This started off as an email to all of my naming agency employees, but before I hit ‘send’ I thought to myself that even if maybe someone needed an explanation ‘out there’, they’d be unlikely to find one of reason. For some reason, everything is ‘major’ or ‘not at all’ so still question It All.
I want you guys to know where I’m at. After phone calls with other employers & job creators, there’s a very real sense of ‘out there’ getting closer but it’s still too far to get a sense of what it is ‘in here’. There are leadership-themed books now littering my desk that have the same ‘cringe-y’ feeling that those books people actually are buying about racism. Really? Really. It’s like you guys won a bet and now I have to watch American Idol on repeat.
These ‘leadership books’ all say pretty much the same thing: Act brave for your employees. I say: No. Acting is pretending. I can’t play pretend on the regular, let alone purposefully. I knew when acting was acting and for me, it was in a singular hour on a singular day of the week, but I only loved it as a class. And that’s what might be cool with right Now. If you thought you didn’t stand for anything before, I have a hunch for finding a lot of Big Things you definitely know you’re not down with Now.
Authenticity is not a behavior Zuck.
And dude, do you remember our naming agency’s #suckitzuck campaign almost seven years ago? We always had his number guys. Well now he has the power of deciding who gets the microphone, and what we suspected about him was really right all along. In fact, nothing is happening now that we didn’t call BS on. Except it’s happening all at once and people that wouldn’t be scary without the microphone suddenly are. And I’m still … me. I cannot put on a mask, a guise, or whatever to simply be (me). And I talk the same to every single person, still. But for some reason, the only conversations that make any sense this year are the ones that are 1:1.
You guys know what it has to feel like to have an open innovation system and only then be able to ‘feel’ authenticity as part of someone’s character. Every thinker in this group seems to do a lot of thinking and then will find themselves only landing on the side of conspiracy. What’s scarier than censorship? Self-censorship.
It takes someone to tell me ‘Hey, you have a lot of responsibility at your naming agency,’ so I guess I carry it well. I’ve been trying to protect you guys. I keep asking myself: “How do I filter out The Bad Guy?” The Bad Guy has always wanted to tear individualism down, and that is our driver. You can only do ‘personalized retargeting’ when you can sell a client’s product or service 1:1 and that requires respecting an individual’s right to decide. And heck, I’m so proud of you all because we either make someone wonder why not, or we make them feel something. That isn’t easy, and not only do we do it well but we just know that it’s a craft, Haven’t we always fought for the right to not sell out? We have been protecting our right to be absurd for that is the difference between a story and the ability to tell a story, as Sam did Once a Day, Every Single Day. We are storytellers and right now the right to wonder is at stake. Not even that, but maybe the right to even just ask a question. Why is being so absolute all we read about now?
Here’s the good news
The bad guy is desperate right now. And when have I ever said, “I know this is true?” I can tell you: Never. But how many times have I said ‘“We’re going all out before I ever give up and here’s what we have to do so I can sleep at night?” A million times or more. So much I’m sick of hearing my own voice guys. And sorry, but you’re going to keep weeding out feminists (that are dudes too) that think I’m being sexist by saying ‘dudes’ because they are singular in thought and worse, want everyone to be too. That concept is one of acceptance and non-judgment and when it’s brought en masse and finds a marketplace (sorry Gwyneth, but the rant’s still on you; wait no even Madonna had A Space, in Our Time), it becomes just another system I opted out of because it was only good in theory.
