I am working (technically "interning") with one my absolute favorite companies this week! Since I took last week off for vacation with my family, I am just now starting week #2. So you're probably wondering about the company I'm at... Sierra Trading Post!
Hi :) i Hope You are having fun right now! It's Sunday, so i'm getting this post to you much later than I prefer, but it couldn't be helped. I've been traveling by bus (33.5 hours to be exact!) to my next job and unfortunately, buses don't have wireless Internet connection. I'm sure Amanda, Kieley, and I may find blogging to be difficult depending on the job location, travel length, and the amount of Internet we have access to in general. Why have I never thought about this until now? Nevertheless, more challenges! I'm ready for them.
So, about my last two days as an account executive. They were pretty low-key. I'd characterize the entire week as low-key, but the last two were moreso because they didn't bring any official shadowing opportunities.
On Thursday, we had a date with Chicken Express. Jeremy and I decided to have lunch with his friends Dennis and Josh, whom I mentioned in the previous post. We also had lunch with another one of their friends, Julie. Julie is the Editor for the paper that Josh and Dennis are Art Directors for. Everyone works so closely together! The meal was great because it was free. Okay okay, it wasn't great for that reason alone. It was also great because I (here I go again) got the chance to “deeply discuss."
The following is an excerpt of what went down:
After the conversation ended, Josh said something I found interesting:
“YOU SHOULD LET US KNOW ON YOUR BLOG WHEN YOU GET TIRED OF HAVING THESE DISCUSSIONS OVER AND OVER AGAIN.”
I laughed and thought about my response before giving it:
“I won't ever get tired of talking like this, because for me, it truly is new every time. To hear a different person talk of what they love, or how to love, or how to live love, is new. Every time. These were the conversations that fueled me throughout school, and still do today. The ones that seek to examine our existence, how we choose to spend our time on Earth. The discussions that do get old quickly are the ones we choose to have instead, unconsciously and repeatedly. The ones that talk about how fat we're getting, how broke we are, how “unhappy" we are, though we don't make serious moves to change things. Those are the discussions I get tired of. I wish we never had them.”
After lunch, we all went back to Dennis and Josh's place and spent the rest of the day working on our respective assignments. I also took my shot at the weird chair from Wednesday's post:
On Friday, my job as an account executive came to an end. Ryan, Jeremy, and I had lunch over laptops at the good ol' church. If you didn't notice, this was my first time to see Ryan since Tuesday. I had missed him! We took a few pictures, and discussed projects. Jeremy had to leave for a project, and Ryan and I left not too long after that , because there was a huge rainstorm. My last duties as an account executive were to update the websites, and to finish writing the articles. I finished those by the end of the day.
What did you dislike about the job? Why?
I didn't dislike anything at all. I think it's because I did a great job maximizing the learning potential for everything I encountered. I can't think of one thing I disliked. Oh, actually, I disliked that it was only one week. I imagine I'll be saying that again, but this is one reason that a virtual or work-from-home company would be bad. I don't feel as if I got to know my co-workers and boss as much as I could have.
I enjoyed spending time with them when I got the chance, so by the week's end, I felt a little sad to go. If I were to work for a virtual company, I'd probably work harder to have random hang-outs or something. Yes, I'd be that co-worker that wants to get together after work hours. Nothing beats a regular dose of face-to-face interaction.
What did you like about the job? Why?
I liked the people. I liked every person I met. There was not one time where I felt uncomfortable or out of place, and I thank Ryan and Jeremy for making things that way. People really make or break any work environment. Again, I also loved the flexibility of the work hours. I felt less pressured to just get the work done, and took time to do some background research to optimize my chances of creating a good finished product. I liked the different stories that came with the different accounts and marketing packages. As an account executive, you are constantly maintaining the image of a business, and while that can be stressful at times, it keeps things fresh. You're never doing the same thing each day. Whatever I end up spending my future doing, I want each day to be unpredictable like those of the past week.
What lessons did you learn from being an account executive?
- Be ready EARLY. Ryan lives 2 minutes away from my house, and he was my ride to the big client meeting on Tuesday. He ended up coming earlier (yeah only about 10 minutes earlier) than he said he would, and I was taking my sweet time to look pretty. It never occurred to me that he would arrive early, so I had to rush a little. I have this weird thing where I try to use every minute I can get, like Ross from Friends, when he's checking out of a hotel room. It always messes me up. In short, your boss should never be waiting for you at your front door. You should be waiting for him.
