Fast Horse: A Lot Changed in 10 Years But the Good Things RemainAugust 8, 2014
By Tony Kirwin, VP Operations / General Counsel
Jörg wrote a nice post last week announcing my return to Fast Horse after spending a good chunk of time doing other things. (By they way, if memory serves, I won the “GAME TIME” shirt in the photo on Founder’s Day 2003 after pummeling Jörg in a tennis match for the ages. Probably one of my greatest athletic achievements.) Thought I’d chime in to offer my perspective now that I’ve (mostly, kinda) settled in.
After starting on the very first day of business in 2001, I left Fast Horse for law school during the summer of 2004. The friendships were strong and I had no doubt those would continue, but certainly I thought my time working for Fast Horse had come to an end. I’m sure at the time everybody here (then, all eight of us) thought the same.
Don’t get me wrong—I had a great time during the first few years of Fast Horse’s existence and I learned a ton. Nonetheless, I was excited and ready for a new challenge. Looking back, I still consider going to law school one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Fast-forward 10 years. Jörg emailed out of the blue in early January 2014 asking to meet for a beer and chat about a new Director of Operations position he wanted to create. Ostensibly he wanted to “bounce some ideas” off me about the benefits of hiring someone with a legal background. It quickly became apparent that he was looking to make some of those ideas stick. More discussions followed and couple months later I found myself resigning from my law firm and getting ready to (re)start a new adventure with Fast Horse. It was a big change in direction and a huge career shift, but the opportunity was too good to pass up. So I jumped.
Soon after starting it became clear that Fast Horse has changed significantly in the ten years I’d been gone — but in a very good way. The client roster has grown steadily and now includes a much wider array of national and local brands. The breadth and sophistication of Fast Horse’s work and capabilities have increased greatly. The trophy case that housed a handful of awards in 2004 is now overflowing with hardware including, most recently, a Cannes Lion — truly a testament to the quality of work Fast Horse is producing. We even broke ground on the construction of what will be a fantastic new building the day after I returned in June. And although there are still familiar faces, there’s a lot of new talent and already I’m very impressed with all the new Ponies who’ve chosen to make Fast Horse their home. On a side note, I can also wear shorts to work most days in the summer. The novelty of that won’t wear off soon.
But, I was very happy to see that some important things have stayed the same. It still feels like every single person here is contributing to Fast Horse’s success and every contribution is valued. The culture is still loose, informal, extremely flexible, irreverent, fast-paced and engaging. I can still look around the room and see a bunch of people I want to work with every day. And the same Jim Beam mini-football that we used to toss around the office in the very early days is still here, still gets used regularly, and still often reveals both hidden athletic talent and a distinct lack thereof (not naming names). My only complaint so far is that the level of agency ice-cream cake consumption (formerly a very regular thing) has taken a serious nosedive. Unacceptable. A remedial plan is in the works.
My role at Fast Horse is new and much different than before. The work already is more varied, challenging and interesting than I could have hoped. But I’m just as excited — maybe even more so — than I was in 2001 when the doors first opened. Feels great to be back.