Every day, we’re surrounded by brilliant design: from industrial, to graphic, to architectural, to the personal. We all make decisions based on design impressions every day, from simple subway signage that makes order out of the chaos of the rush hour to the elegance of the Apple watch interface. Apple has elevated design for decades, and in 2015 anointed Jony Ive, the brilliant industrial designer and user interface guru, the title of Chief Design Officer. (As of December 7, 2017 Ive resumed direct management of the company’s product design team).
So we wonder out loud, Why don’t we have more chief design officers?
As creative director at FLIRT, it’s often easy to appreciate design aesthetics. It’s my job. But for our clients, that job is often not on the front burner. We’re not talking about the simplistic execution of brand standards, we’re talking about the visualization of complex ideas and human emotions . . . design with a purpose.
Our collective job at FLIRT is to educate and empower our clients to understand the value of good solid design and know it when they see it. Our charge is to share the design tenets with our clients in order to enable them to make smart design decisions among peers and coworkers, and also with us as strategic partners.
Hillman Curits put it best: “The more involved and respected a client feels, the more secure they’ll feel with your work and the less they will feel the need to watch your every move, thus giving you more freedom as a designer.”
In many cases an average design can transform into a great design with just a little more discovery, one more question or just one more revision. It is often said that if you are digging a hole in the wrong place, digging it deeper isn’t going to help. At FLIRT we roam, we keep moving and keep discovering, and we dig many holes until we strike gold.
Every client, product and person has something to say. Design is a powerful way to express it to others. Smart, consistent and effective design ensures that these messages are put forth with intention and purpose. Design extends into each and every detail, and each and every detail can indeed be designed.
Image Via Huis Design
In the past, we let you in on the keys to success in the life of an event coordinator. But now, the interns put a spotlight on what it takes to be on-site as a Production Assistant. At first, the role as a PA on-site seems broad and daunting. You have assisted the producers and coordinators in the office for the weeks and months prior; ordering props, making phone calls and organizing spreadsheets. But now it is time to see everyone’s hard work come to life on-site.
Before going on-site the office gave me the following advice:
1.“Bring layers, the convention centers are always cold”: Doesn’t matter if you are going to San Antonio where the weather is 120 degrees, or Toronto where it is barely above freezing, pack your biggest cardigan and softest scarf ALWAYS. Just keep in mind that the PA is there to run errands and track down office supplies and props, so always dress in layers for your constant trips in and out of air conditioned hotels and convention centers to the outdoors.
2.”Wear comfy shoes, do not wear your new flats”: This is not a drill!! On-site you will be working 12 hours days, and logging at least 20,000 steps on your fitbit. Pack your black nikes and wear them with pride.
Now that I have been on a couple events myself, here are some of the things I have learned:
1.Take advice from literally everyone. Every member of the crew has been in your shoes before and been new to the world of production. Learn the important lingo from them, along with their organization and backstage tips.
2. Always have a smile on your face and be willing to talk to everyone from the janitor to the manager, because you never know what they can do to make your time on-site easier
3. Be creative. Get ready to think outside the box in order to problem solve. Shipments arrive late, supplies runs out after store hours, clients make last minute changes, and you need to be ready to think on your feet and be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
4. Offer everyone on-site something to drink or eat before you do, because you’re there to make everyone’s job easier. And the crew will have an easier time doing their job if they’re fed.
5. If you’re not busy running around, take a chance to listen to the cues on headset so that you can learn about other aspects of the event, like graphics or audio.
6. Everyone hugs. EVERYONE.
7. Get used to waking up early and getting ready FAST, 5 am crew calls are not a joke
8. Bring a flashlight, or make sure to pack one in the PA kit. While producers and coordinators are discussing cues over headset, you will most likely be leading alent or executives in the dark backstage, so keep a flashlight handy so that 1. No one gets hurt, and 2. No one trips over one of the important wires that keep the event running.
