The answer to this question has become the most cliche answer I can think of, but it’s true.

When I helped start Thinkbox’s current iteration over ten years ago, it was myself and Travis, our Creative Director. He was the hardest working guy I’d ever met and he was a hybrid creative that could do almost everything, and do it well. He told me “You sell it and I’ll make it.”, so that’s what we did for several years. It was never about making a bunch of money.

We wanted to support our families while doing something we loved with people we cared about, and have fun while doing it.

Five years later we found ourselves in front of projects that stretched his skills and exceeded my talents. We found people more skilled at development than Travis and more skilled at project management than myself. That’s when my job changed. No longer were we simple owner/operators, we had other people to manage, invest in, and keep happy. Sure, Travis had to design and I had to sell, but we realized that we had something bigger than ourselves.

We realized that we could kick out more projects and generate more revenue by growing, supporting, and investing in our team. (If you plan on starting your own business, growing, supporting, and investing in your team, before yourself, is much more important and will take much longer than you think.)

Fast forward, five years later and we have a team of 14+ full-timers who are crazy talented, hard-working, and have earned and deserved everything we can provide for them. They need us to cast a vision then ask them what they need or want to have a fulfilling life while they do a job they love with people they actually care about. Oh yeah, and have fun while doing it.

I spend less and less of my time on immediate and day to day client work and more and more of my time on smart people investments. I help create a vision for where we want to take the company, shape culture, and make the risky decisions a partner must shoulder.

I still bring in clients and projects. But what gives me the most life is serving our exceptional team.

Having a team that trusts you is no small gift. So I treat their trust with respect and their investment with sincerity. Talents shouldn’t be wasted.

So, as a Partner here, as cliche as it sounds, the answer to the question is “Serve my team”.

Brian Dokter is a Partner and Account Manager passionate about leadership, balance, and relationships.