Will Coffman, Partner

From Babysitting to Branding

Working at Bullhorn is the best job I’ve had. But it’s not my favorite. I’ve been a babysitter, a dentist office cleaner, a DJ, a grocery bagger, a grass cutter, a bloodstock agent’s assistant, political aide, and a lobbyist. In the 6th grade, I started a landscaping business with my best friend. That was my favorite job. We had no idea what we were doing when we started the company; we figured it out as we went along. The challenge made it exciting. Adrenaline masked our naivete.

Work is a tricky deal. It can be as big or small as you want it to be. You can work to live, live to work, be driven to succeed, get swept along with the flow, some (or all) of the above on any given week. Or day. For work to be meaningful, it has to have a purpose. Working at Bullhorn is the best job I’ve ever had because we have both values and purpose. I’m lucky enough to get to talk about our mission—building confident brands—nearly every day. I meet people, learn about new organizations, and try to be helpful. Adrenaline. When it fades, and it’s just us worker bees without the clients around, I know I’m at a place where the roots run deep, and how we do what we do matters more than how happy it makes our clients.

My role at Bullhorn is to initiate new projects, which means I have lots of conversations with potential clients. In this job, I’ve learned so much about how organizations function (and dysfunction). Our clients come to us seeking authentic answers to longstanding, unanswered issues. Often, we start with one problem, uncover more issues during the branding process, and solve them all by the time we conclude. My job is to be empathetic and to listen. I never imagined I’d be selling words and images to prospective clients in any job. But that’s just it: we’re not selling books and art. We’re offering language and design solutions to strategic business problems. To work in a wide range of industries, we have to learn about our clients’ spin on their sector patiently. To make recommendations that our clients trust, we have to do more listening than talking. And to build effective brands that accomplish our clients’ objectives, we have to take ourselves out of our comfort zone by putting ourselves in their shoes. Our work’s success depends on our ability to develop and maintain empathy throughout our projects. I’m still driven by adrenaline. But it sure is nice to work at a place where empathy is the driving force.