From WI to TX: Tales From The Road On My First Work Trip

June 21, 2018

I have never traveled for work before — but that changed this month. As part of my work on the Jack Link’s account I was given the opportunity to kick-off my work travel in a big way.

On May 31, Jack Link’s kicked off a two-week road trip with Team Rubicon as part of its “Fueling The Front Lines” campaign. Jack Link’s partnered with Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster relief organization committed to restoring lives and communities. This partnership brought Jack Link’s alongside Team Rubicon to raise awareness and support relief efforts for those affected by natural disasters. Part of these efforts took Jack Link’s, Team Rubicon, Fast Horse and myself out on the open road – traveling from Minong, WI, to Houston and completing various service projects and activations along the way.

It couldn’t have been a more memorable first work trip: two weeks, 1,300 miles, five projects, and triple digit temperatures. We traveled through seven states (including two I had never been to: Kansas and Oklahoma) in a Jack Link’s pick-up truck hooked up to the “Fueling The Front Lines” trailer. The route made for some long days on the road, which could have been a drag – but the people inside made it just the opposite. The sing-alongs and photo-ops created an unexpected, laugh-till-you-cry, never-a dull-moment environment that increased in joy and goofiness each day. Not a single wink was slept.

Behind the wheel we had Adam the tour manager providing safe transportation, ample laughs and a stellar music selection (courtesy the 10,000+ songs stored on his trusty Sony MP3). Sitting shotgun was Jennie, our spokesperson, a former Marine and Team Rubicon volunteer – responsible for fascinating stories and bubbly conversation. Alongside Adam and Jennie, I was nestled in the back seat, typing away on my computer, providing key vocals for Taylor Swift’s top hits, and finding my way as a young professional on the road.

My time was filled with big events and responsibilities, and yet I think it is best described as simple, sweet moments stitched together. For me, these moments are evidence that this campaign was more than just marketing. It created a platform for an organization to be a catalyst of hope and restoration in the lives of real people. I saw the direct, tangible impact it had.

In Houston, we met Ms. Lula, a sweet elderly woman whose home had been destroyed in Hurricane Harvey. Before the disaster her home had been the focal point of the neighborhood – kids, neighbors, cousins, grandkids (32 of them!) – and her door was open to all. After the devastation she thought she would never be able to return home. As part of Team Rubicon’s efforts in Houston, that narrative was rewritten, and her house rebuilt. Our team got to help paint the revived structure and get Ms. Lula closer to moving home. Clients, TV crews, CEOs, volunteers and agencies were deeply involved in the day. Yet amidst all the cameras, reporters and executives, there was only one person I couldn’t take my eye off of: Ms. Lula. She stopped by to see the progress on her house and stole the show (and a piece of my heart) with a smile brighter than the sun. Her joy and gratitude lit up the work site. Ms. Lula was getting her house back –  a home restored and a life returned.

And just like that it was so much more than plans and numbers and events and logistics and dollars and media. In that moment it was Ms. Lula, a real person, receiving real help. A moment showing me the impact marketing can have. And that is what I will cherish and carry forward from this campaign and into my career – an understanding and desire to steward marketing as a difference maker for good.