Hi there. I'm Matt. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.1

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Nov 16, 2010 | Comments

Big news: I’ve joined Undercurrent [1]. This is especially meaningful to me. Here’s why.

I was lucky my senior year of college. I interned with American Express in NYC the summer prior, and I was fortunate enough to have an offer to return after graduation.

While interning with AmEx, I did general marketing stuff. Work was great until AmEx’s agency-of-record caught my eye: Digitas. They were creative. They wore jeans. And most of all, they were digital. I shouldn’t have been wooed by such superficial reasons, but I was. I wanted to be in the digital club–the cool club.

When I returned to school from my internship, I aggressively applied to 50 or 60 digital agencies. In hindsight, the mistakes are endless:

  • Expecting agencies to hire a Michigan grad in November for a May start date (logistically impossible for small firms).
  • Believing that digital meant digital agency (now recognizing the the world of online startups, consultancies, and research firms).
  • Copy and pasting the same cover letter/resume for every application (did I really expect to get hired by sounding like everyone else?).

I didn’t receive one reply. Business school prepared me to work for big corporations and management consultancies, where school, GPA, and extra-curricular activities are meaningful. Whatever it took to join the digital club, I didn’t have it. So I accepted an offer with AmEx on day of their deadline and shipped off to NYC in the spring.

Looking back, here’s the big lesson for me: joining Undercurrent followed a nontraditional path. Being passionate about digital, rather than saying you’re passionate in a cover letter/resume, has innumerable consequences. I have a feeling that this is the case for most folks when living their passion through writing, blogs, and side-projects.

One other thing. A quote I read last year continues to lurk in mind:

“You can divide our industry into two kinds of people: those who want to go work for a company to make it successful, and those who want to go work for a successful company.” [Jamie Zawinski]

I repeat this often, to friends, to co-workers, and even to an interviewer at Undercurrent. It’s helped me think about my lingering desire for shiny companies like IDEO, Crispin, Facebook, and Google. For such companies, I imagine that their siren is difficult for anyone to resist, a reason why few B-school grads can look past McKinsey and Goldman Sachs as their top choice. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why these companies are attractive and one’s role in an already well-oiled machine.

My new job is a step in a different direction, an opportunity to grow a business and create something meaningful.

[1] It’s a company that I’ve admired for some time, first hearing founder Aaron Dignan’s gaming mechanics speech in 2008 and discovering the wonderful blogs of employees Bud Caddell (now former employee) and Mike Arauz.

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  • Congrats!

    Looking forward to seeing what you help to create, both for Undercurrent and on this very here blog.

    Also, thanks for sharing the Zawinski quote. Really interesting way to divide our industry.

  • Good stuff, Matt. Aaron, Josh, and the rest at UC are smart folks. Looking forward to hearing about your successes!

  • Want to join the fanboyism and congratulate the annoucement!

  • Thanks Fan--appreciate the kind words.

  • Raquel Frechette

    Great news! Also - continually impressed with your blog. Keep it up!

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