Saturday, October 20, 2012

Poet inspires Artist

Born in Michigan in 1945 and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Robert Lobe completed his undergraduate education at Oberlin College in Ohio and headed east to Manhattan to study at Hunter College, a division of the City University of New York. He stayed. Lobe's aluminum trees, boulders and other natural forms are hard to classify. Intuitive, rather than analytic, his departure from Minimalist sculpture from the 1960s and 1970s. We might call Lobe's work Post-Minimalist sculpture.
The Palm at the End of the Parking Lot was installed by Lobe at Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis (1995). This sculpture was inspired a poem by Wallace Stevens (1954):

Of Mere Being
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor.
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
Wallace Stevens was an American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School. He spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. More than any other modern poet, Stevens was concerned with the transformative power of the imagination. Composing poems on his way to and from the office and in the evenings, Stevens continued to spend his days behind a desk at the office, and led a quiet, uneventful life. He did not receive widespread recognition until a year before his death in 1955.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What’s Next?

Chapter Nine
What’s Next?

Strictly speaking I’ve moved too many times. Most executive recruiters and placement specialists would council that I should “stay put” for a while. I know that’s the conventional wisdom. I know it’s also probably pretty good advice. Still I’m pretty sure that my variety of experience has given me a confidence that a lot of people in this business lack. Let’s face it; insecurity and anxiety are facts of life in the advertising business. Clients come and go and billings go up and down. It’s not a predictable business. We don’t manufacture anything really. We sell concepts created by people. People become expendable. I’m proud of my ability to bounce back. I have been clobbered by ridiculous circumstances; mostly beyond my control and I still rebound.

I have three prescriptions for becoming resilient:
1. Seek Great Experiences
2. Be Committed to Lifelong Learning
3. Having a sense of humor.

Great Experiences
To put it into perspective a little: If all the accounts for which I’ve been privileged enough to contribute were added up and under my wing at the same time; Wes Morgan would be one of the 100 top agencies in America. The diversity of and the breadth of experience in categories, billings, media, print, broadcast, trade and consumer communications make me feel pretty confident that I have something to offer almost any prospective client. I’m a big believer in “making your own breaks.” I’ve been on a wild ride, to be sure. I choose to look at it like I’ve been playing professional ball with “the bigs” most of my career. Yes, I’ve been sent to the minors and done my time in what I call “dinner theater” (to mix metaphors). Mostly I’ve made myself a veteran of the big-time. You can’t take that away from me even if I become another statistic, a “has-been” ad guy. (At least you’ll never be able to say I was a “never-was” ad guy.) Suffice it to say, this was a turning point for me. I looked at my career and decided to take the act on the road. As you’ll see, I did travel. A very good friend and business associate of mine told me I was nuts. Essentially, he said “Advertising is a strange mistress to be chasing around the country, Wes.” Maybe he’s right. It didn’t stop me though.

Lifelong Learning
I’ve already cited several examples of things I’ve tried to do to continue on a mission of lifelong learning. I’ve already said you get so much more than you give when you share with students, practice mentoring, and participate in associations. These efforts are rewarding. They provide benefits that aren’t apparent before you become involved. Learning is the big one. You can always learn new things. But you have to want to grow and you have to seek out the experiences. And you must have an open mind. Lifelong learning is a natural by-product of being in the advertising business. You can find yourself, as I have, in the beer business one day, in the toy business the next, or maybe in the banking or telecommunications business. You have to be flexible and curious about everything. You have to be a sort of student of pop culture too. Go to movies. Enjoy music. Read. It’s all relevant. It can make advertising communications better. Alex Bogusky, creative director and partner at Crispin, Porter + Bogusky is one guy who has inspired me. Alex dropped out of college and jumped into the world of work at a young age. He has a natural curiosity and challenges everyone around him. I’d have to say he is a very good example of someone who is committed to a philosophy of lifelong learning. Alex once suggested that a college would give him an honorary degree someday. He already deserves it for his contributions to the advertising industry. I hope he gets the recognition he deserves. If I were president of Tapioca College
of South Central Florida (or some such place) I’d be more than happy to award Alex a doctor of arts degree just for the intensity with which he approaches each day. I try to do that too.

