Day 425

WE DID IT! As of tomorrow evening, we've officially completed The Great Agency Adventure and although it took 14 months to get here, a part of me wishes it could continue for another 14.

For the past few months, I’ve constantly found myself wondering how best to close out this unbelievable journey. I’d write down some ideas here and there, but they were all deleted out of frustration. I just couldn't come up with a summary that gives this tremendous experience the curtain call it deserves. There’s too much to discuss; too many people to thank.

I’ve met so many wonderful individuals across this great nation of ours and connected with thousands more via social media. I’ve found friends in places I’d only read about in books. I’ve seen sights that some only experience through pictures. This project has been a dream come true and I hope everyone enjoyed taking part in it. That’s why I’ve decided to use this blog to highlight the individuals that helped make #TGAA not only possible, but incredible. If there’s one thing I learned time and time again, it’s that friends make all the difference. Friends are a constant that transcend boundaries, borders and state lines. Friends open up your world, introduce you to new things and stand by you regardless of where you are.

So, while I know this list is available on the “Great People” page of the site, I wanted to include it in my final #TGAA blog as well. Everyone below deserves an endless amount of praise, because they helped make this entire thing happen and I’ll never forget that.

Connie Taylor — John E. Taylor — Louis Maldarelli — Peter Gargiulo — Tim Horak — Andrew Brienza — Tom Albrighton — Shawn Webster — Joe Meadows — The lovely individuals at Kreative.com — Birch Norton — Brittany Birkett — Chris Jungjohann — David Oakley — Dion Hughes — Jason Schwartz — Jim Harper — Kim Berndt — Laura Kubinski — Leila Thabet — Maureen Morrison — Rufina Chang — Steve O'Connell — Tim Dyer — Tim Zeller — Vera Fischer — Alison Strickland — Barbara Levy — Dave McMurray — Monica Saylor — Kelly White — John R. Taylor — Tom Lix — Jillian Kurvers — Mark Gross — Juan Sanchez — Theresa and Dennis Balogh — Kyle Klein — Becky Gorman —Orlando Rosas — Holly Jee — Bria Topper —Alison Murphy — Zack Kinslow — Allan Kneale — Kristina Jansons — Jared Scott — June Leddy — Dave Batista — Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Smith — Jared Wicker — Ben Whitla — Jeremy Borthwick — Andy Primeau — Josh Sims — Richard Shideler — Josh Teixeira — Scott Niejadlik — Marita Stapleton — Josh Deane— Tim T. at This Advertising Life — Levi Patterson — Scott Huber — Davis Cox — Stephen Swift — Ryan Work — Ashley Riehlin — Miranda Fung — Rebecca Gibson — Ceci Menchetti — Grace Gordon — Luke Carrell — Jillian Pavsner — Melanie Hope — Nicole Ghobrial — Jacob Wilson —Alexandra Skae — Melanie Niklas — Fiona Callaghan — Jay Newell — Garrett Close — Kristen DiLandro — Kristen DiLandro — Benjamin Arnold — Connor Rose — Roxanne Oliver — Charlie Glover — Dan Kleinman — Daniel Stein — Todd Taylor — Woodbine — Ben McCool — The great people at DesignTaxi.com — Allison Berger — Dan Orlando — Jillian Wong — Pete Norwood — Rafael Oliveira — Meg Dibley — Andy Joos — Bryan McGee — Vic Carreno — Doug Keith — Allison Berger — Steve Red — Kelsey Kovalcik — Annie Heckenberger — Mark Likosky at the Philly Egotist — Farheen Aqueel — Jason Sicilliano — Abbas Naqvi — Ray Bartkus — Daniel Harris at IWG — Gordon Young at TheDrum.com — Philip Di Salvo at Wired.it — Jason Schoch — Drew Shaman — Cristen Capron — Mike Borell — Nick Nemeth — Danny Gassaway — Ashley Reker — Mary Gross — Maggie Deininger — Emily Haney — David