09/19/2016

5 things that make a great work party

By: Theresa Howe

Last week the 2A gang got together on the shores of Lake Washington for our end-of-summer celebration. Here are just a few of the things that made it great:

  1. A lake to jump into with all of your colleagues. In our case, Lake Washington.
  2. Choripanes, which are seriously delicious.
  3. Kids and family. My colleagues must all have superior genes, because those munchkins are adorable. One little guy, age 4, told me he likes my tattoos.
  4. Ice cold beverages, because it’s HOT out there.
  5. Great teammates. It’s important to take a break, jump in a lake and celebrate.

It’s part of the tradition here at 2A to gather everyone together a few times a year. It was fun to see all the kids, and chat with our colleagues’ spouses and partners. As the 2A family continues to grow, it’s good to take advantage of these opportunities to enjoy time together, outside of the office.

08/31/2016

Olympic-sized sexism, loud and proud

By: Theresa Howe

What year is this?

This is going to hurt. And it should.

 

Katinka Hosszu. 3 gold medals, one silver. Credit given to her husband and swim coach.

Corey Codgell-Unrein. Three time Olympian and 2-time bronze medalist. “The wife of a Chicago Bears’ lineman.”

Simone Manuel. 2 gold medals and 2 silver medals in Olympic swimming. “Phelps shares podium with African American.”

Bo Dietl (I’m not even going to link to these peeps) said, “Would you put money behind a gal that won the gold medal that looks like a washed out rag?”

Majlinda Kelmendi. Kosovo’s first-ever gold medalist. Her match was called a “catfight.”

Katie Ledecky. 4 gold medals, 1 silver in 2016. “Swims like a man.”

Simone Biles. 3 gold medals. “The next Michael Phelps.”

Alexa Moreno. 99-pound gymnast. Called “gordo.”

John Miller. “The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey,”

John Inverdale. “You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?” (to Andy Murray, who reminded him of the Williams sisters)

He Zi. Silver medalist. “What’s better than an Olympic medal? A proposal.”

James Carroll. “I’ve seen enough of Kerri Walsh’s side boob.”

 

2016. That’s what year it is. And yet, women are “girls” and their accomplishments, if mentioned, are subjugated. If possible, their male spouse gets the headline, or is credited for their success. What about the women who don’t have husbands? Or don’t want one? Or aren’t trained by a man? What on earth could we mention them for?

Sure, after public outrage, newspapers changed their headlines and apologies were issued. So what? Why did these ridiculous comments make it through editorial approval? Where is the filter for sexism, racism, and other ugly terms that could easily be applied to this years’ coverage?

It makes me think back to the flow chart of choices for the presidential election. The critical question being: “Are women people?”

Being an Olympic athlete is an incredible achievement and yes, it takes a lot of support to get there. But tell us her story, not his.

08/17/2016

Secret to brewing success

By: Theresa Howe

Every home brewer has a dream. It usually involves them transcending their garage and opening a full-scale brewery. That’s a huge leap, from almost every angle—financing, production volume, distribution, and perhaps most importantly, traction amongst a Seattle beer scene replete with already successful craft brewers. Enter Holy Mountain. Started by three beer geeks with serious brewing chops, they conceptualized their business over the course of several years, found a space and made it happen.

2A learned about Holy Mountain last year when we were looking for a cool local gift to give to clients and staff. We wanted something memorable, and since Holy Mountain was the hottest brewery ticket in town, we decided we’d give 2A growlers with a free fill at the brewery. We love their unique story and style.

First opened in 2014, Holy Mountain focuses on barrel-aged beers, saisons and sours. Everything is seasonal, so you’ll never have the same tasting experience twice. Many of the beers are aged so they are released when Holy Mountain feels they are ready. They update their taplist regularly so you can check out what they are currently serving.

Holy Mountain has developed quite a cult following, often selling out of new release beers despite the fact they limit purchases per person to prevent hoarding. Holy Mountain didn’t achieve this success through traditional marketing channels. Their fans get updates through social media, for bottle releases and other upcoming events. It works because they make an outstanding product, which has people lining up and coming back for more.

Holy Mountain is aligned with an important element we bring to our work at 2A. Excellence is the expectation, and that’s what keeps customers happy and coming back for more. Although we are selling vastly different products (people vs. beer), it’s great to support another local business who shares the mentality that only the best is good enough for our customers.