Sense of Humor
I can’t tell you how to have a sense of humor about your life and career. I can only say it’s really important. Life is serious. Bad things happen. Good things happen. Try to put into perspective. Advertising is important but, if you make a mistake, no one dies. Earlier in my career, (when I worked on Burger King, I think), someone told me to relax a little. “Advertising isn’t Brain Surgery,” they said. Years later I saw a cartoon that turned that calming advice on its ear. It showed a surgeon at an operating table with the nurse saying “Relax Doctor, this isn’t advertising.” Everything is relative I guess.

Dinner Theater
I’ve tried to explain career moves in metaphors like the profession of acting. If you’re an actor, you might pursue the big bucks in Hollywood Feature Films. Or you might prefer live acting on stage in a theater. You might be compromising. Only you yourself, can really know. Sometimes you might not be so sure. In professional sports (e.g. baseball) you can find yourself moving from team to team in a dizzying series of trades. All the while you have to determine if your love of the game justifies the moving around. I admire those guys. They play because they can make a contribution. They play because they are recognized as guys who add value. I can relate.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Marketing Job Summary

This is a real job description. This list was posted recently online. I don’t know where to begin so I will let you read it first.

Job Responsibilities:
1. Create graphical ads and write topical copy for trade publications
2. Promote company products by revising Sales brochures
3. Design direct mail and email collateral for campaigns
4. Increase our SEO rankings by managing web content
5. Manage online calendar of events and blog
6. Develop quarterly newsletter design and topics
7. Work with list generation providers for mailings and call campaigns
8. Add and remove products on the company online store
9. Coordinate tradeshow attendance and track leads from them
10. Use social media in order to promote our products
11 Research and develop case studies
12. Maintain professionalism in small office environment
Note: All other duties as assigned
Must be self-sufficient and have adequate telephone and computer skills.

Yikes,  graphical ads and topical copy while reviewing brochures, designing DM and collateral, improving SEO, updating web content, writing blogs, managing lists, trade shows, social media, case studies…be professional and ready for other duties as assigned. And be ready to answer the phone and demonstrate computer skills. Benefits: You can come in early and work 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Some college, non-manager…no respect.   

The successful candidate will need to have low self-esteem, perform flawlessly and still expect failure because being self-sufficient means you will be judged on decisions you will routinely make in a vacuum. Welcome to the rewarding profession of marketing in the digital age. And if it isn’t too much trouble, can you pick up my dry cleaning on your lunch half-hour? 

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Fish Story

Neosho National Fish Hatchery hosts Grand Opening

NEOSHO, MO - A large crowd gathered to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the visitor's center at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery in the Spring and in fewer than 10 months later (by December 2010) a similar crowd gathered to celebrate an open house and ribbon cutting. Crossland was the General Contractor. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud of its state-of-the-art visitor center. The architectural style of the facility commemorates the beginnings of the National Fish Hatchery Program, the oldest operational Federal fish hatchery in the country. The facility is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council LEED program and includes solar panels, energy efficient building systems, geothermal wells, and is built with environmentally friendly, natural materials including fiber cement siding, wood framing, metal roof, stained concrete and marmoleum flooring. The center is expected to generate local economic benefits in the form of enhanced tourism revenues and associated employment opportunities in southwestern Missouri.

The Neosho National Fish Hatchery celebrated the grand opening of its new visitor center on December 9, 2010. Hundreds of people turned out to tour the facility, and to hear remarks from Missouri Senator-elect Roy Blunt. The facility is 9,500 square-feet and includes a conference room and a 2,500-gallon aquarium featuring species of fish that the hatchery works with such as channel catfish, pallid sturgeon, largemouth bass and rainbow trout. The hatchery was established in 1888 and is the oldest operating federal fish hatchery, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The hatchery raises endangered pallid sturgeon for recovery efforts in the lower Missouri River and rainbow trout for stocking in Lake Taneycomo. The hatchery also supports conservation of the endangered Ozark cavefish and restoration of native mussels.
Hatchery director David Hendrix said the new look of the center is a nod to the building’s look during the 1950s, incorporating features such as an onion-shaped dome. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful building,” he said.

The Neosho National Fish Hatchery is expected to accommodate more than 100,000 visitors per year, enhance environmental education and interpretation opportunities, and generate economic benefits for Newton County and surrounding areas, according to a press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.