Monthly Archives: July 2008

Virtual Agencies

I’ve been waffling on the project topic, working with Alex to try and come up with a final version. I’m going to write my thesis on Virtual Agencies. I now need to clarify who my target audience is going to be, as well as generate a 1-2 page abstract for the overall paper.

My basic idea comes from real life observation. While working as a Creative Recruiter, I found myself filling ‘staffing’ requests for individuals instead of corporations. Or rather, single individuals with LLCs or else individuals well known to my boss. These folks weren’t working within the standard job paradigm for advertising. They were individuals who were all former Account Managers or Marketing Managers, the people who typically initiate and ultimately assume responsibility for the advertising process. The business face of the advertising and marketing world, in other words.

This business facing person was at a senior career level, but not affiliated with any one company. Instead, they used their extensive business networks to find out about potential project work. Sometimes the projects were for the clients directly, sometimes they were niche roles that were needed by traditional advertising agencies. They assembled a team that was hand-picked from among their connections to work on the upcoming project. Usually they pull folks in for comp-work prior to the pitch, with the understanding being that if the project is awarded to the impromptu team that this team will be awarded the business. Nothing so formal as contracts, just perhaps a few MNDAs between everyone until the project was awarded, and then formal agreements as to contractor payments driving budgets.

When the project was awarded, the head contact would then fill in any occupational or skillset holes with freelancers or friends of friends. The project would materialize, each person would do their job, hopefully deliver on target and budget, and then the “company” would split back up, with each person taking their chunk of the profits.

Zero overhead. Reputation-based business model built completely upon the networking model. Flexible, agile, quick to business, no extraneous employees, maximum profits for individual efforts. Professionals acting professionally or else getting quickly ditched from the project rotations.

Calling for Testimonials

I’m looking for examples of folks who work like this. I work with a couple of them in my current job, and I’m friends with a woman who has worked this way for a few years. I’ve been part of some of these teams, at least up to the pitch portion (the pitches I’ve been on haven’t materialized into projects).

My personal feeling is that this is the shape of things to come. I don’t think that ad agencies will go away, but I think that there is a long tail of business projects available for those who can offer the right services at the right price points. The Virtual Agencies are already cutting into agency profits in certain cases, and it would be impossible (yes, impossible) for traditional agencies to meet deadlines in many cases without these virtual teams.

I just need to figure out what the exact angle of attack will be. Who am I going to be writing this thing for? Should I focus on the threat that virtual agencies represent to traditional advertising agencies? Should I focus on the virtual agency as a continuing trend of the future, becoming a sort of new set of freelancers/supertemps? I mean, really… what if the temps all worked together to form their own transient companies? Combining and recombining as needed, a world where it really is all about who you know. I could focus on the role that the web is playing in making this kind of business model possible in the first place.

Time to figure it out. This weekend I’d like to write up the first draft of that abstract. Get the ball rolling.

We’ll see.

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South Beach gone south. Do-over?

This time was particularly difficult for me on the South Beach diet. With extended houseguests, stress at work through the roof, difficulty sleeping, and betrayal by a so-called friend, it was easy to manage from the food point, but the stress just pushed the emotional buttons. ‘What’s eating you’ indeed.

Still, I’m going to be climbing back on the bandwagon (quick, before someone hitches me up in front of it) today. Back to induction phase. Again.

The thing that sucks royal ass about the diet is the time it takes to prepare anything for it. That and pepperoni pizza isn’t on the list of approved Phase 1 foods. Unfortunately, everything good for you takes time to make. And even with a loving and supportive partner at home willing to take care of the food prep most of the time, it’s still damned inconvenient and borders on an impediment to success. The time delay between hunger and satiation is too long, or you have to keep to a rigid schedule. I get to feeling guilty that food prep is relegated to my partner, and so I try to help as well, more often than not assisting with dishes and cleanup.

Makes me wish there were more healthy take-out options more readily available. Suburbia sucks for that. But then, with high food prices it would just make the check go faster.

Ah well. Back up onto the wagon. Back onto the program. I just wish that falling off didn’t taste so wonderful.

More lolcats.

You all -do- realize that I just surf http://www.icanhascheezburger.com and repost the good ones on my site, right?

