location vs. vocation

We all know that for years it has not been a favorable job market. For every open position, there are usually hundreds – if not thousands – of applicants vying for that coveted spot, with some markets being even more competitive than others.

No longer are these the times when you have your pick of prime positions in the area you desire. Nor is it the kind of job market where you could pack up and move to the city of your choice and then go about finding that perfect job.

When we began our journey to find a new “home” outside of SoCal, we went about it methodically, from narrowing down our list to cities/states we liked but also met our criteria for not just professional opportunities, but also personal preferences. I had nearly 20 years worth of experience under my belt working on some pretty big brands. When a strong regional agency in a city we liked began to simmer up their interest, we took the plunge and moved (albeit not permantently…we initially kept the place in HB in case things didn’t turn up the way we were dreaming).

But then the “dream” job didn’t exactly materialize. Granted, I was able to create something that was pretty close, but it did divert me from what I have felt was my passion…writing advertising. A good 3.5 year stint there created some good work, connected me to some good people, and helped pay the mortgage on a new house. Seeing the writing on the wall (or was that my own brain graffiti?), I convinced myself that it was time to explore an opportunity with a local TV station doing something I had never done before….media sales. I told myself that it was really about building and maintaining relationships while giving me more control over the money I would be making. I drank the koolaid and took the plunge, walking away from an opportunity that I knew in my heart would never be available again in this market. But my mind can come up with quite the compelling reasons why while drowning out the advice I was getting from a few other people near and dear to me.

But I have come to a strong realization lately – focusing on money can get you into trouble. What happens when you don’t have the desire to chase that money day after day? What happens when you’re invested in a town that might not ever have the the true opportunity I moved for in the first place?

I’ve read lots of advice about following your passion and the rest will follow. But what do you do when you have a mortgage but it doesn’t come with a field you can plow up to build that baseball field? It’s not like I’m back as a 20 something that can fall back on my bartending experience to pay the rent or have the flexibility to pack up and move wherever. There’s another grownup in the equation, and their desires and desired lifestyle matter in said equation.

What takes precendence in deciding that big next step? Do you stick with your vocation and turn all your energy to finding the right position that will help you fulfill it, no matter where it is? Or do you stick with the location you’ve grown to love and make the most of whatever you can turn up, even if it means living outside your comfort zone having to constantly stay on the hunt for that next new client until something else comes up? Will we ever get back to the days when you could have your cake, and it eat it too because it really wasn’t that bad for you.

I’m not sure what the answer is. What I am sure about is that I will be asking myself a lot of questions in order to determine who’s first, what gets second priority, and I don’t know who will pop up to be part of the solution.


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rant control

In the past couple of days, there has been lots of talk about certain people ranting in the heat of the moment. While I am in no way in the Super Bowl spotlight, I definitely let some of my own venting through words here on this blog stream out of me and unfortunately sour some relationships that didn’t deserve that treatment.

As a writer for more than 20 years, often times I have found it easier to vent using my fingers more so than my mouth. As we know with a lot of online commenting that has been getting viler and meaner, sometimes the things we put down on paper…or computer screen…are overdramatized and push boundaries much farther than they need to…or should…only for dramatic affect or to prove that one has “skills.”

For me, it was using an exercise to write daily that led me down a path that definitely didn’t deserve to be taken. Worse, it was shared in a public forum where these vindictive words should have never seen the light of day beyond the pale light of my monitor.

If, by some off chance the people I hurt with my words happen to see this…again, I’m truly sorry!

Sure, a certain Seahawk has every right to say the things he said…just as I had every right to write what I did. But that doesn’t make it right…or protection under “free speech.” It was hyped up talk in the heat of a situation that, given the wisdom of a few days and a chance to cool off, probably would have never been said, or at least not said in such a mean-spirited public way.

balloonThe similar yet vastly different situations should have remained private. The rants should have been spewed onto paper and then burned…let go like a balloon taking flight in the breeze. The end of that sure would be much more peaceful than letting words fly that cannot be taken back.

