Day 368

I’ll be the first to admit that I was rather nervous about how my time at the Evolution Bureau would turn out. They’re an agency I didn’t have much contact with over the past year and I was unsure as to how they’d react to the project. Well, those anxieties have come and gone, and now I find myself sitting in the EVB office, eager to show the team what this little adventure is all about.

At first glance, EVB's digs remind me a lot of Recess Creative. It’s a smaller space that encompasses two levels and utilizes an open-floor plan to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Throughout the office, large wood beams, exposed ducts and plenty of crazy knick-knacks help create the space's rather unique and vibrant personality. And much to the dismay of my waistline, they also have a rather large stockpile of snacks. While I’ve only met a portion of the team, I can already gather that they’re a fun and energetic bunch. They continually exude a certain liveliness that fills the room with laughter and cheerfulness throughout the day. It’s a vibe I’ve grown used to on the trip, because it turns out happy people tend to be more creative—go figure. I have a feeling this is one of the many factors that helped EVB win their extremely impressive roster of clients, which includes Jameson, Facebook, Nike and HP. 

Much to my delight, I've actually come to learn that several people in the office already fully support what we're trying to do with #TGAA. In particular, I had a very nice conversation with EVB's CEO, Daniel Stein, where we discussed the trip's progress, as well as ideas on how to cap the whole thing off. We're also going to set up an in-agency Q&A session next week, so I can field questions from the team's younger members and also give everyone a better idea of why I'm there. As if that wasn't enough, they're also going to help put me in touch with other agency folk around the city and administrators at the Miami Ad School. It's only my third day in and already I can't thank EVB enough for how much they're doing to ensure I get the most out of my time in the bay area. Needless to say, December is shaping up rather nicely. 

-Steve-

From the Rails 6 (The Final One)

Well folks, I’m on my way to San Francisco. That means from here on out, I’ll be located in California until the trip has come to an end. On a similar note, this is actually the final train ride of my journey, as I’m hopping a plane to LA and then another back to Cleveland. Am I nervous about it all? Of course. Am I just as equally excited? Absolutely. But that brings me to what I wanted to write about today, as I stare off into the west coast’s endless tree-covered hills and snow-capped mountaintops.

When I first embarked on #TGAA, I scrambled to gain as many online followers as I could. I was so sure that I needed to amass as many likes, retweets, links and mentions as possible. What I’ve since learned is that I had the whole thing backwards. This project isn’t about any of that. Sure, I utilize the Internet to tell the project's story and spread the word about what’s going on. But at its core, #TGAA is about connecting people in the real world; showing people what’s possible; and proving there are opportunities out there you may have never thought to consider—places you never thought to go.

The gravity of this project is not lost on me and neither is my unique position to help others. I may not broadcast all of the things we’ve done along the way, but my hope is that there are now plenty of people out there who can sing their own personal praises for the project. That’s because, whenever I find a line I can help connect, I jump on the opportunity to do so. And I truly believe these are the things that help measure the overall success of our project. I’ve connected musicians with labels, job hunters with headhunters, agencies with apps, writers with artists and individuals with publications. These real world connections are an element that has grown out of #TGAA over time and that—to me—is magical.

While I do my best to open a window into the ever-changing world I’m currently living in, there are limits to what I write about. That’s because the last thing I want to do is cheapen the interactions I have with people along the way. I’ve had drinks with executives, lunches with entire creative teams and picked the brains of musicians, authors and artists alike. Yet, aside from adding their names to the ‘Great People’ page, I’ve elected not to mention many of them in the blog. I feel the anonymity that comes with knowing our interaction is off-the-record helps people relax and be themselves. In turn, this creates more meaningful conversations. Plus, the last thing I want is for someone to think I’m only talking to him or her, just so I have content for the blog.

Of course, the information I gather does make it to everyone in many other ways—even if it’s not attributed to anyone in particular. Every piece of advice—every tidbit of information—has been shared in one form or another. Whether it’s the topic of a blog, through an on-campus Q&A, a one-on-one chat with a junior creative or in response to an inquisitive email, I strive to share everything I learn on our journey. So, trust me when I say, I’m not hoarding any of this newfound knowledge. Most of it is already out there. And as always, if there’s anything you want to know, just ask. This project has always been an open book and that’s what it will always be.

-Steve-

Day 354

As I close out my last full week here at Pollinate, I still find myself impressed with their endless enthusiasm. Even when dealing with stubborn clients and ridiculous requests, they’ve managed to get the job done every time—all without batting an eyelash. Every person comes into the office with a smile on his or her face and they always leave the exact same way. Perhaps there’s something in the water here in Portland. After all, it’s pretty much an accepted fact that we all hate some of our clients from time to time. How else do you think the advertising industry continues to prop up the liquor market, year after year?

I guess what it comes down to is that Pollinate believes in the work they're doing. It’s a trait they share with the likes of Recess, Red TettemerBooneOakley and most of the other shops I’ve visited in the past year. If only every agency could be so upbeat; I think a lot more people would enjoy their workdays. Then again, perhaps their jolliness comes from the amount of sugared goods that make their way through the door on any given day. Last week alone, I was subjected to waffles, crepes and donuts—and by subjected, I mean placed in the vicinity of.

All in all, I’ve had an amazing month here at Pollinate. They’ve kept me busy with a lot of great projects and introduced me to some of the most wonderful things Portland has to offer. It’s kind of funny, because prior to my arrival I hadn’t had much communication with anyone in the office. Yet, once I got here everyone opened right up. If San Francisco and LA continue the trend, I guess I’ll finally have to admit the west coast really is as great as everyone said it would be.

Finally, while today might seem like an ordinary day to most, it’s actually a very special one for me. This afternoon, I finally get the chance to Scott Huber and the Postano team. For those who don’t know, Postano is one of the project’s great sponsors and the company behind the amazing ‘social wall’ you’ll find on the #TGAA homepage. They signed on back in January and have been incredibly supportive ever since. In fact, they’ve been kind enough to go the extra mile and sponsor all of the Q&As I’ve been doing. I cannot begin to thank them enough and I do hope everyone out there will check out the services they offer; I know I’m a fan! I’ll be sure to send out a photo or two after I tour their office later today.

That’s all I have for today. I did want to mention that I’ll be posting on my normal blogging days next week. So, be sure to check out the site in-between your meals. As for my Turkey Day plans, I’ll be dining at BlueHour. I was told they have an amazing Thanksgiving menu and if I’m going to be dining alone, I might as well do it in style (The price ain't bad either). 

-Steve-