An in-depth interview with David&Goilath Founder & Chairman, David Angelo, about The Defiance Club.
What’s the idea behind the agency’s Brave philosophy?
Anything worth its weight in gold is based on a foundation of truth. When this company started out, I knew it needed to be built on a philosophy that best reflected my own outlook on life. I have a deep belief in the power of the individual; if you believe in yourself, you’re capable of doing anything. You’ll find the more you get to know me, the better you’ll understand my agency and why I do what I do. Building an agency on a foundation of truth makes it easy to come in every day. Because my company is consistent with my beliefs, there’s no real distinction between my life and my work. Everything becomes an extension of the beliefs I live by every day.
How is the Brave philosophy present in the agency’s day-to-day?
It’s a way of life, so, consequently, it’s a part of everything we do here. It’s the idea that powers our agency and everyone involved with it, 24/7. There is no clocking in or clocking out when life and work have the same philosophy behind them. If we’re going to call ourselves David&Goliath, we’d better live up to that name; we have to eat, breathe and sleep this philosophy. The agency’s Brave philosophy takes shape with its infamous Wall of Goliaths — a wall in the lobby that features framed pictures of every employee’s fear as a reminder of what they want to overcome in their personal lives.
Explain the Wall of Goliaths. What exactly is it?
It’s a living, breathing monument to the truth the agency was founded on. When new employees starts here, one of the things they receive from us is a frame. They’re encouraged to fill the frame with an image, word or symbol representing something they fear. The idea is to identify and admit something that’s inhibiting them. Once identified, it is mounted on the wall as a calling to be conquered. The Wall is one of the first things you see when you enter the agency. It serves as a reminder to all of our employees that their fear is something tangible that can be defeated. It’s also a testament to what the agency and The Defiance Club were founded on. I truly believe that before you can do anything, especially anything great, you first have to be brave.
You mentioned The Defiance Club. What exactly is that and what does it do?
Well, we had the Wall of Goliaths, but we needed to provide support to help people take on their Goliaths. So we created The Defiance Club, a cultural committee made up of employees. Their main objective is to select Goliaths and help employees conquer them. It works like this: at our agency meetings, we welcome all new employees with a welcome packet from The Defiance Club. In the packet is information about the program and a form to fill out, in which they detail their Goliath and exactly how they’d like to conquer it. Employees can enter their submission at any time. If selected by The Defiance Club, we provide them with the appropriate paid time off and the financial support they need to take on their Goliath. The response has been tremendous and it really makes me proud to see some of the things people are submitting. The more we can do to get people to stand up to a fear and increase the voice inside them that says they CAN do great things, the stronger our culture becomes.
So what’s the importance of The Defiance Club to your employees and the agency as a whole?
It strengthens the foundation of our agency and the community at large, as the submissions usually benefit more than just the person submitting the form. Ultimately, it gets to the core of achievement and success we strive for here. I believe there are two voices inside everyone. One is constantly burdening you, saying that you can’t, you’re not good enough, you’ll never be able to do this; the other encourages you—come on, get over it, you’re better than this, you can do it. The Defiance Club is about helping people take that first step. Once you do that, the voice inside you that says “you can’t” starts to shrink, and the voice that says “you can” grows. This frees up so much room for opportunity and opens life up to endless possibilities.
What types of Defiance Club submissions catch your attention the most?
All of them. Just seeing those frames on the wall every day inspires me because it means that each person has enough strength to admit they have a fear. When their submissions come in, every single one makes me proud because I see the idea and truth this agency was built on being lived out by the people who are part of it.
What’s your hope with The Defiance Club? What do you want it to do for people?
My hope is that it inspires people to believe, even beyond the agency. Basically, I see it like this: it starts with the Brave philosophy the company was founded on; the employees within the company are then inspired by this philosophy and benefit from conquering their fears; that then spreads beyond the company as they live it and pass it on to someone who then passes it on, and so on.
So if you had to offer a bit of advice to someone trying to be brave and conquer his or her fears, what would you say?
Trust the voice that says “you can.” If you can’t find it, listen and wait. What’s holding you back is the voice that says “you can’t.” Take the first step in defying that voice and you’ll be amazed by what can happen. Nothing worth having in life is easy. Everything requires effort, and having the confidence to listen to that voice that tells you to be brave enables you to overcome anything.