Describe your typical day at work.
My day begins at 7:30 a.m., first with New York folks, following with a 9:30 start at our LA headquarters, and then maybe a late afternoon call around 4:30 with our Beijing team, where our global headquarters reside. So, the day starts at 7:30, and ends whenever it’s not five o’clock somewhere.
What was your career path?
I founded my own network and wireless company to put myself through school. At the time, I figured setting up wireless networks was better than working as an intern. I worked at an enterprise social networking startup as the head of sales and marketing, which would later land me a job as a management consultant in digital advisory.
What personal qualities have helped you become successful?
-The fear of ennui. I’m fearful of one thing, one job, or one “career”. Doing something that means a lot to a group of people around me means everything, and that naturally comes with a perpetual fear of just “idling”.
– The constant need to self-reflect. This is a result of having demanding Chinese parents and feeling a need to fit-in during high school that has served me well in my later life. For me, it combines the question “how can I do better?” with the statement “look at what others have done”.
– The desire to make others successful. It’s not easy. I’ve discovered in my career that not everyone wants you to want them to be successful. Sometimes, they’re happy with status quo.
What are the toughest challenges you face?
Cultural understanding. Humans universally are all the same. This silly thing called national borders and “where you’re from” seems to get in the way of business. My toughest challenge that I face everyday is why people don’t ask more: how are we exactly alike? Because once we do that, we’ll discover that it really is easy to do cross-border business. The other tough challenge is time and the constant back and forth across two continents. If we’re not careful, what is very efficient – two teams on two different clocks working a combined 18 hours a day – can potentially become a 36-hour communication delay.
What advice would you give someone seeking a career in your field?
- Potential counts for nothing, nothing is impossible, impossible is a word, and a word is all it takes to lose your clients.
- You can be the messiest, least on-time person that comes from any background in our industry. What you can’t be is a person lacking craft for your work. Our cars don’t explode when you start them, nor can that pixel be off, or the spot plan be delivered five minutes late. Period.
How do you see the future of the profession? What are the positions in this field with the most potential for growth?
Digital is the future of this profession. If you’re digital, you’re the future. Traditional advertising is still needed – who doesn’t like a touching commercial, a beautiful billboard, or a great story? After all, this field is about storytelling – a story that makes you want to do or buy something. However, in today’s reality, you have to have a digital strategy because that’s where the consumers are, that’s how consumers connect. Positions with potential growth: interactive designers, interactive creative directors, planners who are both media and creative driven (not one or the other), and more importantly, account people who have a technical skill, whether that’s a skill in analytics, buying platforms, or other software.