I Love My Job: Tactile Group CEO Marc Coleman

The serial entrepreneur on setting work limits, raising capital, and his days as a cheerleader.

The Tactile Group founder and CEO Marc Coleman. Courtesy photo.

Marc Coleman is one of Philadelphia’s most well known entrepreneurs. As president and CEO of the digital design firm The Tactile Group, Coleman founded the company after he was a DJ and nightclub owner, and after leading in the hospitality industry as a bed and breakfast owner in Center City. Coleman knows what it means to start anew and pivot, while coming up against a host of challenges. Here’s Coleman on some of those challenges and why his career has been “anything but linear.”

I grew up in… Mount Airy and Willingboro, NJ.

The most difficult part of my job is… making time for myself and my family. Thankfully, I’ve recently been able to take a few weekends off!

My secret talent is… I am dangerous on the dance floor.

I still perform my cheer routine when… I hear the Princeton alma mater or the Temple fight song, though the latter no longer ends with a partner stunt because, age…

I love cheerleading because… it’s a great workout and you get the best seats in the house!

Everyday, I make sure I… let the people around me know how much I love them.

The best part of my job is… finding talented folks and helping them to reach their full potential

Being a black, LGBT CEO is… complicated, especially in these more dangerous times that are facing my Black and LGBTQ communities. It is even more critical to be visible. The danger in this visibility is physical, emotional, and financial. On the other hand, being in charge means that I can bring my full authentic self to everything I do, and in doing so create a space for others to live in their full authenticity as well.

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I founded the Tactile Group because… after my first internship in high school at a major corporation, I knew that a traditional job wasn’t for me. I needed to be in full control of my work and my work product. The only way to do that and to build wealth was to be an entrepreneur. Tactile is my third business and follows my time as a DJ and a Bed and Breakfast owner.

When I worked as a DJ… it was harder than it is now. It was the days before digital. Vinyl records were heavy and hard to find. I loved the music and the interaction with the crowd. I hated the smoke filled clubs and working conditions. I miss it so much.

I went from Princeton to Temple because… quite simply, I failed out of Princeton. I was more consumed with understanding myself than with electrical engineering, and self-discovery won out over academic rigor. At Temple, I studied architecture, a field that was closer to my creative passion and aligned with my technical skills.

When I say Tactile “is designed to give a damn,” I mean… we give a damn about the work we do, and concentrate on civic focused projects that improve the quality of life for all people. We give a damn about the communities we live in, and do pro-bono and reduced rate work for small non-profits. We give a damn about each other, and have built a culture that values empathy, diversity, and belonging.

The hardest part about being an entrepreneur is… raising capital. Thankfully, the folks at PIDC and The Enterprise Center have been able to see the potential of Tactile and have helped to ensure our growth.

My favorite place to eat in Philly is… a toss up right now between Pumpkin and Vernick.

When working with new clients I always… clearly define the limits of our engagement. Scope will creep, but having a strong change management process in place is essential.

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So far, my career has been… anything but linear. But I’m exactly were I need to be.

One thing I learned in school that’s helped me is… bouncing ideas off of people that don’t think like you makes for a better end product.

My first job… was working at a barbecue sandwich shop in the Burlington Center Mall of blessed memory. Saved up my money and bought my first Members Only jacket. Ah, the 80’s…

Managing a team at Tactile is… extremely rewarding and requires only a light touch. We have an incredible group of folks doing really good work.

The biggest issues facing Philadelphia right now are… poverty and access to opportunity.

As a board member on the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, I hope to… support the narrative and work around the PHL Neighborhood Growth Project, especially in providing support for emerging entrepreneurs.

I ended up in my current leadership position by… responding to the need to evolve with the company. Delegating my role as the creative lead was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do at Tactile.

On weekends I… What is a weekend? Just kidding… I spend happy hour with friends, go camping with my husband, and curl up at home with the Harvard Business Journal.

My family is… everything

My favorite career advice to give are… find a mentor, stay humble, and know your worth.