Three years ago, Mike Hughes, president of The Martin Agency, invited me, our creative director and another art director to a summit on "constructively disrupting" the digital and print magazine experience for readers and clients.
The day spent working with The Martin Agency's quick-witted creative teams along with editors and art directors from magazines such as Fast Company and Cooking Light was a rush, made even better when we each received a personally inscribed copy of Mike's book, something he gave to new employees at Martin, titled Welcome to our beautifully imperfect company.
Since then, it has been propped up on my office windowsill, and I reread the cover when I'm having a challenging day. I can easily replace the words "The Martin Agency" with "Richmond magazine" throughout the book.
"When you work at The Martin Agency, you work for an organization that is, like all organizations, imperfect," Hughes wrote. "You have to work — constantly, diligently — to right what's wrong. And here's the big question: Will you find joy in this frustrating, never-ending circumstance — or will you be one of the bitchers and moaners who are constantly unhappy?"
Mike also addresses the big question: "How do I balance my personal life and my work life?" I needed his insight, since I felt I was failing miserably at this.
"Now for me, it's easy to see that the question is wrong," he said. "Because balance isn't what I seek in life. Joy is what I seek in life. Messy, unbalanced, unpredictable joy. And in my life — and maybe in yours — joy comes from doing the work, from throwing myself into it, from making progress." But he also cautions you to build the joy into your personal life, too.
Mike Hughes seemed to master this. Diagnosed with lung cancer at 49, he lived another 16 years with the disease until he passed away on Dec. 15. He leaves behind a family, an agency and a city that loved him with all his imperfections.