An Interview With M&P Owners Kaitlin McMillan & Zach Phillips
For the most part, life in America is getting back to ‘normal’ post pandemic. People are coming out of hiding, squeezing into pants that aren’t pajamas and dare I say, even striking up conversations with strangers -- oh, how we’ve missed human interaction. But, there’s one thing not everyone is happy about...returning back to work. We are now seeing a shift from the Covid Pandemic to what economists are deeming the Great Resignation. It turns out that when people actually have time on their hands to evaluate their life they reconsider what’s important to them. As the world opens back up, workers who have realized the importance of work-life balance are putting in their two-weeks notice to make the changes they have always wanted, but never acted on. Now, upwards of 40% of workers are thinking about leaving their jobs behind. Once again, changes are among us and the traditional working model we have all been living by for years on end is on the precipice of a total transformation.
As we take note of this new trend, we’re checking in with M&P Digital Creative Agency owners Kaitlin McMillan and Zach Phillips so they can tell their story and share how they are forming the new generation of creative agencies that is paving the way towards a new working model across the country that focuses on mental health, flexibility and work-life balance.
If you could start your careers over again what would you do differently?
ZP: I don't know if I'd really change much. One of my favorite stories is when Kaitlin and I were working at the same company and ended up leaving that job together. Kaitlin came to me one day and we found out she was getting paid significantly less than me despite the fact that we were doing the same job.
KM: I also wouldn’t change anything. Every single job I’ve ever had has shaped me in some way. I’ve had a lot of shitty experiences and more shitty managers than should be allowed but every single one of those has taught me how NOT to run a company and manage a team. I went through it so our future employees don’t have to.
At M&P, we talk a lot about a culture that emphasizes mental health and work-life balance. Why is that important to you?
ZP: I've struggled with depression; I've struggled with self love and your work suffers as a result of that. As much as you try to leave your shit at the door, it's tied to your work. We’re pushing our employees to be the best and that’s a key part of it, making sure they feel positive and healthy - if we need to sacrifice a Friday, or a week of work to allow them space so they can bring their best work later on, that is a trade I'm always willing to make 100%. So it's very important to me.
KM: I echo everything that Zach said, there's been bouts of depression in my personal history, and a lot of people don't recognize what depression actually is until after the fact. I think that's the part that you need to hone in on is giving yourself grace when you're not feeling sharp. There's a stigma around having to show up 100% all the time. We are saying recognize when you’re having an off day and then take a step back from work. Our goal is to get rid of this hustle culture, we don’t want anything to do with it. We do good work because we cover for each other not because we put in overtime.
ZP: Just to cap it all off, I think as far as our employees go and company policy, this is how you keep good talent. And that's something that's going to benefit the company long term; if we take care of mental health and our employees feel like they have a work-life balance and have a life outside of this job, they're going to stay.
Despite all odds, M&P really started gaining momentum during the pandemic. Now that we’re continuing to grow, where do you see our digital creative agency headed in the future?
KM: Being born in the pandemic, we’ve adapted to work-life balance and remote work before we had the chance to adapt to anything else. Our formula has always been remote work. I want to compete on a national level with the top five ad agencies. There's nothing stopping us from scaling.
ZP: Kaitlin and I made the conscious decision to be a remote agency. It’s not only better for our work-life balance, but we get the best options for the workforce. We can choose talent from anywhere; we’re not restricted to any specific area.
What does success look like to you?
ZP: We want to be the next generation of creative agencies. In order to do that, we can't be like somebody that came before us, we have to build something new.
KM: A successful agency would be built on a platform that stands for something and evokes change. We are more than an agency, we're a lifestyle, we have a mission to distribute content that is meaningful, transparent, and real success means we have built a following that applauds that.
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