Day 390 (aka Christmas)

Merry Christmas everyone (who celebrates Christmas)!

This is actually the second time I’ve spent this holiday away from my family. The first one happened the year I moved to NYC. Since I arrived in the city at the end of November, I thought it kind of silly to pack up and fly home a few weeks later—plus it cost an arm and a leg. I spent the day wandering around Times Square, which was completely empty. Let me tell you; it was a sight to behold. I bet very few people out there have ever seen Times Square without thousands of people mulling about. It was actually a really special moment, because there was a light snow coming down and the weather was just perfect. It’s an image I’ll never forget. Though I followed that up with a visit to this random diner in Queens and the food ended up making me sick. So, I like to chalk the whole thing up as a wash.

But despite its flaws, I’ve decided to try for a similar adventure today. This afternoon I’m going to walk around Market Street in the Financial District, as I assume it’ll be rather empty as well. I then plan on picking out a new movie to see (I say new, because I ended up watching The Interview online yesterday) and heading to one of the city's many diners to chow down. Hopefully, my stomach will be more forgiving this time around.

Those are my plans for the day and I’m sure they’re far different than yours. I just ask that whatever you’re doing today—whether celebrating or not—enjoy it. Every holiday is unique and you should never let it pass you by just because things don’t go as planned.

Merry Christmas everyone,

-Steve-

Day 337

Hello, Portland!

Well, it’s officially month #12, which means we’re almost at the year mark. I haven’t let that slow me down though. As soon as I got settled into my new digs, I immediately set out to explore Portland and all of the wonderful things it has to offer. Admittedly, I did manage to get lost a few times, but all is well, as I ended up finding a bunch of great bars and shops I plan on checking out during my stay here.

Right off the bat, I can already tell that Portland has a much different vibe than any place I’ve already visited. Sure, it shares a slogan with Austin and a region with Seattle, but Portland feels like a different beast entirely. There aren’t many skyscrapers here and the rain hasn’t stopped since I first stepped off the train. Yet, this place is oozing charm. It’s nestled in the mountains, overflowing with quaint shops and eateries and quite frankly, if you told me every Hollywood scene depicting a “small town” was filmed here, I’d have a hard time not believing you.

Things are a lot quieter here. And after spending Saturday night walking around the downtown area, I think I can confirm that not much is going on there after hours—save a few nightclubs and concert venues. Of course, this is only downtown we’re talking about. There’s still an entire east side and north side that I need to check out. It is kind of nice to see that all of the opinions about Portland I received from Seattleites are actually ringing true. People here are friendlier, more active and seemingly a little more patient. Of course, these are all characteristics you’d find in Seattle, but here it's just turn it up a notch or two.  

What else did I learn this weekend? Let’s see. Portland has a pretty great streetcar system! While I’ve learned to enjoy my endless walks around town, I feel as if the constant rain is finally going to get the better of me and force my hand when it comes to using public transportation. I can also see that Portland has a rather large vagrant population, which is something I first came upon in Austin and then again in Seattle. I’m not sure if there's a pattern, but the average age of the drifters I see seems to get younger and younger the further west I go. They also seem better prepared for the weather, having tents, camping stoves and a variety of other equipment in their oversized backpacks. Obviously, I’m not making any sort of comment on the situation by mentioning it, I’m just sharing my observations. Also, I'm not talking about homeless people in general. Obviously, I've seen homeless people all over the country. That's a whole other conversation, if you ask me. 

But, before we get into a debate about all of that, I just wanted to forewarn everyone that the next few months are going to be a little weird because of the holidays. I’m only at Pollinate for 3.5 weeks due to Thanksgiving and the same goes for the Evolution Bureau, since they close the office early for Christmas and New Years. Of course, spending two holiday weeks alone doesn’t sound like much fun. So, I might switch things up a bit and find myself a temp job for the holidays, just to ensure I’m not sitting on my ass. Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure—the final three months of #TGAA are going to be rather interesting.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's my first day at Pollinate and I don't want to be late! 

-Steve-

Day Ten

The Recess Team posing by the tree with some Cleveland Whiskey. 

Throughout all the agencies I’ve worked at in my career, I can honestly say that Recess has the best team structure I’ve experienced thus far. That isn’t to say other agencies are structured wrong, just that I feel most comfortable within this one. I know there are some agencies that falsely claim to blend fun and creativity with hard work and expertise, but Recess is the real deal. They own it. They live it. With Recess, what you see is what you get and that's truly magical.

Some agencies segment their departments, others break into teams and many don’t have a structure at all. At Recess, I’m finding that everyone here is on the same page at all times. The structure is one of a group mentality. We all work together toward a common goal. Sure, we might be working on different projects now, but chances are we'll all touch it before it leaves the door. I think that leads to increased collaboration, which in turn leads to a better product.

That’s the thing I really like about Recess. It feels as if everyone here has a say. Even last week, when we were discussing the upcoming Christmas party, everyone was able to share their ideas openly. In the past, I’ve worked at agencies that felt more like a dictatorship than a democracy and I just don’t think I fit into the mold. When I write a batch of copy, I want to know any missteps I have, so I can correct and learn from them. I don’t want to send my copy to a supervisor, only to later find out that they changed it. That doesn’t help me become a better writer and it doesn’t help the agency foster their talents or create quality creative.

However, since everyone at Recess has a say in what we’re creating, we have the benefit of shaping it through our collective styles, experiences and personalities. So, instead of pushing creative through the cookie cutter mold of one person’s vision, we’re capable of shaping every project differently. In the end, I think it benefits everyone involved and elevates our belief in the agency itself. 

That's what I think everyone looks for in an agency—to feel like a valued member of a tight knit and creative family. 

-Steve-