[Live Training] 9 Strategies to Build Recurring Revenue in your Digital Agency

E173: Growing to a 40-person agency through acquisition and great culture with John Weiss

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For the past two decades, John Weiss has been an entrepreneur, investor, founder, and designer. His work is guided by purpose, passion, simplicity, beauty, innovation, and surprise. As co-founder of Human Design and MTHRship, he strives to move the human race by creating experiences that help individuals be human to the fullest, create lasting relationships, and shape the future. Nike, Twitter, and Google are some of his clients.

Episode highlights:

  • 7 years, 40 people. Here’s how Human Design got there.
  • How Human Design decided to grow through acquisition.
  • On buying an agency and getting their talent, including why you don’t see that more often.
  • Which was easier: acquiring talent or acquiring clients.
  • Why people create great work.
  • How John hires, considering portfolio and personality.
  • Where John goes to make a new hire.
  • Where Human Design stands on pitches for new clients.
  • On getting bigger-named clients like Twitter, how it happened, and margin considerations.
  • Examples of “bad money” from clients (you know what he’s talking about!).
  • Best advice ever received: The idea that what you’re doing right now isn’t going to be the last greatest thing you’ve ever done.
  • Habit that contributes to success: Having a high tolerance for pain, and patience. Plus being kind.
  • Recommended tools: Numi calculator, Notability, Evernote, Campaign Live, Dropbox, Ad Age, Ad Week
  • Recommended books: Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith, Malcolm Gladwell books, Change by Design by Tim Brown, You Say More Than You Think by Janine Driver
  • Run time: 37:06



  • “Hard work plus luck plus help along the way.”
  • “2017 was a weird year.”
  • “The agency creates a culture that has a system and has efficiencies.”
  • “The creative is not predictable, but the results and the quality are predictable.”
  • “We don’t make movies to make more money, we make money to make more movies.” (Walt Disney)


  • Talent is out there right now. There are a lot of people looking for jobs.
  • There’s no magic bullet. Agency growth is hard work! 






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