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Happy Birthday, Zensations! – On the occasion of our anniversary, we interviewd our management board

Eight years ago our digital agency Zensations has been founded. We started at the co-working space Sektor 5, now we are standing on our own two feet and since 2014 in our own office in the 4th district of Vienna. There have been ups and downs – or let’s better call them challenges. We have grown, evolved and changed. On the occasion of our agency’s first birthday, the whole team had some questions to the ones, who have witnessed the whole process. So today, our CEOs Sabrina and Wolfgang will readily give us some insights.

How did you come up with the name “Zensations”? Can you tell us the background of its origin?

Sabrina: “Zen” stands for the consideration, calm and deliberateness, that are needed when acting on the base of know-how and strategically approaching issues. Our counseling is always honest, straightforward and free from unnecessary mumbo jumbo, but nevertheless it’s full of finesse and many years of experience. “Sensations” means our high demand of developing not just some boring ready-made concepts, but best practices that are made to measure and to last in a fast moving market. We are ready to walk the extra mile and deliver the unexpected.

Wolfgang, how did you end up at the agency? Have you been part of it from the start?

Wolfgang: The decision has been made quite spontaneous. When I entered, the agency has been established for about a year. I worked in the areas events and hospitality before I embarked in digital marketing and management at Zensations. In the meantime, my focus changed to the fields of technical project management and accessibility.

What induced you to focus on accessibility and make inclusion a main topic?

Sabrina: We have been engaging in the field of accessibility since 2013, when we worked on our first project for The Hilfsgemeinschaft – the Austrian Association in support of the blind and visually impaired. The focus was set on purpose and at a time, in which web projects had to be fancy instead of funcional, where everyone felt the need to show as much as possible. Though that was fun, it often did not achieve the target. Thus we wanted to create a new benchmark. Back then, accessibility was seen as a costly add-on for reaching a very small audience. Now we implement 90% of our projects accessibly.

Wolfgang: After we noticed, we could meet our high standards concerning quality and performance even better by adding accessibility, it became clear we have to establish it as a principle of our agency.

Which one was the best moment at the office?

Sabrina: When we develop an idea, plan and produce a concept and create something new together, these are great moments for the whole team. We spend a lot of time together, so it takes a lot of intuition to build a team, that matches both on a professional and human level, with people who motivate one another and who want to get the most out of themselves and of others. The moments you realise that all these aspects are balanced are the ones worth remembering.

Which one was the worst moment?

Sabrina: Lucky for us, there were no bad moments that would stick to my mind. In case something is brewing, don’t waste any time, but work on a change immediately. It’s always hard to lose valuable team members – Claudia, Philipp or Sebastian may feel they are being addressed – because they want to follow a new path. These memories remain, though and sometimes even tears are shed.

Wolfgang: There are really few bad moments, but some are annoying: Bad chemistry with the client, agreements fail to be met or the team spirit gets lost. Nevertheless, you learn to keep calm, because there is a solution to every issue.

Do you separate working life and private life? Is it even possible to do so?

Sabrina: Separating work and private life is not possible, but we don’t even feel the need for it. Other couples talk about their jobs too, when they get home in the evening – probably even more than us. Our tasks and occupations are differing. That’s a very important aspect to us. If your life only takes place in the after-work hours, you might get a fundamental problem as an entrepreneur.

Wolfgang: Working together as a couple offers quite some challenges, especially on a management level. When we are with our son, our whole attention goes to him. Putting our work above private life in such moments is not the road for us. Take your time for your family. Due to self-employment, we are definitely more flexible than others could be in this matter.

Which were the greatest challenges? How do you manage to stay on top of things?

Sabrina: Leave your comfort zone on a regular basis and think of which new topics you want to deal with. Still, it’s important to keep your focus. Not every trend is worth following from an entrepreneurial point of view, it takes intuition and you have to know your trade.

Are there any stumbling blocks you would have liked to forgo? Or have they all been necessary for the development of your business (or personal development)?

Wolfgang: Every stumbling block is important for some kind of development. At the beginning in particular, you find yourself lured by assumed follow-up orders, the prospective sound of references or empty promises. But soon you will recognize the value of your own achievements.

What are the worst mistakes in management?

Sabrina: Playing the boss or foregrounding your own needs before the ones of your team, while assuming the whole world turns around you. As a boss it is my duty to grant my team everything they need in order to be highly efficient and motivated. I’m my team’s service provider, if you want to put it like that. I really try to comply with this demand, although that certainly does not work all the time. Sometimes it suffices, to call this fact to my mind.

Wolfgang: You need to learn how to let go and trust. If you start checking and changing every smallest detail, you are establishing a working atmosphere, that prohibits discrete thinking. As a result, you have to do everything on your own and you will complain about that fact. It’s true what they say “The fish rots from the head downwards”.

Have you ever lost sleep over a project?

Wolfgang: No pain, no gain. At the very beginning, we literally sat until the morning hours at Sektor 5 in order to work on projects during the whole night and sometimes even during the day after, keeping ourselves motivated with pizza and beer. After the project launch, we felt like heroes.

Do you have some advice for someone, who wants to start a digital agency nowadays?

Sabrina: The same advice, I would give every entrepreneur: Stay true to yourself, know your value and only take on projects, that you are really committed to and that have additional value.

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