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Who I’m voting for

Roslin and Adama '08

Roslin and Adama '08

Back to routine

Part of my resistance to this job has been the whole routine associated with it. I don’t have enough time for myself, so work/life balance is called into question for me. I never quite understood it before, because I just assumed that I had to work like a dog for some bone that someone would throw me at a later point in my corporate advancement. It’s not like that, though. Very rarely do the promised bones manifest, and when they do they always seem to look larger in the advertisement. The rewards don’t match the hype. Which shouldn’t really surprise folks in advertising, really, but we’re all suckers for the sales pitch in one way or another, or marketing wouldn’t work.

Maybe this is part of the natural shift to the later third of my thirties. Maybe being back in college has dredged up the old emotions and need for variability that got ground out of me slowly back after my first time out of college. Maybe I’m just nuts and need to actually find some kind of work which allows me to be my own boss, give myself my own direction, and pick my own assignments. Well, not like that’s going to happen at the bottom end of the career. And like it or not, this is hitting the reset button on the career itself.

Well, the summer still marches on. I’m getting used to having a regular paycheck again. I’m slowly getting back to the doctors I haven’t been able to afford the past two years. It’s slowly coming into place for me. I just don’t want that place to be here in Connecticut any more. I really don’t. It’s crowded beyond belief. It’s way too expensive. Cost of living here vastly outstrips my salary’s ability to keep up. I know that prices are rising all over the place, but this was already an overinflated housing market, and it’s just getting worse.

Time to find someplace else. Time to go. Every fiber of my being is telling me that it’s time to pack up and ship out from Connecticut. Or at least from Fairfield County. No, Connecticut as a whole. I’ve gotta move. Pushing on. I seriously wish all of my final classes at QU could be finished in the new online program, because I just do -not- want to be tied to CT in any way. If I could move now, I would. If I knew where to move -to-, that is.

Must just be continued hatred of my job.

Tired of this all. Very, very tired of this all. Medicate for success seems to be the only way to make this work. One more semester. One more. Almost done. Just gotta tighten up the proposal for the Thesis. Just gotta get some time in which to actually work on the thesis. Research would be lovely. Time would be lovely, but right now any extra time is getting put aside directly for recovery from the work stressors. So much for work/life balance. Gotta keep looking for different work.

Coming to hate almonds

Apropos of nothing, I’m really coming to hate eating almonds. See, I’m South Beaching it, trying to correct some horrible eating habits of mine which are intricately linked with the pleasure response. A while ago my partner and I tried South Beach, and I have to say that out of all the eating plans out there I personally responded quite well to it. The induction period is the hardest, but that’s something that was pretty easy to get through. I don’t know how much weight I lost because I don’t weigh myself, but everyone noticed body mass shrinkage in the right places.

We left the diet because of unemployment. As anyone who has done so will tell you, eating healthier is much, much, much more expensive than eating junk food. Possibly because the amount of “actual food” inside the comestibles of junk food is much lower. This time around I’m already three weeks into South Beach, and would have been off the induction phase by now, slowly adding back in healthy carbs. Only problem is that we went off the diet just prior to the completion of induction during the July 4th weekend. Someone brought a pan of homemade, creamy/crunchy-topped macaroni and cheese. Like mom makes, but better (and don’t tell my mom I said that).

I just couldn’t. But true to the way that the diet was written, we didn’t gorge ourselves, and we didn’t overindulge. We just ate normal meal portions over the 4th of July weekend (we were up in a cabin in the mountains of New Hampshire with friends… miiiiiles from civilization, so there was only the food we had brought, and the mac and cheese was reeeaaaalllly good.) And then we went back to the induction diet.

Working and food prep and commutes, oh my

The biggest challenge to -me- on South Beach is all the food prep. It takes so much time to cook every single meal, every single day, that if it weren’t for my partner I’d be back to the pizzas and ice cream diet which has served me so conveniently for the past 36 years within a week. Luckily my partner has extra time to do most of the food prep… but it’s still work intensive. With my commute now up to a full hour and a half each way most days of the week, there’s no room in my schedule for anything outside of work, commute, food, and sleep. It’s like I live to work, I no longer work to live.

