Suc·cess /səkˈses/

Attainment of wealth, favor or eminence


Most would agree with this definition. Money, popularity and power don’t seem so bad, right?

As a centennial entering the workforce, I’ve learned that humanity desires much more. Success is not the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence, but rather perpetual joy.

GSD&M interns have Internship Experience Meetings which teach us about different departments within the agency. While learning about said departments, these meetings also helped me come up with what I consider to be the five necessities for true success:

Stay curious. I’m an acting major who interned with GSD&M’s communications team. Kelly Clemons is an architecture major turned IT intern, and Jack Epsteen—once a design major—is now the head of GSD&M’s production department. My point is: shadow people that are doing things of your interest, ask questions and don’t limit yourself. Never stop learning, because curiosity is key to being an active part of the world around you and can lead to paths unknown.

Serve others. Become a servant to those less fortunate than you by volunteering. The one thing no one can get back is time (sorry, guys, still no time travel). It’s the most valuable gift one can give. Staying concerned with the well-being of others can spill over into your work life and will contribute to your journey of success. 

You can’t do it alone. Staying humble is valuable because it drives you to create meaningful work. Remember that no one produces good work alone, so let your team know how grateful you are for them, and use them as a resource for constant inspiration and learning.

Got balance? Miguel Masso, a decision sciences intern, is a firm believer in putting work down at the end of the day and not picking it up until the following morning. Everyone’s beliefs on balance are different, but what we all know to be true is that if you aren’t healthy physically or mentally, what you produce won’t be your best product. We have to put ourselves first. 

Love the environment you’re in. Having a healthy work environment is genuinely rewarding. Any conflict or friction is easier dealt with because it’s known that we have a common goal. Regardless of your title, learn what that “common goal” is and keep it in mind when communicating and working with others. Love and care for your work environment, and it will do the same for you.

Internship Experience Meetings were meant to teach us about several departments within the agency, but for me, the outcome was a lesson about what success really is. At the end of the day, we are not accomplishments and titles. As human beings, we need to find joy in the process. That process is the journey, not a goal.


Suc·cess /səkˈses/

Attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence joy

“I remember thinking ‘Wow, I wish I heard some of these insights when I was first getting started in this business,’” said Shannon Moorman, GSD&M’s VP of talent acquisition.

I recently returned from the 3% Conference, which focused on championing creative female talent and leadership in the advertising industry. Inspired and energized by the message shared at the conference, I took a moment to reflect on our ever-changing advertising industry by focusing on a set of guidelines to help young—or any—women in this business thrive.

Appoint your own “board of directors.” You should include a broad swath of advisors—men and women, young and old—with various backgrounds to help guide you in your career and personal life.

Speak up and use your voice. It was said that many women won’t speak up in meetings for fear of not sounding smart or insightful enough. The advice from the panelists: speak up. Even if you don’t think it’s important, contribute your voice and your POV. Your contribution is as important as anyone else’s in the room and is the only way to reach a level of comfort in sharing your own thoughts without continuing to run them through the “fear filter.”

Own your brand. We are in the business of building brands, and you are your brand. The more effectively you can establish and own your personal/professional brand, the easier it will be to compete in this male-dominated industry. Decide what you want your brand to be and be strategic in how you work to build it.

Presentation is key. Learn how to present your thoughts and ideas in an organized manner. It will not only evoke confidence from those who work around you, but it increases your degree of influence. Often women avoid presenting due to the critical voice within. Take an improv class, sign up for Toastmasters—do something that will help you increase your confidence in communicating and presenting.

Purposefully seek out mentors. Look to women who inspire you and ask them for advice on how they arrived at where they are. This can create a pathway for you to reach your goals and offer helpful, experienced guidance on how to surpass career hurdles.

As women, we are a team and should stand as a united front. Clear on our purpose, women should mentor and champion other women in the business, create a culture of advocacy and advise all their female peers to be thoughtful and intentional about the direction of their career.

I ran to the grocery store after work last night to pick up items for a volunteer opportunity today—the Backpack Coalition. It’s only fair to admit that the grocery run came after a lengthy internal conversation about how I was “too tired” from a long day at work to go pick up groceries. Luckily, my conscience took over that conversation and I was quickly reminded of my purpose: not live for myself, but rather for others.