9. Always take the wrapper off the water bottles, and always have water bottles stocked backstage
10. Last but not least…. Being on headset and being on-site is contagious. Once you work on one event, you’ll most likely want to work on more!
As we know, advertising and marketing are continuously evolving. We live in an era in which AI and market research allow companies to learn about customers in a way we never imagined. And every day, brands are changing the way they interact with their customers. To discuss this momentous amount of knowledge and innovation, the […]
The end of 2016 is quickly approaching, but don’t go anywhere just yet because we still have five notable FLIRTies to introduce to you. We continued the interview process to discover motivation, career juncture, and ultimately, why FLIRT? Last, but certainly not least, we bring you FLIRT Stories Part 3:
Where in the world is Norma? New York, Starbucks, Orlando, a Cubs game, Cape Cod or is she out saving a squirrel as it desperately hangs onto a pink noodle in a pool? Known as wonder woman, not only for her ability to save animals in need, but also for her remarkable knack for seamlessly juggling roughly 700 projects while delivering superior customer service. Norma is responsible for producing events for multiple Fortune 500 clients all around the world, many of whom quickly become her personal friends. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Norma also doubles as an adjunct college professor and charitable animal rescuer. Her desire to assist those who are less fortunate is among Norma’s most endearing qualities. Well, that and her quirky puns and intelligent wit (*wink*). This experienced leader has a no-fear approach and air of humble confidence, both of which consistently earn her notable recognition from her clients, students, and fellow FLIRTies.
“I was introduced to FLIRT by Paul Petan. We talked about technology, the industry, and I fell in love with his vision. Then of course when I met the team, I fell in love with them too.”
“Don’t do it,” she laughs. Norma continues, “I would actually say, don’t take things so seriously or personally. Events are meant to be fun, educational, and an experience for the attendees, so enjoy the creative. Learn all you can, have fun, and be graceful when things do not go your way.” She smirks, “It’s not brain surgery.”
“The best memory, ooh that’s a tough one, there are SO many. I traveled with Pete and Paul to Atlanta to visit one of my clients. I was very new to the team and I was very new to traveling with Pete and Paul.” Norma continues, “The entire trip we laughed and had a great time. I would share more but, what happens in Atlanta, stays in Atlanta.”
She questions, “My favorite toy? I don’t think I really had a favorite toy.” (An intern reminds Norma that she gave the FLIRT staff tiny toys for the office Halloween party.) Norma continues, “It’s one of those things where I think kid toys should always be given as gifts, even as adults to stay youthful. As a kid I played with Barbies, Atari, Nintendo, kick ball…we used our imaginations and always had fun. It is always a reminder when I give fun gifts away that as we get older, we are still young at heart and we should never forget to have fun.”
In two words: Kari rocks! As manager and leader of production, she crafts creative teams and initiatives that meet clients’ needs each and every time. Kari is that really cool friend you’ve always admired, but are scared to be. She is a beautiful writer with a gracious soul and insane taste in music both new and old. We’re almost positive if Kari were given the chance to go on tour with Cheap Trick, she’d pick up and leave the office today. She is our fashionista, styling anything from a cool pair of Chuck Taylor’s to a thrift-store carrot-orange trench coat. She’s a foodie, groupie, and expressive leader—It’s just who she is and we adore her for it!
“I had been working with Paul and Pete Burns for 15 years. We decided to form FLIRT because we had a vision to start a company that had more strategic relationships with clients. We wanted to revamp the way we priced our services and also wanted to use some digital and experiential consumer marketing tactics with our corporate clients.”
“Find another career,” she jokes. “You have to really love working—It can be very demanding, but also very rewarding. Probably the biggest piece of advice is to be a good listener and a good writer [because] every aspect of the job involves writing.”
“Oh my gosh. It’s hard to say,” she laughs. “We’ve had some great parties with friends, vendors, and clients. Certainly the Halloween Gathering where so many of the FLIRTies participate, and we’ve been to Sox games.” Kari paused and added, “The Creative Inspiration Lunches are really inspiring too and invite everyone to share creative inspiration and get to know each other.”
