Today on the show we are joined by Alana Range. Alana is a designer, photographer, digital storyteller, and founder of Radish Lab. Radish Lab is an award-winning, full-service interactive creative agency focused on design for social impact. They help social change-makers and organizations create and tell compelling digital stories that deeply engage their audiences. The team at Radish is made up of people who genuinely love what they do and who they work with. They are innovative designers, masters of collaboration, and full of good ideas. In today’s episode Alana shares her story of building a successful creative agency with us. We also dive into her passionate, yet grounded in the real world, insights behind the joys and the challenges of running an agency facing a conflict between pure profit and positive impact.
[0:00:05.8] ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to Happy Porch Radio. The podcast for progressive
agency owners and web professionals. Season three is focused on the growing number of
agencies who are making the world a better place.
We explore what this even means, why is it different from any other agency and how can it be
reconciled with the real-world challenges of running a profitable agency? Join your host, Barry
O’Kane as he speaks to leaders of agencies who are driven by verify use to positively impact
the world around them.
[0:00:43.8] BOK: My guest in this episode says she founded her agency by accident and when
you hear her story you might see what she means. However, you may also hear, like I did,
someone who is quite simply and genuinely living their own values in their business. Radish Lab
is a full service interactive creative agency focused on design for social impact. In their own
words, “We believe that good design and great storytelling can help change the world.”
They have been in business for six years and now have offices in New York and in Berlin. As
well as sharing the story of her agency with us, Alana, also shares her passionate yet grounded
in the real world insights into the joy and the challenges of running an agency facing a conflict
between pure profit and positive impact. So, let’s hear from Alana.
[0:01:38] AR: I’m Alana Range and I’m the Founder and Principal at Radish Lab. Radish Lab
was started six years ago in Brooklyn and it actually, kind of started accidentally and nonglamorously
because I’m a Canadian and in the US I needed a work permit. I started the
company so that I could make money and kind of freelance as a journalist under Radish Lab but
what ended up happening really quickly was that people were kind of curious about what I was
up to and started just throwing random creative projects in my direction and, you know, very
early in the game I started realizing that this was work that I could not do by myself. You know,
people would be like, "Can you build a website?" And I’d be like, "I don’t know? Give me a
minute, let me see.” And one of the first people I called to help me out was Ed Wisniewski who
is my business partner and — one of my business partners and an incredibly talented
Basically once we started working together, it started to really become something as things
usually do when there is more than one person involved and from there we started just talking
and visioning about what we could really do together if we, you know, put our heads and
creative talents and combine those two. So, you know, as we started to kind of brainstorm it and
focus more on getting projects, we also started to bring in to focus the kind of agency that we
wanted to build if we were going to build an agency. I think at the very core of our value system
from very early on as just a team of two was this idea that if we were going to have to work,
which was clear that we were, we wanted to work with people that we thought were cool, and
with people that we thought were doing good work and that we could get behind and that the
natural kind of way that the social impact focus for us evolved was through that.
Instead of saying, “Oh, we want to work on social impact projects,” it came from a place that
was much more on the lines of, “We just want to work with people who like give a shit about
what they’re doing. Because, we ultimately want to give a shit about what we are doing,” and so
from that, you know, I guess logistically we were also in an incubator program at this time as we
were kind of developing this focus and they really kind of challenged us to articulate it maybe in
a more marketable way around social impact and there were series of other just kind of
circumstances, which made that focus much easier for us to pursue. I had worked as a science
journalist for a number of years in New York before starting Radish Lab and so I had a lot of
connections in the nonprofit world and the science world and the communications world in New
So I had already kind of been working with the kind of people that I wanted to continue working
with and we just started working with them in a different capacity and from there just kind of
grew and yeah now we’re, you know, we're a 15-person agency with offices in Brooklyn and
also now in Berlin. And, yeah, it’s funny when I tell the story because I’m just like I can’t believe
that it got so out of hand.
