In January 2008, after posting a job wanted ad to Craigslist entitled “Administration & Marketing Specialist Will Work for Fair Compensation to Buy Food“, I was hired by the Wang Vision Institute in a role that primarily involved Patient Scheduling and the selling of LASIK procedures, but my innate marketing abilities (mainly creativity, salesmanship, problem solving, research, and storytelling) were quickly added to the Marketing Team where I quickly conceived, pitched, and executed many strong contributions to WVI’s overall marketing efforts.
In April 2008, I was downsized from his practice as Dr. Wang felt that although I was a loyal and excellent employee, he felt that my marketing skills were far beyond the many administrative aspects that role also entailed. He pushed me from the nest into a new world of opportunities I likely would not have had previous without this glowing endorsement and was instrumental in my evolution as a Digital Marketing professional.
August 6, 2011
I’m just going to cut to the chase here: the fact that I am even writing this commendation for Stephen Phillips is pretty ridiculous. I know the global economy is in the tank, and a good many worthy, capable people are on the breadline these days, and that all those of us with jobs are (or jolly well should be) grateful every moment for the blessing of employment…but it could only be by some cosmic oversight that Steve is having to hustle it as hard as he is to find a job where he can bless the planet with his gifts and passions and maybe make a decent living at the same time.
Steve’s journey intersected with mine in the late-1990s when I worked in a torrid warehouse crammed with cellular telephones. My job was to help receive in shipments of said cell phones, and keep the inventory reasonably organized and accurately accounted for. At that time I drove to work in a 1979 diesel Mercedes-Benz that wouldn’t go in reverse. Steve took the bus. (I think he had the better transportation plan.) When he ambled in off the bus that first day, I had no idea that I’d entered into a friendship that would still be vital some 12 years later.
Like epoxy, our bond was cemented by two key ingredients: 1) we are both unabashed music and pop culture geeks (the “resin,” as it were), and 2) we are both guitarists (the “hardener”). In what could at times be a stressful and somewhat bleak warehouse environment, I was instantly drawn to Stephen’s contagious positivity. And while we eventually moved into a bigger warehouse where I got to drive a forklift, which immediately made the job 300% cooler, if Steve and I hadn’t had our endless conversations to distract us from the monotony of that meaningless job, we probably would have both gone nuts and started making abstract art out of cell phone parts.
Beyond his encyclopedic knowledge of music and pop culture and his fierce guitar chops, Steve is possessed of one of the most creative minds I have ever known. I know in recommendation letters, people always make extreme, absolute statements like that, like Jane is the most super awesome dedicated hard-working team-player I’ve ever met. But seriously. Steve is full of imagination. I don’t care if he’s counting how many Motorola 7868s came in today’s shipment or directing a marketing team (which is the kind of thing he should be doing if all was right with the universe), he is going to ooze ideas. He can’t help it. Are they all brilliant, amazing, earthshattering ideas? Of course not (he’d tell you the same). But an idea can only be bad in isolation. With the right team, every idea is a springboard to a great idea. And your team is less today than what it could be because Steve isn’t on it.
I take that back. An idea can also be bad if you don’t press on and keep trying to make it better. Another thing that is programmed into Steve’s DNA: he won’t give up and he won’t quit. He’s not content with unemployment, not just because he needs a paycheck (which he does) but because he is without an outlet for who he is (a walking idea factory) and what he does (excellent, creative art-making that brings harmony to the world). Short of neuro-surgery and other highly specialized skills, Steve can do pretty much anything you need done. He can answer phones, write ad copy, file stuff, make websites, design logos, create and conduct surveys, compile data, make presentations, explain to you why Frank Zappa is a genius, and use photoshop to make you better-looking. Oh, and I know first-hand that he is a ninja at counting cell phones. And if his guitar shredding is any indication, he can probably type pretty fast, too. Those are marketable skills, people.
A couple of years after our stretch in the warehouse, I moved to Scotland to do a masters and doctorate in theology (so my area of expertise is, supposedly, um…“God”). I only throw that out there to give you the impression that my words should carry some weight – if not for the “God” part, then at least for the PhD part. At the very least, I’m smart enough to have read a ton of books, think through some difficult questions, and write a 300-page dissertation. But here’s the deal: when you’re as creative as Steve is, you don’t need a PhD. You just need somebody to give you a shot at doing something that matters and that leverages the art that you bring to the table.
So do yourself and your company a favor and hire Steve. Hire him for whatever position you have open. Or just make up a position. That’s what he’d do for somebody like him if he ran your company. And if he ran your company, it would probably be a household name like Google or Apple. The creative people that run those companies got to where they are not simply on account of their genius (think of all the geniuses who died penniless: Poe, Van Gogh, Charlie Parker…), but also because somebody saw their potential and took a chance on them.
Tell you what: if you hire Steve and end up regretting it, you can have my 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300D. I still have it, and it still runs. And it even goes in reverse now. But I think I’ll probably be able to keep it, because I know Steve, and I know he’ll put all of himself and then some into whatever job you offer him. In this day and age, I don’t know what more you could possibly be looking for. He’s the genuine article.
Brannon Hancock, PhD
Brannon Hancock, PhD now teaches at Indian Wesleyan University as Assistant Professor of Practical Theology. Additionally, Mr. Hancock is also a dedicated family man and wonderfully talented musician, formerly of CCM bands Plaid and Downpour.