What it comes down to is we are the words we say/write. We are only as good as our last interaction. Unfortunately, not stopping to think before we speak can leave a bad taste in someone else’s mouth….and ultimately in our own.

I’m reminded of an article I read on the “Six Principles for Developing Humility as a Leader” and one that really sticks out:

Resist falling for your own publicity. 
We all do it: whether we’re writing a press release or a self-appraisal, we put the best spin on our success — and then conveniently forget that the reality wasn’t as flawless. Drinking in the glory of a triumph can be energizing. Too big a drink is intoxicating. It blurs vision and impairs judgment.

Instead of recognizing the growth and opportunity that was presented to me over a long period of time, I chose to be petty and selfish and created way more drama than was the reality. It’s good I see that in hindsight. It’s bad that I aired my rant where someone’s eyes other than my own saw it.

Let’s just hope the damage can be undone.

Again…if you’re reading this (you know who you are)….I’m deeply sorry!

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snowy days and thursdays

Karen Carpenter was singing Christmas songs to me the other night at dinner. Despite only being the 2nd day in December, the holiday music has been blaring from various sound systems I’ve encountered for the past couple of weeks.

Today, it’s snowing. Sitting here in my office on the second floor of a building and looking out my window, I think I now know what it must feel like to live in a snow globe. Not that anyone could really live in a snow globe, right?

Wrong! At least for the people who live in the Pacific Northwest. Westlake Park will be debuting their SnowGlobe Live! display alongside a lot of other holiday treats in downtown Seattle.


According to the description…

This giant inflatable snow globe allows you to step into a winter wonderland for a truly unique holiday photo experience.  It can accommodate up to six people at a time, creating the perfect backdrop and space to capture a magical holiday photo with friends or family.

I find it ironic that something from Seattle would pop up at this moment. I suppose it stems mostly from a fleeting opportunity that passed in and out of my life about as quickly as the snow flying outside my peripheral view. This opportunity on paper sounded perfect. It was working for a reputable company, on a variety of different marketing initiatives, in a city I love. Well, one that at least I love visiting.

But life in a pretend snow globe can’t equal the quality of life we’ve built here in NM. And inflating a potential opportunity that I only know on “paper” (read: email) will only look great until one steps away from the backdrop and back into the bubble that is reality.

That reality makes me wonder if Karen Carpenter would have stayed true to herself had her life and career not been cut so short. Her voice was amazing, distinctive, pure. Hearing her sing “The Christmas Song” while dining on pad thai still moved me the way it did oh so many years ago. But would she have felt a need to reinvent herself? Would she have tried to be something else as she grew older, all in an attempt to stay “current”?

These days, my work life has been like a broken record, skipping over the same patch day after day. I’ve been trying to change the tune, but nothing has felt right so far.

So on this snowy Thursday, I guess it’s time to sit back and ponder if it’s time to shake things up? Or just let them settle back down in this little globe I currently call home.

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out of thin air

There are times that I’m proud to be part of the advertising industry. Especially when I see out-of-the-box thinking that actually does something good. Like creating drinking water out of the air utilizing some amazing engineering and imagination to utilize what many view as an eyesore.

My current largest client in NM is also the largest advertiser in outdoor for the ABQ Metro area. We try to create visually appealing boards that help raise awareness, communicate benefits, and promote specific service lines. But none quite deliver this kind of benefit to the community. But there’s still hope.

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the devil is in the details….or is it?

Part of the challenge of being a creative writer is the overwhelming urge to share, and share everything. But sometimes you gotta show some restraint. It’s about the tease. Or just letting the brain complete the picture.

Here are a couple of new teaser ads that do just that. We don’t spell out the whole story. We let the viewer draw their own conclusion.

These are part of a campaign to help promote a new kid-friendly ER at one of our client hospitals. In addition to TV, these spots are also being shown on theater screens here in ABQ. Rich media web banners and outdoor bulletins are also in play.

