Practically speaking, we’re a group of writers, designers, account executives, tech workers, analysts, and strategists. Philosophically speaking, the answer is a little more complicated. Who are any of us, really?
We’ve given it some thought, and here’s where we’ve landed: Who We Are = What We Choose.
That’s not to say we all can just “choose” to be awesome. Rather it’s to say that our choices—good and bad—define us. Therefore, we choose carefully.
to work with clients who want
to be great, and who want to make
the world a better place.
to do bold, risk-taking work
that makes us proud.
to be honest,
even when it hurts.
to be kind.
to never sacrifice any of this
for a few extra dollars. Ever.
By “our people,” we don’t mean “our loyal subjects.” Rather, we mean it in the same way you might when you refer to your friends or your brothers and sisters as, “My people.” Without further ado, here are ours.
I once wrote a shoe company script for John Madden that included the line: “At the end of the day, my dogs are really barking.” One time Peyton Manning made fun of me for wearing “denim on denim.” I once made $150 for writing “Free stickers inside!” for a Fruit of the Loom underwear package. A client once fired me for pointing out to his administrative assistant that you don’t need the extra “e” in “judgment.” I was the high scorer on the Butler Soccer club (two goals) as a freshman in 1977 and Butler Frisbee golf champion in 1978. Once a year, I get to sing on stage.
I’ve been told I have depressing taste in books. The truth is I’ll read just about anything. I’ve even been known to pick up a tattered favorite and start somewhere in the middle. I can get so lost in a good story that I’ll forgo sleep or food to finish it. Ask my family how many cereal dinners they’ve had to eat while my nose is in a book. It can be hard to work because the Internet’s siren song of prose calls to me. The New York Times, Atlantic, IndyStar, Mashable, TMZ—once I’m down the rabbit hole, my tastes can get downright Kardashian. My all-time favorite place to read is on the porch swing at Lake Cordry in southern Indiana. But that can be a tough spot to call dibs on when all six kids are around.
I was walking on South Beach in Miami. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees with a cool breeze coming in off the ocean. The sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon. I was by myself with my feet in the surf. As I walked down the beach, I saw a man in the distance sitting at the edge of the water. He was in an old lawn chair with a TV tray in front of him. As I got closer, I noticed he was typing on a laptop sitting on the TV tray. I walked up and asked what he was doing. He looked up and said, “Designing a website for a client.” That’s when I knew I wanted to be a developer.
As a kid I played office, not house. I always use the Oxford comma…always. The most beautiful place I have ever laid eyes on is Banff, Canada. My most vivid memories are tied to experiences that included music. I’m a big fan of the one-minute dance party. I have a diverse work background that includes corporate retail, education, the nonprofit sector, and now advertising. “The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein
When my daughter was two, I started taking care of her during the day so my wife could go back to work. I carried a notebook on our outings, thinking I’d work on writing ideas, but I didn’t do much writing. Instead, the notebook filled with pictures of Big Bird my daughter was always asking me to draw. Despite months of practice, I never quite got the hang of his beak, which must be very carefully shaped and proportioned. You have to get that part right, or he just doesn’t seem like himself.
While gallivanting in Canada, I met a forest gypsy who read my palm and revealed my fate to me. I won’t go into detail, but stick with me – I’m going places. Growing up, my older siblings referred to me, the youngest brother, as the last hope for the Jedi – a title I embraced, but felt to be an awfully heavy responsibility as a first-grader. Whenever it comes on the radio I will stop whatever I am doing and pay respect to R. Kelly’s masterpiece “Remix to Ignition.” When I’m not designing you can find me mastering the perfect dance shuffle, not riding my broken motorcycle, or straining friendships by defensively blocking triple word score tiles.
When I was six, I picked up the guitar. I’ve never really put it down. I’m still holding it, mostly in my head throughout the day. My parents never outwardly encouraged me to pursue music. Now I see why. They knew I liked to eat. I mean, a lot. I may not look it, but boy, can I put it away. There are few things that make me happier in life than eating and music. If I could eat a song, I probably would. A big, fat, juicy song with extra sauce. Anyone have a napkin?
Iron on t-shirts. That pretty much sums up how I became a designer. I logged onto AOL and I proceeded to spend hours and hours searching for the perfect font. I made Bob Barker t-shirts. Degrassi t-shirts. I even put my high school car, a Chevrolet Celebrity, on a t-shirt. Why? No one knows. Then I got my first development experience, making custom pages for MySpace. I’d waste time during class manipulating the code to see what I could create. I was just doing what came naturally and what I loved to do; I had no clue my nerd activities were shaping my future career. But I’m still waiting for Well Done to ask me to make some iron on t-shirts.
