Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sioux Falls: A Creative Scene Poised for National Success?

Have you ever been to Sioux Falls, South Dakota?

If you haven't, you're missing out.

Let me repeat that. If you haven't been to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, you're missing out.

Let's back this up a bit. In a New York Times story Sunday (July 12, 2009), the Times talked about the thriving creative community of Minneapolis and their efforts to unite a large number of their creative agencies in order to better highlight the creative talent Minneapolis features. Another interesting element to this movement is the fact that they are also going to emphasize this newfound unity in a website called "MinneADpolis, the City of Advertising" (

That's all information you can get from the Times story, so read that when you have a chance. But there's more to it than just the fact that they're working together to make things happen...

Minneapolis is tired of being overlooked as a hot spot and hub for the creative marketing, advertising and PR industry. There are numerous worldwide agencies located in Minneapolis producing great work every single day (and plenty of smaller shops creating equally impressive work, locally and nationally). Frankly, many of these agencies feel they are getting glossed over by people assuming the only good creative work comes out of New York, California and Chicago.

Now that's all fine and good. City pride, pride in local work and agencies, etc. Sure that's important. But what's more important is this:

They're actually DOING something about it.

Keep in mind, this isn't some happy-go-lucky, "we're all friends here" realm of rainbows and sunshine. These are all companies who directly compete for local clients as well as national and worldwide clients. Whether it's the larger firms going for larger clients across the country or the smaller agencies who are aiming high for those same large clients (as well as smaller, local clients), these 27 squads certainly have a reason to ruthlessly fight for every client they can get.

But they also recognize that connecting and working together will do more for their own agencies, their regional advertising and creative community, and the city of Minneapolis as a whole than they can achieve trying to scrap it out as individuals against NYC, Chi-Town, Cali and other major advertising markets.

Will there be problems? Probably. Will there be substantial success in the long run? Most likely. Is the creative community of Minneapolis attempting to do something that could change the game for "smaller" creative communities across the nation?


Which brings us back to the beginning.

Sioux Falls is a fantastic place. Not only did CNN rank Sioux Falls as the 45th Best Place to Live and Launch in 2009 (citing that "it costs an estimated 45% less to open a business here than in New York"), but it's also been named Forbes' #1 "Best Small Place For Business And Careers"... FIVE years in a row (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).

More importantly, between the stellar freelance community and strong presence of talented agencies, Sioux Falls is home to some of the most creative minds in this country (not I know I'm a little biased, but I genuinely believe there is an overwhelming number of extremely talented creative people who could do amazing work for major companies nationwide if given the opportunity. Yes, that was a ton of adjectives. They were all sincere.

So what's the point? Well, as we in this region know, the Sioux Falls creative community is a competitive community. We want to do the best work for the best people and companies here. We want to do great campaigns for the biggest clients on the eastern side of the state, the western side of the state and everywhere in between.

I just wonder, if we work together a little bit more, whether we could be doing great campaigns for the biggest clients in the country.

Do I think we'll be forming a "South DakotAD" group tomorrow and have national clients pour in by the dozens? No.

But we here at Deep Bench are willing to get the bus rolling now. Drop us a line if you want to come along for the ride and help us make our great creative community even greater.

After all...I did say that if you haven't been to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, you're missing out. It's up to us to make the rest of the world realize how true that is.

What do you think? Does Sioux Falls have a chance to become a national hub of creative work from creative agencies? Are we destined to forever be considered a "smaller market" compared to other major cities? Share your thoughts below in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

(Note: This post was originally posted on my work blog at

Photos by jennlynndesign.

Requirement #1 for a good day: Waking up

Here's a list of my requirements for a good day. It's short and sweet and awesome.

Waking up
That's all it takes. After I wake up, I have it within myself to make the rest of it a good day or not. I typically choose to do that. Make it a good day, that is. I don't exactly choose to wake up.

(Optional) Listen to music
My iPod is basically a prosthetic limb in regard to my attachment to it, as far as I'm concerned. It's full of beautiful, beautiful songs and sounds for me to enjoy, so 99% of the time, just turning it on and hitting play is enough to put me in the right place for the rest of the day. While it's not *essential* to my happiness during a day, it certainly doesn't do anything to make my day any worse.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why I Can't Stand "A Case Of The Mondays"

If you’ve ever worked one single Monday in your life, it’s possible (and probable) that you’ve heard – or used – the expression “a case of the Mondays” to explain a bad mood on a Monday morning.

I can’t stand that.

Call me crazy, call me closed-minded, call me unsympathetic (or just call me reasonable), but it drives me insane to think that people let something as completely intangible as a certain day of the week determine their mood and attitude for 24 hours.

