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 340

I’m only four days into my tenure at Pollinate and it’s already shaping up to be one of the best months I’ve encountered on the project. From the moment I walked through the door, everyone here has been eager to help me understand Portland and all of the things it has to offer. Thanks to my new colleagues, I already have more than enough suggestions and I’d say that’s a great problem to have. I already feel right at home here and even before the first day ended, it seemed as if I’d been working here for years. I guess it just goes to show how friendly the people of Portland are. I haven’t run into a single bad egg yet.

Aside from the overt kindness, Pollinate is also a very unique agency in many other regards too. The agency consists of a small group of highly dedicated individuals, who are all masters at what they do. Because of this, they’re able to offer clients an end-to-end experience, encapsulating everything from development and creative to planning and execution. It’s all extremely fascinating, because for the level of work they produce, you’d think they have a team of a couple hundred.

Of course, all that hard work clearly demands an equal amount of fun—and they know how to have it. I think that’s why I always enjoy smaller agencies. When there’s no HR department to overthink things, people feel more comfortable in being who they are. And when you combine that freedom with a group who really gets along, you’re always in for an unconventional, highly entertaining workday.

I suppose that’s why Pollinate reminds me a lot of Boxing Clever and Recess Creative. They all share a common bond in being masters of the work hard / play hard mentality. Then again, the high-energy they exude from their single-room office, also reminds a lot of BEAM, We are Social and BooneOakley. So, perhaps that says something about the participating #TGAA agencies? You be the judge.

On Monday night, I also got the chance to catch up with my friend Alex. He actually moved from Cleveland to Portland a few months before I started to plan the whole project out. We talked about how much of a departure the west coast is from the Midwest and also delved into all things soccer, LeBron James and past work experiences.

He was even kind enough to show me around the northwest part of Portland. And it just might be the “Williamsburg” neighborhood I always like to look for in every city. Only time will tell. I’m actually going to interview Alex about his move and post it at some point this month. I think it's a great story and I want to help him share it with you.

All in all, I’ve had a great start to the month and I look forward to what the weekend will bring.

-Steve-

Day 214

It feels a bit weird being in Chicago. I’m not sure if it’s the crazy weather or just that I was having an absolutely blast in St. Louis, but something feels… different. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact we’ve officially entered the second half of The Great Agency Adventure. After all, being a little road weary at this point is to be expected.

Lucky for me, I’ve landed at Stop #8, Chicago’s own, TRIS3CT. I’m in my third day here and thus far, things are going rather well. The office spans two and a half floors of a building just outside of the Greektown neighborhood, offering a very open space with low dividers, plenty of couches and a number of playfully named breakout rooms. It actually reminds me a lot of BEAM’s space, because of how the floor plan lends itself to organic divisions amongst the teams. You can tell that collaborative thinking is front and center here too. Nearly every wall is filled with magnetic sheets, chalkboards and dry erase boards; each one covered with various projects and ideas. I'm actually getting pretty excited to gain a better understanding of TRIS3CT's process, especially when it comes to the whole "3" thing. 

As for the people that work here? Well, everyone I’ve met so far has been really awesome. On my first day in the office, I got to join in on a (heartbreaking) World Cup viewing with most of the team. And much to my delight, I also signed up for the agency’s upcoming “Iron Chef” competition, which takes place on my last Friday here. I don’t want to do any trash talking or anything, but let’s just say, I hope everyone else brings their A-game. Some of the agencies I've already visited will attest to my skills in the kitchen, I'm sure. 

One last element that’s going to make for a rather interesting month is that I’m renting an AirBnB room, rather than an apartment. That means throughout my stay, I’ll be joined by a revolving door of roommates, who will occupy the adjacent room. It's certainly going to take some getting used to, but at least I'll get to meet a lot of new and interesting people.

I think that’s about all I have to report for now. 214 days down. 212 days to go.

-Steve-