- Do SOMETHING. Those articles. That was my big assignment, and I took it seriously. However, I spent so much time enjoying the research that I didn't start to write my articles until Friday afternoon. What I should have done was start to write something, and ask Ryan for feedback every step of the way. Instead, I wanted to do a thorough search before starting, which ended up with me doing my assignment at the very last minute. While I did learn a lot about SEO writing by reading about it, I could have learned more by researching a little, actually writing something quickly, rewriting, researching again, rewriting again, etc. In short, BALANCE is the key to efficiency and a job well done.
- People are everything. If You don't like the people you work with, you'll be miserable. Know the difference between situations where you need to stick it out and just learn more about a person, and situations where you need to remove yourself immediately because things are too toxic.
- Smile first. This is random, but it makes a difference in the work environment, for you and those around you. Those two outcomes probably work hand in hand. I'll let You think on this one.
Would you do this again, as a more-than-one-week job?
Yes, but it would have to be one of many jobs, which would be my ideal “work” format, anyway. Ryan has another employee who used to be more part-time but now only acts as an account executive for a few accounts, getting paid by the hour. I think this situation would be more ideal for me, so I could get the chance to be a part of a flexible company and develop relationships with a few clients, but also get the freedom to be a part of other industries. If I worked more with Ryan for a few years, I think I could get to a place where I could manage a few small accounts on my own. I'd have to work hard of course, since I have had no formal training in writing, PR, marketing, journalism, etc.
Overall, working with Ryan and REACH agency really worked out for three reasons. First, I got to see a side of my hometown that I never had before, so in leaving for my second job, I did so with a deeper appreciation for the place I grew up in. Second, I was ill before Week#1, so losing that first job turned out to be another blessing because I got time to work a job and recuperate at home. Third, I got to work in an industry I never would've considered, had Ryan not found me. As a result, I got more confidence to pursue another closely-related industry that I had been thinking about for some time.
To Ryan, Jeremy, Dennis, Josh, and Julie, thank You for making my first taste of the One-Week Job Program an enjoyable one. I'm very grateful to you all, and I plan to keep in touch. Watch out – I send random emails!
So What About You?
Assuming You watched the first installment of Deep Discourse, what are your thoughts on Dennis' "deadline" theory? Do You think it's a hindrance or a help?
For me, I think it's something that needs to be assessed individually. You'll probably hear me say that more than once. I'm a firm believer in the power of self-awareness. If You know yourself well enough, if you are in tune with how you operate, it's very possible that you do have a deadline for different parts of your life journey. You may just not use the word “deadline” for it.
P.S. I see that there's been an update on the website. To the Naked foundation, thank You from the bottom of my heart for helping this Program come to life. You're not only helping me and others, but you are helping your own cause. Giving to others is giving to yourself, so kudos on that one! :)
Hey all! Wow, it's Wednesday. :( I can't believe that we are halfway through the first week of the One-Week Job Program. Time is truly passing quickly. I'm having a splendid time learning all about how a marketing agency operates. I'll tell you a bit of what I'm learning, but let me first say that there is a difference between marketing and advertising. You'd find it shocking to know how many people deem marketing and advertising to be the same thing. At the very least, many people unconsciously use the words interchangeably. To explain it simply, advertising equals marketing, but marketing does not equal advertising. Think about that for a second.
Generally, a marketing agency comprises of:
1) Account management - Account management has to do with meeting with a client, securing a client, maintaining a client's account, and anything else that has to do with that. Examples may be meeting with a client to formulate and choose a marketing package for them, or maintaining their Facebook and Twitter pages. Because I am drawn to meeting new people, getting to know them and their needs, and subsequently creating a situation for them that suits them best, this would be the best role for me. Thus, the title of "Account Executive."
2) Creative services - Creative services has more to do with the thought process and physical work that is behind a graphic that is needed. I'm not creative in terms of artwork or design. I don't view things visually in that way, so this role would definitely not be for me. It's fun to throw out ideas and have opinions, but if I can't draw or use any design programs...there's an issue. The product needs to look good.
The components vary from agency to agency, of course, but most companies have these two.
