I don’t know about you, but I’ve been listening to Christmas music nonstop on my morning commute, in the office, and well everywhere in between. One song in particular has struck my fancy; aren’t you curious as to what it is? Alright, no need to whine, Santa is watching after all – It’s Andy William’s “Happy Holiday” of course, an anthem to all things merry! My version differs, for it goes a little something like this:
We have a big, fun FLIRTcasting up on the blog
With lots of activities for you and for me
So leave a comment or like for good ole’ FLIRT
Written on social media
Pretty catchy, right? Keep on reading to see how many winter activities you’ve accomplished this holiday season!
Grab your scarf, mittens, puffer jacket, and hand-warmers for caroling at the Cloud Gate – This Friday (12/16) from 6-7PM! You don’t have to be gracious singer; you just simply have to enjoy spreading some holiday cheer alongside Chicago’s local choral groups. Perhaps even Mr. Santa Claus will make a guest appearance, delighting the inner child in all of us. Afterwards, feel free to take a twirl on the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park equipped with frosty views of the bean and Chicago’s staggering 69-foot Norway Spruce Christmas Tree.
Deck the zoo with more than 1 million twinkling LED lights in Brookfield’s 35th annual Holiday Magic. See the enchantment zoo-wide all month long and enjoy multiple activities including a 41-foot talking tree, model train display, Christmas carolers, ice carvers, and photos with Santa and the Mrs. If all of that holiday cheer has yet to woo you, you also get to sing to the reindeer, big cats, and bears, oh my! “See the lights, Feel the Magic, Continue the Tradition” at Brookfield Zoo.
Finish Christmas Shopping
Bake Christmas Cookies
Enjoy Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest!
Add Chicago’s biggest indoor winter playground to your weekend to-do list! Why not bring the whole family and enjoy 170,000 square feet of rides, giant slides, 15-foot snow tubing hills, and the Chicago Blackhawk’s ice skating rink. It’s a great way to stay warm and toasty hidden away from the Chicago cold; yet, still enjoy Father Winter’s glorious activities!
Let’s be real, who hasn’t had visions of sugar plums dance in their heads? Whether you have or haven’t, go buy your tickets to Joffrey’s new Nutcracker, performing all month long at the Auditorium Theatre. This reimagined ballet with choreography by Christopher Wheeldon celebrates Chicago’s mysterious 1893 World’s Fair through the playful eyes of a child, an electrifying spin on the classic fairy tale about a little girl who goes to the Land of Sweets.
Mm…do you smell the inviting aromas of sausages, Strudel, and Glühwein, a traditional German holiday market hot spiced wine? Why, that’s enough to please the pallet and warm the soul, especially in the North Chicago Pole. Check out Chicago’s largest open-air market inspired by a Nuremberg, Germany market that was founded way back in 1545. This special holiday exposition brings cherished German and European traditions whilst welcoming an international flair and new cultures each and every year. After indulging in the large assortment of savory food, drinks, and treats, complete your shopping experience by meeting and greeting the other vendors. Perhaps you might even come home with a few cuckoo clocks, beer steins, and hand-painted ornaments!
New Year’s Eve Festivities
2017 is just two weeks away! With that being said, have you made plans to ring in the New Year? Chi-Town Rising embarks on its second annual celebration along the Chicago Riverfront between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive. This year’s party will feature activities on the Chicago Cultural Mile, live entertainment, and of course a dazzling fireworks display alongside the beautiful Chicago River courtesy of Navy Pier! The countdown will commence with the Rising Star ascending 36 stories up above the Hyatt Regency Chicago’s West Tower, but don’t worry if you can’t make it to the party, NBC 5 will be broadcasting the event live.
Why not finish this off with a song and dance? Check back next year for another edition of FLIRTcasting!
May the calendar keep bringing
Happy Holidays to you and luck in Q1 2017!
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!
We are stepping into December, which means we are not far from 2017! Have you had a chance to think of your new year resolutions? Well, learning something new is always a beneficial goal to set for a new year and for event professionals (or aspiring event professionals), web and design are always good topics to learn about. These areas are essential parts of events. I mean, can you imagine an event without a website or branding? You may not have direct interest in becoming a developer or designer, but having more knowledge on these subjects will make working with designers much more smooth. Plus, it’s always fun to learn!
Here are some online resources that provide fun and efficient ways to learn about web or graphic design:
Khan Academy is a non-profit organization created by Salman Khan. It has a wide variety of subjects to learn such as math, science, economics, history, music and of course, web design! For learning about web design, Intro to HTML/CSS is the go to course. It has more than just videos, it also offers activities, and even games! The best part, it rewards you with badges upon completion.
In comparison to Khan Academy, Code Academy differs in that it is specifically for learning how to code. It offers coding classes in 12 different programming languages including HTML, CSS, Java, Python and more. For learning HTML & CSS, it provides step-by-step instructions and an online editor, so you can learn and practice at the same time.
