Oct 11, 2019
Written by CJ
As one of the youngest Directors at CJ, we were surprised to learn that high-achieving Chicago-based Client Development Director, Steven Coyle, was suspended in the 5th grade for refusing to read out loud in class! Steven was kind enough to spill the tea on his path to the top, the best kind of productivity hack, and all the gems of wisdom.
Q: Describe your career trajectory. Where did you work before CJ and how did you come across the opportunity to work here?
I started my career in public relations; however, I knew very early on in my PR internship that it wouldn’t be my path. The thing I enjoyed the most about PR was strategy creation, so I focused my next steps on finding a strategic marketing position. Before CJ, I had managed a variety of paid channels for mid-sized brands with emphasis on integrated strategies. My PR professor, Dr. Wittig, was the hardest boss I’ve ever had. He taught me several things, but something that has always stuck was his definition of PR: “Public Relations is the mutually beneficial relationship between a brand and its stakeholders.” Years later, I landed here and learned the true power of affiliate and I can confidently say this is the most mutually beneficial channel out there—from our Advertisers, to our Publishers, to the customers that ultimately gets to what they’re seeking.
Q: Who is your role model, and why?
I have a lot—I admire a lot of people for different reasons. Oprah has taught me that success doesn’t have to be ruthless, Toni Morrison published her first book at age 45 and taught me that it’s never too late to follow your dreams. I could list 15 more people if we had the space! I think you take away something specific from your role model, it’s not about carbon copying their path, life or success—it’s being inspired by their story.
Q: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would play you?
Someone a little taller and leaner. Certainly someone who thinks they are more clever than they really are, someone with just a semi-decent career—there won’t be any Oscars won. Let’s go with…Damon Wayans Jr.
Q: What has been the biggest obstacle in your life and how have you mastered it?
I’ve stuttered since I can remember. It was awful when I was young, and I think it contributed to a level of social anxiety that I still deal with. I was determined to control my speech and social issues. So starting in high school, I joined nearly every single organization I found interesting. I volunteered for leadership roles, became yearbook editor, MC’d the annual talent show, and took a job at the Gap Outlet as a cashier. I did everything I could to force myself into situations that pushed me out of my comfort zone, which allowed me to learn and understand my own abilities and limits. Now, when I tell people that at one point in my life I was only able to not stutter if I was singing or rapping a song, or reveal that I was serious introvert who got suspended 5th grade for refusing to read aloud in class, people don’t believe me. I’m proud of that.
Q: What’s the best advice you ever received?
I'm not actually sure if someone said this to me or not, but when I’m dealing with impostor syndrome, I remember this: you think the things that come easy to you, come easy to everyone, but what comes easy to you is your talent.
Remember that you’re talented.
Q: What’s the last book or article you read that resonated with you (career-wise or otherwise)?
I recently read the book, The Year Without Pants, a story about a remote manager and how he built a high-performance team despite it being spread across 6 time zones. In my role at CJ, I’m laser-focused on the growth and development of my team and this book really helped outline some important concepts for connecting with people in a meaningful way, no matter where you are in the world.
Q: Do you have any habits or routines that you’ve purposely built to maximize productivity for yourself?
I build all my best QBR decks with a glass of red wine nearby.
Q: On a Sunday morning at 11 am, we’d find you…
If I’m not at brunch, I’m at home on the couch watching a Bravo marathon of some sort.
Q: If we were sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you in this role, what did you achieve?
I’m turning a milestone age next June and ultimately, I’ve achieved my goal of becoming a Director at CJ a couple years early. So I would say, we’d be celebrating life in general. Every day is a blessing. Unless I met Beyoncé, then we’d be celebrating me meeting Beyoncé.
Cheers to that! Thank you, Steven!