I mentioned in my previous post that there are two full-time employees that really keep REACH marketing alive. Ryan deals with most of the duties of an account executive, and Jeremy deals with the creative services, those of a Production Manager/Art Director/Creative Director. Despite the fact that there are specific duties for both roles, with Ryan and Jeremy, they may overlap at times.
Yesterday, I worked with Ryan on account management efforts. I went with him to a big client meeting at a fancy club. The client, FASTSIGNS, is a signage company whose main marketing goal is to let people know that they do more than banners (e.g. ones you might see in a high school basketball gymnasium), also known as what is called "vinyl signage." FASTSIGNS leaders want the public to know that they do dimensional signs, directional signs, construction signs, and more.
The meeting saw several FASTSIGNS owners, all ready to hear Ryan explain different marketing techniques, and how much attention they have attracted for FASTSIGNS in past months. After hearing this, the store owners were to decide what combination of marketing methods, if any at all, to use for the upcoming year.
Methods discussed included an iPhone app, social media such as Facebook, and organic search engine optimization(SEO) vs. paid ads. Speaking of SEO, one of my tasks this week is to write several articles for a specific company in order to move them higher in search listings. This takes a certain amount of research and skill, so I'm doing all that I can with the knowledge I have. One major reason I enjoy working with REACH is because I have a personal interest in the world of Internet marketing. Despite the fact that I have little experience with what REACH does directly, a lot of what I'm learning on the job will help me become more proficient at making money online, should I choose to pursue the industry.
So. The meeting lasted nearly three hours.
I wasn't bored though! There was great food, (I did get a little concerned with what eating utensils to use for what food – 7 of them? What happened to the good ol' 3: fork, knife, and spoon?), and I was genuinely interested in witnessing several personalities try to come together and make a decision about their company's future. In a way, I felt as if I was a part of this serious movement...to bring joy to people by making them amazing signs. It was a...fuzzy feeling.
“SURE, WE CAN TALK ABOUT CAREER AND PASSION LATER, BUT RIGHT NOW, THIS COD IS MY PASSION. IT TASTES SO GOOD!”
Today, I worked with Jeremy on creative services efforts. We met up this morning at the same church from Monday morning. His goal was to show me a little bit of the process that goes into designing branding/marketing material, be it a logo, invitation, poster, etc. We worked on the beginnings of a logo for a group of doctors. He told me about a specific brainstorming exercise he learned in school: word association.
Much like the name, you start with one word or idea, and then you write down all the words or ideas that come to your mind when you think of that initial word. We discussed how important a graphic designer's job is. With regard to the doctors' logo, we came up with different fonts and items that would represent the image the company wanted. It wasn't easy at all. The implications of one's design choices are heavy.
Jeremy gave me a hypothetical situation of what he was talking about. Imagine this scenario:
You're designing a logo for your church, and you buy a photo from iStockphoto.com. Everything's wonderful, the church loves your design, and they end up keeping it as their brand. Word gets out, and at Sunday service, everyone keeps complimenting you on how great the logo is. They thank you repeatedly. Fast forward one month. It's Sunday again, and someone comes up to you and points to the logo on the church magazine that's released monthly:
Fellow church-goer: “This is your design, right?”
Fellow church-goer: “It's really nice...though I've seen this image somewhere...can't remember...”
You: “Oh, probably on iStockphoto. I got part of the [image name/type] from there.”
Fellow church-goer: “Oh. Oh! Now I remember, this is the same [image name/type] they use for the strip joint on 75!”
Funny story, I thought. Last time I checked, a strip club and a church didn't have the same mission, and neither one of the businesses would want to convey that they do. That's how much control a graphic designer has. He/she can completely ruin or better an organization's reputation. Graphic designers can essentially, like any other media we are exposed to, think for us. If we let them do so.
Later in the day, Jeremy introduced me to two of his friends, Dennis Cheatham and Josh Wiese. Dennis and Josh are Art Directors as well. In line with my fascination with communication, it was nearly comical to watch the three designers talk seriously about fonts, printing companies, and again, the double-edged sword of a "superpower" that graphic designers have in relation to the public. On a side note, there was also this weird chair in the office we were in. Scary stuff, haha.
So What About You? ! !
