Born in Chicago. Living in London. Yes, this is a reference to ranch dressing.
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A new industry

As I mentioned earlier, I got a new job, my first in London. My initial plan was to stick with advertising in spite of the fact I didn’t really like it. Sole moneymaker needs to bring in some $$$, amirite?

The more research I did, the less appealing working in advertising here seemed. While London is one of the best cities in the world to make great creative work, the industry is also a bit backward, in my opinion.

Through hard work and some lucky turns, I was promoted pretty quickly to the level (mid-management, let’s call it) I held back in the U.S. But here in London, I was told time and time again it didn’t matter how much responsibility I’d been given or how long I’d held my old title. To do the exact same job I’d been doing at home, I had to have been working in the industry for 10+ years. Period. I’ve only been working for four. I was looking at falling three steps down the ladder from where I was - Associate Creative Director, to senior creative to mid creative to junior creative. Make parallel and correct assumptions about what would happen to my salary.

Regardless, I kept on and met with about 7 or 8 Creative Directors at various agencies in London. They were all kind, willing to sit down and chat with me. But I felt like I was hitting a brick wall, wondering why I was going to take three steps back in a career I didn’t want in the first place. If I stuck with advertising another two years in London, where would that put me at 30? In the same career but a more junior position, still not any closer to figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew up.

There were also a few ego blows. One CD looked through my work and told me it wasn’t good enough to join a top 10 agency in London (which he clearly considered his agency to be one of). Another’s email said he liked one thing in my book but nothing else was of that standard or anywhere like it. And that I needed to set my sights lower than the great London agencies. (I am not paraphrasing.) That email stuck with me. Maybe it’s going to linger for some time. If I’m not good enough to work in the industry I’ve busted my butt in for four years, what does that mean for my career in general? What if I’m never going to be the best - or even really good - at anything I set out to do?

At the same time I was talking to agencies, I was thinking about startups. I already know a corporate environment and big companies in general are not the places for me. I like to take ownership of projects, to be more invested, not a cog in the machine. (Note: I know you can take ownership in the corporate world, etc. etc.) I started talking to the CEO of a relatively new startup in the healthcare realm. He needed a Marketing Director to start the department from scratch. They don’t really know what their brand voice is. They need to find one. (That’s the stuff I’m qualified to do.) They want to use a lot of metrics and tracking. (That’s the stuff I’m not… yet.) For now, the position is a 3-month contract. If both parties like how things are going, it could become a full-time position, one where I’d benefit directly from the company’s success. This guy is the first person who doesn’t think I need to take 3 steps back in my career to make a name for myself here. Actually, with this new job he’s catapulting me a few steps forward. That’s the kind of challenge I want.

So who knows. Maybe I’ll start this position and not really like what I’m doing there either. But it’s different and it will be hard and I’ll learn a lot and stretch myself and hopefully get one step closer to finding a career that fulfills me. What’s that famous saying? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Time for a change.

Today’s my first day.

Last night I watched New Girl and Mindy Project with Matt and Ali.

And it is the most normal I’ve felt in months and maybe some of the easiest joy as well.

What I’m trying to say is you can just turn your TV on for happiness rather than move abroad.

@aliochicago12 went home today. What a fantastic week and a half of laughs, memories and the occasional sprint through airports. Love you.

@aliochicago12 went home today. What a fantastic week and a half of laughs, memories and the occasional sprint through airports. Love you.

Oh, Paris - part 2

  • Waiter: (sets down tin of ketchup for fries) This is our *French-sized* ketchup. But if *you* need more, tell me.
  • Me: (stares in resentment)
  • Ali: (picks jaw up off the floor)

Links

Peter Thiel’s contrarian strategy

An inside look at Anonymous, the radical hacking collective

We are entering the age of Alzheimer’s - Absolutely haunting. One of the best pieces of journalism I’ve read in a long time.

The boy with half a brain

The sad, dark end of the British Empire - Really cool I get to be here while the vote in Scotland is going on.

How much smartphone data do you really need?

Life has been overwhelming the last few weeks.

I was job searching and then I moved into a new flat. And while moving into the new flat, I got sick. And in the middle of getting sick, my best friend arrived in town for her first trip overseas and I want it to be everything that she wanted it to be. And then in the middle of her visit I got a job offer that I needed to negotiate. And then in the middle of the negotiating a host of apartment issues crept up - the toilet, the dryer, old water damage, TV/internet set up, HDMI troubles, halogen bulbs in the ceiling going out, and a shower screen that needed to be replaced. In the middle of all those things, it was time to leave for Paris. And now in the middle of this trip I need to spend my free time researching my new job before I start on Monday. While also planning my family’s visit next month and subsequent trips with my little sister that can’t really wait because she’s only in Europe for a couple more months and I want to take advantage of that. Oh, and I guess I should somehow get a National Insurance number for this job. And figure out what an HMRC is, which I apparently also need for this job.

It is constant overwhelm and the timing is not great for any of it. But what an adventure the last month and a half have been. There has been no routine, no familiarity. Every day has been a curveball, but I have always liked my life fuller. I like that I have no idea when my TV shows are starting (soon, right?!) and finally started reading a book this week for the first time since the move. I’m used to feeling on top of the chaos; here I always feel slightly behind. But these are all good problems to have. It’s good stress, everyone keeps reminding me.

I got a job!

  • I start Monday!
  • It’s a 3-month contract with a start-up that has potential to turn full time.
  • I’m starting their marketing department from scratch. Current company employees include the CEO, developers and me.
  • I get to work from home Fridays!

I will explain more later but wanted to share the news.

Oh, Paris.

  • Me: Does the cheese plate come with a baguette?
  • Waiter: (loudly scoffs) Of course, of course.
aotakesonchicago:

A perfect day in London!  (at Big Ben)

aotakesonchicago:

A perfect day in London! (at Big Ben)

Afternoon tea with my best friend. The best Thursday I’ve had in a while. (at The Orangery Restaurant)

Afternoon tea with my best friend. The best Thursday I’ve had in a while. (at The Orangery Restaurant)

Matt and I finally pulled out the pull-out bed for the first time. Didn’t realize it would be quite so literal. Sorry Ali, looks like you get the couch.  (at Home)

Matt and I finally pulled out the pull-out bed for the first time. Didn’t realize it would be quite so literal. Sorry Ali, looks like you get the couch. (at Home)

Christmas in Europe?

Time for a bit of crowdsourcing. Matt and I are going to spend this Christmas somewhere in Europe but can’t decide where. Has anyone ever traveled abroad for the holidays? Anywhere you’d specifically recommend? I’m thinking somewhere quiet and cozy. 

nevver:

Almost

Moving abroad in a nutshell.

nevver:

Almost

Moving abroad in a nutshell.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take." Turns out this weird bag with salsa on the front is, in fact, cool ranch. #blessed #nofilter (at Edgware Road)

"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take." Turns out this weird bag with salsa on the front is, in fact, cool ranch. #blessed #nofilter (at Edgware Road)

"Eating is cheating."

This is the first Britishism I have come across and vehemently disagreed with. It refers to the early start to drinking here, which inevitably involves skipping dinner and just imbibing through the night.

There’s no room in my life for skipping meals. Ever.