CEO & Founder
Outstanding Corporate Citizen of the Year Emerging Influential of the Year Nominee
1. Why do you believe CSR (personal social responsibility philosophy) is an important part of your personal brand?
Absolutely. A huge part of my personal social responsibility philosophy, which I’ve instilled at Knucklepuck through one of our 3 core company values, is empathy. I’ve always believed emotional investment is the “make or break” factor of a good business.
It can be challenging to commit to running a business with empathy and emotion but I have to care about what I’m doing for it to get my fullest effort. I need to believe in the idea I’m working on and in the people who will execute it; that’s what powers my personal drive. Being emotionally invested in the client, the person, the company — that’s how I produce my best work.
2. Do you believe that the CSR work you participate in should be affiliated with the work you/your company does? For example, should an Oil company’s CSR be in cleaning up oil spills?
A company’s values need to manifest in the actions of the company and its employees. I don’t believe it necessarily has to be through the same work, although obviously there is a parallel. Living your values together as a company creates a common bond — a mutual alignment that allows the whole team to become more than the sum of our parts.
Knucklepuck lives our CSR through hosting continuing education events for other digital marketers in the area and fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs through supporting the YEA! program. But it wouldn’t matter even if we were picking up trash or doing another activity not related to digital marketing — being passionate and committed to the cause is the most important part.
3. Do you believe contributing back to the community allows you to have a deeper connection with your clients/customers?
I believe contributing to our Ballston community allows us to cultivate a deeper connection amongst our team. As a result, our team is able to build better relationships with our clients. In Knucklepuck’s case, most of our clients are not local to the NoVA region, but the work we do in our community powers our team to produce extraordinary work for all of our clients.
It’s a secondary effect, similar to the idea of paying it forward. Getting involved locally helps our team live our value of empathy and reap the emotional rewards of giving back. Both of those experiences are incredibly valuable and help us serve our clients better.
4. What are some events or causes that inspire you?
Our company philosophy is to find something that you’re passionate about and commit to participating in a meaningful way. For me personally, Homeward Trails is an organization my wife and I have stayed involved with since we adopted our first pit bull from them in March 2014 (and our second in April 2015!). We do our part to promote their fundraising efforts and participate in events like Spaghetti Bingo.
The Knucklepuck team is involved in a variety of organizations that carry personal meaning for each of us, such as women’s groups, advocacy organizations and sports teams. As much as I love the organizations I’m passionate about, it’s not about me — we’re trying to foster a sense of giving back within the entire staff and doing so in a way that is individually significant.
5. What advice would you give to individuals trying to find a cause in which to participate?
Consider what makes you happy regardless of whether you have a background in it, and then get involved with that. Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, you’re probably not the only one. Seek out others who are passionate about the same causes, see what groups or events they are involved in, and then get involved yourself. The internet provides an unprecedented opportunity for us to find those people and those groups — there are countless ways for you to get involved.
I’d also advise someone to not discount the little things. For example, Knucklepuck makes all of its Amazon.com purchases through Amazon Smile, with a portion of the purchase price going to Homeward Trails. Although 2% of our total purchases doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s these little things that can have a profound impact on an organization.