“We think branding is what you do when you want likes or fans, or you want to be famous…actually, anyone who interacts with other people needs to think about branding. Your brand is how the world experiences you and what they believe to be true.”

—Personal branding expert Lida Citroën

I recently had the privilege of attending the Texas Women’s Conference, and one of the panels that I found most valuable was called, “Your Brand: How to Define and Market Yourself.” We often think that personal branding is only important for influencers and celebrities, but the truth is that we are expressing our personal brand constantly—from the words that we choose to use to the energy that we bring into a room.

 There are many ways to assess and build a personal brand, but I think Simidele Adeagbo explained it in the simplest way. Simidele, who led marketing campaigns at Nike for 15 years while training for the Olympics, described a process that Nike uses called “DIG.” 


Personal branding is anchored in what you believe. If someone took these things away, you wouldn’t be you. If you don’t know where to start, seek outside perspectives and feedback, whether it be from friends, peers or coworkers. Spend time examining the things that you’re good at.

Think about four core ideas or topics that are central to your identity and points of activation for your brand (aka brand pillars). Yes you, as a person, will have brand pillars.


This is where you should begin to focus on the narrative surrounding your brand. The way that your brand shows up is in your reputation. This does not just mean verbal cues, such as the way we speak, but nonverbal cues as well, such as our level of eye contact or our posture.

How do you talk about yourself? That sets the foundation for how others see us. How do you introduce yourself? It’s not just about your title, it’s about why you do what you do. Credential yourself, talk about your “why” and make it personal. That is what makes for an interesting elevator pitch. 

You should set the expectation with confidence, clarity and intention. People will believe what you tell them until you prove otherwise.  

Think about how you can establish a position around the things that make you unique. What are the ways in which this could manifest itself out in the world? Ideate around that.


Own it. Step into uncomfortable places and have the courage to take on the tasks that scare you or that others never would. People are drawn to realness, and if you let them come along, they will help you build your brand. Embrace the journey. Authenticity can be difficult, awkward and scary, but it’s about consistency, not perfection.

Be resourceful. Who is in the space that you want to be in? Connect with like-minded people. Surround yourself with people, environments and jobs that allow you to do what you’re good at.

When we think about “showing up,” we often think of social media, but we have the opportunity to show up far beyond that. The clothes that we wear, the products that we choose to buy and our professional network are all ways that we show up. They are all opportunities for us to tell our stories and they are all reflections of our brand.

Think about the ways you can tell your story and take action to show up in those spaces.

When you put all of these things into action, you will shine through in your personal and professional interactions AND your brand will be unstoppable. Keep discovering, ideating and going. Just keep DIGging.

My name is Bonnie, and I’m a communications intern at GSD&M. In a short amount of time I’ve been immersed in the company culture, had a hand in PR efforts for campaign launches and gone on spontaneous team outings to Amy’s Ice Cream. Work hard, play hard. Right? This is my last internship before graduating college, and as I transition into the real world I’ve heard a lot of the same things: build credit, cut out boxed mac and cheese and travel while I’m young. Let’s be honest, that last bit is the most interesting.. 

In recent years, I had the opportunity to travel to multiple countries and experience cultures that I was not familiar with. My travels taught me to be independent, embrace the unknown and soak up as much knowledge as possible—much like the experience of my internship. Between traveling and getting a taste of a “big girl job,” this is what I’ve learned so far:

Appreciate people. Learn from strangers.

Last summer I went to Spain to visit family, most of which I had never met before. In my two weeks there I experienced more warmth and hospitality than I thought possible, especially from people who were basically complete strangers. We spent hours enjoying each other’s company over food, rather than rushing a meal and moving on. I learned the importance of treating people we don’t know with love and compassion, and to take time to embrace other traditions no matter what. In the workplace we also collaborate with people of different cultures, experiences, upbringings, etc. and traveling to other places helped me empathize with all kinds of people and appreciate different skills and perspectives. 

Dive into culture, but remember to be a tourist.

Italy is a big bucket list item. I was lucky enough to spend two weeks experiencing its rich culture. While I dove into cultural experiences like making pasta from scratch with locals who didn’t speak English and experiencing the secret restaurant basement that hid the golden Roman Trojan horses, I also made it a priority to be the stereotypical tourist. I spent time at the Colosseum, went on food tours and explored the ancient iconic churches. I saw creativity and innovation that went back thousands of years and inspired millions who came after it. I understood why millions of people travel there to experience history. It’s been proven that traveling enhances your creativity, and I can attest that it absolutely ignited a new creative flame inside of me, which is something I’ve been able to carry into my work. 

It’s not us vs. them.

