You know when you’re watching a movie, and someone references a 44-year-old, and you think that sounds old, and then you remember that you’re a 44-year-old? Well, that happens to me and now this is happening to me—I’m celebrating my 20th Anniversary at Pile and Company.
In 1999, I accepted a position on the consulting team at Pile, a firm specializing in helping marketers find agencies. I was 24. And never in a million years did I think that my husband and I would own the company 20 years later.
But here I am. Full of memories, observations and thoughts of gratitude.
Here are my top 20 (in no particular order):
1. I was hired after only one meeting with Skip Pile. (I’m positive that the rest of the company had no idea who I was or what I was doing there on my first day.)
2. It took me months to keep agency names straight. DDB, BBDO, Lowe Lintas, and my personal favorite, Euro RSCG MVBMS.
3. Agency searches were easier 20 years ago. Clients needed a creative agency. That was pretty much it.
4. In 1999, agencies hated making pitch videos. (Fun fact: they still hate making them today.)
5. Y2K was an actual, legitimate concern.
6. 2000-2010 brought the rise of agency specialization—digital, media-only, experiential…
7. 2000-2010 meant diversifying Pile’s services—adding disciplines like media and digital to our agency search offering and creating new service areas like agency performance evaluation and compensation consulting.
8. The things I’ve seen in new business pitches…
9. The top challenge for an agency search consultant then and now: staying on top of the agency landscape, who is doing what, who is working where, etc.
10. In 2005, Pile launched the In-House Agency Forum (IHAF), which is the leading professional association for in-house agencies and continues to grow with the burgeoning in-house industry today.
11. In 2012, we added agency model assessment to help clients determine—do we need an AOR, multiple partners, in-house agency or a mix?
12. And now consultancies are in the agency business.
13. And, of course, there are holding companies and what their futures might hold…
14. What’s old is new again. Clients are looking to bring creative and media back together.
15. I’m incredibly thankful for the industry-leading, paradigm-shifting clients I’ve had and continue to have the privilege of working with.
16. I’m truly thankful for TSA precheck.
17. I feel so fortunate to have built relationships with some of the most innovative, forward-thinking agencies and new business teams in the industry.
18. I’m beyond grateful for my coworkers at Pile, and especially my mentors, Skip Pile, Rick Hooker and Judy Neer.
19. I consider my greatest success/challenge over the last 20 years to be balancing work and my most important job of being a mom to two amazing girls. (Although some days I’m a better mom and some days I’m a better consultant.)
20. I believe my job is just as exciting now as it was 20 years ago. To be in the room of a final pitch when an agency crushes it. Seeing a client energized by a fresh, smart strategy, spot-on creative, and eye-opening data. Being a part of such a creative business is a real joy.
On to the next 20.