Today’s Notable Young Professional is DECOSTA Marketing Managing Partner Ben Cantin Kranz, whose work satisfies what he considers essential parts of a successful work/life balance: loving what you do, and having the freedom to pursue passions…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am the Managing Partner at DECOSTA Marketing, digital marketing agency. We help clients create and communicate online. Our team builds websites, apps, and ad campaigns of all sizes. We work with brands like Blistex, social media startups like Beep, and celebrities like Will Smith.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
The idea of working in the same industry for my entire career did not appeal to me at all. I love seeing new things and meeting new people. Working for an agency was an easy choice because I value variety of experience.
DECOSTA actually came to me. I was recruited out of college and thrilled to accept.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Creating something original is the best part of the job. The wireframes, the copywriting, the media planning, the strategy (especially the strategy) – all of it. I love work that is difficult to build and impossible to copy.
The most challenging part of working like that is the tendency to run too far with an idea. It’s easy to get lost inside your own inspiration and when that happens, nothing real gets done. Fortunately, we have a great team so we’re able to keep each other grounded and focused.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I’ve struggled with work/life balance. When you love what you do, 10 hours will feel like 42 seconds so it’s easy to lose track of the other things that matter. When that starts to happen, it’s only a matter of time before other relationships begin to erode.
The answer for me is friends and family. We all have people in our lives who help us find that balance and it’s important that many of those people live outside your professional community. My wife lends me the perspective I need to live a more balanced life.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I see myself as a smarter Managing Partner of a bigger DECOSTA Marketing.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face is developing a willingness to change.
Looking at our weaknesses is one thing, but looking at how weaknesses drag down the others around us is a very hard thing to do… but it must be done.
Sometimes a weaknesses is specific, like time-management skills, and other times it is harder to perceive, like pride getting in the way of teamwork. Either way, it all comes down to being self-aware.
To overcome this I’ve found that I need to be happy about being wrong. I have come to welcome being proven wrong at work because it means that from that moment forward, I know I’ll be doing it right.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Money will make a life easier but won’t make me into a happier person. Freedom makes me a happier person. Success, for me, is measured how easily we can pursue our passions.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
I’ve a had a few. I once had lunch with The Jacksons, there was the time a business dinner was crashed by Flavor Flav (true story), but being offered a partnership is the most memorable milestone in my career.
DECOSTA Marketing was in operation for 15 years before I showed up. Since Jesse DeCosta created this company, multiple CEOs have come and gone and in that time the likes of UNICEF, Sony Music, and McDonalds, have trusted this team to lead parts of their business. Today, that team puts its trust in me, which is a humbling, terrifying, and invigorating all at once.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Seek to understand, then try to persuade. Always do it in that order.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
There’s a great place in Midtown called ‘My Couch’. You have to bring your own wine but I know the chef personally and the dress-code is really flexible.
When I’m not there, I can be found stalking the tables of Tohenboku (a ramen joint with a few locations), Sushi Bar north of Lawrence (the trip is worth it; get the sesame ice cream), and nothing beats The Lakeview when you’re out past 2:00 a.m.
The best meal I’ve had in my life was at the now shut-down Jaime Kennedy Wine Bar – a loss from which I am still recovering (the one near Front Street from 5 or 6 years back). Jaime’s many similarly-named restaurants have been bought, sold, and renamed so many times I can’t tell what’s what anymore.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I love to spend time with my wife on out-of-town weekends, with Skyrim on Steam, with Coltrane on vinyl, and with Francis Underwood on Netflix.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
When I was 14 I lived in England. I got to see London, the seaside, Paris, and the south of France. I’ve traveled a lot since, but I see a European comeback tour in my future.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Life would be much improved if every time I entered a room Barry White played me in.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Something very similar. Maybe I would work in video games. Maybe I would work in television or film. Anything that let’s me build many different things used for communicating ideas to many different people.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I’m the President of the Board for Cue6 Productions, a not-for-profit theatre company here in Toronto, and I sit on the Program Advisory Committee for George Brown College’s marketing program (that second one is not quite a charity, but it’s an important cause).
A free thinking and open society needs the arts and education to function. Sometimes the financial realities of running organizations like these forces decisions that appeal to what the public demands rather than what he public wants.
It is important to me that we all contribute, in some small way, to forward thinking ideas in this city’s classrooms, and auditoriums.
What to you is notable?
Unusual answers to excellent questions are notable.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
I asked Siri this and she said “All the best virtual assistants prefer iPhone.”
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