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On Leaving Nebo Agency & Going Full-Time with a Growing Business

Today is my last day working for Nebo Agency. I’ve been with Nebo for over 2 years. It’s by far and away been the most intense period of professional growth in my entire career.

I came to Nebo in 2013 after running my own freelance consulting business for 2 years prior. At the time, I wanted to join an elite team at an elite agency to specialize in a single field of digital marketing. At that point in my career, I knew enough to be dangerous. I knew I could bring a lot to a team, and that I could grow 10x as part of a team. Thankfully Nebo thought the same thing and gave me a shot.

And for me in hindsight, that certainly turned out to be true. I’ve been able to work with, learn from, and build relationships with my teammates. I also got to be challenged by interesting & diverse clients. I got to be exposed to all the intangibles of working around ambitious, talented people in a diverse, growing city.

Team

I’m a strong believer in the saying that “you are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with.” And over my 2 years at Nebo, I got to spend a ton of time with people way better than me in so many complementary areas.

I of course spent the most time with the SEO team. I was hired when Brett Snyder was Director of SEO. Brett turned out to be the best professional coach and boss I’ve ever had (and that is a title that has a lot of competition). I’ve even gotten to continue to work with Brett on some really cool, challenging projects outside of Nebo.

I got to work from day one until my last day with Stephanie Wallace, who was not only an amazing teammate, but also a sharp and supportive Director of SEO after Brett left. She consistently set a bar of excellence that made me and the whole team better. I got to work with Sarah Lively, who was the hire immediately after me. She set a standard for hustle and learning that pushed me and the entire team to become that much more cutting edge. I also got to work with Jon Whitaker, Lauren Huck, and most recently Michelle Micallef, who has an incredibly bright future in digital marketing.

But even beyond my immediate team, it was such a positive experience to be around world-class people doing world-class work day in and day out. I learned lessons on everything from positioning to sales to client management to building a culture from Brian Easter, Kimm Lincoln and Adam Harrell.

I learned (among other things) how to construct a better narrative, edit better, and how to build a better content strategy from Evan Porter. I learned about the importance of not winging it and the value of organization from our Project Managers. I learned about proper development processes. I saw the magical things developers like Chris Baker, Will Pall, and Emily Winck can do. I was exposed to the creative & design process (still figuring that one out though). The Paid Media team answered so many of my dumb questions and shared so much about the ins and outs of PPC. And countless other lessons from Digital PR, Analytics, User Experience and more.

Clients

When I came to Nebo, I wanted to be able to work with some of the most interesting brands and challenging (as in the good type of challenging) clients there are. It’s one thing to put together recommendations – it’s another sell those recommendations and be held responsible for results.

I got to do that for companies ranging from multi-billion dollar corporations to small local businesses. I not only got to practice those soft skills, but I got to bring real value and make an actual difference in many businesses.

The other benefit of working at an agency is getting to see a diverse range of clients from lots different of industries. You get to see to peek behind the scenes and learn so much without having to actually get hired into that industry. I got to work with clients ranging from providers of no contract cell phone plans to senior care in New York to industrial electronics repair and more. Every business had unique challenges, circumstances, and quirks that made the job interesting and educational. Working for an agency has its pros and cons for sure, but getting to work with such a wide range of clients is something I’ll miss.

Intangibles

Before moving to Atlanta, I had never lived in a city larger than 100,000 people. I loved visiting huge cities, and always thought I’d live in one someday, but never really had a strong enough impetus to move from Athens, GA – which is an great city in its own right.

Me and my family decided to skip the sprawl and suburbs and live in the heart of the metro area – the city of Atlanta just 3 miles from Nebo.

There have been plenty of side benefits like biking to work, but there’s also something intangible about it. I’ve yet to put my finger on exactly what it is, but there is something about being around so many interesting people doing ambitious work in an exciting city.

What’s Next For Me

I have a habit of trying a lot of different stuff. Even when I’m happy with my full-time work, I’ve always had a side project going on. In my spare time while at Nebo, I’ve been able to develop a successful digital publishing business. I’ll still be doing search engine optimization, marketing and content strategy, but for websites that I own. I’ll be devoting all my energy and focus on the audiences I’ve been able to build.

My main projects are ShivarWeb.com and Bamboo Chalupa. ShivarWeb is my former consulting site, and is now a marketing education website for DIYers, freelancers and small business owners. Bamboo Chalupa is a digital marketing podcast. It began as a fun experiment with Brett, and has turned into something we aim to polish and continue to grow.

And as I grow the other projects – you’ll certainly be able to find out about them here.

Lessons Learned

If you are interested in a career in marketing – work at an agency, at least for a time. You can learn more in 3 months than you can in years in-house or on your own. You can also apply to Nebo specifically here.

You are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with. If you’re working 40 hours a week – your team at work matters a ton.

And thank you to everyone I’ve gotten to work with at Nebo and elsewhere.

By Nate

I'm Nate Shivar - I live in Atlanta and love exploring the city, outdoors, books & Internet. Read about me, my Now page, or my work.

Follow on Twitter & YouTube.

3 replies on “On Leaving Nebo Agency & Going Full-Time with a Growing Business”

Sad to see you leave, Nate! But congratulations! I’ve already learned a lot from you these past few months, and I look forward to continuing to read your posts and learn more from you.

Thank you Michelle! I’ll miss working directly with you and the team – but look forward to whatever is coming in the future!

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