I started at Rock Candy Media after after getting laid off from a very corporate job at a very corporate company. Getting laid off wasn’t even the worst thing that happened to me there. Raises were handed out at the standard 2% a year if you were lucky. The majority of my days were spent working on sales collateral (ie powerpoint presentations and one-sheets). I rarely got to flex my creative muscles. How could I even ask for a raise when I had no opportunity to show my value?
When the company restructured and my department was sent to pasture, I felt a mixture of fear and relief: Fear for the obvious financial reasons, and relief that I had no excuse other than to seek out the job I felt I deserved. I looked for work where I might actually be able to put my graphic design abilities to work: at a full-service advertising agency in Austin, Texas.
I remember being very nervous about my first day at a digital advertising agency in a position that was almost completely unfamiliar to me. I was, however, out to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do it. I wouldn’t fail, and I wouldn’t give up.
It wasn’t long before I was tasked with my first logo. Logos weren’t unfamiliar territory and I was starting to get comfortable in my new position. I worked for a week and brought to the table what I initially thought were good ideas.
Within five minutes my perfect logo dream world came crashing down around me. Annie completely ripped my ideas apart and called them out for what they were – unoriginal and boring. And I knew she was right. I knew I couldn’t grow in my field if I was unable to weed out the corporate tendencies and start fresh. If I wanted to succeed, I had to do better, not only for myself but for Rock Candy Media and our clients too. Instead of accepting this as a defeat, I reminded myself that I could do it, I wouldn’t fail, and I wouldn’t give up.
Over the next day or two I put my head down and worked my ass off. I didn’t stop until I had something I was truly proud of and I knew would prove that I was capable and damn good at my job. I remember pitching my next round of ideas to Annie and she was so impressed with my dedication and lack of butt hurt-ness, I got my first raise right then and there. Did I already mention that I came from corporate world where raises were handed out at the standard 2% a year if you were lucky? Well I did. And the idea of a raise so soon had me stunned. Annie laughed at me and was equally shocked at my surprise. Isn’t getting rewarded for good work how any company would motivate an employee to consistently outperform? It’s how she treats everyone at RCM who gives a damn and its her go-to reaction to reward hard work and quality results.
As surprising as it is to the rest of the world working boring, corporate jobs, there are business owners out there that really do give a shit and reward employees regularly, and Annie Liao Jones is one of them. It’s not that all Austin ad agencies function this way, but I think it’s what makes RCM a top Austin ad agency.
After my first raise it wasn’t long before I proved myself again and got another, and another sometime after that. Each time I was equally shocked, and each time Annie laughed at me for being shocked. I can’t speak enough about how generous she is, but this also isn’t a hand out. It’s earned. I have come to realize that many people crack under pressure but those that stick around and prove themselves are truly rewarded here.