Do you think about/question the legitimacy of the published media that you are exposed to? Why or why not?
If You don't, try it. If You do, try it more often. In my opinion, while communication media as an umbrella gives us information, it is our responsibility to interpret it, and to find out answers for ourselves. Let me know what you think, friend.
As I sit here typing from my house, I'm a little hyperactive. I just came back from a good meeting with good people, and life doesn't get better than that. Oh the simple things that invigorate me. This week I am working with REACH marketing agency in my hometown of Irving, Texas! From the website:
“[REACH] handles communication, branding, PR, advertising and marketing services for small and mid-sized companies who have ongoing marketing needs but lack a full-time staff to meet them.”
In other words, if you have a business/group/organization, etc. that needs help getting its name out there, REACH agency is the perfect company to help you reach your potential to reach your customer market.
REACH is unique in three ways:
- It is a virtual company. A virtual company is one that doesn't have a physical office. These types of businesses have become more popular in recent years because of the flexibility they offer.
- It is small and local. REACH consists of two full-time employees, Ryan Sanders (president), and Jeremy Segars (creative services head), along with a couple of part-time employees. All of REACH's clients are in the Las Colinas-Irving area, which enables REACH to make a good name for itself in the community, and to ultimately forge stable, long-lasting personal relationships with clients.
- It gives back. In addition to giving quality service to its clients, REACH makes it a priority to help others in need by supporting two organizations: Water Is Basic and New Friends/New Life.
One more thing.
REACH is also amazing because it took me on at the last minute. I was originally supposed to travel to another destination for my first week, and the day before I was to leave, the employer backed out. I had less than a week to find my first job! Ryan Sanders, president of REACH, had received word of OWJ through an email, after which he contacted Sean to be an OWJ-Friendly Employer. Although I already had all my jobs lined up at that point, I emailed Sean, telling him that I was so impressed with REACH's mission that I was considering working with them after the Program was officially over. Shortly after I sent that email, I lost my original Week#1 job, called Ryan to ask if I could work with him, and he said “Yes.”
That was within 30 minutes. Everything worked out, and for the best. Stellar stuff.
Today, I joined Ryan and Jeremy in their weekly Monday meeting, during which they discussed the projects they had going on for the week. While I didn't know the specifics of each project, I didn't feel invisible. Both Ryan and Jeremy took time to stop, inform me, and answer my questions about design technique/processes (for branding logos), different types of marketing, and other concepts. We spoke of random things as well. There was a moment where Jeremy suggested that I babysit Ryan's children to get the full effect of the job. It turned out that he was joking. Pressure left my chest.
Ryan and Jeremy are very laid-back, straightforward guys. They each have specific strengths that balance and work well with each other. As I observed them communicating, I could tell they were an effective team. I really enjoyed spending time with them, and it was only for a few hours!
Overall, I felt very comfortable and confident during our get-together, which was at a local church. This is their normal meeting place, and it is a comfortable one. I arrived at the church an hour early so I could get some notes together, and I felt immediately at home. Free Wi-Fi, good coffee (though I don't drink coffee, isn't "good" ANYTHING exciting??), and meeting tables/couches. Tons of room. Church > Starbucks. Yep, I said it. I could get used to working for a virtual company.
After we talked about projects for REACH, we talked about the tasks that I would be doing throughout the week. As an account executive for the week, I'll be helping with more than one project, partially managing Facebook pages and websites, and I'll be writing a few articles to garner more attention for a specific business. Tomorrow, I'll be sitting in on an important client meeting (free food!). Though I'm not fond of dressing up, I'm eager to observe the interaction between Ryan and his clients. It will be very interesting to witness the way a marketing relationship develops.
So what about You?
Would you prefer to work for a virtual company or for a company with a physical, reliable office space? Why?
For me, I would definitely choose the former situation. Being a part of a virtual company gives you more control of when, how, and where you get your work done. That's empowering and is more likely to yield more productivity, efficiency, and work satisfaction. The Internet makes having a virtual company incredibly easy. As long as you are working with trustworthy people who work hard AND are making an effort to get to know them, there should be no issues. In my opinion, your business should work around your life, not the opposite.
Okay my friends, talk to you Wednesday or so. I must get back to work! Well, I'm going to eat some plantain first...because I can do that. Working from home is wonderful!