We interrupt our usual programming for this special tribute to my business partner, Jim Joyal, who is celebrating a birthday today.
Jim likes to tell people he “used to be somebody.” Back in the day – oh, about two recessions ago — he was the president of SHIFT’s predecessor agency, manning the tiller as it grew to $15M … and helping the rest of us to hold on for dear life as the dot-bust ravaged our old firm.
In those days when we were on the rise, one of the seminal moments of my career occurred in Jim’s office. It was a friendly get-to-know-you kind of meeting, but I was just an Account Manager at the time, and an “individual contributor,” at that – I had no team, no “portfolio” beyond a coupla clients. I was vaguely content, but admittedly a bit adrift. Anything Jim said sounded like the Word of God.
He asked me what I wanted from my career. I said, “Really, as long as I can write, I am pretty happy.” Jim gave me a long look. “Our industry is full of good writers,” he said. “Wouldn’t you like to manage people, to be a leader? That’s where the action is, Todd; that’s where the money is, too. You have a family. You should think about that answer some more.” Boom. Done. Course correction activated. Within a few weeks, I requested a meeting with the senior management and asked if I could become the Agency’s “Internet Guy.”
Of course, that was just one of many epochal moments I can recall sharing with Jim over the past 17(!) years.
In the weeks prior to forming SHIFT from the smoldering ashes of that previous agency, we’d take turns asking each other if we were crazy, and bucking each other up.
When we closed our first piece of business as “SHIFT Communications” (thank you for trusting us, Quantum! – still a client 8 years later!) we shared a look that said, “Whoa. This might work.” And in the ensuing years, as we hired amazing people and closed a bunch of blue-chip brands, there were several moments when we marveled together at our good luck.
Today you may know me as the “face” of SHIFT Communications but Jim Joyal is very much the “heart” of the operation. He’s a “hail fellow, well-met” sort of guy, but in a genuine way. Jim is a natural politician of the very best type; team morale rises when he enters a room, and clients feel more confident in their decision to join our roster when they meet him. If you are ever looking for a job in marketing in the Boston area, Jim is the unofficial Employment Agency: I’ve lost count of how many marketing execs owe their livelihoods to Jim’s connections and advocacy. He is a generous friend, a thoughtful businessman, and is widely respected by friends, family and colleagues. He’s just simply a pal to all, and I love the guy.
Happy Birthday, Jimmy J! You’re still a “somebody” – not just a principal at SHIFT but a principle reason so many of us are so proud and happy to be here.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 at 10:32 am By Todd Defren