Kudos to Holy Mountain for daring to be different in a Seattle beer scene bloated with IPAs. If you embrace a unique brew, an interesting view and a relaxed atmosphere, check out Holy Mountain. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

How do you promote excellence?

04/20/2016

Light rail comes to our ‘hood

By: Theresa Howe

“Life is a progress, and not a station”

Emerson was on to something as he pondered the importance of change in our growth, something we’re experiencing a lot of in our neighborhood.

Capitol Hill recently saw the opening of our very own Link station. By extending the existing light rail with two new stations, Sound Transit now carries riders right to our neighborhood. This addition has increased ridership from 35,000 riders every weekday to over 50,000.

The new station is great for us: a 4-minute train ride to see our friends at Foster School of Business or visit clients downtown, and new commute options for the team. It’s also great for our community of local businesses as more people can come and go without taking scarce parking spots and adding to the gridlock.

In this case, maybe progress is a station.

04/06/2016

Celebrating choice, with chocolate

By: Theresa Howe

Chocolate? Choice? Sounds great to us. That’s part of why we were thrilled to help our friends at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington amp up their annual event, Chocolate for Choice. Picture an evening of chocolatey creations from confectioners all across the city, delicious craft cocktails, and a room packed with people who care about ensuring that Washington continues to lead the way in the pro-choice movement—and love chocolate.

We pitched in by designing a postcard to get Chocolate for Choice newbies excited about coming out, and came up with this luscious, every-letter-is-a-bon-bon visual to anchor the evening.

The event was their most successful Chocolate for Choice to date, attracting over 100 new attendees and besting the fundraising goal. Even the Mayor of Seattle came out to enjoy and judge the chocolate delights. We hope to see you there next year to sample some chocolates and support the good work of our friends at NARAL.

Is your favorite event this delicious?

01/06/2016

Say it like you mean it

By: Theresa Howe

Storytelling. It’s what we do, all the time, whether we are conscious of it or not. It’s how human beings relate and how they experience reality. All of the talk we give ourselves about facts and reason is nice, and we try to function rationally, but at the end of the day, human stories are what convince us to act. Tales of people overcoming struggles, individuals that do amazing things, those are what move us.

There’s some interesting psychology in the mix. Proximity is key. Relatability is another. How comfortable or uncomfortable the story makes us plays a role, in sometimes surprising ways. For example – if you are trying to get people to engage with an issue, pick one example of a person who has done something extraordinary. If you try to highlight a group, your audience will find it harder to relate. With too many people, the problem seems too big. Give one success and we feel like we can change lives.

I had the opportunity to attend the Non-Profit Storytelling Conference in November and it was a great couple of days, fully dedicated to storytelling. In context, it was a lot about how to improve your organization’s ability to fundraise, but in reality, you could replace the word “donor” with “audience member” and most of the content was fully relatable to any story you want to tell. It remains true whether it’s a story to prospects to convince them to buy your product, or a tale you want to tell your best friend.

As Maya Angelou said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

What’s the best story you’ve crafted?

11/25/2015

Gratitude

By: Theresa Howe

There’s about to be a turkey explosion, at least if predictions around the 2A office are correct. Some people are flattening birds to speed cooking time (spatchcocking, for you experts), some are having huge gatherings and hence huge birds, others are barbequing and smoking multiple turkeys. I’m cooking a 14lb bird for 2, because it’s the smallest one I could get my hands on readily. It’s going to be awesome.

This is a time of the year when we focus on remembering to be grateful for the things, and by things I really mean people, that enrich our lives. Whether it’s colleagues and clients or family and friends, we’re feeling pretty grateful to get to do what we do every day.

So while we contemplate the good things in life, I’ll leave you with this partial gem from the Oatmeal. If you aren’t familiar, he’s a Seattle guy with an insanely popular website who writes comics online, books as well, sells merchandise and sponsors running events. He’s a colorful guy and so is his take on Thanksgiving.

09/16/2015

Mile high revelations

By: Theresa Howe

Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado might be the best setting to see a show, ever. Nestled amongst the towering red rocks that give the place its name is a 9,500 seat outdoor venue, with great views of the stage and the surrounding Colorado landscape. It’s worth visiting just to see, but to see a performance there is a privilege. It’s as though playing in such a beautiful place inspires the artists to a higher level and the concertgoers to be more attentive. The thin air could play a part in that, but I like to think it’s the magic of the environment.

