Max Slonim, Senior Strategist at Initiative, is here to help us understand the state of strategy today. Hear about why having a mentor in a different discipline is beneficial, the experience of working in strategy at a media agency (and why you shouldn't write it off!), strategy portfolios, why LinkedIn is the professional equivalent of Instagram, and what being an advocate for diversity has to do with empathy.
Finding advertising by accident, and moving to NYC without a job.
Why there are so many people from Australia and the UK working in advertising in the States, and why having a mentor in a different discipline is beneficial.
The experience of working in strategy at a media agency, and thinking through what part of strategy gets you excited.
His opinion about strategy portfolios.
Why imposter syndrome plagues strategists a lot, why LinkedIn is the professional equivalent of Instagram, and why agencies should reward transparency in job applicants.
How he thinks about diversity and inclusion as a Caucasian male, what being an advocate for diversity has to do with empathy, and thinking about who you are and how it can help lift up others.
“Resist the urge to either put yourself in a box or have someone else put you in a box. Early on, try and resist the tendency for someone to say, ‘Oh, you seem really curious and interested in research, you should be a strategist. Or, you seem really detail oriented, you should be a connections planner.’ As much as you can, get broad exposure to people in different disciplines, in different parts of the industry, in different parts of agency life.”
“What do I actually love about the craft? Is it finding that amazing insight that unlocks an idea? Because that stuff, you’re going to still find in a PR or media or social agency as well. […] If you love the actual art or practice of strategy, then you shouldn’t feel confined to that only having to live within a creative agency.”
“We should reward and celebrate transparency of people and applicants as well. There’s no reason that people should be forced to cover up failure that they’ve had in college or professional applications. If anything, the ability to bounce from failure to rejection, to failure to rejection without losing confidence is an amazing trait which we’d do well to highlight and to spotlight.”
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Max creates boundary-pushing media strategies for brands like Converse and Revlon. In 2018, he won the U.S. Cannes Young Lions competition and was a crucial part of pitch-winning global strategy teams. He started his career at Australia's leading media publisher before jumping agency side and making his way to Initiative in New York.