234. Number of tables I helped set up and tear down around Monument Circle as lead event manager for Circlefest ’91 and ’92. 1. Number of times I chatted with Ty Pennington on a near-Eastside Indianapolis street corner while coordinating PR for “Extreme Home Makeover.” 1 million. Amount of money I helped raise for the first-ever corporate sponsorship program at the world’s largest children’s museum. 10. Number of years I’ve worked at Well Done Marketing. 24. Number of years I’ve been married to my husband, David. 3. Number of people who call me “Mom” – my true role in life.
Not long ago, a semi-homeless man with a striking resemblance to Gregg Allman told me I was a “pretty lady,” leading me to think I still “have it” among a certain audience. I’m 99% vegetarian. If I didn’t hate pain so much, I’d have a full tattoo sleeve on my right arm. I tend to have lots of conversations that revolve around good design, true crime, and the latest stiff drink I’ve concocted in my Fletcher Place kitchen. I hate it when people use “I seen” in conversation. And I say “f*ck” way too often to be considered a classy lady.
When I was seven years old, I wrote a letter to The Bozo Show in hopes of being an at-home player on the Grand Prize Game. I watched every day in the following weeks as the show’s host, Frazier Thomas, spun a giant wheel full of letters before choosing the day’s winner. He never chose mine. But that didn’t stop me from creating my own Grand Prize Game at home using hats, empty trashcans, and ping-pong balls. The only thing missing was the prize.
I do not eat breakfast until 1 p.m. I am unwilling to eat boquerones, foie gras, Roquefort, or any other foods I can’t pronounce unless you’re paying. If a revolutionary diet pill comes along that can fulfill all of my nutritional needs, I’ll be the first guy to try it. I hate cheese and tomatoes but enjoy pizza. But contrary to popular belief, I do not actually hate food. In fact, there are some forms of sustenance I enjoy, including bread, meat, fruits, vegetables, rice, and water. If someone were to open a diner specializing in prehistoric Mesopotamian cuisine, I’d be all over it.
I’m an expert at avoiding people, but insist on establishing a personal connection with every cat I meet. I aspired to be a teacher when I was young, then realized I’m not good with kids. I have the attention span of a gnat, but sometimes I read books cover-to-cover. I hate being cold and I hate being hot. After reaching a state of zen in yoga class, I listen to Drake as loudly as I can. I love Indianapolis, but I don’t like Indiana. I’m weird, but I pretend to be normal. I’m always trying to improve myself, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m a man who enjoys a good slice of cheese. If I were to compile the perfect cheese plate, my choices would be Brie (or Saint-André), a 10-year-aged sharp cheddar, and Gorgonzola Dolce. Cheez-Its® are pretty good, too. And I like longhorn Colby on my sandwiches. When I order Hotbox Pizza breadsticks, I typically get an extra cup of nacho cheese dipping sauce, giving me a 3:1 breadstick-to-cheese-cup ratio. One time, me and two other friends ordered six bags of breadsticks and 12 cheese cups. For three of us. And we ate all of it. I should probably cut back on cheese.
When I was a boy, I refused to wear shorts, because army men did not wear shorts. I (and they) still don’t. When I was an even younger boy, I insisted on having a damp washcloth at the table with me to keep my face and hands clean while eating. My children today demand the same of me, and let me tell ya, it is just plain excessive. Somewhere out there, I wish I knew where, there is an MTV-style “Diary of Brandon Martin” that was shot for my high school’s Friday morning news show. Check back regularly for potential developments on that.
Question: “If you could have dinner with anyone past or present, who would it be?”
Answer: The crew from This Old House: Tommy, Richard, Roger, Norm, Scott, and Kevin. Obviously, Fixer Upper’s Chip and JoJo are the ultimate #relationshipgoals, but the payoff you get after one season of This Old House is what I was hoping to get out of 7 seasons of Lost (still accepting theories on the polar bears). Then after dinner, Richard could fix the weird whizzing noise my toilet’s been making since I moved in two years ago.
