Blog

Abby Breckenridge

Marketer by trade and manager by passion, Abby has made it her mission to empower her team so they can deliver their best work to clients. She prefers working with whole people who aren’t afraid to bring their creativity to the table.

Partner | LinkedIn

06/07/2017

Scott Knackstedt—he has a knack for making us laugh

By: Abby Breckenridge

Meet Scott

Scott came to us pre-vetted. He had been in the Foster graduate program with two of our consultants which translated to two glowing recommendations. I consider hiring to be a huge challenge with an even huger upside—Scott was an easy choice. During his interview, he asked smart questions about the future of our business, and handed out milk.

Since he joined 2A, we’ve gotten the chance to build our own glowing opinions of him. Here’s a glimpse.

He loves words

Shortly after he joined, Scott asked if he could read an original poem at the holiday party. This was a first for me, and not the kind of request you say no to. Over wine and appetizers, Scott recited this poem to a room full of new colleagues and their loved ones, much to the delight of the room. His knack for poetry has sparked the recurring idea that 2A launch a business poetry offering (email us if you’re interested).

Before Foster, he spent five years at Gordon Thomas Honeywell in their governmental affairs consulting group where he flexed his language skills by bringing together stakeholders from across countries and industries.

Scott’s passion for words does more than entertain us at parties. His command of language (English being one of four) also brings a much-appreciated edge to his client work.

He collects information

Some people scroll through Instagram during lunch, Scott reads the Economist. And he listens to The World Next Week and Stuff You Should Know. From niche scientific factoids to international relations, Scott enjoys understanding how systems work.

Other items on the long list of things Scott has chosen to learn in his free time include: to play the bagpipe, to make soap, why Dalmatians are associated with fire houses, how aspartame impacts the body, to coach Special Olympics skiers, to be a karaoke rock star.

As marketing consultants, we’re called on to quickly get up to speed in a variety of industries. Scott has both a knack and hunger for just that challenge. Hopefully we’ll get a project in chemistry soon so he can put his knowledge of the periodic table to use.

He’s democratically goofy

A few months back when Nick and I were waiting for the elevator, we heard a thump, thump, thump. The door opened and there was Scott, a little embarrassed, dancing by himself.

He doles out “later ‘gator” with equal opportunity, and made an unexpected choice for his Skype profile photo.

One of our 10 rules of client management is that clients are people too. No one wants to work with a robot and we all owe each other a little leeway, as we’re just moving through life as humans. You’re not going to be a successful consultant if you’re struggling to be something you’re not. Scott’s ability to be his goofy self in all company makes him a pleasure to work with. We think you’ll agree.

02/09/2017

Kristina Bueno—She does the heavy lifting

By: Abby Breckenridge

Kristina lifting

Building the infrastructure to support a growing business is less of a straight path and more of a series of jumps and plateaus. Every time we’ve made one of those jumps, we think to ourselves, why didn’t we do that sooner?

There’s no exception to hiring Kristina—Operations Manager of 2A. How did we get by without her? I’m not sure, but here are a few reasons we’ve come to rely on Kristina to do the heavy lifting.

She’s an expert process builder

Before joining 2A, Kristina spent 10 years in health information management, designing and managing procedures to improve operational efficiency. Lucky for us.  Since she joined, she’s put her process skills to work and streamlined our back office. Our clients may not know it, but they are benefiting from her skillful contributions every day.

She digs in

Thorough is an understatement. Her commitment to excellence means she doesn’t shy away from the hard tasks—a challenge makes Kristina double down. This is obviously an asset at work, but it also pays off in her free time. Commitment and persistence led Kristina to compete in her first weight lifting competition last year, and now she’s training for her next.

She has a hunger for learning

Whether it’s taking a UX design class at General Assembly, brushing up on how 2017 tax changes will impact our business, or dropping a new mix on her turntables, she’s less of an I-don’t-know, and more of a let-me-find-out. Her enthusiasm for the new makes her a perfect fit for the dynamic role of managing a budding agency, and also makes her interesting to talk to.

She’s been demonstrating her appetite for learning for a while now—Kristina is the youngest of five siblings and the first in her family to graduate from college (go dawgs!).

I am looking forward to learning more about Kristina. In the meantime, I sure am glad she does the heavy lifting around here—making the office run smoothly.

01/26/2017

The people’s messaging—Women’s March

By: Abby Breckenridge

Womens' March

Last Saturday morning, I helped my seven and nine year old nieces finalize their protest signs before we headed to Judkins Park to join 175,000 like-minded humans in the Seattle Women’s March.

While global participation was staggering, what struck me most while shuffling down Jackson was the homegrown creativity of our community that showed up on hand-made signs, hats, and costumes. It’s true, I am partial to my niece’s “Donald Trump has a bump on his rump”, but she certainly wasn’t alone in her break-out wordsmithing.  Turns out, museums across the globe took notice as well and are collecting signs to make sure we memorialize the effort.

I can’t think of the last time I was surrounded by so many powerful messages—and so few corporate ones. As someone who spends a lot of working hours mulling over the right words to spark a reaction, I was humbled by my sister marchers’ ability to turn a persuasive phrase.

