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A new website, an office overhaul, a strategic plan for 2017 and five deserving award winners prove that anything is possible.

Every year since No Limit Agency relocated to Chicago in 2011, the agency has held the Annual NLA Summit. Essentially, it is a two-day event in December–on a Thursday, the leadership team meets to discuss priorities and ideas about improvements for the following year, then makes decisions as a group leading up to the all-agency summit on Friday where each leader does a presentation about one piece of the business.

Over the last three years, the summit has also included a leadership retreat. The first year, it was just Nick Powills, Chief Development Officer Sean Fitzgerald and me in New York City at the tail end of a client trip. Last year, we took to Las Vegas for an intensive, productive two-day session. This year, the full leadership team–Nick, Sean, CFO Sharon Powills, VPs Troy Kehoe, J.D. Miller and Brian Jaeger and Director Lauren Kaminski–headed to New Orleans with eight-and-a-half-months-pregnant me dialing in by phone. Prior to the summit, each of us was tasked with coming up with ideas on how to improve a specific piece of the business and presented them at the retreat. We talked as a group about next steps and put together a plan of action for the leadership summit.

The consensus for this year’s theme was collaboration, focused on the No Limit Agency core value of “Anything is Possible,” which was also the theme of our annual hoodie. We’ve defined “Anything is Possible” as “Saying yes to great ideas and trusting that with collaboration, persistence and proactivity, we can make it happen. Thinking big, being flexible and finding ways to figure it out.”

During the week of the summit, upgrades to our office were unveiled, led by Senior Creative Manager Ahmad Yilmaz and other volunteers. Upgrades included our core values proudly displayed via vinyl adhesives on our conference room wall, a redesigned bar area (complete with new flat screen TVs, custom NLA coasters and pint glasses and a total of three keg taps), a beautiful wall mural in the kitchen and walls highlighting NLA’s most important milestones, proud media moments and 1851 covers. 

The collaboration and innovation didn’t stop there, though. A newly designed No Limit Agency website that showcases our strategy of being the “brand biography agency” was also revealed. Since 2008, we’ve evolved from No Limit Media Consulting, a mostly social media agency, to No Limit Agency, a truly full-service communications agency focused on telling brand stories and making sure these messages are aligned across all channels. Our new website does a great job of showing not only what we do, but the people behind our brands and the people behind the agency.

Both the new office design and the new website design were shown to the staff during the week of the Summit, which also included “spirit days:” a holiday desk decorating contest, hot chocolate bar and a pajama day, which all culminated in the Friday all-agency summit.

At the summit, the employee-nominated 2016 NLA Award winners were also announced:

Pitcher of the Year – Sydney Gitelis, who was also promoted to Senior Account Executive.
NLA Mascot – Rachel Stolba, the tireless party planner and heart of the agency.
Client Services Person of the Year – Effervescent four-year NLA veteran Lauren Kaminski
Digital Most Valuable Person – Megan Ferringer, Master Editor and comedic force behind The “8”
Most Valuable Person – Scrappy, polished and determined PR pro Hannah Kramer

Each winner received an award plaque, a video testimonial on the new NLA website and the validation from their peers.

A new addition to the NLA Summit this year was the introduction of “The Pitch,” a Shark Tank type competition in which employees battled to win oversight of the 1851 PR and social media account. Four contestants (Kramer, Stolba, Gitelis and Account Executive Sarah Mellema) pleaded their case. Stolba ultimately took home the crown, with big plans to spread the 1851 name in the press and on social media.

The day culminated in the agency’s new favorite pastime, “Stump Sean.” Agency staff members were pitted against Chief Development Officer Sean Fitzgerald to try to stump him with franchising and client trivia. If the employee successfully stumped Sean (like I did, for example), he would get a chance to counter with another question (to which he stumped me). After Fitzgerald dominated the first several rounds, the very last round ended with a shocking upset – Senior Account Executive Logan Perakis successfully stumped Sean and correctly answered his counter-question, earning herself $160 in cold, hard cash and the respect and awe of her peers (and Sean).

After Andrew Stern’s annual reading of the NLA “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” tale, we exchanged our Secret Snowflake gifts and headed into our Las Vegas themed casino night party, featuring roulette, craps, blackjack and Texas Hold ‘Em tables with dealers, Big Star catering and libations from the new NLA bar. Door prizes were given away to those lucky enough to still have “money” left after hours of gambling, including a PlayStation 4, an iPad Air, an Amazon Alexa and cash prizes.

Ultimately, as we do every year, we left the Summit feeling inspired, rejuvenated and excited for what’s to come for the agency in 2017.