The heart of an industry.

by unfinishedthinking

Patti and I had lunch with Jeff Goodby two weeks ago. I’ve been amazed and touched by the reaction of the advertising community to my upcoming demise.  I feel like an old mafia don to whom respects are being paid even if they’re paid with not very respectful good humor.  (Jeff’s parting words:  ‘you’re never going to f—— die, are you?”)

I strongly discourage anyone from making a special trip to Richmond to see me:  too often if I’m having a bad day I have to cancel visits at the last minute.  I’d hate to do that to someone who made a special trip.  But I do get to see some people in NYC and some folks stop by when they have other business in Richmond.  Dan Wieden is like Jeff.  They’re my brothers from from the other coast.  Dan made the arduous Portland-to-Richmond-to-Portland round trip earlier this week.  Bless him.  We had two meals together and I got a little sick at both of them.  Dan was, of course, gracious about it.  (He probably preferred Ginny’s company at dinner and Patti’s at lunch, so he might not have even missed me.)  The conversations with Dan and Jeff don’t stay on work or advertising for very long.  They’re men who lead full, interesting, meaningful lives.  Jeff’s working on a project now to help prepare young children who live in poverty for better lives.  Dan’s work with his amazing Calder school continues.  I am ridiculously proud that they’re my friends–and that both of them promised me that these get-togethers won’t be our last.

I’ve had memorable face-to-face conversations recently with Jean Robaire, Jim Riswold, David Droga, Jon Kamen, Jelly Helm (and family!), Ignacio Oreamuno, Rick Boyko, Matt Scheckner, Matt Miller, Derek Koenig, Jennifer Cortner, Alex Bunch, Ben Ashauer, Geoff McGann, Flinn Dallis (of course), Helayne Spivak (of course) and so many more.  It was great reconnecting with Kerry Feuerman.  Bill Westbrook sends handwritten notes (showoff!) every month or so.  I’ve always hated telephone calls—including Skype, Face Time and all the other digital permutations–but the ones with Brian Perkins, Marvin Sloves, David Bell and Bob Mikulay have been more than special. I love both my snail mail and my email.  (I’m the only person in the world who loves getting email—if it’s the right kind of email.)  I wish I could post more of those e-notes to my site, but I don’t want to do that without permission.  (I have a horrible and well-earned reputation for forwarding emails that the sender didn’t want forwarded.)  The We Love Mike messages mean more to me than the site’s creators and contributors could ever know.  I rarely re-read any of mypwn rambling blog postings—but I do re-read the comments.

I was also able to stop in briefly at both Brandcenter board meetings this year.  I really love those guys.  As I’ve written before, I leaned on John Adams to take my place as board chairman.  He’s already actively involved with at least four universities and he didn’t need another one, but I thought that in at least her first couple of years in Richmond, Helayne might appreciate having an industry leader who was right down the street.  John came to see me after the most recent meeting and he was energized.  “What great people.  Smart and funny.”  He was reminded—as I have been so many times this year—that this is a great business to be in.  There he was in a meeting that included some of his fiercest competitors and they’re all being helpful and respectful to each other (in a wiseass kind of way—which is the only good and true way to be respectful to peers.)

Jeff Goodby started his conversation with me about the last time he, Wieden and I were together at an Art Directors Club Event.  He echoed John:  “What great people.  Smart and funny.”  Some of the people who have written very kind words about me place me in contrast to the many “egotists” and “a——-“ in agency or creative management.  That surprises and disappoints me.  I’ve only worked in Richmond, so I obviously know most of my competitors only through social contact at industry events.  I’ve spent enough time with a few of them to know they’re deeply special people.  I hope I’m also right about the overwhelming majority of industry leaders:  that they’re good people.  I know some are real characters, but I don’t see much that’s evil out there.  (Yes, yes, I do get my share of grief about my Pollyannaish view of the world.  Isn’t that nice?)

Harry Jacobs–my friend, mentor, big brother, inspiration–visited today.  Of course, I can personally vouch for the character of hundreds of advertising people who have worked at The Martin Agency.  We’ve had our clunkers, but it’s a damn impressive group.  (I say I could vouch for the character of “hundreds” of Martinites.  That’s true.  I love them, I just don’t remember all of their names.)