Consulting and Photography in 2016

 (Geoff Livingston)
(The Space Shuttle Discovery)

Several folks have asked what I am doing now on the professional front in the post Tenacity5 era. I am focusing on independent consulting and photography in 2016.

Consulting remains my primary focus as it is my most valuable skill, and the one companies need the most. Give them what they want as they say, and it is something I feel very comfortable doing. I will say that I am being a bit more selective about clients as it is just me, specifically no ongoing community management accounts or the like.

This also means I will not build a new agency or a larger marketing company. Part of my reasoning to end Tenacity5 was that I did not want to invest the energy into starting a new company anymore. That remains as true now as it did six months ago. However, I am keeping the Tenacity5 site up to describe the services I am offering, but have deleted the primary Tenacity5 social media properties.

What About the Photography?

 (Geoff Livingston)
(Early Morning at Pier 3)

On the photography front, I am getting hired more frequently as a pro photographer, which is awesome! In fact I have three jobs this week alone, which is pretty cool. Overall, photography makes up about 10-15% of my current income, and for that I am grateful.

However, the fine art and landscape photography, while certainly a driver of social media engagement, is not producing great amounts of revenue. I believe this is in part due to distribution.

Combined, the photography is not enough to earn a living. I am exploring some possible gallery and distribution methods, but none of these will be a quick fix. Even if I am able to get my own space, I don’t anticipate that photography will become my primary business. Things could change, you never know, but for now it’s a nice secondary revenue stream.

If you want to help with my photography business you can buy or license a photo, or you can hire me to perform work for your business or custom portrait shots. I am referring personal events to my friend Camille Catherine.

What About a Job?

 (Geoff Livingston)
(Under the El)

I did conduct a job search for several months, and while there were some near misses, things have not worked out. Some of the experiences reminded me of why I left corporate America 10 years ago. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

Rather than continue the search, I have stopped looking completely. There will be no commute for me. Instead, I am taking the aforementioned consulting and photography route. I am able to do this thanks to my wife Caitlin, who successfully rejoined the government contracting community this past October.

That does not mean I won’t take a job or won’t listen to opportunities, but it is no longer a direction I am actively seeking.

I do want to thank everyone who inquired about what’s going on. You are good friends.

Sunsetting the Tenacity5 Brand

I am publishing this post with a profound sense of sadness. Over the past six months, Tenacity5 experienced a lovely spike in growth. It was followed by an epic collapse while I was in Africa, creating a challenging situation.

Some of the issues had to do with client acquisitions and reorganizations, but I would be lying if I didn’t note that some of our own mistakes contributed to this situation. Though they have been corrected, we have been grinding through the current slump for several months. Now I have decided to sunset the brand at the end of the year.

My decision to do this lies in three factors:

1) We’re not making great money.
2) The work we are getting is tactical and not highly engaging (social media community management, blogs, white papers).
3) The amount of effort needed to turn the company around is extremely demanding for a middle-aged man with a family.

Frankly, any one of these reasons would not be enough to stop me. Even two might be worth grinding through. All three, however, have forced some deep introspection and a decision to return to independent strategy consulting short term; some photojournalism work; and a new, more enjoyable challenge long term. I guess tenaciousness has its limits.

Erin Feldman will inherit our remaining content marketing accounts and execute on them through the rest of the year (and hopefully beyond). She is a fantastic marketing program creator and writer. I want to thank her for all of her hard work over the past two years. Erin is literally the best employee I have ever had, and a tremendous team player. My hat is off to you, “Write Right”.

We will keep the Tenacity5 site up for any residual leads. Peace to those who have supported us during the past two years. I am grateful for our experiences together.

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Introducing Tenacity5 Media

The Lady Soleil logo and naming kerfuffle a couple of weeks ago sent me in a different direction. Since then I developed and built a new brand for my company, “Tenacity5 Media.”

What does Tenacity5 Media mean? Tenacity and media are self evident, but the five is unique to me. The number represents the five principles I believe brands should keep an undying focus on to achieve their missions. They form the core of my company’s mission to develop great marketing campaigns.

The five tenacity maxims are:

1) Courage: Companies must be strong in the face of fear. Bold marketing wins, while safe approaches often guarantee middle-of-the-pack performance, or worse.

2) Resilience: Marketing takes time. Quick successes validate programs and are necessary, but to win a community’s loyalty, companies need to commit for the long haul. Smart brands attend to the now while building for the future.

3) Attentiveness: In an attention economy that depends on what others say about you, companies need an unrelenting focus on the customer. From research to outreach to service, marketing revolves around the customer experience.

4) Fluidity: Technology and media are in a consistent state of flux. As a result, norms for communication also change continually. Companies must adapt to evolving media.

5) Mindfulness: Every company is made up of people, and every person lives in a larger world. Our actions create impact, both positive and negative. Mindful companies build products and services that contribute to the larger welfare of our collective community.

Moving forward, you can see the company’s web site. It includes the services my company will offer in the near term. There are also links to Tenacity5’s Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter pages. While a Facebook page has been created, I am not going to maintain it in the short term.

The Tenacity5 Media brand is a trademark of Lady Soleil, Inc., which was the fastest most affordable way to approach the rebrand. As my independent publishing is also maintained by the company, I intend to build out a Lady Soleil, Inc. web site to explain the business and claim its brands publicly.

I do want to thank everyone for their feedback. And I want to thank Aaron Mahnke at Wet Frog Studios for his quick work on the logo. In the end, I feel like I ended up with a brand that is much more authentic and representative of my approach towards marketing and media.

Will There Be Any Difference?

Tenacity5 represents my third attempt at scaling a company. The first concluded with the sale of Livingston Communications to CRT/Tanaka (now Padilla/CRT). The second ended for me when the three founders of Zoetica split ways.

It’s fair to ask, what will be different about Tenacity5?

First, I have zero intention of ever selling the company, or bringing on equity partners. Never say never, but there is no exit plan, rather a commitment to build something to last through the decades. I don’t enjoy employment, and I know this intrinsically. This is my path.

Second, I want to scale this company, and build something significantly larger than a boutique shop. In studying others who have built social media empowered agencies of 30 or more people over the past decades, I have noticed a unifying characteristic: They focus relentlessly on contributing to the market with ideas and best practices. At the same time, they tend not to get distracted or caught up in the day-to-day hubris of the sector. They rise above politicking and gossip even though they may be the subject of it. Some are A-listers, others are not.

This personal brand/reputation issue has been a problem in the past.

Personal attention can become an unnecessary distraction on the road to corporate growth. You can have both, but I see many A-Listers with really small boutiques, and as many large agencies with no well known employee in the blogosphere. Building a company around an omnipresent personality can be helpful, but it is not a necessary component of attracting customers and building a scaleable company.

Third, in the past my efforts included an unfortunate tendency to keep projects too long; specifically, employees and clients who did not perform well. These difficulties were crippling (in my opinion).
In the past I cared too much about those that should have moved on, and kept investing in them, partly out of guilt. By doing so I excerbated situations and probably made them exponentially worse. I think all parties suffered greatly as a result.

This is a core business issue. Effective business managers let people go when they aren’t working out. Building a great business revolves around hiring strong talent that delivers, nothing less and nothing more. A great executive knows this, and manages their roster accordingly.

You can always help someone after they leave with decent severance, out-placement, references, etc. And doing unlikeable things is part of any job.

What principles govern your business?