• What UX Designers Can Learn from Heath Ceramics

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    You don't have to be a designer to know that everyday objects can make you happy. I've always appreciated well crafted dishes and silverware. They offer a little pleasure in the day to day. When I was a kid – we had a set of Dansk plates that had walls that helped you scoop up the food onto your fork. No knife needed, it was great. So great I used them through college and when I was done, I then passed them on to my sister who loved them.

    Needless to say neither of us use our knives that much when eating. Much to the chagrin of my mother, this small design decision has completely affected both of our long term behavior.

    In my own career as a UX designer, I've found inspiration comes not only from studying and perfecting your own craft, but from everyday life and from the objects we use day in and day out. These objects, the people who make them, and their approach has provided me endless ideas for my own digital work.

    I firmly believe when we get out of our own habits – we can learn a ton from practices, traditions and customs that are outside of our specific disciplines. From time to time, I take my team to different design studios in the Bay Area to help inspire creativity by learning about how creatives from a completely different discipline make stuff.

    Our most recent trip was to Heath Ceramics, an iconic artisan pottery company in San Francisco. I mean, everyone love dishes, right? Heath Ceramics believes it’s possible to impact people’s relationships with the things that they buy; in this case, beautifully designed, custom crafted ceramics.

    Here is what we learned:

    Details matter.

    The colors, glazes, and designs at Heath Ceramics are still based on the founder Edith Heath’s sketches and studies. Though she passed away, her design, aesthetic and approach to conservation are still evident in the way Heath produces work at the studio. There is a conscious effort to design with detail in mind.

    Everything about their studio is considered. The Heaths moved to Bay Area in search of a place to make great pottery. The studio was built by the Heaths to house their growing pottery. Natural light that pours into the building, the temperature they heat the kiln was selected for its efficient energy use, and even the setting the studio sits in by the Bay in Sausalito reflects the company’s commitment to quality artisan craftsmanship.

    Design as one team.

    During our trip to Heath, my team and I were impressed with the way everyone at the studio operated as one team and it felt like everyone was an essential piece of the puzzle. Everyone took great pride in the skills they contributed to each part of the process no matter how small or big a person’s role was.

    This was especially clear when we got a closer look at the ceramic-making process. We learned about creating molds and using them to form pieces like plates and bowls. We learned about making clay, saw the kilns, met the teams that add handles to mugs, and the people who paint on glazes. Each person played a crucial role in the creation process, and everyone was contributing to designing with integrity.

    Design with a clear vision.

    Heath uses an incremental, design-centered manufacturing process, similar to the waterfall process we use for many of our products. Meaning, a lot of people touch the product on its way to market, all contributing their individual parts, one after another. With so many players, it is essential to have a clear sense of what we are working towards so we can each make the best choices, at every step.

    Design with humanity.

    I was really struck by how human their process was. Even though Heath is producing pieces at scale, there was still a person physically touching every single piece that was created, and those people were happy and proud of the work that they were doing. Everything was meant to enhance the way people eat and connect.

    As a designer, my approach to my work is to try and leave the world a little bit better than how I found it. It’s important to keep the experiences we design functional, efficient, and scalable – but to never lose that human touch that makes an object or a tool feel great when you use it.

    Overall, it’s important to encourage your teams to take a walk. Get out of the office. Explore different industries, and find inspiration off-screen to fuel the passion to create.

    ###

    Jessica L’Esperance specializes in the development of large commerce and content sites, and currently serves as the VP of UX at Huge’s San Francisco office. Her work at Huge has focused on making large brands sites reach broader audiences and develop new communication platforms for clients like Twitter, American Express, Four Seasons, Reuters, The City of New York, Rue La La, and American University. You can follow her @jessless.

  • Are We Just Jerking Off?

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    Any Blazing Saddles fan should know that reference. As the townspeople attempt to make a duplicate of Rock Ridge in one night, Reverend Johnson says, “Do we have the strength to pull off this mighty task in one night...or are we just jerking off?”

