What’s your 5-year plan?

It used to be a great question to ask to get an outlook on a business’s next five years. Not anymore. I think it’s almost impossible to look one year into the future these days, let alone five years when thinking about where a company will be. In 2018, we could never have projected that the next five years would include the pandemic, the Me Too movement, an influx in interest rates, supply chain issues, and an epic Taylor Swift surge.

The way I choose to answer the question is by believing that the best way to predict where a company is going in the next five years is to look back at what the company has done during the last five years and why it happened.

I’ll use GKB as an example and for some self-promotion 😊. In 2018, GKB was composed of 128 full-time teammates. Now, in 2023, we have 342 full-time teammates. During that time, our revenue has grown both organically and through acquisition, and we have added offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, and New York. Why did this happen? I believe GKB has had success during this time because we are hyper-focused on our core values. They are not only introduced during onboarding, but they are also a part of our everyday vernacular. Teammate decisions are made based on core values, and it is in our minds for every decision. Below are GKB’s core values and why I think they have brought us to where we are today:

Honesty: We are always honest with ourselves, our fans, and our partners. Honesty means we don’t overreach and try to be something we aren’t to our partners and fans. If a valuable teammate has a career path where we might not be the right place for them, we are honest and help them find opportunities outside of GKB (even if it hurts to lose them).

Listening: We value listening over talking. We give space to others to listen before presenting ideas and solutions.

Work Hard: This does not mean “work long.” This means that when you’re working, you’re working, and you’re focused on the right things. Almost all industries are demanding these days, and our industry is no different. It’s through consistent dedication and hard work that GKB has grown these last five years.

Follow Through: We do what we say we’re going to do or what we’ve been asked to do. This can actually be a difference-maker.

Teamwork: We value teamwork so much that in a post-pandemic life, teammates are expected to be in the office – and we’ve built brand new facilities to collaborate. We are not for everyone, and there were hard conversations with those who don’t want to be in the office as it is a commitment of ours.

Overdeliver: If we listen to our fans, partners, and teammates, we’re honest with what we say we can do for them, we follow through on what we say we will do, and we involve our teammates, we will put ourselves in a position to work a little harder and overdeliver for our partners, fans, and other teammates.

When you recently read the news about GKB handling sales operations of ESPN Radio Network and Podcasts, and you’re curious about what will happen in the next five years, I will tell you I have no idea, but I know that if we can remain hyper-focused on our core values, I’m excited to enjoy the ride and keep living out Craig’s message to the team in 2019 after we took over ESPN 1000 in Chicago:

“We are not big. Especially compared to iHeart, Audacy, Google, and Facebook. We are a small company and an underdog. Malcolm Gladwell says it best, ‘we are an underdog and a misfit, and that gives us the freedom to try things no one else ever dreamed of.’ That needs to be our mentality. We need to be more flexible; we need to be more creative; we need to be more hardworking; we need to be better than we have ever been.”