Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The work is over...

I thought it would be appropriate to finish out the work series before the long holiday weekend so here we go...

Last I left you I was finishing school and working part time for Scott Dickinson doing odd jobs for his organization. I finished them both right about the same time and starting working as a professional massage therapist. Now, I am not going to talk about that job in this series since I am still doing it and there is another blog about that coming...maybe next week. Maybe. Anyway...though I thought I had finished with advertising and KFC I discovered maybe I wasn't so done after all.

As I told you before SN was a brilliant Ad Man. Really good at the client relationships, good pitch guy, decent ideas...but what he wasn't was a good business man. He never understood the balance that must happen between the comes ins and the goes outs. And eventually if you have more goes outs than comes ins you can't keep your business running anymore. As L/N started to dissolve AFA came back on the scene. They were in Portland pitching the A&W business and let the KFC group know they were interested in their business as well. After a few meetings it was decided that the co-op would leave L/N and move to AFA.

I met with Bruce Phillips during this transition and he asked me if I would be interested in coming back on as the account manager for the co-op. Seems as though when he asked the guys what they liked about their time with L/N my name kept coming up. That and I was local and the guys really liked the idea of having someone local. It was very flattering. Not only that my guys wanted me back but that AFA would consider hiring me. So I told him no way.

Shocked? Yes, I was flattered, yes the money would have been better than starting up a massage business, yes it would have been nice to be able to work from home. But I left advertising. I had no urge to go back to it at all. So I said, thank you but no thank you. And thought that was the end of my time in advertising for sure.

Then SD called me and we talked about it and he used the whole "personal favor to me" line. What are you going to do when someone who has not only provided you with a job for the past year so you could chase a dream but literally saved your life asks you for a favor? So I called Bruce and told him I would come back. Part time and on a temporary basis. Only long enough to get the business transitioned over to AFA and help the guys handle the changes that would be happening.

It turns out that this was the best decision for myself and for the co-op that I could have made. Remember way back when when I was a bookkeeper and spent a lot of time doing the forensic work? Well that was needed during the transition. There were financial records that needed unwound as well as the normal marketing and advertising items that needed taken care of along with the bridge between the co-op and AFA. I spent a lot of time acting as an interpreter in meetings. AFA has a HUGE chunk of the KFC market nationally and it works best for them to be able to do things alike in all their co-ops. My group had been an island to themselves for years with just me taking care of things in my own way. Now we needed to figure out how to make the spreadsheets they were used to looking at match up with the information they would be getting from AFA.

For awhile it meant doing everything twice for me. But it was really very interesting. I was sort of like a kid in a candy store. I had been handed the opportunity to dig through mountains of research, tons of information on other co-ops, other areas, other sales promotions. And the more I found the more I would dive in. It was very tempting for awhile to change my mind and stay. I went to Salt Lake City (one of the two AFA branch locations) for an orientation for me and a big A&W meeting for the agency and spent some time talking with everyone there and I almost, almost caved in during that stretch and asked for a full time job.

I am going to make you go back in your memory to when I first came back to L/N and I talked about how helpful everyone across the country was? Well Cathy Knowlson who handled the Seattle co-op at the time was one of the most helpful to me. She had no reason to ever help me, first off we were always in competition for each other's accounts. We had some cross over membership and it would have been a nice feather for either of our caps to take the other account. She also had been in discussions with SN before I came on about a possible partnership, but once I started (along with a misstep on SN's part regarding her partner) that idea fell by the wayside. So bottom line is she had every reason to let me flounder and fail and it would have been more beneficial to her to do so. But she didn't. She helped me whenever I called, she offered up help when I didn't even know I needed it.

So fast forward to this time period. Now Cathy has left her agency in Seattle and is with AFA in Salt Lake bringing the Seattle co-op and her media director with her. I spent some time with Cathy during my visit and she almost had me. We see the way things should be run in very similar ways. She saw in me someone that would be able to not only follow a process but be able to establish one as well. And face it, I am not shy about stating my opinion, so she also saw someone who would be able to stand up to Bruce and Bud and let them know when things needed changed as well. I would have been working for her and for Bruce and with my current co-op and then adding in others as well. It was very tempting.

But the one thing I was starting to realize was that it wasn't just L/N that I left, it was advertising all together. I will always be grateful for the lessons I learned, the friends I made and the experiences I had, but that chapter of my life was over. I had stayed informed on the business through my ties to SD during my year away from the co-op and frankly it was because I knew things were going badly at L/N. But now that they were with AFA and they had Bruce as their main account person and Cathy's knowledge of the area and Carrie as a media director they didn't need me. Then Carrie left. Sounds familiar right? What is it with media director's leaving when I am ready to quit a job? Ah, but this time I was prepared! What AFA really needed for their system wasn't a media director/planner Bruce and Cathy handled all of that what they needed was a media buyer. And I had one up my sleeve. Leata Sedlacek our world class buyer from L/N came on board at AFA and I was out the door.

I kept tabs for awhile through SD just to make sure everything was going well, I felt a strong sense of personal and professional responsibility for the group and for the move to AFA working out. But as I knew it would, things went along just fine. Bruce is a pro, Cathy is a genius, Leata is a wizard and the account is well handled and well managed. I knew I was finally done with that chapter of my life when the first advertising window for KFC came on television that was a total surprise to me.

So there you have it. How I went from gas station assistant to massage therapist in 472 easy steps. So what are the overarching themes here? What did I learn through all of this? I guess the basics are simple. As basics are. :-)

1. Work hard. No matter what the job is you need to do it to the best of your ability. Good things come to those that are willing to work for them.

2. Accept challenges. If you are given a chance to do something new, take it! You never know what can come of it, or what skill you can pick up that will be helpful later on.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. People like to help each other. And people will learn to trust that you know what you know and you are willing to find out what you don't.

4. Be yourself. You can't be anyone else, so you might as well embrace who you are and run with it.

5. Know your strengths. Play to what you do best and you will go far. Or you will stay in one spot and have a heck of a good time there!

6. Know when to leave. This lesson is the one that keeps eluding me. I am working on it. But know when it's time to leave a job and move on to the next one.

And on that note, thanks for sticking with me through this very long and very spread out series. I hope it was interesting to you, it was a nice walk down memory lane for me!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I will be back next week with more totally random but...

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