For the last four years (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009), I’ve documented a bit of life and times at the end of each year. This is a look at life in 2013.
Well, we did not quite double this year… but we got close :). We have never been big on awards and outside validation (a lot of it is pretty much crap), but we decided to submit ourselves to a handful of them for the first time this year, because the staff at Carrot is incredibly talented and deserves to be recognized formally. Carrot was recognized by Inc 500 as one of the “Fastest growing companies in the US in 2013.” We also won numerous awards, including “Best Mid-Sized Social Media Agency" from the Shorty Awards. Mike was also recognized by PR Week in their 40 Under 40 for 2013.
We redesigned our website this year, which was way overdue for an update to reflect modern Carrot :) Highlighting that Carrot has always been more than just a digital agency, both in practice and spirit, we adopted carrot.is for our primary domain. I am proud of the site revamp, front to back - and there is still more in development. Among the brand efforts this year was also a love letter to NYC: Carrot is (proudly) Made in NY. We refreshed our tumblr, and focused a LOT on our new employee experience… some of which involved an app that we hope to make public early in 2014, and the construction of a pretty awesome kit (you’ll have to join us or watch tweets from new hires to learn more ;). We got a corporate apartment (decorated by Beth) to help out new hires landing in NYC, as well as family of Carrot staff visiting, since many people are not originally from the city. We also used the apartment roof for Carrot yoga. We sent a care package to the hard-working New Media kids at RIT, to get them excited ahead of our annual recruiting trip. Mike, Steve, Kyle and I invested in Fornino Pizza, which the Carrot Crew enjoyed from the nearby Pier 6 location in DUMBO. Aside from personal interest in owning part of Brooklyn’s finest pizza brand and a rooftop bar, we wanted a place where Carrots could get a little VIP treatment and show off to friends, family and clients :).
Of course, the biggest news of the year for Carrot was our sale to VICE Media. We never seriously considered any of the numerous offers we’ve received from larger companies within “our industry” (read: Ad / PR) over the years, because we’ve seen what happens to company culture and how detached the founders/ partners become. We did not work for 8.5 years on Carrot for an ending like that, no matter how good the offers were financially: It just wasn’t why we started this journey. However, VICE’s offer was different. It allows us to stay true to Carrot, to the point where not taking it would honestly contradict our own principles. Not only did they somehow fit exactly our culture and mission, they actually wanted us specifically for our scattered DNA… The tech development and agency sides of Carrot were both attractive to them, something we have never experienced previously. They offered us not an ending but a greater future: The chance to do more important work, the type of work we are great at, and the opportunity to make an impact in the world while doing it. With this, I honestly feel like our best work is still ahead of us, and that may not have been the case otherwise.
Not only has this sparked a new level of excitement around Carrot, it has reinvigorated Mike and myself, whose careers have been solely defined by what we have built here. We are not the same kids 8.5 years ago with $800 and a few dilapidated computers in a mildewing basement running off of bulk easy-mac and hopes and dreams… we have grown up, a lot. We have other stakeholders in our personal lives now, and for the first time have had to look at what we want and actually need from life in leu of changing circumstances (more on that below :). Good things, but real things. Before moving on, it’s worth highlighting a few client items. New clients included Wilson (across several different sports verticals), Barilla, Lord & Taylor, Blue Chair Bay (which replaced Kraken), Oakley and, of course, VICE Media. We continued work with Target, CMT, Red Bull and MTV. We celebrated the launch of one of the world’s most iconic luxury brands into Social Media. We were thrilled to see some of our strategy and pre-launch efforts with Shinola succeed with an incredible launch of the brand. Their limited-edition Runwell watch (pre-sale) sold out quickly and their other products have been selling like crazy. Stay tuned for some new clients to be announced in early 2014!
This year we had a few losses in our family… Beth’s nearly 97 year old grandfather, a veteran of three wars, was laid to rest. I am glad that I got to know him and hear a little bit of his incredible life. I also lost Romeo this year, my cat and companion of 5 years. It’s hard to explain the relationship I had with him … but it feels more accurate to call him a close friend rather than just a “pet.” We drove hundreds of miles together, lived in several different apartments, and he was by my side through some of the biggest ups and downs of my life. It is still very hard for me to think of him unfortunately, but I hope that someday my memories of him will make me smile instead. Poor Lady Mary was traumatized by Romeo’s sudden passing, and suffered another loss when, after only 3 months, we had to put her new kitten friend Jack to sleep. He was suffering from FIP and while our time with him was very brief, it was heartbreaking to see a baby suffering, so we made the tough (but ultimately right) call.
Thankfully, right after we lost Romeo, we had a trip to Disney (previously booked). As an early celebration of my 30th Birthday from Beth, I was able to forget my sorrow for a bit and be a kid for a few days at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (trip album here). It was my first visit in 20 years, and we had an absolute blast! I highly recommending staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. On my actual birthday in July, we escaped to Connecticut and enjoyed delicious food prepared by my best friend Ryan, followed by camping at Falls Village. I woke up to being 30 with a bit of a stiff back from the sleeping on rock slabs (and becoming an old man), but enjoyed a sunrise at the falls. Full album here.
In the circle of life, death is offset by new life, and this year we welcomed Michael Germano III into the world! It was an incredible thing to see your best friends become parents. I am so happy for them, and MG3 is an awesome kid so far. We also attended Ryan Mack, Jason Beckerman, and Joey Corcoran’s weddings this year, which were all a great time.
Concerts have traditionally been my escape and a source of pure joy for me, and I am happy to say that I managed to get out to a bunch this year again. This is also the first time I also missed a lot of shows, which resulted in friends, family and in some cases followers on twitter getting some pretty great treats. Given everything going on this year between work and wedding, I missed Paul McCartney, The National, Emancipator, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam John Mayer and Tedeschi Trucks Band. However, here is what I did catch:
There were a lot of people who made this year great, particularly with the wedding… So, thank you to all of our friends and family for a wonderful 2013, which saw some of the biggest life events I will experience. It was a truly incredible year. I look forward to working for VICE, continuing to make Carrot a place where people are proud to work, and more good times in 2014. Cheers!