• 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.

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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: 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.

  • 32 Under 32: Katie Brinkworth

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    We're back with more 32 Under 32 interviews. Today's rising star is Katie Brinkworth, copywriter at Pereira & O'Dell. Get to know Katie and tune in tomorrow for another great sit-down.

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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’m not sure that I do. But then again, I’m not sure how other people approach their jobs. The only physical thing I can determine is that I arrive later in the morning than most. I also like what I do. A lot. Which I think will always result in better work.

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

    My partner Tim and I are finishing up a spot featuring male models and an animatronic animal cameo, which was a dream come true as far as shoots. We’re also working on some super secret pitches I can’t tell you about unless I kill you or make you sign a non-disclosure agreement. Outside of work I’ve started recording some humor things I’ve written for APM’s Marketplace show, and just recently got news from the New Yorker that something I wrote will be on their Shouts and Murmurs blog, which has always been a life goal.

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

    Pereira & O’Dell has done tons of great work, so you have to show up with good stuff or you’ll look like a douchebag. They’re also still fairly young, and brave, and willing to go after wild ideas that don’t fit into to the normal advertising molds.

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

    Probably the Skype work. Not just because it turned out so well, but because of what it was. Advertising isn’t exactly known for being good for humanity, especially if you’re selling phones made in sweatshops or sausages made out of people. The families in our Skype ads actually benefitted from being involved, which is nice.

    We hear you're a published McSweeny's author. Tell us about that.

    I’ve always loved McSweeney’s, and I’ve always had craziness inside my head that doesn’t necessarily translate into advertising. I started writing and submitting to McSweeney’s a couple of years ago. The editor is picky, so out of about 12 submissions so far I’ve gotten 2 through, and one of them was published in their recent book Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Both of the articles were actually inspired by experiences I’ve had with advertising.

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

    Then I’ll answer with a ridiculously clichéd answer.

    In 10 years I see myself looking back at a picture of my teeth, full of regret. Obviously, after the economy collapses and civilization turns to chaos, teeth will become the new currency. Last year, I had my wisdom teeth removed and just recently threw them away when I moved to San Francisco because I thought it would be weird to bring them. At the time, packing pieces of my body into moving boxes and sending them to California seemed to cross a line into insanity territory. But in the future, owning teeth of that size would make me a king.

    If society is still intact in 10 years though, I see myself writing cool books.

    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.

    This one’s hard, and probably unfair. In every stage of my career, there have been people who have been a huge help, and I’m grateful for everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

    Recently though, the person I’d never forget to mention in an interview is Jonathan Woytek, Tim and I’s Creative Director who we worked with on our Skype campaign.

  • 32 Under 32: Shravan Hegdé

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    Up next in our continuing 32 Under 32 series is Shravan Hegdé, Art Director at Goodby Silverstein & Partners. Check out our interview with him and check back tomorrow for yet another honoree.

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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?

    Thank you so much for this recognition! Though it took me by surprise, I’m still humbled by it.

    There’s a quote by Alan Fletcher that I really relate to that goes “Advertising is not a thing you do; it’s a way of life.” As a creative I use this central principle for everything I work on. I learn by observing the world around me and try to understand small complexities that we usually miss, from the permanent coffee stains on my desk to the loneliness of steaming manholes on a busy street to people on the street. It is usually there, hidden somewhere within, a big idea waiting to be heard or seen. These everyday experiences have helped me to stretch beyond the given parameters to explore something new—something different—and to integrate it with my own unique experience.

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

    The love for chips had me working on Doritos for quite some time— BoldStage at SXSW last year and Crash the Super Bowl this year. I’m currently working on some fun digital experiential projects for XFINITY and Cisco. I’m also working on a project for Audubon to help further the conservation of birds.

