The Reluctant Entrepreneur and the Story of What's //NKST: Here's to 2 Years of All Good Things...
Updated: May 27
What is //NKST, is just that. It is what's next...what's next for your business, what's next with how to apply trends in technology, what's next for your brand, and quite possibly, what's next for your career.
At it's very core, //NKST is here to help growth-minded leaders and their organizations know where to go next and how to make the necessary bold moves with confidence.
You Have to Start Somewhere...
The business model has been built from the ground up to provide needed integration of modern skill sets and contemporary perspectives on how to connect with customers on their terms - because to us, business is always personal and brands are always human.
That means our clients work directly with our cross-functional teams of executive-level marketers, public relations experts, brand strategists, data scientists, creative designers and writers, entrepreneurs and social media professionals - all collaborating with one another to develop solutions-agnostic programs that are sprung from creativity, data, human nature and the understanding that we can't get there by ourselves.
That was the initial idea that officially became a Limited Liability Company two years ago in May 2019. Before that, it was a lonely item at the bottom of my "what to do next" list, after being let go in July 2017.
It was an incredibly depressing period. What started out to be a new year and a new job full of tremendous promise and opportunity had run it's course within seven grueling months of professional torture and operational mismanagement.
From Being Let Go to Letting Go...
Being removed from that work situation was liberating. But it quickly became a tough stretch of unemployment. Facing bleak prospects to get back into the agency game as a 50-year old advertising and marketing executive, none of the options were good. Reality check: There were no options. But to me, this was one of life's moments we all must heed the wisdom of Joel Goodson, businessperson and entrepreneur extraordinaire.
But it wasn't going to be an overnight success story. I had been an entrepreneur before, and as fun and rewarding as that experience was, I learned at times there are factors out of your control that make things impossible to continue.
For me and Union Square Advertising, it was a good run from start-up to becoming financially self-sufficient in five business quarters. But in the end, the Great Recession of 2008 was too much to continue beyond 2011. With that experience, I was reluctant to press on with //NKST. I was afraid it would be too damn hard this time around.
That mindset left me toiling away in the adventurous possibilities of residential real estate. As exciting as this career path may have appeared at the time, my past experiences within various ad agency's and strategic marketing and brand consultancies consumed my downtime when hosting open houses - all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly. This time around, I was dreaming with my eyes wide open.
Sometimes You Gotta Say...
In cherry-picking the best aspects from each of my professional experience, I was finding an interesting baseline of //NKST that would eventually be formulated into a proof of concept. From there, the initial germ of an idea was work-shopped with former colleagues, clients and even new acquaintances that shared similar approaches to the business. But it didn't take hold until after what I thought was a rather lackluster preview with a Creative Director friend of mine.
During one of our meet-ups for coffee, I decided to share a rough .ppt deck - and it felt like it was DOA. Until, a week or two later when my Creative Director friend called me back to say, "Hey, you know that presentation you had the other day? Maybe we could use that to pitch some business."
In that moment, I said, "What the f*ck." And made my move...
What's Next for //NSKT...
Since then, //NKST is exactly the type of never-ending, hard work I thought it would be. It is never-ending work that is now fun again. It is never-ending work with an extremely talented team of professionals who have lived it, worked it and gotten in front of it. It is never-ending work that at the end of the day makes a difference. It's never-ending work that is never a grind, and is work we are all proud to offer to our clients. It is never-ending work that keeps coming at you like the future - because it is.
Now that we have two years in our review mirror, we're in a position to expand our team, the service we offer and the amount of work we can take on. And, we are excited to continue creating an atmosphere of wide-open possibilities and discovering what challenges we and our clients are ready for next…
So, if you know someone or an organization that is interested in accelerating or sustaining their growth, kindly point them in our direction.
All Good Things.
Jeff Kurek, Ed Farris, Liz Bagot, Jon Tuason, Judy Arnold, Don Christensen, Jane Okkinga, Meg McMaster, Kathi Stark, Doug Longenecker