Road Trips & Trust

When I joined the team at James & Matthew in 2016, I was a newbie — in every sense of the word. My background and experience is in the world of nonprofit work, so this was a whole new ballgame for me in a lot of ways. Add to it the fact that our team is spread out across the country, and I had a big learning curve to overcome right away.

Now, I'm no stranger to working on my own, and I consider myself to be highly self-motivated. But I had spent over a decade in a traditional workplace office environment. You don't know what you're missing until you take away those daily face-to-face interactions with co-workers! Which is why I jumped at the chance to join the team this spring for a few days on a big client video shoot in Chicago…

I remember starting the 4-hour drive from Bloomington, Indiana to downtown Chicago, and my anxiety setting in almost immediately. At this point, I had seen or talked to everyone on our team via phone or video chat — multiple times, even. But I had only ever met two of them in person! What would the rest of them think? And then I arrived. And I learned a few things during my trip to Chicago…

Trust your gut.

I'm a person who overthinks everything. This experience was no different. But once I settled in with everyone, I realized that my gut had been telling me to relax and be myself all along — and that was the best thing I could have done. I also watched the people around me doing the same. This was an incredibly high-pressure, fast-paced shoot. There was a lot that had to be done in a relatively short amount of time. Decisions were being made on the fly. And these brilliant, creative co-workers of mine were consistently responding honestly, with their gut reactions.

Chicago Team

Their gut was exactly what made them uniquely qualified to be a part of this whole James & Matthew thing in the first place.

Trust your team.

I was only at the shoot for a few days, but even in that amount of time, I saw first-hand the importance of completely trusting the people around you. Our Creative Director Craig was directing the shoot and ended up getting sick during the week. Without skipping a beat, our Art Director Mariella jumped in and took over. (Seamlessly, I might add.) Both Jim and Matt were in town for the shoot, and I watched as Matt stood in the back of the room to let his team lead, while Jim kept his distance altogether — both showing solidarity and complete trust in their team to get shit done.

Chicago Trust

This whole operation worked because of the trust that existed between every single person.

Trust your voice.

With a big undertaking such as this, it was inevitable that there would be roadblocks and plenty of variables, requiring some kind of change and plenty of flexibility along the way. Talking through these hiccups as they happened was the only way could be dealt with efficiently. I observed the team communicating with one another exceptionally well at every turn. They didn't always have perfect solutions or perfect words to do so, but they didn't let that stop them from jumping right into discussing what to do next. They owned their voice as a part of the process — something I struggled to do, as I was still working on trusting my gut in the midst of this new experience. (Matt and I later had a great discussion about "analysis paralysis," something that we share. More to come on this.) The chemistry between the unique voices that exist on our team made magic happen.

I left with my head spinning — In every experience, there's something to be learned, and Chicago certainly didn't disappoint.


David Clark is a writer and community advocate at James & Matthew. He joined our team in 2016 and currently resides in Bloomington, Indiana, where he enjoys running and eating copious amounts of Chipotle.

Knowledge BombDavid Clark