Hamrick — Fran Taylor — Curtis Petraglia — Matt Mroczka — Ben Santoriello — Matt Rubel — Jennifer Faull — Kenya Madyun — Eliza Carney — Lindsey King — Adam Oldfield — Claire Oakley — Geri Holmes — Ben Couvillion — Mandy Young — Kelsey Taylor — Blaine Loyd — Hallie Miller — Laura Drangmeister — Martin Wilford — Ben Colar — Warner Russell — Michael Phillips — Andrew Lebowitz — Casey Latiolais — Sara Latiolais — Jeff Rifkin — Sarah Rockwell — Holly Whitfield — Jake Houvenagle — Dave Scott — Parker Gibson — Rick Hecke — Monica Castello — Darrick Hays — Wesley Hoffman — Javier Leiva — Kevin Kelly — Matt Reedy — Joe Stephens — Archie McKinlay — Claire Wasserman — Jon Copp — Tony Biaggne — Heather Durham — Craig Miller — Ben Ruggiero — Aleksa Westwater — Gary Hudson — Amado Carrasco — Louis Feider — Kyle Goethals — Jeff Canzona — Angela Vitzthum — Luke Hausman — Eric Guth — Aleksa Westwater — Bob Berg — Judy Oskam — Eric Fawcett — Kevin Hughes — Eric Fawcett — Lotti Anderson — Danielle Fullerton — Bill Roden — Debbie Fischer — Heath Rudduck — Dustin Naugle – Matt Thompson — Elyse Ash — Sam Johnsrud — Russ LeBlanc — Perry Morris — Maria Roepke — Heather McCollum — Brian Skalak — Chris Spong — Andy Sims — Tim Letscher — Eric Husband — Victoria Sullivan — Russ LeBlanc — Mary Funk — Briana Chenkin — Olivia Claypool — Zoe Cooper — Kristen Humphrey — Daniel Alvarez — Carson Barker — E. Gigi Taylor Ph.D. — Larry Coffman — Amanda Wood — Jim Haven — Phil Shigo — Matt Peterson — Elise Drake — Hilary Lee — Gage Mitchell — Michelle Taraba —  Alison Tintle — Jaclyn Hardgrove — Chelsea Nybo — Jaime Diskin — Benj Burke — David Alkire — Nicole Gleadle — Chet Ford — Ryan Hammill — Ryan Mitchell — Jake Ferrigno — M'Elena Holder — Anna Taylor — Maria Scheleen — Lauren Willoughby — Erin Leach-Kemon — Ben Waldron — Rob Rosenthal — Maschell Cha — Josh Schield — Barry Amundson — Travis Fulton — Katelyn Kerns — Ann Kaleshnik — Craig Schommer — Dave Becker — Lenny Self — Chad Wallace — Duncan Alexander — Scott Carver — Adam Shaylor —  Simeon Roane — Buck Wise — Jesus Cameron — Ursula Tran — Christine Hurty — David Bird — Miranda Maney — Patrick Maravi — Alex Grinton — Steve Babcock — Lee McKenna — Shane Ginsberg — James Gassel — Michelle Sjöberg — Michelle Maben — Jacqui Abel — Karin Djelaj — Matt Dimmer — Ryan Scott — Joanna Mostov — Aaron Thompson 

As for my blog, I’ll continue to update it once I’ve had some time to reconnect with my family (I haven’t seen them in over a year after all). I’m not sure what’s next for me or where I’ll end up, but until I figure all of that out I can’t consider the project over. So, be sure to stay tuned as we begin the next chapter.

I hope to see you again soon,

-Steve-

Day 383

I’ve always known that like the ocean, the ad industry is defined by its never-ending movement. Yet, over the past year, I’ve come to learn just how much things can change in a year’s time. Some things come about unexpectedly and others are welcomed with open arms. There have even been times they've caused more than a handful of hiccups for the project. I chalk it up as a learning experience and think you’ll agree much of what’s happened spells good things for the industry as a whole—or at the very least that many of the agencies I’ve visited are on the fast track to greater success.

Way back in the planning process, whenever a new agency would join the project, I was always given a point of contact to speak with prior to my impending arrival—that’s 14 different people in 14 different offices. The interesting thing about it all is that of those 14 people, only seven of them were still working at the agency on my first day.

