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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 Paul Fix

On the Season 2 finale of The A-List Podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann is joined in the studio by super freelancer and Adhouse NYC advertising teacher Paul Fix.

As a creative director, copywriter, and content creator, Fix has worked at many of the industry’s most renowned agencies, helping deliver world-famous campaigns such as Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man.”

In the interview, Paul shares his unique journey into the world of advertising, talks about his class and teaching style, and offers valuable advice to any young creative trying to break it in the industry. Hear it all below!

Show Notes

  • [0:00 – 1:25] Intro
  • [1:26 – 15:30] Paul talks about the class he teaches at Adhouse and shares stories from his upbringing
  • [15:31 – Paul talks about how his band was almost signed to a label, the importance of independence, and the moment he realized he wanted to be in advertising
  • [26:45 – 44:30] Paul shares the story of how he broke into the industry by collecting data in media
  • [44:31 – 1:02:19] Backpacking in Europe, becoming a high school English teacher, and going back to advertising school
  • [1:02:20 – 1:05:00] Finally becoming a full-fledged creative at
  • [1:05:01 – 1:17:15] The advantages of working freelance, the importance of being kind, and what he loves about teaching
  • [1:17:16 – 1:18:46] 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 with Linda Kaplan Thaler

This week on The A-List Podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann is joined by industry icon and Advertising Hall of Famer, Linda Kaplan Thaler.

Over the course of her illustrious career, Kaplan Thaler created some of the world’s most famous advertising campaigns, such as the Aflac duck. She also authored and composed two of the most globally recognized advertising jingles: “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid,” and “Kodak Moments.”

Kaplan Thaler’s impressive résumé extends well beyond advertising. She is a nationally acclaimed author with several best-selling books to her name; she has worked on two presidential campaigns; and she has become a familiar face on several television programs.

In this interview, Kaplan Thaler talks about leading with kindness, how to write a good jingle, what it was like interviewing Warren Buffet and Jay Leno, and much, much more. Check out the full episode and show notes below!

Show notes:

  • [0:00 – 1:59] Intro
  • [2:00 – 13:30] Growing up in the Bronx, and how Kaplan Thaler first got into singing and writing both music and comedy
  • [13:31 – 16:38] The famous jingle she wrote for Toys ‘R’ Us, and the worldwide reaction it received
  • [16:39 – 22:19] The secret to writing a good jingle, the story behind “Kodak Moments” and putting humor into advertising
  • [22:20 – 27:53] The moment she knew Robin Koval would be a perfect business partner, and the importance of leading with kindness
  • [27:54 – 33:57] Working on presidential campaigns, and the story behind her interviews with both Warren Buffet and Jay Leno
  • [33:48 – 38:10] Her latest book, Grit to Great, and what “grit” means to her
  • [38:11 – 42:30] The one big piece of advice she has for young creatives
  • [42:31 – 43:58] 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 016 with Bobby Hershfield

This week on The A-List Podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann interviews Bobby Hershfield, Partner and CCO at SS+K. Hershfield started his career in account management before eventually shifting over to copywriting during his time at Wieden+Kennedy, and since then he has spearheaded the creative for some of the world’s biggest name brands such as Dell, JCPenney, Target, CNN, and Johnson & Johnson.

Listen in as Hershfield talks about what makes an all-star account person, working with former A-List guests Eric Silver, Ty Montague and David Angelo, and why he ultimately took a pay cut to become a creative. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes

  • [0:00 – 1:19] Intro
  • [1:20 – 3:59] Hershfield talks about what it was like moving around a lot as a child, how he had to adjust, and meeting new people
  • [4:00 – 5:18] How Hershfield first discovered advertising from a Tom Hanks movie
  • [5:19 – 6: 53] Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, applying to letterman, and graduating in a recession
  • [6:54 – 11:01] Getting his first job at DDB in account management, being let go and having to work as a video store clerk before finally getting another job at Chiat\Day
  • [11:02 – 13:29] Working with Eric Silver, Ty Monague, David Angelo at Chiat\Day
  • [13:30 – 17: 34] The first “virtual office” and taking creative classes
  • [17:35 – 19:00] What makes an all-star account person?
  • [19:01 – 23:31] Hershfield’s mentors in account management, the feeling you get after he was let go, and the story of how he hung around until he was rehired
  • [23: 32 – 27:00] Accepting an offer at Wieden+Kennedy, the difference between New York and Portland, and how the culture at Wieden focused on the work and not the lifestyle
  • [27:01 – 31:19] Moving to New York to take a pay cut and shift to the creative side
  • [31:20 – 35: 24] Thinking irresponsibly and the different line of thinking you have to adopt to be a creative
  • [35:25 – 39:44] Working Albert Brooks for his first commercial
  • [39:45 – 43: 35] What it was like working under Ty Montague and the benefit of tough love
  • [43:36 – 47:20] Managing a team, being a mentor, and when you know it’s time to become a creative director
  • [47:21 – 53:47] What Bobby looks for in a young creative, what made Gerry Graf a special teacher, and the many advantages of attending Adhouse
  • [53: 48 – 54:43] 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

The A-List Podcast: Episode 014 with Roger Camp

In the latest episode of “The A-List” podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann is joined by the hilarious Roger Camp, Partner and Chief Creative Officer of San Francisco based Camp+King. During his 20+ years in advertising, Camp has been awarded every major creative award under the sun and has worked on some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Amazon, Nike, Virgin Atlantic, Coca-Cola, and Adidas. He’s about as A-list as they come.

