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 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-

Day 298

Let’s hear it for numbers!

I wanted to begin by mentioning that this is the 100th blog I've written since I started #TGAA. Hooray for that! But, more importantly, today seems like the confluence of a lot of different factors—and they all have to do with the number 3. Not only are we about to reach the new milestone of Day 300, but over the weekend I also received my 300th question via the site. To top it all off, the question itself has the number 3 in it! It’s all a bit too coincidental if you ask me. Perhaps the universe is sending me a message that I need to play the lotto this week? Well, before I get carried away with my picks, let’s get to answering that inquiry.

Hey Steve, I’ve been following your journey ever since your stop in Charlotte. I know you’re getting pretty close to the end and I was curious—how would you describe each of the cities you’ve visited in just three words or less?” — Jeff K.

First off, thanks for the question Jeff and kudos on being #300. It’s true that we’re nearing the final months of the project. That’s still a really crazy thing to try and wrap my head around. But as for answering your question, I think I’d go with these:

Cleveland: Hard-working, Ambitious, Sincere

Boston: Cozy, Passionate, Neighborly

New York City: Energetic, Fun, Purposeful

Philadelphia: Honest, Comfortable, Supportive

Charlotte: Warm, Devoted, Relaxed

Memphis: Humble, Muddled, Spirited

St. Louis: Independent, Electrifying, Youthful

Chicago: Spry, Enthusiastic, Gracious

Minneapolis: Breathtaking, Active, Purposeful

Austin: Lively, Impulsive, Loud

When I think back to my personal experiences in each city, these are the words that come to mind. But, if anyone out there is ever truly curious about what a city is like, I highly recommend you make a point to visit it. In the past 10 months, I’ve learned so much and while I’m doing my best to share it with each and every one of you, I'm discovering there's no substitute for seeing things first hand. As always, if you have any questions—especially about budgeting a trip or money-saving tips—just drop me a line. I’m more than happy to extend my newfound knowledge of such things. It's the least I can do, since I couldn't physically bring you with me. 

On a side note, I want to thank Daniel Alvarez and Trademark Media for the great lunch n’ chat on Wednesday, and also E. Gigi Taylor, Ph.D. for inviting me to talk with her students at Texas State this morning. It was a great time all around! Oh, and let's not forget Postano, who continues to sponsor my chats and Q&A events! They're awesome for doing it. 

Well, that’s it from me today. I’ll see you all on the other side of 300!

-Steve-