As some background, the Backpack Coalition is an organization that provides food to underprivileged children in Austin. There are a lot of kids who eat only when they’re at school—breakfast and lunch—and won’t eat until they return to school the next day. So, when they leave school on Friday, they will have little to no access to food until they return to school the following Monday. This hugely hinders their ability to learn as it takes the brain two to three days to recover full cognitive ability—meaning they won’t begin learning again until Wednesday.

I imagine these kids sitting in a classroom surrounded by students who are dressed in new back-to-school clothes, barely worn sneakers, with a backpack full of school supplies and homemade snacks to last them the day—and much further than that. Meanwhile, these students are hungry—hungry—and the thought of learning is near impossible when they’re distracted by the sound of their own stomachs growling.

I kept this thought in mind when I was at the grocery store last night, hesitating on how many groceries to buy for the kids. And when my cart was maxed out and food was dropping in the aisles, I still felt like it wasn’t enough. And it wasn’t because at the end of the day, I’d still go home, open a full fridge of food, and prepare a warm—and let’s be honest, underappreciated—home-cooked meal.

Today, a group of us volunteered at the Backpack Coalition; we packed backpacks full of food for these kids to have this weekend and over the holidays when they’re out of school for a week and looking for something to fill their stomachs. As if that experience wasn’t “real” enough for us, we heard stories about the children we were impacting. One in particular was about a mother who received a grant to go to college, which would ultimately ensure that she could provide a better life for her children. But, that grant meant that she was no longer eligible for food stamps. So, she had a decision to make: short-term or long-term wellness for her family. But because of the Backpack Coalition, she didn’t have to choose; she was able to go to college, set an example for her children, and ensure her kids were fed.IMG_3956 copyIn reality, though, it really doesn’t matter how much money we spent on groceries to donate or how much time we spent packing backpacks. What matters is that we took a few hours out of our day to give back to othersto people with stories like that motherand do our part to make the world a little better of a place than it was last night when we went to bed and this morning when we rose.IMG_3967 copyBut this opportunity to better ourselves and our planet wasn’t a solo effort. At GSD&M we are encouraged to volunteer. Now, there are a lot of companies out there that say that. We’ve all heard it—“we encourage our employees to do their part.” But GSD&M doesn’t just talk, it walks. Each month, we are given four hours to volunteer and not only are we given this time away from our desks, but we’re paid for it too. And further than that, the employees work together to make each other aware of how they are volunteering, and even go as far to share it in the internal news so it’s easy for anyone to jump on the train and volunteer. Just this week we had a box set up in the lobby so people who didn’t volunteer for the Coalition could still donate food.

While I’ve just written many, there are few words to explain what it feels like to be part of a company that has a strong sense of purpose and community and continues to evolve to ensure that this purpose and “sense of self” is never lost.

Today’s opportunity to give back to the community felt less like a gift I was giving and more like one that was given to me. And I am 100 percent confident that this gift wouldn’t exist if my company wasn’t pushing me forward, and strongly encouraging me to take four hours out of my day and put it to good use.

It’s one thing to develop our own sense of purpose. It’s not easy, but we spend our lives attempting to do and fulfill it. But how often do we get to say we stand with a company that has it’s own sense of purpose, and a damn good sense of purpose at that?image1[1] copy


By Zinny Bonner, Communication Intern

GSD&M’s first ITMAD event concluded yesterday after a series of sessions focused on innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and experience design with presenters from GSD&M and guest speakers from Southwest Airlines and Silvercar. As part of the event, we were also able to tour the U.S. Air Force’s latest experiential tour.


Starting off with a bang, or rather a jaw-dropping hologram demo, Heather Hvidsten, senior director of product management and product innovation at Southwest Airlines, presented Honk If You Are Sick of Talking About Innovation! With a father who worked at NASA and mother who is an artist, Heather was raised to think outside of the box. She looks at innovation with the mindset that every single person is perfect exactly the way they are. She encourages, “If you are passionate and not in a group that feels the same way, it’s not you, it’s the group. So change the group.” Innovation is about making something great ever better. To do this, Heather organizes rapid innovation workshops that encourage participants to open their minds and think differently. She puts crossfunctional teams together to accelerate the idea process. Most importantly, however, she engaged every aspect of Southwest Airlines’ team, from finance to creative, by emphasizing the many different roles involved in innovation. “The role of the supporter is just as important, if not more important, than the role of the idea creator,” she said.


