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Leo Burnett Chicago
35 West Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
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Day in the Life: Mike Rivera

While he’s usually behind the camera, we were able to get Mike Rivera to step in front of it to show us a day in the life of an associate producer in Greenhouse, Leo Burnett’s recently announced studio production offering. (Check out his most recent work filming Vincent Geraghty’s morning for What’s Your Morning Look Like.)

Keep an eye on our Instagram today (@leoburnett) as we follow Mike along and see his day. To learn more about what it takes to break into the business, what he loves most about his job and what he does outside of work, hear from the man himself below.

How did you get involved in jiu-jitsu and why do you like it?
I grew up playing football with a brief wrestling stint in high school. Since I chose not to pursue football at Emerson College (undefeated since 1880), I gravitated towards Brazilian jiu-jitsu when lifting became monotonous. I even took a job at an MMA gym just to take whatever classes I could for free. I enjoy the workout and the sport — it’s a healthy way to start my day, and clear my head all while practicing discipline and self-defense. I then make my way into work for long days of shooting and editing.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of the job is that we get to do stuff. We get to create cool things on a daily basis! Sometimes it’s not glamorous or all that exciting but there’s nothing better than the adrenaline I get when capturing the perfect moment on camera or when making that edit that gives me chills. I can’t sit at a desk all day — I need to get out there and do things. Here, within Greenhouse, I’m able to refine my craft and build relationships with clients I would have otherwise spent years gaining access to.

What’s a hobby of yours outside of work?
I’m currently shooting a 365 project where I post a photo every day in an effort to make myself a better photographer. I completed a 365 project in 2012, however this year, I’ve chosen to keep my photos strictly iPhone as a challenge to focus on content. In the end, even though I put the photos on social media, it’s all for me. I always strive to make myself better than I was yesterday. Plus, I can look back at the end of the year and reflect on each day, remembering where I was when I took this photo or even my state of mind at each moment. Pretty cool stuff. (Follow @MikeRivera23 on Instagram)

What’s your advice for people looking to get into production or advertising?
With regards to the production world, I’ve worn many hats. I’ve worked on location for more projects than I can count, in television office production, as a personal assistant, and now on the agency side here at Leo Burnett. One of my former bosses eloquently summed up production like this: “We’re the department that solves everyone else’s problems.” I always try to keep that in mind.

Breaking in is difficult. “It’s all about who you know” applies today more than ever. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends, or people you may or may not know. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose, so why not? It’s easier said than done, but put yourself out there and network. The worst that could happen is you leave the event, party or gathering early, but at least you ventured out and took the chance.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received relating to work, production or life in general?
A couple years ago, I’d had a really bad day at the TV show I was working on while my father was visiting me in L.A. I’d been there for about a week, before that fresh out of college for two days, in a city I’d never been to, with a job I’d never done. I was frustrated and just hating everything in that moment but he asked me one thing that I’ll never forget. He asked, “Did you do your best, pa?” I thought I had but he knew otherwise. He said, “Go back tomorrow and if you fail, at least you know you did your best. If, in the end, it doesn’t work out, learn and move on.”

Nowadays, I’m a firm believer in problem solving. Exhaust all your resources before asking for help. Show that you care. When you can, be a resource to your peers and do the best you can in every project. If you’re asked to do something, make sure you do it. If something goes wrong, which may happen every now and then, at least you know you did your best. Stand up for yourself and be firm. Lastly, smile. It goes a long way.

The Greenhouse team seems tightknit. Do you all spend a lot time together outside of work?
I’ve been at Leo for almost a year now and it’s really been a blur. Long days and nights have melted together and brought the Greenhouse team closer. A few of us usually get dinner together after a long shoot somewhere near the office, and some nights we’ll even hang out on someone’s balcony and get lost in conversation about cameras or TV shows or girls (usually in that order) with the awesome Chicago skyline in the background. Since we work together so much, they’ve kind of become my personal Chicago family outside of work as well.