Outrage is nothing new, but it as A Culture, Is. And It should be. But dude, have we ever trusted anything? No. Have I always questioned it All? Hell yes. Were the things that I hate always filed under ‘Normal’ and now…#normcore? F yes. And did I just have to adapt and use that word to make it simple? Yes. Do I hate myself for it? No. Do I feel gross for having to go There? Yes. So much so that I get it. On an individual level. But the problem is not The Bad Person. The problem is that The Bad Person has the microphone and he’s in a white house, but his very singular act of holding up assistance checks to put his signature on it is where we just need to stop talking and thinking about Him, no matter what the party lines Before we let him enter our minds (and into our homes) we cared about those who were getting sick, and laid off, and I’ve told Sam and Kelsie and now I’ll tell you too, that as a Gen X’er, that first month made me sick because it reminded me of a dark time more than a decade ago when I knew people were dying of something really weird, and it was the smartest group I knew then (and the bravest). The gay community. Yes, I said it. I know you can believe it. Believe me, when you had everyone older than you trying to tell you that they were made and not born you knew that it didn’t even matter. All that mattered was that they existed and that I loved them as individuals and that my mind files everything under ‘What Is a Pattern.’ I remember the very real and tangible voices (but hushed) of me asking ‘Do you feel okay?’ and the very real voice inside me thinking about others: “They don’t even know you yet.”
Guys, the irony is this.
Those assistance checks I support, but I don’t understand the bailouts. You say ‘bond’ and I press ‘snore’. I can hear you all giving me tons of crap for not being able to do A Math Equation, yet you guys know I’ve always been able to visualize data like no other. We haven’t been back at our naming agency office except for One Day, and that One Day was So Good because as Life would Have It, Kelsie & I were laughing This Hard at Ourselves and life should be about Those moments. Guys, right after I walked out to go to the Rest Room, and I couldn’t even catch A Break by two guys that looked like they just robbed a bank. Apparently, we definitely need A Reality Show. Man, that was a straight-up Vintage Feel that makes me appreciate everything about classical antiquity. It was a naming agency, Rock Candy Media classic, of The Greatest Hits kind, and as usual, there are zero witnesses. I want to share That with you all, So Bad.
The assistance checks are good, but they are not the problem. It’s knowing that what is important is everything you’re not hearing about and that your very real fear of the world being owned by two companies just might be true. Who are these conglomerates the government is bailing out? How can we get to ‘why’ unless we know the ‘who’? Factor X is felt by everyone providing a job right now. Especially the founders. We risked it all yet we never got A Phone Call. We never got Instructions. In fact, my naming agency Rock Candy Media just stayed closed until maybe we suspected someone other than ourselves were following lockdown. We just know that we have to make up for it on the back end because we don’t even know what a corporate exemption or a huge tax exemption feels like. It must feel good to get a hall pass for… not caring about your employees? Airlines were the first ones to know something was up and they didn’t want their flight attendants to wear masks upon request so passengers wouldn’t ‘freak out’. Um, That is Wrong. And we still can’t find that dude in that house to look at him dead in the eyes to stare him down. If I could you know I’d be knocking on that door right now. Yes, the person who liked cold-calling wants to be the same person who makes a grown man cry. And unfortunately, I get The Irony.
I won’t let my naming agency employees not know my temperature.
We, as in job creators and employers at a naming agency, are human beings first. Treat this as a natural disaster. You know I say that it’s the Heart Over Head decisions that matter in life. And when I call another employer to talk, rest assured we are doing anything but hating. We are all literally feeling the very real weight of that Responsibility that we were able to carry before, that we didn’t talk about because we just never thought of ourselves as victims. We are doers, not talkers. Right now we are talking … a lot. There seems to be nothing we can Do because Out There all these people in power are lying. Our leads have never been higher in quality and because they are, they are investing in their employees as much as possible right now and they are focused on client retention. And my conversation with them has been ‘To Be Continued,’ so it’s all good in business development. If you understand that a brick and mortar owner does not see their next location as property they’d choose to rent when they always planned to buy that land, then you’ll get what I’ve said time and time before: Every new account we will land In One Singular Day. Probably in one hour, back-to-back like before. File that under what I’ve always said and please remember what You have witnessed. Right now the truth is in what everyone is not saying: I’ve never put us (each and every one of us), Rock Candy Media, naming agency, up for sale. Remember concepts? Yeah, those new ideas are what may be at stake. If anything, the jaw-dropping when I fire a client for messing with one of you is just En Masse. We have always been in it For The Long Haul and ours is the only channel I’ve ever opted into.
It is so different from Before.
