How time flies when your career spirals beyond your wildest expectations. When last I wrote -- back in August... it was 88 degrees, and I was working on a little -- albeit nearly impossible -- project about high resolution business projectors. The project, by the way, required me to find a handful of experts in France, Germany, the UK and the U.S. who were deeply knowledgeable about high resolution business projectors. People joke that the French are all on vacation in August. It is no joke. The country closes down completely. And my client, who was Japanese, could not comprehend this at all and therefore could not appreciate the difficulty of finding even one person in this field who was not on vacation for the entire month.
Early in the month, I found the perfect person. I could not have asked for a better participant. He had the ideal background and was exceedingly excited about sharing his opinions and seeing what kinds of questions we were asking. The stipend we offered was a complete afterthought and really unnecessary. Then he disappeared. Completely. I called his home number and his outgoing message said that he was on vacation for 3 weeks and directed me to his mobile number, which, in turn, directed me to his home number. The way I understood this, by the way, was by asking a college classmate who is fluent in French to call the numbers and translate the messages. But that is not the point of this blog entry, and I have digressed completely.
In any case, as this project wound down, I was put in touch with a SVP at McCann Relationship Marketing (MRM), the digital and direct marketing division of Interpublic's McCann Worldgroup (which includes McCann Erickson). This introduction was made, by the way, by a recruiter who tracked me down on LinkedIn. Don't underestimate the value of LinkedIn as a marketing tool! A passive marketing tool at that.
The SVP and I discussed several projects, and I met with two other executives, but alas the projects did not pan out for internal and client budgeting reasons. (I was starting to learn about the agency world.) I therefore accepted an engagement with an ad rep firm called Interevco, whom I had helped sell an online monetization strategy engagement earlier in the year. The 6 month engagement was for Ancestry.com (The Generations Network) and required me to travel to Utah for the kickoff meeting.
Well, the day after I accepted this engagement, my MRM SVP e-mailed with a project for their Intel client. Ok, so now I had 2 projects plus the tail end of the Hi Res Biz Projectors gig. A few days later, I went to MRM's offices for the Intel project kickoff meeting and was asked to work on another project, this one for MasterCard. Ok, 4 projects and counting.
The next day, I received an e-mail from the Associate Publisher of a magazine at Time Inc. with a very cool strategic audit engagement that needed to be completed in 2 1/2 weeks! I had the initial conversation with the Time Inc. client as I was getting ready to leave for Utah (literally -- the car was waiting downstairs) and wrote the proposal in Utah. (This is where sleep deprivation started to creep in.) For those who are counting, I now had five projects. Oh, and the Blackberry I had purchased in August had already paid for itself by enabling me to book this new business.
So, there I was, happily and frenetically balancing five projects when one of my very favorite colleagues, Trish Hayward of Catalyst Strategies, called with a short project for a new media client with a user generated voice technology. The firm is Razz, Inc. Well, I could not turn Trish down, particularly because the value I gain from working with Trish often exceeds the monetary benefits. I think that we are up to 6 projects...
As Intel's main competitor launched a new product, and as the Intel team began intensive planning for 2008, I was asked to help with two additional projects. 8 projects in total, if I can trust myself to remember anything from this period of time.
I believe that I worked 7 days a week for well over a month, and I hired a colleague I had met at an HBS media guru breakfast to help out with one of the engagements -- wow, I was actually hiring other people. My only respite was when I forcefully dragged myself to a yoga or spinning class to maintain some form of sanity. Oh what a ride it was!