Lessons Learned: Gotham Inc.

Remember this post? Where I gushed on and on about how neat it was that Denny’s was doing a web series for their social media campaign? I mentioned that DumbDumb, a group started by actors Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, was responsible for the videos. Apparently, however, I failed to dig further and discover the true group responsible for bringing this hilarity to the web.

Then, yesterday, I attended a guest lecturer at our school–an alumni who has made quite a name for himself in the marketing and advertising industry. His name was Peter McGuinness and his company is Gotham Inc., an integrated marketing company. The presentation was spectacular and thought-provoking, and while it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite part, I was especially interested when McGuinness started talking about Gotham’s own work. Lo and behold, they were the masterminds behind the Denny’s campaign.

McGuinness and his group were given the daunting task of completely revitalizing a great American brand that had lost its heat. Focusing on the idea of “openness,” the group enlisted social media, marketing and advertising. The success was evident and the media were enthralled.

For my part, I was bit starstruck when I found out they had been responsible for the “Always Open” videos that I love so much. It took all my willpower to resist shouting out: “I blogged about that!” I managed to resist making a fool out of myself, while taking away a few valuable lessons in the process. Here are some of those lessons:

  • Evolution and innovation are continuous
  • Social media is more than a fad. It is pervasive and powerful– and here to stay.
  • Brands have become democratized: The consumers are in control and companies must work to “earn” their time.
  • The foundation of a successful brand/consumer relationship is reciprocity.
  • When executing a campaign, truth is more important than ever.
  • It’s important to remain curious, personally and professionally. Broaden your perspective and horizon.
  • And finally, when applying to jobs “package yourself in a unique and compelling way.”

While I never got to ask the most burning question on my mind (Is your company’s name a reference to Batman?), the event was certainly valuable. In the end, it got me all the more excited to enter the career world!

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A Professional Student’s Laments

Please forgive the lack of modesty here, but I’m a good student. Or rather, I’m good at being a student.

I breathe ‘A’s and eat compliments for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These things are simply important to me, and thus I’ve taught myself to be the best possible student I can. I’m not trying to say I’m smarter than all of my peers who get ‘B’s and ‘C’s, for I certainly know that is not the case. I am, however, saying that I’ve mastered the skill of studenting (let’s pretend that’s a verb for a bit).

Maybe it’s my PR mentality, but I’ve learned to position each assignment to the professor who has assigned it. I don’t mean this in a manipulative sense, since I never lie, cheat, or steal to get an ‘A.’ I simply observe. I realize that in one class, including a paragraph about politics in an essay would be beneficial, while if I had that same assignment with a different teacher, I might use an example tied in with family. You can learn much about teachers and their values by simply paying attention. I don’t bend my own beliefs when I position my work, I simply highlight what I know they would find most important and appealing.

More than that, I’ve perfected my own personal studying techniques. I know what works for me (writing, and rewriting, and rewriting my notes again), and I put effort into it.

I guess what I’m saying is, it took me long enough, but ever since I’ve entered college I’ve developed into what I can only refer to as a “Professional Student.”

And now it’s time for me to retire.

I graduate this upcoming May, and while I’ve been liberally applying to jobs, I’ve been unsuccessful as of yet. My fear, even if/when I  get a job, is that I simply won’t excel at it. I know how to be a good student. Years of training and practice and I’ve mastered the art. But now I’m being thrown into a whole other shark tank, where a  high GPA  could quite possibly be as meaningless as a bicycle to a fish (I hope everyone enjoys the aquatic theme of that last sentence).

I know many of my peers who, despite being nervous about getting out into the real world, are incredibly relieved to be done with their school careers. I, however, am hesitant. What if I can’t find success in a workplace? What if my best talents are those of being a student? I’m sure some of my skills will transfer, but I’m going to need to learn to play by a whole different set of rules.

While the concept of being  a Professional Student for the rest of my life has crossed my mind (think Buster from Arrested Development, minus the mother complex), I realize that I’ll be broke enough after graduating from my 4-years here to even think about any more schooling for a while. I may go back to graduate school, but I can’t go simply because I want to stay in school. I need to have a reason and a goal. I need to find a specific area of work that I enjoy and, hopefully, excel in. Then I can build on that.

So while I enjoy my last couple months of professional studenting (again, we’re pretending it’s a verb), I look with trepidation upon the future. Is it possible that I can someday drop the ‘student’ and learn to simply be a ‘professional’?