[0:05:01.2] BOK: I think that’s hilarious the way you described the accidental process. But what
is interesting to me as well there is that you talk about, I guess that is accidental but you talk
about it kind of happening. But during that process when people are coming to you saying, “Hey,
can you do this work?”, in the early stages and then you said, "Okay well, you know, I need to
bring people on.” What was the motivation there? Were still looking for, "Oh, this is a cool
project,” or were you thinking, "I can use my skills”? You know, what was the underlying — why
were you saying yes to those projects I think?
[0:05:32.8] AR: Yeah, that’s a good question I mean it was — I was in my kind of mid 20’s and
trying to make it in New York and I didn’t really know what else to do in a way. I had suddenly
unmoored myself from working under organizations, which I had done for a long time and which
in any ways has its perks. You know, you have salary and you have health care and you have
team people who are kind of looking after you and collaborating with you and suddenly I was in
this place where I was like, “Oh crap. I have to figure this out for myself and how am I going to
make a living in New York and pay my rent and, you know, take care of myself if I don’t have
So I think, you know, another thing which is just kind of part of who I am I guess professionally
but also personally is that I trained as a journalist and I worked that way for a number of years
but deep down inside me I never really had the fire that really great journalists have to chase the
story and really kind of go after those narratives and the truth and the facts, and that sort of
stuff. I was always more driven by finding ways to express ideas creatively and, yes, tell stories
but more solve problems and not necessarily completely objectively like just kind of go for it.
So, in starting, you know, a “creative agency” where I could freelance journalistically and I
started, you know, kind of being offered more creative work around the lines like, “Oh could you
build a website? Or could you help us like do this animated film? Or, you know, can you help us
write some copy for this report?” Like it was a complete range of weird stuff that people wanted
help with and for some reason sought me out or trusted me as a friend or something like that
but I think that in many ways that felt good for me as kind of a young professional to be like,
“Oh, I guess I don’t have to fit in this box of journalism. I can actually be more flexible in terms of
applying what I feel my true skill set is, which is really problem solving and in a creative way to
all of these different things and that’s pretty much what I feel like I've been doing full time for the
last six years.
[0:07:50.6] BOK: That to me sounds like the crux of it. You know, there was a reason people
were coming to you. That’s, I guess, why I was trying to work that out within that previous
question. You know, if you’re talking about having that passion and interest that would have
communicated I imagine and therefore to the quality of the work as well. I think that’s really
interesting. Because a lot of us do setup, you know, “Hey, I can do stuff.” But then they don’t get
that trickle in that slowly builds over time of people, you know, “Hey, you should go more quest
so and so.”
So then, the next stage, so then if you got all these happening and you started to build a team
what led you to the incubator? Was that a conscious decision again or was just another step in
this, sort of, journey that was happening?
[0:08:28.5] AR: It was conscious and I have to say it was 100% driven by Ed, who throughout
the whole lifespan of this business has been the one who can see — he’s kind of like playing
the long game chess game. You know, where it's like he can really see how something — how
making a move now will affect something in the future in the way that I can’t. I’m kind of always
like triaging whatever is happening on the ground at the moment and I’ve got like an overall
vision for the thing I want to build and the way I want to feel. But I don’t — I am not tactical,
which in many ways makes me a bad businesswoman.
But Ed is like the polar opposite and so actually, like very early on, you know, we were just
working remotely, you know, emailing each other, talking on the phone and when Ed kind of I
guess up to the first year officially quit his job, which he had been double billing at for Radish
Lab to really like get into this with me, that’s when things became really real and we’re like, “Oh,
crap I guess we better get some sort of workspace. But how are we ever afford that and what a
big investment?” And Ed found this like co-working space that was opening up and we applied
in to this incubator program that was brand new, funded by the city all around kind of digital
story tellers in New York.
We were the first tenants in that program and it was one of those moves that was in many ways
serendipitous because a lot of stars in the universe aligned to just like feel like, “Oh, this makes
perfect sense.” But, it was really driven by Ed who I think said — who I think knew that at that
point if we wanted to really move forward we needed to work together in the same space, be
supported by the community of other people working on creative story telling and who had
obviously connections and probably a hell of a lot more experience than we did and root
ourselves around like this idea of having a serious place of business. You know, where I can
actually like have clients which is something that when you don't have an office you're
constantly going to somebody else's office all the time and kind of being like, "Oh yeah, we have
an office but you just can’t see it. It’s great.