“I would say my superpower is to find humor in everything, even if it’s not funny.”
If you hear a splash in the background of Monday morning’s conference call, it’s probably Michael fishing from his kayak (AKA “Lobster Dock”) in Maine. Michael is the creative engine at FLIRT, responsible for conceiving campaigns and experiences that excite and inspire audiences. Besides for being an expert designer whose digital graphics breathe life into ideas, this art junkie excels at large scale paintings that showcase the peculiarities in the wilderness, landscapes, and people of Maine. In our most poetic terms, Michael is an artist of the written words and painted canvas – a heroic combatant who is always up for challenging and leveraging traditional and nontraditional corporate communication.
“My little brother, Paul Petan, asked me to join Kari, Pete and himself to launch FLIRT years ago. I had moved to Maine many years before for a novel full of reasons. Working ‘remotely’ back in Chicago and seeing my family is important, so I quit my job and jumped ship to give it a go. I had worked with Paul on and off for 25 years and as his older brother his job path followed mine, so I sort of opened doors, introduced, blocked and he ran with it. At the time of starting FLIRT, I was coming off 10 years in a very intense ‘consumer experiential agency’ as a Chief Creative Officer with clients like Nike, Sony and jetBlue who sort of demand better than good work. My goal was and is to bring that creativity, inspiration and intensity of great work to the somewhat safe and predictable world of ‘corporate communications.’ I fight this battle everyday, but it’s a fun fight.”
“Events and the expectation of ‘corporate events’ is shifting as technology, lifestyle, culture and the workforce shifts. An event can happen on Snapchat in your underwear or in a crowded big ass Hotel ballroom with lights, stage, sound, projectors and a bunch of people forced to sit in often uncomfortable chairs, but the common core is to make the event an experience that’s human, fun, personal, relaxed and comfortable. Removing roadblocks and all the stress and keeping the experience flowing with the ‘guest’ (attendee) at the center of it all. When do they feel rushed? When do they feel overwhelmed and when do they get it and when they do not get it! Plus, we need to ensure the Rally Cry is embraced and the key messages are in the language, image and tone of voice that the audience will rally around and support. If you’re aspiring you might have a degree in anthropology and psychology. That is what I tell people (who listen,) it is about orchestrating an inspiring human experience, but understanding what that means. Sadly, we often get blinded by ‘over listening’ to our clients, those few at the top with the corner office. Listening too hard to the obvious or as I call it the ‘laundry list’ often leads to an average experience—they tell you what to do, you write it down, you produce it, so do you want to be a waiter or the chef? We sometimes forget the guest in order to ensure the guy paying us, the ‘big-shot,’ is happy—That is the business, but you must also pay attention to the humble attendee, the WORKER BEE. The real skill is being able to ensure the C level clients’ ‘list,’ fits our guest mindset, the timing is right, and that the guest is open minded and willing to listen to the ‘message’—That is not easy. It is often about creating the right environment, the right attitude and the right tone of voice.”
“I loved the Happy Birthday Video sent from FLIRT this year, loved it, it meant a lot to me. I work remotely so it is not easy to build memories over the phone or Skype. I spent the first 13 years of my early career (punk kid) as a Creative Director for corporate communications doing what FLIRT does now and always on the road on show site, but now I do not go on the road at all, Thank God. BUT, it’s the road trips and being with the team on show site where the lasting fun memories really happen, when things go wrong and when things go right.”
“Ernest Hemingway & William Faulkner.”
“Both men are giants in the literary world. Hemingway is a man I have patterned my ‘life around’—I need to be outdoors, hiking, on the water, in the woods, lying in the grass, fishing, writing and painting, or I turn into Charles Manson with a migraine headache. I’m a painter, but I also love writing and a few great writers—The art of the word on the page, the story, still blows my mind when done at this level. Both men drank, where ruff, where extraordinary individuals misunderstood. You meet them when you read their work, you can hear them think, drink and laugh inside the borders of a simple sentence.”
