Our lovely #TheFemaleEquation feature of the day, Sarah Musgrove, is the co-founder of the bench. The bench is a vetted, tight-knit network of industry experts in the marketing and advertising fields ready to support your team at a moment’s notice (I’m one of them!).
For every marketing project, there is an ideal team, a group of players handpicked for their respective talents. The bench brings these vetted freelance marketers together to help the entire advertising and marketing ecosystem become more nimble, affordable, and effective in their campaign initiatives in the gig economy.
Sarah and I met through WISE Los Angeles. Commonly known as WISE LA, the organization supports women in sports and events by providing programming and networking opportunities to advance their careers. Sarah and I serve on the board together and found a shared an interest in entrepreneurship when she founded the bench in 2018.
I had the honor of interviewing Sarah about how she got started and some challenges she’s faced along the way:
Q1: When did you decide to start your biz? Was there an “aha” moment?
A1: The bench is truly the product of my career. I’ve always loved experiential marketing and considered myself incredibly lucky to have found something I love and excel at while in college. After the honeymoon phase, I knew I still loved my work but found myself unhappy. I did everything I could think of to solve this unhappiness – went from in-house to freelance, went from serving agencies to clients directly, moved to a home office, moved states altogether, hired a life coach, switched therapists – if you know me at all, you know I was not satisfied until I had solved the puzzle.
It wasn’t until 2017 that I realized, it was not me that was broken, it was the agency model. This realization hit me in the face like a ton of bricks. I got really clear that if I wanted to continue to produce experiential work that I love, I could no longer work within a broken agency model. I needed to find a solution and be a part of the evolution. As the universe has a way of doing, a couple months after giving my notice, I reconnected with a former colleague and she was feeling the exact same way. Independently of each other, we had identified the same challenges agencies were facing and started to develop a solution.
In April 2018, Jennifer Houston and I founded the bench, a vetted network of freelance talent that supports agencies and brands.
Q2: What challenge have you overcome and how?
A2: Starting the company triggered several people in the industry that I had very positive relationships with and their reaction genuinely surprised and hurt me. Our intention was to help these professionals and businesses, so how could they have such a negative response?
Their reaction caught me off guard and I found myself wanting to “clear the air.” Thanks to some advisors much smarter than me I decided to say nothing. I decided to focus my time and energy on building a company with Jenn, founded on transparency and dedicated to creating a win-win-win for everyone we serve.
I realize now that these people are threatened by change and who can blame them, change is uncomfortable but me trying to “clear the air” was only going to add fuel to the fire. Once I stopped focusing on them and what they thought of us, I was able to harness that energy into something positive and their uneasiness around our company stopped bothering me.
Q3: Who’s an inspiration or mentor to you in this rollercoaster ride of owning your own biz + one piece of advice they’ve shared with you.
A3: I do what I can to surround myself with people smarter and stronger than me, so it is hard to pick just one individual. I have found that if you surround yourself with people you strive to be like, you rise to the occasion.
Q4: We all need fuel! What’s your current go-to podcast or book right now?
A4: I am currently re-reading “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. I realized after a large project we just wrapped, that I needed to get back to center and re-evaluate the relationship between my thoughts and emotions.
Q5: What does a “positive equation” look like to you?
A5: The bench model at work. A client who is receiving the highest caliber work from a talented freelancer who is enjoying a great quality of life and has time to be creative.
Thank you so much to Sarah for sharing her candid experiences that we can all relate to! 🙂 You can find Sarah on Instagram and LinkedIn at @sarahmusgrove and the bench. at @thebenchllc on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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