Everybody has a story. A story that is hard to capture in a resume. Who is this person? What makes them tick? Why have they made the decisions that they have in their career? In life?
As I look back on my life and 25 years in the advertising/media business, there is a common theme that emerges, and that is re-invention. I have been re-inventing myself, my team, my partnerships, my world view, and I’d like to think our industry throughout my career.
Growing up as a Jewish kid in the quiet beach town of Rockaway Beach, Queens, my future seemed pretty well laid out. I was going to be a doctor and make my parents proud. I went to high school in Brooklyn and after graduating made it into the 7-year Brooklyn College / Downstate Medical program to get my B.S. and M.D. degrees. I won’t bore you with the saga of the next several years, but suffice it to say – I ultimately didn’t pursue medicine. I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t my passion, nor my destiny. Communications/advertising, more specifically media – that was my calling.
I learned the advertising business making $17,000 a year at a small media planning and buying shop where I answered the phones, paid bills, created media plans and bought media. I loved it, and in a few years the Internet emerged. I knew it was an absolute game changer. I also knew it was time to rethink the way we went to market, and I convinced my boss at the time to allow me to spin-off a division focused on Internet advertising. It was called NexGen Media and that was 1996.
The early days of Internet advertising were awesome. Anything was possible and we pushed the envelope time and time again. I soon decided to leave my small agency and hit the big leagues where I joined IPG, leading digital media for one of their interactive specialty agencies. I led the team that pitched and won the first digital AOR for Coca-Cola. It was the best feeling in the world. I enjoyed the Internet boom and before I knew it, I was running the digital media department for Universal McCann.
The next 17 years saw me evolve my role time and time again. I ran digital for the US, then Globally, leading our regional digital teams in EMEA, APAC and Latin America to significant growth. I navigated through 3 different agency CEOs, a half dozen taglines and more than a dozen different agency structures. It felt like a new job every few years, and I was thriving in that dynamism. Ultimately, I was the first “digital guy” to be given responsibility for all media investment and enjoyed working with our television, radio and print partners to usher them into the digital age.
I led Project Re-Invention for the 4A’s which was an industry initiative aligned with 3MS (Making Measurement Make Sense). I am helping lead the Future of Television initiative which is developing a common currency across screens, architecting television as a platform and evolving our measurement to go beyond antiquated reach and frequency metrics. The time is right to re-invent the advertising business and I am energized at the opportunity.
Finally, I have re-invented myself. After an annual physical in 2012 where I topped the scale at 275 pounds, cholesterol through the roof and diabetes around the corner – I decided it was time for a change. I lost nearly 100 lbs. over the next year, and did the seemingly unthinkable feat of running the Columbus half-marathon in 2013. I then went on to run the NYC marathon in 2014 and the Boston Marathon in 2016. Boston was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I ended up requiring knee surgery a year later. After a year of physical therapy, I am now on the mend, and taking on the NYC marathon in November.
Doing things differently, challenging the status quo, determination and grit, pushing myself and others to be the best version of themselves - that’s my story.