Tune in to hear all about how Camp likes to get naked with his dad, the three-fail rule, how to make brands and businesses conversation worthy, and much much more. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes:

  • [0:00 – 1:36] Intro
  • [1:37 – 7:08] Roger talks about growing up in Jersey, getting naked with his salt of the earth father, and his childhood aspirations of becoming an artist
  • [7:09 – 10:24] Attending SVA and falling in love with advertising
  • [10:25 – 19:30] The importance of being able to make mistakes, Roger’s first ads, and working on Comedy Central
  • [19:31 – 22:48] Heroes in the industry, getting fired, and the power of remaining optimistic
  • [22:49 – 27:53] Roger discusses his short stint at BBDO and finally getting a gig at Cliff Freeman & Partners
  • [27:54 – 31:28] The culture at Camp + King and the importance of working with people you like
  • [31:29 – 35:54] The importance of a brand voice and more advice for young writers
  • [35:55 – 37:44] Brand behaviors
  • [37:45 – 41:59] Cliff Freeman’s “Cliffisms”
  • [42:00 – 49:00] Working at Wieden+Kennedy, the actors strike, and the value of a planner
  • [49:01 – 51:49] The Camp+King positioning and being conversation worthy
  • [51:50 – 52:41] 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

The A-list Podcast: Episode 007 with Gerry Graf

“I try to be really clear at what I’m not good at and then think about how I can change that… it’s about just being honest with yourself”

This week on “The A-List” podcast, host and chief creative officer of DiMassimo Goldstein Tom Christmann chats with the one and only Gerry Graf, founder and chief creative officer of Barton F. Graf.

Before starting his own agency, Graf spent the better half of two decades making award-winning creative for some of the most well-respected agencies in the world, such as Goodby Silverstein and Partners, BBDO, TBWA/Chiat Day, and Saatchi among others. For his outstanding work, Business Insider would later label him “The Most Creative Man in Advertising”.

Tune in as Gerry tells Tom all about his time writing for the “SNL of Notre Dame”, hunting rats in Venice Beach, the importance of making your own opportunities and why creativity is valued more today than ever. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes

  • [0:00 – 1:42] Intro
  • [1:43 – 4:56] Tom and Gerry’s past at BBDO and what it was like growing up in Lexington, MA
  • [4:57 – 7:30] Going pre-med to Notre Dame
  • [7:31 – 13:07] Writing for the Keenan Revue – the SNL of Notre Dame
  • [13:08 – 14:23] Post Notre Dame life and hunting rats in Venice Beach for six months
  • [14:24 – 17:15] Hating life as a stockbroker for two years in Boston
  • [17:15 – 22:03] Gery’s first portfolio, getting denied from agencies, and the introduction of Ken Fitzgerald
  • [22:04 – 25:48] Being offered a job at Saatchi & Saatchi while on a payphone in Grand Central
  • [25:49 – 27:13] The walk of shame
  • [27:14 – 29:22] Emulating Cliff Freeman
  • [29:23 – 37:50] Gerry’s “pull the rug” copywriting trick and getting his big break on Snickers while at BBDO
  • [37:51 – 44:54] Working at Goodby and finally Reuniting with Ken Fitzgerald after over a decade
  • [44:55 –50:25] Making your own opportunities, asking the right questions and not giving up
  • [50:26 – 52:43] Selling and maintaining a good idea
  • [52:44 – 57: 42] Getting in the industry today and valuing creativity
  • [57:43 – 58:57] 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.

 

The A-List Podcast: Episode 006 with Matt Ian

In the sixth installment of The A-List Podcast, host and chief creative officer of DiMassimo Goldstein Tom Christmann chats with Matt Ian, Group Creative Director at Droga5. For just under an hour, Christmann and Ian talk about everything from getting fired and bouncing back in your career, to the art of the headline, and how students can succeed in the industry today. Full episode and show notes below!

  • [0:00 – 1:04] Intro
  • [1:05 – 7:05] Matt’s childhood playing music in Greenwich, Connecticut
  • [7:06 – 11:53] Attending the Pratt Institute
  • [11:54 – 22:45] Matt’s first gig at Lambesis and living in Pasadena, California
  • [22:46 – 27:59] Working on Airwalk and transitioning from an art director to a copywriter
  • [28:00 – 29:40] The art of the headline
  • [29:41 – 32:18] How getting fired made Matt work harder than ever
  • [32:19 –34:20] Matt’s time working at Chiat Day
  • [34:21 – 37:50] The fear of being mediocre and how words are stupid
  • [37:51 – 45:34]: Working at Droga5 and how to get ahead in the industry
  • [45:35 – 51:47] Matt and Tom talk about what they look for in new hires
  • [51:48 – 52:30] 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.