Sunday, May 16, 2004

Spring has arrived! / methodfive

Well, irregardless of the ramblings, spring has most definitely arrived here in New York, although it feels more like mid-summer, what with the recent thunderstorms. Spring is definitely one of the best times of the year, if not THE best. As a family friend I stayed with in Milan for some time used to say, his favorite English phrase for whatever reason: "SPRING HAS SPRUNG!" (Imagine that being said with the Italian rolling R's and the Italian tendency to add a vowel at the end of each word, and I think you'll get the picture...)

Aside the fact the weather becomes fantastic, from a sport enthusiast's point of view, April/May is one of the best times of the year (aside the fact it's my birthday in April!!!). Let's see...Formula 1 season has begun, hockey (the best professional team sport there is, period) is now well into the playoffs, it's playoff season in basketball (the only time of the year I can bear to watch b-ball), AND baseball season has just begun. I don't really watch the ponies, but the derby is around this time of the year as well...

Also, it's time for bars to open up their outdoor sections, and this week, I caught up with an old colleague, Tushar Tanna, at a place right down the street from me that just recently reopened its outdoor section. It was the first time in over three years we actually saw each other in person, although we've been communicating over e-mail periodically. We sat down to celebrate his recent engagement, and also to reminisce about the company we used to work for, methodfive, during the heyday of the late 90's in the Internet boom. Adeo Ressi, whom I've mentioned before, was the CEO, and we concurred that that organization was one of the most unique experiences we've had professionally.

The company was only about 80 people all in all, and he and I were in its vanguard, small unit that dealt with helping clients build their business strategy. Ours was a small unit, seven of us all at our largest point -- I was the third one into the unit, aside Liz Tracey (whom I still consider to be one of the most intelligent, well-read, and well-humored individual I've come across) and Ingrid Michelsen. I was the first to have been hired laterally into the group, and I was soon followed by Tushar Tanna, Susie Nam, Erik Gustafson, and Alex Ressi.

I've lost touch with most from the Strategy team since. The last time I saw Susie Nam was in London, after she'd transferred there soon after our company had been acquired. I still get it confused, but I forget if she'd been at Deutsche Bank or Deutsch, the advertising agency...I'm pretty sure it was the latter since I remember her mentioning iDeutsch during the interview. Erik Gustafson I hear about through Alex Ressi, and he is presently at Columbia working on his MBA, after having gone to Darestep, E&Y's offshoot, immediately after m5. Ingrid Michelsen, I have no idea what she's up to, and Liz Tracey, I think is somewhere up north working on a PhD...

It truly was a unique group within a truly unique organization, filled with brilliant people all with a great sense of humor -- we used to have beers every Friday at the office -- Lani Abrantes, the receptionist, would come by Friday afternoon asking what kinds of beers we wanted -- no piss-water, thank you, only the finest. And man, we would just have a great time.

I can't remember all of our clients at this time, but, for a tiny little operation like ours, often overshadowed by the I-boom prodigies like Razorfish, Scient, Sapient, Organic, and the ilk, we had an impressive client list -- the clients I can remember are the projects I personally worked on, such as: Cravath, Swaine, & Moore, the prestigious law firm, that, for instance, worked on the infamous Time Warner / AOL merger and also that of our business partner, Price Waterhouse and Coopers Lybrand; Golf Digest, the NYT's most-read golf periodical in the world; Lenox Collections, kind of tacky in my own opinion, but still the only American china and crystal company in operation for over a century -- we used to have to go down to Langhorne, PA, for this one, right by Sesame Place (Sesame Street's theme park)...; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, helping them with a national network of local chambers; etc. Clients I personally didn't work on I remember of are the Economist, I seem to remember a pharmaceuticals giant like a Pfizer, and I seem to remember an aerospace giant, which I’m certain wasn't Lockheed...

Nevertheless, I remember working on some proposals jointly with the folks over at PwC on Swatch, and also with Yamaha after we'd been acquired. One client I remember having won in particular was Lojas Americanas, which, if you're from Latin America, you would recognize the name -- I worked very hard on this account with business development vixen Keri Downey, only to NOT go to Brazil after winning the client due to conflicts. If there was one office romance opportunity missed that I regret the most, it would hands down have to be one with Keri Downey -- if you want to talk about obvious signs in hindsight, this is one I still kick myself for!

For chrissakes we'd flirt blatantly and shamelessly at work (she sat right behind me), she would often mock me as being afraid of women in general, and the girl invited me to "see her apartment" alone after a night out with a few of her friends on two separate occasions...goddammit I totally should have shagged seemed the entire office was curious about anything going on between her and me, which is I think ultimately why I chose to avoid the situation, but dammit dammit dammit she was so damn highly shaggable. As Anthony Matus used to say, Very.

Speaking of Anothony Matus, what a great character -- he had great call signs for everyone at the office. He made any party a great party just by being there, and it wasn't just because he could drink like a fish. I have not encountered anyone to this day that could even fathom of drinking him under the table, but aside that, he was just a great spirit, with a hilarious sense of humor. He's the one that recruited me into m5, and man, we still talk about the hiring process -- he was extremely ill during the hiring conversation, so I suggested to him highly he take three Super C Fresh Samantha's in a row. And he actually did it, near puking up the whole thing. I wish I had some of the e-mails from then, simply because his e-mails were brilliant in their hilarity.



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