Sometimes to truly understand people, we need to see how they live and what’s important to them. While I experienced the best of the above cultures, I also saw people protesting on the streets for their rights, and young, educated adults begging for jobs. I saw their challenges and realized we might not be that different despite being on opposite sides of the world. I learned to humanize world issues that I only heard about on the news or in articles. Advertising and communications are about creating genuine connections with people across cultures, and my experiences traveling helped me reshape the way I want to use communications in my professional and personal life. By placing yourself in the lives and culture of other people, you can walk a mile in their shoes quite literally.  

Traveling is an internship. You’re thrown into an experience that you’re not used to and quickly gain more responsibility and independence. My experience in my travels and my internship have forever made me a better colleague, a better creator and a better person. I wouldn’t take back either experience for anything.

One of the cool things about working in advertising is that inspiration is basically unavoidable. It’s all around you all the time, especially in an atmosphere like GSD&M’s which is so creatively fueled. To help harness that inspiration and bring new ideas to the office, I often turn to books. This year, I challenged myself to finish two books every month—one fiction and one nonfiction—because balance, you know?

Since then, I’ve found books that have both challenged me to grow and left my imagination running, which in turn have benefited how I work and think. Of the books I’ve read so far this year, below are my personal top four summer reads—good for beach days or lunch break reads.     


By Dale Carnegie

An oldie, but a classic. Published in 1936 and revised in 1981, over 15 million copies have been sold. It’s one of the most successful books in American history, for a good reason. 

In just under 300 pages, this book taught me the fundamentals of interacting with people, winning people over, persuasion and being a leader. Being in business development, learning these skills was an integral aspect in my career and how I interacted with coworkers and clients alike. My biggest learnings from the book were how to positively handle conflict and be confident in my own opinion, both of which are incredibly helpful in my career and personal life.


By Mark Manson

AKA: The self-help book for people who do not read self-help books. Mark Manson contradicts the cultural idea of mindless positivity that isn’t practical or helpful to most people. What did I gain from his argument? I gained the understanding that life’s struggles provide more meaning and are a realistic approach to misfortune in a society that’s constantly trying to appear happy. 

Manson’s book taught me how to take a deep breath and focus on what truly matters. If it’s not worth the fight, then let it go. My mom always said, “pick your battles,” and this book exponentially reinforced what I’d been hearing my whole life. 


By Gillian Flynn

This one’s a not-so-guilty pleasure. Dealing with class issues in rural America, intense poverty and the Satanic cult hysteria that swept the United States in the 1980s. It’s a truly chilling novel. From a small-town massacre to the uncovering of endless horrors and secrets, it’s the kind of book that makes you terrified to turn the page but leaves you with no choice but to see what happens next. 

I love a book with twisted characters and a dark storyline, and this is the only book that has ever scared me to my core. While I love nonfiction and gaining knowledge, sometimes it’s nice to escape into a completely different world—even if I have to sleep with the lights on.


By S.J. Watson 

You won’t be able to put this one down. In a few words, Before I Go to Sleep is a disturbing, psychological thriller. It’s one of those storylines that is real enough to make you a bit paranoid in the weeks after you finish it. Playing with the grey area between real life and make-believe makes for a mind-bending reading experience.

What’s interesting about this novel is that it offers unexpected perspectives that really shift how you look at the story. It’s easy to get lost in one character’s point of view, but it’s a good reminder that there really are two sides to every story. 

So while you’re on vacation this summer or just looking for a fresh perspective to bring to the office, don’t forget to pack one (or all) of these reads. Whether you’re on a work trip, the beach or your couch, any one of these books is sure to teach you something or keep you on your toes. Or better yet, both! 

Happy reading!

Dedicating 40+ hours a week to one office, one specialty, one computer, can be especially draining when we get sucked into the routine. That’s where a side hustle comes in—an outlet to create outside of the workplace and make some money while doing it. This year, over 44 million Americans reported having some sort of side hustle.

GSD&M employs a whole slew of crazy-talented folks, so you bet there are some side hustles around here. I dug a little deeper into the double lives of ad gurus by day and hustlers by night to see what passions they’re turning into profit.

Chelsey Korman, founder of Peach Electric: a real rad vintage shop for rad, real women

What took your side hustle beyond a hobby?

I’ve loved the art of fashion and the beauty of a thought-out outfit my entire life, and have wanted to explore it as a business for as long as I can remember. One day, I just figured I’d better start somewhere. This is just the beginning, I feel.

How has your side hustle made a difference in your day job?

