In this episode, we define what a unicorn is and why we're building a boutique agency full of them. With the workforce trending towards independent contractors, we're collecting the best ones in the world and setting them free to bring their full selves to work – skill sets, experiences, and personalities. But first, we talk about mullets.
Okay, let us first set expectations that this is not a fun internet quiz. It's a chance for us to tell you – really quick – where we got our name from.
You know that feeling when someone just gets you? And you get them? And before you know it, you're finishing each other's sandwiches?
Our company is built upon that – the core belief that if you can have Spirit Animals in real life, then you should be able to have them in business, too.
Why? It's simple.
1/3 of our lives are spent at work. Let that sink in.
Seriously. Life is too precious to squander it by doing work you don't want to be doing with people you don't want to be doing it with. So why not work with some of the most talented, fun humans on the planet?
As a result, we LOVE our clients and we LOVE our contractors – er, Unicorns. We have hard conversations together, celebrate epic successes together, learn lessons together, and feel like we're truly in everything together. We've all experienced companies saying, "We're unique b/c we operate like a real partner..." so we get it if you're tempted to roll your eyes and say, "Heard that one before."
Because, we had too. We just didn't give up on it.
The first thing to know is that there are startup unicorns and there are human unicorns. In this post, we'll be focusing on the latter.
A startup earns the term "unicorn" when it gets a valuation of 1 billion dollars. A human earns the term when they kick-a at so many things, it's impossible to put them in a box.
Put simply, both are called unicorns because they're extremely rare – and thus, extremely valuable.
Unicorns are real
If you've ever met a person and said, "Is there anything they can't do?" – you may have found yourself a unicorn. Their insatiable curiosity and profound sense of confidence compel them to learn by doing. This is why they tend to generally master so many things.
You can't put a unicorn in a box
Not only is it incredibly difficult to give this person a job title, it's even more difficult to keep them operating within that job boundary. If misunderstood or devalued, this will inevitably create tension on teams. If leveraged, this can be game changing.
Unicorns are the startup's secret weapon
In early stages, startups don't have the resources to hire a huge team of people to evenly and clearly divide up the work. Instead, they look for unicorns – the ones who can blur past boundaries to get to good work – and testable work – fast.
This may look like someone who can do UX, UI, and code. Or perhaps an individual who can be client-facing, lead the digital strategy, and – not only direct a team of creatives – but roll up their own sleeves and help do the work.
What some companies hire 3 or 5 people to do, a unicorn has the experience and speed to do themselves. The results will often be shorter timelines, lower costs, and a heightened sense of ownership.
Unicorns can be hard to keep
Even still, it's not impossible. Here are a few tips on how to keep a unicorn challenged and happy:
Unicorns are magical
And we've been "collecting" them for years. We're a consulting firm and digital agency that is 100% contractor-based, which allows us to build custom teams for our clients. We like to say, "We deploy people. We don't employ them." Our favorite thing in the world is understanding what a client needs and creating a custom team to help solve that challenge.
Unicorns love working with us because of the pipeline of great work and clients we provide them. And clients love us because our unicorns end up feeling like their "Spirit Animal" (which is how we got our name, by the way.)
In fact, every time we've been able to get a client on camera for a case study video, they've used the word magical.
Are you a unicorn? Tell us more.
Would you like to experience one? Reach out.
It's an idea stolen from tech, rooted in the practice that collaboration is crucial and perfection is not the goal. Together, the agency and the client runs fast and hard (hence, the sprint). The creative process is iterative. And the goal is to create something that is good enough to give you data. (We call this an MVP or minimum viable product.
We've applied this methodology to content.
We're celebrating over here at Spirit Animal because we just sprinted with a health care brand, resulting in 70 assets in 2 months:
How'd we do it? We created an infographic to help break it down for you.