Day 116

Well Philly, that’s all she wrote. I had such an amazing time at RTO+P and I’m beyond grateful to have been a small part of what they do here—if only for a second. I’d like to thank Steve O’Connell, Steve Red, Todd Taylor and everyone at the agency for treating me like family, teaching me so much and making my stop in Philly a memorable one.

As I enter month five of this journey, I thought it'd be cool to share some websites that helped me make the most of my first four stops. I know there are a ton of others, but I did my best to narrow it down to the top three in each location.

Cleveland — a true Cleveland institution, Scene Magazine not only sponsors a lot of events in the city, they know exactly where you should go any night of the week. — while mostly curated for visitors, the site does offer a lot great events in and around Cleveland’s many suburbs and surrounding cities. — you may not know this, but Cleveland has a very rich beer scene and Bobby is all about letting you know where to go and what to try.

Boston — as its description implies, this site will show you all of the events in and around Boston proper. — from ballet and opera to stand-up and lectures, here’s a great guide to the city’s most artistic offerings. — a must-have guide to Boston's culinary scene.

New York City — the end-all, be-all for the latest news and information throughout the five boroughs. If there is a new restaurant or shop opening, I found out about it here. — hipsters get a lot of crap, but they did build this awesome site, which keeps you in-the-know on music news, gallery openings and apartment listings in the area. — if you’re in need of new happy hour scenery or just want to check out a new concert venue, this site’s beautiful layout ensures you’ll never miss another good time.

Philadelphia — where to turn when you want the most up-to-date listing of events, exhibitions and creative happenings throughout the city. — from local job openings to the latest ad campaigns, this is a one-stop shop that will help you keep up at the water cooler. — Need to find something to do in your area? This site breaks down nearly every event in Philly by day, topic and even neighborhood.

I hope these sites are able to help others, as much as they helped me. Thanks again to everyone who made my first four locations such a magical experience. We're closing in on the half way point of the project, so let's keep the momentum going.

I’ll see you in Charlotte.


Day 113

The man himself, Steve Thompson

RTO+P is hands down one of the most interesting agencies I’ve ever come across. From their décor to their creative-first attitude, they certainly stand out from the pack. But did you know they also have one of the most unique positions you’ll see on a business card? Enter Steve Thompson, aka “The Maker”.

Is he an artist? A tinkerer? A mad scientist? I’d argue he fits into all three categories. You see, Steve’s role is to build just about everything and anything the agency might need. Whether that’s an in-lobby spectacle to woo potential clients or a commemorative piece of art to welcome a new hire, Steve is the man behind it all. Located a few steps west of the beer tap, his office looks more like an art room than an office space. It’s littered with cans of spray paint, jars of mysterious substances and a scattering of random objects—from rubber gloves and gas containers to pipe cleaners and floodlights. Even when he’s not in the office toiling away, you can instantly feel his buzzing energy just by looking through the doorway.

Many years ago, Steve started in the more familiar role of Art Director at RTO+P. During that time, he found himself taking on the role of in-house builder, because a lot of clients needed items produced on rather small budgets. As time wore on, that role become more and more predominant, until it became a full-time job of its own. Eventually, the partners discussed the idea of making it official and before you know it, the role of “Maker” was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

So where does Steve find his inspiration? “I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of talented and inspiring people here at RTO+P,” he said, “And at the risk of sounding cliché, my two daughters are a constant inspiration because of how creative they are with everything they encounter.” For individual projects, Steve digs deep into the essence of the brand, so his creations can embody its true voice and personality. He also references sites such as as sources of daily inspiration. 

Whether it’s a shot glass lantern for Icelandic Vodka brand, Reyka, or a trophy for Dial for Men’s “Muckdown” competition, Steve crafts works of art you won’t find anywhere else. Sure, “Maker” isn’t a job title you’ll come across in many agencies, but it’s a role Steve truly feels at home with. You can tell he’s passionate about what he does and it shows in the quality of his creations. His journey is a powerful reminder to always be yourself because you never know where it might lead you.

-Steve (Taylor, not Thompson)-

Day 109

Be Unforgettable. 

As my final week at RTO+P approaches, I have to admit that it’s been everything I dreamed it would be. This office, and everyone who calls it home, all share the distinct quality of being a little off center—but in a good way. There’s a different way of thinking here and it shows not only in their work, but also in this space that doubles as their safe haven for pure creativity. Additionally,  much like the other agencies I’ve visited thus far, this feels more like a family than it does a collection of co-workers. I know it’s a little vague to say, but RTO+Pgets it". They understand this industry for what it is and have learned how to create exceptional work, while still emerging with their sanity intact.

Things here are a little more casual, a little more relaxed. There’s energetic music pumping through every corner of the office, random outbursts of laughter from down the hall and even a few furry mascots you’ll see skittering around from time to time. That’s because, even on the most stressful of days, these elements work to keep the pressure down. They allow people to focus on the task at hand, rather than get overwhelmed by an approaching deadline or product launch. Would this type of atmosphere work for any agency? No. It works for RTO+P, because it’s a natural extension of their collective personalities. They have less red tape, which in turn means more freedom, so people can be themselves and deliver their very best work without hesitation. There are no “suits” here, only a team of highly talented and devoted mischief-makers.

Another thing that’s really impressed me in my time here is the constant free flow of ideas. Creatives are encouraged to consider all angles, even if they don’t fit the mold of what’s being proposed, because you never know where a gem might be hiding. It’s an important distinction, as some agencies get so nervous about delivering what a client wants, they often overlook an idea that could be what the client needs. Here, they put all their cards are on the table. It opens up new avenues, sparks new ideas, and for RTO+P, it helps deliver the outstanding creative they’re known for. In the end, it’s easy to see why the motto here is, “Anything’s Possible”.