The world needs diverse voices to rise up and shape a more sustainable and inclusive future. Entrepreneurs Jessica Hartley and Lucy von Sturmer, partners of impact-driven thought leadership agency The Humblebrag, are on a mission to support a new generation of leaders to do just that.
The world needs diverse voices to rise up and shape a more sustainable and inclusive future. Entrepreneurs Jessica Hartley and Lucy von Sturmer, partners of impact-driven thought leadership agency The Humblebrag, are on a mission to support a new generation of leaders to do just that. While expanding scope and making a senior full-time hire during COVID-19 has not come without its worries, the partners are confident that the world needs more of what their agency can bring to the table.
Rixt Herklots, Director of The Next Women sat down with partners to learn how the company is doing during COVID-19, how they’re adapting and evolving, and what the future has to bring.
Photo credit: Robert Harrison
How has your business changed in these uncertain times?
Lucy: With all in-person events cancelled or postponed, we’ve had to pivot to find our clients new platforms and opportunities to be visible and share their stories. I feel grateful that a lot of our work is in online community building and editorial content strategy, and for me personally, lockdown has provided the chance to really focus on new offerings in this space and ramp up our digital efforts.
We’ve launched a series of free online discussions featuring experts, innovators, and future leaders, a podcast featuring bold and brave leaders, and taken our in-person courses online. We’ve evolved our two day course into a four week online offering, which actually provides participants with much more scope to get the most out of the training, and more time for us to work with, and get to know them. This time round we have participants from Germany, Spain and the UK, so it’s been exciting to expand the reach of our offering and go truly global.
Photo credit: Robert Harrison
What measures are you currently taking?
Jess: We’re all working at home – which in my case means homeschooling in between calls – and we’re being quite inventive in coming up with new solutions and different ways of working with our clients to support them in this changed landscape. Offering more opportunities to put their stories in the spotlight, making sure to bring new perspectives on how to handle their communications during this time, and collaborating with them ‘in the trenches’ to embrace new opportunities. The launch of our branded panel discussions is the first of these new offerings – and we have more in the pipeline these coming weeks.
The good thing about this crisis is that it’s a chance for all of us – brands, agencies and consultants – to really re-evaluate what we stand for, to think about what’s unique about our proposition – and go back to the core of what we’re doing and refine it. It’s a rare and unique chance for us all to put our house in order.
Also, we’re all forced to innovate at a higher speed than previously. COVID-19 has forcefully pushed us off the hamster wheel, which in retrospect is a necessary thing. Obviously it’s been uncomfortable, as normally change comes slowly. This time it came in a single day.
Illustration credit: Veronica Comin
How do you arrange everything with your staff?
Jess: Literally the week before we realized what the impact of COVID-19 was going to mean, which is a drop in some of our traditional revenue streams, we had signed the dotted line on a key new hire. Luckily, we had chosen to recruit someone who’s not only right for the “job,” but is connected to our mission – and is as motivated as we are to make The Humblebrag a success.
Lucy: We don’t intend on replicating a traditional agency model – with a big roster of staff – but want to keep our core team personal and small, working with a wider roster of epic freelance talent across projects and campaigns. That had already been our intention, but seeing the strain of COVID-19 on companies has only confirmed that this model is right for us.
We also work with a few part-timers, and currently have one team member in California, NYC and one in Stockholm. We work to ensure there is a regular rhythm in the day; and while it’s not easy to get everyone on one call – we do a ZOOM call at the beginning/each of each second day to stay connected and inspired.
What opportunities do you see at the moment?
Now is the time for leaders to stand up and be bold, embrace risk, and drive business as a force for good.
Positive thought to conclude with:
“We need to organise our work better ánd smarter” says Martine Meijburg. Meijburg founded Second Degree in 2013; the first LinkedIn marketing agency (worldwide). A success, as the agency became one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands (Silver FD Gazellen Award in 2016), servicing clients such as Philips, KLM and Microsoft.
Martine is an author, public speaker and was listed in The Next Women 100 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and the Adformatie100 in 2017. She shares with us her experiences as an entrepreneur and member of The Next Women.
She got into the world of recruitment because she showed talent for it and acted on that: at TNW we love playing out your strengths. Now, with her own company and being a mother of two, Dayanara Vonk Ilaria reflects on her journey: “Leadership really is learning how you can influence yourself.”