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Sales leader, quota crusher, champion of grassroots basketball, hockey podcaster, and arguably the OG of Canadian digital media sports sales—Tony Luccisano, stops by to chat. A native of Toronto’s Little Italy neighborhood, Tony studied biology with the goal of becoming a doctor. To use his words, his grades weren’t going to cut it for med school, which quickly shut down that plan. After school he joined the Financial Post as a Business Manager, but would move into online financial service sales with the Datagroup. Tony’s digital ad sales career started with Canoe. He departed Canoe for TSN—arguably Canada’s largest and oldest sports media brand, where he would enjoy a nearly 13-year career. A move to competitor Sportsnet was short-lived after a sales team restructuring. Tony has since turned to consulting, putting his experience and success to work for companies looking for fractional growth and experience to jump-start their revenue potential. But Tony’s move into consulting isn’t entirely by design. Like many experienced members of the Canadian media industry, his career has been impacted by ageism. We close out our conversation by discussing the impact ageism has had on his career, and why it’s important for the industry to reject this form of discrimination.
Mo Dezyanian describes himself as the “kid who skipped cartoons to watch the commercials.” But if you look at his early years, you’d be hard pressed to see a future ad agency founder. A somewhat nomadic childhood, Mo was born in Iran, but spent much of his youth living in Germany. His family eventually moved to Canada, and Mo would go on to study computer Science at York University. The original goal was to work for Microsoft, but Mo decided to enroll in McMaster University’s MBA program. While there, he won an inter-university business case competition. The prize? Admission to a CFO conference. And it had a big impact on his future. He met a member of the Tim Horton’s board who also owned a boutique ad agency. He converted that meeting into his first media job before moving over to Trojan One. Mo shifted into freelancing before founding Empathy Inc.—an agency priding itself on providing expertise in media, but also showcasing what media can do for business. Mo Dezyanian stops by to chat about growing up in Iran and Germany, starting Empathy Inc., his love for classic kung fu films, and how the Iranian authorities confiscated and erased his entire kung. fu movie collection.
Publics relations, social media management, media strategy, and new business development have all played a pivotal role in Sarah Thompson’s career. Born & raised in Dorchester, Ontario, Sarah relocated to Toronto after graduating from university and college. The early part of Sarah’s career was heavily concentrated in public relations. This included roles at National Public Relations, Accenture, and Mansfield Communications, to name a few. Additional responsibilities in social media and strategy pushed Sarah deeper into the media world, which lead her to opportunities with Corus Entertainment, Theo, Cossette, and Mindshare Sarah Thompson, President of Dentsu Media Canada stops by to chat about her career in PR and media, the importance of blending her personal and professional identities on LinkedIn, and why we all need to pay more attention to the erosion of local news.
Agency, vendor, and not-for-profit, Lucy Collin has touched virtually every segment of the media & marketing world. Born & raised in Cartier, Ontario—a small town 80 kilometers north of Sudbury, Lucy moved to Toronto when she was 18 to study Fashion Merchandising and Marketing at Centennial College. After graduating, Lucy moved into media buying & planning at Media Buying Services. Additional opportunities to grow within the agency world presented themselves before pivoting into broadcast sales at the CBC. That was just the start of a sales career that went from local markets in Western Canada to leading sales for multiple Olympic Games and Hockey Night in Canada. Lucy would continue to hold sales & marketing leadership positions at IMG, Marketing Magazine, and Bell Media, to name a few. Lucy Collin, the Canadian Marketing Association’s VP of Member Experience, stops by to chat about growing up in Northern Ontario, the move to the big city, her storied media career, and moving into the not-for-profit sector.
Founded in 1987 by Denise and Allan Jones, the Jones & Jones Group has served many sides of the creative world for Afro-Caribbean & multi-cultural creators. And at the head of this is today’s guest, Jesse Jones. Born in Sudbury and raised in Toronto, Jesse studied marketing & communications at the University of Ottawa. Being in the nation’s capital presented a coincidence that Jesse parlayed into an opportunity which would arguably help launch his career. Working at the campus radio station allowed him to apply for press credentials when the JUNO Awards were in town. While at the JUNOs, he networked his way into a sales and marketing job with Hot 89.9, which at the time was a new Ottawa FM radio station focused on hip-hop, R&B, and popular music. From there Jesse moved into marketing and PR roles with SonyBMG Canada, Youthography, and the Timex Group. And if you’re a fan of realty TV and ET Canada, you’re probably asking yourself: Is it THAT Jesse Jones? It is. Some of you might already know Jesse as the season one host of the Bachelor in Paradise Canada, and ET Canada’s Black History Special: FORWARD, Celebrating the Future of Black Entertainment in Canada. Jesse Jones stops by to chat about his career in the boardroom and his work in front of the camera.
