When people talk about W+K, the work is often the topic. Creativity. The awards. Etc. And in my years there, I was able to participate in all of it. But honestly, there’s something even bigger. A more human thing…
Today, I needed to find a spot that W+K did back in 1998 or so. I sent a quick DM to John Boiler (@JtothePtotheB) of 72andsunny and within 30 minutes, he’d replied with the link. At Cannes, I saw +Andy Berndt, who I hadn’t seen in a decade, and it was if we’d been working together last week. I also met Kirsten Rutherford (@KirstenKupcake) there for the very first time who started at W+K London just 6 months ago. Within an hour, we were lifelong friends. I can send an e-mail to Dan and half the time get a reply within an hour. And there’s @vpalumbo, @glenncole, @bababyrnesides, @lauraforde, @jcude, @ooroofoo, @undermanager, @tomblessington, @sudeepgohill, @seth_weisfeld, Rebecca VanDyck, Jae Goodman, Michael Prieve, Brett Corrick, Trish Adams, Stacy Wall, Todd Waterbury, Bobby Hershfeld, Melanie Myers, Mary King, Keith White, Mike Delahaut, Angie Vieira Barocas, Justin Barocas and countless others I know I can trust and count on in a pinch.
I haven’t worked full-time for W+K for almost a decade (outside of that year of perma-lance in 2005). Yet, there are literally 200+ people I can call on and within 5 minutes it’s as if we’ve never been apart. And I can meet a new W+K employee and because of the history, we’re almost instantly friends.
Now that I’m working in an other agency, in an office of well over a 1000 people, the issues of agency culture come up a lot. What is it about the cult of W+K that makes this extraordinary situation possible?
It’s easy to say it’s Dan or Dave. As much as I love them both, it’s bigger than the two of them. Is it the isolation in Portland? Is it the flatness of the organization that kills any possibility of politics? Is it the desire to make each other better? Is it the graduate school of advertising?
I really wish I could pinpoint it. It’s some magical combination of all those things. More than the awards. More than the career-building book they allowed me to create. W+K will always hold a special place in my heart because of the extraordinary people who were there when I was there, and the ones who’ve joined since, that make it something I’ll cherish forever.