Day 425

WE DID IT! As of tomorrow evening, we've officially completed The Great Agency Adventure and although it took 14 months to get here, a part of me wishes it could continue for another 14.

For the past few months, I’ve constantly found myself wondering how best to close out this unbelievable journey. I’d write down some ideas here and there, but they were all deleted out of frustration. I just couldn't come up with a summary that gives this tremendous experience the curtain call it deserves. There’s too much to discuss; too many people to thank.

I’ve met so many wonderful individuals across this great nation of ours and connected with thousands more via social media. I’ve found friends in places I’d only read about in books. I’ve seen sights that some only experience through pictures. This project has been a dream come true and I hope everyone enjoyed taking part in it. That’s why I’ve decided to use this blog to highlight the individuals that helped make #TGAA not only possible, but incredible. If there’s one thing I learned time and time again, it’s that friends make all the difference. Friends are a constant that transcend boundaries, borders and state lines. Friends open up your world, introduce you to new things and stand by you regardless of where you are.

So, while I know this list is available on the “Great People” page of the site, I wanted to include it in my final #TGAA blog as well. Everyone below deserves an endless amount of praise, because they helped make this entire thing happen and I’ll never forget that.

Connie Taylor — John E. Taylor — Louis Maldarelli — Peter Gargiulo — Tim Horak — Andrew Brienza — Tom Albrighton — Shawn Webster — Joe Meadows — The lovely individuals at Kreative.com — Birch Norton — Brittany Birkett — Chris Jungjohann — David Oakley — Dion Hughes — Jason Schwartz — Jim Harper — Kim Berndt — Laura Kubinski — Leila Thabet — Maureen Morrison — Rufina Chang — Steve O'Connell — Tim Dyer — Tim Zeller — Vera Fischer — Alison Strickland — Barbara Levy — Dave McMurray — Monica Saylor — Kelly White — John R. Taylor — Tom Lix — Jillian Kurvers — Mark Gross — Juan Sanchez — Theresa and Dennis Balogh — Kyle Klein — Becky Gorman —Orlando Rosas — Holly Jee — Bria Topper —Alison Murphy — Zack Kinslow — Allan Kneale — Kristina Jansons — Jared Scott — June Leddy — Dave Batista — Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Smith — Jared Wicker — Ben Whitla — Jeremy Borthwick — Andy Primeau — Josh Sims — Richard Shideler — Josh Teixeira — Scott Niejadlik — Marita Stapleton — Josh Deane— Tim T. at This Advertising Life — Levi Patterson — Scott Huber — Davis Cox — Stephen Swift — Ryan Work — Ashley Riehlin — Miranda Fung — Rebecca Gibson — Ceci Menchetti — Grace Gordon — Luke Carrell — Jillian Pavsner — Melanie Hope — Nicole Ghobrial — Jacob Wilson —Alexandra Skae — Melanie Niklas — Fiona Callaghan — Jay Newell — Garrett Close — Kristen DiLandro — Kristen DiLandro — Benjamin Arnold — Connor Rose — Roxanne Oliver — Charlie Glover — Dan Kleinman — Daniel Stein — Todd Taylor — Woodbine — Ben McCool — The great people at DesignTaxi.com — Allison Berger — Dan Orlando — Jillian Wong — Pete Norwood — Rafael Oliveira — Meg Dibley — Andy Joos — Bryan McGee — Vic Carreno — Doug Keith — Allison Berger — Steve Red — Kelsey Kovalcik — Annie Heckenberger — Mark Likosky at the Philly Egotist — Farheen Aqueel — Jason Sicilliano — Abbas Naqvi — Ray Bartkus — Daniel Harris at IWG — Gordon Young at TheDrum.com — Philip Di Salvo at Wired.it — Jason Schoch — Drew Shaman — Cristen Capron — Mike Borell — Nick Nemeth — Danny Gassaway — Ashley Reker — Mary Gross — Maggie Deininger — Emily Haney — David Hamrick — Fran Taylor — Curtis Petraglia — Matt Mroczka — Ben Santoriello — Matt Rubel — Jennifer Faull — Kenya Madyun — Eliza Carney — Lindsey King — Adam Oldfield — Claire Oakley — Geri Holmes — Ben Couvillion — Mandy Young — Kelsey Taylor — Blaine Loyd — Hallie Miller — Laura Drangmeister — Martin Wilford — Ben Colar — Warner Russell — Michael Phillips — Andrew Lebowitz — Casey Latiolais — Sara Latiolais — Jeff Rifkin — Sarah Rockwell — Holly Whitfield — Jake Houvenagle — Dave Scott — Parker Gibson — Rick Hecke — Monica Castello — Darrick Hays — Wesley Hoffman — Javier Leiva — Kevin Kelly — Matt Reedy — Joe Stephens — Archie McKinlay — Claire Wasserman — Jon Copp — Tony Biaggne — Heather Durham — Craig Miller — Ben Ruggiero — Aleksa Westwater — Gary Hudson — Amado Carrasco — Louis Feider — Kyle Goethals — Jeff Canzona — Angela Vitzthum — Luke Hausman — Eric Guth — Aleksa Westwater — Bob Berg — Judy Oskam — Eric Fawcett — Kevin Hughes — Eric Fawcett — Lotti Anderson — Danielle Fullerton — Bill Roden — Debbie Fischer — Heath Rudduck — Dustin Naugle – Matt Thompson — Elyse Ash — Sam Johnsrud — Russ LeBlanc — Perry Morris — Maria Roepke — Heather McCollum — Brian Skalak — Chris Spong — Andy Sims — Tim Letscher — Eric Husband — Victoria Sullivan — Russ LeBlanc — Mary Funk — Briana Chenkin — Olivia Claypool — Zoe Cooper — Kristen Humphrey — Daniel Alvarez — Carson Barker — E. Gigi Taylor Ph.D. — Larry Coffman — Amanda Wood — Jim Haven — Phil Shigo — Matt Peterson — Elise Drake — Hilary Lee — Gage Mitchell — Michelle Taraba —  Alison Tintle — Jaclyn Hardgrove — Chelsea Nybo — Jaime Diskin — Benj Burke — David Alkire — Nicole Gleadle — Chet Ford — Ryan Hammill — Ryan Mitchell — Jake Ferrigno — M'Elena Holder — Anna Taylor — Maria Scheleen — Lauren Willoughby — Erin Leach-Kemon — Ben Waldron — Rob Rosenthal — Maschell Cha — Josh Schield — Barry Amundson — Travis Fulton — Katelyn Kerns — Ann Kaleshnik — Craig Schommer — Dave Becker — Lenny Self — Chad Wallace — Duncan Alexander — Scott Carver — Adam Shaylor —  Simeon Roane — Buck Wise — Jesus Cameron — Ursula Tran — Christine Hurty — David Bird — Miranda Maney — Patrick Maravi — Alex Grinton — Steve Babcock — Lee McKenna — Shane Ginsberg — James Gassel — Michelle Sjöberg — Michelle Maben — Jacqui Abel — Karin Djelaj — Matt Dimmer — Ryan Scott — Joanna Mostov — Aaron Thompson 

