Pursuing other interests

Back when I worked at Kenrick Advertising, there seemed to be a revolving door of people coming and going and whenever one of them was sent packing, a memo would go out stating, “_______ has left the agency to pursue other interests.”

A few months ago, I issued myself a memo regarding BloodLines Creative.

I left to pursue other interests.

I am now the Creative Director of McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. – in fact, I’ve been in that position now for almost three months.

It’s been a great fit and I’m proud to be part of a company that will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2014 and keeps getting better with age.

So why the delay in the announcement?

At first, I was hesitant to spread the news that I had taken on this opportunity. And it definitely is a tremendous opportunity. McCarthy is one of the top ten builders in the United States. Our goal is to be the best builder in America and I can now use the word ‘our’ because I am a part of that team.

I have a lot to learn – not just about the building and construction industry but about how to better use technology to continue improving the communications process.

In the limited time I’ve been there, I’ve been involved in all new communications projects, most notably in the area of digital publishing. I’ve had the privilege of working with two super talented designers who amaze me daily. I’m back to writing and overseeing the development of posters, print ads, videos, invites, e-cards, logos and a wide array of other assignments. I’m no longer working on my own, I’m now part of a team that is more than 2,500 strong. Every day is different. Every day is a challenge.

And that’s the way it should be. So it’s way past time for me to start spreading the news. It’s time to update my LinkedIn profile, time to tell whoever might be interested that my allegiance is now pledged to McCarthy.

BloodLines Creative will continue – only now, it’s turned into a side operation – I’m no longer out there searching for new business opportunities. If a freelance job comes along, I’ll accept it, time permitting. But my focus is 100% on doing the best possible job every single day for McCarthy. I’m a builder now – a builder of the McCarthy brand.

This blog will continue and I’ll keep writing about a wide variety of topics – advertising, marketing, St. Louis, sports, and life in general. (Though not necessarily in that order.)

I’ve had almost 15,000 readers of some of the words I’ve written over the past two years. That seems like a lot, though in the grand scheme of things it’s not much at all.

But that’s okay. It continues to be a good exercise in writing each time I sit down to the keyboard.

So thanks for reading.

Blogging is one interest I will continue to pursue.

A great day to pass on the Rams

Sunday in St. Louis was a perfect weather day. The sky was a crisp, bright blue with nary a cloud. Temperatures were in the 70s with a slight breeze to knock a few early leaves off the trees to help usher in the first day of Autumn. It was a perfect day for golf (actually, I guess it was a perfect day for just about anything but I was fortunate enough to be playing in a four-man scramble in support of Caritas Connections).

So while the Rams took to the field in the Jerry Jones’ AT&T Stadium (naming rights to Cowboys Stadium were for sale so AT&T it is), I was taking to the links in Forest Park.

Apparently, the Rams were decked out in their all blue uniforms. I wouldn’t have known because I avoided the TV in the clubhouse bar and instead relied on my phone for occasional score updates.  I heard it was bad from the beginning and a brutal reminder to Rams fans of all the ineptitude and pathetic play that has been a part of this franchise for the last decade.

It’s week 3 and the panic button is just begging to be pushed.

But I won’t push it yet. The NFL has ups and downs every week – look at the Browns – their fans had written them off as of Thursday, then they turn around and win on Sunday. Look at the 49ers who got shredded in Seattle then returned home to lose to Luck and the Colts. Look at Jacksonville – well, never mind on that one.

Maybe, just maybe, the Rams will rebound from this disaster and somehow send the 49ers reeling to their third straight loss this Thursday night as an amped up Rams crowd (all 52,000 attendees) cheer on Sam and Tavon and fire up a D that has sprung all sorts of leaks. Maybe they’ll even get a turnover or two in their favor and not have such an abundance of yellow flags flying on punt returns and crucial downs.

Well, probably not.

Thursday night just might be the night the Cardinals clinch the National League Central.

So I already know that if things get bad down at the Dome, one thing will definitely be different – it won’t be a great day to pass on the Rams – it’ll be a great night.


LaunchCode makes good business sense

I’ve never heard of Jim McKelvey before I read today’s article about him in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Odds are good I’ll never meet him. But I’d like to thank him for launching LaunchCode and I hope his new startup has amazing success – because if it succeeds, that bodes well for St. Louis.

The premise behind LaunchCode is a simple one. Pair an experienced code writer with an inexperienced one and put them on the same project at a participating company.

There are currently 100 St. Louis companies that have chosen to participate in this venture. What they do is when an open job comes up, they agree to take on an inexperienced code writer and pair them up with one of their experienced developers until the newbie is up to speed and receives a full-time job. The newbie is paid a true intern rate – while they develop the skills that go beyond mere programming, participating in project meetings and taking responsibility for their work while learning all the steps that go into the coding process.

