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The Longer Route

The Longer Route

Last week I spent Monday as my last day at the agency, Tuesday and Wednesday getting my new office into organized chaos, and Thursday headed out on a serendipitous trip to visit an agency I was offering some thought to on some new business pitches, then swinging to say goodbye to an agency colleague in our satellite office. The agency was in Wichita, Kansas, the agency in Downs, about 160 miles north. I could have jumped on the interstate for about a 3 hour, 45 minute trip. Instead, I took the longer route.

The biggest impetus for leaving the agency and undertaking Dorothy’s Power Foods was that I had to make some dramatic changes due to my health. Advertising agency life is stress. Constant change, always last-minute problems and unexpected requests from clients or prospects that didn’t leave any choice but to jump, and high. I can’t count how many personal plans were changed, vacations diminished or weekends lost. But the reward was the adrenaline high when you did it. Landed that new account. Made the client express “I don’t know how you did that.” If I didn’t change that life, I had a good chance of a heart attack in 5 years.

So I left and started a food company. Uh, wait. What happened to less stress? Starting a company is not, shall we say, relaxing. It’s a different stress. The stress of creating a lasting legacy of my mom, of creating the kind of company I’ve always wanted to create. A stress of creating put on myself, not a stress of doing forced on me by someone else according to their rules. It’s a big difference, at least it is for me. So I took the longer path. The path that would take me through northern Kansas, land I had never seen before. Through small farm town after small farm town, along winding roads and verdant fields (fair disclosure, Kansas fields are often pretty dry by this time of year, so all the green was unusual).

On this short journey, I experienced life like I wouldn’t have on a typical agency trip, which would have been all bout efficiency, long hours, and continuing to be in the office virtually 24x7. I listened to podcasts on the drive rather than client or team calls. I sang along with Glenn Campbell rather than offer insights or give direction. I pondered the future rather than imagining a presentation. It. Was. Glorious.

I stayed at the Shady Gove Cabins, hunting cabins refurbished by Kip and Mary and I was given the motorcycle cabin, a tribute to the classic cycles of American lore. Had dinner with Kip and Mary, the owners, and some other townspeople, the weekly “breakfast for dinner” on Thursday nights. I learned a little history of the town, we talked some shop about marketing, and enjoyed a really nice evening. The next day was spent talking with Brush Art about new business pitches, the state of the advertising industry and more town talk over lunch at the Downs Superfoods. After lunch, I left to drive to Wichita to say goodbye to a colleague whom I hadn’t had a chance to talk to before I left.

I met with Amanda and Nick for brunch at Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, a local craft restaurant with wonderful soups and sandwiches. Our conversation ranged from food to trust, and everything in between. I was able to hear about thoughts and dreams I would have likely never heard about in agency life, even thought at our agency we tried to build in purposeful “connected manager” time, which was not supposed to be about projects. I left for home just marveling at the brilliance of the people around us that we never see because we get so caught up in our individual thought. We miss how connected we actually are, if we just open our eyes a little to consider what is outside our immediate purview.

On the drive home, I confess did take the interstate, because I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Susan, my spouse, all about it. 😬 Sometimes it’s good to be in a hurry.

So what’s the point of all this, you might ask? what does this have to do with Dorothy’s Power Foods? Hopefully, it starts to share with you a little of who I am. As I’m making our first cereal, that you know the person behind it thinks this way, and is dedicated to improving our society, even if it starts with a hot cereal. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know.

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