Archive for the ‘Career’ Category


Designing the future.

March 1, 2011

Last week I had the privilege to sit down and talk creative strategy, critical thinking, and innovative ideas with two junior visual communications classes at the Herron School of Art.

A close friend of mine from high school, Professor Jeff Tzucker (wow, does that sound funny) invited me in to “critique” the work his and Marcia Stone’s students were presenting this week to their clients. They had all been separated into groups, “small agencies”, and were paired with real clients looking to re-brand, in some cases launch a brand, and get their message out.

I got a little of what I expected and a whole lot of the unexpected. I expected to see creativity in visual form. And I did. There was some serious eye candy. I expected to see some students fighting the internal struggles of what to do and how to do it. Check. And I expected to feel the fun and excitement of being back in a college setting. Check there too. I witnessed a Cheez-It run, a tub’o’animal crackers, and lots of amazingly cool style. I was thankful, unlike my college and fraternity experience I was not overcome by the smell of cheap whiskey and waffles. (That will be a blog for another time.)

What I didn’t expect to encounter was the unbelievable amount of strategic thinking and prepping before the designs were created. These students knew their intended audience, they understood their client and clients’ personalities, and they knew their creative vision would only be worth it’s salt…if it worked hard to achieve a measurable result.

This is an obvious reflection of Jeff and Marcia’s guidance but also that young, fresh, and curious mind working hard to discover, process, and digest information. It always seems that no matter how many times I step back in the classroom, I always leave feeling refreshed myself. And thankful that I have pursued a career in an industry that changes daily and critical and strategic thinking is a must.

The future is bright for our industry.  With young people like the ones at Herron, there will certainly be no shortage of ideas, innovation, and intelligence joining the creative landscape in the next couple of years.

“You see things; and say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and say, “Why not?”
George Bernard Shaw


When one door closes, it’s good to have the master key to the rest of the house.

January 24, 2011

I had something happen to me for the first time in my life. I was given my walking papers due to re-structuring and re-focusing at work on November 30th. For more than twelve years in the ad agency business, I was always on the other side and learned early about survivor’s guilt, making myself marketable, and staying grounded, driven, and positive.

And yet this time it got me. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me professionally. I am not embarrassed or ashamed I was let go. I’d like to think my ego hasn’t grown so much that I can’t admit the truth. I simply didn’t have a specific PR foundation and background to warrant keeping a tenured advertising guy on staff. Kudos to my former boss for recognizing he and his agency needed to change and get back to their roots. I also appreciate the way in which I was let go. They did some things for me they didn’t have to and that took the stress out of these past seven weeks, especially over the holidays.

And in there lies the one thing they didn’t intend to give me, that was the greatest gift.

I spent more than six weeks at home with my two kids, my wife when she wasn’t at work, and friends and family, all over the holiday season.

I danced with my daughter in her room to songs we didn’t know, I was there to ride through the sleepless nights as my son got his first two teeth, I was able to help be Santa with my wife, and I grew an even deeper appreciation for the countless friends and family who reached out to me with support.

And now I am happily part of the team at The Momentum Group, a small, very cool shop in Broad Ripple doing some amazing things in the branding, digital, social, and traditional advertising space. I have certainly found a home.

So as I look back on my career already, one thing always rides true. No matter what, under any circumstances, sell yourself short by changing who you are, how you conduct yourself, and not treating others with respect. Because as I have just found out, sometimes the unexpected can turn into the greatest gift.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Maria Robinson


3 writing jobs that I’d like to have

September 13, 2010

Password cryptologist
I’m not even sure if that is a real title and I’m not sure these things are really done by people, but even so, it would be fun. I mean why not add some fun when filling out a credit card order or setting up a new online account? Here are some ideas:

Toilet passion
Eager phalanges
Baboon pressedham
Flushing dope
Wool dickey

These might also be great names for bands now that I look at them.

Writer for SkyMall products
Look I’m not saying that a planter that doubles as a cat’s litterbox or a yard Yeti needs persuasive copy to sell millions. I’m just saying you have to connect to an audience who really feels an emotional tug to buy a hearing aid that is also a police scanner and full body compression underwear that keeps you looking highschool reunion ready.

Brightfeet lighted slippers
Feel safe, secure, and ready for the next Rave with these lighted slippers! Scare the hell out of your kids when you “float” aimlessly into their room at 3am! Tired of missing the toilet? Try this in tandem with the floating ring of fire toilet target and you’ll find out why an enlarged prostate is fun!

Personalized license plate writer
I’m sure someone out there is the go-to person when you can’t think of one yourself. So why can’t that be me? Here is some of my finest work, in 7 letters or less, of course:

Golf Pro

Pen maker

BP Exec

Peyton Manning

Plastic Surgeon
oo 2 OO

I can dream, right?


It is nice to see the ‘professional’ in front of ‘athletes’ hold that meaning.

August 13, 2010

I am a football guy. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania. It is in my blood. And whether or not you are as passionate about the pigskin as I am, I hope we can all appreciate when someone delivers a once in a lifetime speech that awakens something in us.

And former Denver Broncos runningback, Floyd Little, did just that during his Hall of Football induction last Saturday. During a time when the spotlight was on him he deflected the praise and instead gave thanks. Thanks to those who helped him be the best he could be, on and off the field. As he spoke I was inspired, I was in awe, I wanted to be better myself.

