Day 169

Well, there you have it. I know last Monday’s blog was a bit gloomy, but as I said, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I found it by way of Midtown Memphis. For everything downtown Memphis currently lacks, the midtown area picks up the ball and scores a three before you can even bat an eyelash. From record stores and brunch-friendly eateries to the Memphis Zoo and shops like Sweet Noshings, the area is teeming with life and exuberance.

Much like Charlotte’s NoLa, Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Cleveland’s Ohio City, it takes but a glance to realize this is where the creative twenty-somethings and young professionals have taken up residency. In fact, I’ve come to find that most of my Red Deluxe co-workers already live there. So, I’ll be the first to admit that just when I thought I'd seen all that Memphis has to offer, it continues to surprise and delight me in brand new ways.

The two areas of midtown I ventured to were Overton Square and Cooper Young. Both offer a variety of locally owned shops, restaurants and bars in addition to great entertainment options. In fact, Overton Square even has a weekly concert series called "Thursdays Squared". However, above all else, there was one thing that really caught my eye—Cowork Memphis—a modern building designed to accommodate freelancers, entrepreneurs and independent contractors. Needless to say, I believe every city would benefit from a place like this, because it encourages collaboration and connectivity—two things #TGAA is all about. Even though I came across it on a weekend, you could still see that it was teeming with life.  

After several hours of walking, I decided to stop into Boscos, where I struck up a conversation with a few locals who told me all about the city’s theaters and concert venues—from the Orpheum and Minglewood Hall to the Playhouse on the Square and Hattiloo Theatre. Each of which offers it’s own unique style and flair. They told me great stories of their past and how these venues are all apart of the growing diversity that is the Memphis creative scene. You might not notice it at first—I know I didn’t—but as I’ve said before, the people here are more than happy to tell you why this city is so great.

All in all, these new discoveries make a tad jealous, because most nights I see nary a soul outside of my apartment window. Sure, Beale Street is nearby and always full of energy, but much like Bourbon Street, it’s home to the city’s tourist population. I think that once Midtown’s energy begins stretching west toward the downtown area, this is going to be one city all creatives will want to keep on your radar.

I also found time to attend the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest over the weekend too. It's another awesome Memphis in May event and the place to go if you love delicious BBQ. I even learned about the stories behind the ceiling toothpicks at Huey’s and the ducks in the Peabody Hotel. I'd tell you all about them, but I don't want to spoil the excitement. 

-Steve-

Day 148

As I begin my final week in Charlotte, I wanted to take time to answer another question I received through the #TGAA website. I'd also like to preface it with a resounding, “Thank you,” to everyone who continues sending me questions and comments. It means a lot. 

This inquiry comes from Allan T. of Altoona, PA:

“Hi Steve, I’ve been reading your stuff for the past couple months and I’m curious; does it ever get lonely out there on the road? Thanks and I hope things continue going up and up. It’s cool to follow along with what you’re doing.”

Thanks for the question! Truth be told, it can get rather lonely from time to time. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to leave my friends and family for such an extended period of time. I mean, even when I was living in Brooklyn I’d still visit home every few months. However, this project is 14 months of non-stop travel. I do my best to call or text people regularly, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like enough. I’m experiencing so many wonderful things on my journey and I wish my friends were here to take part—but it is what it is. They understand and support what I’m trying to accomplish, so even though they aren’t here physically, I know they’re here in spirit.

Having said that, I'm not as alone as it would seem. I did manage to catch up with a lot of old friends and co-workers at my stop in the Big Apple and I have some friends in three of my future stops too. Another great thing is the number of people I’ve been meeting along the way. It’s been a blast getting to know everyone and becoming a part of their lives. Sure, it isn’t very fun when I leave after a month, but just encountering all these interesting people is a blessing in itself. I also think I’ve changed a lot personally from when I started this journey. I’ve never been the most social person, but experiencing so many new things has really forced me to open up. If 6 months ago you had told me I’d be taking part in run clubs and bar hops, I would have called you crazy. 

In the end, nothing feels the same as having good times with best friends, but I like to think things are going rather well. I also believe that by keeping this blog, I’m bringing everyone along for the ride. So, in a sense, I’m never alone. I’m only a few clicks away from sharing my next experience with the world.

Thanks for following along! I’m glad you could join me. 

-Steve-

Day Sixty Eight

The most delicious building in Times Square.

My first week at We Are Social has been eye opening to say the least. When I first heard of the agency, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, they’re unlike any other agency I know of. Sure, they focus on social (it’s in their name), but that’s only a starting point, as they then blend it with PR, marketing and digital to create innovative, engaging and effective communications.

Although formed in 2008, We Are Social still maintains the enthusiasm of a start up. Perhaps it’s the layout of the office or the youthful exuberance of the team, but I instantly felt a buzz the moment I walked in the door. And from what I’ve seen thus far, that energy translates directly into the work they’re doing here as well.

Whereas a traditional agency strives to create a consistent experience across TV, web, radio and print; We Are Social focuses on building a more immersive experience across social and all of its peripheral mediums. That’s what makes them so unique. They understand that it’s not about pushing a brand’s identity into yet another space. It’s about building lasting relationships with customers and turning those customers into a community of brand evangelists. In order to accomplish that, you have to create dialogue and actually listen to the people you’re engaging with.

I’ve already learned so much in this first week and it’s interesting to see how in-depth social can truly be. I’ve worked on social campaigns in the past, but nothing to extent of what they do here. I’m already excited to come back Monday morning.

Grand Army Plaza

Aside from being in the office, I had two incredible nights this week. The first was spent at the Amnesty International concert on Wednesday. Hosted at Barclays, it featured performances from Imagine Dragons, Cake, The Flaming Lips and a bunch of other great musicians. I’m always happy to support such a great cause, especially when I can listen to great music while doing so.

The next night, I went out with several of my former TMP co-workers, who I hadn’t seen since I moved last April. It was a blast to catch up with everyone and see how well they’re all doing. Hopefully, I’ll see them again before my time in NYC comes to a close. Honestly, I can never say enough good things about that group. 

To top off the week, I’m also going grabbing drinks with the folks of We Are Social tonight. As you can see, New York City is shaping up to be one eventful stop.

-Steve-