What is your area of expertise, who do you serve, and how do you serve them?
aI have traveled and lived around the world, which has given me the perspective and skill to be able to connect with people from all backgrounds and locations. I have seen the power of human connection, which is why my company GCM works with large organizations to create human connections on a much larger scale through communications and marketing.
Why would someone choose you over a competitor?
Clients that choose GCM to see who we are more than what we do. They see our values, our beliefs, our work ethic, and our kindness. That is the primary reason our clients have chosen us over competitors. And the clients we work with are very large, international for-profit companies. But these clients see the world the same way we do. They, like us, believe that doing well and doing good should go hand in hand. The fact that we are very good at what we do is important, but that comes after clients choose our identity first.
Share a specific time you encountered an obstacle and describe how you overcame it.
When I first got to South Africa, working for the largest public relations agency in the world, I came with the same mentality and approach to my work that I had when I was in Washington, D.C. Even though I had already traveled and lived in places like Italy and China, I still hadn’t learned to adjust who I was to be more relatable to the people in my new home. This didn’t work well.
I was butting heads with colleagues, coming across wrong to clients, and losing myself in the process. My effectiveness as a leader was waning and I was not being true to who I was as a person. After a big failure, I knew I needed to rethink my approach and redefine my goals.
I realized my goal was not to get people to see the world my way, but rather to clearly articulate shared goals and figure out ways to reach them together. This mindset shift helped me almost immediately and has served me greatly since. I now have a better ability to be myself while reaching people who are much different than me and inspiring action.
Share a short story about your best (or favorite) case study.
This is a bit unusual, as most of the case studies I have heard focus on material success, like more money, higher visibility or winning at something competitive. My favorite case study was when GCM pitched a client and lost.
We were leading a pitch process for a large, fast-growing national company in the USA. The potential client narrowed their choices down to us and one other firm but told us we were in the lead. For the final call, we brought the entire team together to show the potential client who we were, how we thought about the world, and what we could do for them.
We lost the proposal. The feedback was that some of our team wasn’t a great match for their company. While we were disappointed to not get the business, we were proud of how we showed up and also felt strongly that they too may not have been the right fit for us should we have gotten the business.
At GCM, we will live and die with who we are and our organizational identity. And this was an opportunity for us to feel proud about who we are and what we are trying to do in the face of disappointment.
What advice would you give the “20-Year-Old-You” who’s eager to start in life?
Try your hardest to be as true to yourself and your interests and beliefs as possible. The more you do for yourself, the more you will be able to help other people. When trying new things and taking chances, the trick isn’t to not be nervous, but rather to be comfortable with being nervous.
Please describe a monumental time in your life that you’ll never forget.
My wife Emma and I are people who are not afraid of challenges. In fact, we look for them on a regular basis, which is part of the reason why we started a business and like traveling so much. When Emma was pregnant with our son, we figured it would be difficult, but had no idea how hard it would actually be.
We had our son during the COVID lockdowns, after moving to a new state, and around the same time, we launched our full-fledged business. Of everything we had going on, our son was definitely the toughest, yet most rewarding, thing in our lives (and still is).
Having our son taught me that things can be horrible and awesome at the same time, that I can hate and love something at the same time and that there is space for all emotions that may even seem conflicting.
Having our son prepared for waking up every morning and being both scared and excited about growing a global business, hiring more people, taking on more clients and trying to impact the world in a positive way while doing really well. I am forever grateful for this experience and for my hilarious, beautiful and interesting son.