Update Your Bio, Change the World. (At least a little.)

Wanna give yourself a kick in the butt? Update your bio.

Not because you have to for a pitch or your website or to impress the people you’re going to see at your high school reunion who still remember you primarily for the Skirt Tucked Into Your Underwear Incident from freshman year.

Nope, you should update your bio for yourself. For the simple reason that it forces you to take stock of what you’ve accomplished so far (insert back pat) and what would make you proud to be able say you’ve done in the future (insert butt-kick.)

Bios are notoriously hard to write. Even for writers. It’s like crafting an elevator pitch about yourself combined with your own, brief eulogy to date. It’s an Elevator Eulogy! Only not sad.

 Going up? Why yes, I am.

Going up? Why yes, I am.

When writing your Unsad Elevator Eulogy, it’s important to capture your biggest relevant accomplishments. This is not a time to be humble. (Modest, mostly women friends, I’m talking to you.) This is also not a time to list every honorable mention you’ve ever received or claim you invented #throwbackthursday or micheladas (People who lie in their bios, I’m talking to you.)

You want to seem focused, yet well-rounded. Impressive without seeming blow hardy. You want to gather your accomplishments together with a nod towards something bigger. And that’s where (at least for me) it got profound. It’s easy to list the accounts you’ve worked on, the companies you’ve worked for, the things you’ve contributed to. But what can you claim that’s truly impactful? What have you done to make a difference?

And by “you” I mean “me”.

Revising my bio made my consider - what have I done that’s beyond the normal industry successes of awards and years under my belt and account experience? What have I made my mission? And under that mission, what have I truly led? What do I want to be known for, aside from writing well and having a positive attitude and being a working mom/grown-ass woman who still considers horseback riding a legitimate hobby?

Maybe I’m alone in having a miniature mid-life crisis/epiphany over updating three lines in my bio. But I doubt it. Because it feels like a lot of us are searching for a way to do what we love in a way that’s inspiring and contagious and legacy-making. To have a bigger positive impact on the world. Cause the world really needs it right now.

So, I updated my bio. And then I wrote another version - the bio I want to want to have a year from now. It’s not drastically different. It doesn’t contain any fancy titles, global accounts or appearances on Shark Tank. But it’s different enough that it makes me excited to meet the person I’m going to have to become to get there.

I’m hoping to bump into her on an elevator.

Holy Crap, Obituaries Are Expensive.

My father would be really proud that I was economical with his "official" obit in the newspaper. But he deserves far more than two column inches. So here's what I REALLY wanted to say about my dad.

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Neil Russel Meyer of Issaquah, WA passed away peacefully, (but at least 6 hours later than we expected to prove how strong he still was) on March 11, 2018.  Neil, as he was known by everyone including grandchildren and pets, was born in Springfield Ohio in 1937. He grew up in St. Paris, Ohio, where he graduated high school. After two years in the Navy, Neil went on to receive his Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Montana.

Neil is survived by his wife Nancy, daughter Jennie and husband Dave, step-daughter Bambi and husband Kim, step-daughter Nancy and fiancé Jeff, along with grandchildren Brooke, Forrest, Chace, Sydney, Sam, Cassidy, Carson, and great-grandson Brayden. Neil is also survived by his brother David, wife Jane, and nephew Derek. Neil was predeceased by his parents, Rose A. and Elwood H. Meyer and many dogs, cats, horses and goats who he had a love/hate relationship with. Especially the Tennessee Walking horse who knocked his front teeth out as a child, and that one goat who chewed a hole in his underwear.

Neil had an impressive, 37-year career with Weyerhaeuser, working his way up from a “choker” in the woods to a Plywood Plant manager in Snoqualmie and White River, and later a Systems Management consultant throughout the Northwest. In the mid 80’s, Neil moved with Nancy to Sabah, East Malaysia for five years to manage the building and running of a Plywood Plant just outside Lahad Datu. Daughter Jennie attended school in Singapore during this time, sparing Neil lots of teen hormones and eye rolling.  As a manager, (and in life) Neil was honest, kind, incredibly detail oriented, and so safe he was dangerous, always wearing his hard hat at a signature, jaunty angle.