So, it was this kind of natural next step, which I didn’t see but he was very much on Ed's radar
and he, he drove hard for that.
[0:10:50.2] BOK: What you are describing there sounds like you really strong partnership as
well, like different skill sets and being complimentary.
[0:10:56.1] AR: Yeah, I have to say like, you know, there will days and weeks and months
where I’m like, “Oh my god, this is so much work, It’s so hard, why do I do this? I just want to
like shut this down and like go get a regular job or open a bed and breakfast or do something
that’s like less client services and stressful all the time.” But I cannot express how lucky I am
and we are to have a business that is run by friends and people who like really respect each
other and have fun with each other and compliment each other in kind of a skill set way. You
know, Ed and I are excellent business partners but also best friends on many levels and we can
really support each other in a way that is, and be very honest with each other in a way that I feel
like a lot of business relationships don’t sustain and then our third partner Adam is also actually
That is, I think, many people see that is extremely challenging to work with your partner whom
you also, you know, cook dinner with and eat breakfast with and all that stuff. But it’s such an
interesting, intense, rewarding experience to go so deeply into these human relationships
working on such a complex problem and building this amazing thing together that, you know, no
matter what happens down the road it’s, I just I feel so lucky to have kind of aligned with these
people in my life to work on this project. Because it’s, it would not be as fun without them or as
successful for sure.
[0:12:37.2] BOK: Yeah, that does sound amazing and I can hear the, I guess, the genuineness
in what you’re saying there as well, rather than it being a surface thing you say about the team. I
totally want to come back to that and but just before that I want to go back a little bit in the
conversation to the part in which you started to clearly articulate the social impact, I guess focus
of the agency, that being the focus of this season of the show.
I wanted to, first of all though, because you kind of described it as like, you know, the incubator
were encouraging you or getting you articulate the identity of the agency or however we want to
describe that. But it also sounded like it didn’t just — the social impact didn’t just start then. It
was something that you’re interested in. Am I right in saying that? To sort of, it was something
that you had created, even before the agency it was an area of interest for you?
[0:13:26.9] AR: Yeah, I guess, you know, it’s funny because now it’s such a buzz thing. Like we
have people write to us every week and they're like, “We want to work for you or, you know, I
want to work for you like I just want to, you know, work on social projects that have meaning and
like be involved in a change movement thing,” and I think kind of like you said at the beginning
there’s a whole vocabulary around it that, that you know, six or seven years ago I didn’t have.
I don’t even know if it existed in the same way because it has been kind of such a new thing
that’s really flooded millennials? I don’t know what the word is. Like this whole kind of new
purpose-driven work society and I think at the core what I knew was that I have very strong
beliefs around what I think is right and what I think is unethical and what I think is good business
and what I think is fair, that to me that is really the only way to go about things and so you can
start an agency and work with ExxonMobil and make a shit ton of money.
But, I just like would never consider that an option it was just never something that I wanted to
do and also this whole idea of like, yes I want to have meaning to the work that I do but mostly
it’s also just feeling good about it. Knowing that you’re contributing in some way that plays off
your own sense of what’s good and right and so, I’m not saying that working for ExxonMobil is
bad if that’s what you believe in. But, I had this kind of fundamental belief system that I was
working off of, which was like, “Well, this is – these are the kind of people that we want to work
with and these are the kind of people that we don’t want to work with.” And, I don’t really know
exactly where that came from aside from kind of how you brought up and your politics and your
city that you live in and the kind of people that you’re exposed to.
I think that, you know, New York is a certain place where there is a lot of people thinking about
the future and trying to make change and, you know, collaborating in a way that is really centric
around trying to make – trying to push things forward and it’s also a city where there’s a lot of
people who are just trying to make money and that never really interested me although it
sounds nice. I think there was something where I felt deep down and I know that Ed felt this too
and he has children, which also I think for him really shifted the way we were thinking about this.
