WK12 Application – Excerpts

I finally got the stones and applied (late) for Wieden + Kennedy 12. The exercise was interesting enough to share some excerpts here. If you already know me pretty well, you might find this redundant. I’m not sure exactly what WK12 is, or why I should want to do it. And that’s part of the reason I want to do it. A very good company creating a thought experiment like this one for a calendar year… well that’s just too interesting to pass up.

First name ian
Middle initial
Last name fisher
Phone number ***.7*7.7***
Email address f********@*****.com
Mailing address ** NE **th Ave. Portland, OR 97***
Country of citizenship USA
Occupation Senior Assistant Dean of Admission
Education B.A. Philosophy, Reed College
Website https://ianbrookfisher.wordpress.com
Blog address https://ianbrookfisher.wordpress.com
Twitter handle ianbrookfisher

Describe yourself I was born in Arizona 26 years ago, the same year my mother earned her PhD. It was a big year for her. We lived in a desert house until I was two years old. My crib was covered with netting–not for mosquitos, but for scorpions. When I was a baby, a seven-foot rattlesnake slithered by my head with only a wire screen between us while my mom looked on, frozen in horror. I was lucky it had just fed.

In general, I was a pain in the ass as an infant, but I had a remarkable attention span. I committed to figuring things out in my playpen, spending hours on a game or a task. I’ve always been curious, always tenacious.

At two, a baby brother was added to the family and we became four strong*. In the last twenty-four years, I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that my little brother is much, much cooler than I am. Maybe the names have something to do with it–his is a warrior constellation, I was almost Ben. He has learned humility where I’ve been brash. He’s listened when I’ve talked. He’s a brilliant painter and a bold musician–stylish without trying, funny without planning on it. We’ve always been opposites and yet, the same. It comes from good parenting.

I staggered through junior high school like most pre-teenagers. I played with wrestling dolls until I was thirteen, insisting they were action figures. I bought a CD with their entrance music and turned the lights out in my living-room arena as they strutted to the stage. They say that junior high is a low point in human development. They say it right.

I played baseball through high school after giving up on basketball. In my first ever varsity game, I shat my pants in the third inning. I played through to the end, sliding to break up a double play with only one out in the last of the seventh and an insurmountable deficit. I could have just let the game end. I returned to the dugout and stood by the garbage can to mask the odor. When I told my dad what had happened back in the third, his first observation was that I was currently sitting on his leather seats. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that. I had just shit my pants–what was I supposed to do?

I applied to thirteen colleges, figuring I was good enough to get into half, if not seventy-five percent of them. I’d been a violinist and an honor student, a Key Clubber and etc. It turns out that most kids do these things, and so Pomona wouldn’t have me, nor Harvard, Georgetown, Amherst, Berkeley, Stanford, or Northwestern. Dartmouth waitlisted me. I ended up at Reed College, in Portland. I had no clue what I was doing. I got lucky.

I used to sit in high school auditoriums and imagine that I was the smartest person in the room. I’d wonder what the objective measure would be to determine that fact and decided that it’d have to be something in which I finished at the top. Anything else would be unidimensional. I was a know-it-all of the worst kind.

At Reed, I learned I wasn’t the smartest person in the room. I often felt like the dumbest. In my first semester, I took Political Philosophy with a handful of sophomores and juniors and seniors. There was the fat phil major who wore headphones everywhere around campus, looked as though he were in a constant daze, and offered profound insight on Nietzsche while picking at the scabs on his face. There were older women that looked like the women from movies about college–the smart ones who went to feminist rallies and spurned the movie’s hero and drank whisky straight out of the bottle between gulps of fresh air or politics or weed. There were a couple of other freshmen, and they were as startled as I was, listening intently and hoping not to look too stupid among a crowd of brilliant minds.

I ended up majoring in philosophy. I guess I wanted more punishment.

My experience at Reed taught me the things that I missed in high school. Patience, humility, temperance. It taught me that the best way to learn is by uncovering the right questions, not by plodding around in the dark grasping for answers. I learned to synthesize disparate ideas, to write compelling arguments, to challenge my peers, and to keep in mind that for all I knew, I knew so little.