Have you ever viewed a science, history, or geography video on social media? Of course you have. They’re everywhere. Then it’s likely you’ve seen something produced by Steve Hulford’s company, Underknown. Underknown is a next-generation digital media company operating 40+ owned & operated video channels on social media. With 50 million followers and 120 million active monthly viewers, you might be familiar with some of their brands including “What If” and “How To Survive”. Special interest video content is something Steve has always been passionate about. One of his first forays into media was a self-produced documentary called “Real Travel: 60-Days in Indonesia”. As a storyteller, Steve’s career has always been close to sports media—whether it was working for TSN, SportsNet, or the now defunct Quokka Sports. As an entrepreneur, he was one of the first to see the opportunities the internet could bring to fantasy sports and brands. Steve Hulford stops by to talk about growing up in Waterloo Ontario, his time as an elite swimmer, and his professional ventures in the digital media and content space.
What was your first sales job? Was it in adtech? Media? Perhaps it goes a back a little further. A paper route? Girl Guide cookies? Or maybe a lemonade stand. When Jaime Lipowtiz was a child, she was flipping Beanie Babies. That was then and this is now. She has since moved from collectables and into cannabis. Jaime is the founder of the High Buds Club, the premiere discovery platform and social club for budtenders and cannabis retailers in Canada. A native of Suburban Toronto, Jaime studied political science in university, with ambitions of becoming a lawyer. She decided against this, launching a sales career spanning everything from spa packages to Groupon-like deals to media. Jaime Lipowtiz stops by to chat about her life, career, where the idea for the High Buds Club came from, and the gap it’s filling in the cannabis market. We even get a very surreal story about the time she rubbed elbows with Snoop Dog while working at Mary Jane Media.
If you look back at Krista Webster’s high school career, nobody would blame you for thinking she was headed straight for Broadway. The arts —especially music theatre, played a major role in her teenaged years. But her professional career would bring about the opportunity to work with a relatively new type of performer—influencers. Krista is the President and CEO of Veritas Communications, Canada’s largest influencer marketing agency that walks the line between public relations and marketing. But how did Krista go from performer to influencer agency CEO? You could argue that the clues are in her university career. Krista pivoted away from the performing arts, pursuing an undergraduate degree in English Literature & Women’s Studies. Not only did this help Krista hone her writing skills, but set her up for success when completing a Masters in Journalism. Krista Webster stops by to chat about growing up in suburban Toronto, how extra curriculars activities and teachers shaped her time in high school, taming the art of retail sales at her local Gap, and her accomplishments in the PR & marketing world.
We have a return guest—Walder Amaya from Episode 4 is back on the podcast. So what’s Walder been up to since we last chatted way back in 2015? Quite a bit actually. He departed Evolve Media to co-found Apex Mobile Media—a leading mobile marketing solutions company. And in just a short period of time the company has grown to include the Apex Gaming Network and AlphaKonnect. Walder takes us through where the idea for Apex came from, and what was required of both him and his business partner, Chris Lombardi, to make the company a reality. We also get a first-hand account of what it was like navigating the global pandemic from the perspective of an entrepreneur. And after you’re done listening to this podcast be sure to jump back in time to Episode 4, which serves as a de facto pre-qual for today’s show.
Data—it has always played a role in advertising and marketing, and its prominence & demand has only grown over time. As a matter of fact, many thought leaders refer to data as the new oil to illustrate just how important it has become. And at the heart of all this is today’s guest, Janice Liu. Janice is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Magnet, a data & engineering consulting business. Born in China and raised in Vancouver, Janice has held senior level roles at both the agency and client level, and is also the founder of multiple start-ups including Filling The Gap: a bi-annual not-for-profit women’s empowerment conference. Janice Liu stops by to chat about growing up in Vancouver, attending university in Montreal, a career that includes companies such as PHD, Cossette, and CIBC, along with her entrepreneurial ventures.
