What We Learned This Year – Mistress


By thelaegotist / /

Who Let the Year of the Dogs Out?

By Nate Stroot & Adam Valley


We’ve been partners coming up on six years now. Not only have we sat next to each other every Monday-Friday and more than a few weekends over the past half-decade, we even share a car lease. So, it only seems appropriate that we also share this reflection together.


We started the year the same way we ended last year, freelancing. During this period, we both discovered the importance of taking time for yourself to just…do things. One of us got on a last-second flight to Tokyo for “inspiration” in between gigs, while the other started boxing where he now regularly hard spars with 15-year-olds. By doing these sorts of “things” we feel like we’ve become better at our job when we’re able to take time away from it. This runs counter to our original belief that we had to be after it all day every day to improve. That might be residual from our time in NYC.


After riding the permalance gig as far as we could, we held one of our semi-annual State of the Union meetings. These meetings always convene in our favorite bar where the format is consistent. Every semi-annual STOU begins with us drinking somewhere between a casual to irresponsible amount of cocktails and concludes with a long talk about feelings. All of them. In this particular meeting, we both shared our feelings about missing the ownership of projects. We came to the conclusion that it was time to remove ourselves from the freelance market. It also didn’t hurt that we had both just done our taxes and learned just how complicated they are when you’re 1099.

On that note, we also found out the importance of having a good accountant.


Is May considered summer? Given how we’re structuring our reflection, we’re going to go ahead and say it is. Moving on. After our 2018 semi-annual SOTU, we started reaching out to recruiters, one of them being the fantastic, Brittany Rutkowski. She immediately hooked us up with Mistress and arranged an interview with a few of the managing partners. While we were sitting across from them chit-chatting about Chicken Soup for the Advertising Soul, we had a quick conversation with our eyes. It went something like:

“These guys are all kinds of wonderful.”

“Right?! I hope they make us an offer so we can steal everything they know from them.”

As soon as we left, we both verbalized it just to confirm that we were, in fact, having the same eye conversation (we were). Another interview later, Brittany called and informed us that we received an offer from Mistress. Despite this being a very normal process of how you become gainfully employed, we chalk our landing here up to opportunity and fortuitous timing.

Perhaps, the most important thing that can be gleaned from this one is that sometimes you get lucky. Also, let’s just keep the comment about stealing knowledge private on this open forum. There’s still a ton of stuff to take from these guys and we don’t think they’ve caught on yet.


Another thing we learned this year is that if you can’t think of a good ending just pull a quote from Sex and the City (see above). Not only do we think that it’s a great way to end any deck you’re making, but that it’s also a completely normal thing for two guys to do.

But ol’ Carrie Bradshaw was right, having friends in and adjacent to the ad world makes all the difference. By way of example, let’s say you find yourselves deciding that you absolutely must have a marker doodle for a PR blurb but neither of you have the time or skill set to do it the way it was imagined. So you go ahead and call in a favor to your favorite illustrator. Let’s just say his name is Dave Kloc of the amazing illustration house DaveKloc.com and he graciously agrees to get you out of a pinch yet again (and this time for no money). It’s then where you realize just how amazing it is to have talented friends around you that can do things you can’t.

That was definitely the most important thing we learned this year. Well either that or there’s no way splitting a car lease with your creative partner won’t be odd to anyone you share that fact with.


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