Day 305

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being on the road, it’s that every agency offers their own unique set of perks.  And in turn, those perks play a pivotal role in the overall culture and appeal of that agency. They encompass a wide array of themes, but each one helps to create and sustain an environment that is appealing to those who work there.

It’s true that some perks can be found in many, if not most, agencies. Things like free breakfasts, beer kegs and community candy drawers are all things I’ve come across again and again. However, most places also offer some very unique benefits. And they're the most important of all, because they help the agency stand out from the pack. For instance, BooneOakley has a fridge stocked with client products and often treats the team to home-cooked meals. Both of which help to reinforce their more casual and laid back environment. At Boxing Clever, they allow team members to take a “tattoo recovery day” if they ever get some fresh ink done and also maintain a near endless supply of records in the office. In the end, these highly specific perks attract a certain type of person to the agency in question (I’m included in both pools).

The best agencies I’ve visited don’t just offer random, off-the-wall perks to win over their team members. No, they bake these bonuses into their established cultures to help reinforce the agency’s values and expectations. That’s why BooneOakley, Boxing Clever and 99% of the other agencies I’ve visited stand out as employers. They don’t offer things for the sake of offering them. They do it because they want to reward the team for their hard work and do it in a way that matters. They listen. They understand. I mean, you won’t see Red Tettemer handing out gold watches or diamond-encrusted pens anytime soon. It’s not right for the team they’ve built and they know it. 

In the end, I think one of the best examples comes from Recess Creative in Cleveland. I always talk about how much it felt like a family there and I wasn’t lying. They’re a small group doing big things and enjoying every minute of it. I think a big part of that has to do with how enjoyable Tim and Chris make each day. They understand everyone in that office and know what makes them tick. That allows them to offer perks on the fly or base them on a particular season, situation or event. From annual holiday traditions to random “in the moment” offerings, they make sure every single perk and benefit reflects their culture—and it shows.

Last December, Recess set high expectations for this entire project and I feel extremely lucky to be visiting so many other great agencies that continue to surprise me with their unique and wonderful cultures. It’s a beautiful thing when everyone at an agency loves what they do and pours that emotion into their work every single day. 

-Steve-

Day 302

When I began the project last December, something rather interesting happened—I rediscovered donuts (or doughnuts, if you want to get fancy). Why is that interesting? Well, you see, before that I hadn’t eaten a donut in close to four years. When you’re living in NYC, I guess it just makes sense to always opt for the bagel joint. Yet, here I am, absolutely delighted that I stumbled upon this renaissance of sugary goodness.

Sure, I’ve always known I’d be hitting up Voodoo Donuts in Portland. But never once did I consider there would be equally creative and delicious confections in every other stop along the way too. It’s been 10 months and I’m convinced that this is no longer a string of random discoveries. Rather, this is a full-on donut revolution. Just take a look at some of the places I’ve already been:

Still on the to-do list: Top Pot in Seattle, Voodoo in Portland, Dynamo in San Francisco and finally, Randy's in LA.

What makes these shops so exciting is the love they have for their craft. Some focus on all-natural ingredients and season flavors, while others turn the whole concept on its head. But, they all push the boundaries of what a donut is in one way or another. I’ve enjoyed a Banh Mi donut at Strange, a Fried Chicken donut at Gourdough’s and a Peanut Butter & Sriracha donut at Glam Doll. Needless to say, they aren’t flavors or combinations you’d expect. Yet they’ve all been absolutely satisfying and delicious.

So… why donuts? I’m not 100% sure, but I think it has something to do with the small memories of home I enjoy with each bite. They remind me of Sunday mornings when my father would run down to the donut shop for a dozen cream sticks. They bring to mind a crisp fall morning, sitting outside a bakery in Cleveland. To me, they personify one of those rare calm moments when I can shut off my brain and just enjoy the things around me.

I think this unplanned—and ongoing—discovery just goes to show that there are young creatives all over this country pushing the boundaries in any number of fields. You just never know when you’ll stumble upon a new calling in life. That’s why you should always been on the look out. But most importantly, if you’re passionate about something, whether it be donuts, art, music or web design, always remember to give it your all. You might just start a revolution.

Now, bring on the donuts!

-Steve-

Day 298

Let’s hear it for numbers!

I wanted to begin by mentioning that this is the 100th blog I've written since I started #TGAA. Hooray for that! But, more importantly, today seems like the confluence of a lot of different factors—and they all have to do with the number 3. Not only are we about to reach the new milestone of Day 300, but over the weekend I also received my 300th question via the site. To top it all off, the question itself has the number 3 in it! It’s all a bit too coincidental if you ask me. Perhaps the universe is sending me a message that I need to play the lotto this week? Well, before I get carried away with my picks, let’s get to answering that inquiry.

Hey Steve, I’ve been following your journey ever since your stop in Charlotte. I know you’re getting pretty close to the end and I was curious—how would you describe each of the cities you’ve visited in just three words or less?” — Jeff K.

First off, thanks for the question Jeff and kudos on being #300. It’s true that we’re nearing the final months of the project. That’s still a really crazy thing to try and wrap my head around. But as for answering your question, I think I’d go with these:

Cleveland: Hard-working, Ambitious, Sincere

Boston: Cozy, Passionate, Neighborly

New York City: Energetic, Fun, Purposeful

Philadelphia: Honest, Comfortable, Supportive

Charlotte: Warm, Devoted, Relaxed

Memphis: Humble, Muddled, Spirited

St. Louis: Independent, Electrifying, Youthful

Chicago: Spry, Enthusiastic, Gracious

Minneapolis: Breathtaking, Active, Purposeful

Austin: Lively, Impulsive, Loud

When I think back to my personal experiences in each city, these are the words that come to mind. But, if anyone out there is ever truly curious about what a city is like, I highly recommend you make a point to visit it. In the past 10 months, I’ve learned so much and while I’m doing my best to share it with each and every one of you, I'm discovering there's no substitute for seeing things first hand. As always, if you have any questions—especially about budgeting a trip or money-saving tips—just drop me a line. I’m more than happy to extend my newfound knowledge of such things. It's the least I can do, since I couldn't physically bring you with me. 

On a side note, I want to thank Daniel Alvarez and Trademark Media for the great lunch n’ chat on Wednesday, and also E. Gigi Taylor, Ph.D. for inviting me to talk with her students at Texas State this morning. It was a great time all around! Oh, and let's not forget Postano, who continues to sponsor my chats and Q&A events! They're awesome for doing it. 

Well, that’s it from me today. I’ll see you all on the other side of 300!

-Steve-