The second session of the day, Capturing Moments & Building Stories: Instagram for Business, by Janice Suter, director of social media, and Caitlin McDaniel, senior social media manager, began with a display of how great ideas can come from a platform. With Instagram’s 64 million followers, brands everywhere are starting to notice the influence of the visually pleasing and culturally dominant platform. With Instagram, influencers offer something unique in shaping the story behind a brand —the ability to tell a brand’s story from a personal and genuine perspective. Brands can use these influencers along with unique content their own photo streams to engage audiences and take them places they’ve never been.

Having just opening its ninth location, Silvercar’s Russ Lemmer, co-founder and VP marketing, and Allen Darnell, CTO, presented Silvercar: Better Experience, Better Brand. Car rental is an industry notorious for lack of customer satisfaction and consistency. Silvercar recognized the need for a consistent, mobile-first and modern solution to car rental. To create a meaningful solution, Silvercar focused on taking advantage of all of the amazing tools and current technology available to maximize user experience. Russ Lemmer reminded the audience that one of the most powerful tools for the future of marketing is something we all have: the smartphone. Recognizing the value of smartphone technology, Silvercar is a 100% mobile service. By doing this, Silvercar cuts out most of what makes car rental a painful process in pursuit of their ultimate goal: a seamless product experience and maximum customer satisfaction. The less friction their customers have to endure, the more valuable they consider the Silvercar product.


Rye Clifton, the agency’s director of experience design, discussed Connect the Dots, La La La La: Dissecting the Components of a Startup & Reassembling Them for Your Clients. In this session, Rye pinpointed a few agency clients and other brands that are really paving the way for other companies and across different industries. Rye also chatted about the pros of thinking like a startup and noted it’s best to start small then add on to a brand experience, the big takeaway being the solution to a business problem is sometimes not an ad at all.

At the last session, Amanda Parker, senior media planner, gave an overview on some of the conversations at the recent Ad Age Digital Conference that sparked the original ITMAD idea. In Integrity & Insight: Conversations Sparked at Ad Age Digital, the main points established were everyone’s role in consumer experience management, why it’s crucial to have the right people in the room and how agencies provide platforms for data, tech and progress. When it comes to the consumer experience, a team must remember that everything leads back to consumers. They are what keeps a brand going; however, it is hard to control every aspect that affects the consumer experience, so teams must work together to keep the consumer in mind at every step.

Platforms are the new service that agencies bring to their clients, and the data they house and the innovation they allow are what move business and make good partners. Amanda Parker emphasized the importance of utilizing technology that has already been established, similar to Silvercar’s idea, in order to create a foundation for problem solving through calculated risks. We learned that innovation should be thought of as “70-20-10”: 70% are the things you know for sure work for your business, 20% are tested strategies that are still evolving and the final 10% is the room you have left to take a leap of faith in true innovation. In closing, Amanda said, “There was a lot to be gleaned from the best and the brightest in our industry, but at the end of the day it was really affirmed that we’re in the same progressive track here at GSD&M.”

Our first ITMAD (Ideas that Make a Difference) event started yesterday leaving the audience eager to hear today’s four sessions. Across the two-day mini conference, the conversation focuses on a range of topics including innovation, entrepreneurial thinking, experience design, disruption and creativity with GSD&M presenters as well as guest speakers Heather Hvidsten from Southwest Airlines and Russ Lemmer from Silvercar.

