Being from Detroit imbues you with a special kind of grit that never leaves you. And in any business, in these times, grittiness is essential.
When I say Detroit grit, I mean it literally, as in under my fingernails, from hours spent in the garage handing my dad, a Ford engineer, tools while he worked on our cars.
I am a product of the rigorous, pioneering and sadly, now defunct, art, music and English humanities curriculum at Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb.
As a result of that curriculum, I pursued the study of art and design, at two big state schools in Michigan and one demanding exclusive private art school next to the Detroit Institute of Arts.
In 1990, through the creativity (and generosity) of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University, 10 years of design study and a couple hundred credits were fashioned into a B.A. in art.
The return on my investment: a highly developed capacity for design thinking and finding creative solutions to complex problems.
In 1992, I moved to Chicago and stayed for 16 years. There I managed a small architectural firm (1992-1998) and worked for DDB Chicago during the Wassup! era (1998-2004). I went out on my own for the first time in 2005, as a technical writer but found I missed the creative fish tank.
In 2005, I signed on freelance with a boutique communications firm, where I (re)discovered my true calling. My new business development skills, platinum account service and solid creative work got me hired there and quickly promoted to VP. (2006-2008).
It was my desire to focus on working with creative professionals that led me to start Helena B Communications in June of 2008, which evolved in July 2014 to its current incarnation, Executive Words.
Currently, my office is in a building that was originally a foundry, and later a factory that bottled the liqueur Cointreau. Home is now a neat townhouse in Hopewell, New Jersey, about five miles from where Washington crossed the Delaware.
I belong here.
But I still often miss, Detroit.