Friday, June 24, 2011

Progeny Prep (if there is such a thing).

Knowing you're have a baby, a kid, a human, coming in seven months or so is the weirdest feeling ever.

I thought my life was full of excitement and mystery and "what's next?" already. But now I feel I've barely touched the surface thus far. Although this kid was planned, the 'holy poop, we're going to have Forsyth progeny and what on earth are we going to name him/her and what will our governing parenting principles be and what about schools and college and the shotgun I'll have to buy if she's a girl' thoughts still descended rather suddenly on me like the heaviest helium challenge and responsibility I've ever attempted to carry.

I'm pretty sure "attempted" is going to be the operative word over the next 20+ years as we bushwhack on this journey.

I say 'heaviest helium' because it's still a positive, floating feeling. We're ecstatic and hopeful.

I was having a good talk with my good friend Dave almost 2 years ago, shortly after he and his wife Jessica had a (cutest) girl (ever), Penny. Jaime and I weren't trying to have a kid then, but I was voicing my stereotypical concerns of being able to afford all the things I'd want for my future child (both financially and time-wise), and some hesitation to jump in. I must have used the word "scared." He responded with some friendly empathy and then expressed in his newly-minted father voice "Being afraid of having a kid is like being afraid of winning a million bucks."

You may think that's clear, but Dave has his masters in Economics, so I hope there wasn't some complicated allegory that I missed on how a million dollars is actually not much, or actually a horrible thing, or something. I think not, though.

Dave's words are pretty much what I'm going to ride until mid-January at which point I won't I won't be mentioning it around Jaime anymore - lest in the delivery room she break every bone in my hand and scream at me "THIS! IS NOT! A! MILLION! BUCKS!" Wouldn't want to seem flippant, now.

Oh man. Here we go. Wish me luck and give me wisdom and courage. I recon the course of one's life is pretty much determined by those three things all kickboxing each other in a triangular ring.

---

p.s. I am hereby declaring and time stamping it on the interwebs for all to see: I'm pretty confidant we're having a boy. I'll get into my logical reasoning on a later post (these things are determined by logic, right?).

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why we love our neighborhood


I was home in Louisville for two weeks in May and two weeks in June. When I'm there, I love to take walks/runs around my neighborhood, which actually means walks around the beautiful open space against my neighborhood. Louisville open space borders Boulder open space (say that five times fast), so you can keep going for a long time. Here are a couple videos of a standard walk Jaime and I took last week, just within the Louisville open space minutes from our door. Not so standard for everyone, but I love that it's standard for us. Feeling lucky.

There may, or may not, be a surprise for those of you that make it through both videos.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Salzburg and Hallstatt videos

I just realized I never posted these videos from our weekend in Salzburg and Hallstatt, Austria in April.

The first one is from the top of Festung Hohensalzburg, looking at Salzburg below and Untersberg (the mountain) in the distance.

Then we drove to Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Amazing room, right on Hallst├Ąttersee. Can't wait to go back there and jump off that diving board right into the lake on a warm day.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Personal freedom vs. Having federal law support all your personal beliefs. Pick one. Only one.

Or at least put down the ducky if you wanna' play the saxophone.

I don't usually blog my political thoughts. Tonight's an exception. Stop now if you hate that kind of stuff.

I don't understand how some can insist they want government (especially federal) off our backs for the sake of our individual liberties and freedoms, but push so hard to amend the United States constitution and/or create federal laws and regulations that impose their particular beliefs on 100% of the population. 

But wait, I'll let you in on a not-so-secret that you probably ought to keep in mind when reading the rest of this verbose post: I'm a christian. You might think I'm pretty big-time, actually, if you gauge by how much time I spend "living" my religion and how much of my life is directed by my beliefs (even not-so-transparently in some ways). I don't thump bibles or say "Hallelujah" or predict the day of the Apocalypse or anything crazy. But it's safe to say that I'm super-duper Christian when it comes to the foundation of my faith. Sorry if you're disappointed. If you are, I can all but guarantee you it's because you don't actually know me. My great Atheist, Jewish, gay, Flying Spaghetti Monster, whatever, friends know what I'm talking about.

