Barbary Coast Consulting – yes, it’s an uncommon name. I’m asked about it a lot. The historical origins of the name trace back to the California Gold Rush of the 1800s, and the Moroccan coast in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. During their heyday, both of those regions were dubbed the Barbary Coast – areas where unpredictability, uncertainty, and the unexpected were the only things upon which folks could rely. Without an experienced guide, a well-meaning person would find their pockets empty, serving someone else’s goals, and utterly bewildered by Byzantine local customs, feuds, and practices. I felt our deeply historic (and somewhat whimsical) name might set us apart from our other esteemed competitors – and I hung out my shingle, offering to serve as that guide to people wishing to find insights into the complex maze that is San Francisco politics.
But knowing that I was a much better teammate than a leader, and that Barbary Coast would fail as a solo operation, I immediately started attempting to convince remarkable people to join Barbary Coast. And the folks who work at Barbary Coast have built their own extraordinary reputations – they are known as some of the Bay Area’s sharpest, deepest, most educated, most thoughtful, and most effective advocates. Our team includes people with experience in policy, government, advocacy, business, academia, community organizing, the media, and more.
We’ve expanded our practice since our early days – we’ve handled local, regional, and national creative communications challenges for our ever-growing and varied set of clients. We all work hard to be at the top of our games in a few disciplines, and good generalists in all facets of communications. Based on the quotes you’ll see around this website, it’s clear that our clients feel that we succeed.
And there’s another key difference between Barbary Coast and most of the other firms we know about – we share. We share responsibility for achieving our clients’ goals amongst ourselves, we share responsibility for taking the fun, high-stakes, high-level meetings with elected officials amongst ourselves, and anyone at Barbary Coast who can master our key disciplines is eligible to earn into some portion of ownership. I have a goal to give away at least sixty percent of this company to my colleagues who provide our clients with outstanding service and stick around for the long term.
It’s also important to me that my colleagues know that they don’t just get to earn their salary, share in profits, and possibly earn some equity in the company – but that the hierarchical structure is theirs for the earning, as well. In 2009, I stepped out of my role as President, and named my senior colleague Jaime Rossi to that position. And in 2013, Jaime and I appointed our colleague Alexis Smith as Managing Partner. (We’d morphed from a corporation to a partnership during that time – ergo the title change.) Our clients know that when they’re talking to a member of our executive team, they’re receiving direction from a seasoned, battle-tested, capable leader – and we’re eager to keep developing those skills in our more junior staff, as well.
We’ve got an uncommon name. We’re blessed with uncommonly excellent talent on our roster. And we have an uncommon equity structure and an uncommon ability to share. I think that makes us an uncommon team – top to bottom, from our least senior associate to Managing Partner Smith.
Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about Barbary Coast Consulting. Be in touch if you’d like to learn more.
Alex Clemens, Founding Partner