Lynda.com offers video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business. Compared to the two sites above, Lynda.com is more project-based, meaning you can watch videos on certain topics that you are interested in, while the above two sites offer more of a step-by-step process.
If you can’t find what you are looking for from the sites above, of course there are many other websites that provide lessons. For instance, YouTube can be a go to when looking for a quick/free video tutorial. The growing use of technology and the internet has made learning easier and much more accessible. So really, there are no excuses big enough to stand in the way of your new year’s learning goal!
The FLIRT staff is full of influential and creative minds, but sometimes we wonder…how did it all come to be? We decided to do a little field research of our own and interview the FLIRTies to discover motivation, career juncture, and ultimately, why FLIRT? Without further ado, we humbly introduce FLIRT Stories Part I:
Shh…Do you hear that faint shuffling through the cookie tin? Odds are it’s Kacie looking for her midday pick-me-up, a chocolate chip cookie of course! Kacie is a Project and Marketing Manager responsible for growing FLIRT’s social media and web presence and organizing client experiences. When she’s not at work, you can find this fitness-ista running to the gym, spending time exploring the great outdoors, or eating cookies (duh).
“My sister works in the industry and her company often partners with FLIRT. So, she introduced me and I was fortunate enough to begin as a Digital Marketing Intern in 2015 and I have now been full time as a project manager since June of 2015.”
“I would say be totally open minded. Know that every day is going to be different in this constantly changing environment. One day you could be sourcing 5,000 custom 3” buttons and one day you’re creating mobile sites.”
She smiles, “I’m a big fan of FLIRT’s Halloween trick-or-treating.” (On Halloween the FLIRTies parade around the office dressed in our best costumes “knocking” on the doors of each cubicle soliciting for candy.) It’s fun to see everyone dressed up, it really shows our personalities. But also…candy.”
Kacie expresses with beaming excitement, “I’m going to move to Mars tomorrow?!” She continues, “Hm, is it coffee or is it ice cream? (thinking for a moment) Coffee Ice Cream! I’ll bring them both together.” – Good Job Kacie, the interns approve!
Andy knows it all—Branding, Communications, Training Events, Media—You name it, he’s done it! As Business Development Manager, Andy uses his wealth of strategies and techniques to draw in new clients. However, don’t let his business front fool you, he’s a sweetheart! He’s a caretaker to everyone, whether you need help handling clients or just want to know how to make a mean FLIRTini.
“Well I guess I have always been one at heart, it was just a matter of coming to FLIRT to bring it out in me. I worked with Kari, Pete and Michael for many years before FLIRT, and then I joined later because I wanted to work with people I respect: old friends and colleagues who understand each other and can work together in a familiar manner. In short, we ‘get’ each other, we can speak in shorthand, and we get along really well.”
“Having a diverse background with many different types of experience is very helpful, and you gotta like people. Be prepared for anything. Be prepared to be busier than you can ever imagine being in one moment, and then be prepared to be bored and wondering if you will ever be busy again.”
“It was my first day at FLIRT. My first assignment was to make a signature FLIRT cocktail.” Andy continues while smirking, “The FLIRTini is a special craft cocktail found only at the blue bar (aka FLIRT Communications.)”
“You can see the stage better at a crowded concert.”
Sweet Franny Girl holds FLIRT together – In other words, she’s our Italian Office Mama. Fran handles everything from financial management to enhancing our agency’s workflow and productivity. She’s all about meeting deadlines, “closing out the month,” and strongly believes in the power of a homemade dinner and strong cocktail. When she’s not at the office, you can almost always find her treating her puppy, Sauce, to hearty meatballs and lots of lovin’.
Fran lost her job as office manager for another agency at the peak of the 2008 stock market crash. She remembers, “I received a call from a recruiter who I used to hire administrative assistants through [informing me] that she was about to sublease her Michigan Avenue office space to a new startup company and they needed an office manager with an accounting background.” Fran interviewed and quickly rose to the top, chosen because of her administrative skills, account expertise, bachelor’s degree in business processes, self-developed invoicing process, and “good phone voice.” She was the first person FLIRT hired outside of their previous agency’s comfort zone.
“We all [throw] the balls up in the air, we’re juggling all of the time – Constantly follow up on yourself.” Secondly: detail, detail, detail. You have to satisfy the client – You take the hit, even if you didn’t forget [a task or client need,] take the hit. Third: I know we’re pressured and clients want everything now, but if you give it to them fast and wrong, it’s a waste of time and not functional. Check everything when you’re sending something. Double, triple-check, and if it’s real important, have another person check it too.”
It was August 2008, a few months after Fran became a FLIRTie. Paul was eating lunch on a job across the country when he called Fran and asked her to read him an email. “I read it once [missing a few words,] and then Paul asked me to read it again. So I read it a second time correctly. While chewing Paul says, “You dyslexic *freak!*” He was reading it along with her on his computer the entire time, “without missing a beat I told him I was left handed so I naturally was dyslexic.” They laughed about it forever. “He was testing my loyalty or something,” Fran explains with tears in her eyes and a beautiful smile on her face.
