Lee Nadler shares advice on making a transition at this transformative time
From Lee Nadler, Chairman of The Board, The ADVERTISING Club & CMO, Tomo
The pandemic has shown us the importance of being comfortable with the uncomfortable. To move forward with uncertainly. To adapt in new roles and ways of working. As we all go through different chapters in our careers, I hope it’s as reassuring to you as it is to me to have the AD Club as a consistent narrative and guide. The AD Club continues to guide me and I am proud to now be the Chairman of the Board and just accepted a new role as CMO of fintech start-up Tomo. Read my thoughts below on changing jobs during this time from a recent interview with The AD Club’s President & CEO, Gina Grillo.
What is the process like transitioning to a position at a startup company?
The pandemic has shown us the importance of being comfortable with the uncomfortable. To move forward with uncertainly. To adapt in new roles and ways of working. The skills needed to succeed during this massive shift are inherent at many startups. Survival may be at stake. I believe that during this transformative time, many industries will undergo a transformation. Decision making during uncertainty requires an entrepreneurial mindset. My excitement at work is often derived from trying to create novel solutions and deep connections with consumers. I find it fascinating to explore new situations and uncover opportunities often hidden to others who have been staring at a situation the same way for years. While large companies often have resources to tackle a problem at scale, startups can approach problems with a fresh perspective and clean slate. I am excited to join the Founding Leadership Team at Tomo, as CMO. We are aiming to transform the home buying experience, the largest financial transaction one will make. I recently spent nearly seven years at the BMW Group, a fortune 50 company, transforming the car buying (the second largest transaction) and ownership experience for MINI. Earlier in my career, I joined another start up at the time DoubleClick, as the first Head of Marketing and 17th employee. We achieved a successful IPO with nearly 2,000 employees three years later. I have also been part of several initiatives that haven’t worked out as planned. When that happens, we must learn and move forward. Now more than ever, whether at a big company or start up, we must all continuously evolve to have an entrepreneurial approach in our careers and in our mindsets.
What was the virtual job interview process like? What are the advantages and disadvantages of conducting an interview virtually, versus in-person?
I have always found it helpful to approach the interview process as a dialog as opposed to an interrogation. As a candidate we need to show that our experiences are relevant for the role and that we will be a good cultural fit. It’s important to also assess if the role, the company’s mission/values and ultimately the people are aligned with one’s aspirations, values and career goals. A disadvantage of virtual interviews is that it’s hard behind a screen to get a feel for the people and culture. I always took advantage of the opportunity while waiting in a corporate lobby to observe. How are people interacting with one another? Are they smiling or do they seem stressed out? Does this feel like a place in which I can see myself thrive? While that is missing now, an advantage of virtual interviews is that you and the interviewer can get to know one another on a more even playing field and personal level. Take the opportunity to ask about the dog barking in the background or share about why you like living where you do to make a human connection. It can be hard to get to know someone in a structured interview, especially if you are shuffled from office to office where the interviewer is behind his/her desk. There isn’t a home field advantage when you are both at home. While you are both on the same playing field, make a human connection to see if it feels like the right fit.
How is it working remotely? What is the onboarding process like? Is it harder to build relationships with new co-workers while working remotely?
Since joining Tomo as employee nine two months ago, I have only met facemask to facemask with one other person at the company. We are now 20 employees and all working from our respective homes, in different parts of the country. Eventually, we will have offices in three Cities. Since we were formed during the Pandemic, we didn’t have to transition from a shared office culture to a remote culture. So, in some ways we are able to move even more quickly as a company, since this is our norm, instead of a new norm. In addition to Zoom, there are may tools and technologies that make remote working more productive than ever. Workplace is one that we are using effectively to communicate and connect on various topics. However, working from home can be challenging for some people, as everyone has a different situation. Empathy is key. The first day was missing the excitement and nervousness that come with a new, important chapter. I think there is a great opportunity for companies to create moments that recreate the magic for important milestones. Building relationships is as important as ever. New Tomo teammates have one on one meetings across the company and introduce themselves at weekly all-hands meetings. At these meetings we also share stories, key learnings, challenges and things we look forward to. I look forward to the day when we can all collaborate together in person. Until then, we will continue to find meaningful ways to connect.
How has your relationship with The ADVERTISING Club of New York impacted your career journey?
I joined The ADVERTISING Club of NY as a Young Pro when I was just starting out. My goals were to learn new skills, be exposed to other parts of the industry and make meaningful connections. In addition to accomplishing all of those, I was also able to make a difference by leading a committee that created pro-bono ads for local non-profits. This provided a purpose, which has always been part of my motivation and a bedrock of why the AD Club is meaningful to so many members. I am proud to now be the Chairman of the Board. In addition to continuing to learn and connect, I can now give back to the industry in different ways by leading an incredibly impressive and engaged Board. As volunteers, we’re committed to moving the industry forward through this important time. As we all go through different chapters in our careers, I hope it’s as reassuring to you as it is to me to have the AD Club as a consistent narrative and guide.
Lee Nadler has built successful agencies, brands and ad tech businesses throughout his career. He started on the agency side at KBS&P and later as President & CEO of Digital Pulp and then Founder of Sherpa Marketing. Lee’s leadership style is inspired by Sherpas, the guides he met on expeditions to Mt. Everest. As a digital ad pioneer in 1996, Lee became the first Head of Marketing for DoubleClick, which was later acquired by Google. On the brand side at BMW Group from 2012-2018, Nadler managed marketing and orchestrated all new product launches for the iconic car brand MINI. In 2020, Lee joined Tomo, where he serves as CMO and a member of the Founding Leadership Team. Lee Nadler is proud to be Chairman of the Board of the Advertising Club to educate, empower and celebrate members, while helping to move the industry forward.