    That phrase has been running round and round in my head for the last few months, and it happens every time I see an ad filled with hyperbole and platitudes.

    As you can imagine, I’m hearing that phrase a lot.

    Advertising has changed. Anyone who refuses to admit that can basically kiss their career goodbye right now. It’s not just that everyone and everything is going digital. It’s not just that we’re becoming jaded with advertising messages. In fact, at Advertising Week many experts talked about the trade off millennials are willing to make; you give me something, I’ll engage with your ad, if it’s got something to say to me.

    This is about the way we are willing to receive our advertising messages. As a copywriter, it’s hard to believe that the kind of ads Neil French, Tony Brignull and David Abbott wrote are no longer relevant. But…they’re not. Anyone who knows me knows that is a really fucking painful thing to say.

    Am I saying copy is dead? Not at all. I’m not even saying long copy is dead. But what we’re dealing with now is a culture that, for the most part, wants to know what the hell you’ve got to say. And you better get to the point really quickly.

    So when you get ads like the latest Ikea “Bed” spot, or “Up” from Delta airlines, you have to wonder what the fuck the creative team was thinking.

    Let’s look at the script for “Up.” (Remember, this was a Super Bowl spot). Imagine lots of black and white images of planes, airports, and passengers, all with Donald Sutherland’s smooth and expensive VO over some inspirational music.

    “Up. A short word that’s a tall order./

    Up your game. Up the ante.

    And if you stumble, you get back up.

    Up isn’t easy. And we ought to know. We’re in the business of up.

    Every day, Delta flies a quarter of a million people, while investing billions improving everything from booking to baggage claim.

    We’re raising the bar on flying. And tomorrow, we will up it yet again.”/

    Delta: Keep Climbing.

    I can imagine the writer and art director patting themselves on the back for some of that. “Oh yeah, I love that short word, tall order line. Nice.”

    What does it mean to anyone watching? Jack shit. It means nothing. It’s a lot of pomp and puffery and not much else. Is anyone going to go online to book a flight and go “oh fuck, don’t choose United. They have that godawful Rhapsody In Blue song. I hate that. Let’s book Delta, they’re in the business of up. I like up. Up is good.”

    What will make the difference? Probably price and number of stops. If the cost is identical, then it will come down to prior experience. The ad is a lavish waste of millions of dollars.

    Instead of saying a lot of poetic small talk, the ad could have pushed a product innovation. What does Delta do differently? What makes flying Delta a way better choice than flying any other airline? If there’s nothing new to say, why not think of something inexpensive that could be rolled out across the fleet of aircraft?

    How about a section just for kids? Maybe use a service that uses something like Tinder to let singles find each other on the plane and chat for the flight? What if long flights gave you the chance to learn something? Offer free interactive courses that use the touchscreens in the headrest in front of you. When you get off, you’ve got a new skill.

    So maybe those suck balls, but what I’m saying is that fancy prose is not going to cut it any more. The modern consumer wants something tangible. You are fighting for their attention, and the fight is getting harder and harder every, single day. You always have to ask, what is in it for them?

    This must comes down to responsibilities. It is the client’s job to bring something worth talking about to the ad agency. If they have nothing, they must be willing to listen to ideas from the agency that include suggestions on a better service or product. This is not a new concept; Bill Bernbach was doing it in the sixties.

    It is also the ad agency’s responsibility to present ideas that go beyond hyperbole and tired old clichés. The client is usually not brave, and that kind of glossy shit is easy to sell in. Everyone loves a good-looking ad, but if it’s as empty as Kim Kardashian’s book shelf, what’s the point?

    Finally, it is the responsibility of everyone in the industry to stop awarding these empty vessels the gold and silver gongs. Just stop it. We can’t keep slapping ourselves on the back for work that looks good but doesn’t move or persuade the target audience. As long as we keep on doing it, we really are just jerking off.

    Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you're ranting, no other word will do. He's been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.

  • Heat named one of the best places to work in SF.

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    The San Francisco Business Journal recently named Heat as one of the best places to work in the Bay Area. Since we wanted to know all the secrets to winning this award, we hit up co-founder and executive creative director Steve Stone and he gave us some great insights on what it takes.

    Congrats on being one of the best places to work in San Francisco. So… you guys hiring?

    Yes, we’re currently looking to fill several roles, including an Account Manager and Account Director, Content Producer, Senior Digital AD/ACD, a mid-level creative team, and a left-handed 3.5 or 4.0 tennis player with a great net game. Of course, we’re consistently filling positions, so it’s always a good idea to check out the jobs page on our site.

    What kinds of things did the San Francisco Business Journal judge you on?

    I think it’s obvious that they judged us on how handsome our President is, how cool our sign in the lobby is and the fact that we just happen to have a confetti cannon laying around. Actually, they judged us solely on responses from a survey sent out to all our employees, which were answered anonymously. Those responses were then tallied and we were compared with/against other businesses in the Bay Area. The questions in the survey addressed topics such as feeling valued, manager effectiveness, teamwork, trust in senior leaders, retention, benefits, and job satisfaction.

    When you started Heat, did you make a conscious effort to build a great place for people to work, or has it evolved more organically than that?

    Yes, it was a conscious effort. When you start a business, you always envision it to be a great place to work and you do whatever you can to build it up as one. I’ve always worked at great places - Goodby (both during and after Berlin), Ammirati & Puris, Riney and my personal favorite, Black Rocket. Taking the best cultural nuggets from those places and adding some of our own seems to be doing the trick.

    We think every ad agency should be a great place to work, but that's obviously not the case. What have you guys done differently to keep employees happy?

    John (Elder, our President and my agency partner) and I continue to encourage creativity in all departments. Even in HR we instituted a program where everyone can and should call in “well” every once in a while. Work/life balance is something that is very important to us. We also have a no-freak-out policy. We are very calm and level headed, and that trickles down to everyone. This business can be nuts at times and it doesn’t help if the two guys running it scream and yell and make people cry. The two of us help shape all the work that comes out of this place but at the same, we give people a lot of space and let them do what they came here to do.

    Is there one linchpin to it all? Is hiring the right people what makes the magic happen or something else?

    Hiring the right people is certainly part of the magic. But the magic has to be there in the first place. Elder and I work hard to cultivate and protect the culture. We never take our eye off that part of the business.

    One thing we've seen many times before that tears an agency apart is when you get creative versus account. Or when media feels marginalized. Or production thinks they get all the crap dumped on them. What do you do to create more of a team atmosphere that gets everyone pulling in the same direction?

    We’ve never really had that. Even at 75 people, we’re still all on the same page. We meet often if there are issues and figure out stuff as a group. Even the hard stuff, like determining whether a client is actually a fit for us or not. We value everyone’s opinion.

    Has it been more of a challenge to keep your culture as you've grown?

    No. It's actually the opposite. The more people you have who see things the way we see them, it's easier to spread that ethos.

    If you bring on the right clients and the right people, you’re just growing the family. And what’s better than a small happy family? A big happy family.

    How do your clients factor into the happiness of your employees?

    They benefit the most. Sure, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends and pets feel it as well, but our clients get the lion's share because happy employees find more surprising insights, tell better stories, make better content, design better UI and plan better media.

    Got any good advice for all the Bay Area businesses that didn't make the list?

    Don't be jerks, provide peanut butter-filled pretzels and get a confetti cannon.

  • barrettSF Cannes Candid Preview

    / Comments (1)

    From: Pete Harvey
    Date: Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 6:10 PM
    Subject: god this is good
    To: Jamie Barrett

    forgetting your disease, if only for a second .

    a novel thought, well executed, with just the kind of absurdity to make it memorable.

