New Ventures to Promote Growth
To keep the company’s competitive edge, the co-CEOs have been evangelical about making all employees in their Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles offices digital-savvy, investing in a two-day training session called “Burrell Boot Camp.” Says Williams Osse: “We put on a seminar for two days and required everybody in the company to attend. Clients were already thinking digital. We had to know the language. We went out and found the best thought leaders, people that were active in the digital space. We rented an auditorium at one of the universities and we had lectures for two days.”
As part of another initiative to further probe the complexities of the African American market, Burrell launched Threshold Nation, a new division focused on the exploration of 35.5 million ethnically diverse males in the U.S. with spending power of $31.5 billion.
In Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s recently released book, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life Without Losing its Soul, he wrote that an entrepreneur’s biggest challenge as his or her company expands is managing the struggle between nostalgia and vision. Ferguson and Williams Osse perfectly exemplify how the two co-exist: “I have always been confident in their ability,” says Burrell, who is now chairman emeritus of the agency. “I like to say they let me go. I was able to move on to another life and career with a great deal of comfort because of the high level of confidence I had in their ability. Certainly I proved to be right.”