My work life started in my father's drugstore when I was 14. I still live by his guiding principles:
- Never ask anybody to do a task you are not prepared to do yourself.
- If you are not actively engaged, start a project.
- Think positive.
My career has not been boring.
During graduate school in London, I worked in a pub, the Bird in Hand, on Muswell Hill, a place made famous by the ejection of the Kinks as too much "noise." Of course the pub experience is central to the British way of life, and even though I was only a "Yank," it was a great way to experience the front-lines of a new and different culture.
One of the patrons at the Bird in Hand helped me get my working papers, and my next job was working for UK's oldest removals and storage company Pickfords, in their cobbled-square North London location. There, I helped coordinate moving arrangements (removals in the British vernacular) for celebrities, dignitaries and other citizens, creating estimates and learning transcription.
A little north, in a small village in the Highlands of Scotland, I worked for Smiths Gore, land agents, whose biggest clients were the commissioners for The Crown Estate, managing Scottish landholdings owned by the British Royalty. (Balmoral Castle was not too far away.) I stayed for seven years, providing administrative support to six land agents, recording feu duties, drafting letters that required a consultation of The Peerage to insure proper reference to titled gentry, and catapulting the office into the 21st Century by teaching co-workers the benefits of using a computer, acquired second-hand from the London office.
Back stateside, I had this idea that working for an advertising agency would be exciting, glamorous and creatively charged. There were certainly high points -- when a campaign won an advertising award, when a client applauded (literally) the successful completion of a project, when an advertised sales event beat all expectations -- but in between it was a lot of hard work. The agency turned out to be the best training ground for understanding business, for learning about marketing and for creating that magical combustion: an idea. By nature advertising agencies constantly evolve. Over the course of many years at the agency, I held positions as administrative assistant, account executive, copywriter, project manager, creative director, media planner and negotiator.
In the mid 90's, I was recruited over to the sales side of media at WGBA NBC 26. The station had been newly affiliated with a major network and was launching a local news operation, the same year it hosted the Olympics. It was a heady time. Since I already understood media planning and negotiating, having done it myself for many years, I was the ideal media contact for the major advertising agencies in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and New York, handling key players in the predominant categories of automotive, packaged goods, restaurant, insurance, health, hospitality and more. I particularly enjoyed the travel, but I also enjoyed great success. I not only empathized with media planners/buyers, I also understood their pet peeves and gave them a caliber of service they didn't expect. So much so I was promoted to National Sales Manager and was able to expand my responsibility to a team of remote sellers located in Chicago, New York, Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles and Tampa.
In the early 2000's I was recruited again, to FOX 11 where I spent the longest stint of my career (over 10 years) as Director of Sales, overseeing local sales, national sales and emerging online sales (or digital sales, as it was later called). I was also a key member of the management team, deciding larger issues like mission, community involvement, station marketing and promotion. I was very much a hand's on manager, driven to improve performance on all fronts: training for new products (especially pivotal for digital), clearing sales obstacles, leveraging sales support, generating an identity as a "go-to" media partner, and creating a self-sustaining sales team. I also communicated with clients and prospects with impactful on-air and online messaging, along with a regular FOX 11 newsletter and client appreciation events. The focus paid off. The station not only achieved digital revenue for the very first time, but it also improved its market share position two places, earning "Entity of the Year" from its parent company.
After FOX 11 I held management and sales positions at WFRV Local 5, the local CBS affiliate, and Cumulus Broadcasting, representing two radio clusters of ten stations in Northeast Wisconsin. As always, people and ideas were key. If a person surrounded themselves with the right people in an environment primed for contribution, sales success (and luck) would happen. Being open to new ideas was also critical. Consumerism changes daily, and marketing will continue to morph to keep up. Essentially communication, marketing, and even entertainment, all have the same aim: connecting with other people in positive ways. However "positive" might be defined.
Today, I am an Account Executive with Spectrum Reach, an innovator at the forefront of technology, strategizing multi-screen advertising solutions, helping businesses and consumers connect, and continuing to learn from (and be awed by) the entrepreneurial spirit.