Brian Easter: A Catalyst for Change
Posted: January 12, 2015, 6:34 p.m.
by Rachel Uniatowski.
In our world, we sometimes let stereotypes alter our judgment of people, especially chief executive officers. We forget that every person has his own story, and Brian Easter, CEO of Nebo Agency, certainly doesn’t fit any stereotype and has his own story to tell.
“We didn’t start Nebo as a business per se,” Easter said as he spoke about the agency he started merely 10 years ago with his brother in Atlanta. “We had larger goals. To us, the advertising, marketing and public relations industry was packed with talented people, but had some institutional flaws.”
As Easter described the industry he saw when he first started Nebo, he noted there needed to be some changes. “There was a hire-and-fire culture, and there was a tendency for agencies to have rolling retainer contracts with ‘project estimates’ versus set fees, which would lock clients into the agency’s services regardless of results,” Easter said. When he started Nebo, he wanted to view not only their clients, but also their clients’ consumers in another way. “Our goal was to humanize a dehumanized industry, we wanted Nebo to stand for something.”
Bold, empathetic, intelligent, humble and supportive are just a few of the things Sarah Lively, SEO specialist, and Laura Rabushka, digital PR lead at Nebo Agency, said when they think about their CEO.
“Brian has always taught us to be bold, take risks and think big,” Rabushka said, who has worked with Easter for almost four years now. “To be a successful leader, he encourages us to be authentic and transparent, and tells us you can’t be afraid to fail. He says with those qualities, your employees, clients and consumers will trust and support you.”
Being CEO means you have the power to do a lot of things, and Easter uses that power for good. “From a philosophy standpoint, our approach to humanize the industry has extended to the way we approach a project,” Easter said. “We really dig deep. We look at hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, life challenges and life goals, and we try to be an advocate and a champion for the consumer.”
Being a great leader can certainly result in rewards, and for Easter, the reward for being CEO of Nebo is watching his employees grow and thrive. “To be able to have these super intelligent, passionate, smart and motivated people take a chance on Nebo — being able to see them grow and to play a role in that, it’s amazing,” Easter said.
Easter hasn’t laid off a single employee since starting Nebo, and that’s only one of the amazing accomplishments he’s made as a CEO. Easter’s successes stem from his passion for making a difference in the world.
As Easter spoke, he talked about Nebo’s “passion projects,” and his energy and perseverance were contagious, even through the phone. “Some of the projects we’ve been able to work on include Choose ATL, Build the Beltline and the Rescue Pledge campaigns, and those are the things I’m most proud of,” Easter said. “I can look back and say we weren’t just building websites and doing PR; we were able to make the world a better place.”
Even though Easter is an accomplished CEO and runs a successful agency, he still gets scared about future success, but that doesn’t stop him from making a difference in the world.
“Sometimes our dreams are big, scary and are hard to chase,” Easter said. “But the people that have changed the world — the Elizabeth Cady Stantons, the Albert Einsteins, the Bill Gateses, the Steve Jobses — they all started chasing their dreams when they were in their early 20s, and if they tried to ask permission or if they tried to build a logical plan, they would have never done those things.”
As for success, Lively said, “Brian always tells us to surround ourselves with great people.” And that’s exactly what he does at Nebo. “Brian has made sure that Nebo is an environment where everyone is passionate,” Lively said.
Easter believes that people really do have everything they need to change the world and encourages everyone to use himself or herself as a change catalyst. “If you’re fired up about something, just go do it,” Easter said as he talked about what lit his fire of inspiration. “Don’t be afraid. We are the reasons we have the limits on ourselves; the only thing that can hold you back is yourself.”
As the interview came to a close, a humble Easter said, “We’ve been able to create an organization that’s able to be a force for good in the world. Even changing the world in the smallest ways, those are the things I’m most proud of.”
Easter’s passion is fueled by his desire to change the world, and anyone who comes in contact with him will feel it. “I think that almost everybody has a burning, intrinsic desire to make the world a better place. We’ve just been fortunate enough that Nebo has grown, and we can use it as a vehicle to do that,” Easter said.