#TIYMLI with Jonathan Berger

#Tryityoumightlikeit with Deborah Dorman is a platform for a generation of approximately 80 million baby boomers to speak out and share their wisdom and leave nothing left unsaid.


It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, the Deputy Director of Marketing and External Affairs of Newfields. This talented individual plays a lead role in implementing large scale, seasonal marketing strategies designed to increase awareness of exhibitions and events as well as increase membership attendance and associated revenue at Newfields.

He has extensive experience in design, marketing and brand management. He has managed a large-scale portfolio of global brands, including, Schwinn, Mongoose, Walt Disney and Eddie Bauer. After a decade of successful product launches, he transitioned into the non-profit arenas. He established brands for Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and St. Coletta of Wisconsin, building fundraising messaging.

Prior to relocating to Indianapolis to assume his role as Brand Director at Newfields, he was the creative director for Dometic, a Swedish based company, a world leader in the RV and marine industry.

He studied Art at the University of Saint Francis in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

In his short time at Newfields, he’s overseen the launch of marketing campaigns for Winterlights, Spring Blooms, and Harvest.

Meet Jonathan Berger!

Deborah Dorman: Where does your inspiration come from? 

Jonathan Berger: You have to be inspired by the moment, surroundings, and atmosphere. There’s always a meter running on relevance. Inspiration is ever-changing. Marketing is in the moment.

DD: In your professional career of design, marketing and branding, was there a time that you were climbing the ladder and fell off, and if so, who was there to help you pick up the pieces? 

JB: Sure, many times the path seemed so clear ahead of me, then took a few turns and made me second-guess myself.  Those times when I have lost sight, I return to my family and the teachings of great parents.

DD: What is the best advice you received and did not follow? 

JB: I always listen to advice, I need all I can get!  I believe this helps me be a better marketer, communicator, and collaborator.

DD: How did you came to love design and branding? Did you have a mentor? 

JB: There is really nothing like having a great idea and following it into fruition.  Marketing is a puzzle to solve.  What words or images can we use to entice or attract people to buy a product or take a second look at an ad… I love it!

I’ve had a few good mentors over the years.  An art teacher in elementary school, that boss who took a chance on me, good friends here in Indianapolis who have welcomed me back into the community with open arms.  They have all helped me and mentored me!

DD: If you could have a cocktail with anyone and feel comfortable discussing your life personally and professionally, who would that be? 

JB: I think having a drink with my father back when he was my age now. Our lives are so different, yet we share the same optimism, curiosity, and passion.

DD: Speaking of cocktails, you are quite the mixologist! Which cocktail have you perfected and can you share the recipe with our readers?

JB: I would say I really perfected the Tom Collins.  I have a quick recipe that has converted many to gin drinkers!

First you start with the proper vessel, which is a tall, cylindrical, frosted glass, which I fill half to three quarters full of crushed ice.
A traditional recipe is as follows:
2 oz Gin (and we are all grown-ups, so use good gin)
2 oz of sweet and sour mix (equal parts water, sugar, fresh lemon juice, and fresh lime juice)
…then top it off with a soda like 7-Up
Now, the next ingredient takes it up a notch as far as I’m concerned. When I lived in Wisconsin (deep behind the Cheddar Curtain) I found a soda, called Graf’s 50/50, the locals enjoyed. Originally, I thought was just an inexpensive store brand of 7-Up, but when I used it to make a Tom Collins and realized I found the missing ingredient!  It’s actually a refreshing grapefruit soda mix. So, I substituted the 7-Up with Graf’s 50/50 to fill. When I can’t find 50/50 I just add half to a full ounce of pink grapefruit juice then garnish with a flag (an orange slice wrapped around a cherry. It really is the perfect summer refresher!

DD: What is the one thing you wish your 25 year-old self knew before embarking on your personal and professional journey of life? 

JB: Hurry up and start being yourself. I think when we are younger we have a strong desire to fit into the “it-crowd”. It was only when I started following my own eccentric, avant grade, and sometimes off-beat methods that I started to get noticed.

