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 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 380

Over the weekend, I decided to check out some of San Francisco’s beautiful parks. Located mainly in the city’s west side, they’re known for stunning views and a vast amount of relaxing green space. My first stop was Alamo Square Park, which most people will recognize from the opening credits of Full House. I never realized just how close my AirBnB is to the park, but I’m actually only 5 or 6 blocks away. It’s crazy how much the scenery can change just a mile or so down the road.

Next up, I ventured through the Presidio neighborhood, which is kind of like a park—aside from the houses and whatnot. It’s a really beautiful area, filled with rolling hills, well-manicured trees and pristine fountains. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s probably a bit out of my price range though. From there, I headed south to Golden Gate Park, a spot I nearly hit the prior weekend because it begins just one block west from Amoeba Records. 

The park itself is home to a Japanese Tea Garden, a handful of waterfalls, a buffalo sanctuary, several windmills and the rather stunning de Young Museum. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend taking a hike through the park over to the bay. It’s filled with an endless number of gorgeous views, which is one thing SF never seems to run out of. To be honest, the space actually reminds me a lot of Central Park, because of it’s oblong shape, massive size and collection of venues.

That brings me to something rather odd I’ve noticed about San Francisco. There are a lot of things here that seem to parallel many New York City locations. From places that honor the Big Apple, like Manhattan Hub and Hotel Astoria to parks with the same name, like Union Square and Washington Square. They even have a rival bagel culture here, which I’m sure there’s plenty of debate about. Heck, both cities even have their own light-up billboard courtesy of Old Navy.

It’s all kind of weird to me and I’ll admit that I’m completely in the dark as to why there are so many similarities. Come to think of it, I do tend to get some curious looks anytime I bring up NYC too. I have to imagine there’s some sort of competition going on that I'm unaware of. So, I guess if you love NYC but not the cold, try a visit to San Francisco. Or if you love San Francisco, but not the west coast, try NYC.

Regardless of what’s going on, San Francisco has proven to me that it’s a great city with a lot to offer creatives—from the tight-knit communities I spoke of last week to the endless number of great restaurants and its proximity to hike-able mountains and forest-lines paths. It has all the drive of NYC, but somehow maintains some semblance of natural wonder all around. It’s a curious city indeed and I can certain see why people love it here.

-Steve-