February 1, 2023

Braving the Uncharted: Year in Review

In 2022, our annual primary objective was Braving the Uncharted. It was a year of trying new things, pushing hard on exploration, and, as a result, tremendous growth.

Here’s the challenge with braving the uncharted though: it’s unknown territory. It’s new. It’s dark. It’s mysterious. It’s scary. Sometimes you land on a goldmine and sometimes you land on a landmine. It’s risky.

Risk It for the Biscuit

When we rolled out this objective in January of 2022, we told stories about explorers from antiquity. Men and women who, without any GPS or 10,000-lumen search lights, sailed off into utter darkness with a strong chance of never being seen again. Their life was at risk.

Why would they do that?
Why would they be willing to jeopardize their present happiness to sail for a new shore?

The only reason you choose to walk into darkness is because you believe that on the other side of whatever you are crossing is something better than what you have right now. Explorers believe that the shore they might land on could contain something richer and fuller than what they have at present. They are willing to risk harm for a chance at future health.

A Brave New Vision

The year started with a brand new, big, brave move for PHOS. We changed our vision statement.

Our vision is our North Star, a guiding light, and a daily compass for where we’re headed as a team. To change our vision means we’re changing directions. That’s risky for a business about to celebrate ten years of operation.

And, while PHOS’ new vision statement has nothing to do with digital marketing and brand strategy, it also has everything to do with digital marketing and brand strategy.

PHOS’ vision is to restore dignity, purpose, and freedom to the lives of women and children impacted by extreme poverty and sex trafficking.

As any vision should, this new focus became a strategic anchor for us all year long, redefining priorities and serving as a rallying point for impact planning.

Impact Report

As we braved the uncharted, we tried a bunch of new things we had never done before. Some concluded poorly, some failed completely, and some never got much further than kickoff.

Despite that, a year spent chasing a new land brought a bunch of cool new impact opportunities. Here are our favorites:

1. You Are Loved

We launched a national generosity campaign designed to encourage generosity with a greater purpose. Learn more here: https://youareloved.community/

2. The SAFE Global Fund (Strategic Alliances Fighting Exploitation)

We started a donor-advised fund with the National Christian Foundation to raise money for care centers around the world that will serve women and children impacted by extreme poverty. In the first year, we were able to raise over $100k to fund our next three care centers in Rosita, Nicaragua.

3. Halo Potato Donuts Hope Donut Campaign

We partnered with a local donut company to design and launch a brand new hope donut to raise money for Created Gainesville. We worked with their flavor consultant (best job ever???) to produce an apple cinnamon crunch donut that nearly sold out every day that week.

4. Publicized Our Leadership Development Program (LDP)

For the first time in six years, we invited two members from the public into our leadership development program to join us in a five-month, intensive leadership course.

5. Working Genius Workshop

Patrick Lencioni’s new Working Genius was the tool of the year at PHOS. We hosted an all-skate training session with a facilitator to train our team on the tool, present our results, and invest in intentional learning.

6. Wellness Month

Our team carved out one month in 2022 to set and pursue goals related to holistic wellness. We hosted a great lunch and learn, a 5k (PHiveK), and daily wellness walks.

7. Team Health Survey

We developed a survey for our team that assessed our health in regard to business as a ministry, team happiness, client excellence, and strategic clarity. We surveyed the team in Q3 and Q4 to track the results over time and saw an increase in every area.

8. The Global Leadership Summit

We hosted the world’s largest two-day leadership event for the third year in Gainesville, FL with our largest number of attendees.

9. Care Team Updates

We established a quarterly rhythm of hearing from PHOS’ Care Team on the team impact we’ve been able to have as a company. We tell stories about lives touched, funds given, and needs met.

10. Compassion Partnership

We hosted a lunch and learn for Gainesville with global staff members, sponsored five new children, brought our whole team to an immersive Compassion Experience that was hosted locally, and started monthly team-wide letter-writing sessions after lunch.

11. BaaM Cards

Our Business as a Ministry (BaaM) cards were distributed hundreds of times all across the nation, inspiring leaders to focus on their purpose each day.

12. New Studio Expansion

We purchased our building, expanded our square footage by 50%, opened the Snack Vault (this is for real), and kicked the whole thing off with an escape game we designed inside the studio.

13. Operation Christmas Child Packing Party for Samaritan’s Purse

We packed 100 boxes full of gifts and discipleship materials to send to children in extreme poverty overseas.

Leadership Requires Courage

Each year, we write a short annual summary that we present at the new year to synthesize as simply as possible how we felt about the previous twelve months. Here is our 2022 summary:

More testing and pruning than any previous year with more learning, growth, solidarity, and impact than any previous year. It was a year of truly braving the uncharted.

Is the risk of pain in pursuing the uncharted worth the bravery? Only if you believe that the real value comes in the brave pursuit, not the sure conclusion. Bravery might cost you more than it gets you. But, as entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said, “What you become is far more important than what you get.”

Lean into the mystery of the unfamiliar and the unexplored. If you are willing to set sail, you just might find a new shore with new people, new produce, and new joy. And, who knows, maybe that new land just might lead to more flourishing than you’ve ever seen or maybe even thought possible. But, when it doesn’t, choose to grow either way, and let that be enough of a dividend for your courageous leadership.

Brandon West

Brandon West founded PHOS Creative at the age of 26 out of his home office. A strategy-first digital marketing agency headquartered in Florida, PHOS’ growth and culture have been highlighted in the Inc. 5000, Gator100, Florida Trend Magazine, and the Best Christian Workplaces Institute.

Author of It Is Not Your Business to Succeed, Brandon has shared his insights on over seventy stages, addressing topics such as purpose-driven leadership, people-first culture, business as a ministry, authentic branding, and inbound marketing.

Away from his desk, Brandon enjoys dating his wife, mostly losing to his sons at board games, playing guitar and piano, exploring underwater caverns, and pastoring leaders at Salt Church and in the marketplace.