That’s why I’m sick of almonds. I know, according to the actual diet nuts etc. should be eaten in moderation, but I graze on them all day long. I did the last time and still lost tons of the weight. I need to graze, it’s just normal for me now. There’s stress releases built into it too… work is so frakking stressful that I self-medicate with food all day. At least with South Beach that food is better for me. I’d rather have a whole stack of chicken strips (baked is fine, no breading is fine) or a whole bucket of Hummus and a pile of cheese. But instead, here I have nothing but almonds.

I’m really coming to hate almonds. I’d get nifty salads, but my company is in a very overpriced region where the illusions of downtown America are finally fading away, despite every attempt to make ‘quaint’ into the new ‘chic’ by folks who still seem to think there’s real value for Americans to study French as a foreign language (ignoring the fact that their children would be better served learning Spanish, if only to speak with their servants and neighbors).Salads here cost upwards of $15 for the same thing that you can get at McDonalds for $5. No, really. McD’s relies on the same produce distributors as do the other ‘trendy’ lunch counters, and food that is not processed at all is roughly equivalent no matter where you go.

Killing time at work

I’m still trying to figure out what exactly it is about this place that makes me want to go home as soon as I walk in the front door. It doesn’t help that there’s already an hour and a half worth of resentment just struggling to get here. Commuting really brings out the worst in people, and it shows folks for the arrogant, stupid sons of bitches that they really are. Escalades jumping ahead one spot in line because… well, like that one car length actually made a difference. Folks closing ranks to try and force the merging traffic to get behind them. Merging traffic trying to ride the shoulder to squeeze in a few more cars ahead. Folks weaving between the lanes because one lane moves and the other two stop, and that moving lane rotates seemingly at random.

All pointless. All to go to a job that is designed to crush the living spirit and suck the life out. At least the salary is a living wage here. I guess that’s something positive to go on. Finally. Took me almost 15 years and $30K in debt to achieve it, but that’s still something. Three years from now I might actually be able to be free from that debt.

I guess I just don’t want to grow up. I want variability AND stability in my life. I like the theoretical, but we have to live in the practical. I like playing with ideas, but… but whatever. I’m still struggling against this job because it’s so mundane. It looks just like what I just left, only with more yelling and less understanding of what it is that we’re trying to do here.

Yeah. I really do think I’m coming to not only dislike and hate, but also resent almonds. I could be eating meals, but instead I graze on nuts. No time for anything else. Preparing food ahead of time is a nice thought, but at the end of the day and the end of the week I just don’t have the energy or the willpower to prepare all that much food. And when I do, and try to keep it, it just goes over the weekend because… hey! Prepared food that’s legal on the diet! Weekends mean no work, right? So let’s not work and let’s eat from this stockpile.

Yeah yeah. Change my habits. One thing at a frakking time. First we change the habit of what it is we’re eating. Then we change the habit of how we’re preparing it. And finally, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to the point where we change the patterns of life and subsistence which require such crappy commutes and unrewarding jobs.

But for right now, I’m just going to blame the almonds.

Another Millennial bites the dust

I have to laugh. I just have to laugh. In the Disadvantages of an Elite Education post and comments on Alex Halavais’ blog, I mentioned that several of the new generation of college students entering the work force were having real issues adapting to worklife culture in corporate America. Arguments over whether flipflops are appropriate office dress codes (they’re okay in advertising unless you’re meeting with the client) are the least of it. The hardest part is the sheer flakiness that the Millennials seem to be showing toward work life in general.

Well, the cause for my mirth is that one of our paid summer interns decided yesterday that work was too boring, and he didn’t want to come in today. That was his reasoning. He went to the head of the division and calmly announced that he would be taking a day off to head to the beach with friends. When the pushback came and it was indicated that the work was more important than the beach from the company’s point of view, the guy walked off the job and said that the work was too boring, not as exciting as he had thought it would be, and he wasn’t interested in it any more.  He wasn’t the first to flake out on the job scene… he’s just the most recent.

And the real irony of this situation is that the Boomers said that Gen X had screwed up work ethics. I guess this means great things for me in my future… as the Baby Boomers retire and their children slack, Gen X’ers should have their picks of job positions in upper management. The downside is that we won’t have anyone around to actually do the work.

I smell a generational wakeup call coming in the next three years, and I think it will look an awful lot like a temper tantrum and pouting fit when it happens.