What was it like switching jobs at the height of the pandemic?
It was a little bit of a gamble, because things were closing left and right and clients were pulling money out of programs. But I was pretty lucky, in that a lot of the people I work with at Heller I worked with before at Carling Communications. I knew what I was getting into from a work-dynamic perspective.
What was your biggest takeaway from the pandemic?
My wife and I got engaged on March 20, 2020, so learning how to plan and prioritize was important. At first, I was waking up and going into the next room, then working for eight or nine hours nonstop. It became really tough to say no to things. After six months of this as the norm, I started to prioritize my personal life a little more, and that was beneficial to my professional life. They go hand in hand.
Why did you go into this industry?
I have the same answer as probably 90% of people in the industry: I kind of stumbled into it. I had been working for a sports and entertainment management consultancy and my brother’s roommate at the time was at Centron. He knew I liked to write and told me to apply for a copy internship. I fell in love with the team-based atmosphere and haven’t looked back.
What was your big break?
When I moved from a New York agency to a San Diego agency, I was thrown into opportunities I probably wouldn’t have had in New York for another five years. It really pushed me forward.
Do you have any professional regrets?
Not really. But early on in my career, I would’ve liked to have taken more risks, in terms of pushing ideas and concepts that I really believed in. When you’re a young creative, it becomes easy to listen to people above you and take their feedback and run with it, as opposed to really getting behind what you think is best.
What are the essential items on your work station?
I need a second monitor. I need my 4-year-old black Lab, who’s always right next to me when I’m on a call. And I got a solid pair of speakers halfway through the pandemic. I like to close the door and blast some metal — Slayer, GWAR, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest. My wife’s not really a fan of that.
What’s a typical work day for you?
I make a to-do list at the beginning of the week, but we all know that changes on a daily basis in an industry such as this. So I rewrite it every day and make sure I’m prioritizing my time. I find some time to just sit outside in the sun without any devices, which is reenergizing. Also, I have an espresso shot at 2 p.m. every afternoon and that’s non-negotiable.
What’s something about you that your colleagues don’t know?
We had what we called Hellerpalooza, a three-day retreat, in June. I told everybody a lot about myself then but, well, they don’t know yet that I’ve seen every episode of Full House. So yeah, I’ll go with that.
What other career goals do you have?
I want to help develop young writers. That’s what’s most fulfilling for me, seeing other people grow.
What do you plan to do when you retire?
I’ve always envisioned my retirement being pretty active. I would love to go back to school and get a teaching degree, then teach American history and coach high school football. I’d be doing something different every day, just like I am now.