Uncorking a Story
Episode 8 - GM O'Connell

In 1996 I was barely 22 years old when I started my career in advertising.  I worked for a company called FCB direct, which was owned by a holding company known as True North Communications.  No offense to Brian Rafferty, my boss at the time, but the job kind of sucked.  I was estimating call volume for a large telecommunications client who was using long format commercials to advertise their One Rate calling plan.  My primary task was to calculate the estimated number of calls the client's telemarketing center could expect to receive after one of these commercials aired. We had to know the gross rating points of each program that the commercial was aired during and then provide estimates back to our client so they could staff up their telemarking center with the optimal number of representatives.  I was commuting into NY and still living at home with my parents and barely making enough money to get to and from Manhattan.

Then one day in late 1996, a memo came across my desk announcing that True North "did a deal" with a digital agency in Westport, CT called Modem Media.  I went to their website and knew that I needed to work there.  In early 1997 my wish became a reality and I was hired into Modem's Research Department.

The years I spent at Modem were the best of my career. I worked hard, I played harder, and I was fortunate enough to meet some really great people.  Recently, there was a party held in Westport to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Modem Media.  A great time was had by all! At that party I caught up with one of Modem's co-founders, GM O'Connell, and asked if he would be a guest on this podcast.  He said yes and we met the following week at his home in Connecticut.  

We chatted about what led up to the start of Modem Media and what the early days were like. We discuss growing pains, lessons learned, and life post Modem.  I enjoyed our chat and hope you do as well.  

One apology to make up front, we did the interview outside as it was too nice a day to stay inside. As such, from time to time, the wind makes an appearance on this recording (I have since purchased a wind guard for my recording unit).  We had this conversation over a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet and I suggest you uncork a bottle of the same as you listen to this; it will take your mind off the wind!

Direct download: Episode_8_-_GM_OConnell.m4a
Category:Inspiring Stories -- posted at: 11:58am EDT

Episode 7 - Dorothy Collins, CND

When I woke up this morning, I never could have predicted that one of my elementary school teachers, a Catholic nun named Dorothy Collins, would be introducing me to a post-op transexual named Cynthia.  Let me explain.

There are people in our lives who have a profound impact on us.  Sr. Dorothy was one of those people for me.  My family moved to Connecticut when I was 9 years old which meant my twin brother Jimmy and I would be starting the 1983-1984 school year in a new school.  I was entering 4th grade and I was nervous.  My nervousness turned to fear when I found out a nun would be my teacher because my prior experiences with nuns was not so good.  My first grade teacher, Sr. Peter Marie, made Joe Pesci's Tommy Devito character from Goodfellas seem like a nice guy.  Luckily for me, Sr Dorothy was nothing like I expected; she had a big smile and an even bigger heart (and she never asked if she was there to amuse me).

We re-connected recently at a reunion and I asked to interview her for my podcast. She accepted on the condition that I help her serve guests at the Soup Kitchen where she works a few days a week.  Our interview picks up right after we served hot meals to approximately 1,200 homeless people in New York.  Listen to this interview and your assumptions of just what a nun is may be challenged.  Listen to the end and you will hear me drop the tagline, "looks like a pump but feels like a sneaker."

I feel strongly that we should say thank you to the people in our lives who have had an impact on us. However, reflecting on this makes me realize that as people have an impact on me, I also have an impact on others.  This is something we should all remember whenever we are in the presence of someone whose life we may be touching.

As always, I hope you enjoy this podcast and feel free to join the conversation at www.uncorkingastory.com

As always, I hope you enjoy this podcast and feel free to join the conversation at www.uncorkingastory.com

Direct download: Episode_7-_Dorothy_Collins_CND.m4a
Category:Inspiring Stories -- posted at: 11:29pm EDT

I first met Shelley Zalis when I was working for Unilever and she was invited to speak at an offsite meeting.  She broke two rules during her presentation; 1.  She divulged her age and 2. She quoted Yoda.  Most women don’t do those kinds of things; then again, most women aren’t Shelley Zalis.

I was excited to catch up with Shelley in the private lounge of the Ritz Carlton hotel overlooking Central Park. Today she is the CEO of Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange; a product of Ipsos' 2010 acquisition of her former company OTX Research (listen to the podcast to learn how this came full circle for Shelley).

If I could use only one word to summarize Shelley, it would have to be passionate.  When Shelley has an idea stuck in her head, she pursues it until it becomes a reality. If someone tells her it can’t be done, that only motivates her more to make it happen.  Listen up as Shelley discusses her career path and the lessons she has learned along the way (like how to speak EBITDA).

I will forewarn you that there is a lot of industry talk in this podcast (and a few F-Bombs).  If you stick with it though you will get a glimpse at the softer side of Shelley Zalis.

Given that it is Spring, this episode pairs well with a nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; might I recommend Kim Crawford?

Direct download: Episode_6_-_Shelley_Zalis.m4a
Category:Biography -- posted at: 11:32pm EDT

Episode 5 - Author Mick Carlon

Michael Carlon interviews Michael Carlon. Have I finally lost my mind? Should they come and take me to South 1 (the psychiatric ward of Stamford Hospital)? Don't judge me too quickly! In this episode I interview my cousin who also happens to have the same name as me; although he goes by Mick and I go by whatever name anyone in my family is willing to call me at any given time (unfortunately, my mother typically calls me Jimmy but that is another story).

Mick Carlon has written two novels based on the lives of famous Jazz musicians; Riding on Duke's Train involves a fictionalized slice of Duke Ellington's life and was published in 2010.  Mick's followup, Travels with Louis, was published in 2012 and involves a story around, you guessed it, Louis Armstrong.

Musicians who played with both Ellington and Armstrong have reached out to Mick to let him know how closely he channeled the essence of each musician.

Listen up as we discuss where Mick's love of Jazz came from, how he was able to capture and portray with empathy the racism that these musicians faced, and why he does not want to jump on the Zombie bandwagon.

I believe that this episode pairs well with nice single malt scotch because, lets face it, Jazz and whiskey go together like the Pope and his ruby red shoes!

If you have any feedback on this episode please send along to mcarlon@vertigopartners.com.  If you know someone who would appreciate it, please pass it along.

Direct download: Episode_5_-_Mick_Carlon.m4a
Category:author -- posted at: 11:48pm EDT