What I learned over time was that a majority of them went on to higher-paying jobs or other industries entirely. Of course, the people still at the agencies had nothing but positive things to say about these folks, so I consider it as good things happening to good people. It's also an uplifting sign about the current state of hiring within the industry too. That’s always welcomed news, if you ask me.

A number of agencies also rebranded at some point during the project—TRISECT (who dropped their '3') in Chicago, Campbell Mithun (now just Mithun) in Minneapolis and Y&R Group (formally Wunderman) in Seattle. Whether it’s through an acquisition or the result of changes within the agency, you can’t deny that every once in awhile a new coat of paint can do wonders.

It could've all been spurred by a change in management, location or focus, but they all know you have to keep up with current trends if you hope to continually find success. The same goes for people working within the industry. That’s why a lot of creatives end up going back to school, attending monthly seminars or furthering their education in some shape or form. Relevancy is a magical thing.

The final change I’ve come to notice has to do with location. Three agencies have since relocated their office since my departure (97 Degrees West, Mithun and We Are Social) and Evolution Bureau is actually moving their office from San Francisco to Oakland next month. On top of that, Recess Creative added more space, Red Tettemer opened a west coast branch (stop #14) and I wouldn’t be shocked if Pollinate and Boxing Clever relocate within the next year, because they’re bursting at the seams with growth. It’s exciting to watch these agencies succeed, especially as I now consider many of them to be friends. 

What it all comes down to is that this is not an industry for procrastinators, dilly-dallyers or lazy asses. Everything moves at such a rapid pace, if you close your eyes for too long it will pass you by. In the end, I think it’s safe to say that determination and hard work really do pay off in the ad world. I’ve seen far too many instances of it across this country for it to be a coincidence. Do your very best, keep up with current trends and never be afraid to try something new. Those are the lessons I’ve learned and that’s what keeps me moving forward in this crazy, crazy business.

-Steve-

Day 312

I have to say that my first week here at Y&R Group Seattle is going rather swimmingly. I’m already immersed in a variety of projects and the people in the office have been absolutely wonderful to me. Everyone seems to be genuinely interested in the project and there’s more than a handful, who have been following along from the very beginning. It’s pretty weird to have conversations with people I just met about things that happened to me months ago. Sometimes I forget that I blog about this stuff.

The Y&R office, itself, is a rather large departure from the cozy, home-like atmosphere of 97 Degrees West. The space offers a lot of modern accents that focus on clean lines, collaborative areas and amazing views of the city. They even have a roof deck that allows you to take in miles and miles of Seattle’s skyline. Of course, they’re also all about celebrating Seattle’s culture, which is why every conference room is named after a Seattle-based band. It is rather funny to say, “Hey, let’s meet in Pearl Jam. Oh, it’s booked? Let’s head to Nirvana then.”

Another great element of the office is their kitchen. To say it’s fully stocked would be an understatement. Not that I’m going to try, but I’m pretty sure I could live off the morsels they offer here—from tabletops loaded with fruit, chips and crackers to cabinets filled with cereal, peanut butter, yogurt and loaves of bread. Clearly, this is one agency that knows health and happiness begins with the stomach.

Aside from the delicious snacks and colorful décor, Y&R is populated by a very diverse and lively group of creatives and agency folk. Just peeking at the desks around the office, you’ll find evidence of gamers, sports fans, cooks, runners, hikers, artists, musicians—people from all walks of life. They’re from all over the country too. I’ve already met two people from Cleveland and my desk neighbor just moved here from Philadelphia a few weeks ago.

One thing I’m really looking forward to next week is attending the Seattle Interactive Conference. Y&R is putting a really awesome booth together and they’ve invited me along for the ride. This year’s theme is all about celebrating the “makers” of the world—a group I’ve become rather close with over the past 10 months. I haven’t been to many ‘professional’ conferences, so I’m excited to see what they’re like. And after hearing what the agency has in store for their area, I can’t wait to see it brought to life. Of course that rings true for just about everything they have me working on.

It’s going to be a fun month, indeed.

-Steve-