Process is liberating.

August 5, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

When I was a runt, my parents would put me in a playpen to 1) get a break for themselves, and 2) give me time to be with myself and toys. If you looked at it from the outside it seemed kind of like a jail with happy colors and clowns. But as I see it now, and I believe I understood it back then, it was a safe haven. In that confined space, I could let my mind wander, be carefree and be emotionally anywhere — as opposed to leaving me in an open field or a mall (another story) where I would feel self-conscious, vulnerable and, ironically, withdrawn and caged. The boundaries released me; nothing could get me as long as I physically stayed inside the four slated walls and on the bouncy, stain-free rainbow cushion. It’s kind of what Thoreau meant when he said, “I have traveled far in Concord.” It’s what we do when we sit on a cushion for long spells and meditate – we become expansive.

We are changing our process at NYCA again to harness our energies, fortify our structure and free ourselves to create faster, more effective and just plain more content.

I find process is liberating, strange for creativity perhaps. As long as it is a thoughtfully-built structure, it allows us to stretch. Sets the hard fundamentals down and so we play. The frame unlocks the painting.


Spirit of Water

July 23, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

At NYCA we don’t have an elevator to the executive floor. In fact we only have one floor, the ground floor. Right on Main Street. This building used to be a grocery store and, before that, a bank. We chose this place for our agency for one reason above many: this is where people walk to the market, get their dry cleaning, stop to have a cup of coffee and a chat.  Here we are part of the world with which we engage every day on behalf our Clients.

We are a working class breed.

So don’t expect a slick granite lobby or high end designer furniture. Our money is hard-earned and goes to the rare, deeply passionate and talented people that fill our agency with inspired ideas, each aimed at growing our Clients’ businesses.

We have something we say around here; more than say, it’s how we live – “Spirit of Water.” It means everything we do is clear and open, and all are treated fairly. Just the way water buoys us all up equally. It’s about integrity and trust. Big deal around here.

Which brings us to our $700 conference room table. Nothing fancy. Holds cups with coffee, laptops and the tins of late night dinners. Many a grow! idea has been conjured,  tough-loved and shared on and around this table.  And more than once, its trembled under the weight of an impassioned NYCAer pleading their case on behalf a potential grow! idea.

So when an inspired group of art directors and producers came to show their conference table design based on the Spirit of Water, we took a moment.

It was a magnificent sculpture of molded and burnished domestic woods and finely-etched glass with a fountain of spring water running under and through it. Art, truly.

More than a conference room table. This was a beautiful challenge to our creed!

And even, though water flowed freely to all ends of the table, we had to wonder: is this in the Spirit of Water? How is this fair to all when most of the agency won’t be able to enjoy the table? The production artists, programmers, and traffic staff who spend so much time over the critical details that build our work would rarely see it.

Plus this table was so fancy we likely wouldn’t feel at ease working on it, for fear of messing it up with our markers and various forms of caffeine. Now, any detraction to the creation of a grow! idea is an enemy of the state – lovely as the design is. Oh, and at $23,000 – well any Client would have to ask, “If you are so careless with your money, I hate to think what you are doing with mine.”  Our controller would certainly ask that.

It simply isn’t how we do things on Main Street.

So when you visit you will see our $700 table at work. It may not inspire you at first glance but have a seat and be joined by some NYCAers with ideas focused on growing your business and you’ll soon know — just as any NYCA Client does – that this sturdy discount table is testimony to who we are and how we do things. And when we are around it together, pounding out and sketching and creating grow! ideas, it’s the best conference table in the world.

If this is how you want your agency to act, we invite you jump deep and freely into the Spirit of Water.


The propulsive power of do.

July 16, 2010

By Michelle Edelman, President @ NYCA

Yesterday we closed the agency and got everyone up to speed on our evolved agency process. Our workloads are fast and furious right now. All the more reason to catch up to each other.

You see, NYCA doesn’t work “assembly line style” like many agencies. We work in a circular fashion – in grow! teams. Every member of the team has a stake in every part of the process. It makes our strategies more creative, our creative more media oriented, our media more productions, our productions more strategic. And everyone is pouring their passion into each client from day 1 and forever.

It’s not easy to work like this. You don’t experience that lull after the campaign goes out, that many agencies get to have. Grow! does not allow you a lull. It’s a painful itch that is not easily scratched, that asks each of us – now what?

The pain of grow! can only be mitigated by the fun and passion that each of us bring to this place. Lynne made up a cheer so we could remember part of the process. I don’t think anyone will forget it. You can ask our accounting team to do the cheer, and even though they aren’t part of the creative process, boy do they know the steps now. James made us play Process Twister. If you could not remember the steps, then you were in compromising positions that make me glad we do not have an HR department. Lisa took us through our new media process – it was bursting with creativity. Dave showed us what we should be aiming for creatively – and opened the door for it to happen.

At the end of it – everyone was singing this song – a reminder that we invent because we love it. A new NYCA burst forth from the existing one today – and though our work can be draining of time and energy, that energy is renewed in a second with a new idea, a new employee, and with every new client.