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One Journey Ends, Another Begins…

February 13, 2008

I know I have been making vague references to the tension and anxiety of these past few weeks, but I have been reluctant to go into any sort of detail while things were still up in the air. Part of that reluctance stems from the public nature of this or any blog, and part from my desire to not jinx what was in motion. Now that things have progressed from what might be to what will be, however, I feel free to talk about them at last.

I have been with GSD&M for a little over seven years now, counting my time as an intern. Seven years! I’ve been with the agency longer than I was in elementary school, much less high school or college. In other words, I’ve been affiliated with the place longer than I’ve been affiliated with any other institution, ever. I’ve met some fantastic people, I’ve worked on many great (and some not so great) accounts, and I’ve probably learned more than I ever did in all my years in academia. I’ve been there in good times and, more recently, in bad.

When I started at GSD&M, it was as an intern on the Land Rover account. Upon my graduation from UT, I signed on with account service. It was never a great fit, especially at twenty-two, when I only had the slightest idea of what I was doing. There was, however, one area I excelled at – research and strategic analysis. Somehow, word got around, and in June 2003 I transitioned into the newly-created IDEAIntelligence. Freed from the shackles of opening print jobs and arguing with the client over the font size of advertorials, I thrived. As the years progressed, I came to know several industries, the key players, and the trends impacting them very well. Before I knew it, I was bringing insights to the table that expensive outside analysts missed or dismissed. A few of these were blown off, until they invariably proved themselves true six to twelve months later.

Then, maybe a year ago, something began to change. The agency seemed to lose focus. New business faltered. We began losing clients and failing to replace them. Good people began to leave in droves, among them my boss and good friend, Sage. Then we lost the AT&T media account. The layoffs that followed brought with them some of the darkest days of my professional career. Good friends and good coworkers were let go seemingly at random, and, somewhere deep within, the sense of community the agency had fostered in me broke irrevocably.

In the days that followed, I held to the hope that some good might come of the crisis, and it did, not from within the agency, but from without. In early January, another good friend – the guy who had first brought me into research and who was subsequently laid off – contacted me about an opportunity at another company here in town. I was intrigued. The opportunity – working with CE clients and translating product features and techno-babble into language your average consumer can not only understand, but embrace – seemed an even better fit than my position at GSD&M.

I told myself not to get my hopes up, but as the weeks progressed, things grew more and more promising. Last week, I spent a morning interviewing with this company, and Monday I received an offer. The opportunity, the job, the salary, were all too good to pass up. So yesterday, once I received the formal, written offer, I gave my notice. Next Thursday will be my last day at GSD&M.

It feels strange to be leaving. I have spent my entire professional career within the halls of Idea City. I’ve made a lot of good friends, and a part of me feels guilty that I am leaving them in a lurch. Another part of me, however, knows it is time to go, time to do something different, time to go somewhere where I can affect change, rather than wait and hope for someone else to do it for me. And that part of me is elated at what the future holds…

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Putney Swope permalink
    February 13, 2008 9:37 am

    There’s no need to feel guilty. The sense of community at GSD&M is pretty much a one-way street, driven by the individual and not by the company. The company expects great loyalty and dedication from the people who work there, but does not give the same itself, at least not in equal measure. There’s a lot to like about GSD&M for sure (or at least there used to be) and I know few alumni who don’t give the place credit for providing some great experience. But you’ll also find there are a lot of things you won’t miss — the crony-heavy management, the passive-aggressive leadership style, the cult of Roy mentality. You’ll find life away from Idea City to be just fine.

  2. Sage permalink
    February 13, 2008 11:59 am

    Matt-
    You are a dear friend, a wonderful colleague and any company/organization should be proud to have you on board. You are the loyalest of the loyal and I honor the difficult decision to leave the place where we both ‘grew up’. I know you leave GSD&M with the same gratitude I felt, but also a sense of great excitement for a whole new adventure. Bow to your teachers and colleagues, take a bow for a job well done, raise your glass, pat yourself on the back! Enjoy!

  3. jennifer permalink
    February 13, 2008 2:49 pm

    I agree with Sage. it’s going to suck for us (who is going to translate obscure Germanglish car technology for me?) but this new opportunity sounds fantastic. they are lucky to have you – you are going to kick ass at it.

    also, change is good for the soul.

    cheers!

  4. February 13, 2008 4:17 pm

    Congratulations Matt, I know that it is well deserved. This sounds like the perfect opportunity for you!

  5. Mark permalink
    February 14, 2008 12:48 am

    Man I remember when you first got that internship….. we were still college roommates back then! I echo the sentiments of everyone thus far…to grow, sometimes you have to make a change, and from everything I have learned about you, and about SD&M as a company….now is the right time. I do wish yo the best of luck, but I do so with a smirk on my face because i know that you won’t need it.

    Congrats!

    -Mark

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