Because he was like for the first time I really understood that it wasn’t about me it was about
creating — trying to help contribute to make the world some way a better place as cheesy as
that sounds and building websites does not make the world a better place but the way we've
always seen it is that we can facilitate and support clients by choosing who we work with.
So, that the people who we believe are doing the right kind of work are enabled, you know, to
better achieve and fulfill their missions or, you know, get more funding, I don’t know? Whatever
their kind of end goal is and so I think when the incubator was kind of challenging us to say,
“Well look, that’s cool that you guys want a work with people that you think are meaningful, but
like how do you put a label on that? Or how do you really market it? What are you going to say?
Like how do you pitch what you are doing in, you know, a concise and clear way and so, we the
social impact focus was one of those things where in to this day we take it very broadly like, I
mean, it’s a definition that it’s not like, “We work exclusively with nonprofits, you know, with a
budget of over $500,000 a year.”
It’s like social impact for us is like, it can be anything from, you know, a jewelry company that’s
like doing sourcing their materials from communities that are, you know, being ethically
supported by, you know, or it could be something that’s like huge and can be like a museum that
is not necessarily promoting any kind of real change. but it’s making people’s lives better
because it’s kind of contributing to this overall culture of the city and I think for us the idea of
social impact is about really thinking deeply about the world that we want to live in and that
takes many shapes and forms and that we don’t measure other peoples impact.
We're not like, “Do you guys have enough impact for us to want to work with you?” We really
look to see if people who are running the organization have their head in the right place. As
much as – and that’s a subjective thing. You know, that's something that we decide as an
agency and, you know, that’s also a decision on our side where we – we have kind of
collectively decided what that means and choose clients based on that.
[0:18:23.2] BOK: That’s an interesting point to question you a little bit more if that’s okay? I ask
this question of everybody in this season; Do you have that process codified? Do you have a
written or is it just a case of a case by case all these feels right?
[0:18:33.4] AR: It feels right, and I think as much as I would love to codify it, I don’t think it can
be and I also don’t know if we – I’m trying to think I would love to be able to say that, you know,
that we would be able to like exclusively only take on a very specific type of client all the time.
But, we work for predominantly with nonprofit organizations and cultural organizations whose
budgets generally are not great and so we’re kind of constantly struggling up against the
financial side of running an agency, while also trying to make ethical and kind of moral decisions
about the kinds of clients that we work with, which is like a weird balance. We are working now
on really just to kind of finalizing the B corp application process. Are you familiar with the B corp
[0:19:32.6] BOK: Yes.
[0:19:34.1] AR: Yeah, so that’s something that's really challenged us as a small business to
articulate some of these things in a way that maybe were much more feeling based before. But
for us it’s a feeling and, you know, it usually starts with our business development team and they
have a really good spidey sense about the kinds of clients and projects that we’re interested in
and that we want to pitch for.
If there’s ever a question, you know, they'll usually send a project around and be like, “Hey, does
anyone have any thoughts on this? Does this seem like something we should pitch for?” And
we’ll have a discussion about it. And, it’s always hard to tell when pitching for projects what it’s
going to shake out to be and so there’s always some variance in there but really, yeah, it’s a
feeling I don’t know? That’s a very unsatisfying answer but –
[0:20:18.3] BOK: I think it is a tough question so it’s not an uncommon type of kind of tiny way
of thinking and conversations I’ve had so far. What’s interesting to me as well as that you, sort
of, touched on what I think is the crux of this is part of the conversation is that challenge
between the commercial realities of running an agency, running a business, and needing to be
profitable and pay everybody and look after everything closing and the reality of many of the
people working in the broader social impact sort of sector or even just trying, you know, in the
more if you define that in beyond in a very broad terms, there’s often perceived to be a real
conflict between the two.
Do you find that you are making or having from time to time to make compromises to make
decisions of which directly, you know, whether those two factors are directly competing?
[0:21:06.4] AR: Yes, all the time. I mean we are, as I’m sure you know, like running a business
is like trying to keep like 700 juggling balls in the air at the same time and running a small
business is even worse and so and the other thing that's really interesting is like the older the
agency gets the less pronounce these problems are and I think that, that is kind of the way that
the agency world works is the longer you’re in the field the “easier” things get as you’re kind of
establishing relationships with clients to give you more and more business and you've got a
better reputation and a bigger portfolio and it just, you know, you’ve got many new type of
people who have been working for you longer and all of this stuff.
