Gun For Hire: Independence

Over the past twelve months I have been freelancer, hourly employee, salaried employee, and member of the largest employee-owned advertising agency in the United States of America. The adventure continues today, and it feels fitting on this Fourth of July to say a few words about independence.

I have written at length about being a knowledge worker, both for myself and as part of a team. Finding 40Digits was one of the best things I have ever done in my “career.” I say, “one of” because the lessons my father taught me about work have been foundational in just about every business decision I have made. No trumping that one.

Influences and Products

Working in the web field is a funny business. I guess you could say that about a lot of things, but this space evolves fast and slow adopters get left behind. Even with the changing times and technology, there’s a set of business practices that never grow old, things that should be staples for any industry: honesty, respect for others, and a willingness to put in the time.

When you make something, you’re taking a piece of yourself and embedding it into something else. That may be physical, like the sweat from your hands, or it may be intangible, like your life experiences that draw you toward colors, shapes, or moods. All of these things are hard to quantify, but they are very real products of our work. When 40Digits announced that Barkley was acquiring our company, the first concern was what kind of “mark” they would leave on us. What types of influences would they bring, how could we contribute to something so large, and what would we do together in the future?

Balancing Autonomy

Even the most independent workers in the world need to bur shoulders with other people. Humans are relational creatures, we need the interaction and accountability. We need someone to ask, “Are you going out there dressed like that?” and listen to our half-crazed ideas for solving problems. One of our biggest strengths at 40Digits is the way we embrace Open-Book Management, which means that everyone plays a role by being totally aware of every decision the company makes. We are excited for Barkley to learn from that transparency, just as we hope to learn from their time-tested standards for creating strong companies.

So while we exist completely in the shadow of the large white-and-red rocket, we get to keep doing what we’ve been doing. It’s a funny balance between maintaining our DNA and being absorbed into the larger organism. I’m pretty excited for the opportunity to be part of that transition.

I wrote a short “getting to know you” piece for their newsletter, which I really believe reflects the tone we have going forward. We are excited and have already hit the ground running! Stay tuned.

“Every Digit Counts”

Every kid wants to be an astronaut, but climbing into the red and white rocket was daunting for our digital agency. We thrive behind the curtain, supporting your team from the launchpad, so this step was a giant leap for 40Digits.

Our captains, Josh Burch and Chris Langston, partnered together in 2003 to build one simple website. Over ten years and twenty additional digits later, they still model the same values: go above and beyond, communicate clearly, be responsible, honest, and open-minded, always build a positive, family spirit by being approachable. You’ll find their humble leadership drives us to be fiercely loyal and give our work everything we can offer.

The robots? Our drones are not mere cold computing power; each of them have a unique personality, just like the bios on our website. While we love in-jokes and qwerky sci-fi references, the robots remind us that big results happen only when individual workers unite under a common banner. Every single digit is important. We do what it takes to produce great work, we aren’t afraid to admit when we mess up, and we always look for ways to add good to the world around us.

Sometimes we keep to ourselves, but we’d love to meet you and share a few laughs. Just don’t ask us to choose between Star Trek and Star Wars unless you have time to give us your theories. This is serious business.

At the end of the day, it’s all about developing solutions to fix problems. We spend our days making other agencies look good, always at the ready to be your dedicated digital partner. We are 40Digits, and we are confident that our best work is yet ahead of us as a proud member of the Barkley family.

By CK Hicks

Greetings! I'm a life-long innovator and "heartful technologist" with 13+ years professional experience as a Developer. My primary passion is crafting experiences that enable compelling, human-first storytelling.

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