Shaping our future

August 26, 2021
Keri Mesropov by Keri Mesropov, President

A sensational level of connection and intimacy is built between humans when we learn about each others’ values…what we really value in life, what we stand for down in our core.

It takes deep listening and investigation to form real understanding of what the people in our lives place value on. And sometimes, it takes a good shoulder shaking.

Back in the very early 90s, I was the marketing director of a ballet company. Each summer, my team and I would set aside a day to clean out the office, liberating space occupied by leftover collateral that would soon be replaced by next season’s marketing materials. We threw away thousands of dated and useless brochures, flyers, programs, postcards and posters. Yes, thousands.

On the eve of that particular clean-up day, I was meeting a college friend, who was in town, for dinner. He was picking me up and I couldn’t wait to see him.

My buddy pulled into the ballet’s parking lot just as I was hauling out the last box of wasted brochures into the trash. His car didn’t even come to a full stop as he jumped out of it, wide-eyed and clearly rocked.

“What did you DO?! What have you DONE, Keri?!”

Um, I dunno. What DID I do?

What ensued next was an emotional yet loving monologue. My dear friend sat me down in that parking lot and went on about the waste I was creating, the lack of respect I appeared to have for paper and its origins, how recycling THIS particular vat of paper could have an impact on the planet and my need to better project what quantities of this stuff I really needed to order each season.  


I listened. I watched him, deep in his eyes. My tossing out of paper had really triggered him.

My friend’s values were front and center. I learned how much he valued nature, its preservation and restoration. He valued renewable energy. He valued kindness, compassion and empathy. And my understanding of him, who he was, became so clear in this moment of me throwing away stuff into the trash. We connected more deeply than we ever had in the six years of knowing one another.

The pandemic has been TRG’s shoulder shake in so many ways, as I know it has been yours. Through this last 18 months, we here at TRG needed centering. We needed to revisit and learn anew what we valued as a company. We took a deliberate journey to tell stories from our company’s past, to express our personal values, and to react and input on the values that were emerging out of these steps. We learned not only who we are as a company now in 2021, but what each of our colleagues’ value for themselves. We connected with each other and continue to come together on these shared and collectively-built values. Most of all, we are inspired by how these values will weave into our work for you, our beloved arts sector.

You’ve known us. And yes, you’ll see we still and always will value results! But we hope you’ll get to know us more deeply, who we are today, as you read our freshly conceived values.  Tell us when you see us living them…and when we’re not. Moreover, we want to connect with you on your values and those of your organization….and in so doing, get to know you more seriously. Here, in a paper-less world and without the trash cans.


Our values:


People show up differently when they love something and believe in it. We love and believe in the industry for which we work, and its ability to strengthen the communities it serves. We are a group of talented, convicted, and resilient people: insistent on listening to our clients’ needs and champions of meaningful results. Our belief in this industry leads us to provocate, push, and rebel - and that means our company has a different spirit than most. 


Our founder, Rick Lester, was fond of saying “our clients know more about their business than we do.” That mindset remains at TRG: we don't know it all. We learn daily, from every experience we have with our clients and each other. We take our work seriously, but not ourselves – humor, heart, and humility are the guiding light through the hard work we do alongside our clients every day. 


At TRG, we reject racism and discrimination in all its forms. We believe diversity is fuel for innovation, results, and quality of experience in work and life. We are committed to facilitating conversation, study, and action on behalf of our field, to help create a more equitable world. All the while, we recognize this work is never finished. We will question and remove the structural barriers preventing equity – not only within our company, but also with our clients and on behalf of the arts and cultural sector we serve. 


Creativity is stitched into everything we do. We caretake creativity like we do data, results, and financial performance. TRG approaches work with creative thinking, which means we sometimes must take a step back. Our approach to solving problems is iterative – it’s based on what we know, but not bound to it. We'll throw out ideas when they stop working. We strive to adapt, then adapt, then adapt. 


At TRG, we start projects and conversations with a simple question: what’s your goal? From that moment forward, we’ll be relentless in our pursuit of it. If the goal isn’t clear, we’ll help point the way. We have an insatiable drive to achieve results - not just numbers, but the development of people, the creation of more equity, and the success of our industry. Success is never final, and results are never finished. 


Relationships - with each other, and with our clients - drive everything for TRG. We create and sustain connections because PEOPLE do the work of our field, not organizations, not software, not data. Developing people and teams is imperative for a thriving arts and cultural sector, and we relish working in the trenches with them every day.