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reinvention is just so…hard

Ask any ad agency and you’ll find that creating their own website is so much harder than building ones for their clients. Sure, part of the equation is that a client website is a paying gig, but in the grand scheme of things, ideally the agency’s website will pay for itself in new business while getting to show off their programming  and design chops.

Recognizing that I haven’t touched my own website in over 3 years, I’ve started wandering through the many forests of themes looking for inspiration. Knowing that Apple no longer supports my easy-as-pie iWeb program that I used to build my current site, I’ve started looking around at all the options available.

Squarespace looks like a viable choice, but I’m already paying for web hosting. RapidWeaver is something I actually used before iWeb, so that can always be an alternative. And there’s WordPress (which I use for this blog) that has a bunch of options available, some free, some for a fee. But playing around with it this past weekend made me realize that being stuck in the land of spreadsheets and client hand-holding has left my design and programming skills feeling a little….rusty. I stare at things that should make sense and only come up with more questions. But by gawd, I’ll plow through and figure it out, right? (I should mention that my normal pattern is to NEVER ease into anything….which really causes a lot of unnecessary aches and pains when I apply this “jump head first, think about the consequences later” mentality.)

It’s with this recognition that while updating my website is a priority, so is taking the time to think about it and doing it right. I don’t want to regurgitate my current site and simply rebuild it in a new program. It’s time to reinvent the wheel of experience that I’ve built over the years. But with so much emphasis on usability, SEO, SEM, analytics, etc, it’s daunting to think that this website isn’t just words and images on the page. It’s something that needs to be thought out/through.

So thinking things through I shall, including what portfolio samples best represent me and my experience. Small steps will ensue until I take that giant leap to publish a new site. Stay tuned….




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when all else fails…jump!

50thThere’s something about hitting certain milestones that can set the hamster in the wheel of my brain to running. For me recently, it’s stepping delicately into a new decade in my life that has given me lots of reasons to pause and ponder.

Am I where I imagined I would be at this age? Did I ever really give much thought to that question in the first place? What is becoming obvious is…no, I didn’t. I just assumed that I would be where I was supposed to be….wherever that might be.

Ten years ago I would not have imagined that I would be living in NM, working as a hybrid AE/writer for a small, well-respected regional ad agency. Ten years ago I was in the middle of a 5-year stint working on the Nissan brand and living near the beach in SoCal. A job change, two layoffs, and a long stint of freelancing opened up a lot of possibilities. Several trips to Seattle, Portland, and ABQ began what would eventually mean a move to a new home. During this transitional time, I’ve worked on a variety of other brands (and for those who thought I could only “get” automotive….I guess I proved otherwise) including Allergan, Microsoft, Kaiser Permanente, as well as smaller local and regional brands in all areas of healthcare, technology, the arts, and nonprofit.

With each new day of this new year, I find myself stopping and asking myself questions. Do I want to look back in 10 years and wonder what I was thinking – or not thinking – about my purpose on this planet? Am I fulfilling my role? What is my role? I venture back into a land that consistently inspires me and come across this. Seeing this post & clip reminds me that it’s never too late.

I’m happy in my life as it is. But am I fulfilled? Do I live with passion? I know it’s there…but perhaps it’s time to relight the pilot, stoke the fire, and just take that leap.

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getting tough

Sometimes finding that “something special” that a product offers requires some special thinking. This is especially true for a solar tracker company that offers what a lot of their competitors don’t – the ability to follow the sun. To communicate these advantages, as well as present a rugged personae that can withstand the elements, there had to be the right attitude. The headline does most of the heavy lifting….but the copy had to maintain the swagger. Does it work? Seems so far the company is experiencing an uptick in inquiries worldwide.

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we have heart, too

This has been the year of promoting the major service lines, including the Heart Hospital. Here are the new TV spots for it….

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show & tell part 2

Because not everyone watches TV (gasp), we did create a print campaign as well. Actually, the print came first.


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