With a packed room so early in the morning, GSD&M’s Director of Experience Design Derek Dollahite kicked off ITMAD with Experience Design: No Best Practices When Designing for Happiness. Design invades our lives now more than ever, and Derek noted the power technology has in determining the future of design. “Experimental Design uses technology to emphasize user experience and create culturally relevant solutions” – his advice for incorporating experience design into your work? Takeaway: “ENKS” – Embrace Not Knowing Shit.DerekJonathan Hart, VP/Decision Sciences at the agency also wowed the attendees with his exploration of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Digital’s Place in the Origin and Development of the Universe, But Didn’t Know to Ask. In this, he walked through the evolution of digital in concert with the origin and organization of the universe, starting with the Big Bang and ending with positing that perhaps we are all just participants in a giant simulation of life as we know it. Understanding how the universe organizes itself gives us insight into the future of computational power as well, and a peek into a future in which we may cross the threshold of evolution with the introduction of conscious machines. In the words of visiting filmmaker Alex Johnson, “I didn’t know this was going to get spiritual!”

Alex R. Johnson brought his film, Two Step as part of a discussion of nurturing ideas, creative collaboration and sources of inspiration for storytelling. Alex also discussed his move from Brooklyn to Austin, and how the creative culture of Austin helped move a project along to fruition. In addition to being filmed entirely in Austin, Two Step features a cast that includes guest appearances by local music artists Dale Watson and Jesse Dayton, The film was scored by a local musician, Andrew Kenny, who Alex had originally met doing commercial production and music videos in New York City. The film was a riveting thriller that kept the audience on edge. Let’s just say after watching you might think twice about using drive-up ATMs.

As the last session, Digital Producer Amanda Traversi and Account Manager Adrienne Strange presented “WTF? We Do This S**t?” Launching the Air Force Performance Lab. In this, they gave an in-depth look at the creative, production processes, technologies and partnerships involved in creating the latest U.S. Air Force experiential tour now crossing the country. As noted, “unlike most brands, you can’t try on or test the Air Force. In turn, our team sets out to create the most engaging and inspiring experience possible.” They proved that if there is a will, there is a way, especially working with a set of partners all focused on the success of the project and a deep understanding of the project goals. After exploring countless new technologies and options, they made the trailer a completely physical experience by providing visual, competitive, and informative games. The team also mentioned they looked beyond the experiential aspect of the project as well, by measuring and recording data, which is involved in reengaging potential recruits and serves as valuable data for the future.


Hey, health isn’t everything. You’re missing the second half of the equation. Health and happiness are not exclusive of each other, they are inclusive. They need each other. They feed off of one another. There isn’t a better example of that than Red Nose Day. A true embodiment of “Happy and Healthy”, Red Nose Day is about having fun, raising money and changing lives in the process (

And as a perfect example of being “At the Corner of Happy and Healthy”, Walgreens saw the opportunity to play an integral role of Red Nose Day – be the “Corner” where Red Nose becomes real, tangible and personal. As the exclusive retailer, Walgreens became home to the noses and the start of the Red Nose Day movement. Through an intense social, digital and omni channel effort, Walgreens brought Red Nose Day to life. We developed a campaign encouraging consumers to come to Walgreens, buy your nose, donate a couple bucks and be a little funny for money. And with 5 million noses sold, thousands of selfies shared and close to $10 million dollars raised at Walgreens alone, Red Nose Day is here! Tonight we celebrate Red Nose Day with a 3 hour live, comedic telethon event on NBC.

So grab your nose, your remote, your family, your favorite knock-knock joke and see how the power of happy and healthy comes to life with a good laugh for a good cause – Red Nose Day!

As we say in our :60 second spot you’ll see tonight… It’s funny how a little red nose can have such a big impact.

Red Nose Day, Live on NBC, Tonight, May 21 from 7-10pm CST.


Leaving the office for a few days and focusing on the future is never a bad thing. Just getting out of the weekly onslaught of meetings gives your brain a chance to process thoughts and make room for new ones. Pair that with a few good case studies and conversations around innovation and end-to-end experience and you have yourself a nice little party for the brain. If anything, I’ve got more clarity on what is possible and a few ideas on how we can actually make those things happen.

One of the biggest themes from this year’s Ad Age Digital Conference was the importance of experience…not just from a digital perspective, but as an end-to-end awareness of how and when people interact with a brand. We saw examples of brands that have embraced simple insights and changed the course of how they market. A couple of my favorites include Visa and HBO.

