In our podcast Blood, Sweat and CPMs, Kurt Donnell, President & CEO of Freestar, interviews thought leaders across the industry to get their perspectives on what matters most to them, as well as hear their takes on hot industry topics. He ends each episode with this very poignant question: “What advice would the current you give to a younger version of yourself?”
Here are their answers.
Note: Responses have been edited for clarity.
Rob Beeler, Founder of Beeler.Tech:
It’s a great question. I’m going to give you two answers. One is –and again, you can hear from my voice that I’ve spent the week at Ad Monsters in Nashville. I’d tell myself, Rob Beeler, maybe you don’t have to stay out quite so late, and perhaps some of your voice would be back for when you’re at home and a guest on a podcast. The second thing is, I’d go back, and there’s an aspect of trusting yourself, right? So as much as I’ve built up Beeler.Tech, and my name is out there, and people know who I am. Some of that was not trusting myself. I could have gone further and accomplished more if I just sat there and said, “You know what, let’s do this.”
Neal Pecchenino, Founder and CEO of Boxi Inc.:
I try not to be too self-critical because I am. Still, it’s more at the moment and not so much looking backward because you are a product of everything that led up to that. But it’d be nice to go back and tell me five years ago, sitting in that apartment, spending my own cash, hey, it’s going to be okay. It’s going to work out, but thank god I’m not in a position to do that because I think that fear drove me – and still drives me to this day – to make this a success. So I probably wouldn’t tell myself anything, to be perfectly honest, and maybe that’s a good thing.
It’s a bit different. I don’t think I’d tell my older, younger version anything. Do it. And that’s not because I’ve gotten everything right. It’s because, actually, the things that I’ve screwed up or the things that I could have improved upon, I was tough on myself at the time in which it happened. I don’t want to stop myself from having those experiences. So you really have to live your life, especially as an entrepreneur; you have to have those tough days to have perfect days. And in this business, the highest highs and the lowest lows, I tell everybody that walks in the door: we’re going to have the best days ever here, we’ll have the worst days ever here, so get ready.
I don’t want to avoid the bad days, and I try not to celebrate the good days too much. Jamie Simonoff, one of the biggest things he said, he never celebrates. We don’t really celebrate here. We get wins. Okay, awesome. We could go to lunch, whatever, but I don’t want to have a celebration culture. I want to have a winning culture, and we win every freaking day as a result. And I’m a competitor, and I want to crush the competition, and staying aggressive would be the only thing I’d go back and give myself: maybe be more aggressive. Okay, there we go.
I’ll tell my previous self, and that’s what I’m telling my current self now: just go for it. Like, absolutely go for it.
Lashanne Phang, VP, Mobile Business at Pubmatic:
Don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith. That’s my takeaway for my young self. Switching to an industry after you’ve invested years and years of effort being at a certain point and then thinking about, hey, I’m going to move into an entirely different industry, it’s a leap of faith unknown, but with sufficient knowledge, understanding, good organization, you get to where you want to be. So don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith.
Nicole Scaglione, Global VP, OTT & CTV Business at Pubmatic:
Mine is the complete opposite of that, in that trying to slow down and be patient is essential. I have this need to be doing a lot of things all the time, and what’s next and what’s changing, and what else can I do to contribute to something that I find super interesting? And I was really excited about many things and didn’t give myself a chance to let them play out and see what happened. So I’m pleased with where I am today with Pubmatic. Still, I would also say that my younger self could chill a little bit, be patient, and understand that it takes longer than 25 minutes for things to really blossom and bloom, and that’s okay. You can still be fulfilled, and you can still be productive, and you can still be challenged. But being patient is essential, too.
Matt Greenberg, SVP of Food52:
It’s a straightforward concept of patience. I’m an unbelievably patient man now, but things and decisions in my career would have benefited from some more extended patience that I definitely didn’t have as a young, highly ambitious person. That ambition hasn’t changed. I’m still as ambitious as I was when I was 24. But sometimes patience is like the greatest equalizer of opportunity, and finding your way through what could be a great opportunity across your plate seems like the most incredible opportunity ever. Still, you’re chasing something you could achieve, at a place you already have respect and trust in your current opportunity. It could be chasing a deal that you rabbit hole yourself down or trying to hire too quickly for somebody. It applies to everything in one’s career.
That would be the one thing I would tell myself: relax, slow down. I find myself giving that advice to my team a lot now, or helping them gain perspective in that manner. It comes from direct experience of feeling the same things that they think are proper and being able to tell them stories about both the positives and negatives.