Let’s keep it up.

10/26/2016

Nick Dwyer—We’re big fans

By: Abby Breckenridge

Meet Nick

We run an open, collaborative office so a new personality always makes an impact. Since Nick joined the team in July, he’s been able to strike the right chord of fitting in and standing out. And while his choice of shirt may have something to do with it, there’s more to the story.

He challenges the status quo

Through his willingness to take a step back consider the unexplored, Nick opens up opportunities for all of us to be more creative. This is a huge asset to our line of work, where helping clients succeed often relies on getting your message noticed. It also may be an explanation for how his non-traditional career journey has lead him to 2A.

Before returning to his hometown of Seattle to pursue an MBA at the University of Washington, Nick spent years designing projects and writing proposals for USAID programs throughout Africa and Haiti. This work took him to big cities and rural towns in places like Liberia, Congo, and Burundi, where he interviewed underserved locals and showcased their stories in proposals for healthcare, education, and land rights projects. While working abroad he learned how to tolerate lots of ambiguity, take a bucket bath, and change outcomes through a well-crafted story.

While we’re glad Nick has traded in his frequent flyer miles for a steady job in Seattle, we know his sense of adventure and penchant for doing things differently are intrinsic to who he is.

He’s a natural born storyteller

His first foray into public storytelling started in college, where he wrote and performed in a sketch comedy group called Penguins Without Pants and became comfortable on a stage. He then put his writing skills to use and helped start a creative writing circle after college.

Whether it’s a tale about renting out a yoga studio on Airbnb as a low-cost lodging solution for a group of sports fans, meeting a childhood-hero-fortune-cookie-factory-owner through a craigslist exchange, or explaining the origin of his big fans shirt that his wife had made for him in Guinea, Nick routinely makes us laugh at Monday morning meetings with stories of his escapades. Sure, he has a penchant for adventure, but he also has a knack for finding the story and sharing it.

He has an appetite for technology

Nick came to 2A with a strong foundation in marketing, years of client management experience, and a flair for organizing information, but we thought we’d need to ramp him up on B2B technology. Think again. His ability to quickly find the kernel of value in complex products makes him a natural with our software clients. Turns out, he cut his teeth at a large aerospace and defense technology contractor, where he worked to translate the dry specifications of high-tech products into value messaging.

All that is to say we’re big fans of Nick Dwyer. Once you get to know him, we think you will be too.

08/24/2016

4 steps to becoming a feedback front-runner

By: Abby Breckenridge

Find the nugget

I’ve been looking for a reason to visit the recently renovated School of Visual Concepts, and certainly didn’t think it would come as an opportunity to speak with young designers about leadership. But that’s exactly what I got to do last Friday at an AIGA Emerge event—part of a national campaign to strengthen offerings for emerging designers.

My message? Feedback is a muscle that needs building and you’d better head to the gym if you want to grow in your career. And while giving feedback is certainly as important as receiving it, the early phases of our careers are weighted towards the receiving end, so that’s where I focused.

1.  Make space to hear it

If you’re too caught up in your own emotional response, you’ll miss the chance to grow. Calm that inner ego for a moment and make the emotional space to take in what you’re hearing.

2.  Find the nugget in what you hear

Not all feedback is good, or well explained, but there’s almost always a nugget in there that will make your work stronger. Ask questions. Think it through.

3.  Scout a way forward

Don’t get stuck and figure out what’s next. A new concept? A revision? A different deliverable? We’re making work that has purpose. It’ll never happen if we’re stuck.

4.  Recommit to the new vision

Find something you care about in the new path give it your all—even if that inner ego you squashed in step one still has her hands on her hips.

07/20/2016

Getting to know Jonathan

By: Abby Breckenridge

Jonathan with Hololens

I remember Jonathan from graduate school at UW Foster School of Business, he was the president of the class behind me and Renato.

I knew then that he was friendly and charismatic—the kind of guy everyone wants to know, and who chooses to know them back. I knew he was curious, with lots of interests that made for good conversation. I knew he was ambitious, as all class presidents are, and devoted to his community.

I didn’t know then, that like me, he grew up in the northwest and would later raise a family here. Jonathan is a 4th-generation resident of Washington state. He attended tiny Nooksack High School, which is a few miles from the Canadian border and surrounded by dairy farms.

I didn’t know that he’d go on to build a rich and fruitful career in marketing, with work spanning retail, software, wireless, consumer electronics, and the emerging space of Internet of Things (IoT).  Nor did I know that Jonathan has also held a wide variety of jobs that he now refers to as “character-building”: security guard, delivery driver, barista, janitor, seafood processor, nurse’s assistant, postal service mail sorter, and produce salesperson at Pike Place Market.

And I certainly didn’t know that we’d work together at 2A, and that his thoughtfulness, creativity and domain expertise would become invaluable assets to our work.

With almost four months at 2A under his belt, we’re grateful to have Jonathan on the team. We’re learning that he’s unfailingly prepared, and that we all benefit from it. We’re getting to know that his seniority in our field spans both the subject matter of marketing as well as the life skill of understanding humans and how to work well with them. We’ve also gotten a taste of his passion for virtual reality and curiosity for disruptive technology.

