Tools of the Trade: Chris Steblay from Uncle Toad’s Media Group

By Kyle O'Brien 

Tools of the Trade is an AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps people perform at their top form, from a favorite drafting table to the best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Chris Steblay, executive producer and creative director at Uncle Toad’s Media Group.

Chris Steblay poses with his Areopress coffee maker.


What is one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire your work?

There are so many important tools I need to get work done while traveling for some of our more “extreme” jobs. From suntan lotion and flip-flops to avalanche gear and sat phones I need some untypical equipment as an action sports live broadcaster. The most universal device I need, however, is my Aeropress coffee maker. Its portable and when I have a 6:00 am helicopter to catch in the sleepy town of Valdez, Alaska and there’s not always access to a Starbucks.

Why is it your favorite?

I am a creature of routine and when we have important shoots in crazy locations, sometimes a simple cup of coffee in the morning when I wake up is critical to starting the day right. I love the Aeropress because it makes great coffee, doesn’t make a mess, and it’s tiny. It really only comes into play when I am on location, but that’s really where my work is done. Locations are always crazy and sometimes it’s little comforts that can make a long day bearable.

How did you acquire your tool or hear about it for the first time?

I got my Aeropress after ditching a basic coffee machine at home. I was hunting for making a better cup of coffee and one of our producers, who also owned a coffee shop in Hawaii, had brought a Aeropress to a shoot in the mountains of Brazil with her. Needless to say Aeropress is known for making a good cup of coffee, it just turns out to be super portable and simple too.

How does it help you be successful?

As a team leader with some shoots having 50-plus crew members, walking in the door can be overwhelming. I don’t like feeling like I am still waking up when I have critical questions to answer the morning of a live show. I know coffee seems silly and almost super basic for a critical item, but for me I would be devastated to not have it. Sometimes, call times are so early in such remote locations, being able to be self sufficient with this one item really changes my mindset for the day. Some winter shoots take place in remote mountain lodges where the kitchen can be several cabins away with a snowy walking trail between them and negative temperatures. Add a 4:00 am wake up time and making coffee in your room is life changing.

Does it have sentimental value?

For me no, it’s a cheap tool and it’s replaceable. If they stopped making these, that would be a different story.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral? Why or why not?

I am not a huge TikTok’er but I would be surprised if it’s not already. I have seen accounts where a guy cooks full-on crazy meals in his hotel bathrooms, so I feel like I am not alone here.

We want to know what tools you use to make you successful. If you’d like to contribute or know someone who would want to be featured in Tools of the Trade, contact and fill out our survey.