As a kid growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I thought I’d always stay close to the Midwest. Maybe I’d get bored with GR and move to “the big city” — either Detroit or Chicago.
In my 20s, my lofty ambitions were to get a job with General Motors, marry a cute Michigan girl, live in a three-bedroom ranch on a cul-de-sac (maybe in Farmington Hills?), and declare victory. After which would come children, retirement, old age and death. HIGH FIVE!
Way to reach for the stars, hunh? Thankfully, my storyline was much different. Like a deep space probe, my life rocketed out of the Midwest after I turned 28. I orbited Detroit and a career at GM & Ford before slingshotting out to Columbus, Cincinnati, New York and Washington DC. In 1999, I began a 15-year flyby of distant California, Washington State, and Vancouver Canada.
And now, hurtling even further away from the Midwest, my flight path is now taking Jena and I to the United Kingdom.
I’m extremely pleased to announce my new role as Chief Social Officer for Mediabrands supporting our G-14 Division, headquartered in our London office. Jena and I will be moving to Central London, while keeping our home in Seattle.
The market for what I do — executive counsel around corporate social media — has changed significantly over the last 18 months. Unlike the early days where there was an endless demand, most large US brands now highly active in social, and have in-sourced much of their talent. Consequently, the agency opportunities that I excel in have grown more difficult to come by. Overseas, however, it’s a very different story. Many EMEA and APAC firms are struggling to find talent with deep experience in social. So there’s still a strong opportunity to help European and Asian clients as they become more experienced with social marketing. It also opens up my career to a global stage, more speaking opportunities and the fascinating intricacies of working across borders.
What We’ll be Doing
My job will be to pull together a solid, powerful social media specialty agency out of our far-flung, disparate offices. I’ll be setting the vision and offerings for this new agency and assisting local offices in building their business, working with local agency teams in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and the UK.
My lovely Jena will leave her long-time Seattle gallery job to take time off, explore Britain and Europe with me, and reevaluate a new career in art brokerage, fabric design or illustration.
Jena and I live for travel, and this job provides the opportunity for us to see the world and live overseas. And London! Truly one of the world’s greatest cities — a powerhouse of capital, culture, and history, with easy access to the sights of Europe. On my last trip, for example, I took the Eurostar under the Channel Tunnel for a couple hundred bucks to enjoy an amazing weekend chilling out in Paris. Those are the kinds of trips Jena and I will be living for.
Into the Future
Who knows what the future holds in the crazy world we live in? Our current plan is to spend at least two years overseas – likely longer. Our eventual goal is to end up someplace sunny and warm as we near retirement: California, Hawaii, Mexico or the Mediterranean. When my kids start having children of their own, we’ll likely move back to the US to be closer to them.
Thank You Seattle for 12 Great Years
12 years ago, I arrived in Seattle from Orange County, California. It was dark, it was rainy, and I didn’t know anyone. I was quite lonely at first. It took three years, but I got to know people. Started meetups. Joined social groups. Got married! And watched my kids go through the same process here.
You welcomed me into Ad Club, AMA, Social Media Club, AIGA – you name it. You said howdy at conferences, you went out for Social Sushi, joined me for drinks at Flickr Meetups, came to my events – you were AWESOME. I’ve made a ton of friends, had a ton of fun, and wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Stay in touch!
Stopping by London? Drop us a line! We will miss our many friends scattered across the US and Canada — but we’ll keep in touch via social (Facebook) (Instagram). I’ll continue to root for my Seahawks and creep your social feeds. Oh, AND ONE MORE THING…
Jena and I both are thrilled about this new life together, and tremendously grateful for the friendships we have. Here’s hoping your 2014 brings you equal excitement and opportunity!