Thomas James Kelly

Thoughts on the chaos of digital marketing and research and NYC bike lanes . . . . .

A Union Man in the Digital Advertising World

About 75 of my dad's current and ex-colleagues had gathered in the Bronx for his retirement reception in 2003 from the Local 28 International Sheet Metal Workers Union.  I was in attendance, of course and, even though I was in a completely different line of work, where sales goals and revenue growth were performance benchmarks, I was alway comfortable spending time with my dad's work friends and colleagues.  They were able to focus on work, actual work, not goal oriented, profit achieving, sales goal beating work, but artisan-like craftsmanship.  Their attitudes, value systems and . . . celebrations were tied to honest, quality workmanship - and less so promotion gaining, cost cutting efficiency - and I'd always found it relieving and easy to talk to them.        

My dad delivered a heart warming speech about the the rewards of a lifetime of work in his trade and thanked his boss for, "a management style which holds that a pat on the back is better than a kick in the ass".  I believed firmly in this philosophy and was proud to carry it with me as I embarked on en entirely different career in Digital Advertising.           

Through study, experience, networking and luck I soon found myself in a position where I was now in charge of those efficiency metrics, the revenue achievement and, sometimes, the cost cutting.  I wrestled with my values of honest pay for honest work and focus on "pats on the back" versus "kicks in the ass".    

A note I received today from a young executive who left my group, and AOL, has reminded me that I'm still able to ride that fence, and maintain a goal and production oriented focus - but also be a fair and honest coach who can earn the trust of the teams he's asked to lead.