#WeirdYear: 2016 in Review

I never really know why I write these recap posts. It’s probably some form of personal therapy. I’m not editing this braindump, but you can read if you’d like.

Firstly, it’s been quite a year. Through the good and the bad, I want to remember to stay thankful. As I look back on 2016, I can hardly believe the change. For me, the biggest difference is clearly a new job.

After about four years at Atomicdust, I made the decision to take the next step in my career. And I’m thankful for everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with and becoming friends with at Atomicdust. Thankful for all of the cool shit I’ve been able to make so far in my career. And thankful for what’s next as I move on to new challenges at Momentum Worldwide as a Senior Copywriter. It’s only been a few days with my new team, but so far, so great.

Looking in the Rearview

At the start of 2016, I had an odd feeling about the year. Things were happening in and out of work that just seemed off to me. But that’s life, every facet has its ups and downs. So I chalked it up to some disturbance in the force and dubbed 2016 #weirdyear.

Little did I know, things were going to continue to get weirder…A lot weirder.

On a personal and professional level, I started to struggle with what I really wanted out of my career. I still don’t quite have the perfect answer, but I recognize that it’s a journey. As the year progressed and I thought more about where I’d like to be when I’m 30, I thought it might be time for a change. I love the people at Atomicdust and am endlessly thankful for the chance to do great work day after day, but I decided to go with my gut. I started opening my world to the torrent of recruiter messages on LinkedIn and put a lot of thought into where I wanted to go next.

Learning a Major Lesson

Looking back at the last Atomicdust ugly Christmas sweater photo, it’s apparent that there’s been a lot of change. And there’s a lesson I had to learn in that. It’s easy to forget – or hell, never learn – that businesses are living organisms. They’re just like you. They have needs, wants, goals, struggles and all the things everyone deals with every day. And to own a business, you have to assume the responsibilities of this living, breathing being that’s much larger than yourself. That’s terrifying and exciting at the same time.

Taking a step back to think about how businesses operate, it’s a little easier to again think of them as living things. When you have growth in customers or projects, you usually add employees or improve efficiencies in the production process to meet the demand. When you have fewer customers, the opposite tends to happen. And it’s important to recognize your role in the health of your workplace.

As an employee of a business, always keep that in mind. It doesn’t matter where you work or what you do, chances are you have some level of impact in the big scheme of things. For me, I’m a copywriter. My job, in its simplest form, is to think of a solution to a client’s problem and express it through words. But I also recognize that in the ad/marketing industry, my job is also to make my clients successful. And in turn, make the company that I work at successful.

So I go to work trying to think of what will work for my clients. What will work to make them money, win them favor in the public eye, get people excited in and outside the company, etc. Yes, I still have to be a copywriter, but that’s simply my avenue for building success around me. Because, after all, if my clients aren’t happy and successful, my company can’t be either. Nobody wants that. Depending on the circumstances, this can be a tough lesson to learn. It definitely was for me. But the show must go on.

Remembering the Victoires

While this year had its ups and downs, I’d rather remember the lessons learned and count the victories. When it comes to work, I’m excited for new opportunities, but I’m also very proud of what I’ve been a part of this year. These are a few of my favorite projects.

Photos and designs from Atomicdust.

Getting Personal

On a personal level, shout out to my girlfriend Chelsy for being there for me throughout this weird-ass year. Working is stressful. Job hunting is stressful. Moving is stressful. But we did it all and managed to do some awesome shit along the way. On top of that, she surprised me with the best gift I’ve ever received: a trip to Seattle and time at DirtFish rally racing school. If you know me at all, you’ll know that I love all things cars, so there’s really no beating DirtFish. The fact that it's in scenic Snoqualmie Falls is just icing on the cake. Thanks again.

Doing Even More

What else? Here’s to Kanye and Chance the Rapper for dropping my two favorite albums in a long time. Going to see both of them live was pretty crazy. Sure it sucked that both 'Ye and Chance skipped St. Louis on their tour, but it gave us a chance to explore Nashville and Atlanta. Both great cities, highlighted by one of the best meals of my life at Butcher & Bee in Nashville. And having a fun reunion meet up with friends – technically a former girlfriend and her husband. Way less awkward than it sounds. Life is weird.

 

Speaking of Atlanta, Atlanta the tv show is great. Alongside Insecure, it’s been a big year for black TV shows. And huge props to Viceland. They’re creating some of the best TV on TV right now – not just in the informative nonfiction category either. Oh, how could I forget Top Gear and The Grand Tour? While the BBC has somehow forgotten that TG isn’t really a car show, the trio of middle-aged friends almost brought a tear to my eye upon their return. More of that please. These, alongside Better Call Saul are what I watch. Someday I’ll get around to Westworld, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The OA, etc. Someday.

As far as travels go, I cherish them all. Columbia. Springfield. Louisville. Memphis. Milwaukee. Snoqualmie. Phoenix. Denver. Chicago. New Year’s with friends up north. Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The grave of one of my personal heroes, Muhammad Ali. MLK’s birthplace and final resting place. A Ferrari worth $40 million. I’ve seen a lot of stuff this year. And that’s on top of all the great things I’ve done here in St. Louis.

From being able to take my dad to a baseball game with seats practically on the field, to just sitting on the couch at home, to seeing Beyoncé slay in concert, 2016 has had its great moments. St. Louis is a great city with amazing people and I’m happy to be here. Thinking about it, that’s why I like to take the time to reflect. Because it’s all too easy to forget – so I focus on the positives. But yes, I’ve had struggles this year. Plenty of them. Family struggles. Friend struggles. Money struggles. Relationship. Political. Car. Racial. Work. Emotional. Mental. Physical. They’ve all had a starring role at some point, making this year a little worse. But that’s life. And seeing as we all have a finite blip on this planet, we might as well remember the good times.

I think I’ll end with that. And not in a “positive vibes and peace signs” kind of way. A few years ago, my reflection post centered on making choices to be happier in life. That’s kind of just been my lifelong goal ever since. So here’s to a great 2017. We’ll just go ahead and dial up a new hashtag: #epicyear. And if you need to change things in your life to make it epic, go for it. I’ll round it out with more Chance and some photos of my favorite memories of 2016.

Your friend,

Ken