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The Power of Inspiring Action: The A-List Podcast Turns 3

In the booth with Terri and Sandy (Season Two)

“Have you heard our podcast?”

Yes, we’ve become “that guy.” DiMassimo Goldstein has a podcast. No big deal. (Eyeroll emoji.) In all seriousness, we don’t actually talk about The A-List Podcast that much. Because we didn’t do it to make ourselves famous. We did it because we’re curious about creativity and we’re obsessed with starting conversations. Here’s how it happened:

My friend Lauren Slaff has an ad school called Adhouse. A couple of years ago, I noticed that her Facebook presence for the class needed an upgrade and offered to help. At DIGO, we talk a lot about Inspiring Action and resisting the urge to just make a straight-up ad hawking your wares, so of course my first thought was, “We need some hard-hitting print and banner ads!” It’s amazing how theories become so hard to follow in practice. Duh!

Yes, paid ads are important, but the first thing we needed to do was to get across the difference of Adhouse. As I say in every episode of The A-List Podcast, “[Adhouse’s] philosophy? An ad class is only as good as the professional who teaches it.” At Adhouse, you learn from the people who do the work in the very places where they do it. You literally go to the agency where your teacher works one night a week and show them your ideas. It’s the closest thing to breaking into the business you can get for six hundred bucks.

So a team worked on some ads. They were funny. But mostly they were ads. Clever headlines. Hard-hitting copy. Blah blah blah. And in the end, while they might get some people to notice Adhouse, they weren’t going to be great for the team’s book or for DiMassimo Goldstein. We’re an Inspiring Action agency. It says so in our lobby! We needed to innovate.

A reminder from our lobby at 220 E23rd Street. :)

That’s when we had a bigger idea: Let’s just interview some ad greats themselves, giving the audience a little taste of what it might be like to take an Adhouse class but also getting their ad stories. We eventually settled on their origin stories, partly out of not wanting the show to be too production-intensive week to week but also in an effort to keep it valuable to our core target audience: people who are curious about breaking into the ad industry. We originally planned to do films, but that didn’t pass the production-intensive test either. So we settled on a podcast. NOTE: At the time, we had never produced a podcast. But that’s part of Inspiring Action: Jump and a net will appear.

We began by emailing a few ad friends of mine. Rob ReillyTy Montague and Greg Hahn all said yes. Hooray! Gramercy Post, a sound studio upstairs in our building, offered up their recording facilities. We would patch in the guests, and I would ask them their life story. We would record an intro and an outro, slap some music on it, shove in an ad-read for Adhouse and see what we got. Podcast in an hour.

Before we could pull the trigger, I had to talk to my partners and Lauren (our client) about paying for it. As far as the agency was concerned, it wouldn’t make us much money. Make that (scribble scribble) zero dollars, actually. But we would be learning how to make and distribute podcasts, and we would be getting our name out to a young, creative audience. Also, I’d be connecting our agency marketing team to the PR departments of agencies ten or twenty times our size, who would all want to get the word out about their own creative geniuses. Oh, and we could do it pretty cheaply and with a very small team. They said yes (thanks, partners!) and Lauren was happy to try anything (thank the universe for good clients). So off we went.

That was over two years ago now. We have learned a lot along the way and, as we launch season three on May 9th with Anselmo Ramos of GUT, I am struck by how much has changed, but also what hasn’t. Our format hasn’t changed. We’re still asking the guests how they found this weird career we call advertising. (I’m still amazed I found it myself, to be honest. I still feel like that kid from Jersey with the weird hair.) We still record at Gramercy Post. But sometimes we have the guests sit down in the studio with me now. The experience is different that way. It’s easier to connect to the person but can also be scary. (You have to make eye contact and stuff!)

The guests are from new places. I used up all my close friends in season one and two. Now I am interviewing people I never thought would say yes, and I’m still amazed when they say they listen to and love the show. This season will include conversations with the aforementioned Anselmo Ramos as well as Ricardo Casal and Juan Javier Pena of David, Nick Law of Publicis and Karl Lieberman of Wieden + Kennedy. We’re doing a whole design exploratory starting with Paula Scher of Pentagram and Bobby C. Martin of Original Champions of Design.

New Season. New Guests. (Clockwise from Top, Left: Anselmo Ramos of GUT, Ricardo Casal and Juan Javier Pena of David, Paula Scher of Pentagram and Bobby C. Martin Jr. of Original Champions of Design.

(By the way, we have toyed with doing a sub-pod about young people who just entered the business. (The A-List The Next Generation?) We’re still working on ironing out how to do that, which was an idea we got from some young listeners. But Casal and Pena from David and Dhruv Nanda from Oberland start us off with some new perspectives from the millennial point of view.)

One more difference in the show this year is the music. Ross Hopman, a friend of the agency at Duotone, loves the show and wanted to help out. We were thrilled of course. But we had no idea how great the results would be. In the end, we couldn’t choose one song, so The A-List Podcast might just be the only podcast out there with TWO theme songs. The one at the end is my personal favorite, based on an off-the-cuff joke to Ross: “If all else fails, just give me something like The Muppet Show theme.” God, I hope Kermit doesn’t sue.

