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!