How (and Why) I Came Over to the “Light” Side
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing “light” about our mission here at Media Cause: to accelerate growth and impact for nonprofits and social good organizations around the world.
In fact, it’s a pretty hefty responsibility we carry on our shoulders every day.
There’s also nothing “light” about the experience every member of our team brings to the table, the passion we share for our work, or the collective ambition to keep learning, keep growing, and keep challenging ourselves and our clients to think outside what’s always been done.
But the “lightness” I’ve felt since leaving the regular (a.k.a. for-profit) agency world and joining Media Cause a few weeks ago has been undeniably real.
After pouring nearly 15 years of my energy, brainpower, and occasionally, my family’s sanity, into building strategies and concepts for big-ticket brands like Kleenex, Keurig, Home Depot, Krispy Kreme, and Olive Garden, I’ll admit: I was burned out.
I’ve worked incredibly hard, and have been fortunate enough, to create some amazing campaigns that I’ll be proud to show-off for years to come. But an unexpected switch flipped one Saturday night–I was sitting on the couch at home, cranking on a deck for a decidedly non-amazing assignment, while my kids played without me in the other room. Here I was, working on a weekend, missing out on family time, for something I really didn’t care about. And ultimately, no one besides the client did, either.
I wasn’t saving babies. I was selling products. And I was over it.
Now, I won’t lie: the adrenaline rush of solving a big meaty brand challenge and getting all mad-scientist on a brilliant creative concept is a high like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. But as so many retail and consumer clients keep shifting their focus from the big idea to the bottom line, I found myself spending more and more time on pet-projects for CMOs than real campaigns for real people. The opportunities for creative inspiration and human connection I thrive on, and that have led to some of the most meaningful work of my career, were coming too few and far between.
Cut back to that Saturday night on the couch. Taking a look at the Keynote I was building and the complete inconsequentiality of it all, I realized this wasn’t what I wanted anymore. After 15 years, I felt like I didn’t have a purpose, because the work I was doing didn’t have one, either.
The next day I set out to fix that.
Two of the most rewarding campaigns of my career were for non-profit clients. So I reasoned that if I could do more work like that, and leverage my big-brand creative and strategic experience to do some good in the world, I’d regain that sense of purpose I’d sorely been missing. I started looking for advertising and marketing agencies in the nonprofit space, and through a combination of persistence and great SEO, Google Search first introduced me to Media Cause.
Over the course of the next five months, and many odd-hour video chats with Cody and Eric, our COO and CEO, respectively, I made it my mission to become part of this amazing agency. I loved their passion for driving results, and their approach of putting people, not numbers, at the center of all of their work–including the people on their own team. The more I learned about their culture and values, the more I knew that Media Cause could provide the purpose I was searching for. They believed in the value I could bring to the agency, too, and that was worth everything.
Late one Friday afternoon in February, the stars finally aligned: I got the call I was hoping for. By Monday night, I had accepted an offer to join the team as VP, Creative + Brand Strategy, with the goal of helping to build a more robust creative capability on top of the agency’s already stellar strategic and executional chops. Almost immediately, the weight of inertia, frustration, and un-inspiredness (is that a word?) I’d been carrying on my back in the for-profit agency world was gone.
It may sound hokey, but I don’t know how else to describe it. There’s something inexplicably freeing about not being tethered to the numbers and ladders of the corporate world, and being accountable for creating impact and meaning in real world, instead.
I’m incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities, mentorship, encouragement, and support I received at my previous agencies. I’ve been lucky to work with some wonderfully talented people who’ve shaped my perspectives, my leadership style, and my career in more ways than I can count. I wouldn’t be writing this blog today if it wasn’t for the path I’ve taken to get here.
But I’m also beyond excited about what’s next for me at Media Cause, working with organizations that genuinely have the power to change people’s lives, to improve communities, to provide access to resources, and to empower social change. I’m also humbled to be part of a team that lives its values every day, stressing the importance of taking care of ourselves and our families as much as we do for our clients.
Now, on the rare occasion that you’ll still find me working at home on my couch on a Saturday night, I might actually be saving babies.
And I’m pretty ok with that.