There are many things that I believe very strongly. I even strongly disagree with those that openly oppose and antagonize my personal* beliefs, even if I ought not to sometimes. I admit, I'm known among my friends and family to appear hungry for a debate (on any topic, usually not religion, actually - I learned years ago how to talk about religion without debating) and even "like to argue" (which I like to deny, at least in the antagonistic, negative definition). However, just because I believe something -  and often because I believe something - I do not want to impose those beliefs on others. No matter how sure of myself I am. On the contrary, it is the freedom to believe whatever I want that has led and allowed me to find so much contentment and happiness in my beliefs. If I turned around and rallied to revoke that freedom from those who believe contrary to my beliefs, it would seem very hypocritical and narrow-minded, wouldn't it? (Because of my belief in this guiding principle, some of my peers are often surprised out of their gourd to learn quite late in our relationship that I'm - gasp! - an active, normal Mormon. But that is neither here nor there.)

You can't have one foot in the Atlantic Ocean and another in the Pacific. (Keep your Panama Canal and Cape Horn jokes to yourself, clever kid. It's figurative, leave me alone.)

I propose you try an exercise I played out in my head earlier this week. Follow these steps and don't skip ahead until each step is done:
  1. Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. Fetch your favorite pen or pencil in your favorite color, just to make sure we're having loads of fun here.
  2. On the left list all your strong personal beliefs, whether they be based on theology, spirituality, patriotism, tradition or general principle.
  3. Now clear your mind. Take a short break. (This is optional, but I think it might influence the end. Maybe not.)
  4. On the right, list all the things you think every American in every single state should be coerced by federal law to do, or be prohibited from doing. Think about this carefully and make sure you understand that this is not a list of ways you wish the world were better or easier for you to live in. This is a list of laws and regulations you wish were in the federal law books and if not followed would make a person a criminal anywhere in the USA. These are principles you should throw someone in jail (or heavily fine or otherwise harshly punish) for believing and acting against anywhere in this country.
  5. Now, observe both lists. How much of your two lists are the same? Could you make a giant Venn diagram out of it? Why or why not?
That's all. 

You can draw your own conclusions from your personal lists. Here are some guiding questions for pondering: How many of your personal beliefs are just that - *personal, no matter how "correct" they seem to you and your friends - and how many of them do you wish were mandated universal behavior codes? Can you recall any stories where an individual or leader - even an individual with a ca. 33% approval rating and large following - also wanted to coerce 100% of the population to believe as he believed and do as he did?

Here's a related list exercise, if you want. Grab that favorite pen that makes your hand happy. List all your favorite musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, explorers, athletes and respectable leaders. 
  • Would they agree with everything on your previous lists? 
  • Does that bother you when you actually take the time to think about where you likely don't have the same beliefs? Why or why not?
  • Would you want to force them to comply with your beliefs if you could do so simply and legally?
  • If you could go back in time and snap your fingers to gently brainwash them into agreeing with your entire lists while they were still young and impressionable, would you like to have that chance?
  • If you did that, do you think they'd still grow up to become the musician, artist, writer, filmmaker, explorer, athlete or the same respectable leader you admire or enjoy today? What do you think the hypothetical ramifications of universal dictatorial coercion of polarizing beliefs are? Best case scenario? Worst case scenario? 
We're all different. While what you believe may very well be universal truth, it's a different thing entirely to want to forcibly blanket an entire country as large and diverse as the United States of America with your "truth." For example, if it means people literally have to choose between being American and being gay, or having an abortion. No matter how much I appreciate the divine inspiration and intervention with which I believe this nation and it's constitution were founded, that does not mean I or the federal government get to take away the right to choose. Even if I fiercely disagree with how you handled your choice. Live and let live.