It makes me appreciate all the departments in GSD&M. Reaching 100 Instagram followers was a huge achievement and honestly, some were sympathy followers. Ha. But seriously, social media experts are seriously smart and creative, and they understand what it means to “reach and connect” with an audience. We all have so much to learn from each other.


Laura Guardalabene, Cofounder of JUNK-O: creators of enamel pins inspired by pop culture and progressive political ideology

Where do you find inspiration to keep up the side hustle?

I follow a lot of other pin makers and small independent clothing brands. Companies like Lazy Oaf and Big Bud Press show me the growth potential JUNK-O has and how far hustling can get you.

How has your side hustle made a difference in your day job?

It has fueled my creativity tenfold. I no longer experience creative blocks or burnouts because I’m constantly challenging my mind and keeping it in shape.


Julia Elizondo, Cofounder of LA LO LA: a luxe resortwear line offering small batch collections

Where do you find inspiration to keep up the side hustle?

Through everyday things like a new issue of W Magazine or Condé Nast Traveler or just the simple dream of wanting to see women in our clothes. I want the chance to keep evolving the styles and collections into what I really want. 

What does this work outside of the office mean to you?

It means that I can pursue my dream while still being able to make a living working in a dynamic place like GSD&M. It’s an outlet for me too.


Jeffrey Butterworth, founder of ArterBarter: a website to auction off original art pieces one by one, for anything BUT cash

What took your side hustle beyond a hobby?

Bringing a concept to satisfy the question I have been asking myself, “What am I going to do with my art?”

How has your side hustle made a difference in your day job?

A big part of what I do at work is trying to put together things that people would be interested in and attach it to a brand that makes sense. This is no different, it’s just that I’m the brand I’m attaching the idea to.


Turning a passion into profit is hard, rewarding, meaningful work. Judging from the side hustlers above, work outside of the office creates a source of energy, drive and satisfaction that might otherwise go unused. Everyone needs an outlet, so might as well make some extra cash while you’re at it. Keeping your brain “in shape” isn’t a bad way to get your exercise, either. If you’ve got something in mind, why not give it a go and see what happens?

Reverend Roy. He’s known for co-founding GSD&M in 1971 with partners Judy Trabulsi, Steve Gurasich and Tim McClure, but he’s perhaps best known for his electric and passionate personality. So, it was with joy and pride, yet little surprise, when we learned our fearless leader would be the first Austinite and second Texan to be inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s 67th Annual Advertising Hall of Fame. His accomplishments include bringing on renowned brands like Southwest Airlines, Walmart, AT&T and Charles Schwab to the GSD&M roster, authoring three books, co-founding The Purpose Institute to help companies find their core purpose and values, and even starting his own hot sauce line, Royito’s. But it is Roy’s heart, as President Bill Clinton noted at the induction ceremony, that’s led him to success in advertising, leadership and all aspects of life. We couldn’t be more proud of you, Reverend Roy. Ride At Dawn! 


*Editor’s Note: Dorian Girard, SVP/People at GSD&M, is chief steward of the agency’s culture. She has worked at GSD&M for 27 years, illustrating her appreciation through her loving and contagious hugs. Dorian is part of the heart that keeps this agency smiling.  


picDThere isn’t anything here I’m going to share that will come as a revelation or something new, and hopefully is a thought or feeling the GSD&M Employees experience often too.

But today I want this to be shared outside of my head and express the continued awe and gratitude for such good-hearted, smart, caring people at GSD&M. Truth be told, this feeling actually happens to me throughout the day, during or after most interactions with GSD&Mers.

The goodness at times is overwhelming – and I am saying good with respect to so many facets – talent, smarts, dedication, heart, passion, compassion, and caring about the right things. Really a few words sum it up for me – the humanity that exists.

I am not talking perfection people. We are an imperfect bunch who make mistakes, have quirks and sometimes different ways, but still a beautiful group of human beings. No I haven’t been smoking anything and I am not trying to be or get existential on everyone. I simply want to validate and reinforce what I experience and observe because I believe it is special. I believe it is worthy of our reflection, acknowledgment and gratitude. And despite our differences, GSD&Mers unite in things that matters.

So thank you to every single one of the GSD&M family, for we are the sum of all our parts.



And Kisses.



The lazy, too-busy-for-this part of me wants to chalk up our entry in this year’s Spicewood Demolition Derby to the fact that crashing cars sounds fun, and we like to do fun things, so we entered.

Alas, it isn’t that simple. It never is.

Truthfully, the idea started with GSD&M Associate Creative Director Joel Williams, who attended last year’s derby and saw an opportunity to bring the agency to a side of Texas it rarely treads upon. (The story is a good one: He tricked his son into believing they were on the way to check out tile samples. Forty-five minutes and a dirt parking lot later, his son realized there were no tiles to sample. He was not disappointed.) So, with the help of our willing and able design team, we started taking steps to make this dream of entering the derby a reality. We even thought of getting a project manager.

