My first day at the Agora: I will never forget that day

by | Dec 22, 2017 | General Marketing Tips

My first day at agoraIt was February 2003. I was terrified.

I’d just landed a gig with the Agora in Baltimore.

They had an options trading conference that was selling like hot cakes. The phone was ringing off the hook. They just needed someone to answer it, and take orders.

Or so I thought.

My new boss pointed towards a desk with a computer, a phone and a notepad and told me to answer the phone and start taking orders.

It wasn’t long before it rang.

“I’m calling about this options trading conference”.

“Great”, I replied. “Can I get your name?”.

I wasn’t ready for his response.

“Well, first, can you tell me a little about this. What exactly are options?”.

There was a deadly silence. I didn’t have a clue what options were.

More deadly silence while I stood up, frantically looking for my boss. She was nowhere to be seen. The beads of sweat were already starting to form when the voice on the other end spoke again.

“Are you there?”.

I can’t even remember what I mumbled back, probably something about it being my first day at the Agora. I do remember him laughing and taking pity by changing the subject and asking what part of Australia I was from.

After explaining I was actually from New Zealand we made small talk about something (probably The Lord of the Rings or the All Blacks rugby team) and asked if I could call him back with some answers.

I dodged that bullet but quickly I realised I couldn’t use my kiwi escape clause forever. Time to figure out what this options thing I was trying to sell was all about.

My boss was still nowhere to be seen. So I figured I’d just start by looking at the promotion. So, I started reading. And reading. It was long. Keep in mind, this was my first real exposure to direct response marketing and long-form copy.

I’ll admit, my first thought was surely people don’t really read anything this long. But that sales letter was extremely helpful for me. It addressed all the questions and objections I would continue to get over the coming weeks.

There were still a few awkward conversations. I didn’t become an options expert overnight (nor am I one now) but I was able to get through that first day.

This was actually a temp job through an agency so I was delighted to get called back the next day. And the day after that.

It felt like I was on trial. Honestly, in the direct response world I guess you’re always on trial to some degree.

But I must have done ok, because eventually they offered me a full-time role.

I’ll never forget that first day though. Pretty quickly I realised the Agora was a place where you had to “figure things out”.

Those are words I’ve heard many times over the last 14 years, and have said myself regularly to new hires.

Brian York has a similar story. I first came into contact with Brian just weeks after starting at the Agora. He was one of the few guys at the Agora who knew how to work with an online promo (remember this was 2003). So I was told to fax over some changes (yes, fax them) and he’d get it sorted. Not long later I finally met the mysterious man on the other end of the fax. Now, I’m fortunate to work with him every day. We’ve just replaced fax with Slack.

When Brian first moved to Australia to help launch the Agora business down-under he found his desk and a chair in bits on the floor. He literally had to assemble the chair and get to work. Which he did of course. Without complaining or even having instructions to follow.

Ultimately that’s what makes someone successful at the Agora I believe.

The ability to work independently. To figure things out. And to run with it. To follow your instincts and not be afraid of failure.

Things have progressed a little since that day in 2003. We have access to more training materials and a little more structure. It’s something that we, at AIM, are continuing to try to improve.

But not too much. I love that the Agora hasn’t tried to systemise everything. We try to teach proven fundamentals. But we also recognise the need to let people have the space to figure things out and bring their ideas to the table.

It doesn’t suit everyone. Many people claim to want to work independently, to have freedom and autonomy and not having someone micromanage them. But when they’re out of their comfort zone the reality can be quite different.

I love it. I’ve seen the alternative. I’ve worked for big corporations, in a cubicle at Nissan and lost in the crowd at Disney Studios. I’ve worn a suit and tie at investment banks in London. I was miserable.

At the Agora network I’ve found a place that values the entrepreneurial spirit.

Are you looking for an opportunity at the Agora?

Maybe that’s the sort of place you’re looking for too. Do you think you have what it takes to thrive at the Agora?

We’re looking for two digital marketers to join our team. Don’t worry, we won’t actually make you assemble a chair or take any phone calls. In fact, we’ll actually give you a little bit of training. But not too much.

In fact, we’re holding a marketing bootcamp in our Waterford, Ireland office. We’re going to select a maximum of 12 people to join us on January 16 and 17 to learn about direct response digital marketing, based on the “the Agora model”. And we’re going to provide this training for free.

Why give it away for free?

Because we want to hire two future superstar marketers. This is not just a recruitment exercise though. We will provide an insane amount of training over those two days.

So, if you can make it to Waterford this January and want to learn aspects of digital, direct response marketing that you’ll never have the opportunity to learn anywhere else we’d love to hear from you.

Get all the details here.

Grant Perry

Recommended Reading

  1. What should be on your marketing list this year?
  2. Are Marketers just button pushers?
  3. How to succeed in direct response marketing?