I’ll admit there’s a difference between having a bad day that is coincidentally on a Monday and an actual “case of the Mondays.” That’s understandable. But am I the only person that goes crazy when a conversation with a person on Monday morning transpires like this? –

Me: “Hey, how’s it going today?”

Person: “Eh, it’s Monday…”

Me: (While internally shaking my head and repressing near-violent anger) “Alright, well…I hope it gets better for you.”

Person: “Oh, it’s just a case of the Mondays. Things should be better tomorrow.”

Wait, what?!

You’re going to spend an entire day being in a bad mood based on the logic that it’s the first day to your work week? Seriously? Is EVERY weekend you spend that magnificent that it makes you dread your entire first day back to work? You’re going to let one day bring a depressing and dreary attitude into the workplace, to infect everyone with your negative, “my environment controls my attitude” outlook on life?

Uh-uh. No way. Leave that garbage at home. That’s what I say. You have a chance to make every Monday an exciting and opportunistic day for you if you choose to make it happen. Mondays are a fresh chance to kick off a great week and spread an “I plan to enjoy my day (and make it productive)” approach to everyone in your office. Why pass up that opportunity only to replace it with negativity? If you can give me one good reason, I just might retract this post and apologize for my errors. And maybe shave my head or something crazy.

Bottom line: This post was inspired by a Twitter offer from a coffee shop in Sioux Falls (which has been very, very good to the Deep Bench crew) called Coffea: “50% off drinks today for anyone with a ‘case of the Mondays.’” the tweet read. I love their approach. I love that they are using Twitter to create a tribal experience (Seth Godin-style) of insider information. Like a secret password or handshake that actually provides value to customers. I love that.

But I don’t love “cases of the Mondays.” So I walked in, and asked if I "could still have a discount, even if I consider a case of the Mondays to be a good thing." The response? “You know, if you think Mondays are a good thing, then I think you definitely deserve a 50% discount.”

I’ll say this: I respect and appreciate Coffea’s attempt to make everybody’s Monday a little bit better with a 50% discount (and I respect them even more for doing it with a social media approach). In fact, I’d even say that falls into Deep Bench’s “Do Good” aspect of our organization’s “Work. Play. Do Good.” mantra.

I just wish the rest of the world would try to approach Mondays with a slightly more optimistic outlook. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I think wishful thinking is the small push that helps start turning the gears of change. So, from now on, I’m going to try to spread my “Positive Case of the Mondays” approach by sharing some positive thoughts, concepts, and probably music on Mondays just to add a little optimism to the mix and maybe create a little change.

Because really, why would you want to let an outside force like the day of the week affect your chance to enjoy an entire day’s worth of opportunities for success?

It’s that kind of attitude that almost…almost gives me a case of the Mondays.

If you agree or disagree with my mindset or analysis on cases of the Mondays, let me know in the comments below or drop me a line on Twitter at @mikebilleter. Although it’s unlikely, it’s possible I'm wrong, so please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with me.

[Editor's Note: This post was originally written for and posted on my work blog at Deep Bench.]

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How Would You Spend Time With Your Idol?

If I haven't mentioned it on here before, I fell in love with The Gaslight Anthem about 10 months ago when Marvel Comics' Ryan Penagos (@Agent_M on Twitter) tweeted about their awesomeness and inspired me to pick up their (at the time) new album, "The '59 Sound." I then proceeded to listen to said album a few times a week for about 7 months straight. In fact, it hasn't left my car's 6-disc changer since I loaded it in there last August.

Beyond the obvious reasons that I enjoy them, such as their talent, their passion, and their overall sound, I also love the fact that I had frequently compared them to "Bruce Springsteen if he sang for a somewhat punk-rock band" only to later discover that he is, in reality, probably their biggest influence, that they actually grew up within a half hour of his hometown, and that they've mentioned their admiration and respect for him in numerous interviews and spotlights.

So I can't even begin to imagine how awesome this must've been for them:

the 59 sound - bruce springsteen & gaslight anthem( glasto )
by runawaydream

I The video came my way, unsurprisingly, courtesy of Agent M, and according to their website, "The Gaslight Anthem were also honored to have Bruce Springsteen ask to perform "The '59 Sound" with them during their set at Glastonbury too." I'd be shocked to hear that their response was anything other than "YES YES SWEET JESUS YES!"

My question is this: If you could spend one day doing whatever you wanted to do with someone you consider to be an "idol" or "influence" in your life, who would you spend that time with and how would you spend it? I'm not saying my official answer would be spending some time with Stan Lee talking comics - I'd like to spend a bit more time thinking about it before I make an official decision - but it's hard for me to think of a better choice off the top of my head.

So...who would be your "Do something with your idol" choice? Share your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter at @mikebilleter. Look forward to seeing your guys' answers.

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