So, it does in many ways become easier but, you know, we are working at keeping these 700
balls in the air at the same time and there's a few like key weighted factors that we are
constantly kind of playing with to see how we can get the most balanced equation I guess in
feeling good about the work we do paying our people well, growing in a way that is sustainable
and safe and also like continuing to evolve the business and think about new ideas and so, you
know, one of our biggest challenges is that we’re in one of the most expensive cities in the world
where, you know, you just cannot compete with agency salaries.
We just can’t do it, it’s impossible, given the kind of clients that we work with and that’s been in
many ways like a huge hurdle for us because we, and not something that we completely
resolved because we have a, you know, a difficult time, you know, paying for instance like for
development talent, which is just it's insanely expensive here. But, at the same time what’s
interesting is that we never have a shortage of people who want to work for us based on the
And so, for us it's a combination of like trying to figure out how to offer people both a kind of
cultural, and professional, and financial situation, you know, at an office where they can feel
really engaged, and fulfilled, and committed to the work that they’re doing but also, you know,
be okay with not making a six figure salary because it’s not something that we can sustain given
that our budgets are smaller and tighter. You know, the talent is always kind of — I mean, I think
for me especially running a business that is, what I would like to think kind of people-focused,
that’s probably one of the hardest things is feeling like we can’t just give people what we think
that they deserve all the time. We’re always kind of constantly like doing the math and figuring
out exactly how to fit that puzzle together.
But, at the same time then we're looking at the clients that we’re bringing in and I actually think
that at this point in the business when we were younger we’re definite taking on projects that
were “off brand”. You know, and just feel like, “Let’s just do this because, you know, it’s $80,000
and we just need the money and, you know, we’re not going to feel great about the work but it’s
also not the worst work that we could be doing, so let’s just do it.” Now, we really don’t do that
as much anymore. There are definite projects that we take on where we’re like, “This one is
going to be difficult and in an ideal world we might not work on it.” But for the most part from a
value proposition and from I don’t know from I guess kind of the social impact brand aspect of
what we’re trying to do, we are really trying to focus on exclusively taking those type of projects.
But it is – it’s like a balance scale. You know, you do have to feed the pipes so that you can pay
your people and it’s also, as you know, a very interesting time in the United States where people
are losing a lot of funding and there’s a bit of a panic around spending on frivolous things like
creative and so, yeah. Times are changing and we’re also trying to adopt our thinking and, you
know, expand our business in different ways to Europe and that sort of things to also try and
balance the scales a little to make things easier.
[0:25:26.5] BOK: How often do you say “no” to leads or projects or pitches based on the
[0:25:33.3] AR: A lot, a lot. Yeah, I mean, when you’re — there’s a whole like spectrum of
different types of projects. There are ones that are really small, there are ones that are really
big, and there are ones that are short, ones that are long, ones that are complex, ones that are
easy, and then there is like a whole combination of all of those factors kind of together. So I
would say like we're constantly turning away smaller projects that people are reaching out too,
who just like haven't what I really read about what we do. I’m like, “Do you, like know that this is
not something that we would work on?”
But, you know, we have a proposal team who whose full-time job it is to kind of research and
find great projects for us to work on, you know, if the projects aren’t coming to us via a referral
or something like that. But, you know, we’re sitting through like databases and pages of RFP’s
where we're not pitching for 95% of them. We're pitching for, you know, the one or two projects
that we find in there that are, you know, that feel magical where you’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I can’t
believe this library, you know, wants a new website. That’s so exciting!” It’s nerdy stuff but, yeah,
there’s — I mean that’s the thing as if we wanted to pivot and lose the social impact focus it
would be very easy to do from like a business prospective. But I think we would have a hard
time doing it from a value perspective.
[0:26:55.5] BOK: And, I got so many questions that I want to ask you. Do you think you had to
go through those sort of semi-compromises decisions that you described earlier or when the
agency was, you know, younger and less mature? Do you think you had to make those
decisions or if you would go back to the same situation again or do you think you could be a
little bit more purely like narrow focused?