Everything I thought was an asset just may be a risk. So much so that I’m just not gambling on you guys. That’s what’s keeping me up at night. The Big Risk is a corporate entity that can do the most possible harm, yet before This looked like and sounded like The Good Guy before. What you guys do is hard and that’s why I respect you each So Much. That’s also why I just cannot sleep Right Now. It takes mad talent to make someone feel something so much that they take one click and a second one to opt-in. Did you know that? I do. And guess what? You already know that because not only do I brag to the client, I brag about you to you. Leadership at my naming agency has always gone down in Real-Time and f*ck we haven’t had time to re-brand ourselves because we’re still The Anti-Template in thought, The Anti-Template in real life, The Anti-Template at home, The Anti-Template at the office and we don’t do lifestyle branding because we target the daily behaviors of an intent-based purchaser that show they walk the talk so our clients can cut out the noise.
Our Naming Agency Just Gets IT.
How do you explain that ability ‘to just Get It’ when we started making all these recruiting rules such as: Do not hire others who worked at any ‘specialty’ industry naming agencies. If they only did ‘medical marketing’ they only wanted The Plan handed to them. Then we landed right back where it all started: Only hire those who are self-taught. There is a lot of truth to “Where there is A will, there is A way. Which is why it’s still better to just do it ourselves. We gift them with the Independence to get back to doing what they love to do. Our clients are our co-creators, and I, Annie Liao Jones am here to tell you that I never worked so hard at trying to understand Right Now. Yet I’m still in the same ‘Protect’ mode I was when This went down, and it is only about client retention and employee benefit. I’ve just not been able to feel the texture of this Latest composition down, and you guys know, I’m a walking existential crisis because I do still roll, in The Deep. I am a seeker and I tell along the way. Well Life, you got me on This One. And man, the mind is a powerful thing when you worship at the altar of a singular Thing so much that your past Delusion and this is a Daily thrice-a-day drive-by in slow motion, and dude, please give us A Pass. I’ve never had to ask for one in my entire life and don’t ask me if I’m okay when you’re now having to talk Just Because about some Fragility you have? How dare You. Fragile is how a woman at home feels Every Minute of Every Waking Day because her domestic partner just went on a buying spree of the hand tool variety. I haven’t healed from the First Day of This and it was Whiplash. My neck hurts, my head doesn’t but darn it, my heart definitely does.
I’m not a creeper.
Weirdly enough, I’m not a creeper…I’m curious by design but not about the People I Know. So it’s All the Same yet Everything is Different. Still, if we ever need an HR Department at my naming agency, I’m out. But this is on My Dime and on My Dime is the fact that I’ve accepted that This Shall Scar, but I need a very worthy story to carry it around for life. We still, shall not let The Double-Ugly in. This story is going to have a very Human Ending because one that does not start or end without The Individual is one that is not based on Mutual Respect. I want to get it in the History section at our local Bookstore ASAP (and while I’m at it why hasn’t a Productivity App solved that One Thing?) and that is It. It’s definitely not getting its own Category Name any type of special section, and I’ll be damned if they make up any more cringe-y Fake Word(s) because man, they suck at Naming. Don’t pull The Delusion Thing and think for a second The Bad Guy in That House actually wants to help (out), because he would need humility to ask for it. He is a Public Servant like our Doctorates and Medical Interns and he has not asked how he can help anybody but those that Look The Other Way. Complicity is a crime, and no one has to sign on the dotted line. And us Founders? We know how to take responsibility if we are still here today. When I looked back at ten years, I said man, The Journey is Worth Every Penny. Even after all of This. F that and F them.
Kids, it’s going to not just be All Right.
It’s going to be Air Tight. Ignore the Masses, who remain silent, because what did I always say about Those Whom Just Will Not Work Out? When someone is working for us in Our House, our naming agency, and doesn’t ask One Question on The First Day, and by the end of The First Week, it’s simply easier to rip the band-aid off and say “I guess Curiosity isn’t your king.” I’m glad to say it remains Mine.
View on Medium