Brand USA's CCO Anne Madison on working in DC (and not hating the commute)

The daily habits of a commuting professional who doesn't mind the train ride.

Morning ritual
Each day begins with a 30-minute workout during which I lose at least three pounds, a long, hot shower, and a relaxing breakfast of fresh strawberries and the world’s best omelet. Then I wake up, realize I’ve overslept, take a quick shower, get dressed, and rush to catch the 7:45am train to DC. 

First site or app checked in the morning
My calendar, WSJ and CNN, The Weather Channel, Amtrak, and then the Brand USA corporate calendar. 

What keeps you in the travel and tourism marcomms industry?
Strategic, authentic connections. Other industries and professions offer this, too, but travel connects people, places, and cultures like no other industry.

I’ve also been fortunate to work with some of the best marketing communications teams in the industry, and our current team is a special mixture of pure, diverse talent and personalities that drives results while making each day fun and rewarding.    

If you ruled the world for a day
There would be no sniveling and everyone would have and assume the best of intentions of everyone else.

Most distinct aspect of your personal office
A large Peter Max original over paint of the Statue of Liberty.

It reminds me of how Brand USA is inviting the world to visit the USA and how important it is for us to make them feel welcomed and appreciated throughout their journey. 

New York is one of many gateway cities that international travelers come through — and many go beyond gateways such as New York to continue their visit after enjoying these gateway cities to visit other great US destinations. The Statue of Liberty is a particularly welcoming image – it was the first image people saw when they came to the USA as immigrants. They are the reason our country is such a diverse destination with virtually limitless experiences for those who live here and those who visit.

On a scale of one to 10, how difficult is your commute?
Ten for distance, but one considering the incredible people I’ve met during my commute to DC from Columbia, Maryland, and the accessibility of train and metro to get me to and from Washington, DC.

My return trip home is on Amtrak after I take the Metro to Union Station. Within the first year of my daily commute to Washington, DC, I met an incredible and diverse group of people. All of us met and became friends on the train. 

We all work at different places, but the relationships we’ve established and experiences we have on the train make the trip fun and a great bridge from work to home.

One of the great untold stories of commuting is about the communities that develop in transit. Each day we sit in the same car, and on special occasions we host events to celebrate holidays, birthdays, promotions, new job opportunities, and a variety of other special events. We also support each other when any one of us is facing a personal or professional challenge. And we even have "off-site" events that we schedule outside of the regular work week. It’s a "moving" support group and community. 

The train I take home every day is the Amtrak Northeast Regional 188, the train that derailed on May 12 just north of Philadelphia. On the night of the crash, our train group immediately began checking in with each other via text and phone to make sure everyone was safe. We also connected with the conductors and other Amtrak employees on the train who have become our friend and who, regardless of the injuries they sustained, made sure to take care of passengers and get them to safety before they took care of themselves. The members of this train community and the Amtrak employees who share that ride with us make the trip we take each day worthwhile.

Favorite smartphone app
Pandora. Music is a great motivator and stress-reliever, and Pandora always knows exactly what I need to hear.

First marketing or PR job
I worked as an intern for the Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority in Springfield, Ohio, in the early ’80s, and I was honored to receive an award for my work on an orientation program I created for incoming residents of SMHA’s community housing. I received the award from Rep. Mike Dewine, who is now attorney general for the state of Ohio.

My first professional position in PR was with the Ryland Group, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders – an excellent company, a great industry, and a place where I learned and grew the most in my career. I consider the CEO whom I worked for during the last years I was at Ryland my mentor. When he joined Ryland in 1994, he brought strategy, focus, and vision back to the organization – and in doing so turned the company around and saved thousands of jobs. Thank you, Chad Dreier.

Favorite city you’ve worked in
Washington, DC. It has everything: history, intrigue, power, accessibility, excellent food, incredible entertainment, and so much more. It’s "DC Cool!" Just ask Destination DC.

Favorite place to grab a work drink
My favorite place to grab a drink anytime is home with my husband, either in front of a fire when it’s cold, or on our deck on warm evenings. But for work, it’s at Teddy and Bully Bar.

What’s your guilty TV pleasure?
Anything justice-based – fiction or non-fiction. I love to see justice delivered in under 60 minutes.


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