Media, adtech, renewable energy, and seafood? It’s quite the eclectic mix of business interests, but it’s just a selection of the many professional endeavors of today’s guest, Andrew Murray. Andrew is the CEO of Broadside9, a media agency specializing in interactive media solutions. Andrew was born in Ottawa, but spent the majority of his youth in Prince Edward Island. You’d think a media agency CEO would be armed with a business degree, but Andrew studied Neuroscience, focusing his research on learning and memory functions of the brain. And it’s a degree that comes in handy when you consider persuasion, brand engagement, and recall, are all major parts of marketing. Andrew Murray stops by to chat about growing up & studying in Atlantic Canada, his passion for art, his entrepreneurial ventures in the media space, the innovative way he’s modernizing legacy infrastructure to bring green energy to homes in Prince Edward Island, and jumping into the restaurant business during the global pandemic.
Darrick Li’s Comscore career started directly after university, and continued for more than a decade. He began as an analyst before pivoting into sales—a move that would launch his career within the company and take him all the way to Senior Director of Sales. It should be no surprise that Standard Media Index tapped him to lead their foray into the Canadian market. Outside of work, Darrick has a history of giving back—both within and outside of the media industry. Darrick Li stops by to chat about growing up in Markham, his time at Comscore, what brought him to Standard Media Index, tips for anyone looking to chase a promotion, his teaching career at Seneca College, his passion for the culinary arts, but also how he has fused said passion with his philanthropic efforts.
Think managing media a country with two national languages is complicated? Try handling media and marketing in India—a country with over 1.3 billion people, a number of languages & dialects, and a variety of cultural nuances that need to be accounted for. But that’s only one of the many pieces that make up the life and career of today’s guest, Maz Tannir. Born in Lebanon, Maz’s father moved his family to Oman in order to escape the war happening at home. After high school, Maz moved to Cyprus to study business at Cyprus College. But while most students enter workforce after graduation, Maz relocated to England to study acting. Maz eventually returned to Oman, taking a role at OHI—an agency now part of the DDB network. From there opportunities to work both agency and client side took him Dubai, Morocco, and India—to name a few. Maz Tannir stops by to chat about his early life in Lebanon and Oman, studying theatre in the UK, the differences between agency life in Dubai and Oman, emigrating with his family to Canada, and the importance of giving back to the media industry.
Working at a media agency can provide ample opportunities to support a variety of clients across a number of different industries. But no two industries—let alone clients, are truly alike. Opportunities to support theatrical movie studios can be particularly limited given that there are only a handful of them in the entire world. But today’s guest, Larry Medeiros, has worked with the likes of Sony, Paramount, and Warner Brothers. You’d expect most kids to gravitate towards TV and video games, but a young Larry Medeiros found his passion in radio. And he pursued that passion—enrolling in the radio broadcasting program at Canadore College. After graduation, Larry worked both on-air and behind the scenes for small market radio stations in North Bay, Brockville, and Cornwall, Ontario. But the radio opportunities began to dry up, leaving Larry to ponder what was next for his career. A friend recommended an entry level role at a media agency, and the rest is history. Larry Medeiros stops by to talk about his early days in radio, a media buying & planning career rooted primarily in theatrical studio business, working directly for Warner Brothers, and the challenges of navigating movie business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Acast—one of the world’s leading podcast companies, wanted to expand into Canada, they tapped Heather Gordon to lead the charge. A digital media sales veteran, Heather got her start at CHUM, working as an unpaid office assistant. She moved over to a paid role at CHUM Interactive, providing sales support for one of their first digital sales teams. She rose through the ranks before taking the reins of the digital sales team responsible for the legendary Canadian music television brand—MuchMusic. From there Heather moved to the CBC, where she led digital sales for the public broadcaster. Heather Gordon stops by to chat about the women who influenced her career, leading digital sales for some of Canada’s biggest online media brands, and launching Acast’s first Canadian team.
