What do you do?
I connect dots. There is never a shortage of good ideas and solutions. The challenge is synthesizing the best into a shared vision and strategy, and then inspiring others to bring it alive. Effective branding, marketing and advertising is really just connecting dots. Today, I’m connecting the dots as Vice President of Marketing at Beyond.
How did you get into the business?
By accident. I graduated from Penn as an English Major with no idea what a career was. I landed a job as a marketing manager for a small start up. I was only there a year, but it was a great learning experience. I had to do everything–figure out who to target, develop the messaging, design the promotional pieces, and work trade shows and do cold calling. I parlayed this into a career in marketing and advertising.
What is your motto?
Always Start Stupid. Too much time and energy is spent trying to demonstrate what we know, as opposed to trying to learning what we don’t. And, we use jargon and buzzwords–the proof of our knowledge–as barriers that prevent the uninitiated from adding to the dialog. Most great discoveries came from ignoring convention and looking at things differently. Change comes from starting stupid, and approaching any new initiative with a fresh perspective.
What’s your theme song?
“I did it my way,” but sung by Sid Vicious and not Frank Sinatra. Most people are content to be who they are supposed to be. Doing it your way doesn’t mean you need to rebel against society and be a derelict–I certainly wouldn’t want to follow in Sid’s footsteps. But we should think for ourselves. It’s good to question popular convention, to ask why, and to make up your own mind. And to be different. I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble on a career where I could, for the most part, be myself. And, most of my successes in life have probably come from seeing things differently than others.
Fun fact about yourself?
My first name is just “Joe.” And I have no middle name. As a kid, I had to carry my social security card to school to prove to my teachers that my real name wasn’t “Joseph.” It used to bother me, but as I’ve grown older I’ve gotten used to it and even enjoy it. A good friend and former business partner of mine started calling me “Just Plain Joe.” Way more fun than being a “Joseph.”
What do you think will be obsolete in 10 years?
Reading. Except for headlines.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
As a society we are too focused on being happy. When Thomas Jefferson penned “Life, liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” he didn’t mean we should all self actualize and be able to do what we want. He meant that we should have the freedom to put our time to good use. I can get on board with that. I hate sitting still. I feel happy when I’m energized to do something, whether that is testing my endurance by running faster or longer than I did yesterday, or throwing myself into a new project at work.
On what occasion do you lie?
Lie? I’m in marketing. I NEVER lie.