Photos: Don Lupo Photography
How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?
I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I completely fell into the world of advertising. Growing up in Colorado, I had no idea that there was an entire industry dedicated to advertising, much less that it would be the perfect fit for me. I’ve always been an extrovert and enjoyed interacting with new people, and I’ve always been intrigued by the human psyche and knowing what makes people tick. From about the time I was in middle school, I was convinced I wanted to be a criminal profiler for the FBI; I was reading books like John Douglass’ Mindhunter about 20 years before Netflix made it cool. I was absolutely fascinated by the concept that you could study someone’s personality and past behavior to predict their future actions. I eventually decided I was not cut out for law enforcement. I had a Bachelor’s degree with a double-major in Psychology and Sociology, yet only a vague career goal of finding a niche where I could apply my understanding of human behavior and love for working with people.
During this time, I had also been managing a movie theatre to get through school. Right after graduation, one of my old co-workers approached me about coming to work with him as a Sales Planner at NCM Media Networks, which is the company that did all the in-theatre advertising at my theatre. Although I honestly had no idea what a planner was, I already knew the company was fantastic from working with them during my theatre days, so I jumped headfirst into the role. As soon as I started, I fell in love with the advertising world. I immediately knew that my end goal was to work in Advertising Sales. It was the absolute perfect fit—who knew there was a job completely dedicated to interacting with people and homing in on consumers’ behaviors to drive product sales?! I was lucky to work at a company where my management team was really vested in the success of their employees and helped foster our goals. They knew my passion was in sales so they helped me transfer to the LA Sales office to dive into the market.
It’s always been important to me to think one step ahead of my career path to create direct, actionable steps to get where I want to go. Just like I knew I needed to move to LA when I was working in Colorado, I already knew I wanted to develop my sales knowledge by working at Turner during the time I was at NCM. I actively networked and prepared for that role so I was ready when a position opened up. Similarly, while I was developing my skills as a planner, I was determined to move into a Digital Sales role with a reputable, trusted brand like Us Weekly. I took digital training courses, met people in the digital realm, and attended as many networking events as I could to help prepare me for my current role.
What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?
I’m a firm believer that the best motivation always intrinsically comes from within. I constantly challenge myself to learn something new, improve my current skills, or do something that terrifies me until I’ve mastered it enough to lose the fear. I will never be a finished product; I know I can’t be complacent because everything I struggle through now will help me prepare for the road ahead.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
Don’t be afraid to be your awesome, crazy, authentic self. When I was first contemplating moving into advertising sales, I had this picture in my head of a slimy cars salesman who would say anything to drive business. I knew I couldn’t be that person, and questioned if I had what it took to succeed in sales. I have no poker face. I can’t even tell a white lie to my dog. I decided to embrace my own style and hope for the best. I am so thankful that I did because I quickly learned that you get further by letting people see your quirky, unique personality than by trying to fit yourself into a pre-set mold. I think my candidness has played a pivotal role in helping me build long-lasting, trusting relationships that allow me to be successful in my career.
What excites you most about this industry?
I love that the industry is constantly changing. Every day is a new adventure and it’s so exciting to be a part of the evolution. I remember when I was first starting out in advertising over a decade ago, I was tasked with helping our company figure out how to sell digital as a brand new product. To this day I think we are still being tasked with this same challenge of changing our products and sales models to keep up with the latest offerings. It keeps you on your toes and makes things interesting.
What advice do you have for those just starting in advertising? Take some time to really think about your career path and where you would like to be five years from now, 10 years from now, and 20 years from now. Plan out actionable steps. Once you know what you want, tell everyone about it. If you have goals and are ready to work hard to get there, people will support you. We are so lucky to be a part of the LA advertising community—I have seen time and time again that it is one big family where everyone wants to help raise each other up.
None of the opportunities I’ve had in my career would have been there without the strong support net of my industry family at NCM, Turner, and Ad Relief. When I first started out in advertising, they gave me projects to help teach me how to be a good seller, they introduced me to people who worked at the companies they knew I wanted to work at, and they always went to bat for me when it was time to move to the next position. The relationships you make are everything.
With that said, you also need to be ready to hustle. Take an active role in your own success. Say yes to every project that comes across your desk, even if it will require long hours and may fall way out of your comfort zone. Every assignment is an opportunity to learn something new and become a stronger asset.
Last but not least, put yourself out there. Meet as many people as you can. Go to every ThinkLA and Ad Relief event that you can possibly squeeze in. Any time you are invited to go out with co-workers or clients, say yes. This is a small community and you will be working with the same people for years to come, so make connections. Jump out of your comfort zone and say hi to a stranger.
How did you get started with Ad Relief?
When I first moved to LA, one of my co-workers invited me to go to the annual Ad Relief Movie Night. At the time I didn’t fully grasp what the organization was all about. I thought it was just another opportunity to go hang out with people in the advertising industry. Once I learned more about the charity, how events like the Movie Night and November Luncheon raise money for people in our advertising community who are going through a life crisis, I knew I wanted to become more involved. I’ve now been a part of the organization for about four years and am honored to have been inaugurated as President this year.
The events are always the fun part, but by far the most demanding and rewarding part of Ad Relief is acting as a case worker on the board to help our friends, co-workers, and colleagues who are going through difficult times. While we keep everything strictly confidential to protect the people we help, at any given time we may be assisting anywhere from one to dozens of fellow colleagues in the LA advertising community. No two cases are alike—we’ve provided support for everything from cancer treatments, to homes burning down, to industry vets who suddenly find themselves homeless and unemployed with a growing pile of medical bills. It is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of and I am so thankful that my co-worker brought me to that first event.
What does 2018 hold for you, and for Ad Relief?
This is already looking to be a very busy year for Ad Relief. Unfortunately, the constant changes in the advertising landscape have pushed more people into hard times than ever before. We are constantly working to grow the organization to support the increased need we are seeing from the community. We are also very excited to welcome several new board members this year! In partnership with the new members, we are working hard to raise awareness for Ad Relief across all sectors of the advertising community, from digital to radio, as well as brainstorm some fun new events.
Any closing thoughts?
It would only be right to give a quick shout out to ThinkLA. You have played such a big part in my career development, and I am so thankful that you are here to support me and the rest of the LA advertising community! If anyone reading this has not yet gone to a ThinkLA event, you definitely need to make it a priority!
Are you interested in supporting Ad Relief?
- You can support the Ad Relief mission by attending their events throughout the year. The first event of 2018 is Bubbles & Brews on March 8 at OMD/Chiat. Considering the open bar, food, and games are all included in the $50 ticket price, it’s a great deal, and they always have an amazing turnout.
- When shopping on Amazon, use smile.amazon.com and select “Advertising Industry Emergency Fund” from the list of charities. By doing this, Amazon donates 0.05% of all the purchases directly to Ad Relief.
- Get involved! Ad Relief is always in need of donations, event sponsors, and volunteers.
- Help spread the word! The more people we can educate about Ad Relief, the more advocates we’ll have ready when a tragedy strikes. When you are going through the unimaginable, the last thing you want to do is ask for help. We want to make sure everyone knows who we are before they are in that situation.