Last week, the American Advertising Federation awarded me the Silver Medal for a lifetime of achievement in my field. Everything was a blur that night. Besides the emotional numbness that followed being recognized for such an honor, I found myself drifting through corridors of memories while old friends and colleagues offered their congratulations. And as if that singular moment wasn’t enough, it was then followed by my agency killing it with award after award for the work we’d produced last year for clients, culminating with the much-sought-after Best of Show award. So ma Oy from the agency were there to bask in the glow and that made it extra special for all of us. What a capstone to an already unforgettable evening.
So, a lifetime award for achievement? That’s sobering. But also incredibly empowering and affirmational. I’ve been told numerous times over the years that the way I run my shop is not at all typical – more a club than a company. But it’s always felt right, so for the Federation to look at what I’ve done and how I’ve done it and decide to honor that, is very satisfying indeed.
I think back to 2003, when I opened the doors of Dunn&Co. by myself in an old cigar factory. With two freelance partners, we began to churn out work that within six months of our opening was already, and quite unexpectedly, winning ad awards. We started hot and, quite frankly, rarely ever cooled off. It’s been an unlikely 17-year run, to be sure.
They say you make your own luck, and if that’s true then I’m a master luck craftsman because I feel I’ve been about as fortunate as you could be in this career. Sure, I worked hard. I’m a workaholic. But I also partnered with or hired the best people I could find. A few of my staff are the most important people in my life and I absolutely wouldn’t be here without them. Success simply will not come your way if you don’t work alongside exceptionally talented colleagues. But the way everything came together, year after year, and the timing of how opportunities found their way to the agency at just the moment I needed them was nothing short of providential. As a result, my agency has grown from me in the corner of a building full of strange tenants to our owning the building, and Dunn’s staff of 45 being its only residents. And every time we grew, we realized it was important to give back as we could. To help organizations like the ALS Association, and the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, and the State of Florida’s drunk driving awareness program. Some of the most fulfilling work I’ve been a part of has been to work with and support these organizations.
I’m happy and lucky to have been able to start a company that grew to be something special. That not only put money in the bank and food on the table, but that was able to employ individuals and allowed all of us to do what we love. That was especially chosen to create breakthrough and memorable work that would promote brands and non-profits in order to help them achieve the success they so desperately needed. All of this and more has made running Dunn&Co. an unforgettable ride.
The Silver Medal for a lifetime of achievement in advertising, dedicated to the craft and to helping others. I’m honored to be recognized. Thank you, from my heart.