"When you're pitching things you're more passionate about, your win rates are higher and your work is better," Zapwater Communications tells Doug Simon.

When Zapata looked back on the causes for his agency's recent growth, he says "what we realized is we're pitching less, but we're pitching things that we're really passionate about, our close rate on those pitches is now close to 70 percent this year. I think what's even more important, when the account team begins work on these new accounts that they're passionate about, the work is better so the client is happier."

It's also important to make sure that your staff shares the passions that fuel the agency's work. "When you come to an agency like Zapwater, you understand the type of clients that we're known for and that we work with." He also stresses the importance of strong working relationships between team members. "We view our team as family. An important thing is to really be respectful and understand everybody's differences, but also really buy into the culture we're trying to develop."

Zapata says that when scouting out for clients the agency wants to work with, he goes by "the three Ps," and while Zapwater wants its clients to be profitable and presitigious, he says that "at the end of the day, it's all about passion," being "really passionate about providing the work that this client needs."

Turning toward what the future holds for his firm, Zapata says that in addition to pushing his team to "consistently elevate our creativity," he sees a fourth office in the cards, joining Zapwater's offices in Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.

Those plans for a new office show the value that he gives to actually working in a physical location. "We've doubled the space in our office in Chicago and we're planning to do the same in Miami," Zapata tells Simon.

The rationale behind it, he says, is that the agency is in a hybrid model. "We don't mandate when people have to come to the office because I don't think that's flexible. I think if an agency says you need to be in Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, that's not flexibility."

But getting together in person when necessary remains a key component of that flexibility, he says. "Being flexible with the times and understanding the needs of employees, but also understanding that we are an agency, we need to get together, we need to ideate, we need to create, and we can't lose what makes us special as an agency."

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