    --------------------

    From: Jamie Barrett
    Date: Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 7:14 PM
    Subject: Re: god this is good
    To: Pete Harvey

    big fan. public service advertising so often overreaches. i love that the goal here is small but also huge.. to deliver a moment of relief and happiness.

    as long as we're geeking out about ads we like, here's one. what amazes me about this one is the performances they got, particularly from kids. it's right on that line of, did they script that or is it just kids talking? i have to believe a lot of it was scripted, but the acting is so good it might as well be real.

    --------------------

    From: Pete Harvey
    Date: Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 8:02 PM
    Subject: Re: god this is good
    To: Jamie Barrett

    that make me think of FCB brazil's language school video for CNA. where brazilian students learn english by talking to lonely old people at retirement homes in the states. it may be a late entry for cannes this year, but i imagine we'll see this in the shows soon.

    it's a great example of a brand crossing over into the public service category in an honest way. you could also argue that the idea is itself a product: a new way of giving home-bound students an immersive language experience.

    --------------------

    From: Jamie Barrett
    Date: Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 8:29 PM
    Subject: Re: god this is good
    To: Pete Harvey

    loving this super spontaneous email correspondence we're having. i think we're successfully creating the illusion that we sit around at night and email each other about Cannes contenders. no one will suspect that it's just a device we intend to turn into an article. no one.

    back to that thing we love, ads. for me, the Volvo truck commercial with Van Damme may be the one piece of advertising this year that we'll remember a decade from now.

    i love that it's just a great freaking commercial. no explanation required, no three minute video to package it for award show consumption. just a brilliant idea, impeccably executed. ad lightning in a bottle. even the Enya music choice is genius.

    no chance you can come up with something better from the last twelve months.

    --------------------

    From: Pete Harvey
    Date: Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 8:50 PM
    Subject: Re: god this is good
    To: Jamie Barrett

    which brings up a very important question that i'm excited to see resolved (a bit) at cannes: what do we reward these days?

    there are the beautifully-crafted human interest stories. there is subtle, new humor. there is the litany of product-as-ad. and there are emotionally biting PSA's.

    then there is the thunderclap breakthrough from droga5. not an ad, necessarily, as much as a new digital platform. do we consider it advertising because it came from an advertising agency? or because the mechanism itself advertises for its users?

    either way, judging must feel like comparing apples to oranges to grapefruits.

    personally, i like grapefruits. they're great and tangy and go horribly with toothpaste.

    --------------------

    From: Jamie Barrett
    Date: Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 7:35 AM
    Subject: Re: god this is good
    To: Pete Harvey

    it's a good point about grapefruits. award shows are no longer apples versus apples, or even ideas versus ideas. for example, i really dig this Guinness spot. it's a beautiful documentary, flawless. but is it an award-worthy "idea"? for me, it's an advertiser simply attaching itself to something compelling. it's a human interest story with a logo stuck on it. it's less an apple and more a kumquat. if there was a show called the Kumquatties, and it awarded brands that uncovered cool stories and filmed them brilliantly, this spot would crush. deservedly.

    --------------------

    From: Pete Harvey
    Date: Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM
    Subject: Re: god this is good
    To: Jamie Barrett

    agreed. it's a beautifully shot story the world probably wanted to hear. not necessarily a conceptual revolution.

    judging the AICP's integrated category made something clear to me: spend time on that idea video. it's got to be fucking great to win. too long a video and interest slips. too little polish and it feels small. too much set up and it feels complicated.

    here's a killer video for a recent andy winner. the website experience itself takes awhile to load and enjoy. and honestly, i had more fun watching the video. don't get me wrong - it's geek paradise, and i love melding those two brands - but the story is stronger than the execution.

    it seems celebrating great work is just as much about convincing people why it should be celebrated as the idea itself.

