36 Great Hours in San Francisco

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This week’s Drift is a day late.  I’m sorry about that, but I promise there’s a great story!

I spent Monday and Tuesday at ad:tech San Francisco where I saw many old friends, led a really compelling discussion segment (which I referenced last week) and received the very prestigious ad:tech Industry Achievement Award, along with Geoff Ramsey of eMarketer and Carole Walker of M&M Mars.  How can you possibly improve on a day like that?

For starters you can have one of your very closest friends in the world, Scot McLernon, do the introduction.  Those of you who know Scot know he lives for the big moments, and this one was no exception.  Sitting in the front row at Moscone, I just put my head down and listened as Scot came through with the perfect blend of humor, warmth and insight.   But as they say, ‘wait…there’s more.’

The Drift is proudly underwritten this week by PubMatic, which provides one holistic selling platform to protect publishers and increase their online and mobile ad sales.

When I came on stage to accept the award, there was a moment of vaudevillian melodrama in which Scot claimed to have left the award backstage and asked that it be brought out.  From behind the curtain came my amazing wife, Sharon Richards, who — as a total surprise — had just flown 2,500 miles from Vermont to be part of this moment.  Now you can say ‘it doesn’t get any better than this.’  Because it just doesn’t.  (See the whole thing on video:  it’s the first 8 minutes of this embedded clip).

While I’m by no means finished with our industry (how great that you get  lifetime achievement recognition and then get to keep on doing it?) this is a fitting time for reflection, and to thank a couple of people who’ve been very special to me along the way.  As I said in my brief acceptance speech, I would be nowhere and nothing without Sharon, who is the embodiment of courage,  doing the right thing and being just unreasonable enough to imagine we could have the life we do.   There have been too many wonderful friends, clients and collaborators to list here.  I got to share the stage Tuesday with one of them:  Scot McLernon, whose guidance and advice have made me better at my business and whose friendship has made me a better man.  Wenda Harris Millard helped me get my business off the ground 14 years ago and in the intervening years has given me a hundred opportunities to do great work with brilliant people.  And Rick Parkhill generously allowed me to share in the birth of the iMedia Summit series in 2001, giving me a platform to contribute to the growth of the industry, a pulpit I continue to use to this day.

I also want to say thank you to all the sales leaders who’ve trusted me to work with their teams over the years, and to that handful of sellers in each group who connect with some new level of inner excellence through the work we do.  Seeing that light go on is something that never gets old.

And thanks to you,  the readers of The Drift, for indulging me these few minutes of personal sentiment.  As I said to the audience at the Moscone Center on Tuesday, may you each have at least one day in your careers that’s as special as the one I had this week.

(Photo courtesy of Michael Rubottom Photography.)

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