December 22, 2017

What Is Past Is Prologue

I hope by now many are aware that Cornerstone Government Affairs turned 15 this year. We marked this milestone anniversary by celebrating much of what we believe distinguishes us – our unique business model, our professionals, our clients, our team approach, our culture of family, our state and local footprint, and ultimately our organizational structure.

As we approach year-end and as I continue to reflect on who we are, what we do, and where we are going; I realize that as much as anything, what has made us different, what has allowed us to attract the very best people and grow our business, and what has created a positive and productive work environment is our brand.

Early on, we determined that in order to separate ourselves in a highly crowded and competitive field, we needed to establish and promote a brand that was not only marketable, but genuine. A brand that not only fulfilled our mission and vision, but promoted our philosophy and more importantly our value proposition.

A brand is far more than a collection of words or ideas. To be truly effective, a brand must convey an organization’s attitude, its mindset, and its core principles.

From the beginning, we made it clear that the sum is always greater than any of the individual parts. That a team approach is always more effective and sustainable than a rifle shot.

In practice, this means a willingness to roll up your sleeves and outwork everyone. It means being not only comfortable, but proud of being a work horse rather than a show horse. It means embracing a blue collar over a white collar mentality. It means under promising and over delivering. In our business, it also means recognizing the need to combine both politics and process as well as strategy and tactics in order to win. It means understanding that access and working relationships at the Member level are only truly effective if you have the same access and working relationships at the staff level. It means being as comfortable working top down as bottom up.

The result? We have grown from an unknown entity with a handful of people in a shared office suite and less than a million dollars in revenue to one of the industry’s most respected firms with nearly 80 people across 11 offices and over $30 million in revenue. We have established a significant state and local footprint, launched a public affairs and strategic communications practice, and converted our company to an employee owned business.

Through it all, our goal has always been to establish long-term relationships with our clients that are based on being trusted advisors and effective advocates. We never wanted to be perceived as “hired guns” or even just outside consultants. We have always been in the business of developing partnerships and serving as extended staff to our clients. To use a poker analogy, when we work with our clients, there are no checks, we always move all in.

Finally, as I look forward, I do so by looking back with a tremendous amount of gratitude and thanks. Thankful for our tremendous group of clients and the trust and confidence they place in our team. Thankful for the culture, environment, and philosophy that we all share. And finally, thankful for an amazing group of dedicated, talented, and committed professionals that I have the honor of working with each day.

Happy Anniversary, Cornerstone!