There is nothing that says you can't achieve success outside of a school environment. Steve Jobs was proof of that, but not everyone is Steve Jobs
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I'm the ECD in the Chicago office of Cramer-Krasselt where I spend my time creating ways to help make friends for our clients' brands. As one of the few integrated, independent creative agencies, we look at our opportunities without corporate or disciplinary fences in our way. Digital isn't a department.
I've spent my career creating in the design, digital and advertising worlds. Originally from Texas, I started off my career as a designer at Nike in Portland. I continued designing for Duffy while it was a part of Fallon in Minneapolis. Eventually, I found great opportunity in the emerging digital space, and I built the interactive practice within Fallon. I then moved to Chicago and spent time helping grow and improve the digital efforts at TribalDDB, and then Leo Burnett.
What do you do for inspiration?
Get out of the office and experience the world we all live in. I try to be a student of people and their behavior.
I love to read books and magazines, both physical and digital. And I watch lots of films. Thank you, Netflix.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Personally, being a father to my 5 year-old son, Ian, seems to be the most amazing thing in the world. I never understood how incredibly rewarding it could be before we had him.
Professionally, I would have to say that helping create the BMW Films series while at Fallon has been one of the biggest achievements in my career. It has been the most visible success in the eyes of the industry, but those kinds of opportunities don't happen every day. I approach every day as an opportunity to create something new and exciting. And I look for ways to help inspire others to dream bigger.
How many hours do you work each week?
I don't really track that. I'm always thinking about things I'm working on. I consider almost everything I do to have an impact on how I create.
How do you relax or unwind?
Playing with my son is the best way to put everything in perspective. I also love to play tennis. It helps me be more in tune with my physical side of being human after a long day of mental and emotional exercise. And during the warm months, I live for a few weekends of advanced driving schools with my car and challenging racetrack. There are at least 4 tracks within a 3 hour radius. Speed therapy.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Making incredible physical objects. I've always loved making things with my hands—printing, furniture, toys, architecture. I've always kept a passion for non-digital things.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
Understanding consumer insights you can pivot from is what makes magnetic ideas possible. We invest a large amount of our efforts into understanding our audience and what matters to them. We also understand that often one idea doesn't always satisfy every potential consumer, so we look for real insights that allow us to connect well in numerous ways while staying true to the brand's purpose. It's not always easy, but it's the only way for a brand to have a reason for existing in the audience's lives.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Like a it was done by someone trying hard to push the limits of the current technologies without fully understanding them, and not quite getting there. I sure hope it's not still online. It was created back in 1996, in a less elegant time.
What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?
Benjamin Moore Paints is a well regarded and recommended paint used by professionals and homeowners alike. We created the Benjamin Moore Expert Exchange on Facebook to directly connect prominent designers, decorators and contractors with consumers. The consumers get great advice from top experts with their home decorating needs. The experts get more exposure and potential clients. And homes become more beautiful through Benjamin Moore's efforts and products. Everyone gets what they desire. It connects and builds the community while reinforcing Benjamin Moore's long-standing status as the preferred brand of paint among professionals.
Outside of our company, I've been impressed with the success of efforts like Kickstarter and Lemonade/Lemonade Detroit. I can see how social media can help crowd-fund creative projects directly where past models made it nearly impossible for great ideas like these to live.
The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?
I've always looked broadly for solutions to a challenge. I believe in using the right tool for the job. Sometime digital solutions allow for innovative ways to solve a problem. Sometimes, they are more trouble than the problem you are hoping to solve.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I remember hearing this question about Macromedia Director/Shockwave years ago. Everything changes as needs and innovation transform. If Flash does stay, it won't be what it is right now.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Any person is capable of learning a craft. To do that well; however, it is important to have a master for a student to learn from, the time and patience to practice, a passionate discipline to improve, and a never ending supply of curiosity. Schools provide an environment for learning to happen, but the student has to be the one to invest themselves fully in their own success. There is nothing that says you can't achieve success outside of a school environment. Steve Jobs was proof of that, but not everyone is Steve Jobs. I try to stay a student, always looking for something else to learn inside and outside of my immediate responsibilities. One-dimensional minds eventually plateau.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
Right now, what seems incredible to me would be a Porsche 918 RSR.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
I've always enjoyed transforming the way we do things. For me, the most important effort would be to improve the way we educate our children. It is the key to all of our futures. This past year, i read about the Kahn Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/); and I was so inspired and hopeful for what lies ahead. I would gladly spend my time helping make education an enlightening experience.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
Change. Lots of change. And excitement. I feel fortunate to be living in such an interesting time where the human condition is being transformed so quickly. So I plan on remaining a student of life and technology and a practitioner of design.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
An iPad for my father-in-law who recently suffered a heart attack. He's going to be spending the next 4 months recovering. We'd like him to feel connected, empowered, and well, entertained.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Thank you. I've been a fan and a follower of your work with the FWA for many years. Keep it up. Please.