Regardless of what personally drives you in life, love, business, and pleasure, I think most of us what to leave the world a better place than we found it. To pick people up not put them down, to give someone belief in their abilities when doubt sets in, and to leave a lasting impression not a forgettable passing.

It is after I see things like this that makes me wonder why you would want to be anything less than your best. I know it is never that easy, however, I do know that nights like last week are needed to remind us all of the good we can do, if we simply work at being purposeful, passionate, and dedicated.

Now enough of my words, here is how Mr. Little ended his influential and inspirational night.

“Because of those that encouraged me in those early years, I am here today. So I want to encourage you, every student, every athlete, every person who will hear my voice, don’t listen to the naysayer. I had plenty of those. Don’t listen to those that will judge you for your rough edges. Don’t focus on your weakness so you won’t become a victim. Find the goodness in you that says ‘Yes, I can be a good student. Yes, I can be a good son and daughter. Yes, I can be a positive role model. Yes, I can, because the good in you is better than the worst in most.’ The choice is yours. Be the best that you can be.

I truly believe that none of us is anything until the least of us is something. The great writer James Baldwin said, ‘Naked I came into this world and naked I shall leave.’ We are bound to leave everything we accomplished in this lifetime behind, passing it on. So leave a legacy that you and your family can be proud of.

I’ve given you the best that I’ve got. And I’m a better person for it. Thank you for being here with me and for me. I thank God for His favor today, and may God bless us all. Thank you so much.”


I’m a leader, he’s a leader, she’s a leader, wouldn’t you like to be a leader too?

July 30, 2010

I normally agree with and like most Vince Lombardi quotes. But after a recent lunch with an old friend and former intern, I realized how much I disagree with one of Lombardi’s famous ones.

“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”

I do agree that anything in life worth a damn, you have to work hard for to achieve; parenthood, marriage, careers, etc. But where I do drift from his thought, is there is an internal fire that some possess that simply can’t be taught. No matter how bad some people want to lead, be vocal, take the reigns, something deep inside holds them back.

And some people throw themselves into situations aspiring for greatness and leadership only to find that they don’t pack the crucial punch to be believable.

My friend is still a student down at IU in the Kelley School of Business. In the hour and a half we spent, he easily and fluidly spoke of his aspirations, recent accomplishments in getting 20-year vets to follow his process, and how all of this makes him want more.

And I don’t believe that he got there by studying, going to see a tutor, or taking on more extra curricular activities. I think he was born with an intangible quality that his expectations for himself will always be higher than those put on him by outside forces.

The one thing he will need to discover is how to use that drive to make those around him better and want to follow his lead. His actions will trump his words, his work ethic will trump his wallet, and his respect for his peers will trump his reputation.

So I found this quote instead by an unknown author.

“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.”

What do you think? Are you born a leader or are you made into a leader?


The value of a great intern: When the student becomes the teacher.

July 23, 2010

I applaud any businesses that take the time, pride, resources, and professionalism to hire interns. And more importantly create an environment of learning that focuses on preparation and realism that can’t be taught out of a book.

And every once in awhile you’ll get a recent grad or current student who simply “gets it”. And I don’t mean a young person who knows it all and has the savvy of a seasoned vet. I mean someone who knows his place, understands his lack of experience, and who simply wants to soak up information to make himself better.

We were lucky enough to have one of those kids recently. And yes, I can call him a kid. When I was listening to LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells in ’86, the hospital was playing bells as he was just being born. What he brought to the table was a fresh, passionate, and intense desire to grow. He wore a tie everyday because he wanted to present himself as someone who was serious about his work. He asked questions, he wanted more, he wanted to own something.

How inspiring. And how to make an impression. I have no doubt this young man will be a success. His work ethic, attitude, and grit to tackle problems and conversations directly proved to me that the only person that will stop him, would be himself.

So Sean, don’t lose the fire, never stop learning, push yourself to be great, set your expectations high, have fun, and thank you. Thank you for reminding me that the more we teach, the more we learn.


I don’t want to be comfortable

June 30, 2010

I am 12 years into my career and it amazes me at the volume of people who I have worked with, for, or discussed with friends, who are simply working comfortably.

I’m not talking about investment bankers, real estate gurus, or successful entrepreneurs who in their mid-30s are just socking money away until retirement. No, I am talking about the person who doesn’t try too hard and yet does just enough to stay employed. This could be someone who has on gold handcuffs at their current job and doesn’t want to rock the boat or someone who simply knows it is easier to talk a big game, than to play one.

Why do I care? Why should I care? Because these people can become gatekeepers to success, hurdles to new ideas, and killers of change. Everyone is different and that is good and we do need people who are content with filling jobs, careers, and positions at all levels. As a matter of fact, I just recently had lunch downtown and a tenured woman who had been on wait staff since the establishment was open, provided great customer service and even humor. She was happy she did what she did, but she wasn’t comfortable. You could tell she took her job seriously and obviously years of experience made her excel.

I am talking about people who are in leadership positions and now can’t manage, direct, or even initiate themselves out of a wet paper sack. I have no doubt at one point they did try and they did want more, but now have been beaten down into a “I’d rather be fishing” bumper sticker. If you find yourself reading this and thinking “that is me” that is ok. Just get the hell out of the way. Acknowledge your situation and respect that others want to get the most out of themselves, their careers, and their companies.

I don’t ever want to be comfortable in my career from that standpoint. I want that burlap underwear type of career where I am constantly challenged, always learning, and staying well ahead of the curve.

Do you?