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

    Goodby Silverstein & Partners is not just a place that makes stuff people care about; it’s also a place that lets us create stuff we care about. That’s one of the many reasons I’m here. It’s not just an agency but more of a culture that I’m part of. I get to work with some of the most creative minds in our industry, and that, in and of itself, motivates and pushes me to get better with every project.

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

    I’d like to feel proud of every new project I’m on. But to name one in the recent past, I was really proud to be a part of the Chevy Sonic “Firsts” campaign. I worked specifically on the launch of the Chevy Sonic, which involved literally launching a Sonic car by bungeeing it off a 100-foot platform. The idea revolved around building a 90-foot-tall structure out of shipping containers to have a Chevy Sonic slowly get pushed off the edge based on the clicks of viewers interacting with the stunt in real time. The greatest moment was when it actually bungeed after 9 hours and 2.5 million clicks!

    We hear you teach at the Academy of Art. Tell us about that.

    I went to the Academy of Art for grad school. And one of the reasons why I chose the school was because the faculty was essentially from the industry. Now that I’m a part of the industry, I believe in sharing knowledge. Teaching at AAU helps me give back to the community that gave me so much. I like to push students to go beyond just making a strong portfolio and to become better creatives by tapping into their true potential. This process helps me as well because I get to learn a lot from them.

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

    I see myself advertising in space. Maybe I’ll start my own agency on Mars that’s backed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It’s a plausible future, since we’ve almost found water on Mars, at least in the form of ice. Plan B would be to move from art direction to film direction to tell stories in two hours rather than 30 seconds.

    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 feel the need to break the rule here and give a shout out to two people instead! They are Joakim Borgström and Niklas Lilja. I come from a more traditional advertising background. It was these guys who really pushed me hard to explore the outer reaches of innovation and helped me realize my true calling—experiential and interactive advertising.

  • 32 Under 32: Charles Walker

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    We're down to single digits in remaining 32 Under 32 interviews. So enjoy learning about these rising stars while you can. Today's interviewee - Charles Walker, Sales Manager at the Katz Media Group.

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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?

    Although the team I manage, might technically see me as their boss, I strive hard to be more of a resource than an authority figure. I know i've never excelled with someone constantly looking over my shoulder or second guessing me so I try and give them as much freedom as possible to both succeed and make mistakes. And along the way I make it very clear I am here to help and be that very important resource. Because I have done everything from stapling and filing and coffee runs to boardroom meetings with presidents and ceo's I have a vast range of hands on experience that I hope they can benefit from and take comfort in knowing I've been there before too.

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

    We just took over a T-Mobile/Wal-Mart campaign from our Dallas office.
    It's a huge account and spending a lot of money right now. We're doing everything we can to make sure the account is serviced as well if not better than before!

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

    In today's advertising world, the speed at which everyone moves can be overwhelming. We're all doing more with less, but trying every day to still keep a personal and human touch on our work is very important. Trying to find that balance pushes me to do some of my best and most gratifying work.

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

    I'm proud I decided to take the chance to move back to SF at the end of 2010.
    It has been the most rewarding decision both personally and professionally and couldn't be happier to be back in the best city in the world.

    We hear you're in the running to be the next Mr. Marina. Tell us about that.

    The Mr. Marina competition is a local fundraiser that supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of the Greater Bay Area, raising almost $100k annually.
    It's comprised of many smaller events and fundraiser all culminating in a male beauty pageant for chairty on 3/19 at the Regency Ballroom. It's a great cause and I've had a lot of fun and met some really great new people.

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

    I've seen too many changes in advertising in the past 10 year to have any idea where it will be 10 years from now let alone where I'll be. But Ideally i hope to still be here in San Francisco contributing to it's wonderful advertising 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.

    John Wahlert who is a Vice President and Director of Sales of our Los Angeles office has been the greatest influence on my career thus far and continues to be each and every day. He helped me grow from a sales assistant to account executive to Sales manager and kept me challenged, engaged and laughing all along the way. Hopefully I can bring a little bit of that guidance to my team in San Francisco.

