR so cash flow and reserves fee would not compromise the agency again.

The company recovered, but in looking for a solution to future problems that may occur, Rickmeier implemented an Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) that the agency would follow for increased productivity and work-flow efficiency. One of the items included having retreats with competitors on the same playing field, which he prides himself on because it became a community where advice was given to worthy rivals.

This coming together of like-minded people who were facing challenges allowed a space for trust to build and relationships to form. Usually you aren’t seeking this from competitors, but this was a way to help and learn from each other. Rickmeier was able to come up with this by taking the time to rethink how he’d been approaching situations.

Similarly, the agency has also used space and time to come together and share their ideas, thoughts and concerns in a safe environment surrounded by food prepared by their chef in their customer kitchen. Rickmeier intentionally fostered this company culture where taking time away from work and focusing on the rituals and story-tellling built and grew the company culture.

Once the pandemic hit and everyone began working remotely, how could that company culture be maintained?

How could the employees be heard, recognized and validated with their input?

Rickmeier once again allowed his dedicated time to re-fresh and found a solution. Using Thought Exchange provided a creative opportunity to continue to inquire about what they wanted to discuss and was provided insight to some things that wouldn’t have been discussed in depth, even at the open lunches.

The importance of time and space are concrete, but their value will evolve personally and professionally. If you allowed yourself time to fix something, what would it be? Have you made yourself a space to be open and learn from others?

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