So what exactly does a President do?
Depends on the President. I’d run the risk of irritating certain political friends if I knocked that softball, so let’s focus on what happens here at KFM. To put it simply: I help our team keep our clients happy. And I do that by hiring well and sleeping poorly.
Now how would you explain that to your five-year-old niece?
You know that feeling the first time you stayed-up on skis all the way down the slope last winter? That’s how my team wants to feel every day. Feels good, doesn’t it? .
Walk us through a typical day.
When I was twenty-one, I spent the summer logging in Vermont, which meant 4:00 a.m. wake-ups. I must have been going through some major biological activity because that habit stuck. Mornings are still my best time. I’m in the office by seven, checking Web sites, scanning newspapers, prepping for client meetings, etc. Early afternoon is staff time, and end of day is usually a client call. If the call doesn’t involve dinner, I’ll catch a sports game or watch a practice — with kids, that’s always an option.
What motivates you? It really motivates me to see our team earn the complete trust of our clients. Our clients expect a big payoff, and so do we as a company. That’s how big effort and smart work ought to translate. There is tremendous reward when it all works. Of course, there’s nothing like three pending college tuitions to provide motivation...
Boston Business Journal voted King Fish one
of the best places to work in Boston. Why?
The writer wanted a job here. No, at the sake of sounding cheesy, it really is an inspiring place to be. Employees here don’t feel like they’re feeding some corporate beast or have to resort to playing sophomoric political games to get ahead. We’re ahead already. And our very progressive way of approaching marketing is exciting to be a part of — for us and our clients. (And especially exciting for their shareholders, who are thrilled by the high returns they see.) Plus, as a group, we have a lot of fun together. We ski, kayak, sail, race cars, hang on the beach. I think what we have created has a vitality that would be hard to find anywhere else.
Why did you start King Fish?
I wanted to lead a new kind of company with an aggressive — and break through — approach to marketing. To have the freedom to reward talent when it’s earned. To not have to follow a formality that ultimately bashes initiative. To create new rules, better practices, and an environment that strives to satisfy our values. Plus I needed a place where I could bring my dog.
How do clients know they can trust you?
We encourage prospects to speak with existing or even lapsed customers — to ask them anything. People look at us like we’re crazy, but we’ll always tell a client if we don’t think we can deliver a project well. That builds an immediate bond of trust.
The best thing a client ever said to you was...
“My wife and I would like to have you over to our house for dinner.” Seriously — as a veteran business traveler, I always prefer to meet a client on their home turf. The conversation is always more interesting and is definitely more real.
When you are not working you are most likely...
With my wife, Colleen, and our three kids. There’s never enough time together, but we’re getting pretty great about making the most of the time we do get to spend together.
If someone met you, they’d probably never guess...
I have something of a drive for chopping down trees. I can’t explain it.
When you grew up you wanted to be... A newspaper journalist. And you can’t grow up in Philadelphia without considering the legal profession — as either an attorney or a defendant.
Number one pet peeve:
Waitstaff who tell me what I want to eat. How do they know? The eggplant is great? Really? That’s impossible because eggplant is the devil’s work. In business, I dislike a lack of sincerity about budgets. Look, tell us what you can invest, and we’ll tell you what you can expect for a return with that investment. Zero-based is no one’s reality.
If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
I’ll go with Capt. Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander. Come on — a naval sea captain who gets to shoot cannons and visit the Galapagos Islands? Completely excellent.
If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpower to be?
It’s got to be the ability to fly. I hate airports.
Would you shave your head for $1,000?
The fact is that I have one huge head, and I expect I’d have alien-like qualities if it was shaved. Still, the day I finally catch a tuna, I’ll shave my head, the dog, and anything else you’ve got for free. Just don’t quote me on that.