Alison Rentoul Head of Strategy
19.August.21

The four-letter word you should always use with clients.

Every company has (or should have!) their values, mission statement and vision defined and ready to impart to eager new employees. On my first day at The Incubator, I sat down with Jeremy, our CEO, to nut out our plans and objectives for the road ahead and receive a download from him about The Incubator ‘way’. Pen in hand and ready to absorb the pearls of wisdom about to be imparted, as Jeremy began to speak, I dutifully took down his words.

F-U-C-K-I-N-G  C-A-R-E, I wrote. And then stopped, pen poised, waiting for more. But no further words were forthcoming. I looked up. Jeremy looked at me. “That’s it,” he said. “Nothing else matters.”

As someone who deeply believes you should only ever do something with care, or not do it at all, in that moment I knew I’d truly found my people.

In the year since this, I have come to learn not only is Jeremy a man of his word, but he is also absolutely a man of these particular two words, in every sense. This ‘mantra’, for want of a better term, infiltrates every aspect of our daily work at The Incubator. Not in a trite, put it up on the wall and pretend to worship kind of way, but in a very real, we actually do it kind of way.

Those two words float through my mind every time I’m about to send a client email, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Is this email as succinct, helpful, friendly and informative as it can possibly be? Could I make it easier to read, shorter or simpler? Have I attached the document or link referred to, to save them looking it up? Have I kept the job number in the subject to make the string easier to refer back to? Is the work or attachment I’m sending the best it can be? Has it been proofed, checked and double checked to save wasting their time?

When I’m working on creative, I ask myself: have we considered every angle? Even if I think we have, I take a few minutes to think it through one more time, just to make sure. Is this work going to serve the client, their customers, our community and even the world in the best possible way? Or could we push it that bit further? Dig that bit deeper, and go that extra mile to unearth something truly great?

In building connections with suppliers, I hold those two words at the heart of our relationship. Give them what they need so they can produce their best possible work for us, and so we all get to shine. Respect, respect and respect some more. And choose partners who work the same way, who demonstrate that they, in turn, really really care.

Recently we brought three new juniors into our team; and guess what was the number one hiring criteria? Yes, we considered their experience, work and talent. But more than anything, we considered their capacity to care. Of the hundreds who applied, the three we selected were not quite as experienced as others on the list: but they all demonstrated they had the right character to live and breathe The Incubator way. As one of my mentors once told me: hire character, train skill. You can always teach people how to do new things, but you can’t teach anyone how to have the right attitude—if it’s not already part of their nature.

In a world where cutting corners, rushing, bodging and ‘that’ll do’ has become far too common, it’s both reassuring and heartwarming to work with a group of people who still value doing things properly. It’s a point of difference we pride ourselves on, and one so deeply built into our DNA it’s become second nature. I love this about us, and I know our clients do too.

So as you go about your work today, see how often those two words pop into your head, and notice when and where taking those few extra moments to reflect on this fundamentally improves the quality of your work and interactions. It’s surprising how much richer your work and life becomes, when you really Fu@king Care about everything you do.