    --------------------

    From: Jamie Barrett
    Date: Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 12:12 PM
    Subject: Re: god this is good
    To: Pete Harvey

    yeah. more and more, i feel like we're advertising to ourselves. we want credit for using the latest technology or technique or tactic. it's become more about doing the first of something, and maybe less about doing the best of something. this video is pretty classic and is all about that...

    since we're ping ponging, here's one last thing i thought was great and kinda has it all. cool technology, check. cool idea, check. human and moving and memorable and relevant, four more checks.

    --------------------

    From: Pete Harvey
    Date: Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 3:57 PM
    Subject: Re: god this is good
    To: Jamie Barrett

    i'm thinking that great apotek hair idea takes us out. it's solid, smart, easy to enjoy, benefits the consumer and has old people in it. can't miss with old people.

    if there's a headline from all of this, it's that contemporary advertising has made award shows broader and more elusive to define. or, more cynically, the shows themselves are rewarding agencies for including work that may or may not be advertising per se. from which both agency winner and show benefit.

    interesting to see what comes out of southern france this year on top.

    pete & jamie

  • 32 Under 32: Mark Rasoul

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    We've been so honored to speak with our 32 Under 32 winners. They show a passion and intelligence about our craft that really heartens us and makes us proud to know the next generation of superstars are well on their way. With that, we present our last-but-not-least interview with Mark Rasoul, Content Producer at Heat.

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    Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

    My key approach is by building a strong, friendly relationship with every staff member on the project. Maintaining a good relationship with your peers is the best way to truly ensure the work gets done well and with passion. Keeping everyone smiling and motivated is always my priority. If you simply run them to the ground with work, that will be your reputation - there's always the next project you need to keep in mind.

    What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?

    Currently working on EA Games, EA SPORTS, La Crema, and a couple of other clients. The projects range from video content and motion design to microsites and rich media.

    What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?

    The variety and ownership is really what makes Heat push you to the next level. Even if your strength is in a particular medium, production at Heat is all encompassing for producers. We are project agnostic and want producers to create content of all shapes and sizes. As far as ownership, there’s no such thing as micromanagement. It's really your job to take the next step to get the knowledge and resources you need to get the project done properly, on time, and on budget.

    In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?

    The proudest work so far is definitely the “Eyebrow Bowl” for EA SPORTS. That project was a different beast, with a limited budget and the concept tentative until the last minute. We were able to get really scrappy with our production and relevant with the content we shot - which made it much more timely and appealing to EA users, football fans and viewers.

    We hear you're a big shoe fanatic. Tell us about that.

    The shoe obsession really sprouted when I was in grade school. I grew up playing basketball and it’s more than a sport to me, it’s definitely a culture. I never could really afford all the styles I liked as a kid - but now, older, with a steady income, I can redeem myself and get the ones I never could!

    Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    My goal is to have launched a couple successful software applications. I’m hoping to really create something useful for folks – that’s innovation to me. Digital is the core of my career and I plan on sticking with it. It’s diverse and dynamic enough to keep things exciting.

    This might be tough, but here’s your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.

    My high school Japanese teacher, Mrs. White. I wasn’t the best high school student, but she always believed in what I could do and once told me "never do what your parents want you to do, you'll never be happy." She was right. Thanks Waito Sensei!

  • 32 Under 32: Nate Houghteling

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    30 down, 2 to go. Our second-to-last 32 Under 32 interview is with Nate Houghteling, the third Portal A Partner to be honored. Check out our talk with Nate and don't miss our last 32U32er tomorrow.

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    Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

    So I got interested in making videos for YouTube back in 2006, "before it was cool." But unlike a lot of hipsters, I stuck with it, so now that the platform is starting to come of age, I feel like I've really grown up alongside it and understand it as I would a good friend. If I didn't work for Portal A, I would work another company trying to do exactly the same thing. It's sort of all I care about (besides Oakland sports).

    What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?