“Second runner up for meeting in history if it’s PARTY would be Picasso and Andy Warhol! I would love to be in Picasso’s studio on a good day in Spain, and he would not need to talk. Andy is my hero. Both men knew how to use ‘media’ and craft an ‘image.’ Picasso did it first, but Andy created a brand out of tin cans and cardboard boxes. Love it …”
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope, it’s Fake Clark! Much like the real Clark (the loveable Cubs Mascot) Fake Clark is a superhero that can dance like no other and has the ability to incite joy and happiness in all Chicago 2016 World Series fans, even appearing on TV! Fake Clark also has a secret identity—Jamie Proctor. As our videographer extraordinaire, Photoshop wizard, and FLIRT Ambassador of Fun, every project that crosses Jamie’s desk it met with precision, speed and a bit of humor mixed in. When Jamie isn’t turning meeting and event videos into highly effective communication tools or whipping up corporate awards at the blink of an eye, she’s beating everyone at a game of Euchre or pranking her fellow FLIRTies.
“Craigslist.” (Blunt and honest, we like it, Jamie!) “Well it’s funny, I found it on Craigslist one afternoon, I applied, and then the next day the ad was gone. Later, I found it again linked from a temp agency.” She chuckles, “I guess FLIRT was told the temp agency had worked with me before, but really I just met them.” What drew her in was the way the ad was written, “It was so witty, funny, and creative—just in that I knew it was a company I would fit in with.”
“I would say learning is the best thing—Learn as much as you can by experience and from your surroundings. When you guys (interns) come, listen, get in on meetings, understand what people want from you and figure out how to work with each other. Listen, learn, and uhh…love. Listen to your coworkers, learn from them, and love everything you do. You’ll never work a day in your life if you love it.”
“I think my favorite memories involve creating fun videos with the FLIRTies. We’ve done a Cheap Trick performance, a Halloween film, our Happy video – I love sending the videos out to everyone and making them laugh, especially the other FLIRTies who are out on the road at shows.”
“Noah would ditch Allie from The Notebook (2004) to pick me up in Chicago. We’d fly back to Seabrook Island, South Carolina on his private jet and be seen enjoying a bottle of wine and assortment of cheeses in his canoe on the lake as the screen fades to black.”
Lynda is our newest FLIRTie – full of energy, confidence, and spunk! This competitive Latina is always down for game of cards and is eager to knock out weaker, less-skilled opponents (AKA Paige) to take her card-gaming skills to the next level. Don’t be intimidated though! Lynda is an absolute sweetheart, always willing to lend a listening ear or run a quick errand to CVS in Chiberian snow or unseasonably 60-degree sunshine. When she’s not answering the phones or befriending building, catering, and FedEx staff, Lynda is an elated newlywed at home with her two (soon to be three!) beautiful children. We’re so happy Lynda joined our staff and hope you enjoy learning about her as much as we have!
Lynda smirks, “I was voted Senior Class Flirt in high school so this union was truly meant to be!” She continues, “To be honest, I came across the opportunity by chance. To prepare for my interview, I read through FLIRT’s website and Paul’s Think Positive mantra had me at hello, and then when I got to reading individual FLIRTies’ bios, I felt an instant connection to the team. I fell in love with every character/person online before I actually met them, which is odd for me to say since I’m the only FLIRTie that doesn’t engage online with any kind of social media.
“I adore these folks and I think they like me too,” she smiles. “There are a lot of different personalities here; a lot of people from different backgrounds. I’m excited to see what I can learn from these guys for years to come.”
“Gosh, after being in this industry for nearly 15 years, there’s so much I’d love to say—Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, share your ideas no matter how big or small and always pay attention to details. Details are important and really matter in this industry whether you’re servicing clients or dealing with each other internally in the office. Details are always key.”
“Oh my gosh,” Lynda laughs. “A week before I started the job, I was invited to the Halloween Gathering and I got to see the FLIRTies display a fun side of themselves. Afterwards, I was invited back to the office for a beer, which was awesome.”