  • 32 Under 32: Sarah Larcker

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    Next up in our 32 Under 32 series is another fabulous found ad professional - Sarah Larcker, Vice President of Account Planning at Digitas Health. Check out her interview and check back tomorrow for another honoree sit down.

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    Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32.

    Thank you!

    We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

    As a Millennial who has grown up in a connected age, understanding the reality that customers have the power and actually "own" brands has been critical. This is the first time that people can respond to marketing en masse, instead of being relegated to a passive role. For brands to remain relevant and successful today, they have to listen and find ways to help and add value, not continue to shout and add to the noise. I keep this in mind with all the work I do, asking myself the question, "how is this helping?" and also remembering than we're communicating with people, not targets. It's all about solving problems to make people's lives better. Because of the immense opportunity for impact, I've focused on the healthcare space so far. But I believe this approach can apply to all good marketing today. So I work hard to understand real unmet needs of people and identify ways to help, which in turn drives sustainable competitive advantage for the brands we represent.

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

    I've spent the better part of a decade working on projects that help people with health conditions find the information they need to make informed, confident decisions. Today, I'm primarily focused on HIV/AIDS, cancer, and vaccines within this broader category. As an Account Planner, my role is to "hang the dart board" – doing the work to identify the area with the most potential for helping customers, and then working with the creative teams to get to the most compelling idea within this range. To do this, I spend a good amount of time on brand strategy, synthesizing inputs including social media, competitive analyses, primary research, search analysis, and market sizing, among others.

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

    The people at Digitas Health are intelligent and motivated. Knowing that there's always something new to learn from my colleagues that will make my work better, and in turn help people live healthier lives, motivates me every day. This company is committed to hiring and retaining the best in the business, so we can keep creating ideas that drive effective programs for real people.

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

    Although many Americans believe the HIV/AIDS epidemic is over, the fact is that new HIV infections are actually increasing among young gay men, and especially among young black gay men. A young black gay man in the U.S.today has roughly a 1 in 4 chance of being infected by age 25, despite representing only 1 in 500 Americans. By the time he is 40, these odds increase to approximately 60%. Along with my team, I spent countless hours working to understand the specific concerns, fears, and challenges these men have - the collective barriers that prevent successful management of their HIV and health more broadly. Combined with insight into media consumption habits and preferences (so we can be where they are), we built a program that helps connect people living with HIV, especially young black gay men, with the information they need to successfully take the next step in managing their health. This work has been extremely rewarding, both personally and professionally, in terms of contributing to the goal of ending the epidemic and helping continually underserved people.

    I started my career in research and social strategy, and helped negotiate with Facebook to enable my clients to create a meaningful new media presence. I launched the first branded Facebook page from a pharma marketer and also convinced clients to allow open commenting on other pages, even within a highly regulated environment, because that's what people want and expect. This important step was indicative of our success in shifting the mindset,of what can be a very traditional, highly regulated industry,from one-way communication to true engagement.

    We hear you've done lots of work for the HIV/AIDS community. Tell us about that.

    Did you know that more than 50,000 people are infected with HIV every year in this country? Or that HIV isn't treated with medication cocktails anymore? That some physicians say it's easier to successfully manage HIV compared to diabetes? Or that people with HIV have every chance of living just as long as people without it?

    Most people simply aren't aware of how much HIV management has changed since the 80's and 90's, and this misinformation fuels a great deal of stigma and misunderstanding. Identifying ways to address this knowledge gap is core to my workand important to our society in terms of helping people get and stay healthy.

    There are countless barriers to 'ending the epidemic,' but also more opportunity than ever before. Medically, we actually have all the tools we need to end HIV/AIDS today - right now. The remaining problems that stand in our way primarily have to do with everything else around the science: stigma fueled by lack of information, policy challenges, poverty, etc. While this category is incredibly complicated and full of debate, the fact that all the necessary tools exist to eliminate the disease is heartening and incredibly motivating.

