Gutsy Independence

Attending the annual Global Summit of PROI Worldwide, as I did last week in Atlanta, is both a rewarding and humbling experience.


G&S EVP Jeff Altheide (far left) moderates panel at PROI Worldwide Global Summit in Atlanta.

It’s humbling to see how our partner in Kenya helped a solar light company improve the daily lives of tens of thousands of people. It’s humbling to see world-class content marketing from partners in Germany, South Africa, Australia and other countries, created on behalf of A-list brands. It’s rewarding to spend several days with owners from more than 75 independent agencies covering 50+ countries.

We openly share our successes and failures, and the lessons learned will make us stronger counselors for our clients, better mentors for our employees, and more successful business people.

A client panel at the Summit really brought it home for me. The panelists from three top brands discussed what they expect from agencies they work with. In describing their experience with independent agencies they used words like “passionate,” “proactive” and “scrappy.” They talked about agencies that are so much a part of their business that “they solve problems I didn’t even know I had.”

What does the panel like about working with a large holding company agency? Resources. The panelists said sometimes you just need the geographic reach or periodic access to specialized expertise that comes with a large agency.

And, that’s where PROI comes in for G&S. If all the partners of PROI Worldwide combined into one agency it would be among the largest in the world.

The partnership brings G&S and our clients geographic resources and access to specialized skills – all delivered with gritty determination by a group of gutsy entrepreneurs that can help us solve problems or capitalize on opportunities our clients don’t even know they have.

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Jeff believes the world should be flat—in other words, a global market of businesses with flat organizations that champion entrepreneurial thinking. Jeff oversees the agency’s operational performance and its collaborations with industry partners. In 30 years with G&S, including 15 years as Managing Director of the Chicago office, he has tackled a broad range of marketing and corporate communications programs. Jeff’s expertise spans various communications disciplines including strategic consulting, marketing, corporate identity and public affairs programs for industrial, agricultural, technology and professional services clients. He is the architect of the firm’s global expansion through its membership in PROI Worldwide, the world’s leading partnership of independent agencies, in which he manages relationships with the network’s 65 partners. He has a B.S. in Agriculture Communications (Journalism) from the University of Illinois, and an M.B.A. from Keller Graduate School. Jeff’s patience and creativity are on display at work every day and on the lakes where he spends his spare time fishing.


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