Punching Through

punching through

On Friday, we had a great time with the team at our technology sponsors,Formstack , discussing small business software and their growth and success in the industry. One conversation really struck a cord with me and that was talking throughFormstack ‘s rebranding.

To give some background,Formstack was first launched as Formspring. When the team saw how popular their tool became at soliciting questions, they launched a tool just for that and named it Formspring, then rebranded their original tool Formstack. Formspring moved their headquarters to Silicon Valley andFormstack remained in Indianapolis.

As a friend of Ade and his company, I believe I even voiced my concern regarding the change and how it could impact search. But the change was made,Formstack had a solid branding thanks to the team at KA+A, and the incredible volume of Formspring users were happy… as was Formspring who united with the social media app leaders in Silicon Valley. The fact is, although it was painful, the best thing thatFormstack did was just punch through the noise, criticism and continue to service their customers.

Ultimately, it worked out fine… if not perfect.Formstack continues to grow and continues to remain agile and innovative – launching a Dropbox integration in the next few days that will explode their growth!

I’m not privy to the internal conversations that occurred atFormstack at the time, but I’m sure there was some mayhem… as well as a temptation to backtrack on the decision. As I work with more and more companies, though, I notice a common trait in successful companies. They punch through.

The fact is that sometimes the masses aren’t correct. And most of the time, the critics are absolutely wrong. Bloggers, journalists and other critics are writers and often have no business success of their own to qualify them for making suggestions on how a company should operate. When I started Highbridge, I watched and listened to everyone and my business was almost over as quickly as it began.

It wasn’t until I started speaking to people who had a track record for growing successful businesses that I began to pursue my own vision of what my business should be that my business became successful. Meetings with Chris Baggott, Kristian Andersen, Matt Nettleton, Harry Howe, David Castor, Todd Boyman, Adam Small, Doug Theis and Michael Cloran provided me with the inspiration to punch through. I changed my business substantially, lost a good friend over it, and listened to the murmurs in the region predict my demise.

But I punched through.

Highbridge as a formal business just surpassed 2 years and we now have 6 full-time employees and quite a collection of clients. We just signed Roche internationally, completed our first of many projects for VMware, and have incredibly loyal clients like Angie’s List, Zmags, Mindjet, TinderBox, Delivra, Right On Interactive and more. We have other clients who have returned after successful implementations… like ChaCha, Webtrends, and VA Loan Captain.

We punch through.

Our team is small and diverse, but we’re agile and we’re all aggressive at getting results. Jenn is an integral part of our team who keeps everything moving, Stephen pulls off all-nighters and miracles, Marty is a well of discovery and challenges our clients, Nikhil has incredible attention to detail, and Nathan is a rock-star designer who will be a name in the industry some day. All of our team has one thing in common – we punch through. We don’t listen to our naysayers, we’re plotting our own path. Our agency is like no other and even confuses some of our clients since they’ve never worked with a company like ours.

Stop listening to the masses and plot your own path. People will tell you that you can’t do things that you can. Client feedback on products and services helps the client… but may not be in the best interest of your company. Some customers are going to hurt your company and you need to learn how to get rid of them. Most people opt for the safe route, not the risky route.

Social media may be the worst influencer ever to companies… the crowd is not intelligent in its entirety, groupthink is the average – not the exception. If you wish to succeed, you must stop following and you must start leading.

Punch through.


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      Thanks @jaschakaykaswolff:disqus ! No doubt re: the current business and marketing changes that Mindjet is going through – I have no doubt with you at the helm that you’ll punch through and we’ll continue the unrelenting pressure to help you make it. As well, thank you for being such an inspiration and honest partner. You’ve helped push us in the directions we need to go and have been a huge factor in our continued growth and success.

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    Doug, thanks for having us on and thanks for the follow up post. I can assure you there was a bit of “mayhem” in those days. It’s amazing how having a solid app, awesome customers, and great leadership, can help you find the strength to push through. I’ve enjoyed watching you grow DK New Media and have never once doubted the things that you can do. You are a one man wrecking crew on your own, and now that you have a team I expect nothing but the best for you guys. Congrats on pushing through and growing your business.

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