How the TJA Summer Recharge made me a better creative.

For those of you who don’t know, 2017 marked TJA’s first annual Summer Recharge: a week in July where our team can top off their batteries and come back with renewed stores of creative inspiration. As we approach the 2018 edition (happening July 3–July 6), we’d like to share why this practice was put in place.

There’s a reason we don’t call this vacation. It isn’t time spent lounging on the couch or frittering days away. Last year, members of our crew experienced truly life-changing moments. A couple people moved into their first house, others explored the streets of new cities while gaining hospitality insights, some explored international locales to seek out new perspectives—and then there’s me.

I (probably somewhat stupidly) took one of our Boss Lady’s favorite credos to heart: “If you’re not doing something that makes you uncomfortable, you’re doing something wrong.” I put that philosophy into action by buying a new-to-me motorcycle on Sunday, outfitting it on Thursday and taking off for a 3,500-mile solo road trip on Saturday.

This is something I’d wanted to do since college, but had never had the proper bike nor the time off. Lucky for me, TJA’s unique company culture encourages such foolish decisions. Throughout my first few days on the road, I met very nice desert juggalos, saw California’s wine country for the first time, explored the place where Star Wars was shot, watched morning mist roll through a pristine redwood forest and stayed in some cheap motels with plenty of “character”—and that was all before my layover in Portland.

After eating some of the city’s best food and reconnecting with wonderful friends for two days, my road trip kicked back into gear—starting with a ride across the entirety of Oregon. My first day back in the saddle included a dead battery, some helpful locals and beers at a hotel bar with a legit biker that had “seen some shit.” Day two immersed me in all things Idaho and Utah, from rolling hills to soaring peaks. The final day treated me to views of Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks, Arizona’s iconic Monument Valley and Flagstaff thunderstorms. It all culminated in a rain-soaked ride down tight curves while battling mechanical failures and rolling smoke from forest fires—right before a kind woman selling dog food out of her car jumpstarted my battery.

All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime for more than a couple reasons. Yes, it was a chance to explore a side of the country I was only faintly familiar with. But it also opened me up to new sources of creative inspiration. I met true characters, heard insane stories and flexed some different writing muscles by keeping a loose travel journal. It was my first chance to take on a personal project since forever.

It’s experiences like these that make our summer break a recharge instead of a vacation. Our time in 2018 is sure to include even more inspiring adventures for our team, from time in Japan, Singapore and Mexico to reflective moments with family. I anticipate our weekly “one word” exercise on the first Monday back will come with some pretty interesting responses—and translate into even more interesting client work. We can’t wait to share it with you.

"Learn how the James Agency's TJA Summer Recharge helped me improve my creative projects and work smarter. Read on to find out what I gained from this unique program."
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