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-

Day 404

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve officially landed at the last and final stop of #TGAARed Tettemer West. Located in sunny Santa Monica, it’s a much smaller shop than the RTO+P flagship in Philly. Yet, I can’t help but notice that it does maintain the same wit and charm I grew accustomed to back in March. The group here is only a handful deep, but they're all pretty awesome and it's nice to see that I already know a few of them from my previous stop with the agency. It turns out some of the Philly folks decided to pack their bags and make the move west in order to help RTO+P conquer another coastline.

While I’m already having a grand time with the crew here, I have to admit this week is turning out to be a string of rather unfortunate circumstances. For those of you who don’t know, this month I’m staying with some friends in Sherman Oaks, which is about 20 miles northeast of the RTO+P office. I had originally planned on doing an AirBnB again, but all the locations within walking distance were hovering around $2,500. After an endless number of calculations, I actually discovered that the cheapest option would be to use a ride share to and from the office each day.

Then again... that is going to run me about $1,200, which still isn't very ideal. So, at the last minute, I thought I’d try my hand at biking in on my first day. I mean, 18 miles isn’t that far, right? Turns out it is. Especially when Google takes you down a bunch of roads that lack bike lanes. The whole journey ended up taking me about 2.5 hours. See, just when you think the project has encountered its last hiccup, I go and create my own. The next day, I tried Lyft and even that took 1.5 hours. I then spent the evening looking into car rentals, Zipcar, Car2Go, scooter rentals and public transportation, but they're all too expensive, too time consuming or non-existent in the LA market. 

It looks like I’ll have to settle with Uber after all—and I’m none too happy about it. To save a bit of money, I'll be working from home two days a week though. It's all extremely annoying, but I guess it says a lot about living and commuting here. If you don't live in the neighborhood you work, get ready for endless traffic and nightmare commutes. In the end, I can’t complain too much though. The weather has been absolutely beautiful since I arrived, the people at RTO+P West are pretty awesome and my friends have been showing me all around LA. Honesty, I can’t think of a better way to close out this journey than with good weather, good vibes and good people.

-Steve-