Through Harlem, and Over the South Bronx

Posted by Ricardo Roberts on July 21, 2014

Sitting around a modest, four-top glass table in the old Myriad Media offices on Glenwood Avenue, the uneven wooden floors creaked under the weight of four guys discussing an exciting new opportunity. Right in the middle of March Madness, there was a charge in the crisp air that Spring gently exhaled over downtown Raleigh. Small, paper-thin leaves adorned the oak seedlings across the street, and people buzzed up and down the sidewalk, wearing smiles and pushing newborn babies because it was just warm enough to introduce them to the world for the first time. We were young, we were crazy, and needed to do something outside of our comfort zone.

“Let’s open an office in New York”, Will exclaimed, standing up from the table with excitement.

The idea seemed far-fetched and unreachable, but there was a thread—a small, delicate, silky thread—of an idea that captivated us. We dreamed of the possibilities, and imagined making it in a city where the world’s most talented people live, play and conduct business.

Soon enough, we dismissed the idea as we had done hundreds of times before. It was just a dream, something that would distract from our core business model in Raleigh. But it came back. Again and again. Soon, we started thinking about the logistics of doing it. We’d find new clients, ones that “got it”. Clients wearing skinny jeans in Brooklyn and blipping off into their smart watches wanted concepts that were edgy, that had never been tested. People in the city weren’t afraid to experiment.

After a few euphoric ups and discouraging downs, we stumbled upon the catalyst that made opening a second office a real possibility — we could better serve the existing clients we had in New York. With that, we decided we’d make it happen.

There was no turning back.

Big ideas change you. They ignite an energy inside you that is indescribable, an energy that is omnipresent in everything. This jolt took hold of Myriad Media in the spring and summer of 2010, and became a permanent fixture in our thought process. Maybe it was our version of running with the bulls in Pamplona, visiting the Giza Necropolis or backpacking up to Machu Picchu. A business version of the bucket list. Whatever it was, it was necessary.

To prepare for our journey, we needed to get better acquainted with the city. Months later, Will and I boarded a 6:00 AM Delta flight on our first trip to break bread with existing clients and visit our art director on the Lower East Side.

We were in Queens by 7:15 AM.

After four strenuous days of schlepping gear around the city and traveling by plane, train, bus, boat, subway and taxi, we felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. The kind you feel after riding an early morning Metro-North train through Harlem, over the South Bronx and then noodling your way through upstate New York’s tangled highways in a charcoal Chevy Malibu rental. Paying $13.00 tolls to slam into potholes on the New Jersey Turnpike, white-knuckling the wheel of a tiny green Fiat at 80 miles per hour in the rain makes you feel the needle moving, too.

Yes. Progress requires time, dedication and maybe a little bit of pain.

Making headway means diving headfirst into the unknown, like an Acapulco cliff diver zipping into La Quebrada or a toddler venturing out of the sandbox to make new friends. It’s bloody intimidating.

But for Myriad, uncharted waters and exciting adventures drive us. We don’t yet know if we’ll open an office in New York.

But we’ll be damned if we don’t try.