Dreams Come True: It Just Takes a Lot of Work

I was rather cocky when I started Young & Associates in 1982. I found a niche not being filled by focusing on technology.”You don’t know anything about technology,” they said. Friends warnings that  “no females own public relations firms” seemed a challenge. Being underfunded certainly was not going to stop me from leasing thrice the amount of space two and half of us would need.  “I’ll need the space to grow,” I countered. Starting with flagship account Intelmatique, an arm of France Telecom, would give me the base needed to grow. “You don’t even speak French and what if you lose them.” Oh, my, there are so many dream slayers out there.

Of course, there were ups and down. That is what business is all about. But, through it all I stayed pretty true to my mantra to “have a measurable impact on the business of our clients by reaching clearly defined goals.” From the beginning I deviated from the industry standard of time-based fees and instead focused on setting objectives, frequently reviewed, with a pre-determined retainer or project fee. With that team approach, we could tackle goals without a clock. We worked with large and small companies alike but it was the people who believed in us that carried us through 28 years – the list is long but you know who you are.

But, perhaps the most rewarding decision made was to seek out talented and spirited people to become a part of the team with a future in mind. The payoff is immeasurable. Not only did the agency have consistency (85 percent retention) but stars were groomed. Two of those bright and talented staffers are now taking over the ownership of the company. They are Jennifer MacLeid Qotb and Meggan Manson, who joined the company in 1996 and 2000, respectively. In fact, they have been successfully leading the company as principals for three years.  They are smart, tough, dedicated and love the business. We also are family. And, of course, many said, “Don’t try to sell your company to employees who also are friends.” Well, it took a while but we proved them wrong.

I will continue in the role of Chairman, but will be a supporter from the sidelines. And my dream, passing along the company and its ideals to the next generation, came true. I told you so.

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