“Probably an old-school disco queen.”
This jubilant newly-wed is the queen of Fro-Yo Fridays, a premiere stylist 11/10 times, and has got a laugh you can hear from over a mile away. Let’s give a warm welcome to Brianna, our Digital Engagement Specialist! Bri designs and manages digital campaigns, with a passion for figuring out how to use the latest technology to foster personal connections for our clients. When Bri isn’t busy working on projects or app developments, she’s bringing characters to life on stages all over Chicago, singing Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” with scary accuracy, all with a glass of red wine in hand! We hope you enjoy getting to know Brianna!
“I started two weeks after I graduated college, and have been here ever since. I knew I wanted to work at a small company because it would allow me to try out a lot of different roles and responsibilities to figure out where my skills and interests best aligned.”
“My biggest piece of advice is to say “yes” to everything when you’re first starting out. Every project, every task, every coffee run. You’d be surprised at how the things you learn during the seemingly small tasks can be so applicable down the road. I’d also say you should find someone you admire in the workplace and use them as an example or mentor as you develop your professional skills. Pay attention to the way they carry themselves, how they talk to clients, present ideas, etc, and study them. I learned so much from Paul and often would write down notes on how he presented ideas and concepts to shape how I would carry future conversations. I think studying successful people is just as valuable as studying specific skills.”
“I’ve had so many … I mean it’s been 7 years! I couldn’t possibly pick just one so here’s the first one that comes to mind: We do an annual baseball outing and one year at the Sox game the Sox spirit team picked me to go on the JumboTron for a competition where you had to bounce a whiffle ball on a plastic bat. It was so much harder than it looks! But as a lifelong Sox fan it was a total dream come true. The FLIRT team cheering me on the was absolute cherry on top.”
“Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc.”
We hope you enjoyed hearing straight from some of our brilliant FLIRTies—check back next time for the exciting second edition!
My good friend Mr. Frank Sinatra once sang, “Frosted window panes, candles gleaming inside. Painted candy canes on the tree. Santa’s on his way. He’s filled his sleigh with things, things for you and for me…” but even Santa has a budget, am I right? To get the most out of your holiday shopping this year, you should consider taking a look at our compilation of apps and websites equipped with the best deals and holiday steals. So, you savvy shopper you, I invite you to read on and take some notes…without further ado, please enjoy FLIRT’s Holiday Shopping Edition!
Don’t you just love discounted gift cards? It’s like finding that Christmas cash you stashed away 2 years ago in an envelope under your iHome Dock (*cough, cough* I found $200, winning). Raise is a mobile app and accompanying website that allows you to buy and sell retail gift cards. It’s free to list, and you set your own prices controlling how fast or slow your cards sell. So why not try it out and buy your male teen cousins gift cards to Subway and/or Chili’s, considering you most likely have no idea what to get them.
The Black Friday catalogue days are quickly coming to an end, so how else can you keep up with retailer’s savings? Well of course, my dear shopper, you use DealNews! DealNews is a website that emails you the best deals available from all across the Internet. The experts only list products that are at the lowest price and offered from reputable companies. It’s the thrill of the shopping chase, but you actually get good deals – shop smarter, not harder.
Coupons in the 21st Century
Who remembers sitting at the kitchen table cutting out coupons from the Sunday paper insert? Or in my case, watching Nani snip away at the vitamins, popcorn, and frozen TV dinners, buy one, get one free deals. Save time and hand cramps with SnipSnap, the app that saves any printed coupon to your mobile phone. Simply snap a photo of a printed coupon and be amazed as SnipSnap recognizes the text and images while converting it to a digital, mobile-ready offer. In addition to uploading your own deals, you can browse the database to discover featured offers from select retailers. Discover it, snip it, redeem it!
The holidays give an extra reason to be romantic (hint, hint: Peter, I want a puppy). So why not Spoil that special someone with beautiful gifts and same-day delivery from anywhere in the United States with just one click? Spoil is the simplest way to give; the app is available at the App store and with just a few taps, you can send anything from macarons and champagne to mystery boxes. Try it out and (*wink*) you’re welcome!
Shopular is an app that finds daily and weekly deals based on your favorite stores. This app is special in that it uses location-based notifications to send relevant deals to your smart phone the second you walk into the store. Users choose which deals they want to see and can simply redeem their coupons right from a mobile device. Shopular also offers consumers a community to interact and share saving tips and tricks with to enrich the entire experience. I, for one, would like to see a Black Friday deal on Burberry coats…Nordstrom, I’m talking to you.
There you have it, savvy shopper – you made it to the end. I hope you gained a lot of relevant information that will help you maneuver the holidays. Check back next time for another edition of FLIRTcasting! Take it away Frank.