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From the East Coast to the Midwest. Why I’m here.

April 15, 2016

Never settle.

Two little words. But damn it, they mean so much.

Here at Ervin & Smith “never settle” is a tagline, motto, mantra, whatever you want to call it. But what does it mean?

For me it’s super personal. You see, I’m new here. I’ve been the creative director at Ervin & Smith for just over two months now. I moved to Omaha (my hometown) from New York City where I spent five years working at some of the biggest or newest or oldest agencies in the world. I saw behind the curtain of these places, and I can confidently tell you one thing: There’s a hell of a lot of settling happening in our industry.

Don’t get me wrong; plenty of very talented people are doing amazing things every day. But there are also plenty of mediocre people doing mediocre things every day. Broken processes get repeated because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Unimaginative creative gets sold through to the client because “that account never does anything good.” Or worse, really “cool” but off-strategy creative gets pushed down clients’ throats in a desperate attempt to win awards that, for some reason, still seem to matter to us. As a creative, it was beyond frustrating. And it got to be really tiring, too.

So I set sail for the Midwest, where hard work rules the day and “creative” doesn’t only mean “cool.” Now, I know full well that most big-city agency folks consider moving to Omaha the worst kind of settling in the world. I’m glad I know better.

Sure, the budgets are often smaller. And maybe the accounts are local or national instead of global. That’s ok; that’s where the fun happens. You have to be a lot smarter about what you do when you have less money to do it.

But not all Midwest agencies are alike. In my search for my next professional home, I began my conversations with E&S and found a lot that’s really good on paper. Voted one of Ad Age’s Best Places to Work. An unlimited time off policy. A personal life coach on staff.

Those things are all great. But it’s the intangibles that I’ve discovered since my first day that make me glad—and dare I say, proud—to have chosen this crazy place:

  • The leaders here are constantly thinking about things, tweaking things, redesigning things in order to give us what we need to reach our goals, both individually and company wide. That shouldn’t be rare, but it is.
  • I don’t ever need to ask permission to change things I think could be done better. Sure, big changes take time, but they happen a lot faster when you can act quickly.
  • My peers have welcomed me and my loud-mouthed New York attitude. Candor is a core principle here. What a relief from the closed-door policies and standoffish management styles that seemed to dominate the East Coast.

It’s not all roses and puppies, of course; there’s hard work to be done here. But I couldn’t be more confident it’s going to get done and done well.

Because we never settle.

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