Visa realized that most people are multitasking when they use their phones, so they decided to focus on a one-handed experience. Everything they do in mobile, from app development to advertising, is now put through a one-handed filter. The thought is reinforced in television and PR…but it is all derived from an insight around how people interact with the brand.



HBO spent a lot of time working on their second screen experience…then completely shuttered the program when they realized that people didn’t want to look away from Game of Thrones because they might miss someone die or another plot twist (a true phenomenon I’ve experienced myself). Where most television is passive, people watching HBO tend to be glued to the primary screen. If they are truly going to be the Home Box Office, they need to focus on replicating the box office experience as well as possible, and you aren’t allowed to surf the web while watching movies at the cinema.

The thing that has me excited is how big and diverse GSD&M’s brand experiences are. Buying a tractor is completely different than ordering a burrito…and that is a lot different than booking a flight. The time and context in which someone is interacting with a brand completely changes the way that brand should interact with a consumer. As I’m sitting on a Southwest flight flying home, I’m picking apart every aspect of my interaction: learning I’m going to travel, booking a trip, heading to the airport, checking in, going through TSA, waiting for my flight, boarding, sitting in my seat for four hours, deplaning, getting my luggage, heading home and telling people about my trip are all very different interactions with different sets of expectations. Being able to stream music or watch satellite television on my laptop or tablet makes me feel better about Southwest, and it has nothing to do with advertising. It is the exact right offering at the exact right time. Same with the abundance of plugs and charging stations at the terminal—it’s a simple, thoughtful gesture that makes the entire flying experience a little more pleasurable.

Every interaction is a brand experience, and every interaction is an opportunity—not to put a new ad or logo in front of my eyeballs at every waking moment, but to help define how people are engaging with our brands. Everything we can do to make those experiences a little more pleasurable or rewarding is going to make people appreciate that brand a little more, and that is an exciting thing to focus on.

One of the things I find the most interesting about Movember, and this is the fifth year running that we’ve had a team of fundraisers here at GSD&M, is that men are surprisingly vain creatures. Recruiting men to grow mustaches for a month always means having to not so gently remind dudes that clients actually think highly of people who do cancer fundraising; they are, in fact, real people, too. Also, Thanksgiving family photos just have a different story behind them: “Yes, Dad looked like creeper porn star back in ’14, but hey it was for a good cause.” And that no one really gives a rat’s ass whether you can actually grow facial hair or not—it’s about the journey, not the destination. Side note: From someone who has nose hair that grows at the rate of bamboo, that’s a blessing, not a curse.

Now pair up all that vanity (and fear of facial failure) with a healthy dose of testosterone-infused competitiveness of the kind that only ad guys can muster, and you have all the makings for the kinds of stories that make Movember such a unique (and often hilarious) means of raising awareness and money.  Yeah, it comes down to money, as this is all about the funds fight to prevent and treat men’s cancers. You know, the ones that tend to f**k up our junk and then kill us.

Dollars aside (not really—give them to us!), and regardless of all of our insecurities, our busy, over-scheduled lives and blatant vanity, I have always found that everyone here, male, female, young and old-ish, brash and quiet, rallies around the idea that doing something for good for thirty days straight is a powerful and important thing, even with the odd looks (is that a dead caterpillar?) and bleeding razor cuts (I bought a straight razor year 3—bad idea)  and jokes about one’s downy lip fuzz (please stop referring to it as “hairless cat–stache”).


Recently the GSD&M Women’s Group hosted an inspiring presentation by Christy Pipkin, co-founder of the Nobelity project (her husband, Turk, is the other co-founder). Christy shared stories about the Nobelity Project’s work partnering with communities and telling stories, from building schools in rural Kenya to planting trees in Texas.The Nobelity Project’s work is extremely inspiring, but what really resonated with me was something Christy said about a simple word:When Christy talked about her approach to solving problems, she told us she’s a seeker of the “why.” (more…)

After 35 years of waiting.

After a fight that took the perseverance of Southwest leadership, the Spirit of hundreds of its Employees, and a literal act of Congress.

After one full year since we at GSD&M first unveiled the “Nonstop Love” campaign in Dallas, we’ve finally reached the end of our countdown.

Today, the Wright Amendment is finally history. (more…)