In 2011, I met someone who was going to change my life. This was the year I moved to New York (almost four years ago exactly!), so I was meeting a lot of people who would impact my life in ways big and small. But this certain person was truly going to transform it, in more ways than one.
His name was Griffin Farley. He was in his early thirties, and was an Engagement Planning Director at BBH New York. I was coming in as a Social Media Strategist/Community Manager (yes, I community managed) that had little to no idea what she was doing. To my ex-collegues – pretend I didn’t just confess that. New York was a intimidating as hell. I was surrounded by some of the most successful people in advertising, I felt like a child (because I always mitigate my experience), and I didn’t have any friends (not because the people weren’t lovely, because the Google account was the busiest and there was little time for niceties). Sounds like a sob story, but this is really how it felt! Of course, it eventually changed, and now some of my closest friends came out of my time at BBH, but the beginning was stressful and solitary.
Griffin was easily one of the nicest people I’d ever met. He maintained a sense of cool composure, even on the most demanding days. Off the bat, he validated my presence at such an amazing agency. He quickly realized my strengths, boasted them to all who would listen, and helped me fill out my weaknesses. He brought me into meetings I had no business being in, and would celebrate my quiet contributions.
Griffin’s kindness was just the cherry on top. His entire being brimmed with brilliance. At the young professional age of thirty, he redefined the communications planning discipline and brought light to propagation planning – “planning not for the people you read, but the people they reach.” Genius, right? Can you believe we didn’t always think that way? He brought this way of thinking to the core of my skill set, and I still use his philosophies every single day. No exaggeration.
In February 2013, Griffin passed away. He had been diagnosed with Mesothelioma in the months prior, and it was grave. At this point, I was an integrated member of the amazing BBH family (much in part to Griffin), and I have to say, we held so much hope. Every time he felt better, or came into the office, we thought he was going to make it. He’d sit as his desk, looking so weak, but so determined. Wanting nothing more than to come to work and do his work. It kept him going, he said. That’s what I call passion! I went to his house and visited one day, the sun was spilling in, it was bright and lively and beautiful. His little girls were sprinting around him, and he looked happy. Fulfilled. I’m so glad I got to see him in his space – I felt like I truly understood where his love for life came from.
Since Griffin’s death, BBH has been hosting a workshop called “Griffin Farley Search for Beautiful Minds.” It’s the most incredible event I’ve ever been a part of. It’s alive with positivity and passion. It takes his unmatched love for mentoring young talent and injects it into every single participant. It brings together young talent who wants to break into advertising with those who are able to teach, help, and move them forward. Including the head of strategy at Google, 360i, Co:Collective, and more. It’s really remarkable.
Every year, I sit with myself afterwards, considering how blessed I am to have known Griffin. And how much of him I now see in myself as I grow into the leader he always told me I could be.
All of this is to say, THANK YOU to the incredible team at BBH, and for everyone who’s keeping Griffin alive through their work. It means so much to so many.