DD: If you had the opportunity to start all over, what would you do differently? 

JB: Not a thing! I mean there was that time I locked my keys in the car… wish I could’ve done that differently.  It may be cliche, but I have learned so much from my mistakes and recovering from [said] mistakes. An embarrassing moment on a first date, an awkward moment in a job interview, a time when I turned the wrong direction both literally and figuratively, all have made me who I am today.

DD: Describe a life changing moment? 

JB: Being with my father when he died.

I chose to move back home to Indiana to be closer to my parents in their later years. A few years ago my father was airlifted to Ft. Wayne after an accident – which was the impetus of his decline. I recall driving to the hospital from Wisconsin… and the solitude only a long car ride can offer. I found the stretch of highway between Lake Mills, Wisconsin and Ft. Wayne, Indiana the exact amount of time needed to decide to move home.

DD: With the times being so challenging with COVID and the protesting of bigotry and racism facing our country for over 400 years, what would you do to save this world and make it a better place for so many of us at home; and abroad and keep this conversation alive? 

JB: These are interesting times. Days, weeks, and months of this pandemic boiling over as we all want a grasp at normalcy.  We know the conversation of racism is not new, and it will only grow louder until change happens. Listen. By continuing to have challenging conversations, actively listening to those who need to be heard, and collaborating in change with one another for the betterment of our society, I am hopeful that our world will become a better place.

DD: What are three essential characteristics of being a true professional in any industry? 

JB: Integrity, judgement, and balance; leading by example.

DD: You truly are a dreamer of dreams for so many of us in the prestigious museum world of Indianapolis as you reinvent the cultural world of art and history at Newfields. Is there a dream that you long to fulfill personally and professionally? 

JB: Easy, I’m at Newfields. I am really lucky to be a member of great leadership team. Charles Venable, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO is a true visionary. I am delighted to be a part of our plans for the future; whether it’s demystifying the art museum for many who haven’t visited, inviting guests to see our lush garden, and by doing so letting all of Indiana have an exceptional experience with art and nature.

As that young dreamer, I would sit and draw pictures, lobbying for those little masterpieces to reach the highest of achievement, held by a magnet on the family refrigerator.  Working on this team is that fulfillment.

DD: What are five words that best describe you? 

JB: Storyteller, creative, passionate, communicator, and intentional.

DD: In your illustrious career, is there a project that has stood out as the most memorable and meaningful one?

JB: When I worked at Pacific Cycle I redesigned the Schwinn Cruiser line. As a lover of all things mid-century modern, it was so much fun reintroducing such an iconic brand to a new generation.

I feel that same excitement working at Newfields.  Every day we are reinventing the structures of the museum and garden.  One of my favorite things to do is tour friends and family to my favorite works inside and out. Usually, it’s followed up with, “Wow, I had no idea!”.

DD: As an Indiana native you seen Indianapolis transform over the years. Is there something special that you regret that has changed; and a change that you have embraced? 

JB: I think I can answer both in the same breath. As the Indianapolis Motor Speedway passed into the hands of Roger Penske I was shocked (and worried) the history and tradition would be lost. However, I believe what Roger is doing will only enhance and preserve the greatest spectacle in racing.

…still miss the mid-1980s snake pit though.

DD: What is your proudest moment? 

JB: I’ve had a lot of great moments in my life, but I have to look back on a time when I was driving home after Christmas. I passed through a “blink of an eye” small town noticing a carton from a children’s bicycle I designed sitting by the road for pickup. I felt proud to be a part of that holiday, albeit from a distance. Doesn’t everyone remember getting a first bike of our own… a first taste of freedom, even if it is just to venture a little further down the sidewalk?

DD: Finally, Do you have plans to continue your marketing career or is the word “retirement” in your vocabulary? 

JB: Are people still doing that?

More from Deborah Dorman

#TIYMLI with Lorene Burkhart

Growing up in Indianapolis, I saw lots of stories about Lorene Burkhart...
Read More