Lynda thinks while putting her hands together mischievously. “I’d probably go into the supply room and drink as much wine as I can until pass out.” One intern jokes, “Where’d all the wine go?”
We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from all of our brilliant FLIRTies—Thanks for reading along!
The first edition was such a smashing success, so why not continue the fun? The FLIRT staff is full of many influential and creative minds – Each and every FLIRTie contributes to the final production. Us interns continued our research to discover motivation, career juncture, and ultimately, why FLIRT? Ladies and gentlemen, vendors and freelancers, event profs of all ages, please put your hands together for FLIRT Stories Part 2:
Need lederhosen? Francie is your girl. Need to talk to the embassy? Francie can hook you up. Need to Fedex a felt cowboy hat from Chicago’s Alcalas to Dallas,Texas? You better believe Francie has got you covered. No challenge is too big or too small for this cool nerd who glides around the office with her remote control Star Wars BB8. Francie is our Production Assistant in charge of everything and anything from packing our PA kits to cutting and sizing thousands of nametags for FLIRT’s renowned international travels. Just give this girl a lime La Croix and she can conquer the industry.
“It’s kinda complicated. I started here as a freelancer in March answering phones, doing miscellaneous research, and helping with odds and ends. I went on site for programs earlier in the year and helped with a project in late 2015. Then I officially became a part of the immediate FLIRT family in late October” (of this year … woo! Go Francie!)
“Patience. Make sure you have your ears on at all times, too. I’ve been surrounded by this industry since I was very little. Eventually, as I began my career within this industry I’ve learned that listening is key and being patient is paramount. You learn a lot in the small moments. Ultimately, and this may sound cliché, never giving up is probably the best advice I can give you.”
“I think of brainstorming for the decoration elements of a smaller event (with some of the other FLIRTies). Brainstorming and teamwork—Seeing an idea come from nothing and the ultimate end result was very cool to experience and really fun to be a part of.”
She chuckles, “It’s a toss up. Either the late 1500’s Renaissance England or the near future where all of our technological advancements have reached what we see in superhero movies.”
What would you do?
Late 1500’s: “Just a normal day, find some fun clothes, go around, and people watch.”
Near future: “Get a job with Tony Stark (Iron Man) and play with all of his cool toys.”
If he’s reading this we just want to say, Hiya Pete! Serving as Creative Director, Pete is forever thinking about concepts and campaigns that excite audiences. Sometimes after hunkering down for hours in his office trying to crack the code on an idea he’s been working on, Pete will make a grand exit out of his office yelling, “HEY EVERYBODY!” (while everyone is busy on the phone or with clients) and energetically shares what he’s been working on.
“I had been working with Kari, Michael, and Paul for over 15 years and realized we were four people who shared the same mindset on client service and creativity. So we decided to start our own agency that reflected our unique spirit. We chose the provocative name FLIRT, and never looked back.”
“Know your client and know your client’s audience. When it comes to creative you really have to focus on two things, the strategy and message and how it’s delivered, and then the POV of the audience. What is the audience thinking now, what do you want them to think tomorrow, or a year from now? You discover what emotions the message triggers and then create an experience that is memorable and your message gets through the clutter and makes an impact.
Pete thought for a moment (he’s had so many good ones). Finally he said, “I don’t know if I have a best memory, I really enjoyed when we started and there was 6 of us in a tiny two room office. What I always remember is we’ve continued to partner with many clients since day one. As we’ve grown, we’ve seen them grow not only in the size of their events but also in the success of their organizations. That’s awesome!”
“As a character, I have to go with SpongeBob SquarePants for so many reasons. My favorite animator is Hayao Miyazaki. He’s a great storyteller who brings humor, emotion, and something for all ages in his films.” Totoro is his favorite, but he also like Princess Mononoke.
