Richmond is a small but strong community, and this sense of community is one of our city’s greatest strengths. It’s one of the driving reasons why we’ve setup shop here. Take our neighborhood for example. In addition to the great small businesses that we interact with on a daily basis, we have an internationally renowned advertising agency, The Martin Agency, right down the street.
We walk past the agency every day on our morning coffee runs. Members of their team — art directors, account executives, and producers — come to our happy hours and wear our shirts. We are beyond proud to have Martin in our own backyard and are honored to have friends, spouses, and loved ones who work there.
It was with heavy hearts that we learned of Mike Hughes’ passing from his long battle with lung cancer earlier this week. During the course of his over 35 year career at The Martin Agency, Hughes served as the agency’s creative director, president and patriarch.
During his tenure, Mike helped grow the creative reputation of Martin and the city of Richmond as a whole. Attracting talent and building a world-class creative team that gave a thoughtful and disarming approach to advertising. Not to mention, The Martin Agency earned the title of “U.S. Agency of the Year” by Adweek under Mike’s watch. With campaigns such as GEICO’s gecko and cavemen, The Martin Agency’s work transcends the world of advertising and is iconic in pop culture.
Rather than retiring when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in the late-90s, Mike decided to keep doing the work he loved with the people he loved, a mantra he lived by. Rather than going out quietly when doctors gave him only two more weeks to live last January, he lived out the rest of his life on his own timeline. He started his blogs, Unfinished Thinking and Unfinished Thinking II, and began to publically share his thoughts on cancer, his career, and life.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to get to know Mike personally, through the hundreds of letters and stories written on We All Love Mike, it’s easy to form a full perception of the person he was and his character. One of his colleagues wrote, “I’m your fan because you encourage all of us to be better. Better at learning and adapting, better at loving each other, better at being good, hard-working, earnest human beings.”
Mike was a great man with an easy laugh and a larger than life persona — after all he was named one of the 50 most influential thinkers in Creativity magazine and inducted into The One Club’s Creative Hall of Fame. Despite his success, Mike set the standard for being a genuinely nice person in an extremely competitive industry. Mike remained humble, caring, and never missed an opportunity to give a simple hello or express gratitude to those around him.
The end of the year is a time when many of us reflect on the past months, what we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year, and how we can continue to grow personally. There are many lessons that we can learn from Mike — how to work hard, but most importantly, how to live life to the fullest and be better to those around us.
*Images via We All Love Mike