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Is The Voice Bureau Changing Hands?

by Abby Kerr

in The Bureauverse

About this column

“You guys . . . the blog post is coming from inside The Voice Bureau.” Let’s talk insider stuff.

Katie Mehas is Doyenne of Operations at The Voice Bureau
For the past week, we’ve been casually dropping a pretty major evolutionary fact about our own business on social media.

We did it here. And here. And here.

And now it’s time for the official announcement.

The news? The Voice Bureau has a new Creative Director: Katie Mehas. If you’ve been a regular Voice Bureau reader or a client of ours over the past 4 years, you’ve probably heard Katie’s name and/or had quite a bit of interaction with her via email and docs.

What? You might be saying. Abby, you’re handing over the Creative Directorship of your own business?

Yes, I’m telling you. Yes, I am.

Here’s why:

Over the past 10 years of self-employment, my vision for what it means to own a business has evolved. While once it was a way to fulfill my own creative growth while doing work I truly love, I’ve added to THAT an awareness that this business, The Voice Bureau, is very much an ENTITY outside of myself. And I like it better that way. It doesn’t NEED to be an extension of me, personally, to thrive and serve people very well in the context of what we do. It doesn’t NEED to have my fingerprint all over everything in order to be respected and sought after. (Ego, much? Yeah, I’ve been getting that in check.)

What it NEEDS is to stand confidently in its own point of view, to show up consistently, and to make the most of what it’s got, all in service of its Right People.

A well-run business takes on a life and an identity of its own. It has its own fingerprint. It has its own VOICE. And that is what I’ve actually always wanted out of business ownership — to build something bigger than just me.

What I’ve learned over the past, well, year, especially, is that I CANNOT. DO THIS. ALONE.

Trust me, I’ve tried. Not in the last four years, but before that.

And I’ve learned that doing it with at least one other person, and often more (a VA and our coterie of writers), is eminently preferable to me. Not because I’m the most naturally collaborative person on the planet. Because I truly CAN’T do it alone and serve clients well. What’s more, I don’t want to.

Over the past four years, I’ve had the immense pleasure of being partnered in this business by the amazing Katie, and of sharing leadership with her.

As I’ve already said, her presence in this business has allowed it to stay in business (through my seasons of burnout), has allowed it to grow (as I’ve been able to create new courses and offers because she was managing our client onboarding, our workflows, and our writers), and has allowed me to take a more panoramic view of what we’re really doing here.

Katie’s creative, strategic, and organizational gifts have been a HUGE gift to me, personally, and a HUGE asset to this business. Our clients adore her and say she’s the best they’ve ever seen or dealt with at what she does. And I agree.

This week, she stepped officially into the next natural evolution of her role at The Voice Bureau — Creative Director.

Me, I’m assuming the title of Founder & Brand Voice Specialist. It feels like just the right fit for this season of my life, for where I want to be today, and for where I want to go from here. I will continue to be involved in the business on a pretty intimate level on a daily (well, week-daily) basis, but I will be able to focus on the bigger picture and on more, shall we say, involved new offerings than we’ve ever attempted before.

I will also remain the voice of probably 90% of our free content, including blog posts, e-letters, and social media updates.

I want you to get to know and love Katie as much as I do. We decided to start this intro off (which will, you know, unfold over the course of howeverlong) with some written Q&A. Here we go.

Katie, welcome to your Creative Directorship! What are you most excited about in the next year of TVB?

Katie Mehas Voice Bureau Creative DirectorKATIE: I’m really excited about reconnecting with our readers and clients. Last year was a very internally focused year for us, realigning our direction, figuring out where we want to go as a business, and 2016 is the year for us to get back out there and share that. And I really think people will love seeing what we’ve been planning!

What’s your weird and special pleasure within the work we do for our clients? Any favorite parts we would probably be surprised to find out about?

