Company: Sokal Media Group
Position: Account Executive
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CHARLOTTE AREA?
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOU?
I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Psychology. I always knew I wanted to get into sales but I thought a study in Psychology would help me develop interpersonal abilities that I feel are a driving force in sales and marketing. At a young age, I found that you don’t sell someone based on numbers or facts. You sell based on a bond with your customer and building relationships.
I began my career at Sokal Media Group as an entry-level, Account Coordinator with a base salary. My role was to help Account Executives with day-to-day operations of clients’ accounts and learn the business.
Sokal Media Group was founded by Mark Sokal who, as a former car salesman turned dealership owner, found success in doing his own advertising and decided to leave the car business to start an advertising agency that focuses on Automotive Dealerships.
It has been nearly five years since I started my career with Sokal Media Group. From working alone in a rented office space on Tyvola Road, I am now accompanied by over 150 employees. From our humble beginnings as a 10-person agency, serving mostly local Raleigh car dealerships, we are now one of the largest advertising agencies on the east coast and have over 250 clients from Boston, New York, Miami, and LA. From starting as an Account Coordinator, I am now an Account Executive, responsible for a significant portion of my company’s profit. From zero accounts, I have grown my portfolio to 20 clients. From $0 in billings, I now handle monthly advertising budgets in the million-dollar range.
I built my success on hard work, perseverance, and my ability to form strong relationships. Starting out, I would show up at a car dealership and ask to speak to the owner. I was of course, met by receptionists who would always say things like, “He’s in meetings all day” or “You just missed him”. That being said, you’d be amazed how many people were willing to meet with me after they watched from their office window as 8 hours went by in a day and I sat steadfast in the dealership showroom, eating a sandwich I packed from home, and reading every book on sales I could find. I was determined to succeed and grow and this paid off for me double fold.
With all the success I’ve had professionally, without being able to give back, I don’t think I would feel as satisfied as I. One of my favorite things to do it read to kids at my local Elementary school, which is a Title 1 school. To see their faces light up at even the tiniest thing I do or say can turn my most stressful days around. These children come from such impoverished life that just my presence is appreciated. I walk into the classroom and am bombarded by tiny arms hugging me with all their strength. I hope that the little bit I do for these kids will help make a difference in their life. I hope that by me building the bond with each of them, I may become someone they look-up to, admire, and trust. I hope that this causes them to hear what I say and take it to heart. When I tell them the importance of good grades, picking the right friends that don’t get into trouble, and respect, I can only hope that the power of the relationship I have built with them can soak deep into their core and guide them on a path to future success.
DURING YOUR TIME VOLUNTEERING FOR A COMMUNITY ACTIVITY OR PROJECT, WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORIAL MOMENT?
Even though it was while I was still in college, the best memory I have was while volunteering at a Psychiatric Hospital near UNC Chapel Hill. My volunteer work consisted of helping patients during therapy and social groups. I noticed the name of one patient on the attendance sheet, who never showed up for classes. I found out that this patient not only refused to leave his room, he hadn’t cut his hair in over 4 years and hadn’t bathed in over 5 months. He suffered from Paranoid Schizophrenia and it had become overwhelmingly debilitating. I asked if I could work with this patient. After speaking with him in his room for around 4 hours, I convinced him to take a shower and let me cut his hair. Within 1 week, I had him attending therapy classes. After 6 months, he was finally discharged from the hospital. At his discharge party, his Psychiatrist came up to me and said, “That man has been here for 10 years and we really didn’t’ think he would ever leave.” It’s a constant reminder to me that volunteer work can truly change lives.
IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY?
I enjoy being a member of the Young Professionals Chamber of Commerce. Community outreach and service is probably one of the strongest components of our group. From helping small business startups network and raise funds to the local Soup Kitchen, I’m proud of the work we do in our group. Professionally, I love helping local businesses achieve success. I’m fortunate to work for business owners who place importance and value on buying local, supporting the community with donations and community service, and providing local residents with quality products and services.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OR INTEREST?
My favorite hobby is spending time on my boat. Whether I’m cleaning it, tubing behind it, or just sitting in the middle of the lake reading a book on it… When I have free time, there’s a good chance I’m on my boat.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE THAT YOU STAND BY?
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” –Zig Ziglar.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS?
I hope to continue to have opportunities to develop my skills, take on exciting projects, and work with people I can learn from. Some of the most talented people in the industry work for Sokal Media Group and it’s one of the main reasons I work here. On a personal level, my wife and I have always wanted a big family, so I’m hoping I’ll have at least a few kids by then.
CAN YOUR SHARE ONE THING THAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Go tornado chasing.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU USED YOUR PASSPORT?
A month ago to attend a wedding in Cape Town, South Africa.
WHAT IS A FUN FACT ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NO ONE KNOWS?
I ran out of air on my first scuba dive while inside a sunken ship, ascended too quickly, and got Decompression Sickness.
WHO IS YOUR HERO?
My father is my hero. Everything I want to be professionally and personally can be found in him. Even though he ran his own company and worked extremely hard, he always put our family first. Every sports game, every Boy Scout camping trip, every award ceremony at school, he didn’t just attend, he was the coach, scoutmaster, and chairman. He wasn’t just there for me, he was everything. God really did bless me with the best example of a true father and leader.
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?
The Greatest Salesman in the World.
WHAT WAS THE LAST MOVIE YOU SAW?
The Barkley Marathons.
WHAT WAS THE LAST CONCERT YOU SAW?
St. Paul and the Broken Bones.