As for my blog, I’ll continue to update it once I’ve had some time to reconnect with my family (I haven’t seen them in over a year after all). I’m not sure what’s next for me or where I’ll end up, but until I figure all of that out I can’t consider the project over. So, be sure to stay tuned as we begin the next chapter.

I hope to see you again soon,

-Steve-

Day 418

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to LA traffic. After 13 months of walking and biking to the office, I just feel so lazy sitting in the backseat of a car—especially for an hour at a time. The whole situation bums me out, because they’re actually extending a subway line down here but it doesn’t open until 2016. If only I had waited another year! 

Traffic aside; the one thing that’s always puzzled me about LA is why I couldn’t grab the attention of more local agencies while scouring for our final stop. Back in 2013 when #TGAA was in its initial planning stages; I spent most of my time convincing the first batch of agencies to come on board. Thankfully, once Recess Creative joined, it showed others I wasn’t some sort of nutcase. So, when I reached out to other agencies I had past relationships with, several of them were already eager to take part (Red Tettemer included). After that it was much easier to sell the project in our remaining cities and by the time February rolled around I had every stop accounted for—except LA.

The months came and went and the next thing I knew it was already August and I still had no clue where the project would wrap up. I’d always had my heart set on LA, because it seemed rather appropriate to go coast-to-coast. Yet, months and months of using the same tactics and selling points that brought 13 other agencies on board just weren’t enough for most of the shops here. Toward the end of summer, I was finally able to get a few call backs, but they never did amount to much.

Why the gigantic disconnect? I’m still not 100% sure, but I think it has something to do with the isolated nature of the communities here. I’ve learned that just because you live in LA doesn’t mean you’ve been around the area. In fact, the friends I’m crashing with say there are actually people in town they rarely see, because their commutes are just too much—even though it's often only a few miles in length. I think that mindset may have fueled many of my interactions and caused some to never truly understand the point or purpose of the project.

That’s the best explanation I can come up with. So, for anyone out there who wants to land a job in LA, just keep in mind that you have to utilize a whole different set of tactics if you want to get noticed here. Then again, you should strive to never use a "generalized" approach. If you really want to work somewhere, present a highly customized offering and it'll definitely get you noticed. Either that or befriend some super rad people from Philly. They just might swoop in and save the day.

Although an important lesson was learned, I do think everything worked out for the best. I'm thrilled to be back at RTO+P. I'm having an incredible time at the office and the people here are downright stellar. Plus, being at a different branch of an agency I've already visited allows me to bring a brand new perspective to the month. Honestly, I couldn't ask for anything more and I'm overjoyed with how it all worked out. 

-Steve-

Day 411

Throughout our journey, I’ve been visiting a different agency at each stop. Yet, this month I’m at the west coast branch of Red Tettemer, which I first visited back in March while in Philadelphia. It’s pretty surreal to actually be here because back then this office was still more of an idea than an actual place. So, it’s interesting to see the vision brought to life. Prior to this, I’d never been to multiple branches of the same agency and I’ve always wondered if a company’s culture could translate to another area of the country. That’s why I was overjoyed when RTO+P invited me back.

When I first arrived, I assumed it would feel like any other month—a new office with new people. Just because it shares the RTO+P name, doesn’t necessarily mean it will feel like RTO+P. Yet, here I am a few weeks into my tenure and I very much stand corrected. Rather than feel like a separate office on the other side of the country, this feels like a direct extension of HQ. Sure, the weather is much nicer here but if you told me I was on a new floor of the Philly office, I’d have a hard time arguing with you.

I’m not sure if every agency is capable of extending their culture to different branches, but RTO+P clearly put a lot of work into getting it right. From the décor to the conference room, you can instantly tell they were created and arranged by the same individuals. To me, that’s what makes all the difference—the thought behind it. Once you factor in the personalities of several former Philly crew members, you have an office that feels right at home, regardless of what coast it’s on.

Outside the office, I’m also very much enjoying the Santa Monica neighborhood (although it is a tad bit pricey). We’re located one block from the beach, which is something I could really get used to. The area is just so beautiful; you can’t help but feel happy. Of course, I could never afford to live here but that won’t stop me from enjoying it while I’m in town. You just won't see me sitting down for dinner anytime soon. 

-Steve-