AAF Reno “Ad Person of the Year” Acceptance Speech
For those of you who couldn't make the luncheon yesterday and actually care what I had to say (hi Mom!), I thought I'd post a transcript of my "Ad Person of the Year" acceptance speech. Unfortunately it does not include the sexual innuendo and references to booze that were added in on the fly, but you'll still get the gist. Thank you again to AAF Reno for the award and to Steven Aramini for a very nice introduction, and congratulations to Jim Minor, Steve Funk & Randy Pease and the Reno Chamber Orchestra.
"It's pretty fitting that I should follow Steven in receiving this award. I think every award I’ve ever received is one he received first. I’ve watched him walk up to the stage a lot over the years. “Damn you, Aramini!” But seriously, I’ve always admired Steven and his work a lot, so it’s very cool to have him introduce me.
Okay, for any of you that know me, you know I’m sarcastic and that I’d love nothing more than to stand up here make a few jokes, say something borderline inappropriate and head back to my seat. I’d like to take a different angle today, though. This is a meaningful award to me, so I’d actually like to be sincere for a minute or two—if you can believe that.
I need to make a confession first, though. I live in Las Vegas. Gasp. That’s actually why this award is extra special to me, though. I spent many years in Reno, and it will always be home to me, so I love that I’ve been able to face new challenges in a new city while still being able to remain a part of this amazing community. This award is validation to me that that connection is not just in my head.
For me that connection started at UNR, especially in the J-school, so I just want to tell a quick story about one of my favorite professors, Larry Baden. Larry is a fiery little dude, and one day he totally lost his shit on us, “God dammit you guys need to stop screwing around and get more passionate about journalism.” I’m paraphrasing. There was a whole whimsical tantrum that I can’t remember word for word, but I’m pretty sure it was colorful with a capital F. What did stick with me, though, was his apology during our next class. He said he was wrong. We didn’t have to be passionate about journalism. That was HIS passion.
We just needed to be passionate about something. Passionate about whatever we found that sparked a fire. His message was to find a passion and live passionately for that thing.
Well, I’ve always remembered that speech. I remembered it when I first decided advertising was that “thing” instead of journalism, and I think about it a lot as my role in this industry changes. I think the passion I found is trying to create things and ideas that stand out. That used to mean a quest to write the best headline in the history of mankind. Now it means working each day with every single person in our company to help build the most creative and unique agency we can.
That’s why I feel like it’s pretty ironic to be recognized with this individual award. Because at no point during my career have I relied more on the many talents of the people around me than right now.
So I really mean it when I say that this is more of an Ad People of the Year Award than an Ad Person of the Year award, and I share it with everyone at those tables and everyone throughout our company in Reno and Las Vegas.
It’s because of our team that I want to get better at what I do every day and work to open up opportunities for them to get better at what they do every day. They drive my passion to help us become a better company, to elevate our work, to contribute to our communities and to raise the expectations of our state in the marketing space.
When I think of why I’m getting this award, I hope that’s why. I’ve always felt like it was a responsibility of all of us in this industry in Reno, and in Nevada as a whole, to elevate our product and raise expectations of our creativity and innovation. To not be Reno agencies or Vegas agencies or Nevada agencies, but to be kick-ass agencies that call a great place home. I hope I've helped do that. I hope WE'VE helped do that.
I think Tim Obrien wrote a line for NCOT many years ago that said, “We test things here.” Well, that’s exactly what we should do. Test boundaries, test limits, test ourselves, fill these wide-open spaces with amazing ideas that make people outside of our state see how creative and talented we are.
As an insider with an outside perspective, or an outsider with an inside perspective, I’m not sure which I am anymore, I see a ton of innovative talent and passion in this town. I see it here in this room. I see it in the FLFs, the Reno Collectives, the Nobles, the Jamie Kinghams, the Shortstacks, The Abbi Agencies, the Ad Clubs, the J-School and so many other places.
I hope all of us will keep pushing each other and collaborating with each other and testing each other. This is a fun time in our industry, and there’s probably never been a better time for Reno, and Nevada as a whole, to leave its scrappy little mark.
So I hope the next 10 Ad People of the Year (or as I prefer to refer to it, the next 10 Idea People of the Year) will do their best to help put our city and our state on the map as pioneers in the marketing space, the advertising space, the digital space, the PR space and the overall creative space. We can truly do fun and amazing things.
As my old professor, Larry Baden, might say, “Let’s keep practicing that fucking passion, people!”
Thank you guys for listening. Thanks for the award. And thanks to JP for rigging this thing so I could get up here and run my mouth for a bit."