Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with Lisa Meid Hamelberg, creative director at Surface51 and 2012 ACE award recipient. In the Oct. 7 newspaper, we'll have a chat with Marvin Lee Flessner, a retired farmer and part-time musician.
Explain what it is you do.
I'm a creative director at SURFACE51 and a professional writer, so I get to work with all kinds of amazing people, organizations and companies to come up with ideas and communication strategies, as well as stare at people and call it research.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
The time varies and is wholly correlated with Centennial High School and Next Generation's start times. Without first bell responsibilities, I would sleep until 10 every day. Instead, my first hour is spent reading what best friend Jenny calls my morning Internets, drinking coffee and parsimoniously engaging with my family. As in, "Mumble. Eggs?"
What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?
I was on deadline this morning and writing from home, so I made a quick omelette, spinach and fried potatoes and ate at the counter with my bestie, MacBook Air.
Best high school memory?
Driving grit laps around campus listening to music in Tom Wilsey's car. First from his legendary mix tapes and later from a Sony CD Walkman with a cassette tape adapter.
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
My husband tells a story about being introduced to me by Cody Sokolski while he toured One Main. He claims I was sitting writing with my feet up on a desk and said, "Oh, hey! Like my new shoes?" Had he ever been able to back this up by later identifying the specific pair, they would be my favorites. Since he cannot, I'll choose my alligator pumps that look fabulous but are secretly comfortable. The older I get, the more I wish for secretly comfortable fabulous things (and people).
What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?
Sunshine, a great book, a clean house (so I can be left to the great book), something simmering and kids on the way home for dinner.
Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?
I read "Little Women" well over 100 times as a child. I credit Marmee with helping raise me and naturally believed I was Jo. (I mean, no one wanted to be Amy, did they?)
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
Tybee Island, Ga. My baby sister is there, and I'm not.
Tell me about your favorite pet.
We have two dogs: James Joyce and Sylvia Beach. James is a 4-year-old Chihuahua/terrier mix who will someday expire in a crazed fit of hysteria induced by a UPS man placing a box on our porch, and Sylvia is a 15-week-old Yorkie the size of a large guinea pig, with the face of an Ewok.
Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?
This is a tough question if, like me, you had a tough childhood. That said, as I've matured, I've discovered that I'm like both my parents (and most others) in some critical ways: I want better for my kids than I had, I try to learn from my mistakes and I admit when I'm wrong.
What would you order for your last meal?
Papa Del's thick crust pizza with sausage, onion and pepperoncinis, a salad from backyard greens with Irina's homemade croutons and a glass of Italian red.
What can you not live without?
Not what, but whom: My kids. They are the best, smartest people I have ever met.
Who do you have on your iPod?
Among a crazy array of music (new Avett Brothers, Killers and the xx are recent additions), I have a beautiful a cappella rendition of "Amazing Grace" sung by Brandon T Washington for a commercial spot that never ended up being produced. Love it.
What are the happiest memories of your life?
Time spent with my grandparents. I fished, scavenged for my great-grandpa Miller's butterscotches, did goat shows with grandma Pat, learned to cook in her kitchen and drove Grandpa With The Whiskers' tractor. My grams took me for grown-up lunches at The Jolly Roger and Sea Merchant — we played Scrabble, did crosswords and talked about books. Happy memories are an homage to formative moments. Mine are almost never big days but a collection of tiny flashes.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?
Grant Achatz, Graydon Carter and Fran Lebowitz. (But can I sneak in a few family and friends, too? Also, Anna Wintour?)
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Al Fleener and Thad Morrow gave me similar advice about five years apart. They worded it differently, but it meant the same thing: Put yourself (or business) around people who value what you do.
What's your best piece of advice?
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
I worked at Eisner in what is now a parking lot at Lincoln Square Village. I can't recall what I made, but Google tells me that minimum wage in 1986 was $3.35 per hour.
What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?
At some point, I shifted from playing around with ideas and writing to taking them seriously. It was a gradual decision, utterly pivotal, and I was lucky enough to have heeded good advice and surrounded myself with people who valued my work even before I fully did.
Do you have a bad habit? What is it?
I'm an occasional nail biter. I worry. I interrupt people more than I'd like. I'll keep the rest of the list to myself and those poor souls who see me at my worst.
How do you handle a stressful situation?
My response to stress varies wildly, but at some point generally involves cooking methodically and copiously. (See: Thanksgiving.)