DiAnna needs to take a plane, train, and automobile to get to the workplace. You’ll know she’s in town when you begin to see our Chicago office decorated in licensed Buckeye merchandise. DiAnna is an Account Manager responsible for helping clients overcome corporate communication challenges and creating solutions to resolve them. DiAnna’s unique and personally relevant perspective comes from her years of experience in the industry and as a client. When DiAnna isn’t working locally or out maintaining the “Ohio Office,” you can find her in a comfy hoodie cheering on her four girls at their extracurricular outings.
“I was a client! I spent 10 years at Cardinal Health in their marketing department and I was in charge of the marketing and communication for their large annual customer trade show and sales meeting – FLIRT was my vendor partner. After I left Cardinal Health, and took a bit of a sabbatical to figure out how to function and get through life with four little girls, Paul, Kari and Pete kept in contact with me and let me join in several brainstorming meetings – I was hooked and knew I had to be a FLIRTie…I’ve been a full-time team member since 2011 – but I’ve been a FLIRTie at heart for much longer than that!”
“Keep your eyes out for great shoes! Stylish, yet comfortable – when on-site – there is an incredible amount of walking and time on your feet. Oh, and remember that Vegas is fun…the first 10 times…but after that, forget about it!”
“Office Christmas Party 2012.”
“Spent 10 days in an RV with my hubby, 4 kids and mother-in-law traveling 1500+ miles to explore the Grand Circle. Crazy, but fun – would do it again in a heartbeat!”
Finding new adventures, reading bedtime stories with her sweet girlies, cozy sweaters, crossing items off the seasonal ‘Baker fam bucket list’ and anything outside. These are just a few things that make this delightful lady smile. Besides being a math, science and excel genius on the side, Ellen is our very own Executive Producer, AKA the Queen of Production. No meeting is too big or too small, dear Ellen here will produce them all! When she’s not on client calls, traveling to video shoots or producing events, Ellen is a fabulous photog, exercising her sharp eye for the perfect shot to capture her most favorite subjects – friends and family. She’s a proud mom and dedicated FLIRTie who is always willing to lend a helping hand. If you take away one thing about Ellen, let it be her immense warmth, beautiful smile and giddy laugh.
“Paul went to the same church as my aunt and uncle; they’ve known each other for years. One day they were talking about their careers, exchanging ‘What do you do?’ questions back and forth. He told them he was an account manager and they said, ‘Oh, you’ve gotta meet our niece.’ The rest is history.”
“I met Paul in December 2002 and before that, I never even knew this industry existed. He created a position for me with the intent of training me to become an Executive Producer – and that he did. I learned from the best…working alongside Kari, Pete and Andy as well. After Paul left to start FLIRT in 2008, I was laid off shortly after…while I was on maternity leave. It was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to freelance for FLIRT among many others, learn more about the industry, spread my wings and grow as an Executive Producer.”
Ellen freelanced from 2008–2015, and working for FLIRT was always a priority. “They were my go-to,” she says.
“I’ll never forget when Kari called (in early 2015) to ask me to join the FLIRT team full-time. I instantly started crying.” Ellen smiles, “It was very humbling and touching. This is where I belong. This is home.”
“Patience and flexibility. Paul was a very good listener. He taught me to keep my mouth shut and to just listen. It’s funny I’m saying this because Paul was the last person to keep his mouth shut, but when it came to listening to clients’ needs, there was no one better than he. I remind myself of this constantly.”
“Just walking through the door to my other family,” she giggles. “I mean, c‘mon, what other company sends group text messages to each other outside of work? And no, I won’t share what those are!” Ellen continues, “I do think of when my girlies would come in with me for visits on our ‘downtown fun days’ —They’d love to go see ‘Mr. Paul’ and sit on his lap. When this new office edition was finally complete the girls would smash their faces on the glass doors in the fishbowl and blow faces.” Ellen smiles, “Oh man.”
“Hmm, ‘Best Day Of My Life’ by the American Authors because it’s happy and you should try to make every day the best day.”
We hope you enjoyed hearing straight from some of our brilliant FLIRTies—check back next time for the exciting third and final edition!