25 years ago I accepted my first job as a Creative Director in New York City. This beautiful pregnant woman named Orit (like Cher - no last name) said my portfolio “haunted” her, and asked if I would like to come work with her at her growing branding agency as the Creative Director. I was flattered, naturally - no one had ever mentioned a metaphysical connection to my work before and I said yes on the spot. My time at her branding agency, The O Group was one of the most rewarding of my career and after 4 years together, it was time for me to move on to new challenges. In 1997, the digital medium was starting to gain traction in the agency world. I was keenly interested, so after The O Group I joined interactive team Ogilvy as a Creative Supervisor in the New York City office. The new medium was thrilling and as IBM as a key client, the creative work was challenging and juicy. After 11 years living in NYC it was time for me to move on and shortly after that decision was made I was recruited by Mullen just outside of Boston to join their team as VP, Interactive Creative Director. General Motors, Four Seasons Hotels, Coca Cola, The Oprah Network were just some of the mega brands I helped develop digital creative efforts for over the next few years. Career life was great - my personal life, not so much. I missed living closer to my family in Seattle and the West Coast in general, so in 2001 I packed up and moved back to Washington State. Go West (Youngish) Man
After 5 more years at two great Seattle agencies (Cole & Webber and Hornall Anderson) leading creative efforts for clients like Nike, Starbucks, AT&T Wireless, Microsoft and the ACLU it was time for me to strike out on my own and in 2006 I started an independent branding practice. Over the next 10 years, my business and the size of my client base grew to include many respected brands such as the Space Needle, the Museum of History and Industry, Glass Vodka, DRY Soda, and Chihuly Garden and Glass - Seattle’s number one tourist destination since 2014. Having my own branding practice has been the greatest creative and business challenge of my career; I’ve loved every part of it except one - working alone can be pretty isolating. The Return of O
Over the next 20 years Orit and I kept in touch on a regular basis, so I was not surprised to hear from her a month ago. Cutting to the point like a true New Yorker, she told me she was looking to change her current traditional agency model and wanted to work side-by-side with a creative partner on select clients only - and that partner she had in mind was the friendly ghost from her past - moi. Without the need for tedious and in-depth soul searching - her invitation to get the band back together was met with a firm “Hell, Yes.” I didn’t need to second-guess myself because I believe when you find a relationship that really works on all levels, you’ve struck gold. I’ve always been amazed just how these special connections (business or personal) can last a lifetime, even with large gaps between seeing each other and can be brought back to life faster than a New York minute. My past has literally become my present and future. I became Partner and CCO at The O Group and lead the West Coast office in Seattle, appropriately labeled O Group West. Who says you can’t go back? Having just one path ahead seems so shortsighted and single minded. From now on, I’m going to consider all directions up for grabs and open for business.