Sales reps: Stop me if you’ve heard this line—“You’re only as good as your last quarter”. Success in sales is quantifiable, and it can seem like an endless chase to hit one’s target—with little room to breathe when you do. The constant hustle can massive repercussions on mental health. But there is hope. Today’s guest, Jeff Riseley, is tackling the mental health issues plaguing sales professionals. Motivated by experiences from his own sales career, Jeff is the founder of Sales Health Alliance—a company that teaches salespeople how to improve their mental health, build resilience, and manage stress. Prior to this Jeff started in media & marketing, working for Mindshare and Melaine Communications. From there he moved into a series of sales rep and sales leadership roles at companies such as Aussie Farmers Direct, World Trade Group, In-Acuity, and Crowdbabble. If you’re a sales professional looking for ways to manage your mental health, then be sure to visit for tips, insights, and more information on the corporate services Jeff’s company provides.
In the push persuade audiences to choose your product or service over the competition, it’s easy to forget that advertising is in itself both a form of art and expression. This is part of what motivated today’s guest, Simón Rojas Gajardo, to pursue a career in advertising’s creative side. Simón is both the Creative Director and a Partner at Derooted Immersive—a creative technologies company that specializes in producing uniquely memorable and interactive experiences for brands and live events. Simón was born in Santiago, Chile, while the country was under dictatorial rule. His parents were part of the opposition, and it’s here he learned the role artists can have at resisting tyranny. At a young age his family moved to Canada, settling in Toronto. Computers and graphic design software peeked Simón’s interest. And he pursued those further, enrolling at the International Academy of Art & Design where he studied advertising and art direction. Simón Rojas Gajardo sits down to talk about living under the former Chilean dictatorship, the authors and artists who influenced his life and work, his experiences working for both large and boutique creative agencies, his time working in Spain’s creative industry, and what it’s like to simultaneously be both a Partner and a Creative Director.
We’ve had our share of worldly individuals on the Media People Podcast, but very few have criss-crossed the globe like today’s guest, Amina Mattern has. Born in Pakistan, Amina’s personal, academic, and professional journey has taken her to places such as Dubai, Houston, Kuala Lumpur, Vancouver, and Montreal – to name a few. Amina is currently based in Toronto, where works as the Financial Services Lead for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. But marketing wasn’t part of the original plan. Amina originally wanted to be a journalist, obtaining a graduate degree in journalism from Montreal’s Concordia University. Like many budding journalists, she found herself working in public relations after graduation. This was at a time when brands were beginning to experiment with social media. As advertiser interest in social media increased, so did the opportunities for experienced professionals. This served as the perfect springboard for Amina’s career. She was able parlay her experience into leadership roles with major media firms such as Mediacom, Omnicom Media Group, Loblaw Media, and Arcane.
Hustle—it’s a requirement for anyone trying to make it in media. And it’s a word that today’s guest, Amy Foster uses to describe herself. Amy is a New Business Manager at Dentsu Canada—the Canadian division of Dentsu International, one of the world’s largest multinational media & marketing communications companies. On the outside, media might appear to be one the more exciting and sexier industries. But little is ever made about the demands, let alone the impact it can have on a person. Amy gives us a candid look into how after suffering from burnout she decided hit the pause button on her career, and used the time to find a role that incorporated what she loves about the industry. Amy Foster drops by to chat growing up in Cambridge and St. Catharines, Ontario, being raised by a single mother, the positive impact community workers had on her childhood, and a media career spanning broadcast buying, integrated media sales, leading planning teams, to prospecting, pitching, and closing new agency clients.
Leadership jobs are some of, if not the most sought-after roles. But stop me if you’ve heard this, it can be lonely at the top. And even leaders need an experienced person to lean on. That’s exactly the gap that today’s guest, Kristine Lyrette aims to fill. Kristine is the founder of Authentic Leadership Coaching—a company that helps leaders become better at what they do. With an HR diploma from Confederation College in hand, a career in media didn’t seem like an obvious path at the time. But an opportunity to join Due North as a media assistant changed that. Kristine excelled at media buying and planning, and parlayed her experience at Due North into senior roles at Cancom Entertainment Group, Deutch LA, and OMD. She joined Zenith as their Executive Vice-President, and moved into the role of President when the opportunity presented itself. Kristine has worked with an impressive roster of clients that include the likes of Apple, Rogers, and Mitsubishi Motors, to name a few. She’s taken all that experience and returned to her HR management roots with Authentic Leadership Coaching.
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