My Five Favorite Days (As The CEO Of A Major Corporation)
Why do I love telling stories about failure way more than telling stories of success? What would happen if I tried to change that?
This is part of a series on the state of Struck and the ad/creative industry. Read the other installments:
Two Years In
Fire the Client
The End Of Creativity As A Service
Not Great, Bob
To The Moon, To The Stars
I’m a bit of an introvert. But I’m also a talker. It’s a weird personality blend that means I can go long stretches without saying much of anything—and then suddenly (usually over a meal) I’ll just start spilling my guts, rambling about anything and everything.
When I’m in the midst of one of those rambles, one of my favorite things is to tell stories about the weirdest/worst days from my 8 1/2 years here. Usually, it’s harmless. I probably reveal too much about our business and the strange detours we’ve taken (meetings with a strange “rainmaker” in Dayton, OH… cryptic phone calls from consultants… pitches gone sideways) to whomever is sitting at the table.
During an evening just like this—over a wonderful dinner on a patio in Scottsdale, AZ—I wrapped up a story about a particularly strange company meeting, then caught myself thinking, Why do I love the terrible moments more than the good ones?. It’s a dangerous question. I don’t really know how to answer it other than to say that terrible things are usually more interesting than good things. Am I the only one who feels this way? Maybe? But what would happen if I stopped telling those engaging/sordid tales and instead tried to talk about the best/possibly-more-boring moments?
Let’s try it. If nothing else, it’ll put me in a good mood for a little while. Here they are, five of the best Struck days from the last two years:
1. Holiday Party / December 2015
Probably the longest party in Struck history. Two full days of shenanigans. A meeting in a museum. Apple Watches for the whole crew. A few hundred animated GIFs. Party in a loft. Dancing. Tosh on the 1s and the 2s. Breakfast burritos. Skiing/whiskeying/go-karting/spa-ing. I don’t know. End-of-year parties always make me nostalgic, but this one just made me happy. So happy that I spend so much of my life with people I really like. And so happy to feel like they might like me back just the tiniest little bit. Also, planning parties with Fran is a lot of fun.
2. SXSW / March 2016
If I lived in Austin, I’d gain 75lbs in 30 days. Tacos and BBQ. BBQ and tacos. And queso. So much queso. You don’t have to twist my arm to make a trip to Austin… But SXSW is different. I went in 2009 and kind of hated it. Too many lines. Too hard to get around. Too much hassle. But this year it was perfect. We rented a house in the South Lamar neighborhood. We had a family dinner with a pile of Struckers who were there for the conference and to help install our event activation for McDonald’s. I saw some weird movies. I listened to some interesting talks. If I line was too long, I skipped it. I wandered the streets and ate some ice cream. It was kind of perfect.
3. Shareholder Meeting / December 2015
I won’t bore you with the details, but during 2015 Struck underwent a major ownership change. A good one. We managed to buy back a significant portion of the company from former shareholders/partners—with the goal to become nearly 70% employee-owned. It took a while, but it happened. Documents were signed and we lifted some glasses to mark the occasion. I still believe it was one of the most critical moments in Struck’s history—the impact of which we might not fully understand for years to come.
4. Scottsdale Brand Launch / September 2016
There might be some recency bias with this one, but it’s not often that a client throws a huge party to celebrate/launch your work. And I got to be a wallflower for this one—just a proud executive, reveling in the incredible work of a team. Music (a DJ with a live trumpet player?!), cold beverages, weird nitrogen ice cream, chicken and waffles on a stick, and a larger than life presentation of our strategy, brand identity and campaign work for Experience Scottsdale. It was a fitting capstone on a wonderful relationship.
5. Pizza on the Rooftop, Breakfast in the Park / June 2015
A few months after we moved into our new Portland office space (in the perfectly renovated Washington High School), we invited the entire family up for a party. Aaron Draplin paid us a visit. The weather was perfect. We ate pizza and ice cream on the rooftop. We stayed out way too late. And then the next morning, we woke up and had breakfast together (pancakes and bacon, plus Blue Star Donuts) at Laurelhurst Park. For quite a few SLC-ers, it was their first time hanging out at our Portland spot. I think we made a good impression.
Well? It worked. I’m smiling, ear to ear. We should play this game more often. Way more often.
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