In this article we honor the best bosses in tech and advertising. Advertising can be a savage industry and is known for its pyramid style model where the people on the top make the most money by working the people at the bottom to the limits of their soul. When I first got into this ad life I was told by a bad boss that I was to nice and would never make it. His advice was that I had to be mean and rough with people to get ahead. I didn’t believe him then and I’ve had massive success so I don’t believe him now. My success was enabled by one me not being an ass and two having incredible bosses who encouraged me and allowed me to grow. Advertising needs to celebrate our best and most empathetic leaders. The ones who constantly water their staff with nourishing advice, encouragement and constructive feedback; which in turn helps them and the company grow.
Why being a good boss is important
Team building is not easy and most staffers stay or leave a job based on how good their direct boss is. They will even turn down more money to learn and work with an amazing manager or director. Being a good boss and hiring amazing leaders will directly effect your bottom line. Gallup says, “Our research shows that managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores. Given the troubling state of employee engagement in the U.S. today, it makes sense that most managers are not creating environments in which employees feel motivated or even comfortable. A Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.”
I’ve asked several incredibly successful people in advertising and tech to tell us about their best boss or a leader they know that has helped their people and business grow. Here is who they nominated and what they had to say about them.
The 6 Best Bosses
Rand Fishkin is a force of nature. He is one of the reasons the SEO industry exists. Rand is the founder of Moz and hasn’t had a boss in a while so when I asked him who his best boss was he asked if he could recognize one of the best managers he has worked with at Moz.
Here is what Rand had to say about Shawn Edwards.
One of the best managers I’ve ever worked with is Moz’s Shawn Edwards. Shawn is the type of boss who never asks something of a subordinate he’s not willing (and capable) to do himself. He’s thoughtful about projects, smart about interviewing and hiring, empathetic to the needs of individuals and to team dynamics, committed to making real estimates and having his team live up to them, and can work with a huge variety of personalities. It’s not just his strengths though–Shawn’s open about his own weaknesses, whether they be related to product strategy or a lack of passion about a given project or stymied by a particular issue (internal or external). He gives credit, promotes when appropriate, knows when to say goodbye to folks who aren’t working out… Really everything you could ask for in an engineering leader.
One of the best stories I have is about a guy who worked for Shawn for many years. He took a few hiatuses from the company, and even quit at one point to move overseas. But eventually, he came back, and I think Shawn is one of the biggest reasons for that. I worked with him closely for a couple years and it made for an inspiring experience. Every time I saw a 1:1 pop up on my calendar with Shawn, I looked forward to it (and I knew that was true for many of my colleagues too). I once told Shawn that if I ever built a new company, I hoped I could recruit him to it. There’s no higher praise I can give 🙂
Lizzy Hanna is a champion. Ask anyone who has ever worked with her. She is the best of the best and helped grow and lead the media team at Profero and Mediahub. You really need to see Lizzy pitch. She mic drops every time. She now leads media at The Engine Group. Only a legend can take the title of Lizzy’s best boss. Here is what she has to say about Scott Martino.
I am fortunate enough to have worked with my “best boss” not once – but twice (so far) throughout my career. Scott Martino initially hired me at Neo@Ogilvy to work under him as an Assistant Media Planner. I like to think that during this time I first fell in love with digital media -having not really known what it was when I accepted this first job right after graduating college. I credit Scott with this because he taught me how to marry creative skills with mathematical skills – and almost immediately see the impact on our client’s business goals. Once I started to understand the power behind our work – I was hooked. I can go on and on with many more reasons as to why Scott has been not only the best, but the most influential “boss” during my career – but for time sake I’ll name one more. Scott has hired me to work closely with him, teach me everything that he knows, make me smarter and a stronger professional, and then when I have least expected it Scott has left organizations and has left me with major shoes to fill in his departure. This has challenged me in ways I never expected – and it’s why I have risen so quickly throughout my career. For this and many more reasons – I say, thank you Scott!
Brian Honigman is the CEO of Honigman Media. He is a content marketing expert who has been featured on Forbes, TheNextWeb, Inc and others. He is fantastic at his craft and is an all around great human being. He runs his own shop now but here is what he had to say about his best boss Christian Keffer.
Christina Keffer was one of the best bosses I ever had because she not only taught me how to succeed in marketing outright by providing direction and feedback to me but was also a role model that I could observe and learn from at the same time. What makes Christina a good leader is her ability to empower her team to fix problems on their own, keeping business growth on track and giving younger talent the opportunity to succeed on their own merits.
Arthur Fullerton is a hell of a guy. He is the CTO at Big Spaceship and is one of the best marketers I’ve ever worked with. He is always cool, calm and collected especially during high stress times when he is called on to put out a fire someone else started. Arthur himself is an amazing boss and here is what he had to say about Adrian Capobianco who is his best boss ever.
To this day I still don’t know who it was, but whoever referred me to Adrian Capobianco at Fuse Marketing Group, thank you. The first interview was loose, like friends catching up, we aligned on the impact “digital” was going to have on marketing and had a shared vision on how best to position FUSE as a leader in the space. Working with Adrian was the first time in the 7 years I had been in the ad industry that I felt I truly had autonomy and that I could shape a technology discipline any way I wanted, for better or for worse. I’ve never learned more than during that first year at FUSE, the transparency and support given by Adrian allowed us to be very successful and has formed the foundation of my career so far.
During that first interview, Adrian described each stop in a career path as chapters of a story, he asked me “What kind of story do you want to tell?”. As i traverse what’s become a 17 year old journey, I’m still creating my story and I owe a lot to Adrian for helping me write the remaining chapters.
6.Best Boss: Zack Notes
Nominator: Rocky Taft
Rocky Taft is an exceptional SEO and an all around cool guy. Rocky runs his own SEO consultancy where he helps brands increase sales and website traffic using Inbound Marketing. Here is what Rocky had to say about Zack Notes.
The undisputed holder of my best boss title goes to Zack Notes at UncommonGoods. I reported to Zack during October 2011 to February 2015 while rising in the ranks from temp assistant to SEO Coordinator and team leader. His impact on that progression was huge. I learned a ton of hard skills in the SEO and online marketing space for sure. Moreso though, he taught me a great deal about the values needed for achieving exceptional results. Following his example and instruction instilled a higher level of work ethic, dedication, and meaning in my approach to setting and accomplishing goals. That experience is still felt to this day.
Leave your best boss in the comments
Good people are hard to find and good bosses are even harder. If you find one keep in touch with them, learn as much as you can from them and then pass on their wisdom and help your junior staffers grow. If you have a story about your best boss feel free to leave it in the comments with a link to their LinkedIN profile. This way they can get some love and recognition for being amazing.