Lindsay Rogers is one damn impressive entrepreneur. She co-founded her creative content agency Chello when she was only 25 years young, turning over $700,000 in the first year. Her business acumen has gained her many awards, including (and certainly not limited to) Forbes 30 Under 30, Telstra’s Young Business Woman of the Year, Mumbrella, and B&T.
Being a young woman in business
“In the early days of starting the business, quite a few people were probably shocked by my challenging ideas or pushing the way things have been done previously. And that’s probably what ended up leading to some of our growth today. As long as it’s done in a respectful way and it’s backed by some sort of insight or research or something, that’s, you know, out of a good place, I think bringing new ideas to the table and having a variety of thoughts, it benefits everyone.”
Mike asks Lindsay if she’s seen a difference in the acceptance of women in business since she started.
“A hundred per cent,” she answers. “there’s a lot more women in media, women in marketing, in awards and opportunities and roles opening up to that. I think the conversation’s definitely broadening.”
Creating great culture
Mike and Lindsay both care a great deal about cultivating great company culture. As a founder or business leader, the culture often starts with you and trickles down to the rest of the team. There are, of course, processes or traditions that you can implement to actively cultivate culture, like team building activities.
“I think culture for us has definitely evolved, as it used to be about Friday drinks and cheese boards and social activities, which it still is,” explains Lindsay. “But as we’ve grown older, we’ve recognised the need for career development and learning, for people to feel socially connected, but also feel like their career is heading in the right place.
When you’re a business of 20 people, there’s obviously a limit to how many roles are available in somebody’s career progression above that. So if we don’t necessarily have the structure of a large agency, how can we kind of remove the lid off their roles and help people to grow personally and professionally through the business?”
The importance of diversity
“I’ve always sort of hired and also judged myself against hiring the best person possible, regardless of background,” says Lindsay. “But we do really try and make sure we’ve got variety of thought in gender diversity, ethnicity, age, and background. Because for us in the creative industry, we’re only really as good as our creative ideas. If we start to hire very similar people, whether that’s women or men or anyone, then we get very same-y and our ideas become redundant. So diversity for us is kind of a lifeblood,” concludes Lindsay. “We have to keep hiring people with different backgrounds and different ideas because that’s where the future of business lives.”
A human approach to acquisitions
Lindsay’s ability to really care about the people she works with enables her to build lasting professional relationships. This fact is illustrated beautifully in the case of Digilante. Chello acquired digital agency Digilante in 2019, and somehow managed to keep jobs and professional relationships intact.
“I can only take half credit for the acquisition because it really was also very much about what they brought to the table at the start,” says Lindsay. “We obviously went through due diligence and made sure it was a good fit for all of us. But I think it was a mutual decision to put relationships first, putting all cards on the table and just a human approach to the acquisition.
“And then we were just really open and honest, both with our separate teams. We told them at exactly the same time on the same day, to make sure that there were no unfair discussions or discussions that were kind of separate. So we had a lot of meetings – we probably over-communicated, which felt really cumbersome, but everyone knew updates all the time.
We were on the same page: we were really clear with their clients and our clients. You know, we were clear with the press, clear with each other. We really are invested in the relationship first and foremost, and then reviewed and iterated.”
It takes a lot of time and effort to create good company culture, and even more to fill that company with a diverse team. Looking at Lindsay’s story, we can’t ever imagine a scenario where putting in this effort won’t be worth it.
If you resonate with anything said here today, check out our blogs for founders here, where you can find more inspiring stories and advice.
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