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Que Pasa

Outdoor Advertising Warriors

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OOH…Here’s One Thing

by Jim Johnsen,
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Company

My friend Bill Board, was kind enough to invite me to write a periodic #OOH column.  Since I am a man of few words, I promise to keep my riffs short and focused on one thing.


Que Pasa

Ever wonder to yourself what the hell are we doing here?  We race from conference call to meeting to fire drill, constantly playing from behind.  22 things to get done and only enough time to complete 9.  Scramble, scramble, scramble. New technology has made us more productive right?  Ha!

The dirty little secret is, it’s done by unabashedly stealing more of our time and our personal lives.  The auto vacation responder is only for wimps or the people who work at the power plant these days…and maybe not even them.

Business has become a contact sport.  Each of us are expected to perform like Rambo. Just suck it up and take it.  What, you don’t have any battle scars this week?  You’re fired.

9:30 PM is my happy hour.  The cell phone goes in the charger in the other room (if I’m not traveling or not in the middle of a fire drill).   I do it (almost) guilt free.  Is it just me or have we all sold out to some invisible god that has convinced us that to achieve honor you need to be a business samurai warrior?

As I travel along at the speed of light, there are rare millisecond occasions when I find myself pondering what the hell is it all for?  R.O. Naegele was an institution in our business.  So was John Kluge, Karl Eller, Lou Manderson, Dean White, Tom Martin and a host of others.  Do the 20 something year old’s in the outdoor industry today, even know the names, let alone know what great things they accomplished?

Okay, then achieving immortality through great work is out of the question.  That said, I think some of the greats knew that and weren’t chasing it either.  They knew, and preached something else.  We wake up every day and do the best we can.  We work hard.  We sell the pants off advertising.  But that’s not the main point.  The point is really to do it as a team.  It’s about the relationships we form.

Lamar has been most impressive in retaining the glory days.

The fact that we went on the adventure, accomplished something great TOGETHER.  The truly great ones didn’t build companies.  They built organizations.  They created tight-knit groups of men and women who would bleed for each other.  People that were proud to wake up each morning and put on the team jersey.  True work friends that always had (and still have) each others’ backs.   To this day, there is not an Outdoor Systems guy (or gal although there weren’t many of them…but that’s for another day) that doesn’t regale a favorite story about the glory days.  Same with Martin Media.  I would also say that Lamar has been most impressive in retaining the glory days creating a tight-knit team.

So what am I trying to say here?  The cliché ‘enjoy the ride,’ is bullshit, because the ride is often times hell.
It’s about enjoying the people you are on the ride with, because at the end of the day…it’s all we are left.

Let’s take a short commercial break.
I would like to thank all the fantastic, out of the box, hard-working people in this industry I’ve had a chance to work with and learn from, who have met challenge after challenge not with defeat but with immediate (and I mean immediate): “I know it’s bad but I thought about it and here is what we are going to do.”

Hats off to the American spirit, and to all you wing nut outdoor advertising warriors out there.

Jim Johnsen


Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC

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1 Comment
  1. […] Publisher’s note. Here is repost of one of Jim Johnsen’s stories from early 2019. Pre Pandemic. Addressing life before Coronavirus, Que Pasa.   […]

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