    Portal A is working on on a lot of cool sh, stuff right now. We're doing a series of promotions of films for Relativity Media featuring pro athletes (a dream come true), a sprawling documentary series about brands learning how to become creators on YouTube, and putting together a funny Portal A reel, which we've never done before. Now that you mention it, I should probably get back to work.

    What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?

    Everyone at Portal A is obsessed with the innerworkings of awesome, funny content. I'd say collectively, the 15 of us watch about 1,200 videos a day, give or take. Anyway, it's a lot. And we have very passionate discussions where we go back and forth about what made that prank so captivating, or why we click on anything involving marriage proposals, or why that one cat is so much cuter than that other cat, etc. The conversations can get pretty heated and I think that process really pushes all of us to think more about our tastes and what we find interesting.

    In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?

    One of our first-ever projects was a travel show called Huge in Asia. We had essentially no idea what we were doing, but we slowly cobbled together a small, dedicated audience that followed our trip and interacted with our work. It was thing that got me addicted to releasing funny, weird videos and seeing where they end up.

    You helped Mayor Ed Lee in reelection. Tell us about that.

    We actually worked for an outside group that wanted to get Ed Lee elected, so the first time he saw our video was at a Philz Coffee when some deadbeat pulled him over and asked him if he was "this dude dancing in a YouTube video." We love doing political work because 95% of the political ads out there make you want to curl up and die. It really doesn't have to be that way and we hope our spots are proof of that.

    Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    Point guard for the Golden State Warriors. That's always been my response to that question, but I guess I should update. In 10 years, I think I'm going to be living in San Francisco, wearing a lot of checkered shirts, and shipping non-pornographic videos to the web. So basically, same as now. The only things that will be different are that Portal A will have created a "Seinfeld"-level hit for YouTube and I'll be paying $120,000/month for my current apartment.

    This might be tough, but here’s your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.

    My mom, the author. She showed me that huge creative accomplishments are actually made up of 100,000 small tasks that you knock out one by one when no one's watching.

  • 32 Under 32: Brooks Day

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    Today's 32 Under 32 interview is the Vice President, Business Development for FCB - Brooks Day. Take a look at our talk with this rising star on the SF ad scene. We'll be back with the final two interviews tomorrow and Friday.

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    Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

    I learned early on that business development is a marathon of sprints. In order to succeed in such an environment, you have to be ruthless in prioritization and naturally optimistic. It’s a job that requires you to invest months and months of your life just for the possibility of making it to the final presentation. You have to be extremely confident not only in your work, but also in yourself – and aware that one bad showing has the potential to derail months of work. Focusing on answering the right strategic questions, making a strong point of view, and insisting on an obsessive level of detail have been the keys to our success.

    What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?

    While I can’t elaborate on the specifics of current projects, we are constantly striving to refine our offering to better service our clients and bring the most value to their business. At FCB, this continuing evolution of our capabilities has been essential in helping us gain new clients, like The Nature Conservancy; Trulia, who hired us as its first-ever AOR; and Levi Strauss & Co., who looked to us to create a tailor-made offering for its global brand.

    What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?

    FCB is an incredibly open environment that fosters ideas and creativity from every department. Additionally, I am incredibly fortunate to work with an industry titan like Dominic Whittles. He has a remarkable ability to foster a culture that gives his employees the confidence and permission to take risks, even (perhaps especially) with the potential to fail. It’s been his encouragement and trust that have helped me do my best work and succeed.

    In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?

    As someone who is always focused on the road ahead, I don’t often take the time to reflect on past accomplishments. With that said, I’m most proud of having the distinction of leaving every company I’ve worked for in a better place than when I started. I’m also extremely proud of the development and growth of my past teammates, and now have the privilege of watching them flourish and succeed.

    We hear you're involved with a number of local foundations. Tell us about those.

