Sep 16

Greetings from Asbury Park

Peppercom employees weren’t exactly thrilled when we announced a while back that we’d be  Interoffice chow down  marking our 15th anniversary with a clambake/party on the beach at Asbury Park, New Jersey. At first, they thought I was joking. Then, the jaws began dropping. Asbury Park? THE Asbury Park? That dump? 

Aside from Camden, Trenton and the greater Montclair/Newark area, perhaps no other Garden State locale has a worse image and reputation than Asbury Park. It’s ironic, considering Asbury Park was once the place for 19th century presidents and millionaires alike to ‘Summer.’ It remained a top middle-class watering hole well into the 1960s. Sadly, tPcommers listening 5hough, Asbury Park then became a textbook example of suburban flight and urban blight. And, a mid-1990s attempt at revitalization failed miserably when the lead developer declared bankruptcy. As recently as five years ago, Asbury Park remained a ghost town. Beach sports 1

Then, like the proverbial Phoenix, Asbury Park rose again.

Today, it boasts some amazing restaurants, clubs and boardwalk attractions. We held yesterday’s party at the Watermark, (pictured) a very cool, bi-level restaurant, lounge and bar directly across from a pristine beach replete with surfers, anglers and sun worshippers. The weather was perfect, the food and drink flowed freely and we partied hard, basking in Asbury’s reborn glory.  Pcommers listening 1

There’s already been quite a bit of buzz and word of mouth in the hood, but this place is in  serious need of a public relations campaign. It’s a great spot to visit for a day, or more. In fact, who needs Jones Beach and all of its human and mechanized traffic when one has Asbury Park? I think our employees would agree.

Steve and ed speech 1 Note to Peppercom alumni reading this blog: we plan to complete the 15th anniversary celebrations with an early October alumni gig at Desmond’s Tavern (specifics will be posted on LinkedIn). A favorite of Peppercommers past and present, Desmond’s always has been, and  remains, a dump.  You won’t find any Asbury Park type of renaissance going on at Desmond’s (which is why it’s ideal for a mingling of the past and present). Hope to see you there.

Aug 17

He who parties last, parties best

It was 15 years ago today that I held what was supposed to be a backyard pool party for my Steveanded fellow employees at Brouillard Communications. I’d selected the date a few weeks earlier and invited my inner circle (I was at war with the CEO and, naturally, asked only those folks who shared my progressive, statesmanlike POV on things).

In the days leading up to the pool party, things further deteriorated between the CEO and me. I felt compelled to call a showdown session on that Friday and came loaded for bear. I was armed with multiple memos detailing how he’d undermined me, uninvited me from meetings and second-guessed my decisions. Imagine my surprise when, upon entering his private conference room (a sanctum sanctorum, if you will), I was greeted by the CEO, the CFO and the head of human resources for J. Walter Thompson (the parent company). Rather than discussing my ultimatum, they laid out the terms and conditions of my severance package, demanded I sign the paperwork and immediately leave the premises. I refused to sign but did bolt forthwith, tail tucked firmly between my legs.

Now, fast forward to my pool party the next day. Is it a party if no one shows? No one did. Except for good, old Edward Aloysius Moed (who had quit two weeks beforehand and set-up Moed Communications in his squalid, one bedroom east side apartment). Ed and I split a case of beer, tossed a baseball around and discussed next steps. He was planning one of his frequent Caribbean pilgrimages and would be gone for 10 days. That was fine. I needed the time to reflect, recover and plot next steps. I figured I could always find another job, so why not take the plunge and start a business with Sir Edward (note: Ed was knighted after opening Peppercom’s London office in 2001). The only things standing in the way were two mortgages, two car payments, raising two kids and a wife who didn’t earn a paycheck.

I decided to give it a shot. I called Ed, told him I’d show up at his apartment the Tuesday after Labor Day and see what would happen. We both agreed to give it six months. I raised $12,500 in seed money to pay for a computer and other start-up necessities, Ed created an office infrastructure, and we both started smiling and dialing. The rest, as they say, is history.

It’s nice to reflect back on Peppercom’s beginnings. I’d actually forgotten about the party that wasn’t. And, the people who decided it wasn’t politically expedient to attend. They’ve moved on to other things. The agency in question went belly up a few years back. And, we’re in the midst of planning a 15th anniversary shindig to celebrate. I guess he who parties last, parties best.