After college, I stayed at college. For the last five years, I’ve worked in the admission office at Reed. I’ve had a keen interest in flipping the script on an admission process that felt so foreign to me all those years ago. It’s plain and simple when you look at it from the other end. Imagine that.

I’ve taken up ultimate Frisbee on a competitive level (which sounds something like taking up competitive air hockey to the lay person), and I truly love the sport and being a part of a team again. I’ve been a coach for as many years as I’ve been a degree-holder, a mentor and a friend for as long as I’ve been able to say “I’m wrong,” or “you’re right.” These relationships, it turns out, require give and take.

I’m engaged, and we have a dog and a cat and a never-ending pile of dishes beside the kitchen sink–a good sign that we’re eating healthy and staying busy. I read a lot of fantasy fiction these days, and I’m told I’m late to the party. I discover new things here and there, find flecks of passion, frustration, and excitement at every turn.

The truth is, I can’t say what will come next for me or for us. Sometimes, I feel like I’m treading water that’s rising each day, washing over the land I could have swum to years ago. I love to learn, love to think, love to collaborate. I get the feeling I’ll be okay as long as I keep my mind open and keep on looking. I’m excited at what’s next, even if I have no idea what that’s going to be.

We want to know what’s in your skill set. From tossing pizza to power tools. Can you build a website to can you do open-heart surgery with your eyes closed? Get specific.

  • I can throw a consistently reliable 65-yard forehand an 75-yard backhand with a 175 gram Frisbee, but not a scoober unless it’s left handed and I’ve had a few brews before the attempt.
  • I’m good at twitter, unless you measure twitter by followers, in which case I am terrible at twitter, as I only have 8. I manage to keep all tweets under 140 characters, and occasionally employ the hashtag appropriately.
  • My greatest strength is my ability to ask questions. I have a knack for finding out what’s important in a project by asking clearly and poignantly. I can break things down into their smaller parts and piece them back together, especially through work in a group. Asking great questions was a skill that my dad exhibited throughout my childhood, and I always found it maddening. He’d answer questions with questions, never ending the conversation but always starting a new one. I’ve since learned to respect the process of asking, and the way that it contributes to understanding.
  • I type quickly and with few erors.
  • You know those exercise balls they have at the gym? I can do squats on them.
  • I can read and write philosophy. This might be out of place here, but it’s a skill I need to claim somewhere at some point in my life and I’m doing it now, lest I never receive an opportunity.
  • I am a very, very good public speaker. I deliver humor with good timing and present ideas with compelling diction. It turns out that you have to be a very good public speaker to sell a $52,000/year liberal arts college to parents and students.
  • I’ve had some success using Dreamweaver and Content Management Systems for webdesign. I can write basic HTML from scratch. I learned this when I was in elementary school. It turns out it’s totally worthless.
  • I have more than serviceable handwriting in print and in cursive, and a bad-ass signature (V 1.0 and V 2.0).
  • Huevos Rancheros.
  • I ask some bitchin’ college interview questions, e.g. “In an audience with god, would you rather have the answer to a question of your choosing OR know–from him–the question most worth asking.” (Belief in God not a prerequisite for this question.)
  • I’m a better-than-average dart player. There are no less than two plaques with my name on them in bars in the Portland metro area. I also play bocce pretty well–this has not yet yielded any trophies.
  • I’m a leader, and an organizer. I give good fire-up speeches and good calm-down speeches. My competitiveness is a very real attribute, but I do not bring it home with me. Except in Settlers of Catan.
*Not including Caitlin, my sister with whom I did not grow up, but who has punched me in the arm enough times to definitely be a great older-sib figure.

5 thoughts on “WK12 Application – Excerpts

  1. Pingback: WK12:Round 2 and Done | On the Hook

  2. WK12, from all the sounds and the sights of classes before the next one, seems like a great opportunity to engage in interesting, difficult, rewarding work. I hope you make it through to the next rounds and the rounds after that. If you do, I’d love to read more about it.

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