Growing up, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. Or Sid Hartman. They loved Minnesota, History, Sports and Writing. Today, I celebrate 20 years with The Flint Group doing precisely what I so love: writing. It’s all due to amazing clients and incredible colleagues. And it’s perfect that April Fools’ Day is my work anniversary.
Never the same job
In today’s world NO ONE stays at a position for two decades. Yet my responsibilities have shifted so greatly, my position has never seemed the same. In the early years, I got to write “print, radio, TV” for clients. Sometimes, we even got to write billboards! The words “blog,” “tweet,” “Facebook” “SEO” didn’t exist. I attended a conference in 1993 on “The World Wide Web.” One speaker said, “This is a cute little trend, but it, too, will pass.” I remember being sad — then thrilled he was dead wrong.
Change is good
The constant change is what drives me. I’ve written copy for ice cream, air drills, coal, McDonald’s bacon, dogs, baseball, checking accounts, hockey, nut-free spread, cats, Subway footlongs, electricity, vodka, Subway 6-inches, dying people, corn seed, tractors, basketball, McDonald’s french fries, medical conditions I can’t pronounce (but I can spell perfectly!), football, nuclear energy, marathons, pigs, political candidates (there is a comma between those two), musicals, wheat seed, drugs (the legal kind; or so they said), horses, bikes, crazy Olympic skaters (no comma there), skis, volleyball, pandas, natural gas and, yes, race tracks.
I’ve written copy conveyed on milk cartons, labels, arena scoreboards, by Mr. Paul Harvey (yes, that Paul Harvey), government leaders, confidential white papers–and some copy that never aired or was printed. Most times, that was a good thing because it means we avoided crisis. I’ve written screenfuls of text to “get the bugs out.” I’ve written headlines that weren’t ever approved. I’ve written snarky, sassy, sarcastic copy no one besides our dogs ever saw (great therapy, I highly recommend it).
Do what you love; love what you do
If you know me, you know I wouldn’t stick with a career that didn’t bring me joy. This has. I was going to say it’s never seemed like work. That’s not true. Many times, the research, concepting and looking for just that right word and phrase (my best ones come to me in the swimming pool or at 2:48 a.m.) is grueling. But it’s like a killer workout — it hurts at the time. And when you feel the muscle aches the next day and especially the day after that, it feels so GOOD. Then you see a client get results of something your colleagues have done. I love that feeling. Sometimes, we’ve failed. Ouch. But with a strong client relationship, we re-collected, pulled all-nighters, thought deeper and smarter and got back on track. I’m probably most proud of the results of those failures.
The Flint Group has leaders and clients who have balance. Without getting all corporate-speaky, here’s what I mean. Our CEO still signs his holiday note “Merry Christmas.” He still closes our office early on Good Friday.
When I opted to stay home with our 2 young kids (and have a 3rd), my colleagues were my core support group. All parents themselves, I called them when I locked myself in the closet to escape a houseful of toddlers, dogs and crayons gone crazy. They laughed … and talked me out of the darkness. My Flint Group friends even let me keep writing for our clients on a freelance basis. And when the time was right for both of us, I came back to the agency. (My husband and I contemplated another kid — we opted for 3 kids and both of us having careers. Best decision ever.) When my husband took a job in another city, my supervisor didn’t blink and said, “You can do what you do from home.” The only time I nearly cried at work! (Some of the best advice I got that I will now pass on to other women professionals: Never, ever cry at work.)
Today, I’ll spend my 20 yr. anniversary as a Flint Group colleague in perfect fashion: Some early morning work for great clients with colleagues I so appreciate. Some time getting up to speed on the latest marketing/communications and especially social media trends and buzz. (If you don’t take a daily pulse on this, you’re outta touch.) Then, go with arguably my best mentor, an amazing writer, to our beloved Twins Home Opening Game. (No, not Sid. Although I bet he’ll be there, too.) Ms. Mary Schieve and I will go downtown to cheer on our Twins. And I’ll be looking for clever copy, grinding my teeth at typos on buswraps and agonizing over where to put a comma in a project due later this week.
Perfect. Thanks, Flint Group.