My Internship with 316 Strategy Group.
The summer came to an end and as the holidays draw near I find myself taking the time to reflect on what an experience my internship at 316 Strategy Group has been. I’ve met with owners of small mom & pop businesses, serial entrepreneurs, CEOS of mid and large sized companies and founders of quickly growing franchises. The amount of knowledge and experience I gained in these past 6 months is nothing short of incredible looking back on it. I was a part of so many things I never expected, the stories I heard, the clients I met or the places I’d never been to or the businesses I strategized with or doing work I never expected like social media, photography, directing, and food reviews. This was a far cry from your normal internship. I found a love for combining photography and marketing, it gave me a chance to find an artistic avenue I didn’t know I was capable of taking. I re-found a joy of listening to people’s stories and talk about what they were passionate about. I got a glimpse into a world of business owners who cared so much about what they do, they wanted success but all had a reason that was awe-inspiring, this is not the world of self-serving one may expect. I saw people who were passionate about their business and wanted to show other people what they do, they wanted to bring what they found joy into their customers.
Real Life Experience vs. College
My experience in business is far different from what I expected from going through business school. While school is very technical, about the money, the experience isn’t. Again, sure, it has a place. But college doesn’t prepare you for sitting and sharing stories. It doesn’t prepare you to have a conversation outside of your sales pitch. From being in meetings and talking with clients I have learned that just talking and giving of time and being truly invested is what matters. If you really care about your customers and what they are doing, you will work well together and have a long relationship, experiencing success together is the reward. In school you learn a lot about business for you, which in and of itself is not bad, you need to be able to take care of yourself to help others. But, in the end, being in the business of others succeeding is what makes you great. So while school can certainly prepare you for the immediate future this internship at 316 Strategy Group has given me perspective for the long run. It has also instilled me with senses of hope and joy that the field I am entering does not need to be the self-serving one I was starting to fear.
I have learned that just talking and giving of time and being truly invested is what matters.
Lessons Learned Along The Way
There really were too many lessons this past 6-months to share in one blog post so I am going to focus on some of the ones that have resonated with me the most. One of my favorites was one I heard more recently in a meeting with Joseph Kenney. The quote goes “there’s always room for the best pizza shop in town.” This goes way beyond pizza, basically, it means that no matter the economy there is always room for the best. Whether it be the best bakery, best gym, best steak, best whatever…, there is always room! Do not tell yourself your idea won’t work because there are too many similar things, or it’s out right now, or the internet is making it obsolete, if you can be the best, there is room for you.
Another saying I have heard a few times around our offices that I have grown quite fond of is, “yet….” This “yet” refers to a story which goes, when Matthew McConaughey was young he would occasionally say he was not good at something or could not do it. His father always told him to say “yet” at the end. “I am not good at it yet.” You do not need to resign yourself to your weaknesses. It is good to identify them, good to be aware. But it does not end at being aware. Once you know where you are not strong you get to work. You focus, you surround yourself with people who are good at to help you and in doing so, teach you. Weaknesses do not need to be permanent.
The next thing I would like to speak to is that words matter. Yes, even for business owners. It’s easy to have a disconnect, but the words, negative and positive really matter to business owners. Especially in the form of the reviews they get. It goes beyond just having the five stars that get people in the door. A negative review is shot at everything they have built. It’s their passion and dreams and seeing something bad hurts, especially if it’s not constructive. A bit of tough love that can show a path to improvement is understandable. But mindless bashing is harmful. I first experienced this talking with the owner of Tasty Pizza. Tasty Pizza is an amazing restaurant with a delightful owner, great pizza and some of the best prices in the city. They had gotten one negative review, their first one out of 50-something reviews, and the owner was sad about it and wanted to know how to make it right. It did not look bad when put next to all those good reviews but she wanted to make everyone’s experience great and found it upsetting someone did not have one. I have seen this a few places now, but that is the example that really opened my eyes.
One of the most important lessons I learned was said best by Brett Boyer of Center Sphere. We were talking about giving and what place it had in business. He spoke very strongly and genuinely about how much giving meant to him. He said, “give as soon as you feel you can.” He went on to say how anyone can. If it cannot be money it can be a good morning. Just give what you have towards building someone up was what I gained from that. I have also seen 316 give business. Doing work for others because it’s right. I have seen amazing work just given away because it will help someone. That is something I can be proud to be a part of.
Give as soon as you feel you can. ~ Brett Boyer
The Business of People
The lesson I have learned from day one is the lesson I will conclude this with. The ROI of business is relationships. As I have been saying, the people are what matter. The business will come if you focus on the people and, I cannot stress this enough, honestly care, beyond the money in their pocket. If you build relationships, the work you do will be better because your reason is stronger. You are not completing a transaction, you are helping a friend. Your work will be fulfilling, and both you and your client will get more joy out of it. You will also see people stick with you for years to come. That relationship will continue to grow. This is where the true reward of business comes in.
The ROI of business is relationships. ~ Joseph Kenney
I have had an amazing experience. Between the places I went, people I met, and lessons I have learned. I have learned lessons beyond just business but about growing as a person. I am so grateful to everyone who took time to speak with me, work with me, and teach me. I look forward to my time with them and 316 moving forward.
~ Barry Beavers