While Design Director Marc Ferrino and the gang designed their hearts out to create GSD&Molition swag including shop rags, koozies and t-shirts (shameless plug to buy their stuff!), Joel and I scoured Craigslist in search of our soon-to-be death machine. It wasn’t easy—the car had to be cheap enough to crash and fit enough to run—but in the end, we found her: a 1996 Ford Thunderbird.IMG_2435[3] copyPictured: Joel Williams

Then came pre-production. Joel went to town removing all unnecessary parts from the car to make her light and nimble and fit for a Mad Max film. Marc put in a preliminary order on merchandise that sold out almost instantly. I wrote this blog post. Teamwork, as they say, makes the dream work.gsdemolition[8] copy 2What’s been so fun and so rewarding about this whole process has been the unbridled creativity. As ad creatives, we work inside sandboxes for a living, passing ideas through business-conscious filters that sometimes hold the best stuff back. It’s the nature of the beast, and we love to do it. But every now and then, an opportunity to run headfirst into a project without supervision or even proper safety equipment feels good. I would even say it’s necessary. And I thank everyone who has helped make this possible.

On Saturday, we’re going to see what we, and the car, are made of. The crash goes down at 6pm at the Spicewood Fire Department, and as it’s our ongoing priority to continue to give back to our community, all proceeds from our merchandise sales will benefit our friends at the Spicewood Fire Department (who will likely be saving us from the wreckage that once was our Ford Thunderbird). We may not win but, honey, we’re going to look good trying, and we’re going to be damn happy either way.

Hope to see you there.

Editor’s Note: As part of our new blog feature “Get to Know..,” we will give our readers a look inside GSD&M as we interview various employees about their role and bizarre-o talents and hobbies.

For this edition, you’ll hear from Jonathan Hart, VP/Decision Sciences:

So what exactly does decision sciences mean?

Decision Sciences is a collaborative approach involving mathematical models, business tactics, technological applications and behavioral sciences to make data-driven decisions. There will be a quiz later.

Give us a look inside your typical day.

Occasionally I drink half a bottle of scotch at lunch and then spend the afternoon calling people into my corner office so I can criticize their poor typeface choices and unprofessional dress (We are trying to run FORTUNE 500 companies here, not lemonade stands!). (Editor’s note: He’s kidding.)

World of Warcraft username?

I’ve never played WoW, but I have been a Final Fantasy fan since I was very young. I recently became the 15th person in the world to collect every achievement in their MMORPG…after playing it for over 10 years. This is probably the most awesomely embarrassing thing I could admit about myself.

You led a GSD&M Ideas That Make A Difference presentation that hinted you believe we may all simply be participants in a video game simulation, which is pretty crazy to think about, tell us more.

This is actually a very old idea. Plato, Descartes, the Dalai Lama and other philosophers have speculated on it for centuries, but only recently have we begun to understand how technology might actually make this possible to construct or detect. To anyone paying attention, it’s quite obvious that there is more going on in our world than can be directly observed. Spectrums of light we can’t see, sounds we can’t hear and phenomena we can’t explain. If you have spent time in nature, had a religious experience, experimented with drugs or really made an effort to contemplate on our size in the cosmic scale, you know this to be true.Jonathan_Hart_Equation_SMALLWhen did you know you wanted to focus on analytics?

I was initially drawn to the field of economics as an undergraduate for its use of analytical tools to solve problems that are otherwise of an overwhelming scale and complexity. I was fascinated by how these techniques could transcend scientific theory and be directly applied to solve industrial challenges. I find the leverage that computational power gives us captivating—the ability to scour inconceivable volumes of data to generate counterintuitive insights that have been overlooked by even the most skilled practitioners.

Big data is all the rage, but how can brands better use small data?

It’s very hard to change the way we make decisions. Much of our personal value and self-worth is tied to having expert knowledge. More often than not, data of any size is used to help prove something we already believe, not to learn whether or not that belief is valid. I was floored the first time I heard the term “evidence-based medicine.” What have we been basing our medical decisions on up until now?

What do you do for fun?

I collect books. I own almost every book I’ve ever read in hardcover. #destroykindle

The UT Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs are going head-to-head in the National Championship, who do you cheer for?

Is this a question? SEC, SEC, SEC.

You’ve lived in international cities like London and New Delhi, how does that compare to your experience working in Austin?

