It’s funny how the people who will impact your life often come into your world with very little warning. In my 12 years in creative staffing, I imagine I’ve interviewed candidates numbering into the thousands, both for our clients, as well as for us internally. Tony was just one of those thousands and that day just one of those thousands of days.

The first thing I noticed about Tony was his smile. He had something of a strained smile, as if there was some real weight on his shoulders, but it was a genuine smile no less. There was just something very real about this guy and I was quickly drawn to him. OK, so it wasn’t just Tony…it was his work, too. The dude had some serious chops and a beautiful book of work to show for it. A digital maven, exceptional designer, and brilliant illustrator to boot, Tony was new to St. Louis by way of Chicago, so when I say the smile was the first thing I noticed, I’m lying. I noticed his work before his smile even walked in the door and it had me drooling on my desk. But after that, it was Tony’s quiet positivity in the face of a storm that impacted me immediately. See, Tony had been pulled to this smaller market, seemingly not by choice but by family responsibilities, but he never complained. There was never even so much as a statement of regret, even though St. Louis wasn’t a market naturally befitting of his background in gaming, or at least as much as Chicago was at that time. And for those reasons, I was drawn to Tony. And despite my dearth of experience in the industry, I was determined to get him a job.

People outside of Creative Circle may not know what we do…I mean other than placing candidates and e-mailing memes to each other. As much as we’d like it if it worked this way, we don’t get to sit back with our feet kicked up on our desks, sipping lattes and just waiting for the orders to come in. We hustle. We aren’t sales people…we’re creatives. Creatives who flat out hustle. And with Tony, I was going to hustle like my life depended on it and I was going to get him a job… I was going to help make his life in St. Louis better. Because no matter how many times we do what we do, there will always be a thrill in helping people keep their lights on, feed their families, take a big step in their careers, and all that other sappy stuff we hang our hats on. So I started pitching Tony all over town. If there was a working phone on your desk, you can bet I made it ring.

And you know what? It worked. I probably strutted around the office that week like I had just won a Pulitzer or cured malaria, but in truth, it was Tony who made it happen. A great guy with great skills wasn’t hard to place…and in fact, he had options. After choosing one of the better agencies in town to call home, Tony became one of their top freelancers and he stayed with them for over a year. When work ran out and Tony moved on, we did it all over again; this time, Tony landing full-time with a great team within a great agency, where he ultimately climbed the ladder to leadership.

Years later, Tony and another exceptionally talented employee left that agency to form their own…a small company who immediately – and since – enjoyed great success. Every time I see Tony, he thanks me. He thanks me for the impact I had on his life and his family. And that’s laughable to me. It was Tony who had the impact on me. It was Tony, and others like him, who helped me fall in love with what we do. Creatives representing creatives, helping them to further their careers. I can say without hyperbole, nearly a decade after I first sat down with Tony, I have the same passion for what we do that I did then. We all do. So here’s to hoping there’s many, many more Tony’s walking through our doors.

Greg Detter is Creative Circle’s Senior Vice President of Operations. He oversees the teams in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

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