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What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

By June 11, 2013Creativity, Events

The Good Stuff

I know, I know. Typically this is an assignment undertaken at the end of the summer and not before it technically begins. (Although, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever actually been assigned this essay. Not even in elementary school when it was more of a crayon-based operation than an actual paper).

But this (almost) summer, Mack Web Solutions is getting to the good stuff early and we want to share.

(Also, we want to explain, in advance, why you won’t be able to reach us in the latter half of this week. Because we know you’d worry and, frankly, we don’t want to have to deal with the aftermath of the missing persons’ reports. The Ice Cream Break Debacle of 2011 taught us that).

So consider this your official notice…this Thursday and Friday, June 13 & 14, Mack Web Solutions will be out of the office and out of your grasp because we will be in…


(I know, I know. When Mack first announced it, I was desperately hoping for Hawaii, too).

Better Than Hawaii! (If you hate sun, sand, surf, and fruity drinks with umbrellas)

Okay, so it’s no island paradise, but we actually are really excited for this chance to take this time away and make good on something we promised ourselves to do: treat Mack Web like a client.

It’s been a goal that we’ve been working toward (with no little success) for the last year or so but, as with every client, it’s time to move on to the next phase of our growth.

Even though we’ve been around now for ten (that’s right, count ‘em: ten) years, the company has undergone such an evolution in the last 12 (er…16) months, that we really felt like we were re-setting the clock.

(Which is not going to stop us from having a celebratory blow-out worthy of the decade mark later this year).

So, appropriate to the re-genesis, we set some goals for ourselves last spring and we’ve spent a good part of the last year really trying to accomplish them.

The return on that investment has been beyond what we expected and, if we’ve talked a lot about it, it’s only because we’re so giddy-happy with the results of what started, essentially, as an experiment. A well-conceived, carefully-considered, painstakingly-researched experiment, but an experiment nonetheless.

Mad Science

That experiment, of course, was a little thing we like to call…Innovation Friday.

If you’ve worked with us, heard of us, chatted with us at all, you probably know a thing or two about Innovation Friday.

From 12-5 (almost) every Friday, we stop checking our email or answering our phone. We bar the doors and sequester ourselves in our offices with a plentiful stash of paper, smelly markers, and chocolate, and go about the business of making Mack Web the company that we want it to be.

This takes different shapes based on the stage of evolution we’re in at the time.

Sometimes we get to laugh and dream and throw candy wrappers and get a little high off fruit-scented markers and indulge our inner creatives.

Sometimes we just take the time to offer kudos, air grievances and frustrations, secretly psychoanalyze each other, and really, truly communicate.

Sometimes we have to knuckle down and slog through the hard, painful, punctilious work of sorting out the details of the model we want to build.

Every time we learn new things, whether from Mack, from each other, from our industry idols, or from our interactions with you lovely people in our community.

No matter what kind of Friday it is, the overarching aim is always the same: a sacred time and space where we can focus on us, so that we can

a) become this company that we’re proud to be part of and
b) become the version of our company best able to serve our clients.

What’s coming up this week is just a continuation in that grand tradition of deliberate growth and cultivation. (Including, but not limited, to the unquestionable cornucopia of comestibles).

Egg? Chicken?

Our Mack, in case you hadn’t picked up on it, spends a lot of time pondering ways to guide Mack Web Solutions down the path that our love of just, plain old doing things right necessitates.

It’s a beautiful trait of hers and one that we, her (almost always) adoring employees appreciate. But there comes a time when even one so grand as Our Boss Lady doesn’t have the knowledge or resources to carry on alone.

So when she was setting resolutions for the company this year, she laid out, in black and white, that she would not be afraid to ask for help.

She has followed through on that in two ways so far this year. First was in bringing in an HR consultant to help us find the right team members (a stunning success so far, but more on that coming soon).

Second, she got in touch with a strategical operations consultant. Which brings us, full circle, back to our plans for summer vacation.

(And to the ever-unresolvable question: Did our desire for excellence lead us to Strat Ops or did Strat Ops feed our desire for excellence?)

Operative Strategery

I know, I know. Strat Ops sounds so very espionage-esque (and if I’m harboring secret hopes that our consultant will turn out to be Sydney Bristow in disguise…well, that’s just between you and me), but it’s actually a huge planning session for the future of our company and (indirectly) maybe some of yours, too.

So here’s the nitty gritty:

  • two days
  • six team members
  • one consultant
  • ten years in review
  • three to five years in projection
  • ten brand new smelly markers (it would be a sin to forget those)
  • approximately a metric ton of chips, popcorn, dried mangoes, and various forms of sweet, seductive tooth-rot-in-a-wrapper

That’s the summary.

The long-version involves a lot more heart-to-hearts about dreams and goals, candid talk about roles within in the team, uncomfortable chats about financials, and the laying-out of a concrete strategy for moving forward.

We’ll be re-examining who we are as a company and as individuals in relationship with each other, re-establishing what we do, and re-defining who we do it for.

We’ll be revisiting our mission, vision, and values. We’ll be putting absolutely everything about ourselves under the microscope and seeing what we see.


I figure it’s going to end in one of two ways.

  1. Either we’re all going to come out of this thing a collective bundle of paranoid, traumatized neuroses in the throes of a full-blown existential crisis, OR
  2. We’re going to come out better, stronger, faster, with a definite plan for the future.

Obviously, the hope and plan is for the latter.

To that end, we’ll be practicing what we preach and setting the next set of big goals for ourselves.

And from those goals we will be developing a solid, defined strategy that will sustain and accelerate the momentum we’ve been building this year.

Because THE GOAL, the big daddy of what we want to accomplish, remains unchanging:

We want to help companies who align with our values and culture to build their brands and their communities and to accomplish big goals for their businesses.

(Also, we want to discover if it is actually possible to eat your body-weight in gummy bears).

Pardon the Mess

So don’t mind us as we duck out of your lives for a few days. We know it’ll be a wrench, but we have confidence in your ability to get by.

And don’t worry about us too much either. We’re not strangers to change and we’re more than willing to do the hard work.

After all, we constantly tell our clients that you can’t rest on your…laurels…if you want to be great. What kind of company, what kind of people would we be if we didn’t apply that to ourselves?

(Bad, lazy, hypocritical people, on par with those who talk in the theater, that’s what).

But hey, coming soon to a cafe-proximal office near you…the new and improved Mack Web Solutions.

Keep an eye out. You’re gonna like what you see.

(Unless we go with Ending #1. In which case, we’d appreciate it if you call the nice men in the white coats. We won’t be in any state to do it).



Author Courtney Brown

More posts by Courtney Brown

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Ronell Smith says:


    It’s great to see a founder/CEO commit to the betterment of their own company, not just talk about it. I’m convinced that true leadership starts by example, so MWS is in good hands.

    Enjoy the ensconcement.


  • Elise says:

    As if I couldn’t love you guys even more, you go and post photos from Alias AND Firefly?!!! Be still, my heart.

    • Courtney says:

      We do what we can. And there are certainly things that are universally, if tacitly, understood to be awesome. At least by awesome people.

      And we like awesome people rather a lot.

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