[0:27:16.0] AR: I think, well, I mean I can’t imagine it having gone any other way. I mean I think
you need money to run a business and you need money to stabilize growth and you need — it’s
all about – it’s really all about cash flow, which is like I hate talking about the finances of
business. But that’s really what is about when you’re running a small business as cash flow and
so, you know, when you’re small and the other thing about Radish is that I started the company
because I like did not have a job.
So, I also did not have any money and I did not have any investors. I had like $500 in my bank
account and I was like, “Crap I’ve really got a freelance,” and so it was boot strapped with like
zero dollars and that has been the way that we have operated from the very beginning. We do
not have any investments or loans. We are living off of what we make and so — and that’s a
choice also, which is some what strategic and also just some what the way that it shook out.
Because, this was in a way unplanned but because of that situation, I do think that you have to
make business decisions and those we continue to make throughout the life of this business,
which are purely business decisions and sometimes they are really difficult to make,
uncomfortable to make and don’t make you feel good.
But you have to do them because it’s not all about what you want all the time. You’re making
decisions on behalf of an organization or a group of people and so in the early phases of the
business when, you know, we were really focused on marketing social impact but taking on
some off brand projects to just make sure that we could afford to not to take on second jobs. I
think that was really important and it was also us saying, "No, no, no, we know we can do this
we just need a little more time to build up a portfolio of projects that we can show off in this
field,” and, you know, we just — it was about kind of buying time and now we got that, kind of
banked away, which is great and we also have a different reputation and then a different kind of
client portfolio and a history of people who continue to give us work which is amazing and so
now it’s that has paid off. But, I think we always knew that was something that we wanted to
stop doing. We just needed to do it in a short term.
[0:29:39.9] BOK: Yeah, great answer. So now in the current, as you say with the reputation and
the presence that you have within the agency, do you find that when you are in those pitching
situations that having a sort of chosen that project if for example going into a pitch or the client
coming to you, do you find that makes you stronger and be like more likely to win the pitches?
[0:30:02.7] AR: Yeah, I do, I mean it’s always a competitive — it’s usually a competitive
process, which you know you never know what the factors are that you’re up against. But I think
there are like a few real strengths that we have when it comes in to just like getting business
and, you know, one is that we do – it’s apparently tactical but it’s also very honest, which is that
we do choose the clients that we work with and, yeah, we need to fill the pipeline and we need
to - we can’t just be like, “Nah, we don’t feel like working on that.”
You know we're taking on projects and we're working on them and some of them are less
awesome than others but they're all projects that we said yes to, and clients likes to hear that
and they like to know that you’re invested in what they are doing. But I think the other thing that
really helps is now we've really got a portfolio of work for organizations that are, you know, of
course all different but actually also really all the same. Like there's incredible patterns in the
non-profit worlds and in a cultural worlds and then the academic worlds that are, you know,
hierarchical and bureaucratic and lack of resources.
You know, there are boards and advisory councils and just like all of these obstacles that we
encounter almost in every single project that we now know how to manage and we’ve
developed work flows around those things and we know the questions to ask and navigate them
and to really guide and shepherd the client through the process and so now pitching for projects
is so much more based on kind of like don’t worry we like know what we know how to do this
instead of “we really care about what you do”, which is also important.
But, you know, I think that the last thing that really has worked for us from the very beginning is
being like just very like honest and genuine and open about who we are as people and why we
want to work with certain clients and why we’re doing the work that we’re doing and also just
trying to be nice to people. I mean, that's like it’s crazy but like there is so many not nice people
that you can work with in the world and I do not understand how those people get business. I
don’t and we had the funniest experience going to Germany because everybody is like, “Wow
you guys are so nice,” and I'm like, “Who are you guys normally working with? Gosh this must
be so painful for you, because it’s not I don’t really know another way to be.”
But I think that it’s like been a tactic or it’s not even a tactic it’s just been something that’s
worked like in our favor the whole time which is just kind of saying like, “Yeah, we like actually
just want to work to people who are nice and be nice to them back and go through the creative
process together and that’s really like been — that’s my biggest business secret revealed.
