There are good reasons for having dogs at a company.

October 4, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO at NYCA

Here’s what our friends bring to NYCA each day.


Washing Dishes to Grow Your Business and Yourself

June 20, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Ask a Zen master how to make your life complete and he’ll tell you to wash the dish. That’s it. The same goes for your business, I would think. Wash the dish. Totally. Feel the warmth of the water. Look at the reflection of the light on the surfaces of things. Let your fingers touch the sides of the knife blade – being mindful of the edge. Feel the flat of the spatula. Don’t think about things – any other thing. These thoughts are just distractions and diversions from what it is you’re doing. So just wash the dishes. Focus and giving over to the act without distraction will enhance your experience, your effectiveness, your life and your business.

This, of course, goes beyond washing dishes. It applies to your strategies, your conversations, all your actions, your relationships, financial spreadsheets. To compare: when washing dishes, notice the different materials that your dish is made from and you better understand the dish, just as you would when researching the demographics for your next product launch. This focus is not easy when you have your calendar backed-up. But if you just do what it is you are doing you will see that these audiences have emotions, behavioral patterns and, in fact, are not targets at all but human beings. And you can relate more deeply – which in itself is a wonderful reward. Then later it will help you to sell to those people. Later.

In dish washing, it’s not just a wooden salad bowl that you need to get clean – it’s taking care of the wooden salad bowl given to you by your grandmother who picked it out in Denmark from a lady who sang when she spoke, you remember now as you wash it. It’s about looking closely, past routine’s dullness, past conventional thought, past your next waiting activity, to being there in the action. It’s not stats it’s the way people behave. It’s your time with them to appreciate their consumer journey.

When you wash your bowl, you wash everything. When you enter fully into any single activity, there is nothing anywhere else — you are not in your next or last meeting. This is hard to do in this time of time-shifting, multi-tasking, life-juggling. But what a relief to be only here, only now. And in the now, you can begin to experience the true joy of dish washing or creating that marketing plan, and your children, yourself, your job, the joy of this moment.

You may even catch a glimpse of yourself smiling, in the reflection of a shining plate or financial plan.


Company Culture

June 1, 2011

By Bethany Farrelly, Associate Business Manager @ NYCA

NYCAers Meghan, Lauren & Dana work together at The Learning Grove

A healthy work place culture is so very important. A group of co-workers who have respect for one another and make an effort to develop and nurture healthy working relationships have more of an effect on the business as a whole than they may think. When I entered the work force I did not understand the importance of company culture. Questions about the company environment were not even remotely in my consideration while interviewing and I don’t think that I am alone in this. I believe that it takes experience to understand the importance of a healthy working environment.

When a company greatly lacks a cohesive nature, it is felt by everyone. It is felt everyday by the employees and it truly affects their daily lives. Many of us spend more than a quarter our week at work, interacting with co-workers. When the relationships are strained or downright disrespectful and unhealthy, it has negative effects on a person even when the best efforts are made to keep a positive attitude and push through. Clients can also sense a divide or lack of cohesiveness within a company and that translates into a sense of instability. A company whose employees work well together are able to achieve better results and have better lives.

The company culture at NYCA is a refreshing change from some previous experiences. The people within NYCA’s walls work together and laugh together. It is actually encouraged here that all talk is not all business. People spend the time to develop good relationships with each other which helps everyone learn how to best communicate. I enjoy coming to work each day because even when the work gets tough, the people here work as a team and get through challenges together.

There is not and never will be a perfect working environment, but when efforts are made by management and each employee, it truly makes a difference. I believe that a constant effort to improve and foster a positive company culture is vital to any company’s success and overall health of its staff.


The last tour on 101

January 26, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

I gave my last tour of the agency today. We’re moving this week. Jason, Joel, and Tracey, the three newbies, walked with me, starting outside on the sunny, nostalgic 101, lost in a time of vintage cars, chatty neighborhood diners and bike shops, then inside, walking around the boxes, spilling over with stuff, making the move all the way to the back, the Grove, by the Pacific Ocean where our fruit trees are bursting with winter oranges and lemons.

I give a tour of the NYCA world headquarters to all new NYCAers and long-timers. We talk about who we are: a sales agency;  how we work: harmonious chaos; what is success, what I expect from them, and what they should demand from NYCA. We give this tour to prospects, too. It’s pretty much the same talk, as we all are relying on each other for our mutual growth. We talk about the art on the walls from the gifted people of St. Madeline’s Sophie Center, and why we don’t like our own work in frames — “it’s a working tool, not precious art” — and The Learning Grove. Why we are by the wide open ocean and not in the crowded city. Why our color is baby blue and why we plant a tree for every one of our clients.