    Upon moving to San Francisco in 2007, I sought out ways to become more involved in supporting the homeless community within the Bay Area. By partnering with wonderful organizations like The Bay Area Rescue Mission, San Francisco City Impact, and Cornerstone Church, I’ve had the opportunity to play a small part in helping those in need. It’s been an honor serving with such great organizations that are focused on meeting both the immediate needs of the homeless and also providing long-term rehabilitation. Additionally, I support the Olympic Club Foundation, which is dedicated to providing assistance to young athletes in the Bay Area.

    Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    I hope to be leading an organization that produces a meaningful product, fosters an inclusive culture, and gives back to the community.

    This might be tough, but here’s your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.

    I’ve been truly blessed to have mentors at all stages of my life. In the past five years, there is one man who has been incredibly invested and committed to my success. David Flaherty, CEO of BrandForce, has always believed in my ability, encouraged me to take risks, and provided counsel at every major turning point of my career. Thank you, David.

  • 32 Under 32: Brooks Day

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    Today's 32 Under 32 interview is the Vice President, Business Development for FCB - Brooks Day. Take a look at our talk with this rising star on the SF ad scene. We'll be back with the final two interviews tomorrow and Friday.

    --------------------

    Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

    I learned early on that business development is a marathon of sprints. In order to succeed in such an environment, you have to be ruthless in prioritization and naturally optimistic. It’s a job that requires you to invest months and months of your life just for the possibility of making it to the final presentation. You have to be extremely confident not only in your work, but also in yourself – and aware that one bad showing has the potential to derail months of work. Focusing on answering the right strategic questions, making a strong point of view, and insisting on an obsessive level of detail have been the keys to our success.

    What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?

    While I can’t elaborate on the specifics of current projects, we are constantly striving to refine our offering to better service our clients and bring the most value to their business. At FCB, this continuing evolution of our capabilities has been essential in helping us gain new clients, like The Nature Conservancy; Trulia, who hired us as its first-ever AOR; and Levi Strauss & Co., who looked to us to create a tailor-made offering for its global brand.

    What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?

    FCB is an incredibly open environment that fosters ideas and creativity from every department. Additionally, I am incredibly fortunate to work with an industry titan like Dominic Whittles. He has a remarkable ability to foster a culture that gives his employees the confidence and permission to take risks, even (perhaps especially) with the potential to fail. It’s been his encouragement and trust that have helped me do my best work and succeed.

    In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?

    As someone who is always focused on the road ahead, I don’t often take the time to reflect on past accomplishments. With that said, I’m most proud of having the distinction of leaving every company I’ve worked for in a better place than when I started. I’m also extremely proud of the development and growth of my past teammates, and now have the privilege of watching them flourish and succeed.

    We hear you're involved with a number of local foundations. Tell us about those.

    Upon moving to San Francisco in 2007, I sought out ways to become more involved in supporting the homeless community within the Bay Area. By partnering with wonderful organizations like The Bay Area Rescue Mission, San Francisco City Impact, and Cornerstone Church, I’ve had the opportunity to play a small part in helping those in need. It’s been an honor serving with such great organizations that are focused on meeting both the immediate needs of the homeless and also providing long-term rehabilitation. Additionally, I support the Olympic Club Foundation, which is dedicated to providing assistance to young athletes in the Bay Area.

    Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    I hope to be leading an organization that produces a meaningful product, fosters an inclusive culture, and gives back to the community.

    This might be tough, but here’s your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.

    I’ve been truly blessed to have mentors at all stages of my life. In the past five years, there is one man who has been incredibly invested and committed to my success. David Flaherty, CEO of BrandForce, has always believed in my ability, encouraged me to take risks, and provided counsel at every major turning point of my career. Thank you, David.

  • 32 Under 32: Megan Robershotte

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    Down to our last few 32 Under 32 interviews. So don't miss this great talk with Megan Robershotte, Account Manager at Heat. Just 3 more to go after this. Make sure to read them all.

