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A year after shelter in place

About the Author
Ali Cox is the founder and CEO of Noble West, formerly known as AC&C Marketing, not to mention a USA Olympic athlete.

It’s Been a Year. Transformation Was Hard, But Worth It. What Have I Learned…

In December 2019, I knew that 2020 would be a big year for AC&C. I was already quietly, and in some ways unknowingly, planning for the transformative future ahead. I published my goals for the first time and put my daunting professional wishes out to the team. It was scary, but it was worth it.

I hired a professional culture and leadership coach who recommended I conduct a 360 evaluation of myself — a daunting and vulnerable move. The coach offered many recommendations, but the most instrumental was around the type of key hires I needed in order to grow. As my entrepreneurial spirit animal, Sara Blakely, says, “Hire to your weaknesses.” This was the golden advice I needed at just the right time: February 2020.

When the pandemic hit in March, I had already begun scouring the United States for an A+ team of experts who could help me lead AC&C. Turning lemons into lemonade, I tapped into my resources and leaned on my trusty network to identify and connect with key talent. I found the ninjas who were ready to believe and inspire others to follow AC&C’s vision.

I’m proud to say that the agency thrived while helping our agriculture clients embrace new marketing channels. The team culture is stronger than ever. We’re stable. We’re entering new markets. Our long-standing retainer clients are experiencing elevated leadership on their accounts. Our creative and strategy are stronger than ever, we have international clients, and we recently announced our first global agency of record (AOR) partnership with Sun Valley Rice.

I identified allies and asked respected professional friends to help by serving on the newly-created AC&C Advisory Council. These folks talk the real talk and challenge me in ways I need. I’ve also learned how to get really comfortable with bankers, financial memos and spreadsheets. Exponential growth and a corporate restructure are not cheap, as you can imagine.

While the verdict is out on 2021, I’ve never been so confident in the team, our creative, our strategies, and our purpose & company values. More than ever, farmers need our help to tell their stories and consumers are hungry for information about their food sources.

So, what have I learned? We are stronger together than apart. Together has many forms. And risk is worth taking when you feel a fire in your belly and see only green lights ahead.

This season marks our anniversary for our “Shelter-In-Place” email campaign. We published our first of 41 “Shelter In Place” articles on March 30, 2020 and our last on May 29th. We’ve collected all 41 articles in the series into one e-book. It’s packed with tips and insights into marketing during the pandemic, and I’d love for you to check it out.


Here’s to another transformative year.