You should get to know Jonathan too. Maybe he’ll help you with your launch strategy or make your messaging more customer-focused, or maybe you’ll grab a beer and talk about the possibilities of IoT. Drop us a line.

03/23/2016

.what?

By: Abby Breckenridge

.what

Web addresses are changing. Have you noticed? We’re no longer limited to the old standards of .com, .gov, .net, and .org. Instead, a cruise through the internet will reveal a bonanza of new options: .yoga, .online, .marketing, .sexy, .buy, .read, .family, to name a few.

Generic top-level domains (gTLD), or the letters that come after the dot, are now for sale. ICANN, the international non-profit organization that coordinates unique web addresses, sells gTLDs to lucky applicants for $185,000 a pop. Why pay such a high price? There are a few reasons.

  • Betting on a market need. The growth of the internet has left very few attractive addresses available, and with over 820,000 new websites a day, choices getting bleaker. Google’s new company Alphabet can be found at abc.xyz.
  • Preventing fraud. Many businesses are buying their trademark gTLD to help fend off copycat sites which lure customers with almost-the-same addresses and scam for personal info. Barclays can be found at home.barclays, and hundreds of other companies have purchased their namesake gTLD.

As part of our recent rebranding from 2Adaptive to 2A we needed a new url. 2A.com wasn’t available, so we dove down the rabbit hole of new gTLDs and found something not only suitable, but better. 2A.consulting is clean, modern, and specific about what we do. Turns out, we’re in good company.

02/16/2016

We’d like to (re)introduce ourselves. Hi, we’re 2A.

By: Abby Breckenridge

Hello my name is 2A

“Less is more work.”

It’s architect Rick Joy’s bastardization of Mies van der Rohe’s oft-cited modernist aphorism “Less is more.” It’s also a phrase we take to heart here in the office as we help our clients tell their stories. There’s an elegance in simplicity and it doesn’t always come easily.

Our work is to help our clients say more with less—to be crisp and impactful as they connect with their audiences. Sometimes it’s easier to be verbose, but we’ve found it works better to be intentional and cut the fat. Making every pixel count is at the foundation of what we do, and it comes from a practiced collaboration between our consultants, writers and designers.

So we decided to make the cobbler’s kid some shoes and tell our own story with less, starting with our name. Meet 2A.

2A is a slimmed down, cleaned up version of who we’ve always been: 2Adaptive. Our roots in adaptive management still inform who we are, but our commitment to elegant and impactful storytelling is more who we are today. We’re excited about our new name, and we’re even more excited to work with you. Take a look at some of our favorite projects and send us a note.

02/10/2016

Urgent and important

By: Abby Breckenridge

Eisenhower Decision Matrix diagram

We’re just finishing up a classic four-square framework for a client—the ubiquitous diagram favored by MBAs where you place things along a two continuums, left-to-right and top-to-bottom, always aiming to direct the eye of your viewer to that enviable position of the upper right-hand quadrant. It’s popular because it’s good, and provides a clear method to quickly visualize a landscape of options based on a few key criteria. But like a good pop song, when you’ve heard it one too many times, the shine is off and it gets annoying (Hotline Bling, anyone?).

The exercise reminded me of my favorite four-square, one I always go back to when things get busy. The Eisenhower Decision Matrix reminds us to make sure we’re spending our precious time wisely, and getting the right things done. The truth is we all spend time in each quadrant and that’s not going to change, but like all things tempting, the skill is in the balance of not overindulging in any one quadrant.  In general, we spend too much time in urgent/not-important (checking email on our phone as we walk to the bathroom) and not enough time in important/not-urgent (date night).

How do you parse your day?

09/30/2015

Bring on the waterworks

By: Abby Breckenridge

bring on the waterworks

A few weeks ago, a good friend reached out to me and another friend about a mentoring situation she was struggling with at work. Her mentee was a young, ambitious, well-respected female developer in a mostly male company. She had recently cried in front of more senior colleagues in response to some reasonable feedback, and was feeling ashamed and regretful. She wanted advice on what she should do, not wanting to build a reputation as “the girl that cries.”

After much discussion about the pros and cons of crying at work, we basically came to this:

Shake it off.

Crying may not be the best way to get things done at work, but it happens. I’ve certainly done it, more than once. After a quick browse through the internet, it became clear that we are not alone in our advice. Apparently Sheryl Sandberg declared its ok to cry at work in 2013.

“Look, I’m not suggesting that the way to get to the corner office is to cry as much as possible. Nobody is going to publish the next Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and say that crying is one of them. But I am saying that it happens…Rather than spend all this time beating ourselves up for it, let’s accept ourselves. OK, I cried, life went on. And I think that’s part of the message of Lean In, like we are human beings, we are emotional beings and we can be our whole selves at work.”

In all of our job descriptions at 2A, we include this clause:

We like what we do, and we want to work with people who are excited to be at work, and nice to be around.  At the end of the day, work relationships are a big portion of our lives, and we want them to be rewarding and enjoyable.

To me, that means we want real whole people on our team. And if you’re a person who cries when you get emotional, bring it on.