I moved more slowly than usual this time, not just due to age. I was saying good-bye and thanks to each touchpoint: the laundry line with our dozen NYCA different celebration t-shirts, the lyrics to the song, “Spirit of Water,” the harvester who reminds us to serve generously, even the awful stain that looks like Africa — and is almost its size — left by someone’s (I know whose) coffee. I explained why we have Frank Sinatra tilting in a too-big gilded frame in a conference room that is called Fargo and why we have another fancy frame cock-eyed around the fire extinguisher: “Challenge the norm!”

We have been here for 8 years and now are moving to a place which we are staging to be more current with the way communication works today and perhaps the day after: for more free-flowing collaboration, more openness and to be much faster, lots more fun.

On the back door that is our front is the word, “grow!” This is our greeter, our task master,  relentless as it is encouraging. And it is leading us two miles south. As we pack, I am reminded that little is essential to take except our creativity, courage, compassion and integrity. Don’t even need a box. We have it on our walls to make sure we do what we say we do: “integrity is better than pie.”

Above all, we are thankful.

Thanks to every single one of you, all the NYCAers, all our inspiring clients, partners who work so closely with us, and every single thing – yes, even you Africa coffee stain! — who took part in our growth, and helped us be all we can be here and push on to better places.

Thank you for the love that made every moment so valuable. I hope you felt it from us. See you not so far down the road.

Got to grow!


What’s your coachability score?

January 6, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The world is moving faster, powered by information.

Keep up by being coachable.

I know the U.S. has education issues. See Waiting for “Superman.”

But there have never been more quality teachers available.

On YouTube, on Twitter, we can take courses at the best institutions in the world.

One suggestion is to concern yourself not with how many are following you, but who you are following.

When I’m reading and notice a smart comment, I follow the source on Twitter and read what he or she is reading.

We can learn from everyone and we can now learn from the best.

And don’t forget to thank your teachers.

What’s your coachability score?


Gratitude

November 24, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Thanks for reading this blog. Just saying thanks makes us feel good.

Here are 465 ways to say thank you. That’s nothing compared to the millions of ways to express the sentiment. Each and every one of them makes everyone in the world happier. Nothing works more productively, consistently, euphorically to make one feel happier than saying and being thanked.

It’s old fashion good business. Even if you text it! Saying thanks is a payment that enriches two ways at once; the receiver gets nourished just as much the giver. Plus it’s 100% tax free!

Future NYCAer, Kamryn

At NYCA, if we have one holiday that captures our spirit it’s Thanksgiving. We sit around the floor, eating pie – you know we are big pie eaters here – and share what we are each thankful for. It’s not about being clever ad people with pithy zingers. Quite the contrary. The room fills with warmth, openness, respect, love, appreciation. Sweet sincerity pie with enough to go around and around.

Thanks again for reading this.


Work where you do your best work.

November 16, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

I work at Carl’s Jr. and in my car.

Where do you work? Is it the place you do your best work? Shaking your head, aren’t ya? That’s why we try to stimulate NYCA – with art, flowers, junk food, painting parties, quotes, a grove of trees, questions on the walls. The place is an idea prodder.

I work best in the morning. I tend to wake up before 6 and go hard at it while still in the dream state before the socializing takes over – the daily hygiene, the dressing, and the conversation. By that time, I am normal and less able creativity-wise.

Personally, I love Carl’s Jr. to work. I’m here right now, 6:45pm on Monday. They have great ‘60’s music playing – “Wooly Bully” is on now — and I am tapping with my foot and with my fingers on the keyboard. And there’s electricity here. And carbs and fat. Idea generators.

They have big windows so I can see the world, get the late sun, and be sparked by the people in adjacent booths and t-shirts that say funny things. And I’ve got a big ol’ desk with all the napkins, salt and pepper I could need. And I think, ‘cause of its macho advertising, it doesn’t attract pesky little kids: Paris sliding over a soapy car in a jeweled thong eating a burger is not everyone’s idea of a happy meal. Ooh, “Midnight Train to Georgia” just came on! Love the Pips! That just drives me to come up with something – whoo-oooh!

