Ran across this and chuckled a bit. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for all things Walter and this design, commissioned from one of the “Archer” animators who were housed over on Williams Street at the time, is my all time favorites. We used this illustrated version of J. Walter in several Atlanta Office in-house efforts during the early 2010’s and it was a really fun identity to work under. With the demise of JWT, feels like a good opportunity to showcase some of the fun history of the agency that may quietly disappear over time.
J. Walter was a Marine, and in 1947 the Agency began one of the longest client relationships in all of advertising that continues today. I was proud to work on that piece of business, and it led me ultimately to VMLY&R to work on the US Navy.
I have to admit, I had a pretty good 2023. At work, we’ve started down a path of internal movements that have begun to take shape around how we manage and offer Product Management services, and I’ve had a front-row seat. I may or may not exactly jibe with everything about how you pitch/offer, support, and strategize around the concept of product management, but that’s okay… this is a long road and we’re getting it done for sure.
But one thing I’ve been struck by is how big of an opportunity I think it is, and how many businesses we talk to just don’t have their heads wrapped around it. It reminds me of the early 2000s and the rise of “agile” as a methodology. Similar to “digital transformation” it’s quickly becoming one of those well-worn catch phrases that everybody wants to drop into their Powerpoint deck, and all the heads nod in the room, but you can’t help but feel like a mutated child of Inigo Montoya and Phil Connors, stuck in an endless loop of, “you keep using that word…”.
As a result, I’ve decided that I’m through sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone… anyone… to wrap their collective heads around the notion and gain my own clarity. I want to lead on a lot of this and I see so many opportunities for real leadership on the consultancy side. If you follow conversations around Product Management, there’s terrific leadership from within the Software/SaaS/Startup world – and rightly so. However it’s very much less so within the halls of Corporate America, where it can really make an impact on the bottom line. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, there are a lot of eyeballs on the bottom line, and any business looking to provide services, support, and leadership are all being grilled on the basic question of, “how is all this going to positively impact my business?”. Rightly so, I might add.
The Master Plan
I’m going to take the bull by the horns and work on developing a real professional understanding of the impact that product management can have in organizations that have typically not flexed those muscles. And to continue stretching this already thin metaphor, you wouldn’t hire a personal trainer who wasn’t fit, so I’m going to have to start “working out” so I’m appropriately “fit” when it comes time to offer up strategic advice and leadership.
The plan so far, is that early next year and into Spring, I intend on spending a lot of time in the mental gym. Part of that process is going to be working on building the muscle memory around taking everything I’m learning, along with the process of learning it, and documenting it.
So stay tuned. My hope is that this becomes a truly transformative experience and takes all the lessons and experience I’ve had over that last 20 or so years working as a Digital Strategist and Creative Technologist and turns them into a delicious cocktail of personal growth and development. I’m excited and optimistic. Bring on 2024!
Captain Dave Bouve and I spoke about Navy Recruiting and The Navy Partnership at the 2018 VML Annual Meeting — one of the highlights of my career. I come on about 9:25, if you wanna get to the “good stuff”… and by good stuff, I mean me of course.
In the Fall of 2013, I was made director of the Dallas Technology office of JWT / Atlanta. One of the first things I wanted to do was create an environment of innovation, experimentation, and creativity. So I bought everyone in the office a new (at the time) Raspberry Pi microcontroller and told them to go nuts.
The result was this brilliant little bit of fun that we delivered to both the Atlanta and the New York office, to connect the two with a little Christmas Spirit thrown in. It was a huge success and wound up making the list of best agency Christmas cards for that year.