    We are dedicated to this category both on behalf of our clients and from a corporate responsibility perspective, and partnered with a local AIDS service organization,to create a new online platform to better serve their clients.

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

    Leading brand strategy for visionary clients who believe lasting value comes from helping people and solving problems. I look forward to being supported by a team of smart, talented Planners and Strategists who I've helped select, mentor, and grow, and by colleagues who are equally as committed to making peoples' lives better. Preferably near a beach.

    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 refuse to only pick one! Professionally, I have to give a shout out to Steve Schiller and Sue Manber in our New York office, and Cara Levinson in Philadelphia, who saw potential in a young, confused social media lead and helped me truly understand the role and potential of Account Planning. They keep pushing me to do better work every day. Personally, I'm giving a shout out to my hubby and parents, because of their unwavering belief that I'll do something great with my career. Working on it!

  • 32 Under 32: Zach Blume

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    Back again - happy Monday everyone. Our 32 Under 32 Series continues, this time with Zach Blume of Portal A. Read the interview with a partner at one of the hottest shops in the city.

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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?

    At this point, it's tough to think of Portal A as a job, but more of a lifestyle we've chosen. The line between the individual and the company can become very blurry, which can be great for business and not so great for the individual.

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

    We're developing some really exciting work with Google, YouTube, Relativity Media, and Kimpton Hotels to name a few, and we have a few independent, original properties up our sleeves. We're busy.

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

    The speed at which our work needs to be developed, and the reach. The pressure is definitely amplified when you know your work will be seen and dissected by millions and millions of people online.

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

    Before Portal A, I was a political consultant at a leading communications firm here in San Francisco. I was very proud when we elected Annise Parker as the Mayor of Houston – an exceptional leader who also happened to be the first openly Gay mayor of a major American city (in Texas of all places!).

    At Portal A, we're incredibly proud of White Collar Brawler, an independent series we financed and distributed exclusively on the web, and which is now in its second season on TV with the Esquire Network.

    We hear you donated some time to do a video for the Oakland School District. Tell us about that.

    We worked on that project at cost, and it was a blast. We're East Bay guys through and through, I'm now an Oakland homeowner, and we have an incredible amount of love for The Town (search Ghostride the Volvo from 2006 for evidence). It was an inspiration to team up with the kids in the Oakland School District to rap about school attendance, and we'll always remember the cameo from Oakland's very own (and now Super Bowl champ) Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch.

    A big shout-out to Drew Glover from our team who made the project happen, and Nina Reyes Rosenberg who directed the video.

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

    We won't be satisfied unless Portal A has become the HBO of Internet video. Ambitious enough?

    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 Dad. He's my inspiration in business and in life.

  • Egotist Briefs: DeeAnn Budney

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    We love doing our Egotist Briefs series of interviews. Why? Because there is literally an inexhaustible source of amazingly creative people in this city to talk with. Case in point: DeeAnn Budney, founder and ECD of The Hive. They're a small shop putting out big work, so we spoke with DeeAnn about owning a smaller agency, what she loves about SF and how she gets the best out of her creatives.

    Editor's Note: We LOVE the background in this picture.

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    San Francisco is booming these days. Is The Hive benefitting from it? How are things?

    Yes! I love seeing it booming again. The Hive is doing great. I hired a partner, Director of Client Services a couple of years ago, and it’s the best decision I ever made (thanks, Anne Smith Rainey). We just hired a Director of Brand Strategy (with both a British accent AND a PhD). Our creative team is the best it’s been in years (tight and very good). We’re expanding new business efforts. Our only issue is Nietzsche, our 18-year-old African grey parrot, is still trying to hold onto his role as the boss of all of us in the agency. He’s a little off-brand, truth be told.

    In a town with as many great agencies as San Francisco, how do you stand out?

