Tuesday Talk – Sean Simon

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Communications Chairman @ sfBIG

Your journey is the sum of your career. How it defines you, is up to you. Like many of you, my entire career has taken place in the Bay Area. I have been exposed to many things, but especially innovation and technology. My very first job (ad agency) taught me to always be learning. Being that it was the dawn of digital advertising (1995), the amount of information that I learned in the first year of my career amounted to what most would be lucky to learn in 5 years. The more technology that entered our space, the faster things evolved. I was learning so much that I had nightmares that included Excel spreadsheets with impressions and CTR’s.

The experiences of my early days made me crave knowledge. I wanted to talk to everyone at every company and learn about the latest tech to enter digital advertising. On this journey, I met people like David Yoder, John Durham, Greg Coleman, and Michael Hess. They taught me to be respectful of others and the journey they were on. They taught me that everyone is selling something and to understand their intentions. They taught me that my words matter. They taught me that relationships matter.

These lessons led me to broadcast.com, Yahoo (vintage 1999-04), Criteo, and PebblePost. In between those jobs I took a shot at land development and investing. With each of these opportunities I was learning something new and oftentimes learned something old that was new again. For example, broadcast.com was radio on the Internet. PebblePost is direct mail influenced by digital behavior. The land development adventure was simply because I wanted to learn more about where I was investing.

This led me to start Cogent and the Cogent Collective. Our mission from the beginning was to help buyers and sellers learn from each other in a respectful way that was beneficial to all. Now, I literally learn something new every day. I love hearing the business challenges our members have and then helping them address those challenges with technology they didn’t even know about. It is very rewarding to see people’s faces when they learn about something that can make their lives better.

During the course of each week, I get to speak with 10-15 founders and hear about their creations. It’s fascinating to hear their fresh perspective on a business challenge many people are dealing with. They are so passionate that it becomes infectious and constantly reminds me how much I love learning.

This Tuesday Talk is meant to show you that your career is a journey of learning. The people that you meet will guide your path. You need to always be listening and learning so you can control your destiny, even if you don’t know what that is just yet. So, take the time to get to know people, build relationships, understand intentions, listen to their words and most importantly, don’t stop learning.