The Hallowed Halls

Yesterday was a one-of-a-kind sort of days for me.

Just over a week ago, I got word that Gary Vaynerchuk was going to be speaking at a Legion of Tech event in Portland, Oregon. For those who aren’t familiar with Gary, he helped grow his family’s retail wine business from annual sales of $10 million to $50 million, went on to start a video blog about wine – Wine Library TV, and is incredibly active in the social media space.

The event took place in the atrium of the Wieden + Kennedy offices in Downtown Portland. W+K should need no introduction. It is a massive building, both inside and out. A unique blend of concrete and wood, the physical space itself is impressive. There are a number of open-air walkways throughout the center of the building, with offices / desks / work spaces / meeting areas around the peripheral edges. It is incredibly cool without trying too hard.

While I was listening to Gary speak (an excellent talk, by the way. If you ever have a chance, you really should see him in person), I couldn’t help but notice all of the activity in the building. It was 7:00 Pacific time before the event even got started, and there were still many people in various parts of the building, working, talking, meeting, etc. And, by the time myself and the other stragglers were finally shuffled out the door, there were still people in the building working. I get the sense that there is a dedication to the work, the company, the clients, and the idea that becomes a part of the W+K culture, and those who choose to (or are lucky enough to) work there, adopt that dedication as their own.

Too often, the end result of all of those long hours is discounted by those who will never know the effort that went into making sure every little detail was perfect, that nothing was left to chance. The end-result of the work quickly becomes the target, often by those with absolutely no knowledge of what went into it behind the scenes.

But there they were, putting in the time to make sure that whatever the task or assignment was, it was getting done.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for W+K the company, and more importantly those inside the walls of the building who make it what it is, and those who have passed through the oversized doors that helped it become what it is today.

Part of the reason that I made the trip was simply for the experience. Odds are I’ll never have the chance to step foot inside those offices again (however if invited, I’d accept that invitation in a heartbeat), but it was absolutely worth it. It was a refreshing change, and a good chance to refocus. If given the chance, I’d do the same thing again.

The question ask you, dear readers is this: Within the scope of your own world, agency-related or otherwise, are you willing to put forth the effort to make sure that thing you are working on is perfect? Or, are you satisfied with less? Are you content to check out at 5:00 every day? How much better would the work be if you spent an extra half hour on it? How much better would it be if you spent an extra hour on it? What drives you, and where do you find that motivation?

Heavy questions, and ones that cannot be easily answered. But if they’re never asked, nothing ever changes.

P.S. Yes Gary, in spite of the way it may sound, I really was paying attention…

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2 Replies to “The Hallowed Halls”

  1. I am one of those dedicated employees. The problem with the company I work for is instead of seeing it as dedication to perfection, they see it as someone who is slow, not organized, or they just don’t see it at all. The only thing they care about is meeting a deadline.

    Most of those who are in charge have no idea what it’s like to be a creative working under someone who isn’t. They don’t know what drives and encourages a creative and therefore the creativity and drive for perfection is completely taken for granted and misunderstood.

    Oh to work for a place where someone actually gets it.

    If I had been sitting there in that presentation with you I would have been listening…but I too wouldn’t have missed the activity around me.

  2. Interesting comments, and perspective.

    Unfortunately, it seems that exactly what you describe is too often the case, whether that’s in a large agency such as W+K, or small local shop in Boise, Idaho.

    Not that it really changes anything, but thanks for sharing.

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