Two-Day Chicago Biannual Rekindles Identity’s Fire
By: Andrea Trapani
I’ve talked often about the value of Identity’s biannual state-of-the-company meetings—a component of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) which has been foundational to the DNA of Identity for nearly two decades.
Traditionally, these have typically been full-day, off-site experiences focused on the state and future of the agency. But with the onset of our vision for #Identity2020 coming to life, and big goals and opportunities during the year ahead, we knew this January biannual had to be something different. Something bigger. And goodness, was it ever.
Bright and early on a Wednesday morning, our team boarded a charter bus for a two-day off-site biannual hosted at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in downtown Chicago. There is a saying that you should work with the people you wouldn’t mind being trapped in an airport with during a layover—try eight hours on a bus over the course of two days. (I’m happy to report we had a blast).
The experience was full of deep connections made and memorable moments. We even enlisted our resident trivia emcee, Brian, to conduct a special version of Quizzo trivia to keep our spirits high and the laughs loud during the ride to Chicago.
Once we reached our destination, it was game time. Time to dive into reflection on our incredible 2019 and what’s ahead for our growing, thriving agency.
Looking Back to Look Ahead
At Identity, we believe that information is power. We’re proud to share with our team the important stuff, including financial targets and data points as well as what worked and where we fell short. This level of transparency and trust allows our team to better visualize and execute their individual roles in achieving our collective mission and goals.
Five years ago, we set the course for an ambitious Identity 2020 vision. I’m proud to say we concluded 2019 on a high note—completing all of our major agency goals and continuing to build upon a powerful momentum that has already led to a strong start to 2020.
Right People, Right Seats
The best part of my role is to witness firsthand the personal and professional growth within our agency. As an agency committed to putting the right people in the right seat, it was inspiring—and emotional—to have our leadership team share several well-deserved promotions announced at our Chicago meeting.
I’m excited to see these talented gamelovers continue their incredible growth journeys with Identity. We truly have the best team in the business, and our people continue to elevate the work and expertise they bring to the table.
A Time for Self-Reflection and Connection
During our discussions, we had plenty of willing team members prepared to share their 2019 professional and personal experiences and vision for 2020.
While it was echoed by many that last year was their most challenging to date (personal and agency growth and the unknown can be scary!), it was overwhelmingly followed up by the sentiment that it made them stronger and better PR professionals and people. This cavalcade of personal growth and reflection was truly inspiring to witness.
Celebrating Together: Identity Style
After a jam-packed day of content, we decided to celebrate—Chicago AND Identity style. Our team hopped back on the bus for a short drive to Giordano’s Pizza, where we enjoyed an eight-course meal that included probably more food and drink than necessary with—of course—Chicago’s famous stuffed deep-dish pizza. It was crazy good.
We then took a pit stop to Identity’s brand-new downtown Chicago office. Many on our team had not yet seen the space, and this trip was the perfect opportunity for them to visualize this next and exciting chapter in our company’s continuing evolution.
Finally, our last stop on the celebration train was Three Dots and a Dash—an iconic speakeasy tiki bar in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Here, in our private room, we partied island-style with fruity cocktails (all in the middle of winter in Chicago!). Our nightcap was a literal treasure chest, filled to the brim with champagne and adorned with dozens of pirate-themed spoils. It was quite the memorable experience, to say the least. (Since this night we’ve heard from plenty of clients, media and partners who have their own Three Dots stories—please share with us!)
After a great night of team bonding, we woke up early the next morning and split the team up for two different activities—a physical challenge at SoulCycle, and a mental challenge featuring yoga and mind/body relaxation at the hotel. It was a great way to recharge (and release the toxins!) from the night before and prepare ourselves for the last day in Chicago.
Vision Is Nothing Without Execution
To start day two, we focused on how we bring our vision to life. Essentially, day two was all about operationalizing our goals and the critical steps we need to take to achieve them. This included rolling out refreshed creative processes, updating our accountability chart aligned with new roles and responsibilities as well as unveiling a progressive social philosophy as an agency —which you may have seen on Identity’s own social channels recently.
Finally, we closed out our 2020 kick-off by digging into what, exactly, makes Identity special. We believe in a strong culture with clear vision and expectations all while doing great work and having some fun.
As part of our culture conversation, I was also proud to bring back the Identity employee personal styling experience. Previously introduced two years ago, this program stems from my belief that everyone needs to have their own “superhero cape”— professional attire that makes them feel confident and comfortable. This is one way we can help breed great work. So, we’re giving our team the chance to connect with a Nordstrom personal stylist to assemble a customized superhero cape, based on each individuals’ unique personal style.
Up Next: Identity 2025
Building a bold vision for Identity 2020 has served us well—it has kept us focused and motivated. We’re ready to map out our plan for the next five years as we look to what’s ahead. With our biggest biannual yet behind us, we’re ready to tackle our next chapter with a crystalized Identity 2025 plan for the future.
Our team has never been more inspired, and leading this company to the next great place has never been more meaningful and exciting. Here’s to thinking bold and to what’s next.