Apr 9 2009
We are announcing the acquisition of Livingston Communications this morning by CRT/tanaka (original tight race image by Jani Kajala). The deal closed on Tuesday, March 31. As part of the acquisition, we will cease to trade as Livingston Communications, and become the Washington, DC office for CRT/tanaka.
Personally, I am thrilled by this move. As I mentioned in a prior post, social media adoption is in full swing now. The time is coming when this media form will no longer be special and become fully integrated into the larger communications mix. I’d rather not wait three years for it to happen. You can see CRT/tanaka CEO Mark Raper’s views in his blog post.
CRT/tanaka is an outstanding firm with a strong reputation in the PR and advertising space. And we have developed a reputation for strong, results-oriented social media programs. The acquisition brings us back into the larger communications fold, and together we intend to make CRT/tanaka one of the early firms to integrate social media across the front line.
To start our efforts together on the right foot and continue the social media ethos we’ve established, we published a white paper on the Cultural Challenge to Integration. It is based on a recent series of Buzz Bin posts. Enterprises seeking to adapt social media can use this white paper to help address one of the primary barriers to success.
Five Lessons Learned
This marks the end of a three-year entrepreneurial endeavor for me, from the basement to award-winning author, through boom and recession to a successful conclusion. There are some things I’ve learned along the way, which I’d like to share:
1) Your personal life means more: Being an entrepreneur requires 60-100 hours of your week. And you and your family suffer for it.
An executive’s life isn’t much easier, but there’s less responsibility and weight on your shoulders. I value a renewed relationship with my wife much more than being “the man,” and as a result look forward to being more present for her. I wish I knew this three years ago, but the resulting lessons have created a better husband. To my wife, Caitlin (pictured above), I love you.
2) Personal branding and companies don’t mix well: One of the biggest challenges I’ve had was the short-sighted mistake of putting my name on the door. The resulting scaling problems were always a point of contention, and we actually seriously considered rebranding as Verv Communications last spring. We didn’t because of the timely equity behind “Geoff Livingston” and Now Is Gone.
This experience is still one of the primary reasons why I fight personal branding tooth and nail. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to work under a banner without my name on it. It will be good to become a worker amongst workers in name now as well as spirit. And if I ever start a company again it won’t be named Livingston. Team social media, heck, just team period. That’s the way of companies.
3) Being an employer will make me a better employee: Oh, now I get where my bosses came from. And I think I owe a few of them amends. :) Amazing how it feels to have the shoe on the other foot. Thanks to my prior employers for the experience and the lessons learned. Even if it took me starting this company to learn them.
4) It’s not all that. I’m not Chris Brogan, but I’m not John Doe either. Yet, you can tell by my irreverence towards nano-fame that it doesn’t mean much to me. In fact, it can be much more of a nuisance than a benefit with issues like privacy, heckling, etc. For me, what does mean something is benefiting society though strong actions, helping a client, showing someone a way to help grow themselves, and generally, just being kind and giving.
Nano-fame should be a non-conditional by-product of doing the right thing as opposed to the ultimate goal. Winning means accomplishing something. What do you want to do? Be known or do something that impacts your world?
5) Don’t announce a deal until it is closed. I still have the utmost respect for Maggie Fox and crew at Social Media Group. But I think it’s safe to say that both Maggie and I wish we had gone through the paces quietly and found out our cultures did not mix on the side rather than the civil, yet public break-up we experienced.
At the same time, there’s a second lesson from the failed acquisition with SMG. You can fail, get up and try again. In fact, you can succeed where you have failed in the past.
Over the Spring we will be rolling over our branding to CRT/tanaka. And thus this chapter is now gone. Thank you to everyone for their support over the past few years.
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