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Week 45: Charlie Connell

Dear Batter Up friends, meet Charlie Connell—a true friend and advocate of Richmond non-profits!

Charlie is a seasoned advertising professional and the managing partner of an agency called Punch. Being a graphic designer, I’m familiar with Punch and they do awesome work. So when Stephanie Russell, an Art Director at Punch and the daughter of week 34 cake recipient Dana Nelson nominated Charlie, I don’t know what I was more excited about—giving him a cake, or getting to hang out at Punch during their weekly status meeting. (When you work alone from your house, these are the types of things that excite you. Sad, I know.)

As those of you who read my blog regularly know, every post is different. This week, rather than take the lead and write about Charlie in my own voice, I’m going to let you read what his work family has to say about him. Stephanie wrote a beautiful nomination email and then followed up with a few remarks from fellow colleagues after the delivery. Once you’ve read what they had to say, you’ll understand just how special this ad guy is.

 

Stephanie Russell:
Charlie is definitely one of a kind, not your typical person or boss. He started his own company 20 years ago and often says how he couldn’t have imagined that one day he would have 25+people working for him. I’m convinced that wasn’t a coincidence or just his savvy business skills, but it’s because of who he is. People are drawn to him. People are inspired by him. Including me!

Charlie is not only the head of our company, but is very involved in many other organizations in our community. He’s been on or involved with the boards for the Sports Backers, Connor’s Heroes Foundation, Art180, and Children’s Miracle Network, to name a few, and encourages Punch employees to do the same. We create design work for many local non-profits and last year it was decided we would donate our time to some of those…and during work hours. Unheard of! Charlie lets us organize groups to spend a half day helping clients we’ve done work for including Feedmore and Richmond Animal League. Each “semester” we pick a new group to help out. What we find is that they make more of an impact on us, rather than the other way around. Not only are we lending a hand, but it helps build teamwork, which in turn, makes our office run a lot more smoothly.

It’s not just our clients Charlie donates time, work, and energy to. He also helps up-and-coming college kids. He often attends VCU Portfolio days and meets with students to review their work and give constructive pointers on how to build their portfolio and résumé. And it can’t go without saying that he devotes a lot of time to his family. He is a loving husband and father of two kids.

Even though Charlie does so many great things, he truly keeps the focus off of himself, and puts positive attention on our clients and his employees. That’s the way he likes to get things done. Get involved, donate your time and work because you care, not because you feel forced to. Be a part of something. Find what you like and support it with everything you’ve got. Make an impact. It’s a lesson we’ve all learned from Charlie based on the example he has set. And this is why I’m nominating Charlie for a cake. He will probably blush and be embarrassed with all of the attention on him, but he whole-heartedly deserves it.

Phil B: 
When I first met Charlie at a Re:fresh Richmond happy hour, he asked, “What beer are you drinking?” and walked to the bar to buy me another. It’s just a beer, sure, but that his first step in a relationship is to give and ask for nothing, that says a lot about the man that Charlie is.

Erin:
Charlie makes Punch a wonderful place to work. He treats each one of us like an extension of his family. He gives us the opportunity to contribute to our community, both personally and through our creative work at Punch. He also gives us the flexibility to engage in client and community activities. Charlie loves Richmond and works hard to serve this community.

Heidi:
At Punch, we donate hours of our marketing services to local non-profits. This aligns closely with the vision Charlie has set for our company. With that said, we often don’t get to connect with the non-profits in their “house.” I proposed to Charlie that we set up a program that allows employees to volunteer at non-profits during working hours. The wonderful thing about Charlie is that I knew he would agree right away, and he did! Punch has since volunteered at Richmond Animal League and FeedMore, and we’re currently discussing our third non-profit to donate time to.

Dinah:
Charlie cares about the people that work for him as much as he cares about the work that we do. He even shared his cake with us!

Donna:
Charlie’s first priority is making sure we all have a successful company to work for every day. His means of achieving this is by making sure his employees are well-rounded and happy – Charlie is extremely supportive and encouraging in all of our vast and varied non-Punch hobbies: spending time with our families, participating in outside creative projects, painting murals, running marathons, wood-carving, cooking, gardening, volunteering, etc.

 

Those of you who don’t work in the advertising/design world don’t understand how much we live and die by the clock. Everything we do relates back to time. It’s a precious commodity that is evaluated, scrutinized, projected, traded, and then evaluated again. Without billable hours there would be no revenue and without revenue there would be no company. I get it. But having worked for many agencies over the years I have seen the distribution of time be the guiding light in workplace dynamics and (un)happiness. (It is also the primary reason why I work for myself.) Having said all of this it is incredibly refreshing to read about an an advertising boss who values time in a way that is well-rounded and takes the needs of not only his employees, but his community, into consideration. Life is not always about the bottom line and, Charlie Connell, we thank you for your time.

And now for cake! Stephanie did a little investigating and found out that coconut is one of Charlie’s favorite flavors so that’s what he got—a Macaroon Cake. I don’t have a recipe for you this week. This is one of my mom’s recipes that she’s been making for years and years. It’s super moist, full of coconut, and when it’s in the oven the top gets a little crunchy just like a the outer edge of a macaroon. It’s one of those dark horse cakes. It looks like just a plain ole boring bundt cake but then you cut into it, take a bite, and discover a coconut dream like you’ve never tasted. Hopefully I’ll get my Batter Up cookbook off the ground one of these days so you can all try it home. Just make sure you have plenty of time—this baby bakes for almost two hours.