Who were some of your earliest leadership influences?
Speedracer, Underdog, Captain James T. Kirk. All personal heroes of mine.
How did you become interested in healthcare?
I became an EMT when I was 16 and joined the local volunteer rescue squad. I did that for about six years and learned so much. I have tremendous respect for professional caregivers and how hard they work. And medicine is just an exciting field to be in right now when you think of all the advances in technology, genomics and life sciences. It’s probably why I married a physical therapist, too.
Who are some of your mentors?
Definitely Mark Whiting, who was a paramedic and my EMT instructor. He now works in marketing for the Red Cross in Virginia. One of my marketing professional mentors was a woman named Chris Meade who I interned with in college. She had such enthusiasm for marketing and advertising and really pushed me to pursue it as a career. And of course Susan Dubuque, who has been a professional mentor to me since the earliest days of my career. We’ve been good friends and colleagues for years, and I can’t think of anyone I'd rather be working with right now.
What has been your greatest marketing accomplishment so far?
Maybe Seymour the Safety Chicken for Seaboard Farms. I think he helped reduce work-related injuries in their chicken processing plants by 37% – or something like that. It’s a great example of the importance of internal communications. Seriously, I’m very proud of that idea even though people made fun of Seymour.
Any other memorable moments?
I once led a three-day scenario planning retreat in Dublin, Ireland for a group of international publishing companies that wanted to understand where technology was taking their business. It was over St. Patrick’s Day, and I took my family with me. I’m still in touch with many of those people, and we occasionally refer back to the work we did and marvel at how much of it is materializing today.
Any marketing flops you can share?
I’ve had lots. During the late 90s I convinced a conference group to let me take a busload of their attendees off site to a theater to see a demonstration of the Internet. The bus got lost, and the people arrived late. Then the projection system didn’t work so we had people huddled around two small laptops to see this new technology. It was very embarrassing. But we gave them nice gift bags on their way out.
You’ve been somewhat of a leader in the whole area of digital marketing. What got you interested in this area of marketing?
I was never into video games very much but when email and the Internet started to take off in the mid 90s I had a couple friends who were very excited about it. We used to spend hours at the Boiled Frog – one of the early Internet cafés in Chattanooga. It was very exciting and didn’t take much to connect the dots and see that it had big implications for marketers. We’ve come a long way, but I think the technology we’ll use in the next ten years will be even more amazing than what we have today.
What technology are you most excited about right now?
Probably GPS-enabled mobile devices. The idea that an application knows exactly where I am and can record my movements on a map or display relevant sites of interest using augmented reality is very powerful. I’m very interested in how technology can influence behaviors. I’ve recently started using RunKeeper to keep track of my running and the data feedback is incredible. It’s very motivating – especially when I’m lazy and don’t put in very much effort.
You travel a lot for work. Any advice for others who are traveling?
I grew up traveling so it really doesn’t bother me. Having routines is really important for me. I fly US Air a lot and rent from Hertz because I really trust those brands. And I can tell you where every electrical outlet is in the Charlotte airport. Travel is important because despite all the great technology we have, like FaceTime and video conferencing, I think it’s really important to meet with people in person.
What are some of your weaknesses?
Well, I’m allergic to Silly Putty.
Where did you grow up?
I was born overseas and lived all over but I call Amherst, Virginia home. It’s nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and just beautiful. My parents still live there, and I visit every chance I get.
That’s tough, I like so many foods. Probably Thai. Beauregard’s Thai Room is just down the street from our Richmond office and just great. I go there whenever I can.
What do you believe makes ND&P successful?
We hire great people who are passionate about marketing and advertising. And when you’re passionate about something you get good at it. And when you’re good at something people trust you. I think it’s really that simple.
What are you most proud of?
My two wonderful kids, Ethan, 10, and Maia, 7, and my lovely wife Nancy who teaches at the University and is way smarter than me. Like scary smart.
What books are you currently reading?
I usually have a fiction and a business book going at the same time. I’m almost done with Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and just started Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon.
We heard you recently got a tattoo. Any truth to the rumor?
Completely true. I now have a two-inch pirate face on my upper arm courtesy of my daughter. I think it’s a good look for me – until it washes off.