It’s a funny thing about an Inspiring Action, but it almost always gives you more return than you bargained for. Our little podcast (with very little advertising to support it) has reached tens of thousands of people all over the world. We get notes and emails from listeners who have been in advertising for decades telling us how the show has reignited their passion for the business or kept them going during hard times. DiMassimo Goldstein has gotten clients asking us how to make podcasts and young creatives who want to work here. And, of course, Adhouse has never had so many applicants.

And so it is my pleasure to introduce you to more amazing ad people. That’s the moral of the story of The A-List Podcast by the way: It’s all about the people you meet along the way. This business is full of thousands of amazing people who get to solve problems for the world’s biggest brands in creative, unheard-of ways every day. They did this by finding people who were doing it and learning from them. Our goal was to get more people to imagine themselves doing the same and continue what the Lion King might call the Circle of Ad. Because whether you are a kid from New Jersey like me or a big brand who needs to reinvent yourself, creativity is the way. All you have to do is start a conversation with the right people.

Have we mentioned that season 3 of our podcast launches on Thursday? No big deal. 🙄

The old guy on the left is me. The cool guy on the right is Dhruv Nanda of Oberland.

The A-List Podcast with Jason Musante

This week’s episode of  The A-List Podcast features Jason Musante, Chief Creative Officer at Huge, Inc., where he oversees integrated creative output across the agency’s global offices. Prior to joining Huge, Musante enjoyed success at several award-winning agencies, such as Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners, BBDO Worldwide, and Co:Collective. among others. 

In this inspiring interview, Musante tells host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann all about how his love for history helped him become a better storyteller, why young creatives should look for people to work for and not places, and why it’s important not just to fail but to know when to fail.

This episode is packed with great advice for young creatives. Tune in to hear it all below! 

Show Notes:

  • [0:00 – 1:12] Intro
  • [1:13 – 9:05] Growing up in North Carolina, and when Musante first realized you could solve business problems with creativity
  • [9:06 – 15:28] Musante talks about his experience as a student at West Point before ultimately transferring to the University of North Carolina, and why his love for history helped him become a better storyteller
  • [15:29 – 23:45] Being young and hungry, his first advertising gig at McCann, and why young people looking to get into the industry should look for people to work for, not places
  • [23:45 –30:49] The interview he had with Richard Kirshenbaum, the current state of the industry, and why he’s excited for the future
  • [30:50 – 42:20] Musante talks about his first big break in the industry, the integration of story and technology, and what he learned working for Gerry Graf
  • [42:21 – 54:48] Musante talks about the important of knowing when you can fail, and reflects on his time at Saatchi & Saatchi, BBDO, and Co:Collective
  • [54:59 – 58:48] What is so unique about Huge, and what he looks for in young creatives
  • [58:49 – 59:38] Outro

“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, an inspiring action agency, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter

The A-List Podcast: Episode 010 With Eric Silver

This week on “The A-List” podcast, host and Chief Creative Officer of DiMassimo Goldstein Tom Christmann chats with award-winning creative genius Eric Silver, McCann’s North American Chief Creative Officer. Since kicking off his career as a copywriter in the 90’s, Eric has left his creative mark on some of the top agencies across the country, working on many of the biggest brands in the world from Nike to ESPN. Recently, Eric brought us the renowned “Fearless Girl” statue that famously stares down Wall Street’s “Charging Bull”.

Tune in to hear Eric discuss his circuitous journey from aspiring attorney to copywriter, the value of attending ad school, and the one piece of advice he gives to new creatives entering the advertising industry today. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes

  • [0:00 – 1:25] Intro
  • [1:26 – 4:34] Eric’s childhood in Orange, CT and sneaking into movie theaters
  • [4:35 – 8:25] Attending law school in Los Angeles and realizing that law wasn’t right for him
  • [8:26 – 10:20] Considering a future in advertising for the first time after seeing a Nike ad
  • [10:21—17:19] Eric’s journey into advertising and why he advises young creatives to attend ad school
  • [17:20 – 21:15] Landing a job at Larsen Colby, finding his first partner and building a tribe
  • [21:16 – 30:10] David Angelo’s passionate speech at TBWA\Chiat\Day New York and moving to Earl Palmer Brown
  • [30:11 — 31:54] Eric and Tom’s advice to young creatives today
  • [31:55 – 35:07] Finding his mentors at Wieden & Kennedy
  • [35:08 – 44:07] Eric’s first big TV spot: the retail assignment nobody wanted
  • [44:08 – 49:15] Leaving advertising for David Letterman
  • [49:16 – 56:33] Working at Cliff Freeman & Partners, BBDO and DDB
  • [56:34 – 1:02:26] Collaborating with Rob Reilly on “The Fearless Girl”
  • [1:02:27 – 1:03:44] Outro

“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter. If you want to be interviewed for an upcoming episode, contact us at AdhouseNYC.com.