When I was in my 20s, I was filled with angst.
The future seemed a vast and amorphous space. I had moved to Boston to find myself, but often felt lost and unsure about what to do next. I had graduated with a degree in journalism but had no clear picture of what career that prepared me for.
I could identify no term to describe what I was, or would become – like “doctor”, “engineer”, or “architect”. The closest I could come was “writer”. But the term felt too big at the time, like I was trying on clothes that didn’t quit fit.
I started out working in marketing – then later, back in Denver, as an editor for tourism magazines. The work left me feeling restless and unchallenged. I knew that I needed to follow my heart, to find a way to work on issues that mattered.
In my late-20s, I landed a job that put me at the intersection of communications and public policy, handling media relations for a prominent member of Congress.
Now I was working on important issues that were in the news and in the collective conversation. Issues that impacted peoples’ lives like:
- Providing family and medical leave
- Preventing gun violence – and violence against women
- Ensuring fair compensation for former spouses of military veterans
I was hooked – and there was no going back. I knew then that I couldn’t spend my career pumping out mindless copy for meaningless market share. I still didn’t know what to call my newly chosen field but I stuck with it – and committed to working on interesting issues. Eventually, I found my way to other like-minded professionals in a small new agency that became SE2.
During my nearly two decades at SE2, I’ve been blessed to work on important issues like:
- Preventing kids from smoking
- Strengthening community hospitals
- Providing preschool for four year olds
- Expanding Medicaid for families who need it
I’ve learned to write for a diverse array of audiences and instances. But also so much more than writing.
I’ve done (and redone) tasks that I was sure I had mastered, only to find there was a better way to do it. I’ve learned to challenge my own instincts and push myself to do things I didn’t know how to do. I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything in the world because that amalgam of challenge and learning and growth has always defined SE2 – and it continues to define us today.
We are still small, but also mighty. We work with clients from important and powerful organizations who choose us to help them advance their important and impactful issues. And we have some pretty good fun while doing it.
We follow every tangent, explore every rabbit hole, indulge in every digression – all in pursuit of asking questions and finding answers. We recognize that our culture is a unique and precious thing so we think about it, analyze it, talk about ways to improve upon it – all in the hope that we can become even better than we are today. Most of all, we share an understanding and collective commitment to the values that define us and bind us together.
Those values are far from just words or company jargon: They guide every aspect of how we do our work.
And so, as we wrap up 2018 and our 21st year as an agency, and prepare for the year ahead, we celebrate the accomplishments of the past year, acknowledge and welcome the challenges ahead, and think about the values that guide us.
| 1 | Work with purpose
- We value spending time on important issues that affect people’s lives because interesting, impactful work is what gets us out of bed every day and keeps us motivated year after year.
- Our clients work to educate kids and power communities. They keep people healthy and support the voting process. They work to make their own corporate cultures diverse and inclusive and protect kids from marijuana, tobacco and vaping products.
- Every day, we have a choice: to do the traditional marketing and advertising performed by the vast majority of agencies or to recommit to the narrow but important niche we have created.
- Every day, we choose the latter: to work with purpose.
| 2 | Curiosity and resourcefulness
- We value asking questions and searching for answers, and we look for ways to give every client the benefits of our best thinking.
- We demonstrate our commitment to this value by investing time and resources into teaching and learning from others and from one another.
- Because we know that if we’re not asking questions, we’re not learning. And if we’re not learning, we’re not growing.
- So we choose to ask questions, to seek answers, to be resourceful – and to find even better ways to do things.
| 3 | Going all-in
- We value our team and are committed to being great teammates. We treat each other, our clients and our vendors with respect, even when differences or frustrations occur.
- We support each other and take satisfaction in helping one another succeed.
- We go all-in for our clients and dig deep to understand their issues.
- We go the extra mile and spend the extra hour, because we know that they are often the most important mile or hour of all.
| 4 | Results and performance
- We value having a culture of accountability – for ourselves, our company and the work we produce for our clients.
- We embrace high standards and want to be surrounded by other high performers.
- We meet our deadlines, manage our budgets, and deliver top-quality work.
- We value efficiency, but never so much that it diminishes our commitment to excellence.
| 5 | Innovation and growth
- We understand that the world in which we live and work is changing rapidly – for us and for our clients.
- We want to be ready for the future by changing how we work today.
- So we stay abreast of the latest trends impacting our industry and work to innovate, in ways both small and large.
- We won’t be satisfied – as individuals or as a company – with the status quo because we know that to stay stagnant is to die.
- Instead we choose to learn, to innovate and to grow to meet the demands of the future.
Those are the values that guide SE2. They are the constellations that surround our North Star, our vision for the future.
As we prepare to welcome 2019, here’s to purpose and curiosity, to results and performance, and to innovation and growth. Thank you, everyone, for a great year. Here’s to a successful and impactful new year moving the meter on issues that matter.
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