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 365

WE MADE IT!

#TGAA officially kicked off one year ago. It all started at Recess Creative in Cleveland and now—here I am—waking just a short distance from the Golden Gate bridge in warm and sunny (kind of) San Francisco. Tomorrow, I kick off my tenure at the Evolution Bureau, which is Stop #13, but as for today it’s all about exploring the bay area. In fact, for a portion of the day I’m actually venturing over to San Jose for a meet up with friend and #TGAA sponsor, Baunfire Interactive. I've known them for quite awhile at this point, so it'll be nice to finally see the team in person. 

I arrived into town early yesterday morning and was immediately met with what I can only describe as a light monsoon. It made for a rather difficult time getting groceries and settling in, but a few soggy walks later and I somehow managed to get the job done in the end. For as well planned as this trip as been, I’ll admit I really did fail at avoiding winter… and rain for that matter. But, oh well, you have to take what you can get, I suppose.

At first glance, this city reminds me of a mix between New York City and Seattle. The downtown area is dense with street performers, name brands and endless high-rises, while the suburban areas are quaint, laid back and full of life. On the surface, it seems like a pretty ideal mix to me. And being on the bay, you’re also getting incredible views just about everywhere you look—and that’s never a bad thing.

Aside from the beautiful scenery, I’ve already come to notice that San Francisco is unique in many other ways too. From the style of their houses to their appreciation of the arts, this city is a rather fine introduction to what California has to offer. On a personal level, the AirBnB I’ve rented couldn’t be more ideal either. It actually brings to mind my stay in Chicago, because the place is really nice but the neighborhood is just a tad on the sketchy side. The area I’m in is called the ‘Tenderloin District’ and it’s pretty obvious that it’s going through some sort of transition right now. I’ve heard good things about it, but it seems not everyone would agree with those opinions (including Wikipedia).

That’s about all I have for today. I didn’t sleep much on the train ride in and the entire weekend is still kind of a blur. All I know is, I really hate the person who decided to defecate all over the bathroom across from my sleeper car. It made for an extremely uncomfortable ride, but that's also a story I’m sure no one wants to hear about. 

Just believe me when I say, “I glad to be in San Francisco.”

-Steve-

Day 302

When I began the project last December, something rather interesting happened—I rediscovered donuts (or doughnuts, if you want to get fancy). Why is that interesting? Well, you see, before that I hadn’t eaten a donut in close to four years. When you’re living in NYC, I guess it just makes sense to always opt for the bagel joint. Yet, here I am, absolutely delighted that I stumbled upon this renaissance of sugary goodness.

Sure, I’ve always known I’d be hitting up Voodoo Donuts in Portland. But never once did I consider there would be equally creative and delicious confections in every other stop along the way too. It’s been 10 months and I’m convinced that this is no longer a string of random discoveries. Rather, this is a full-on donut revolution. Just take a look at some of the places I’ve already been:

Still on the to-do list: Top Pot in Seattle, Voodoo in Portland, Dynamo in San Francisco and finally, Randy's in LA.

What makes these shops so exciting is the love they have for their craft. Some focus on all-natural ingredients and season flavors, while others turn the whole concept on its head. But, they all push the boundaries of what a donut is in one way or another. I’ve enjoyed a Banh Mi donut at Strange, a Fried Chicken donut at Gourdough’s and a Peanut Butter & Sriracha donut at Glam Doll. Needless to say, they aren’t flavors or combinations you’d expect. Yet they’ve all been absolutely satisfying and delicious.

So… why donuts? I’m not 100% sure, but I think it has something to do with the small memories of home I enjoy with each bite. They remind me of Sunday mornings when my father would run down to the donut shop for a dozen cream sticks. They bring to mind a crisp fall morning, sitting outside a bakery in Cleveland. To me, they personify one of those rare calm moments when I can shut off my brain and just enjoy the things around me.

I think this unplanned—and ongoing—discovery just goes to show that there are young creatives all over this country pushing the boundaries in any number of fields. You just never know when you’ll stumble upon a new calling in life. That’s why you should always been on the look out. But most importantly, if you’re passionate about something, whether it be donuts, art, music or web design, always remember to give it your all. You might just start a revolution.

Now, bring on the donuts!

-Steve-