Last night, I went to an SVC lecture hosted by Hilary Lee of Creature titled, “How NOT to Get a Job at Creature”. These free SVC chats have always been one of my favorite things that the school does, and I went to dozens of them before I ever took my first class there. You get some quality information, get some questions answered, and maybe even a little face-to-face time at the end. It’s a good return on your investment, which again, is zero dollars.
During his introduction, Larry advised us to talk to our neighbors, because you never know-the person sitting next to you might be your next employee, boss, or person standing between you and a job. The whole, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” thing.
When Hilary walked in, she looked familiar to me, but I couldn’t place her. I remember seeing her at the ADDYs last Thursday, and thinking the same thing. It was driving me nuts. I’ve been extremely blessed to meet tons of people during my eight-year run in this city, from my old Club Vibes days, to my current gig running Underdog bowling leagues. Melissa often complains that we can’t go anywhere without running into someone I know, a complaint that reached its peak awesomeness when I ran into an acquaintance in the Dallas airport where we were making a connecting flight to Atlanta. I try and remember names whenever I can, but they become a blur at some point. And at that moment, I was furiously trying to clear the cobwebs from my brain.
Hilary (one “L”, like Hilary from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, not two “L”s like Hillary Clinton) began to tell us her story on how she got to this point. She talked about her ex-husband taking classes at SVC, paying for his entry into the Student ADDYs years ago, and how he worked in agencies here in Seattle before winding up in San Francisco to become, in her words, a “permalancer”. And in my head, I was putting those pieces together, and then it hit me.
Holy shit, I know the guy she’s talking about.
Long time readers might remember how I talked about Guy Seese, and how he looked at my pathetic excuse of a portfolio seven years ago, and told me to get cracking on the whole SVC thing. Well, prior to that, I met Guy at a party where he had provided Rainier beer, which had just relaunched in the Seattle market. He was working at Cole+Weber, and was the brainchild behind the Remember Rainier campaign, including the wildly popular RainierVision, a “public access” TV show that aired late nights in Seattle. He also helped to provide Rainier for a particularly epic house party my roommate and I threw, where I met for the first time, his wife, Hilary.
The very same Hilary that was standing in front of me.
Over the next few months, he had me visit Cole+Weber, where for the first time, I got to see the inner workings of an actual ad agency, he had me over to his house for a barbecue where I borrowed two CDs of his that I still have in case I ever see him again, and while he told me my portfolio was shit, he said he’d be willing to take another look at it when I got it together. Whether he knew it or not, he became someone I looked up to, and was the closest thing I’d ever had to a mentor. Even though I didn’t actually attend SVC until years later, it was his recommendation that kept it on my radar. Sadly, we lost touch years ago, although we’re connected on various social networks, we don’t really talk that much.
Every book I’ve read about working in advertising has remarked how small the industry truly is, and how not to be a jerk to anyone because you never know how that might come back to you. I was now staring that right in the face. I introduced myself to Hilary, gave her my card, and told her about how I knew Guy. She immediately perked up, and showed me a text from him wishing her luck on the talk tonight. She told me that I should meet some folks at Creature, and to email tomorrow, and she’ll set something up.
Pick one: A. Dumb luck? B. Savvy networking? C. Right place at the right time? I dunno-probably a lot of A, and a little bit of C. But I know I’ll never take any chance encounter for granted ever again. And I’m looking forward to every new connection I make from here on out.
Speaking of connections, are we connected? I’m always looking to connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Behance. I almost feel like I should join MySpace again because it seems like the ironic hipster thing to do, but these four will have to do for now.