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Generosity at Our Core

Kate Schmidgall June 18, 2024 | 4 MIN 43 SEC READ
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Steve Jeter filming for BitterSweet Monthly, 2016

As one of our six core values, 'generous' sets the bar for our team. This particular value guides everything from how we engage with each other to how we decide what to create in the world. In the broader business world, it's a term often embraced in terms of 1% corporate giving campaigns and the occasional company-wide volunteer day, but seldom thoroughly examined in terms of team culture, particularly in the fast-paced, result-driven world of creative agencies. Today, I want to take a thoughtful, introspective look at what generosity means to us and how it shapes our agency, our work ethic, and our interactions with clients and each other.

Defining Generosity at BitterSweet Creative

For us, generosity goes beyond simple acts of giving; it’s a guiding principle that permeates all facets of our culture and work. What makes for a generous posture at work? What sort of attitude and behavior does it require? We define generosity in terms of learning fast and failing gracefully. It means taking ownership of our mistakes and seeking understanding rather than assuming we have it. We recognize that our perspectives are mere slivers of a much larger picture.

Consequently, generosity leads us to live unoffended, acknowledging that emotional waste is toxic to both morale and productivity. We protect each other by pitching in to overcome challenges and learn as much as we can in the process. This collective effort fosters a sense of unity and cultivates an environment where everyone feels valued and supported.

Generosity in Practice: The Agency and Nonprofit Magazine

Living out generosity as a core value can be seen in two primary areas for us: our work as a creative agency and our nonprofit magazine.

In the Agency

In our day-to-day operations, generosity means making positive assumptions about each other’s intentions and choosing a learning posture. We invite critique and request regular feedback from clients and our creative teams to ensure continuous improvement in our processes, output, service delivery, and management.

This approach aligns closely with our commitment to collaboration, another core value deeply ingrained in our culture, as outlined in "A Collaborative Spirit, Easier Said Than Done." Collaboration, much like generosity, requires humility, respect for others' perspectives, and an intentional effort to communicate and integrate feedback. It’s about giving input without overshadowing others, sharpening intuition through collective insight, and delivering feedback with appreciation and conscientiousness.

In Our Nonprofit Magazine

BitterSweet Monthly, our in-house magazine, features the work of organizations doing inspiring and important work in response to critical social issues. Ranging in topics from refugee care to financial literacy, food deserts to elder care, anti-trafficking to housing for the homeless, we have vigorously sought out hope and inspiration even amidst poverty, injustice, corruption, and disease. Our goal is to shed light on these issues and encourage our readers to take action in their own communities.

The magazine itself is a testament to the generosity of our team. The content is created and curated entirely by our community of creative contributors who volunteer their time and talent. Together, we celebrate stories of beautiful, radical self-giving and champion the impact of those working towards positive change in our world. Our agency is the lead sponsor and underwriter of this work.

Challenges of Living Generously

Embodying generosity as a core value is not without its challenges. In the fast-paced world of creative agencies, where deadlines loom large and pressure runs high, maintaining a generous attitude can be tough. It requires deliberate effort to stay open-minded, seek understanding, and avoid taking things personally.

One of the main challenges is balancing generosity with the need for efficiency. Generosity calls for patience and a willingness to invest time in listening, learning, and helping others. However, the demands of agency life often push us toward quick fixes and rapid results. The key is finding a balance where we can uphold our values while meeting the practical needs of our business.

A Rare and Radical Way of Being

Despite these challenges, we believe that maintaining a posture of generosity is a rare and radical way of being in today’s world. It sets us apart from other agencies and allows us to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with our clients and within our team. Moreover, it provides us with a sense of purpose and fulfillment that goes beyond mere business success.

In a world where the norm is to protect one's interests, generosity stands out as a courageous counter-way. It’s a conviction that drives us to continuously improve, not just for our benefit but for the benefit of everyone we interact with. We’re lucky to get to live with this conviction every day, and we invite you to join us on the journey of generosity.


As you reflect on your journey as a creative professional or marketing executive, consider how the value of generosity might transform your approach. What is the opposite of 'a generous approach' in your context? What pressures challenge your generous posture or attitude on a daily, weekly basis? Tell us what you think, we'd love to hear!

By Kate Schmidgall ,Bittersweet Creative Founder, Director