When did you work at BBR and what did you do?
I actually thought I had professional Attention Deficit Disorder before I came to work at BBR. As soon as I walked into the building (back then BBR was located at 444 Jefferson St), my heart was thumping , unlike that of when I first fell in love with my husband. I knew little about the company, but the creative energy was literally humming through those candy-colored walls. I resolved secretly (I was there with my then-current boss for a meeting with Cherie) to do whatever it took to work with those people and their positive karma.
My initial intention was to keep showing up every day – I would scrub toilets, pour coffee, polish door handles, pick stray staples out of their carpet – until I became so integrated they would have to pay me. Fortunately, at the same time I started inquiring into any interest BBR might have to expand their advertising and design business into the online world, they were starting to contemplate the same for their clients, having recently completed some basic websites. They decided to hire me as an Account Manager/Director of Interactive Business.
Although both my husband and BBR didn’t know it at the time, and went through the natural motions of dating /conducting interviews, etc., they both had me at “Hello.” Some might call it presumption, some might call it bossiness; I like to think of it as destiny. And after 14 years of annual job-hopping and relocating to different states, I had finally found a home.
What are you doing now? Professionally and personally.
I had to leave BBR when my biological clock went from ticking to pounding. And that is another thing I absolutely love about BBR. They treat their employees like family. Whether you leave their company to become Creative Director of a rival agency, or to fulfill a long-standing dream to raise a family, they only try to help you make the best decision for yourself. That is a relationship not developed by many companies in today’s busy world of revolving doors and bottom dollars.
Dave and I have started a little venture called Chang-Hermann Enterprises where I am CDC (Chief Diaper Changer), DOT (Director of Transportation), CMP (Chief Meal Planner), CS (Custodial Services) and Homework Supervisor to our two boys we adopted in 2006 from Kazakhstan and a little princess we adopted from Korea last year in 2010. And even though I keep telling them that I am THE BOSS, I suspect they don’t believe me, even though I DO get to dictate bedtimes.
Right now I am contemplating future expansion options, even though Dave is starting to look glazed every time I bring up the mention of another girl from Korea. I’m sure McDonald’s and Starbucks faced the same dilemma at some time or another. At least he’s not breaking out in hives. I am torn between the sheer monotony and exhaustion of being a stay-at-home mother yet feel our family is not quite complete. We did start our family a little later in life than others; however, the international adoption laws are not getting any easier.
Plus sometimes there occur such intensely tender moments, usually entailing freshly bathed, sleepy kids who are temporarily satiated with hard play and full bellies, that there is just no describing the gush of love, peace and pride that make all moments of boredom, frustration, craziness worthwhile. I guess it’s sort of like the army…the toughest job you’ll ever love. I just wish I had enlisted at an age when my eyesight was sharper and my knees and back weren’t giving out.
How has life changed since you left BBR?
I get to swim in a plethora of job titles and responsibilities for zero pay. There’s more paperwork (and I’m not even a part of the PTO!) but less email. My phone calls usually end with someone crying or screaming, which never happened with clients. Event planning (beer bashes) has become infinitely less fun (kids birthday parties). I get to drive the unsexiest vehicle in the universe and host a shoe collection on par with what one would expect from a person who drives a minivan.
Professionally I am working at a job at which I feel I am completely under-qualified. Honestly, I’m a terrible housekeeper and I’m struggling to keep up with the kids’ sports, school and social schedules. What is the value of Crazy-Hat-and-Sock-Day except to drive the mothers crazy the night before? Why does the dryer always spit out an uneven number of socks? Who invented summer vacation? I’d like to have a few words with that persona non grata.
Being a mother is sort of like fighting for your country or teaching in front of a classroom. You can read all the books on theory or methodology, but they are just that. Nothing beats being thrust directly onto the battlefield. And the longer you survive the more experienced you become, thus increasing the chance of your survival. I’m at the third-child-numb-to-all-chaos level. I figure I can always pay for therapy sessions in the future to address any damage I might be creating today.
Also if you look at the plunges the stock market has taken and the uncertain economy, kids might not be the worst investment. Plus when I get really old and decrepit, I still stand a chance they might be kind enough to diaper MY bottom. I’m pretty sure no one at BBR, as supportive as they are, would be willing to do that.
What, if anything, did you learn from BBR?
I think I learned more from BBR than I did in college. Of course socializing in a professional environment is called “networking,” and is more helpful than “partying.” These are my top three:
- One should never fire a client. Even when you are crazy from hormone injections. There are more gracious ways to handle difficult client requests.
- Be careful before hitting the Send button when multi-tasking. One might conceivably send an email describing a client’s change requests as ‘anal,’ and include that client in the “Message To” list. Then have to run around the office screaming in embarrassment.
- The importance of balance in your life, both professional and personal. Everyone claims to have a fun and balanced work environment in their corporate website, but in all my work experiences, BBR was the only one that actually followed through. I think the partners were able to accomplish this because as a design-based company they required creative rejuvenation and as married professionals, most of them with children, their lifestyles demanded firsthand they juggle both.
What is your fondest memory of BBR?
Beer bashes? Holiday parties? Therapy sessions when I was mad at hubby? I think my fondest memory of BBR entails the experience as a whole, the feeling that I became part of something greater than my own individual contribution, that I had become part of the BBR family. And like in any family, there were days when you disagreed with different family members, or got along with some better than others, but in the end you were all invested in the family as a whole. Any conflicts came about because you cared, and things were either resolved or dissolved because everyone cared about what they accomplished as part of the family and at the end of the day we respected each other and valued our individual talents. Whether you were the one who designed a campaign or were presenting it to a client, we were all equally invested in achieving a mind-blowing campaign that made each client see and appreciate the power we brought to their business as a team.
I used to love coming into the office on the weekend (ah, the freedom of pre-kids) to catch up on paperwork or emails. Not because I had to but because it was like being part of a big, noisy family, and getting to hang out at the house and get work done while it was quiet and all family members were out. And as Brady Bunch-esque as this sounds it made for a remarkable work environment, and I really hope that BBR has been able to retain this quality as they grow.
What client did you enjoy working on the most while at BBR?
Because we took so much time to get to know a client and their current status within the industry, it also allowed us to get to know clients on a personal level. Again, I attribute it to our whole “enveloping into the BBR family,” culture. One of my favorites was the CLIC account, as two of the people with whom we were working fell in love with each other. They were both so deserving of a good relationship and it was so exciting to see their friendship blossom into something deeper over the course of the campaign – it was romance on reality tv without all the vapidity of reality television. I really love the fact that we came to care about the personal success of our clients along with their professional success. And one of these clients was part of my previously mentioned, Top Three Learning Experiences at BBR. Whoops!