Occupation: Chief Technology Officer, Proper Villains
Favorite Productivity Tool: Coffee and comfortable shoes
Most Recommended App: Duolingo
Last Thing You Read: Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl (might be my 5th or 6th time through)
Tell us about your journey? I began my career in its current state, consulting for record labels like Epic and Atlantic in the very late 90’s, early 2000’s. (I was a professional musician in a former life.) Through that work in digital marketing and analytics, I started working with companies in transition – mostly startups during the dot-com boom, like Match and Ralph Lauren – on e-commerce, clickstream analytics (digital user activity), as well as things like strategy and valuation. Later, I began working with private equity firms, advising them on digital acquisitions. (Since valuation of digital properties can be tricky and sometimes arbitrary, it’s increasingly important to have someone fluent, modeling current and future value.) In 2013, I formed a partnership with a former colleague, and continued this work for larger brands, ultimately coming to work for Luxottica – a $20 billion private multinational at the time. Somewhat directly through our work with Luxottica, we met and merged with a branding and PR company in Boston and in 2015, formed Proper Villains, a full-service advertising firm based in New York, Boston, and here in Atlanta. These days I continue to advise private equity and venture capital firms, as well as lead our agency’s technology group which focuses on marketing execution, data and analytics, and technology-focused brand consulting. I’ve been excited to become more active in Atlanta’s growing advertising and creative scene, and am currently a board member of the Atlanta Council of the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies).
What your favorite part of your day? Mornings, when I can have my first cup of coffee, take my son to school, and walk the mile from my home to my office. No email, no calls - just a couple of hours to enjoy the things I work hard for – a happy home, a happy family, and a little peace and quiet. ;-)
When do you feel most successful? Feeling successful seems to be a basic, controllable state of mind to me lately. If you can find triumphs in little places – like doing something better or faster or at a higher level, or communicating better, changing your mindset over time based on some insightful observation, or even making someone smile – that’s success (to me). I tend to seek those things out – they’re jet fuel and it changes every day.
What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained? I walk, I sleep, I think. They’re the only way I know to get the necessary distance and perspective I need to solve a problem or restore focus. For me, being drained doesn’t usually mean overworked - it often means I’ve held on to something too tight - whether it’s an entrenched belief, or a desire to control an outcome. Walking, sleeping or thinking in relative solitude tends to dislodge that.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur? Relationships are everything – cultivate them honestly and with integrity. You can do so little in this world all alone. My aunt bought me a Zig Ziglar book when I was in my teens. It has a quote that has always resonated with me, but more so the 20-some years I’ve been an entrepreneur… “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” But this should by no means be completely self-serving, even if it’s natural to operate in your own self-interest. But often the practice of serving others’ needs really does lead to the desire to serve more, to conduct your work life with compassion, and to truly understand what motivates people. Relationships are the payoff for that kind of rightful action. (In my opinion.)
How do you optimize your day? No email in the morning. There is no more perfect way to derail the real work than to get caught up in email first thing in the day. After that, it’s all easy – just try to do a little better at every little thing, every day, drip, drip, drip. “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” I think that was Bill Gates.
Who is the person/people who allowed you to imagine more? My wife and son are my reason for getting up every day. They literally give me license to dream, and for more reasons than I could share in a single sitting.
What does imagining more, mean to you and your story? The core of what I do is rooted in possibilities. In order to tap into a constant stream of possibilities and continue to offer value to my company and clients, I have to engage in a daily practice of imagination. It’s pretty important. Having a beginner’s mindset is key to keeping myself open to these possibilities. I absorb all the information and viewpoints I can. I take it all in, subject it all to my own inner workings, and hopefully that openness materializes in great outputs. I love the process of learning am never afraid to admit how little I know about a particular subject. It’s all opportunity to me.
If you could do more of one thing every day what would it be? Practice.