JUPITER, Florida—When Joshua Adams was just 24 years old in 2012, he took a risk that would change the course of his career and life. With a bold entrepreneurial spirit and only $700 to his name, Adams founded Rock Paper Simple, added a full-service marketing agency, with a vision to build it from the ground up.

At the time, Adams had the offer of a high-paying job at a large marketing firm, but chose to strike out on his own instead. It was a daring move considering he also inherited $36,000 in back taxes around the same time. But Adams was determined to turn his marketing experience and creative talents into his own successful business.

Starting as a one-man web design operation, Rock Paper Simple slowly expanded its services and reputation over the next few years through innovative work and a dedication to clients. A decade after those humble beginnings, Adams has grown the agency to a team of 20 award-winning marketing professionals serving organizations across diverse industries.

More than 10 years after taking that initial risk, Adams recently sat down with Josh Konigsberg, founder of Law Firm Marketing Pros and host of the popular Behind the Bench podcast. In a reflective conversation, Adams shared Rock Paper Simple’s journey from a $700 venture to the respected full-service agency it is today. He also opened up about lessons learned, biggest career risks and wins, and his continued vision for the future.

“Long story short, I started Rock Paper Simple for $700. And today we’re a team of 20 rockin’ and rollin’,” Adams told Konigsberg. What started as a one-man web design shop has transformed into a marketing powerhouse serving clients across various industries. Rock Paper Simple is celebrating 11 years in business, having grown organically through innovative work, which has earned them over 200 marketing awards.

In the podcast interview, Adams recounted his unconventional path to becoming a respected marketing leader. After getting his start in web programming as a teen, Adams merged his fledgling web design business with a small marketing firm at age 21. “I really learned branding and marketing quite a bit, as you can imagine. And it really made me fall in love with the idea of branding specifically,” he said.

Adams discovered financial issues at the firm that led him to exit the partnership and take the bold step of starting his own business. “I literally remember walking into the IRS tax office and saying, I think I owe you guys a lot of money. And they were like, ‘What are you doing? Why are you here?’,” Adams recalled to Konigsberg. Through determination and a team-first mentality, he negotiated a payment plan and got to work growing Rock Paper Simple.

A hallmark of the agency’s success has been transforming brands through innovative strategies. “We’ve recently redone our focus in terms of our strike zone, what is our purpose statement? What is our design niche where we focus?” Adams noted. While it once provided various services, Rock Paper Simple now excels at brand positioning work. A recent project involved completely reinventing the brand identity for a luxury pool company over the course of 18 months.

Beyond running Rock Paper Simple, Adams also serves as Chief Fractional Marketing Officer for three companies using EOS, a framework for leading dynamic businesses. As Konigsberg’s podcast focused on the legal industry, their discussion highlighted opportunities for law firms seeking transformational brand work. “Many law firms are looking for that brand positioning. So there’s an opportunity there for you as well,” Konigsberg observed.

Adams relishes the chance to periodically advise other leadership teams, bringing his experience implementing EOS. “I understand EOS, you understand how [a client] runs their business, I understand the leadership framework, the expectations, I understand the accountability chart, the weekly meetings,” he said. Beyond the technical marketing duties, Adams finds his biggest wins come from developing others.

Throughout the interview, Adams’ passion for empowering talented people shone through. “My biggest wins relate to people, right? Leaders that I’ve built up, people who’ve worked through hard times,” he told Konigsberg. Empowering his growing Rock Paper Simple team and helping clients achieve success brings Adams the most satisfaction.

The concluding portion of the podcast saw Adams open up about a harrowing near-fall from scaffolding in his construction days that could have ended tragically. Reflecting on the incident years later, Adams said “I would not have survived. And so I remember that. So that’s what a lot of people don’t know about me.”

It revealed a side of Adams that underscored his risk-taking nature from an early age. Starting his own agency and negotiating a hefty tax debt also exemplified his willingness to take bold leaps. When asked what he’s most passionate about, Adams honed in on people.

Of the podcast experience itself, Adams appreciated the chance to discuss professional industry topics and more personal anecdotes. “It was a lot of fun. It was enjoyable to not only talk about an industry we’re passionate about, but also dig into some personal stuff,” he told Konigsberg. The interview format allowed listeners a more well-rounded view of Adams beyond his accomplishments leading Rock Paper Simple.

The conversations provided takeaways for marketing and business leaders alike. Adams’ story highlighted the impact of vision, perseverance, and care for one’s team. His experience building Rock Paper Simple from the ground up and developing talent along the way offers an inspirational case study. Marketing professionals and individuals seeking career or leadership insights could glean value.

As Adams and Rock Paper Simple continue innovating for clients, the agency’s future remains bright under Adams’ guidance. His student approach to leadership and commitment to empowering others will surely sustain their award-winning work. The past 11 years have cemented Adams as a visionary force in the marketing world worth learning from for many more years to come.

Click below to watch the full interview.

About Law Firm Marketing Pros

At Law Firm Marketing Pros, our vision is to help improve the way law firms market their services. Our mission is to educate, serve, and provide our clients with the most cutting-edge, efficient, and cost-effective online marketing tools available, to increase their revenues and profits, and exceed their goals.

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