Paradigm at 25: CEO Michael Huber Talks Change
After the calamity of 2020, 2021 represents a lot of things. For some, it’s a new beginning and for others, a return to normalcy. For us, it’s a year of reflection. 2021 marks Paradigm’s 26th year in business. And while we had to hit pause on a big 25 celebration last year, we didn’t pause the conversations around who we are and what the last 25 years have meant to us. We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we have.
Today we’re talking to Paradigm CEO and Creative Director Michael Huber. After a stint with a west-coast record label, Michael returned home to St. Louis in 1995 and founded Paradigm. Now 25 years and one global pandemic later, Michael has a lot to say about the constants of change.
Last year presented some of the biggest challenges the world has ever seen.
Were you scared at all?
I’d be lying if I said I am without fear. But when you look at fear, it generally stems from the unknown. We’re afraid of what we don’t understand.
How do you manage a fear of change?
It comes with patience and experience. In many ways, our industry is built on change. Apple makes new phones. Google tweaks algorithms. New generations have different tastes. There’s always something. Remember: we started Paradigm right at the dawn of the commercial internet. So even just having a website was a big shift for a lot of businesses. Within a very short time, every single business had to ask: are we going to be online? That’s something we don’t even think about today.
How does fear affect you differently as a business owner?
As a business owner, you want to believe you’re in total control and nothing could ever thwart you. I know I was a little ruled by change early in my career. There were moments where I became a victim of change when I could have just as easily been a victor over it.
How do you perceive change now?
I’ve come to appreciate the constants of it all. Change is what makes the world go round. If things didn’t change, we’d live in an awfully hopeless world. Change creates opportunity. It’s up to you to decide what to do with it.
Is it better to seek out change or let it find you?
It’s smart to keep your ear to the ground. No doubt about that. But even the smartest people in the world get it wrong sometimes. Remember the GameStop stock craze? No one could have seen that coming. Sometimes you have to adapt to something completely unexpected.
Is it possible for someone to be immune from change?
I think everyone has to face reality sooner or later. You can’t be a business owner and assume that if you do one thing today and you keep doing that one thing forever, you’ll be fine.
What do you think makes Paradigm a good partner during times of change?
When you look at the work we do — branding, web design, digital marketing — a lot of it is rooted in helping our clients emerge from change with strength and confidence. It’s a process, but from that process comes clarity. We lead our clients to a catharsis of knowing exactly who they are, what they’re doing and where they’re going. Because when you know that, you’re ready for whatever comes next.