Love you more, Auntie Dre.
If you're able to support the education fund for Andrea's daughter, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/andrea-messimer-henley
Looking for your next job in OOH? Start here: www.oohired.com
I never thought that I’d be telling this story without Andrea because she rode shotgun to so much of it, especially in the early days. And if you’ve ever built anything - a company, a team, a family, a career, you know that it takes a lot of hard work, a couple of good breaks, and a few great people who believe in you.
Andrea was one of those few great people from the start. If she believed in you, she was 100% in your corner. If she didn’t, she’d sort you out in her own way. Either way, she was convicted.
Probably the best way for me to do this is to share what I’ve learned about the three times of people you’re likely to meet on your next journey:
Andrea was the third group of people. She was the hell yeah people.
To my son, she became “Auntie ‘Dre” because we were on the phone so much during COVID and she’d always ask for him, checking in on sports and school.
I got to know her husband Jim Henley, a fellow Marine, and we shared a lot of laughs during those lockdown days. And Andrea was always most proud to share a positive update about how her daughter Emma was handling high-school and getting ready to head to the University of Alabama - roll tide.
Knowing Andrea is probably what it’s like to know Kevin Bacon. Instead of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, it’s six degrees of Andrea Messimer-Henley and because Out of Home is significantly smaller than, well, the rest of the combined world, it’s probably safe to say it was more like two or three degrees of Andrea.
In fact, if you’ve ever been the new kid in Out of Home, it was probably gonna be Andrea who was first to throw an arm around your shoulder, introduce herself as ambassador of the cool kids table and invite you to sit with her, except Andrea’s table was like the dining hall at Hogwarts.
For me, also, specifically, for you, the biggest impact Andrea had on my life was her belief in this podcast. Let me give you a couple of stats real quick to try to measure the impact…
OOH Insider is closing on 150 episodes and 3 and ½ years and going strong yet in the spring of 2020, when the world shutdown from COVID, I didn’t know if I was going to find a landing spot in the industry. Remember, in a lot of circles I’m still the new kid. I’d only been at Adams Outdoor less than a year when lockdowns and layoffs started. I’d only been in the industry 11 months at that point, and had only been selling billboards for two months at that point because I’d been selling the digital online ad product originally and took in interest in the larger, in real life version as you’re well aware.
So there I was, furloughed en route to being laid off, no outlook on when the world will be rightsided let alone how the heck Tim Rowe is going to continue his journey in Out of Home with a grand total of two months of billboard sales experience. But Andrea believed. In the lookback window of time, mid-March to mid-April of 2020 was by far the hardest stretch of road this podcast has endured. No job, no rolodex, no direction. But there was an Andrea.
Andrea made introductions to Jonnathan Trilleras and Jean-Paul Gedeon, who were guests during that period. Jonnathan doing two episodes in less than 5 weeks because I had no one to talk to and he’s just a really generous guy. Jonathan would also sponsor the podcast that summer which offset the cost of continuing to produce it while simultaneously turning his fleet of LED trucks into a meal delivery fleet, teaming up with Andrea and Feed Tampa to create such an amazing impact on their community.
Jean-Paul Gedeon has also become a great personal friend and is the voice of the intro and outro to the podcast that you’ve heard so many times before. Together, with his brothers at JPG Media in Hawaii and Andrea and her husband Jim, they began quickly stitching together the supply chain on Personal Protective Equipment for their businesses and communities. Half a world apart, working together for a common cause.
Throw in the occasional zoom happy hour, specifically I’m remembering the one with flyby ads where Andrea hosted a super social virtual tour of Tampa and why it’s a great city to advertise in. Andrea got 20 or so people together just to hang out and get pitched on why Tampa is awesome. That’s the kind of impact Andrea had on the people around her. They just wanted to be in her presence. For any reason. If Andrea was a part of it, it was probably something you wanted to be a part of too.
Wherever Andrea went, there was activity around her. It’s one of the reasons she was a great salesperson. She was always creating activity. She knew that if she just had enough at bats that eventually she’d get a hit. And while she was helping me to stay motivated while being unemployed and on a seemingly quick exit from the Out of Home industry, I kept going.
A few months later, things started to break. I’d taken a job in automotive once unemployment had run out, not that it was ever enough anyway, but that’s when I was most scared that I wasn’t going to be able to get back to Out of Home. I kept interviewing awesome guests, didn’t change anything about my LinkedIn to suggest I was leaving the industry, and kept going.
Because of that, I met the guys at OneScreen, where I spent two years learning how to build and scale, ultimately preparing to help more friends of Andrea’s - Kristy Schlepp and Doug Conner, in my new role at ODN.
And no matter how I replay it, without Andrea Messimer-Henley, I don’t know that you and I’d be having this conversation. That’s how important Andrea always will be to me and how important she’ll continue to be to this podcast.
What I’ve learned is there’s a common thread with Andrea and it’s this - it’s that she surrounded herself with great people who want to help and expect nothing in return.
Andrea leaves behind her father, her husband, and her daughter who is a sophomore in college. So, in keeping with Andrea’s spirit and purpose, myself and some of Andrea’s closest friends and family have started a fund for her daughter’s education which will be the only thing linked in the show notes today.
If you’ve ever received any value from this podcast and have the means to do so, it would mean the world to me if you’d consider giving at the link in the show notes.
A few of our friends wanted to say goodbye and let you know how much Andrea meant to them too so I’ll leave you with their words.
Love you more Auntie Dre.