Year 1 of Studios: Life Lessons From a Year at Work

The past couple of years (insert line about “unprecedented times”) have blurred the line between home life and work life. As a working mom and a business leader growing a new company, those lines have become essentially non-existent. 

By that I don’t mean I have no work/life balance. Rather, I mean that I am now able to bring my whole self to work. My kids have dropped in on more calls than I can remember and my oldest daughter makes PowerPoints on her iPad alongside me so often she should be on payroll.

Much of what I’ve learned in the year since Studios was launched is about life, not just business. North Sixth Group Chairman Matt Rizzetta, the original visionary behind Studios and one of my major inspirations, often talks about working and living for the eulogy, not the resume. While Studios has amassed an impressive resume this past year (rebrands, website launches, animated videos, white papers… seriously incredible resume-building stuff), my main takeaways can be applied to all facets of life. 

This may not be the typical “what we learned in our first year” post (apologies to Jeff, our content manager, who prescribed me just that) but when work is such a big part of your life, it is only natural that the lessons learned extend beyond the 9 to 5.

These are the adages that capture the lessons I’ve learned during Studios’ inaugural year:

If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

As the Head of Studios, I am consistently blown away by my team. I know most people say that—maybe it’s trite as a boss—but the team I am lucky enough to work with each day is driven, smart and truly cares about the work they do. Better yet, we complement one another in all the right ways. That’s the foundation of a great team and a well-rounded service offering. 

When I am in the room with the Studios team… I am very much in the right room.

The days are long, the years are short.

This adage rings particularly true as a parent of kids who have seemingly grown up overnight. It’s also true as an agency leader. 

The days and the projects can seem long. As an attention-driven team, we labor over every element. As a new business, the work can literally be endless as we grow our team, our roster and our processes. The year though? The year feels short. As we prepped for the Studios anniversary, someone remarked it feels like both yesterday and 10 years ago that we launched our logo into the world. 

The takeaway is to not get bogged down in the individual day or the individual tactic but to always look at the big picture. As an Outcomes-driven agency, we do this with our clients regularly. Sure, you want us to manage your social media—but why? It isn’t about any individual post’s performance; it’s about your company’s overall performance. 

Taking a step back from the day and looking at the year makes you realize you’re playing for the end game and releases you from the tunnel vision that comes with the short term.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

To me, this is true as both a vendor and as a boss. Our clients want to be treated just as I expect my vendors to treat me: with honesty that is rooted in mutual success. During our kickoff calls, we tell clients that we are straight shooters with the best of intentions. We don’t sugar coat it. If the service you’re seeking isn’t going to make the impact you want, we’ll tell you. 

As the manager of a PNL, I don’t want my budget wasted. We aren’t in the business of wasting yours. 

As a boss, I do the same thing: work from a place of trust and honesty. We work a lot and it’s truly important to me that my team enjoys it. And not just in a virtual happy hour way, but in a way in which each person is challenged and heard. Their preferences for projects are respected to grow their skill sets and align with their professional interests. They have flexibility to take their dog to the vet or to go on a run in the afternoon. I know the work will get done and be better because of it.

These are the good old days.

These are the days we’ll look back on and say “Remember when?” Mike and Erik will be employees 2 and 3 of hundreds. The “newbies” won’t remember selecting the logo, building the website, figuring out service packages or selecting the best project management tool (we’re big fans of ClickUp, by the way). 

It’s easy to get caught up envisioning the future or the next big revenue milestone instead of enjoying the business as it is now: a hands-on, tight-knit team that delivers impactful marketing and has fun doing it. 

I want to enjoy the now. You all should too, no matter what you’re growing. 


I am so grateful for every member of the team—across Studios, N6A and North Sixth Group—who supported us this past year. More importantly, we are humbled by the clients who we’ve had the privilege to create with.

So here’s to Year 1 of Studios, a year of growth personally and professionally.

Posted by Valerie Leary