Agencies that Build #3 – Flexibility and Focusing Forward | Carl Smith

In this episode of Agencies That Build we are in conversation with Carl Smith, Owner, The Bureau of Digital. This organization trains upcoming leaders and supports agencies. Their focus on Digital Leadership, Business Development, Design Leadership, Operations, and Project Management has been invaluable to the digital agency landscape.

Before diving further into the session Casey brought out the Mjölnir for some classic myth-busting. Here are some of the myths that Carl busted for us:


  • There’s no work out there
  • If you show them how to do it, then they won’t need you
  • Clients only want to hear what’s great about their product

To start this goldmine of a session Carl ‘The Agitator’ opened with how it’s not true that there’s no work out there and people can’t get projects. He said that there’s tons of work, you just have to be flexible according to the current scenario and adapt.

Especially the agencies that specialize in a particular domain, if they’re doing only one thing for one group and that group doesn’t offer new requirements. They are left with only two choices. 

  1. Bounce and find somebody who needs you
  2. Find a new way to do things for the same audience. Reinvent yourself

Experimenting and taking up different things out of your specialization doesn’t necessarily make you a generalist because most successful shops are generalists, but they like to identify as specialists. 

About focusing forward Carl added

Don’t put online the company that you are, put online the company that you want to be. 

Ask your clients how you can fit in or help them. Talk. Don’t make money the first priority. The money will come. Money is the by-product of awesome. Create awesome and make your clients happy. When the clients are happy that’s when the work starts. 

“The clients you’ve right now will get you close to the clients you want”

Just don’t do something because other people are doing it. You have to look inside yourself. Find it is what you want to do, what you’re able to do and then find the mix right in the middle. And just go forward and be honest and talk to people.

Carl closed with some personal stories that we think would be a better experience on the podcast or YouTube because the energy on this session is infectious.   

TL;DR | Takeaways for Flexibility and Focusing Forward

  • In today’s climate, it is important to cater to your clients’ evolving needs and be flexible with them. How can you create a better relationship in the current world?
  • Generalists are what everyone wants out of individuals, but Specialists are what they want out of organizations. The most successful companies are those that are generalists but promote themselves as specialists.
  • Position yourself as who you want to become versus who you are right now. This will help grow your business, company, and community.
  • If you have to change the fabric of who you are to accomplish something then you have lost part of yourself.” Double down on what makes you different as a company and an individual.
  • Don’t always tell clients what is great about what they have. Sometimes it is better to show them the stuff they don’t want to hear.
  • Career advise from Carl Smith, Nothing matters as much as it feels like it does. Leslie Peters said, “Life is a quest, not a text.”


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