I Love My Job: Marc Brownstein

The Philly advertising mogul tells us his secret talent and shares some powerful career insight.

Marc Brownstein at his standing desk. Photo courtesy of the Brownstein Group.

Marc Brownstein at his standing desk. Photo courtesy of the Brownstein Group.

Marc Brownstein has been at the helm of Philadelphia’s longest-standing independent advertising and public relations agency for more than two decades now, managing to keep the company fresh and ahead of the trends. He got his start in advertising at the age of three with his father, one of Philadelphia’s original Mad Men. Along the way, he’s picked up a thing or two about how to stay relevant and innovative. Here he shares some of that wisdom with Philadelphia magazine — as well as the bad habit he’s trying to break, his top hobby, and the leader he most admires.

I grew up in … Cheltenham.

A habit I’m trying to break is … being on my mobile device all the time. It’s in bed with me when I go to sleep, and I check it as soon as I wake up. I need to get it more than three feet away from me.

The piece of career advice that’s helped me the most … is an old Harvard Business School saying: “incentive drives behavior” in business. This has helped me understand people’s motives.

My most significant career accomplishment is … that we’ve been able to keep this 52-year-old business modern and on the bleeding edge of marketing and communications.

I love what I do because … it always changes. It is different every day. Our business changes so fast that if you take your eyes off the wheel, you’re in trouble. The challenges are exciting and scary, but I love that.

A Philly business I want to know more about is … the burgeoning tech and startup culture here. I love what’s starting to happen. The level of investment these companies are getting intrigues me. And it’s really cool that a lot of tech entrepreneurs are relocating here or staying here right after school.

To master networking one should always … try and say yes to things. You should say yes and show up. It won’t always be comfortable, but you have to get out there. Each time I’ve done that I’ve met interesting people, learned new things, and expanded my network.

My secret talent … is writing. Most people don’t know I’m a copywriter, but I started my career writing TV campaigns for American Express and AT&T. I miss it, but I still do write a column for Advertising Age.

I splurge on … unique experiences for my family. It could be travel or dining or a sports experience.

During the winter you can find me … on my bike indoors. I’m a cyclist, so during these months I take my bike and put it on a trainer in my home gym.

Marc Brownstein the cyclist. Photo courtesy of Marc Brownstein.

Marc Brownstein the cyclist. Photo courtesy of Marc Brownstein.

If I weren’t in advertising, I’d be in … real estate. I think real estate is related to my industry. With architecture and design, you’re creating something where there was nothing, much like creating a campaign on a blank piece of paper. It’s a fascinating industry because buildings have legacies. They last for generations.

I get my hair cut at … Groom on Locust between Broad and 13th. It won a Best of Philly award and came up when I did a Google search. Everyone at the shop is tatted and pierced. I’m the oldest guy there.

My favorite Mad Men character is … my dad. He was an original mad man. He came out of that era and symbolizes everything about it.

My favorite place for lunch in Philly is currently … the Oyster House on Sansom.

My liquor cabinet is always stocked with … this great, very distinctive gin out of the UK called Brockmans. I’m not a big gin drinker, but it’s my go-to. Full disclosure: I sit on the board of this company, but I do because I think it’s an unbelievable product.

A new trend in advertising that excites me is … what I call disposable video. It’s a short-form video for social media purposes. They’re high quality and cost efficient.

The last show I binge watched was … House of Cards. But I regularly binge-watch sports way too much.

A leader I want to be more like is … Michael Bloomberg, and I wish he ran for president. I’d like to have an accomplished moral businessman shaping policy in elected office. That combination is really powerful.

A Brownstein Group project that I’ve been really proud of is … a digital coloring book that we recently did for IKEA.

I’ve learned from my father that … if you take care of the business, the business will take care of you.

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