Day Sixty One

 OBEY in Boston

OBEY in Boston

Well folks, my time in Boston has officially come to an end. It’s a rather bittersweet feeling, because I wasn’t able to do nearly as much as I would’ve liked to. Whether it was rain, snow or an odd combination of the two, the weather seemed to sabotage me at every turn. Yet, as I post this in my final hours here, a sense of accomplishment is beginning to wash over me.

Sure, the winter weather wasn’t ideal, but I guess that’s part of Boston’s charm. Some days, you can go out and have a blast. Others, you just stay inside and rest in front of your wood-burning stove. In fact, that’s something I'll always remember about Boston—the sweet smell of hickory smoke filling the air every time it snowed.

In addition to experiencing a true New England winter, BEAM offered me the opportunity to engage with an entirely new agency culture. While I don’t think I got to know everyone as well as I wanted to, I’m thrilled to have shared the experience with such an awesome group of people. From engaging meetings to evenings on the town, they brought me into the fold and made me feel right at home.

Of course, this "wrap up" post wouldn’t be complete without talking about the hostel. I don’t think I slept through an entire night during my stay there. And I still have this lingering taste of faux scrambled eggs in my mouth. Yet, my time there afforded me a chance to encounter people from all over the world. I met a couple from Australia, backpackers from Sweden and some friends from Japan—all happily ready to swap stories with me. I’m still not sure if I’m cut out for hostel living, but it’s an experience I wouldn’t change for the world.

All in all, Boston was nothing short of eventful. But for now, I turn my attention to my home away from home, New York City. I’m sure that as we inch closer to Spring, I’ll have more tales to tell. I'm just hoping I don’t have to deal with another blizzard in the Big Apple. After all, I arrived in Boston during a snowstorm and I’ll be getting into New York during Super Bowl weekend—I’m not sure which is worse, but boy do I have some poor planning skills.

P.S. – For those living in Boston, I highly recommend checking out Stephen Swift’s Trash Night—now at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square. It had me rolling in the aisles. Think of it as a mix between Tim and Eric and Mystery Science Theater 3000, where the audience is encouraged to get loaded and yell at cheesy movies.

I'll see you in NYC,

-Steve-

Day Fifty Seven

Boston's Theater District

Here in Boston, collaboration is the name of the game. Even the hostel has a section devoted to it. Ascend the spiral staircase in the lobby and you’ll be transported to Collaboratory 4.0, an area dedicated to the creation of new ideas and collective thinking. Adorned with dry erase paint, the walls are filled with scribbles, equations and evidence of past projects. Most of the words are illegible, but you can see many minds have been hard at work in the space. It’s a very inspiring thing to see.

Once I exit the hostel, a quick trip east takes me by the Berkeley Community Garden. Although closed for the season, the space extends an entire block, filled edge-to-edge with fenced off sections of soil. I can’t even begin to image how lively this area must be in the warmer months. I’d estimate there are nearly 300 different gardens, each one complimenting the personality of its owner with trinkets, ornaments and decorations. It’s a testament to what a neighborhood can truly accomplish when they come together for a unified purpose.

Taking a stroll north on Tremont, you can’t help but notice the various installations, murals and art that line the streets of downtown Boston—even the electrical boxes are used as canvas. It’s a beautiful sight to not only see artists working together for recognition, but also that the city continues to inspire and encourage these endeavors. I know such a mindset varies city by city; some view graffiti artists as vandals, while others look to them for identity. I think Boston has found that great balance of historical preservation and artistic innovation.

Then, when I enter the BEAM office each and everyday, I know the space will be filled with chatter—from the desks and offices, to the conference rooms and beyond. Everyone here is working together toward a common goal. I felt the same vibe at Recess. There are no lone wolves within these walls. Each and every member of BEAM is working in unison with his or her team. It's creative collaboration at its finest—at least in my opinion.

Collaboration breeds better results, no matter what the goal may be. 

-Steve-

Day Fifty Three

Artwork from Myers + Chang

The other night, I was trying to think of ways BEAM and Recess differ as agencies. And to be completely honest, I found they have more in common than I would’ve thought. They work hard, play hard and have a knack for concocting outside-of-the-box ideas. Perhaps that’s why I so greatly admire them.

However, despite all the similarities, I’ve come to find that BEAM has an entirely different atmosphere. For most of the day, everyone here is either shuffling between meetings or buried in their work with an unbreakable concentration. It’s only when a burst of laughter rings out that I’m reminded how much fun everyone is having. I think there’s this odd stigma to offices, in that the only way to enjoy your work is to be loud, carefree and treated to an endless array of distractions. That's where BEAM and Recess break the mold. 

In truth, if you love the work you do, it’s not only rewarding—it’s entertaining. I think that’s my problem with a show like The Crazy Ones. It makes advertising appear to be a big party, full of quirky characters. Don’t get me wrong, this industry is full of personality, but fun always needs to be measured against the level of work you’re doing. If you work too hard, your creative will suffer. If you play too hard, you’ll achieve the same results.

While Recess and BEAM go about it in different ways, they’ve both achieved a balance that works to their advantage. I know I’ve briefly discussed this concept in a previous blog, but I’m beginning to see just how crucial that balance truly is. I’m also beginning to understand that it’s something you can’t force. This balance must come about naturally, by gathering a team that understands one another on multiple levels. These individuals form an agency’s personality, in turn creating that ideal balance.

I’ve worked in agencies where some people absolutely hate being there, day in and day out. And they toss everything out of whack. It’s almost like throwing a wrench into a car engine—no matter how well you take care of it; you’re going to end up ruining it. So, if there’s one lesson I want to convey in this blog, it’s this:

Don’t force your agency to be something it’s not. Build a team that understands one another and find a balance that works for everyone. That’s how you’ll find your true identity.

I think as I continue on this journey, I’m going to find that most, if not all, of the participating agencies have found strong, unique personalities that everyone can believe in. I know I do. 

-Steve-