Which reminds that I also like transportation when I’m working: movement works for me – trains, planes, buses, cars. Maybe I love windows — they help you see outside and in. Maybe because if I can’t get out of my seat, it forces my mind outwards. Maybe it’s the motion that moves me.

Sometimes when I run low on energy, having sucked the place dry, I will move from a Denny’s to Burger King or a McDonald’s to a Panera to tap into a current. Keeps the thinking going.

Anywhere you work best – that doesn’t mean just for yourself but for your team — is the best place to work. Find out what time of day and where and go at it.

Try the fast food joints – they’re full of positive energy – will work even if you’re vegan. Just being near a Happy Meal makes you feel like a kid again. And kids always have ideas.


Change is hard. Wait, no it’s not.

November 9, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

At NYCA we have a criteria that our work is only good if it grows the business. We say, “Nothing Matters But grow!” Of course, many other things in life matter but this is a mantra to help us focus and steer clear of the staticky small stuff that can get in the way. Like noise cancelling headphones. It works, but extreme focus can cause rigidity, fear, burnout or repeating a method because it is known, or merely time efficient. We want consistent production of grow! ideas and the benefits and joy that comes with them.

It’s easy to get stuck, trapped emotionally, creatively and fall into a pattern (a pitfall in consistency). This is bad for new ideas, bad for the soul, bad for business.

That’s why change is not only good, it’s a must. They say change is the only constant thing in life and I have heard and know personally how hard it is. But it beats the same every day. So I’m going to try to convince you and myself to stop resisting the inevitable and learn to embrace change, flow with it, even push it along.

1- Change requires deep introspection. That means learning about yourself. Who can be more interesting? So we gotta love that!

2- Change causes internal shifts. Shifts remind you that you’re alive; you can’t argue with life!

3- Change is giving up the known. I love pizza but how many times can I eat it? I discovered sushi many years ago when someone pushed me to it and it’s my favorite now!

4- Change challenges our self-image. I hope I’m better tomorrow than I was today, so thanks, change, for the opportunity!

If I haven’t convinced you of the joy of change think of this: what does it cost you to constantly stay the same? Talk about tense! How does it feel when you have to shut down your own natural energy and desire to stretch, to explore? That’s one person with two mega- forces inside them going against each other! Pepto anyone? How does staying in a rut, going over the same spot, again and again, affect your heart, your mind, your sense of self? I think it’s against the Geneva Convention.

So as we say in the NYCA Seed book each NYCAer gets when they drink the grow! juice (paraphrased to protect the ancient secret code of the NYCAer): Try new things, fail, fall, learn, take a new route to work, go out to a new place to eat, sit in a different spot at the conference table. Reinvent yourself in part and find your authenticity. And never ever be boring! Oh yeah, and grow!


Twins!

October 19, 2010

By Christine Lenz, Traffic Manager @ NYCA

There’s a growing trend here at NYCA and it has nothing to do with QR codes. NYCAers show up to work dressed alike. I don’t mean little similarities here and there… I’m talkin’ full on TWINS.

It seems to be happening more often lately. Is it something in our water tank? Did they wake up on the same side of the bed? Did they send each other a text or email to coordinate? Are our style moons perfectly aligned? Does our intimate office environment influence their clothing selection?

The best part of this twins trend is the discovery moment. Sometimes the two people see each other, acknowledge the mirror-like resemblance with an open mouth/dropped jaw look on their face, analyze up and down and then celebrate the serendipitous occasion with some sort of enthusiastic outburst, or look away and smile embarrassingly. I’ve noticed it sets a nice tone for the day. Some companies have to go to corporate team building workshops… all we have to do is show up!

Let us know what you think of our recent twinning mystery…


Rut Buster II

October 13, 2010

By Dave Huerta, VP/Associate Creative Director @ NYCA

When I was 9 I used to play this game with my uncle where he’d draw a squiggle on a piece of paper, then hand me the pen and ask me to finish the drawing.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s whatever you want it to be,” he said.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could approach more projects with that in mind?

It’s a tough challenge these days. In our attempt to give consumers more ways to connect with brands, a single print ad, for example, can end up with multiple logos, multiple urls, tag lines, QR codes…

“Hey, what’s this ad supposed to communicate again?”

Well, here’s an exercise that helps us get back to that idea of “whatever you want it to be.” Pretty amazing how many different things can be seen from one squiggle.