KATIE: I love helping our clients find clarity in their business and their messaging. I think one of the things that makes The Voicery such a great service — and so useful to the clients we’ve served — is that we find a way to holistically look at everything they’re doing and want to be doing and boil that down into something simple and straightforward, and yet really nuanced. I have a deeply nerdy passion for great systems, which I think can get a bad rap in a time when people say they want to be more fluid and flexible. Creating a framework — whether that’s establishing ongoing categories of blog posts or developing a brand voice to use throughout your business’s copy — gives you a huge amount of freedom to create because you’re not forced to reinvent the wheel every time you sit down. I love helping clients come up with a content strategy so they can spend their time focusing on the parts of the business they really love.

I’m not sure that any of that is particularly surprising…but I also really love getting caught up in the left-brain stuff, too — spreadsheets, HTML, scheduling. It may stem from living in a small house with a toddler and a slew of pets (and another baby on the way). I love getting some order where I can find it!

What growth areas do you see for TVB in the next year? How are you uniquely qualified to take them on?

KATIE: We have so many great ideas floating around, I think we sometimes get caught up in wanting to implement ALL THE THINGS, all at once. I see a lot of opportunity for us to reconnect with our readers, to share some of those ideas — in anything from blog posts to guided courses — but also to polish what we’ve already created.

Abby, you and I recently had a conversation about our complementary styles — how you’re a “starter” and I’m a “finisher.” [Abby’s Note: Yep. I’ve become even more starter-ish as the company has grown through the years, I think because I don’t technically have to finish ALL THE THINGS on my own anymore.] I think some of that stems from my background as a magazine editor, where an idea for a story could take months to turn into something tangible, but then there’s the focus at the end when it’s down to double-checking every line break and photo caption before going to press. I think you have great ideas but may be ready to move onto the next idea by the time we get to the final details of implementation, whereas it’s in that final push that I really hit my stride. And, together, we work really well, because you’ve created such a strong foundation with the Voice Values and the learning products you’ve created, and I can take that to the next level by giving it all some structure. I speak fluent “creative,” but my native language is “left-brain.”

Describe the experience we provide for our clients in 3 to 5 words.

KATIE: Nuanced, thoughtful, actionable. Structured-but-personal.

(That may be cheating, but I’m going with it.)

Explain to our readers, potential clients, and clients what’s going to be different about their experience of The Voice Bureau with you at the helm.

KATIE: Well, anyone who’s worked with us one-on-one in the past almost-four years has already “met” me, and I think they should have a good feel for how I work — structured, but with a personal touch. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel just because I’m at the helm now. We’ve done great work with fantastic clients, and if we kept doing things pretty much the same way and getting those same results, I’d be happy. When you regularly get feedback that a client is in tears reading their copy or consulting package because they feel like we truly “get” them and their business, you want to keep that up. Overall, I don’t think there’s going to be a dramatic change in the feel of The Voice Bureau just because my role is changing.

I know that you (Abby) and I have naturally different styles of communicating: you tend to be more freeform, whereas I live for structure. I’m a little more indigo to your mauve. (We meet in the middle on saffron.) I’m sure some of that will make it into our everyday, but I wouldn’t expect us as a business to suddenly have a different feel. I suspect it would come out in other ways — more regular schedules for sharing content, maybe, or a little more of the structure that I’ve brought to our copywriting process bleeding into our business plan. But really, everything we do at The Voice Bureau is based on the foundation that you’ve created — that we’ve worked on together these past four years — and that’s not going to change. It’s the same heart, just a different face. (That makes it sound a little creepy. A different jacket? Now I’m picturing a heart wearing a peacoat. I give up.)

And there you have it. If you enjoyed this, please check out the first official Voice Bureau creation out of Katie’s brain, a 4-week content strategy course based on her experience as a magazine editor. It’s pretty brill. (Yes, I still say that.)

In the comments, I (Abby) would love for you to:

Give Katie a warm reader welcome, & let her know ONE thing about The Voice Bureau you truly look forward to and love the way we do it, and ONE thing you’d love to see bolstered or made more of. Thanks in advance for your feedback to our newly minted Creative Director!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Georgie April 3, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Welcome, Katie! :)


Katie Mehas April 4, 2016 at 2:57 am

Thank you, Georgie! I’m really looking forward to diving into this new role.


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