Robideaux: To thrive in this economy, you have to evolve

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

Andy Robideaux, a marketing and advertising entrepreneur, learned the profession from his parents. “I grew up hoping for a job that was fascinating and unique.” (Colin Mulvany)
Andy Robideaux, a marketing and advertising entrepreneur, learned the profession from his parents. “I grew up hoping for a job that was fascinating and unique.” (Colin Mulvany)

In the new economy, professions won’t run in families as easily as they once did. Generations of doctors, lawyers and small-business owners might soon seem an old-economy relic.

Andy Robideaux, 36, is the son of two well-known marketing executives, John and Toni Robideaux, who built the go-to agency of the 1990s, Robideaux & Associates, in downtown Spokane.

Toni Robideaux died of cancer in 2004. John Robideaux continues working in marketing and strategic planning. Andy Robideaux worked with his father until going out on his own in 2006. Now, Robideaux is representative of 30-something business people who are bridging the old way with the new.

In a recent Wise Words interview, Robideaux talked about learning from his family mentors and being a one-man marketing company in the age of texting and Facebook.

• In my growing-up years, both my parents were working. I loved seeing (them) dressed up. I took to their work early on. When I went to visit, my parents would say “wonderful to see you” and then there would be a rush. There was a deadline, and the deadline must be met.

I knew from an early age I could go talk to people, but I had to not bother them too much. The big art tables they used to have, I’d go there to visit the artists. When I was little, their office was in the Flour Mill. I still go to Clinkerdagger and think “I used to run around these halls and up and down the elevators.”

• When the economy crashed, a lot of the executive directors I’ve worked with lost their development and marketing directors. They now have to wear multiple hats. When you had a lot of people let go in ’08, what happened was if the right individual was working for you, that person found out that accepting two or three or four jobs was pretty easy, because they were flexible or young enough to understand that they could do that. So when the economy got better, there was no rehiring.

• My arena is mostly in the nonprofit world because my grandfather and my mother and father were all committed to service. In any other world, in any other time, I would probably have a five-to-10 person agency, but now I have good collaborators.

An example: I’ve worked on The Ronald McDonald House Charities Classic (a charity event featuring the Gonzaga men’s basketball team). I write the marketing plan and then have a computer production designer, Karen Snyder, design all marketing-related materials for the event. We do the outdoor media, print ads, the rally towels, the passes and the logo for each year.  Karen has her own small business. She works with different consultants.

And then there’s Mark Forman. He is my go-to guy for videos.

Again, he has his own small business and he works with a number of different people. In any other timeframe, certainly the ’90s, we’d be working together (in an agency).

• I do have an office, which is unique. I don’t go down there from 8 to 5. I’ll go down there on a Saturday or Sunday. I don’t have an office phone. It just doesn’t make any sense to have an office phone and a separate voicemail for my office phone.

My clients are rolling in the same arena. Everyone is on cellphones. If you really want to get a hold of someone now, you’ve got to have their cellphones. You alert them, give them a heads up via text that maybe we need a conversation in the next day or two. You send documents ahead of time and then you make the call.

  • The kids coming out of school now will be the ultimate multi-taskers. They won’t even see it as a problem being the front desk person, the greeter, making coffee and doing the copies, which we don’t really do anymore.

• What you lose is true face-to-face collaboration. The people in the office you can grab and say I have an idea, let’s go flesh it out. Now, you have an idea and then you pitch the idea through email, which is difficult, or on the phone. You can no longer stick an idea on a wall and everyone can sit there together and let the idea fester and grow. I think you cannot replicate the strategy sessions, the creative sessions, we used to have.

• From the 1970s to the 1990s, if you got in there and you were good, and you had confidence, you were in. Careers were for good. Nowadays, you are constantly looking. You are looking at how the world is changing right in front of you. You have to be ready for the shifts. If you are not ahead of it, or right nearby, the ship is going to pass you by. 

• My grandpa, Don Herak, is 88. We got very close after my grandmother passed away in 1998. The very next year the Zags made their Elite Eight run. We started to build our love for the team around love for each other. He is my life guru.

His message is you have to give back. There is no question. You give back when you are in a position to. He gives without thought of receiving any accolades. And yes, his name is on a building over (at GU), but he gives without thought of return.

I know he has influenced other people who have gained wealth. He has influenced them and said you must give back and especially in a time that’s difficult when nobody has much to give. And if you can’t give back financially, give back your time.

• My dad can walk in and rally the troops like no other. I’ve seen people ready to do anything for him. He has such a positive outlook when he walks into a room. Especially in a company that’s hurting and needs help. He walks in there and lifts them up. And it is all about instilling confidence in a company. He can do it with a moment’s notice.

• My mom was a creative brain and an English lit (major and) writer. She could be creative on one side and then eloquently explain herself. She was 53 when she died. I was 29. I think about her every day. I miss her all the time. I went back to school the year she died. Before, I had been an average student, but when I went back, I became an outstanding student. A lot of it had to do with age. But a lot of it had to do with my mother.

• When will Facebook be passé? How can there not be something new that comes along eventually? It will grow once again out of a university or even a high school setting. If kids have proven one thing over the generations it’s “I don’t want to be doing what my parents are doing.”

And parents are all on Facebook – and grandparents. There will be something new. How many years down the line, I don’t know.

• “Reality Bites” came out in 1995. That was the year I got “You look a lot like Ben Stiller.” I still get stares. I wish I was as funny. 

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