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    Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

    In a business where people often have to put work before themselves, I try to take a people-first approach. I think if people know that you honestly care about them (their ideas, their growth, their hard work and the challenges they're facing), it makes for a climate that engenders trust, fosters creativity and achieves great thinking.

    What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?

    A little new business, some tech, a lot of great wine work and I've got my hooks in our philanthropic endeavors. I like challenges.

    What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?

    The people here at Heat. High-caliber, smart, witty, fun, and all around bad-ass group of people. We get along, we push each other and our clients, and we do great work. The dogs are an added bonus.

    In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?

    The instances when my team feels proud of the work we've done together. And the times when I had to get really crafty/creative to get things done. Work that pops to mind is the "More Driven" Goodyear campaign, "Go West" campaign for Bank of the West, our killer work for La Crema and the recent ECS "Homeless not Hopeless" campaign.

    We hear you volunteer with ECS. Tell us about that.

    It's hard to turn a blind eye to homelessness in this city. I got involved with Episcopal Community Services, learning how much they were doing for homeless and low income San Franciscans, and how little the city knows of the work of ECS. Helping the organization turned into a bit of a passion project, and I soon got Heat support to volunteer monthly, host a holiday sock drive, and last year, create a successful campaign for their 30th anniversary. Shameless plug, but our campaign site – HelpSFHomeless.org just won 'Best in Class' from the Interactive Media Awards. And I'm honored that ECS asked me to join their board. There's a lot more work to be done, but it's a great start and an inspiring organization.

    Here's a ridiculously chilched interview question for you: where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    For me personally, and especially in this business, things change quickly. You need a strategy and a goal, but I find long-term plans limiting; they can quickly become outdated or irrelevant. The best achievements in my life have come from seizing an opportunity, being a good person and exceeding expectations (rather than setting unattainable ones). I hope in 10 years I'm still doing something I'm passionate about.

    This might be tough, but here's your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.

    I'd have to give a shout out to my dad. He's the smartest person I know and the hardest worker I've ever seen. He believes in starting every hard conversation with an appreciation for the other person; that you can't appreciate music unless you feel the bass in your sternum; that every failure is a chance to reinvent yourself. And that everything in life is a math problem. He's been a staunch supporter in my endeavors – large and small – since day one.

  • 32 Under 32: Kai Hasson

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    One more week of 32 Under 32 interviews left to go. Kicking it off this Monday - Portal A Creative Director Kai Hasson. Read up on this rising San Francisco talent.

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    Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

    I love the unknown and I think our company thrives on challenges. It feels like every project, we're doing something we've never done before. It can make for some pretty nerve-wracking moments on set, but it's also part of what makes the job so much fun.

    What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?

    We're really fortunate to be working on a diverse set of work right now. We've got comedy shorts, documentary web series, action spots, and some new videos with professional athletes. This year is all about going bigger and bigger with our projects.

    What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?

    I love Portal A because our brand is all about being different. It's about instilling the work with a sense of adventure and humor and innovation. In order to live up to that, we're always pushing ourselves to do better and to keep up with what's new.

    In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?

    I'm really proud of my growth as a creative director. I think the bar keeps getting raised for our videos. With that said, some of my more intimate projects are the ones I'm most proud of . When I think about a show we made called "Huge In Asia" I can't help but shake my head and smile. How did we do that?

    How much fun was the "Don't Stop Believing" video to work on? Tell us about that.

    As a Giants fan, that was about as good as it gets. We made a video because we legitimately loved the team. Three weeks later, after the video went huge, we got complimentary tickets, and here I am sitting directly behind home plate, three rows back, at Game 1 of the World Series! It was incredible.

    Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    I see myself directing really interesting projects. I see Portal A creating really big original work that people are anticiapting before it comes out.

    This might be tough, but here’s your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.

    My mom for having a "go out and live your life" attitude. She and my dad told me to go out and find something that I loved. That's what I needed.

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