Joe Rinaldi | [Top Agency Series] Servant Leadership and Rebounding from a Crisis
Smart Business Revolution

Joe Rinaldi is the Principal at That Was Clutch, a consulting practice focused on growing successful client service organizations. He is a people connector, community builder, and sales strategist. Joe helps client service agencies, internal team consultants, and enterprise teams to level up their business development and client service practices. He has also built custom teams and engagements for enterprises that need trusted partners to create their next iOS app, build a large-scale website, or punch out priorities on their digital product roadmap. Joe is also a coach, consultant, and Adjunct Professor at Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. 

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Joe Rinaldi, the Principal at That Was Clutch, about the leadership strategies he used to save an agency going through a crisis. Joe also explains how he helps clients gain more control over their businesses and increase revenue, his process-oriented business approach, and his tips for overcoming tension and pushback when pivoting a business.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Joe Rinaldi’s experience taking over leadership at Happy Cog during a crisis
  • The servant leadership approach Joe used to lead Happy Cog and how he diversified the firm’s revenue
  • Tips for overcoming tension and pushback when pivoting a business 
  • How Joe helps clients increase revenue and gain more control over their businesses
  • Joe talks about his new project with Brett Harned 
  • The peers Joe respects and how to get in touch with him

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14 

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution. John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host this show. Every week, you know, I get to talk to smart CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies ranging from YPO to EO, Netflix, Kinko’s, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, OpenTable, many more. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help to connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And this is part of our top agency leaders series, where we dive into some of the issues that are affecting this vibrant area of the economy agencies, digital agencies in particular, and some of the things that they’re doing to help companies to evolve and survive in this new digital world that we’re living in. And a couple of quick shout outs. First a Laura Boyer at BlackBean Marketing. Go to, she told me that, hey, you gotta reach out to Joe and have him on the show. And so that’s why I did it. And also a thank you to Carl Smith, Bureau of Digital who I think many times on this show, because he has an amazing community called Bureau of Digital, which I participate and Joe does as well. So my guest is Joe Rinaldi. He’s a people connector community builder, sales strategist. He helps client services agencies, internal teams, and consultants and enterprise teams to level up their business development and client services practices. He’s also built custom teams and engagements for enterprises that need trusted partners create their next iOS app, build a large scale website or punch out priorities on their digital product roadmap. So he’s a coach, consultant, also an adjunct professor at Drexel University. And I’m really excited to have him here today.

And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses to get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done for your podcast and content marketing, go to, or email us at [email protected] if you want to learn more. All right, Joe, it was a pleasure to have you here. And I wanted to dive into your story in particular, there was a moment in time about six or seven years ago, you were working at Happy Cog, which is an agency that we’ve had. So a couple of other guests, Brett Harned was one who we’ll touch on again later in the show, who was also there. And you’re working there and and a bunch of stuff hits the fan all at once. You’ve got a you’ve got a an agency is doing pretty well at the time. But last couple of big businesses. And this, by the way is what keeps me up at night is this this kind of scenario, but you at the time we’re doing business development and and it’s like you get drafted to the big leads, like, go to it. Yeah, we got a six or $7 million agency that’s hit a crisis of epic proportions, and 20 or so people whose livelihoods are depending on you. And you who studied leadership studies. In college, I think this is so beautiful, like holy crap. All right. Remember all that stuff you learned in college, everything you read in the book, go to it. So take me back, what was that like to suddenly get drafted and and have to take over at such a moment of crisis?

Joe Rinaldi 3:33

It was a crucible and say the least I it was a it was an amazing experience. But it was also, you know, really fraught, I think part of the reason why I was a likely candidate to assume that kind of role was was partly that I had the experience I had, but partly was because I think it was just perceived that I cared the most about the team and the agency outside of, you know, leadership, I think that there was this decision that leadership wanted to kind of step back a little bit and create some space and they needed someone to come in to kind of occupy that space. And, you know, if for no other reason, I think part of the reason I was thrust into that role was I was the one that loved Happy Cog the most and I cared about it the most. So on top of the steep learning curve, and kind of punching my way out of that situation, I think it was, you know, playing on my heartstrings in a way that was also pretty crucial as well. So I think it was it was kind of all in it, but it was a complex, you know, intellectual exercise. It was also kind of an emotional journey to kind of go through it was buckwild I mean, it really was It was fascinating and really life changing and and make it was just a singular moment that I think my career kind of pivots around in a lot of ways.

John Corcoran 4:53