I had the opportunity to attend Brandi Carlile’s most recent show at Red Rocks in August. I’m a big fan, so to me, it is perfectly logical and normal to fly to another state just to go to a concert, especially at a place like Red Rocks. It was an evening with a couple of my favorite storytellers. And I happened to be sitting in the third row.

Anderson East was the first opening act and brought a bluesy charm to his set. Gregory Alan Isakov was the second opener. He’s a Colorado guy, who gardens and writes sparse-yet-lush folk songs with powerful narratives. You can see, hear, taste and feel every detail of his songs. The guys he plays with are a close-knit group of friends, including the stellar violinist Jeb Eagle Bows (great name, right?)

After the sun went down and the sky filled with stars, Brandi, the Twins (guitarist Tim Hanseroth and bass player & identical twin Phil Hanseroth), long-time collaborator and cellist Josh Newman and a drummer whose name I didn’t catch took the stage and things really kicked-off.

Carlile’s big, bell-clear voice remains the center of the band’s work, ranging from a sweet croon to a roar. Their set list moved from barn-burning to ballads and back again. She brought back Gregory and Jeb for a fun John Denver medley. She also closed with a cover of the Avett Brothers song Murder in the City, her version a poignant re-telling, considering she married her wife three years ago and their daughter is a year old.

What always impresses me is that though their songs are about the big things: love, loss, regrets – they have a way of making listeners feel like they know exactly what triggered the creative process. Brandi makes you feel all of the emotions that underpin her songs. Her stories are alternately sweet, sad and inspiring, but unbeatable when experienced live, in a gorgeous setting.

Who tops your storytelling playlist?

08/04/2015

Genuine with a side of snark

By: Theresa Howe

I have long enjoyed watching Anthony Bourdain’s travel shows. He’s a great writer and his personal story is also compelling. I occasionally find his snarkiness to be grating, but appreciate that he tends to keep it real – would you eat a recently deceased warthog’s colon, raw?

I was curious what the live version would be like, so got tickets for his stop in Seattle at the Paramount. He lived up to his reputation, cutting away at the oh-so-American obsession with fame, the elevation of food to bizarre levels of importance while people are starving in our own country, and the excesses we portray in all of their disturbing glory.

Once he settled into the heart of his talk, it became clear that beyond cooking, beyond travelling, storytelling is what drives him. Yes, he has had many madcap experiences on which to draw and his writing and visual storytelling reflect that. During the Q & A he talked extensively about his move to CNN, how much freedom he and his creative team are given, and how being a part of CNN has allowed him to go to places where he couldn’t previously, like Iran.

He kept circling back to the idea that when visiting places you don’t know and cultures you can’t possibly understand, being surprised and thrown off is exactly what you should be. He also underscored that he goes places, asks really simple questions, usually over a meal, and listens to the amazing stories people tell him. He doesn’t care what’s cooking, he cares about who is cooking it and why and what it means to them.

He remains foul-mouthed, hilarious and opinionated, but beneath snark and sneer, he’s managed to retain a curiosity about the world and the people who live in it and uses that gift to tell some amazing stories. He asks questions, and we get to see the answers.

What’s your favorite way to get people to tell you stories?

07/07/2015

Victory!

By: Theresa Howe

In case you were under a rock, the US women’s national team won the World Cup in record fashion on July 5th. It was a solid 5-2 victory over Japan, who had bested the US in the previous World Cup final.

Japan has a great team, very technical and disciplined. However, Carli Lloyd was on fire, scoring a hat trick within the opening 16 minutes (fastest ever), with an additional goal in that same time frame from Lauren Holiday. Let’s just say I had a pretty good feeling our ladies would win when Lloyd shelled Japan’s goalie from 54 yards out to take our team up 4-0. Japan fought back, but didn’t have enough time or opportunity against a solid defense, even with excellent goal scorers.

What’s more interesting from a marketing perspective is that the game was the second most watched soccer game in US history – coming in only after the final for the men’s World Cup last year, which featured Leo Messi and Argentina vs. the eventual victors, Germany.

In 1999, the last time the US women won the World Cup, 17.9 million Americans watched. This year, 25.4 million were watching. The US women have long been a compelling story, and I’m glad so many people were watching. I can’t wait to see what they can do in 2019.