It took me much longer than it should’ve to settle on a direction for the part of my site where I actually talk about myself. Why? The same reason I chose a professional path that finds me behind the camera and not in front of it. I’m not as interested in and skilled at telling my own story as much as I am yours; your company, your client, where you come from, who you are. Hell, even the story of your lively Paternal Aunt who passionately sounds the alarm about the rise of neo-McCarthyism at holiday gatherings, espouses hardcore Communist views herself, and who’s not too shy to talk about how she spent her twenties running distilled spirits out of a converted sheep barn to pay the mortgage.
But since you made the trip, taking that very flattering step of clicking a link to learn more about me – and potentially, hopefully opening a door to collaborate on something together – I’ll indulge you.
I began this journey in a small town in rural Missouri; at once a wholesome and idyllic – yet very isolated – experience. Opportunity in this environment was limited, and looking back there were many moments where my path could’ve easily diverted back to small-town life – not necessarily a bad thing, just a direction inherently limited in its dynamic range. Instead, I chose to learn, to open up, to venture out, and to expand.
My educational path was carved out of the need to create things that strike the senses and motivated by the hope that maybe those things could make a positive impact in the process; it was also rooted squarely in the technological transition from analog to digital. I loved sound and image and the combination of it all, and the potential that digital media tools brought to the content creation process was magnetic and more exciting than any other possibility I had uncovered for myself. Beyond that, I relished the idea that people can collaborate and truly realize an idea to the fullest version of itself together. Naturally, another significant part of the value proposition in pursuing post-secondary education is the network you build, and my experience corroborated this notion.
My professional journey leaned on this network from the jump. After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Audio Engineering (and subsequently, a Master’s in Communications Management), I worked my way into a college friend’s Internet streaming / live-event broadcast start-up in the audio engineering department (# of members: 1). As I toured the country with a contingent of university buddies, all too often I found myself sleeping in tents at outdoor music festivals, showering and grooming with embarrassing infrequency, and very much learning the hard way how NOT to be a professional. Still, through this channel, I was granted my first real-world look at how to create content that resonates with people, how to work cooperatively and effectively in a team setting, and how to bring a vision to life in concept and in practice. Eventually, as the management holes within the company started to reveal themselves, I parlayed both my formal training and my field experiences into new opportunities. 5+ years later, my resume is lookin’ pretty good! – a mixture of management and creative roles with A-list music and entertainment talent, Fortune 500 brands, and an expanded professional network I could look to in pursuit of new opportunities.
As someone always interested in both brand stories and their history and evolution – as well as how people connected with them – I looked to transition into a more story-driven creative environment. Brands impact me, personally; they make me pay attention and think and ask questions of myself and society and the world we live in and strive to make for ourselves. How brands cultivate and manage their perception and inject the human experience into their very essence (and, when they’re successful, vice versa) makes me consider which of them are truly worthy of the financial and emotional loyalty of their desired audience. They do so especially when they have a worthwhile story to tell (and don’t get in their own way of telling it). I longed to be that shepherd, that guru, that weaver-of-threads, and to me the logical next step was venturing into the branded content sphere.
Though I appreciated a craftily-produced, funny, and boundary-pushing commercial with the rest of ‘em, I found the potential of branded content meaningful, refreshing, and potently resonant. Within that type of context, real can exist. Genuine can bloom. Personality can flourish and perceptions can shift in a purposeful way – in directions that can teach, inspire, and motivate someone to ask more questions of others and themselves. As much as I loved the artistry and technicality of commercial production (and always will), I wanted to say something else of value; something that went beyond a simple “buy this product” intention. So, I found myself on the ground floor of an effort by a major media conglomerate to do just that.
After all manner of campaign type and budget size, all the deadlines and rewrites and pivots and conference calls, the airports and late-night room service and taxi cabs, the production crews that seem like family (and maybe they are in this moment and in this place) – and perhaps a shiny trophy or two – here we find each other. As Joseph Campbell once said, “Every story you tell is your own story”. To me, that manifests the loveliest of loops, where my story is your story and your story is mine. Maybe I’m not so bad at telling my own story after all.
— October, 2020