Let's pretend for a moment that I felt very strongly about Bill Bryson books and Calvin and Hobbes comics. I think they're great for the human mind and spirit. Very uplifting and edifying. To not even give them a chance is to offend me personally. That doesn't mean I want the Dept. of Education to make them required reading, punishable by a failing grade or a federal tax increase or a fine if you fail to comply. Even if 65% of my fellow Americans agree. Even then. I think you catch my drift and I hope you see the principle behind it.

States, counties and cities on the other hand - go for it. Let democracy thrive, even if a polarizing opinion and crippling government regulation prevails every now and then in some communities. And if you can't stand living there after democracy has had its way, you have every right to move to another state, county or city where your neighbors don't make your blood boil (as much as I realize that's quite inconvenient). Or you could, of course, take part in the democratic process (could? or should?) and fight (civilly) for what you think is best for your community. You can even run for office. Who's stopping you?

In the meantime, I invite you to think outside the partisan bases - a place where otherwise good folks wander in and unsuspectingly (or willingly?) have their peripheral vision scratched out by stubborn bigots seeking a false sense of "community" in collective beliefs.

The larger, actual community is at stake. But you won't be able to see that far from a narrow point of view. The very freedom that allows you to participate and scream and yell (or not) is what's at stake.

This is how I'm thinking today. I may learn new things and think otherwise in a week or a year or a decade. Sometimes I chill with the ducky. Sometimes I rock the saxophone. But l'm having a hard time watching others try to do both at the same time. 

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place

Monday, June 13, 2011

Work hard, be kind, and realize that it's okay that life will change what your dreams are.

The economy and the world is very different than when I started college in 2000. But this would have been good advice back then as well. Pretty funny, too.

"It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It's not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention."

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gardening, Painting, Going for Walks, Driving to Ohio

My time in Colorado since I returned home from London has been relatively relaxing. I have started working again which has been nice, but the family I work for is vacationing in Hawaii, so it's project time. Of course I have had to make up for four months of missed friend time, so I have been visiting them, too.

I am really happy that I got back in time to plant my veggies for the summer. It's been fairly hot here, so I have had to go out and water them every day, but everything is flourishing and growing just splendidly. I'll be eating salad from my garden before I know it.

Thanks for planing my flowers before I got home Breanne!
Starting from closest: sweet peas (the big dark leaves), carrots (parsley looking stems dispersed throughout), lettuce (leafy light green mass), more sweet peas, and a few tomato plants. I also planted some hot pepper seeds by the tomatoes, which 1 or 2 are coming up, but you can't really see those very well right now.
We have some painting projects we have been putting off and decided we better get those started. We need to paint our hall; as you can see it is a sick yellow. (Eric is the best at taping before painting.) And we also need to paint our room. Our room is strange: it gets mostly all natural light, so apparently that means that the color of the walls change all day. I have painted 6 different swatch colors and they all look good for only part of the day. We may just resort to off-white.


I also took a road trip with Annie to Ohio about two weeks ago. My parents live there, so it was really nice to go see them. Annie really enjoyed running in the forest in their back yard. She also enjoyed running through the mud puddles. I can't say the same for her enjoyment of getting hosed off after the mud puddles, but she's always a good dog.

Mom drove back with me and she got to experience Boulder on Memorial Day. We were on Pearl St. and we saw Batman, Superman, Cat Woman, Captain America, The Joker, Penguin, Spiderman, Superwoman, and about 5 other villains and heroes walk by us as we were eating lunch. The little kids there had the best Memorial Day ever. And so did I: I got to eat at Smashburger with my Mom.

Annie had Luxury First Class out there and back...and made a new friend.
Eric is back for this week and next week, then he's off to London again through the end of July :( sad face - he has to spend his birthday alone in London.  :( :( double sad face. I will miss him a lot, but at least I don't have to clean up my organizing chaos in between. It will be nice to really get projects done, but I would way rather have Eric home.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

So you want to work in an ad agency?

