Business development specialist/president
735 W. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 800, Milwaukee, WI 53233
Industry: Business development and communications
Number of employees: 15
Family: Wife – Natalie; daughter – Sofie
What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
“We did what we tell our clients to do – we facilitated a listening session with our customers. What we heard from them is that the business environment has changed significantly over the last 3-4 years. Clients and prospects of all sizes and types have re-engineered themselves in an attempt to remain financially sound and, importantly, relevant to their business partners and customers. Aligned with this change, clients told us they need a business partner capable of understanding and being immersed in all aspects of their business. The distinction, they said, is this: as a business partner, it is no longer enough to be viewed as part of the client team only in those instances when you are asked to take a meeting. A business partner’s true value is evidenced in the fact that a client meeting of any importance on any significant topic related to the business enterprise should not happen without the partner being seated at the table. We apply this learning to the way we conduct our business every day.”
What’s new at your company?
“In March, we launched a new initiative – Traction Factory Fosters. Through this program, Traction Factory provides a platform throughout the year to foster community organizations by helping them make crucial connections and establish mentoring relationships with area business professionals. Each quarter, we partner with a different group and look for new and creative ways to strengthen relationships that can result in possible new ventures and opportunities. In an ever-changing economy, success means doing whatever it takes to build momentum whether that’s for a client product launch or for your neighbors.”
Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
“We have added four new TFers to our creative, account and business administration teams in the last 45 days to support business performance through the first two quarters of 2011. We moved into 5,000 square feet of office space in downtown Milwaukee recently. I find having the Public Library, Milwaukee Public Museum, Marquette University, IMAX and Frontier Airlines Center as neighbors not only culturally engaging but inspiring and relevant to our work.”
What will be your company’s main challenges be in the next year?
“Our challenge will be to continue to successfully add to the smart, skilled, fun and passionate people that make up the culture at Traction Factory. Our clients not only expect it, they deserve it.”
What’s the hottest trend in your industry?
“Debating whether or not social media will kill or just maim traditional advertising as we know it. (We believe that social media and traditional communications when paired properly can not only co-exist, but actually are complimentary elements of a full-featured communications plan.)”
Do you have a business mantra?
“People do business with people – not companies. By building a team of talented, committed, ‘get-it,’ hard-working people, you put your company in position to be the place that clients want to take their business and people want to come to work at every day.”
What was the best advice you ever received?
“The CEO of the first agency I managed told me that, ‘nobody learned anything on a good day.’ On its face, it sounds like a crutch. You have to let it marinate a little. As it turns out, the advice applies to business and to life in general. Learning from your mistakes and applying that learning is vitally important to growing as a person and, as it turns out, growing your business.”
From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“I admire many of the business leaders in this community for the brainpower, drive and proven success they bring every day. When you think about it, Milwaukee is unique in that regard for a community of its size. I am fortunate to work with clients who do business locally and nationally – and because of the relationships we have, we learn from one another weekly. It makes the successes that we share that much more rewarding. Personally, my father taught me a great deal about how to be successful in business – and in life. He was fearless, had boundless energy and was really well liked and respected by his peers and others he came in contact with over the course of his career.”
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?
“I called on an agency consultant in Chicago six or seven years ago. I’d worked for weeks to get the meeting and his client was a company that I wanted to add to our client roster. We sat down for my presentation and I promptly spilled my coffee all over the conference room table. I was mortified. The consultant was very gracious – he chalked it up to being memorable and we laughed. Nice man.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“I enjoy spending as much time as I possibly can with my daughter. She’s nearly four years old. She is a huge balance in my life. She makes me laugh and wonder and not take it all too seriously. She’s amazing.”