I’m All In



Starting a business is like playing in a professional poker tournament. You’re afraid. You’re doubting your abilities. The odds are against you. Your money is at risk. You can work hard, grind it out, and at the end of the day walk away from the table with nothing. Think about it. Very few people make money playing poker and the same holds true for small business owners. Most business owners don’t run a business, the business runs them. They set out to start a business and they ended just working for themselves — not really building a business.


The odds for a new entrepreneur are not in your favor — less than one out of five start-ups is still in business after two years. Only 10% ever make it to the five-year mark. Being successful — at poker or business — has little to do with luck. Yes, hard work is important, but if you don’t know how the game is played, you are not going to get very far. 


In business, just like in poker, you have to play with the cards you’re dealt. But also you can’t just sit back and fold your cards every round. Sooner or later you’re going to have to “go all in” and put everything on the line. 


Most entrepreneurs “go all in” just once…when they start their business. They borrow from the bank. They mortgage their house. They quit their job. They make sacrifices. But successful entrepreneurs, those who take a small business and grow it, recognize that they have to make bigger and bolder bets along the way. 


There is one stat that I constantly refer back to ever since I started this business 14 years ago. “99% of all business is small business.” And if you look a little deeper, this 99% of companies account for less than half of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Why is there such a big divide between the 1% of companies that are big and 99% of companies that are small? I think the answer lies between fear and comfort. Business owners who are comfortable, tend to not take risks. Business owners who have no fear, tend to make bold decisions and “go all in.” 


Next year, our agency is growing its staff by 33% and our revenue by 50%. We’re all in.


2020 will be here before you know it. Are you going to play it safe and chip in a little bit or will you put it all on the line next year? Hurry. You only have 47 days to figure it out.



Monday, November 11 – Happy Veterans Day



On Monday morning the Madison+Main-iacs took an early lunch break so we could drop by the Virginia War Memorial to pay our respects at the annual Veterans Day Ceremony. Highlights included meeting four World War II vets and paying homage to the Greatest Generation. Lowlights included hearing our governor speak. Politics aside, it was an awesome event at the newly-redesigned center. The most poignant part of the ceremony was hearing two students Caroline Vernon and Brooke Eubanks read their award-winning essays


We also learned about a very special program that the Virginia War Memorial is putting on that will help veterans tell their stories and preserve history. It’s called the Mighty Pen Project and it is free to veterans and is supposed by VCU Scholars.





Tuesday, November 12 – The Name Game

One of my favorite traditions at Madison+Main is seeing our interns pitch their creative nicknames to the rest of the agency. The presentations run the gamut, from sublime to ridiculous, but they never fail to entertain. Usually, I’m very impressed with the creative energy these young people bring to the office. If you recall, Graphic Design intern Hilda Hosseini was renamed Hilda-Bear Workshop last week. This week we learned a lot about PR intern McKenzie Pickett, who moonlights as a bartender at LUNCH.SUPPER! It was a tough choice, but we decided against calling her Big Mac and settled on McBuckets.


My old friend and current VCU Brandcenter professor Michael “Mig Swando” Mullen walked two blocks eastward in the cold, driving rain to eat hot Thai food with me on Tuesday. It was good to catch up with Michael, one of the truly nice guys in this business, and one of the most talented copywriters I have ever had the pleasure of working with.






Wednesday, November 13 – Babies & Tigers & Rams, Oh My!



On Wednesday afternoon I was happy to host my fellow members of the Virginia Council of CEOs #ChampagneAndCake Following the meeting, I hurried upstairs to make a four o’clock meeting that was scheduled on my calendar. My colleagues decorated The Hub — our internal second-floor conference room — in rainbow ribbons and pink streamers as we celebrated Graphic Designer Erin Rebmann’s soon-expected bundle of joy. Yes, she was surprised, but we were careful not to surprise her too much since she’s about to drop in less than a month. 

My beloved VCU Rams had an early start time Wednesday night to accommodate the big wigs at ESPN. I barely made it there on time but our stellar Copywriter Derek Fair missed a good solid 15 minutes of basketball trying to find a place to park near the Siegel Center. Good news is the Rams beat the 23rd ranked LSU Tigers. The best news of the year is that we humiliated our former c






Thursday, November 14 – Liquid Gold



We recently learned some great news from our friends at A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg. Their Isaac Bowman Port Finished Virginia Straight Bourbon won a gold medal at the 2019 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. If you haven’t tried it yet, head up to ol’ FXBG this weekend for a free tour and tasting. Tell them “El Guapo” sent you.



Friday, November 15 – Biz In The ‘Burg


This week’s report is coming to you from Lynchburg, Virginia, where Copywriter Derek Fair and I are working today on behalf of two of our favorite clients, the Virginia Diabetes Council and the Texas Inn. Despite what you may think, there is no linkage between these clients.







A Few of Our Favorite Events


VCU Health Richmond Marathon 


Richmond, VA


November 16, 2019 | 7:45 a.m. – 3 p.m.


“A marathon? As one of Dave’s favorite events? Am I seeing this correctly?” Well, sort of. Once again, our fair city will be under siege by a horde of sweating, panting, health-conscious runners as they prove to themselves and the world that running 26.2 miles is “fun.” It also means that many of Richmond’s roads will be blocked on Saturday and I’ll be stuck in my apartment for most of the day. However, it’s still one of my favorite events of the year because I get to compete in a one-man marathon of my own design. It’s a 0.0-mile race that involves sleeping late, ESPN College GameDay, Thai food, and 26.2 Bud Lights.



Green Top Shooting Range Grand Opening


11547 Lake Ridge Parkway | Ashland, VA


December 7, 2019 | 11 a.m.


To officially celebrate its new outpost, Green Top will be hosting a Grand Opening Celebration on Dec. 7 at Green Top Shooting Range. The event will feature free lunch from Zaxby’s from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and a live remote broadcast by K95’s Garret Doll. They are also waiving the initiation fee for new memberships all day — a $50 savings. This event is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend!


Got an upcoming event you want to share? Can we come? Send us the deets!




“Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.”

— Steven Wright, comedian