The times, they are a changin’

24 Jun

Well, as usual, I’ve had a Stew’s Brew blog drought, but I think with pretty damn good reason.  You see, I’ve been a bit busy making some big and little changes, and then dealing with a minor mess as well.  Roll all that together, and that equals “no time for the blog.”  Now that most of it has settled down, time to write.

As you well know, I do spend a lot of time observing others and then writing about it.  Pretty much my favorite subject on this blog.  Today’s subject is me.  Thankfully there’s no big health issue to write about, other than all this gyration has me off the diet and exercise wagon and that has me up about 8-10 lbs since last December.  You’ve heard of “muscle memory”?  My body has “fat memory” … it goes right back to its original “pear” shape the first chance it gets.  So, back to the gym, watching what I eat and drink, etc.  All’s good with the ‘ol ticker though and that’s what I think about.

So, what’s got me so busy, you must be asking?  Well, let’s start with a major shift in the career front.  I changed jobs three weeks ago – moving from big, awesome digital agency iCrossing, to just-as-big digital agency iProspect, which is part of the Aegis Media/Dentsu network of ad agencies.  They reached out to me with a recruitment pitch at the end of January, and my first interviews with them were in February.  I guess when you get to a certain level, this takes awhile.

Making the fairly long process into a short story, we had a series of meetings and interviews through March and into April, and then I was given an offer the last week in April and it took us another 3 weeks or so to finalize the deal.  I left iCrossing on May 31, started at Aegis/iProspect on June 3.

The new job is pretty varied, which is why I was excited about it. Quite frankly, at iCrossing, I felt very underutilized.  I had been running large accounts, and that’s all fine, but that’s work I’ve done for years and years, and while good at it, I needed more challenge.  I continually asked for it but never got what I wanted.  I’ve lead agency offices, agency teams and business units before, and that’s where I wanted to go.  Additionally, even though I did find a ton of value in iCrossing’s ownership situation, being owned by Hearst, a big publishing entity, I was also looking to go back to working for an agency that was part of a big network, like I had experienced when working for Ketchum and LiveTechnology, both being a part of the Omnicom Group holding company.

So, the new gig has a variety of responsibilities:  First, I’m responsible for the client services teams in three offices – Chicago, San Francisco and Detroit.  I’ve got seven “ace” account directors reporting to me across those offices, and have responsibility for a large chunk of the iProspect client portfolio including clients such as Estee Lauder, Ameritrade, GM, Sony Playstation and Entertainment, The Limited and more. Secondly, I’m actively responsible for organic growth of my three offices plus assisting the rest of the company in integration across the Aegis/Dentsu network.  This is all within the “wheelhouse” of what I love to do and am good at, and I’m really going to enjoy this challenge.

While this is a soft item, the new office is in such an amazing spot in downtown Chicago – right at the north edge of the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue.  We’re in what used to be called the Equitable Building, now just “401”, with Pioneer Court in front of the building – a huge paved place where there are constantly things going on, right next door to the beautiful, Tribune Tower and across the street from the iconic Wrigley Building.  This really is about the most incredible spot for Chicago architecture that there is.   My office looks east out onto Lake Michigan, and the Chicago River.  To say I feel fortunate is to understate things immensely.

So, that’s that.

Other things that had me really busy were two home improvement projects – one I chose and one that chose me.  The one I chose was replacing the old, dingy, almond-colored (which always looks dirty white to me) formica countertops with black granite countertops – which of course I did myself.  The product I used was a tile-like product – big 24” x 24” granite slabs that you laid like giant tiles.  The process is much like tile only bigger, and then you attach trim pieces around them.  Overall, it took me about six weeks to do the project and the results are stunning. We combined that with a new kitchen sink and faucet setup and it just all looks outstanding.  Very satisfying project!

Every time I do a project though, it takes over the house – stuff winds up all over the place and well, it’s a big pain in the butt.  The countertop project was no exception.  The living room turned into the materials staging area, the garage was the saw and cutting workshop, and there was always something out of place in the kitchen for a six-week period.  We finally got it all cleaned up and put away though around April 15th.  And just three days after it was all done and the cars were back in the garage, tools returned, etc., we had two days of torrential rain and our basement flooded. Not with just a little water but about a half-foot.  Thankfully it was just clean rain water that came up through the sump pump hole (the pump float switch got stuck) and we were able to pump it out within 45 minutes of getting home, but the damage was done.  $11,500 worth to be exact, of which the insurance company covered $10,000.

The good news here is that we’re getting a nicely remodeled basement as a result.  We’ve taken the insurance settlement, added a bit of investment of our own, and are changing from a paneled basement with a tile floor to a drywall-finished basement with carpeting, and instead of a “kid zone” like it has been for ages, it is becoming an adult zone, with a home theater set up.  Should be amazing, actually.  I guess into every life, some rain should fall, huh?  At least it forced us to toss out a bunch of crap that should have been tossed years before.   The drywall and paint was completed two weeks ago, and the carpet was installed this past weekend.  Construction is now all done – just need to order the furniture (All the electronics are in, and in a temporary setup), go through and toss out a few more things, install the electronics permanently and we are done.

So, that’s what’s been up, my friends.  We’re finally heading into warmer weather here in Chicago, so that’s got us thinking summer.  Our first summer concert of the year, Sting, was two weeks ago at Ravinia, next up is Jimmy Buffett, and more to come.  I’ll have much to share with you as the summer rolls along.

As you were,

Stew

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