Seven Years

All my life, I’ve been telling stories.

When I was young, I could never write clever or complicated stories. My stories were mostly true, revelatory, and earnest as hell. Stories were how I learned to understand and navigate the world — they were projections and simulations, a chart detailing the edges of possibility and plausibility.

The stories I loved were books and movies that explored what it meant to really be something, or how it felt to become something else. With music, I learned complexity and nuance, and it made me better at telling every other kind of story. Telling stories helped me recognize and develop the defining aspects of my personality: my curiosity, my extroversion, my fascination with how people operate, and my compulsion to talk, and talk, and talk. This is how I got to know myself, and learned how to explain myself to other people. Stories became the driving force behind every creative pursuit I’ve ever had, and every professional thing I’ve done as an adult.

Swash Labs was founded seven years ago today. In starting an ad agency, I hoped to have the opportunity to tell good stories; I believed that small businesses and nonprofits have stories to tell, stories that are just as good as any Fortune 500 company, and probably more compelling.

I believed that these stories deserved to be told, and that hasn’t changed. In telling their stories, we are a positive, transformative force for our clients: we help businesses grow, we help institutions communicate, and we help non-profits do great things like save animals or plant trees or promote art.  

I also believed that we could marry the creative aspect of storytelling with science, which has extended beyond our deep data measurement and reporting practice. For example, we redesigned a significant portion of our operations over the last year around behavioral economics in an effort to mitigate cognitive bias. The results have been pretty spectacular, and that work continues.

Throughout these seven years, I have had the privilege of helping to build a great team. The other people who work at Swash Labs are very smart. They are very capable. They are extremely good at their jobs, and they are always thinking critically about how to make Swash Labs a better version of itself. As a result, we have become one of the best independent creative and media shops in Texas. We’re small, but I genuinely believe we can hang with anyone, and it’s all because of the people who work here.

Walt Disney once said, "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." The fear sets in sometimes, always dressed in doubt: Am I doing this right? Did I make the right choice? What if this happens, or that happens? Running a small business is not easy, and finding the courage to beat back that doubt is necessary for progress. Gathering that courage is always easier when you have the right people around you. At Swash Labs, we have been fortunate to pile up far more good days than bad, and I am grateful for it.

This is how I hoped it would turn out.

We get to tell stories for a living. Our intention is to continue to do that on behalf of our excellent clients for as long as there are stories to tell.

Josh Berthume