In another lifetime I lived in Dallas, Texas and owned a boutique advertising agency. Dallas was a wide-open city in those days. A lot was going on in that bright, brash young metropolis. A woman of thirty owning an advertising agency was just one more “thing”. I too was bright, young and brash so I never thought much about credentials or success or failure for that matter. There was no Internet so there was no checking. We all pretty much made it up as we went along and just put one foot in front of the other. I had a talented crew and we approach advertising with a vengeance.
There are two stories about how I got my start. One is controversial having to do with a recent Supreme Court ruling so I’m going to skip over it. Suffice to say I rose from the ashes of being fired by a rather unscrupulous ad agency. The aggrieved client found out, fired the agency and hired me. It’s a bit like a fairy tale but totally true. His accounts were familiar ground to me so it never occurred that I wouldn’t succeed. All I had to do was continue doing what I was doing, get paid well and not have to do anything unscrupulous. Well……
There could be many points and many directions for this blog, however, here is my point: When you are located in a Top 10 Market you work in other Top 10 Markets. That’s where your clients’ work takes you and that’s where the vendors are who are equal to the work your shop is doing. My clients took me to New York, California, Chicago, Houston, Boston, Austin. Countless airports, flights, taxis, hotels, 4-star restaurants, bad weather, good weather, unions charging $500 to install an electrical outlet and dozens more big city stories. One night I especially remember a vendor took my assistant and I to Windows on the World in one of the Twin Towers back in the day. I became very anxious as the elevator kept going higher and higher. When I stepped out onto the restaurant lobby I could feel the building swaying. I panicked announcing, “I can’t do this!” And, that small town girl got right back in the elevator, road it to the main floor and had dinner in a street level bistro in SoHo. My horror of that black September day is visceral because I experienced just how terrifyingly tall those buildings were for the trapped and doomed. To this day I cannot bear to think of it.
After years learning and practicing my trade from the best of the best in those key markets, I came home to Little Rock. Lessons learned have served to make my life a joy. Nothing a big city has to offer can bring as much pleasure as the simple beauty of green space and trash that is picked up at dawn never littering a downtown curb or neighborhood street. Jumping in your car to go meet a friend for lunch or pick up something at the grocery store … no taxi, no Uber, no 30+ minutes in traffic. Since I live and work in a restored farmhouse built in 1880 I have the extra pleasure of a front porch and shaded garden that always has a breeze. I don’t consider it “Small Town Life” but “SmallER Town Life”. Andy Griffith and Aunt Bea never even visited here and The Beaver made his home elsewhere. Like many cities our size, Little Rock is sophisticated with clean (if slightly tilted) politics, a balanced budget economy, excellent restaurants and the likes of Keith Urban coming here for concerts and Dolly Parton personally presented our Governor (who is contemplating a presidential run – will he do as well as the last one?} with an award for having one of her libraries in every single county in Arkansas. Our shops, boutiques and night entertainment are second to none and we have incredible State Parks and the Big Dam Bridge … the longest pedestrian bridge in North America. Top that LA!
Tourism is our #1 industry but you really can’t tell that when you are one of those lucky folks because tourism is literally spread over the entire State. Its urban pleasures are showcased in Little Rock and P. Allan Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm located just at the city limits. Lakes, natural spring Bath Houses and horse racing in Hot Springs, duck hunting in Stuttgart, floating the Buffalo and White River around Calico Rock, Fly fishing and deer hunting just about everywhere, the caves and Blue Grass in Mountain View, the breathtaking Ozarks and a B&B world in Eureka Springs, the South’s most beautiful university campus in Fayetteville, casinos in Pine Bluff and West Memphis and the Diamond Mines in Murfreesboro near the Ouachita Mountains.
We have everything but hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, mud slides, earthquakes and forest fires. The Arkansas River rose a few years back and flooded the Little League Baseball Field and we had 10 straight days of 100 temps and thought we would all die but we didn’t. Now the weather is in the 80s with a nice breeze and tolerable humidity. The green is so green it qualifies for lush and the whole State is in bloom.
We are a peaceful State with a budget surplus, all of our kids safely back in school, businesses are open the only hate speech we hear is the occasional poorly planned campaign ad. At the helm is a moderately conservative Governor who is respected by Republicans and Democrats alike. How many States can say that! If you are looking for a beautiful getaway spot there is none better than the Natural State.