I sometimes get notes and phone calls from random college students and recently graduated job seekers that heard from someone that I work at an agency they admire. I was on a roll and just wrote this latest kid a novella, since I can't sleep tonight anyway. Thought it might make for a blog post if you're having trouble sleeping too.

WARNING: If this doesn't make you go to sleep then you may need to go into advertising.

On 06/01/11 3:31 PM, XXXXX XXXXXX wrote:
--------------------

Eric,

Thank you for getting back to me so soon. A lot of my questions revolve around two main points. I am new to the whole idea of working at an agency. Until recently it hadn't even hit me as an option. But now that I have been more involved in my advertising and design classes I realized that is where my strengths lie. So I guess my main questions for you are what are the different opportunities/positions available at an agency, and what can I do to prepare for an internship at an agency?

I would also love to hear your story and experience. Xxxx Xxxxxxx told a bit of your background with working for Volkswagen, but it would be great to know more. I'd also love to hear from you what agency life is like. Pros? Cons? Favorite aspects? I am just an ad agency sponge that wants to soak it all in.
Thanks so much for taking your time to help me out with this. I appreciate it.
-----
MY REPLY:

Oh dear. So much to learn. It's good you want to learn. But you'll have to become your own student and not rely just on school and formal programs. Be a geek if you enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it, what do you enjoy? Do that. Here's a giant checklist to start so you're never bored.

1. Subscribe to the daily AdAge and AdWeek Emails. Read the articles. Other options are BrandWeek, and a quick updating, kinda gossipy ad trade blog agencyspy.com. Be in the know. Know way more about agencies all over the country (and world) than your young gun peers. If you are the most ad industry savvy of your peers at BYU-I, that doesn't mean much, but it's where you should be anyway. It's a good start.

2. Pick up books by ad veterans, like Paul Arden (i.e. "Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite," and "It's Not how Good you Are, It's How Good You Want To Be." They are super cheap and worth owning and reading about once a year.) Watch movies like "Art & Copy." Read books about culture that interest you. Know what's going on, even if you don't have time to know everything deeply, just know it's there.

3. Get digital. Follow websites like thefwa.com, be a geek on gizmodo.com and understand what flash is, HTML 5 is, different types of web banners, email marketing, CRM schemes, social media trends of the hour, social media marketing campaigns of the hour. How does an agency go about building an entire website to serve a client's goals? Why do the sites do what they do and how do people end up there? Where do they go from there? What's a KPI when it comes to online marketing? This will evolve about as quickly as you learn it, so it's a fun hobby to stay on top of.

4. Become a fan and student of advertising that's not advertising at all. Powerful messaging comes from a powerful product truth. How can the company bring that product truth to life in the consumer's life in a way that changes culture, not just takes advantage of current, already existing trends?

5. Get an internship at a big agency for the exposure. Doesn't have to be giant with offices all over the country/world, but should have national accounts and do really smart, strategic, creative work. If you start there (EVEN FOR FREE), you'll have many more options in your future. You can always settle down for a boring job that isn't as chaotic and demanding later. But you may not always be able to jump into the creative bandwagon. Be willing to move and live in Miami, Minneapolis, LA, NYC, Portland, San Francisco, Austin, Boulder, Richmond and other cities I'm surely leaving out. If you're hesitant to drop your life in one location and go for the gold at a crazy low paying job at a worldly agency in a place you've never been, then you'll be limited to what your options are in the future. If you're flexible and adventurous in college and the first 5-8 years after (and work like a mad man and never stop learning), it'll open up more doors and put you near the top of recruiters lists later. Be willing to work your butt off - nights, weekends, be the guy that will go pick up food at midnight and build binders or proofread copy when what you'd rather be doing is hanging out with your family and friends. It'll get better, promise. Kinda.

6. Be humble and smart. Although you may be intimidated by all the progressive hipsters that seem to fit in so well in this industry, you can be yourself. Be natural and real. But make sure that "yourself" is super smart and nice to have around. Of course, if you're a creative urban type, that's an advantage and will help you fit in on top of your smart humility. But first and foremost surround yourself with people smarter than you and soak in everything you can.