Being from the forest industry, Neil. Loved. Wood. Which is evident from the temple of cedar home he built with Nancy, the two barns he built with Nancy supervising, and the neatly stacked piles of firewood, in descending order of size, everywhere around the property.

In his younger years, Neil spent his free time playing tennis, up-keeping the property, helping care for Jennie’s horses, swearing under his breath at Jennie’s horses, and going fishing. (But not nearly enough.) He could make a mean Margarita, a meaner Manhattan and a perfectly sweet Shirley Temple. Neil could also be found on rainy weekends puttering around the basement, organizing bolts and screws into an elaborate system of empty Beer Nuts cans.

After retirement, Neil devoted himself to cooking delicious, but eyebrow-singeingly spicy food, wine-making, fence and paddock repairs and keeping mice out of the horse feed.

Neil was a sweetheart of a man, and a loving husband and father with a sharp wit as dry as melba toast.  He saved his occasional lectures accompanied by an impressive nose flare for his family, but to his friends and acquaintances, he was always kind, quietly funny, and incredibly polite. He will be remembered with love and missed by all.

A celebration for Neil featuring good, but reasonably-priced, wine is being planned for late May. In remembrance, please donate to Alzheimer’s research at alz.org.

 

 

 

 

 

It's More Than Business

Yesterday, we pitched to defend an account we’ve had for six years. It went incredibly well. To shock all my coworkers and use a sports metaphor, we really “left it all on the field.”  I wouldn’t change a thing.

And today, I’m a total mess.

Of course, there’s the expected work hangover from too many hours in the office and too few in bed that comes with any pitch.

But this one was different. This one was truly personal.

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I’m the first to say, “it’s just advertising.” We’re not saving lives. And I’m lucky to work for an agency that values family and work/life balance above all else. But some accounts weave their way into your life so it becomes more than a client you work on. I helped develop a voice for this brand, that, because I was the target, was similar to my own. Several of the umpteen ads we created were directly lifted from personal experiences with my kids. I was willing to share parts of my own life because I believed in the work, the brand, and the people behind it. 

Then there’s the bond that comes with time. Over the past six years, between our close-knit client and agency team, we’ve collectively celebrated or weathered an IPO, three CEOs, five CMO’s, layoffs on both sides, one divorce, two new babies, two engagements, and most recently, the death of my dad. Like a week and a half ago, recently. It wasn’t a shock - my dad had Alzheimer’s and started declining rapidly right when pitch work began. So, when he passed, I was back to work in a day and a half. Not because anyone asked me to, but because I wanted to. The quiet support and love of my team, and the knowledge that I had poured my everything into this account for the past six years made it an easy decision. I wanted to see this through, for myself and for everyone I work with who had given just as much as I had.

My point is this. Pitches suck. Wait, that’s not my point. (But it’s true.)

My real point is, most creatives are natural empaths. We feel all the things, for better or worse. We think with our hearts first, then our minds. That’s how we’re able to come up with ideas, over and over, that connect with people. This makes us passionate, hugely loyal, and emotionally vested. Sure, we have to learn to separate and let stuff go. But to us, it’s more than just a job. We’re putting a little piece of ourselves into everything we create.

I don’t know how this pitch will turn out. Of course, I hope we win. What I do know is, I had tears in my eyes yesterday listening to our founder give his heartfelt closing remarks. Because I know every one of us gave our all, and we’ll be there for each other, regardless. 

So, for the clients out there who think “it’s just business” I want to tell you, on behalf of all the agencies putting their hearts and souls into what they create for you, it’s way more than that. And if you find an agency partner who gives you this level of devotion, don’t let them go. Because you’re going to get far more than anything that can ever be stated in a contract.