Hidden In Plain Sight

I’ve had a beard since 2005, but threatened to shave it off recently for the Shelton Magical Manly Mustache Contest. I did consider the trauma it’s removal might cause my family; so after getting my wife’s blessing, I quizzed my highly opinionated ten year-old.

“Hey Jake, how do think I’d look if I shaved my beard?”  Before I could annunciate the ‘d’ in beard, he responded, “Stupid.” And after a theatrical pause, “I like your beard.”

“Hmmm. Well, how do you think I’d look with just a mustache?” Without looking up from his Lucky Charms, he smirked, “Dad, you cannot have a mustache. You don’t have enough chest hair.”

 His response was like a kick to the groin.

First, I do have enough chest hair. Had I been born twenty years earlier, there’s no doubt I’d have been Magnum’s sidekick. Second, and more poignantly, that boy has seen my bare chest about a thousand times. How could he miss something so obvious?

As it turns out, we cancelled the mustache contest. Several of our male employees have inferior DNA and cannot grow lip hair. In addition, Larry, who’s unnaturally obsessed with his beard, refused to trim his down to a mustache since he already asked for grooming tools for Christmas. Ultimately, only three guys would’ve been competing – barely enough to make it interesting. 

The contest was going to happen at our annual holiday party, which coincided with the opening of our new office. We’ve gotten really excited about our new space and the creative and collaborative opportunities it will provide. The space is 50% larger than our old location, but feels 500% better. With exposed brick, high ceilings, an open environment, private phone rooms, and tons of magnetic marker boards, it’s everything you’d expect at an advertising agency. And with recycled and reused materials, Toshiba LED lighting and sustainable Steelcase furniture, it’s everything you’d expect from an ad agency totally focused on energy efficiency and sustainability. I’d say we’re on the verge of feeling smug about it.

With the competition’s cancellation, I was off the hook and my beard was safe. But as I stood in front of the mirror contemplating the potential demise of my beard, I saw a connection between Jakob’s observation – or lack thereof – and our new office. No, the office did not have chest hair. Rather, I’m referring to the central role our clients play in everything we do.

The trust our clients place in us is quite literally the reason we have the means to open a new office. And all of the creativity and collaboration is totally in service of delivering the best ideas to move our clients’ businesses forward. Unfortunately, when you’re in the midst of something as wonderful as 111 East Jackson Avenue, it can be easy to forget what got you there. Saying it out loud helps you remember. 

So, a heartfelt thank you to our clients who’ve allowed us to build our leadership position in sustainability communications. Without you, none of our success would be possible and we’d be known by local law enforcement as Knoxville’s only marker board wielding gang. 

Here’s to a prosperous 2013.


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