7. The resume and interviews: What makes you stand out? (Not just 'what makes you qualified,' although that's obviously important.) Find it early and make it something worth having, hiring and paying for. Make sure it's clear on your resume and the cliche' stuff isn't getting in the way of seeing why you would be the kind of person that a CEO would want representing him and his company / agency. Make sure to do your thorough research on the agency culture wherever you may be applying.

8. (Editor's note: #8 was added in retrospect, after I already sent my note to him.) Keep in touch with your favorite and most influential / open-door professional contacts you meet along your adventure. Aka 'networking' and aka 'duh.' Nobody should need to tell you this is basic and paramount. But I've also found this pretty much happens automatically if you're at all likable and good at what you do (see 1-7 above).

(Exhale)

Good thing I'm a bit of a loner insomniac this week, working out of town. I'm pretty sure I just wrote the skeleton of a presentation I could give at the next BYU-I Communications Day. Know who puts the guest speakers together? Ha.
As far what job you want in the agency, that's something only you'll know. If you don't know what departments are in a typical larger agency and how they tick and roll along, learn that. Here's a really basic agency structure 1.0 resources i just found with one Google search:

Scour agency websites about the jobs they have open to see what on earth they are even called at various agencies. i.e. Some places call Account Management "Content Management." Account Planners (or just "planners") can be "Cognitive Anthropologists." Not kidding. But most agencies share the same or similar names for positions.

AGENCY JOBS:

Planners find the cultural and business insights that shape a creative brief and the strategy we sell to clients and build work from. In a good agency, they are the unsung heroes of the best work.

Creatives take that strategy and come up with how to apply it to the media. They are copywriters and art directors, creative directors. There are also studio workers and designers, creative technologists and other specialties, but mostly writers and artists that are supremely creative and hard working.

Traffic Managers (or Project Managers) help guide creative and account Managers toward a deadline. They keep all projects on track, organized and on schedule internally.

Account Management (or Account Services or Content Management) are the liaison between the clients and the agency. They are the central hub of organized, client friendly ad experts that work with every department inside the agency as well as vendors and partners outside the agency, not to mention clients, of course, to guide a campaign or project from before its inception (when the client comes to the agency with a task, i.e. a new product launch, or rebranding) all the way through the brief and concepting and back and forth with clients, and media planning and into production to create the TV or Radio or print or OOH (out-of-home) or online work or all of the above, to the details of pushing that work out into the world through whatever means or partner companies you work with to get it into the real (or digital) world, to the post-launch analytics and post-mordems and continual beta tweaking and optimizing (for digital work, it's rarely "finished," even after launch)....then it all starts over and projects overlap so you're always juggling and managing something. This is what I do. Account people need to be experts of their clients' industry within weeks, whether that's cars or phones or pizzas or credit cards or online services, and they need to be friends and champions of everyone within the agency as well. A good account person remembers that he works for his agency, not his client. That is sometimes easy to forget.

Production: producers are the cool cats that actually create the TV spot or digital marvel the creatives thought up but have no idea how to actually create. They have the resources and knowledge to guide the approved ideas into actual work that consumers end up seeing and interacting with. There are broadcast producers, interactive producers, print producers, etc. Each is pretty specialized.

There are more very important and essential departments and positions, i.e. media planners, media buyers, business affairs, art buyers, analytics, interaction designers, and of course the programmers / developers that actually bring the digital ideas to life. Plus all the overhead positions that keep the employees' paychecks coming and building functioning, of course. At least in a big agency. The smaller the agency, the more that stuff may be done by anyone from the owner to the "new kid."
--

That's all I've got in my system tonight. I'd recomend you get out there and get inside some agencies so you can see what they look like on the inside. Talk to more people and see if I'm just full or crap, so you can get a wider perspective.

But above all, do #5 above. The rest will come naturally if you're actually excited and interested in it.

Best,
eric

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place