We seem so different, but we are really not; people are mostly the same everywhere. They care and worry about the same things. Finding a sense of self-worth, trying to understand “why,” belonging to a community, providing for their family and improving the opportunities available to their children.

Proudest moment at GSD&M thus far?

It has to be the Decision Sciences team winning the annual Christmas Card Contest. It was awesome to see them so fearlessly embrace their nerdiness and bring such passion to showing others what they are capable of.

What characteristics do you look for people when hiring talent?

I like people who come at problems sidewise. Something like 80% of innovation supposedly comes from cross-pollination between industries. I almost never hire anyone with an advertising background. You can teach people an industry, but it’s much harder to teach them to think. I find the people who tend to be most successful are the people who could do two or more jobs, because it helps them to think holistically and attack a problem from multiple angles.

Sum up GSD&M’s culture in one word? heteroscedastic

By Mallory Massa, Account Leadership Intern

“Subway introduced it, Chipotle perfected it and pizza restaurants like Blaze are really evolving it,” says David Tristano, evp of Technomic, about the cook-to-order evolution.


New restaurant concepts have instigated an evolution from fixed foods to fix your foods, a phenomenon that personalizes our taste buds. Customization plays an essential role in build-your-own-meal establishments. While reading the article “The Power To Shape Your Experience,” I had an epiphany: everything I experienced that day was customized—the animatic record I sat in on, my Chipotle bowl for dinner and this article I found on my feedly.com filtered homepage.

Drafting a storyboard for a commercial, known as an animatic record, is like a Chipotle-catered lunch at GSD&M. Last week I had the privilege of sitting in on an animatic record at Pony Sound with a GSD&M account team. Sitting across from a daunting computer screen with a surplus of buttons, I never would have compared it to the mouthwatering buffet of ingredients at Chipotle, but the process of picking and choosing what sounds to include in a spot echoes the process of customizing a meal to my taste buds.

During the record, I learned that the writer and producer choose the sound based on the intended spot’s tang. For instance, certain commercials may consistently convey a sweet-loving flavor throughout them. On the other hand, the account managers build the spot to correspond with the client’s palate. For instance, a writer might think take C had better inflection on a word than in the previous takes. And sometimes editors might use the first sentence from take A and the second sentence from take C. This splice can easily mirror a half-chicken/half-steak order at Chipotle. It is all very personalized.

Once everything is recorded, the sound editor mashes the ingredients into a final spot. Each line piles onto the voice preceding it. While each voice is recorded separately, in the same way each topping is cooked individually, it is the combination that is ultimately served.

After the voices are placed in the order of the script, music must be chosen. Similarly, while I am not a green chile salsa fan, I always ask for a side of the Chipotle vinaigrette because it complements the rest of my concoction. However, when I am in the mood for something milder—in this case background noise—sour cream will suffice. The sound editor is the master of the finishing touches.

In the article, Carl Chang, founder of Pieology Pizzeria, concluded, “Many people like me are Food Network fans, and they love being exposed to how our food is prepared and our technique.” True. As a kid, my grandpa would take me to Krispy Kreme, and I would stand with my greasy hands plastered to the glass watching the doughnuts graze across the conveyer belt. I devoured the doughnut with a sense of pride and insisted on showing off my icing expertise at show and tell the next day. Watching how something is made empowers a person. It makes the mundane and tedious work behind the scenes a little sweeter. Fifteen years later as an intern, I plastered my hands to the recording glass while watching the evolution of an animatic record. I was mesmerized by the process as a whole.

Similarly, the article suggests “food preparation as a form of performance—in which case the sneeze guard is another screen for content.” At an animatic record, GSD&M uses employees to record the lines. Thus, animatic preparation is a form of performance—in which case the recording glass is a screen for voices. More so, intern preparation is a form of performance—in which case exposing us is a screen for potential employment.

To take this one step further, which may be exhausting my analogy too much—my apologies—as interns at GSD&M, we have “the power to shape OUR experience here.” Fill in the blanks. “Our universities introduced us, GSD&M perfected it, and we are evolving it.” I am looking forward to a great summer.

On June 4, the world lost one of its quintessential typographers with the passing of Hermann Zapf. A prolific letterer and trailblazer in his field, Zapf created around 200 typefaces, including classics like Optima and Palatino. We are truly impressed by his many additions to the designer’s toolbox. And though I personally don’t plan on using Zapf Chancery from said toolbox, I’m going to make a special effort to use Kompakt in an upcoming project, just in his honor. The world needs more people that share his dedication to making words beautiful.RIPFCredit to GSD&M’s kick-ass Design group: Marc Ferrino, Ben Harman, Greg Thomas and Dustin Coffey.