[0:32:57.7] BOK: Outstanding, released here for the first time kind of thing.
[0:33:03.9] AR: Oh no! Now everyone knows.
[0:33:06.2] BOK: So, actually that's quite a good segue to the other topic I’d like to cover. You
were talking earlier very passionately about the team, the partnership but also the team, and
you’ve mentioned a couple of times that people want to work in this environment. Or, you know,
whether that’s working specifically with your agency or doing social impact work. I’m not sure if
that you meant one or both?
But, I guess an observation I want to make as a question is you talked at the start about you just
having this is the way that you, sort of, values it, you know, this is how business should work
and inadvertently this is just – it wasn’t like you made a conscious decision it was just who you
are very genuinely. Have you found out that is, you know, is that the why the team thing is so
important to you and why people want to be part of it and why you are able to do that makes it
work with people who are willing to make compromises on money?
[0:33:57.4] AR: Yeah, that’s a good question. I like to this day I’m just like continue to be
amazed that people want to work for the company that I started. Like I’m just like, “Are you
sure? Are you sure? Okay, alright.” It is truly humbling and it’s also scary, but what’s cool is that I
think, and this is coming from a few like key influencers and mentors in my life before I started
Radish. But in addition to this pour of like feeling like I just want to work with people — work with
clients that I like, there’s this basis of wanting to like, believing that it is possible to build a
company that treats its people well and whose, you know, whose team really feels truly
collaborative and really like enjoys each others company and wants to have a drink together
after work and support each other when, you know, someone is going through a break up.
Or like whatever the deal is, I believe that you can work in a different way than a lot of
companies are structured and I’m not I don’t think that Radish does it perfectly, but I think we’re
working towards something like that. Which is to say we have a, you know, a professional value
system, which we actually have articulated on paper in terms of kind of what the team aligns
around kind of in a mission, vision, values sense and that is something that people can really
get behind and want in their day to day work and that’s good and I can understand that. Then,
you know, the other thing that we’re really working on with the people who work here is this idea
of like, “What else is your job? Aside from sitting in front of the computer for, you know, seven
hours a day, eight hours a day, what else can you’re job be, and what else can your workplace
be and how do you create a community and a family and a place that you feel welcome in and
you feel able to contribute in and you feel stimulated by?”
And again, it’s like it’s still a job. It’s like not ever going to be the best thing ever. But I think that,
that’s another thing that really has worked well for us in terms of genuinely drawing people in to
what we're doing because it is an invitation to really contribute and to show up and be a part of
this thing that we are trying to build together and so I think while, you know, Ed, Adam and I
have always had vision for this business and maybe I just speak the loudest so people listen to
me? I think that really the ethos and the heart of the business comes from these people who
show up and, kind of align around the same ideas and want really the same thing from their, you
know, their jobs and their lives, you know? So that when we go to kind of create a day it ends up
feeling really good. I know that sounds like very full of shit but –
[0:37:10.8] BOK: Quite the opposite. I think we’ve just hit on a topic that I'd like to do a whole
other episode on. But one question though; do you think that process and that all of the things
you talked about there and that — I really love what you're saying about what else can your
work be and making so other people aren’t just, you know, hating/dreading Monday mornings.
But do you think that very closely connected to the type of work like to that being saying we
want to work with social impact and have this sort of broader impact with work we do, are those
things — how closely are those things connected for you?
[0:37:40.3] AR: I think they're pretty connected. It’s also hard for me to articulate that because I
am in this in a whole other way, you know? Like I think it would be really interesting to also talk
to people who work for social agencies instead of run them. Because like I’m sure anyone who
runs a business will tell you that like there are moments where you feel really stuck, there are
moments where you feel like, “Oh, my god get me out of here. Like this is crazy, why am I doing
this work?” and that it’s not for me about showing up to work. Like that’s not unfortunately or
fortunately what I feel like.
