As a tribute to David Letterman and in recognition of the
fact that I can’t pick just one thing, here is my list of the top 10 things I’m
thankful for this year.
10. An Internet
connection that works — and works fast
Until I was without a home Internet connection for two weeks
this fall, I had never realized how much I rely on it for the kids’ homework,
bill paying, keeping up with emails and more. Another thing I’m grateful for?
3G on my iPhone.
9. The quiet,
creative time between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The hours may be unconventional, but it’s my time to think,
write and create without any interruption.
8. Princess and Tiger
Princess may drive me crazy with the “presents” she leaves,
but I love that she squeals and jumps around because she’s so excited we’re
home. And even though I never thought I’d own a cat, Tiger is the perfect
7. My clients
I’m lucky to work with great clients on projects that
challenge and fulfill me. While every client is different, there is a common
goal — to make people’s lives better in some way. I’m grateful to have a part
6. The B team
There may be no crying in baseball, but there’s plenty in our
business. From tears of joy and laughter to ones of frustration and true
sadness, I’ve shared them all with my fellow B team members. Not only are B’s
smart, creative and fun, but they are also some of the most caring and
compassionate people I’ve ever known. I’m proud to be among them.
5. Family and friends
Day-to-day life often keeps us so busy that we don’t keep up
with our family and friends as much as we want. They know this, but are still
there when you need them the most. This year, I needed them — and they were
there. From small, handwritten notes to long chats on the phone to a big,
celebratory party, they surrounded me with their love and support. I will
always be grateful.
4. My parents
Although they live out of town, my parents have also been
there for me with love and support. But, even more importantly, they’ve given
me the things that guide me every day – faith, commitment, determination and a strong
3. My son and his
Phillip amazes and inspires me with his creativity. Some of
my favorites include: his ability to hum the exact melody of a song he heard
just one time; the crucifix he built using scrap wood and his GI Joe action
figure; and his Lego creations, from the gun that shoots Legos to the replica he
made of his school.
2. My daughter and
her adventurous spirit
Kaitlyn is just like me in so many ways, but she’s so much
braver than I have ever been. She’s a true adventurer who’s always willing and
eager to take on the next challenge. From tackling the 75-foot-high zip line
over the Ozarks to riding every roller coaster in the Disney theme parks, she
pushes me to take risks and let go of my fears.
1. My life
This list alone reveals the many blessings I have in my
life. For all of these and more, I am thankful.
Seventeen years ago, as I approached the green gates of the two-story, red-brick building on Wingate Street for an internship interview, I had no idea that my career in advertising was about to begin.
I passed the first test by successfully opening the gates to enter Stuart Bacon. I was then led into an office where I met Jim Stuart. By the end of the interview, he had offered me the internship and given me my start in the business.
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And, for better or worse, it has made me the person I am today. So, I thought I’d share with you the top 10 things I’ve learned from Jim Stuart.
#10 — Always carry a red pen — and don’t be afraid to use it.
There’s always room for improvement, and Jim wasn’t afraid to show you where that improvement should be made with his red pen.
My co-workers or I would turn in a proposal or layout on pristine white paper to Jim, and it would come back bleeding red ink. Like Randy Bacon said, it infuriated you, but mostly because Jim was always right.
Another co-worker (Elizabeth Nash) shared with me that in her job after Stuart Bacon, her boss would tell her to “Jimify” it when a news release or letter needed extra pizzazz.
#9 — Appreciate the finer things in life.
At Stuart Bacon, Jim and Randy filled the offices with great art for us all to enjoy. Jim made sure we experienced truly fine dining and taught me to savor a good glass of wine.
He also taught me that flowers can make all the difference.
And, Martha Stewart has nothing on Jim Stuart. He throws the best parties, makes delicious food and is the perfect host.
#8 — Sweat the small stuff.
Jim made sure that we knew it’s our job as an agency to take care of all the details. We have to worry about things, so our clients won’t. This lesson is probably the most ingrained in me. Just ask my Balcom co-workers.
The small stuff even went so far as the paper clips in our office. Jim would reprimand us: “Don’t take a whole box of paper clips when you only need one.”
#7 — Be on time.
If you were unfortunate enough to be running late in the morning, you were certain to be greeted by Jim as you entered Stuart Bacon. He’d start pacing the halls at 8:30 in the morning, wondering where everyone was.
Later, during my tenure at Witherspoon, I discovered that this was a lesson Jim and his co-workers had learned from their boss, Roger Rienstra.
Plus, who could forget Jim’s infamous memo about arriving at work on time? I only wish I still had a copy of it.
#6 — Try new things.
For Jim, this usually meant a new haircut. At our Monday morning status meetings, Jim would surprise us with a new ‘do. One month, his hair would be shaved to the skull. Two months later, he’d try out a new color.
More than the haircuts though, Jim has a passion for learning new things and constantly encouraged me and others to soak in new ideas from all sorts of sources.
He's energized by young people and the ideas they bring to the industry.
#5 — Be organized.
Jim always had the neatest office, with everything in its place.
Just for fun, we’d move things around by a quarter of an inch on his desk to see how long it took him to move them back to their original place.
My Balcom co-workers wonder why this lesson didn’t sink in more for me, as they often can’t even find the top of my desk.
#4 — Value the written word.
Jim always challenged me to be the best writer I can be.
He writes the most beautiful letters. If you ever receive a hand-written note from Jim, it will be one that you will always remember and save.
And Jim writes each letter with a fountain pen and ink. Each letter is truly a work of art and inspiration. I have my own personal collection of these special treasures.
#3 — Have fun.
Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself. At our annual company retreat, Jim and Randy would don wigs and even dresses for their infamous skits. They nailed their impersonations of the Luby’s ladies, as well as the roosters who lived next door to the agency.
#2 — Be passionate about everything you do.
Get mad, yell, laugh and even cry.
Together, Jim and I covered every emotion.
#1 — Love your family and your friends. And always be there for them.
His sister Jane (aka Crab), his brother Lee and, most importantly, his mom are always his top priority.
But he’s also there for his friends. He was there for me the day I got engaged, at my wedding in St. Louis, after the births of children and even at the funeral of my father-in-law.
Tonight (June 25), I was honored to be there for him as he received a well-deserved recognition — the lifetime achievement award from the American Advertising Federation of Fort Worth.
Jim, thanks for being my mentor, my teacher, my boss and, most importantly, my friend. Congratulations!