I did try once to build a hang-glider when I was in high school, but I never finished. My father is an engineer, and the hang-glider might be as good a case study as any in the difference between us. Whereas my father at seventeen possessed the mathematical skill to calculate things like wingspans and bearable payloads, I went into the project possessing little except the belief that, if it didn’t work, I’d only be falling off the roof, and how bad could that be? Unfortunately, I never found out. I like to think that it would have worked, or at least that it would have broken my fall. My father might disagree. But regardless of our methods, we each know a good jumping roof when we see one.
I am a product of the Indianapolis Public School system. During my 13-year tenure I experienced several (retrospectively) amusing circumstances. Among many other things, I was hit in the back of the head with a snowball in 10th-grade French class, I was punched in the face by a girl in 9th-grade history class, and on my first day of middle school, I was jumped in the bathroom by a hulking beast of a boy in front of most of my classmates. But there were things that happened that I’m thankful for, too. Things that helped shape who I am today. Things like being hit with a snowball, punched in the face, and beaten up in the bathroom.
My early career aspirations, in chronological order: cheerleader, veterinarian, English teacher, graphic designer, journalist, web developer, travel writer, and social worker. I’m now doing none of those things. But I’m pleasantly surprised every day by how much I enjoy (and am actually pretty good at) research and data and spreadsheets. I get to use most of the foundational skills of the aforementioned jobs in my current role (except maybe animal care), so I may have struck vocational gold. I’ve sung on the stages of Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House, I’m moderately obsessed with light fixtures, and, according to a Pantone test I took once, I have perfect color acuity.
When I was 8 years old, my mom took me and my two sisters to the shoe store to pick out new shoes for the upcoming school year. My oldest sister took the safe, yet cool, route: a pair of ’95 Nike Air Max (with the lime green air bubbles). My younger sister wanted “the same as KC,” but unfortunately for Liz, Nike didn’t make Air Max in that small of size (a tantrum ensued). And there I stood in front of my mom with my selection—a pair of American flag high-top Converse. “Are you sure that is what you want?” my mom said. “Remember, you will be wearing these everyday?” I confidently replied, “Yes. I know. These are the shoes I want.” My sisters also weighed in (of course). “Why do you want those? No one else has those.” I affirmed, “I know, that is why I want them.” And off to school I went in my American flag high-top Converse. Some call me strong-willed; others say I know what I want; my dad says I am “determined.” The day came when I could no longer fit into those shoes (sad day), but I keep them close as a reminder that I am uniquely me!
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved practical jokes and stupid humor, and generally have a sarcastic comment running through my mind (sometimes it’s like a ticker tape in there). One of my favorite movies is Ace Ventura Pet Detective (don’t judge), and one of my longest-running Hollywood crushes is Adam Sandler (how can you not love that guy?!). I love wearing funny t-shirts and even have (what I think is) a funny bumper sticker on my car. Oh, and I love Chucks. (Not guys named Chuck. Chuck Taylors.) I have 5 pairs. One last thing: I love football. Go Colts! (And Broncos!)
I studied music and education in college, so naturally, I ended up in marketing. It makes more sense than you’d think: Creativity, collaboration, and strategy are key to successful marketing and advertising, and my background gave me a solid foundation in all three. I’m in good company at Well Done Marketing, where just about everybody seems to have been either a teacher or a band member at some point. When I’m not singing the praises of my colleagues, I’m either hanging out with my lovely wife and twins (boy and girl) or behind a drum kit — often with Well Done Director of Technology and virtuoso guitarist Brian Deer in the Midtown Mad Men.
I’ve never been much of an athlete. Growing up, I tried and failed at just about every sport. Soccer? Clearly my head (and body) is not in the game. Swimming? Sure, I gave it a shot…until a kid short-stopped me during lap practice one day causing me to take a whole lot of water up my nose. Little League? Golf? I tried those too, but apparently most sports require something called hand-eye coordination, which isn’t a quality I possess. As I grew older, I found other things I excelled at—like people. I like people. I get people. And I thoroughly enjoy working in a role that centers around people.
A 13 year-old-girl crying on her front steps is often a sight that is best met with an eye roll and a reluctant inquiry of “What’s wrong?” But when she is producing earth-rattling wails from deep in her core, it’s probably best to just steer clear. I will leave here the minute I turn 18, I promised myself between heaving sobs. I will be a young, free, permanent resident of the East Coast, and I will NEVER come back. Flash forward 11 years, and my disdain for Indy has diminished. IN fact, it has transformed into a deep love and appreciation. This place is now my home, and the thought of moving back to New York makes me want to take a 10-year nap.