    I’ve always believed San Francisco has the best talent in the world, so it’s challenging to play in such a competitive field. That said, I think our work is quite different from the other agencies in town. It’s much less about inventing charming stories, and much more about finding the right story by digging deep into the client’s brand, and bringing it to life with respect and truthfulness. In a sense, our work is often more like great biography than fiction.

    As a small shop, what are the unique challenges you face? And what advantages do you have over larger shop?

    The advantages? There are so many. Less red tape. More focus. More control over the kinds of business we take and the kinds of people we work with. We can kind of protect ourselves from jerks. The challenge is I think it takes a certain critical mass to get noticed. A small team can only put out so much work in a year– especially if we’re careful craftspeople that want to do great work. I love being a small agency, but I’d love to be able to double our size so we could produce double the work.

    What do you think makes for a great creative environment and what specific things do you do at The Hive to foster creativity?

    I want each of my creatives to become the best he or she can be as an individual. In a big agency, that’s never the way it works—there are too many creatives for the ECD to pay attention to their individual needs. It’s important to me that when people leave the Hive, they’ll feel like they learned a lot from their stay here. To me, that personalized attention makes the Hive a good place for creatives who are ready to do the best work of their lives come and do it. My job as ECD is to have a light hand, to foster good work, and not to “make it mine.”

    On your site, you talk about “Seeking beautiful solutions to complex problems.” Give us an example.

    Well, we’ve been working with UCSF Medical Center for several years now, but only in the last three years have we been able to build consensus around a very simple way of defining that very, very complex organization. You may have seen the advertising around town that says, “Pioneering care.” “Pioneering” because UCSF is filled with medical researchers, innovators, and (literally) geniuses, and has been at the forefront of groundbreaking discoveries for 150 years. “Care” because they never forget that their first duty is to care for people. “Care” is the emotional side of UCSF. And “pioneering” is the rational side. These two very simple words come together to form the essence of this brand. That’s what I mean by elegant or beautiful solutions to complex problems. We’re lucky to partner with such a distinguished brand–it inspires me every day.

    When it comes to clients, what makes the best kind of partnership for you?

    Our best clients make our team part of their team. That way, we’re all invested together in the company’s goals, and we make ads that tell the brand’s story—not that build out our own portfolio.

    You’ve been a supporter of the 3% conference and clearly have no problem bringing women into bigger advertising roles. How have you seen things change over the years here in SF?

    Well, it hasn’t changed as much as I wished it would. That’s what inspired me to start my own agency a few years back. Recently, I was at a creative director’s dinner, and the room was full of guys in plaid shirts with hipster beards. All very dapper, but pretty homogenous. It was hard to feel like you fit in if you weren’t wearing the requisite beard! Those types of subtle cues still make it hard for young female creatives to feel like they’ll be rewarded in the long run. And it’s kind of institutionalized—no one single person has done anything wrong, so it’s hard to know what to do to fix it other than call it out.
    I will say that there seems to be less bias as a new generation of ad people take on leadership roles. I have hopes for the day when I sound like an old lady from another generation.

    Name one advertising trend that drives you nuts and one that you love.

    Drives me nuts: ad agencies doing expensive web videos and not having a media buy of any kind. Hate to think we’re losing the art form of telling stories in :30s and :60s.
    Love: to see new agencies trying different business models. Feels like a renaissance here in SF.

    What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your time in advertising?

    Learning to speak to and engage American consumers—rich and poor, red state and blue state, male and female—is a skill that could change the world. Use it discreetly.

    Give us three tips that every creative could benefit from.

    Love your consumers, don’t make fun of them.

    The best ideas are lost in the last 10% of the production process; good work is about endurance—you need to keep your energy up until the end, or someone will come in with a last minute change (or ten) that kills the essence of the idea.

    Great creative is like a jenga puzzle—see how much you can take away without losing the idea. You’ll be left with a clearer, more uncomplicated message.

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