Leading by Example: Lessons from an Office Dog

May 10, 2019

BSTRO is 15! Over those 15 years, hundreds of dynamic companies have given us their trust and their work, from big brands like Johnson’s Baby, Bandaid, and AT&T to startups like Roku, Eaze, and Illumio that went on to become big brands. We’ve worked with entrepreneurs, non-profits, and nearly every type of company in between. In 15 years, we went from one woman, working at her kitchen table, to one of the top digital agencies in San Francisco, Vancouver, and New York. What’s our secret? Well, we have something no one else does.

We have Sydney: office dog extraordinaire, and the wisest, laziest member of the BSTRO team.

You might think Syd knows nothing about digital marketing and isn’t really an employee. Well, you’d be right. Syd can’t handle your social media outreach.

But Sydney has been at BSTRO since the beginning. And she leads by example. Here are some of the things we keep closest to our hearts.

Choose joy

One of BSTRO’s mantras is to choose joy. Like Marie Kondo, if it doesn’t bring us joy, it has to go. That’s sometimes hard for humans like us. For Sydney, it’s effortless. Sydney does what she wants, when she wants, and doesn’t waste her time on things that don’t make her happy. Be more like Sydney. Choose joy.

Be consistent

For 15 years, Sydney has been pretty much exactly where you expect her to be. Normally that’s curled up on her panda bed. She’s happy there, and shows up every single day. Syd is consistent, and consistency is key in an agency environment. The world is going to change around you every single day. You can’t control that. But you can bring stability and calm. Be the constant.

Be discerning

When Syd was a puppy, she enthusiastically welcomed everyone who came to the office. She didn’t discriminate, thrilled as she was to get any attention. As she has grown older – 15 is a seriously senior dog – she started being more discerning as to what and whom she gives her energy. As we have matured, we’ve followed Syd’s lead. We no longer leap to take any job that comes our way. It takes discipline and experience to pass on love, money, and attention. But you should do it. It feels so much better to choose suitors that suit you.

Be straightforward

Syd asks for what she wants. She never expects people to read her mind; she’s not subtle and doesn’t dance around an issue. When she’s hungry, she marches over to her food bowl, and scratches until someone fills it up. When she needs to go out, she stands in front of the door. Following in her tiny, direct footsteps, we try to clearly ask ourselves, our teammates, and our clients for the things we need.

Embrace change

Syd makes a startling transformation from little Ewok to adorable baby deer about every six months. A good trim can change everything. The same is true for copy, design, and processes: don’t be afraid of gratuitous edits, trimming, and throwing away what’s not working. Change can pave the way for better things, so don’t get too attached. Embrace the change.

Focus on now

Syd has #noregrets. Sure, sometimes she pees on the floor, and that’s a little gross, but you don’t see her brooding about it later filled with angst and self-doubt. Sometimes people – and dogs – make mistakes. As long as your intentions are earnest and you learn something from it, there’s no need to waste time living in the past. When you do, you miss out on all the ‘now’ that’s happening all around you.

Do what you’re good at

Syd does approximately three things in the office: sleep, eat, and wander around. If Syd was human, she’d probably obsess over a million things at once. But Sydney is a dog. She’s very good at sleeping and eating and wandering around, and she need not do anything else. BSTRO likes to keep similarly focused. We know where we excel: helping our clients look better, sound better, and succeed as a business online. Flights of fancy can be exciting, but people hire you for what you’re good at. Play to your strengths.

Show your appreciation

Syd shows her appreciation generously. Really, this is a dog thing in general. The baseline for receiving immense amounts of affection from a dog is feeding them, taking them for walks, and giving occasional belly rubs. It’s not that complicated, and being on the receiving end of unbridled gratitude makes a person feel good. Genuine thank you’s feed the circle of kindness. 

Love being needed

Here’s something everyone is guilty of from time to time – being thankful and excited for work, every day, for the whole day. We’re human, after all. Humans get tired and they get grouchy. Sometimes when a new urgent task comes in at 4:50pm, it can be hard to hold back a groan. But beneath the surface, that new task is a blessing, because it means someone needs help and chose to call you. If you’re not needed, you probably won’t have a job for long. Sydney is always excited to come to work and we try to follow her example. After all, we get to spend our days creative problem solving, with smart people who approach work with curiosity, joy, and often, great humor. We think our clients and co-workers become more successful because they feel how much we love being in it with them.

Okay, you caught us. This whole article was just an excuse to look at pictures of Sydney. We apologize for nothing. She’s adorable, right? You can come pet her… but you’ll have to schedule a consultation with BSTRO first. It’s a win-win for you.

By Ryan McGuire – Creative Strategist