Simple, right? So simple, that you wonder why it hasn’t been done before and to a degree, it has – that’s what internship programs are all about. But it’s never been a joint effort with multiple companies participating throughout one city focused on one simple task – writing code. It benefits the company. It benefits the individuals who participate, ramping them up to speed quicker and benefits the overall talent pool in this area.

LaunchCode is a volunteer effort. It was started to help expand the talent pool of code writers in the St. Louis area which is critical in attracting major players in the technology arena to this area. The more companies who sign on with LaunchCode here in St. Louis, the more jobs it will help create. The more jobs it helps create, the more attractive the region becomes to companies thinking of moving here that have major technology needs.

Good job, Jim McKelvey.

You got the ball rolling. Let’s hope more St. Louis companies jump on board.

Let’s Grow St. Louis.



12 weeks of DASA

Tonight marks the second Tuesday night in a row that I haven’t met with our Ready + Willing group members to work on advertising and marketing communication materials for the Disabled Athlete Sports Association.

I kind of miss it.

When I first got involved with the Ready + Willing group, I had vowed to give more of my time, using the creative talents I have to help others. I signed on to be a mentor to the group, which I took as a personal honor. My fellow mentor in this project is Jonathan Sackett who works at Infuz on the account side of things. Jonathan and I got to hand pick our team and if it were a draft class, it would get a resounding A+ grade.

Natalie Gensits was our writer. I first met Natalie at an Ad Club Holiday stumble two Decembers ago and learned how she had shifted out of media and wanted to become a full-fledged copywriter. She certainly should be because she’s creative, detail-oriented, takes direction well, writes well and has fought hard for some of her concepts on this project. If you’re looking for a copywriter, please call Natalie!

Kristina Bradshaw was our account coordinator/planner/go-getter/tweeter and voice of the client. She is humble, smart and an all-around nice person. It was a true pleasure getting to know Kristina and I salute her for everything she’s done – especially all the work she’s put in into building DASA’s twitter presence which has been remarkable.

Allison Mattingly was our art director/designer. She developed a look that matched the personality of DASA and then made it work across the board in all our materials. Allison is detail-oriented, questioned our copy and our direction and ultimately made all the work shine.

Then there’s Jonathan. I’ve never worked with an account guy quite like Jonathan before and I’m bummed that I haven’t. His insights were spot on. His knowledge base is strong, his wit is sharp and I truly enjoyed working with him.

My role in all of this was to push, encourage and at times, slightly modify.

Our key task that we needed to help DASA with was in their fund-raising efforts. They have a tremendous story to tell but they weren’t necessarily telling it from the funding point-of-view. Most people have no idea of the financial commitment it takes for a disabled athlete to participate in sports. Special adaptive equipment, leagues that take you out of town to find other participants and travel costs that can add up quickly are just a few of the financial challenges that await anyone – young or old who would love to compete in sports and who totally benefit from doing so – but often refrain from participating. The number of disabled people in the St. Louis area that could benefit from participating in DASA-related sports is huge – but DASA needs funding to make that happen.

We knew trivia nights and Texas Hold ’em events can only do so much. DASA needs corporate sponsors – but it’s hard to get their foot-in-the-door. So we created some attention-getting foot-in-the-door materials that are hand-delivered to the recipient at their office. Hopefully, those materials will lead to a meeting and we bolstered the DASA story with a powerpoint presentation where we literally went over every word and every visual to tell the most powerful story we could deliver.

We created a leave-behind brochure, a new letterhead for them to send out, donor-related links for their website, a customizable email template and we wrote several radio PSAs for specific sports.

Now, it’s time for these materials to be put to the test and I hope they do the job and help more corporations and the St. Louis public in general know about the good that the Disabled Athlete Sports Association is doing in this area.

I have seen the good they have done first-hand.

Lighting a competitive fire in an individual who may not know that potential is in them can literally transform someone. It is magic. It is heart-warming. It makes you stand back and realize just how lucky we are to get up and climb out of bed and go about our daily routines that we all take for granted so often.

Working on this account has been a blessing.

On Thursday, September 12, the work of our team and six other teams from Ready + Willing will be on display at Jacquin Studio Photography (2111 Olive Street) at an event called Flaunt. It goes from 5 to 9 in the evening. The event is free, all you have to do is register which you can do at Ready + Willing’s website (http://www.readyandwilling.org/news/when-you-got-it-flaunt-it/)

Stop by if you can. Better yet, visit www.dasasports.org to learn more about their organization and how you might be able to help.

Volunteer your time and your talent to something.

It’s worth it.