Share a bit of your personal background. How did you come up?
I was born in Boynton Beach, Florida. Yes, I am partly to blame for butterfly ballot used in Palm Beach County during the 2000 presidential election.
My family had all kinds of fun moving back and forth between south Florida and Grand Rapids twice. Other than fourth and fifth grade, Grand Rapids was home base.
Here are three fun stories from growing up:
- Chad (our SVP of Sales) and I met in the sixth grade, survived a near-direct tornado hit while camping and were roommates until it was time to really grow up. We’ve been friends since 1992 and co-workers for most of the time since 1995.
- I was once reprimanded by my school bus driver because of the wise decision to dispose of my school lunch bag through the window of the full speed bus. I was forced to retrieve the lunch bag upon the bus stopping.
- I was fortunate to be the matrix scoreboard operator for the West Michigan Whitecaps (our local minor league baseball team) for two years during high school. It was unfortunate that on occasion I was responsible for activating the home-run fireworks system when a home run was not actually hit.
Eventually my IT help desk work turned into enterprise network engineering while I finished high school. Rolling out an ISP service when dial-up was really cool, then lighting up a dark fiber optic network to provide Internet and private line services to businesses, was an awesome way to begin working full-time. Scott and I met at US Xchange in 1998 and we’ve been able to work together for the vast majority of the time since then.
I’ve been married to Jill since February of 2002 and we’ve been blessed with three beautiful daughters. My oldest just turned thirteen and I couldn’t be more proud of her or more excited for the turbulence we get to fly through in the coming years. To finish story time, my idea of attempting a first date with Jill (during our senior year in high school) was to take her to Kinkos as we worked on a Government election project together, designing campaign posters and other related collateral to attract votes of the lower classmen. We didn’t end up officially dating until four years later, but we won that election a few days after the evening at Kinkos. She was so proud of me.
Adtegrity is located in Grand Rapids. What’s your favorite thing to do here?
Weather forecasting and golfing are two of the things I like to do here in Grand Rapids.
Besides work, what keeps you in the West Michigan area?
My family has very deep roots in West Michigan. I couldn’t imagine a better place to raise a family and enjoy all four seasons that planet Earth offers.
You’ve been with Adtegrity since 2000. How did you get started in the advertising industry?
I’ve been fortunate to have two stints with Adtegrity; first when the company started (for about a year), and then when I came back in January 2004 after finishing a good run at US Signal between 2001 and 2004. Since coming back to Adtegrity, I’ve had a variety of assignments. It has allowed me to learn digital advertising from the ground up. Now I hold lead responsibility for our platform strategy, partnership relationships, and working with an awesome Ad Operations team.
Is there something you wish you’d known or a skill you wish you had when you started out? Anything you would have done differently?
Starting to work in a corporate environment when I was fifteen was very exciting. I had visions of making it big before turning twenty-one so I could jet to Colorado and operate ski lifts from that point forward. It was not to be, and I am very thankful for that. After my first daughter was born in December of 2003 it changed everything for me. It became crystal clear that professional responsibility and skills are important, but not at the top of the list. It was time to understand relationships, serving others, and my influence on the next generation that must take the lead.
How would you compare the culture at Adtegity to other places you have worked?
Adtegrity’s culture is second to none. Everyone is given space to learn, ask questions, challenge each other. You must take advantage of missteps to make each person and each future business decision better.
As COO, what’s your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is also the largest attraction for my role at Adtegrity: responding to and managing complex unexpected events and turning them into opportunities for our business. I often refer to “moving targets”. I enjoy the work that goes into attempting to be more accurate each day.
What does success in business mean to you? How about success in life?
Success in business begins with a competent team that takes their work seriously but doesn’t take themselves too seriously. When we rally around the ultimate goal of generosity in our community and around the world, I am confident that the traditional metrics have a good chance of falling in line. These metrics manifest themselves in a very high level of service for our clients, rewarding compensation for every Adtegrity team member, and a host of other positive outcomes.
Success in life begins with the understanding that every day is a gift from God. The world does not revolve around me, and control is an illusion, Remember every day that any kind of attitude interconnected with entitlement will destroy you.
As the industry changes, what challenges does the advertising industry face?
Maintaining an excellent reputation as an industry is the challenge. This is not guaranteed for a multitude of obvious reasons, because the velocity of being in the business of getting businesses noticed continues to speed up. I like our chances with the smartest people in the world working on common challenges and creating improvements that benefit everyone in the connected world.
What piece of advice would you give someone looking to get into the advertising industry?
Your ability to learn at warp speed is possible, beginning with your everyday, routine usage of your smartphone apps to wondering why it feels like online ads sometimes “follow” you around. It can only take twenty minutes to figure out what a cookie is why it’s important, and you can be off to the races in understanding the digital marketing ecosystem. Learning never stops, so the parallel track is patience.