I feel like, “Oh, my god, this is the thing that I started and now I have to care of it and nurture it
and think about it and strategize and that it’s yes it’s my job and it’s how I make money, but it’s
also like at the core of my being now for better or worse and I hope that people who work here
don’t feel that way about their job here. I don’t believe that people need to feel that way about
work to have a fulfilled life. But, I hope that how they feel about Radish is that they get the best
of both worlds, which is this kind of challenging and engaging and, you know, focused and value
driven work that they get to kind of execute and collaborate on and think about and get excited
about and complete and launch and, you know, be proud about. But then they also get to, they
also get to contribute to this other thing which is like, “Oh, I also have this opportunity to help
build a business, and that, yeah, that I can contribute in a real way to helping, you know, the
management and the leadership of the company understand what that looks like.”
So, I do think that the two things are super connected, but that for me it’s maybe hard to say
articulate because I don’t quite — I can’t quite separate them in the same way. I have ideas
about what that might be like.
[0:39:44.6] BOK: Yeah, yeah. That’s really insightful. Lots to think about. But, unfortunately, we
are starting to run out of time. I’ve got one last question I want to ask you and that’s looking to
the future, what are the – what’s the next steps where with you and with Radish?
[0:39:57.5] AR: Yeah, that’s a good question, well, a lot is moving around for us right now. We
have a newly opened office in Berlin and we have a bunch of new team members in Brooklyn
which is really exciting. Because we’re a small team that really affects the dynamic and the
makeup kind of the energy and the brains that we have kind of thinking about problems. You
know, we’re a company that always wants to stay small and that is, you know, there to us I think
are a lot of benefits to always knowing who you’re working with kind of knowing what their skill
sets are and knowing how you can trust them and getting really familiar with the way that we
work together across time zones and, you know, across offices. But I think, you know, one of the
things that we’re really working on in Europe is starting to build that more of like a consulting
arm and a workshop arm, which is less focused on the actual execution of work, which is great
and we’ve done that for a long time.
But, now we feel like we got all of this knowledge and these ideas around the social impact,
nonprofit cultural educational space. Because we’ve been working in this field very intensely for
the last six years and what we'd like to do is bring also the American kind of experience is
something that is I think truly unique and very different than the European experience and so in
Europe we’re really expanding in to this idea kind of idea sharing and work shopping and
aligning teams and strategizing based on the expertise and the knowledge that we have and
that’s been going really well and it’s really interesting to kind of help organizations and agencies
to solve problems that are a little bit more kind of on paper intellectual than kind of saying,
“Okay we're going to build this website for you.”
And then, in Brooklyn, you know, I think we continued to – to really look for opportunities to take
on more of the projects that we really want to work on and fewer of the projects that are like, oh
that’s a pain in the butt. I think another thing that we are trying to do is really kind of now create
a new leadership structure in Brooklyn that can kind of inject new energy and new ideas into the
business because founders lose steam and you get tired and you also it's hard come up with
new ideas when you’re busy solving problems on the ground all the time.
So, now what I’m really interested in is how can we bring people in to the business and invite
them to basically make it new again or to kind of bring some fresh blood in here so that we are
not always challenged with coming up with what’s next in that way. But, that we can support
whatever, you know, whatever leaders and management that we bring in kind of seeing their
visions through and coaching them on what shape that’s going to take. But that we invite some
new ideas in here because I think that also kind of part of continuing to, I don’t know? Just
staying new and stay interesting and stay interested is kind of bringing in new people so that it’s
not always on you to think of what’s next.
[0:43:09.0] BOK: Yeah, wow. Thank you so much. As I said –
[0:43:13.4] AR: You’re welcome. I’m sorry, this is like a therapy session.
[0:43:16.7] BOK: But, it’s for me it’s really valuable, really interesting, and I hope the listeners
as well. So, thank you so much I really appreciate it there’s so much more I would like to have
dug into but we’re just we are out of time. Very final question, if anybody who is listening wants
to go and find a little bit more about Radish Lab and what work you do where shall we point
[0:43:34.4] AR: You can learn more about Radish Lab at radishlab.com or radishlab.de and you
can always send us email at [email protected].
[0:43:43.8] BOK: Awesome, thank you so much again.
[0:43:46.8] AR: Thanks Barry.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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