From The Diary Of

David Mansdorf


David, Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself? Some fun facts and anecdotes from your life.

I am one of three siblings, and the other two are ten and fourteen years older, respectively. I’m married, have a four-year old daughter, and live in Connecticut.  

Fun facts/anecdotes: 

I never drove a car by myself until I turned 40. Growing up in New York City, it wasn’t a necessity. Last week I took the test to be a Jeopardy contestant.  I was kicked out of Hebrew School one month before my Bar Mitzvah!

Where are you from originally? What are some of your favorite memories as a child?

I grew up in Queens which is a very diverse place. That diversity gave me exposure to a wide array of formative experiences and potential paths to follow. 
Most of my favorite childhood memories are centered around baseball (as a player, a fan, and a collector) and music - two things I still love today.

How do you maintain the balance between your professional and personal life?

This is a tough one, given that we’re all accessible 24/7 now via phones and email. Having a child definitely helps force me to disconnect - especially a very active four-year old who demands your full attention at all times. Still, there have been many times when I’m giving her a bath with one hand and answering emails with the other.

What do you do to relax? Any therapy you would like to share?

You’re not with law enforcement, are you? Just kidding. 

I like to have a lot of hobbies. I run a music blog, I collect records, I play fantasy baseball, I watch real baseball (unfortunately I’m a Mets fan), and I like to read a lot. I find all these things therapeutic. Before having a child I was also a big foodie and a film buff as well, but I’ve had to push those hobbies to the side because there’s only so many hours in the day for fun right now. 

They say that first impressions last and are made in the first few seconds of meeting someone. What personal attributes convey a positive first impression to you?

There’s definitely some subjective combination of appearance, diction, eye contact and body language that creates a gut feeling very soon after meeting someone on an interview. Of course, throughout my career I’ve seen people that have interviewed really well but weren’t great employees, and vice versa.  

Which people helped you to get where you are today and what did they do for you?

My sister is fourteen years older than me and also works in media, so I was exposed to the industry early on, though not necessarily the work part of it. I remember her being able to get free tickets to high profile events from her job, and that’s what made a big impression. On a much more practical level she also was able to get me internships at her company when I was in high school and college, as well as a full-time position after college.

Who or what inspires you?

It might sound corny, but I’m actually really inspired by the team I work with every day at Converge Direct. They’re a really bright group and they each come with a very different perspective on things. Every day I show up there I know I have to contribute at a high level or I’m going to stick out like a sore thumb very quickly. 

Often people find inspiration from great thinkers, writers and prolific people in history. What is your favorite quote and why is that quote noteworthy?

I’m not one for inspirational quotes, but when Tyrion Lannister said “That’s what I do. I drink and I know things.” on Game of Thrones, it struck a chord with me.

Can you briefly share your professional journey?

I started out as an assistant TV buyer, but made the jump over to account management after a year or two because the things that team was working on seemed more interesting. About eight years ago I tried to leave the industry to become an E.S.L. (English as a Second Language) teacher but that wasn’t the right fit. I came back to the media industry, this time on the print side of the business, and have pretty much been there ever since. My current position is in Analytics, but from a day-to-day perspective it’s a hybrid of Media Planning, Account Management and Analytics.  

Did your career turn out just the way you wanted it to?

When I got into this industry I didn’t have a long-term plan. All I wanted was a job that pays enough for me to do the things I wanted to do, but didn’t require the long hours and extra schooling of a doctor or lawyer. So, I guess it did turn out exactly like I wanted it to.  

What impact has your educational background had on your professional activities?

Any professional success I’ve had is largely in spite of my educational background. I was always pretty bright, but once I hit my teen years I rarely did well in school. I liked to learn but didn’t like the one-size-fits-all learning environment of school. I wanted to learn at my own speed, and follow my own interests. So, if a teacher assigned us a book I usually wouldn’t read it, but I would read an equally challenging book of my own choosing, and at my own pace. Unfortunately, you can’t really do that and get good grades.

On a practical note, I did graduate from The Bronx High School of Science, which is one of the best High Schools in the country. People are always impressed when they see that on my resume; little do they know I had a C+ average.

You have had a varied career to date. Explain some of your proudest achievements?

My proudest achievement is my current position. I’ve worked under some very difficult professional circumstances and for some really unpleasant people, so to have finally found a position and company that I’m really proud of is a tremendous personal achievement.

What advice would you give to anyone seeking a career in your industry?

Go for it. When you’re young and free from the financial commitments of having to provide for a family you have the ability to explore different avenues of life until you find yourself. It would be a shame to waste that rare window of freedom on something that doesn’t interest you.

In the Information Age, millennial's tend to be interested in leadership roles. Do you have any advice for millennial professionals starting their careers?

Make sure you’re actively engaged. When you’re brand new, you may not yet have the base knowledge to contribute a lot from a work perspective, but if you ask a lot of questions, at least your supervisors will know you’re interested in your own development. If you don’t do that, it can be very easy to become lost in the shuffle especially in larger companies.

We are at the door of the 4th industrial revolution(4IR). Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Block chain Technology are thought to be the foremost pillars. How you foresee the future of your industry?

Nobody knows how technology will impacts things until it actually happens. Did anybody really know how the internet would change things in the early-’90s? The media industry is always leveraging new developments in technology, and I assume these new technologies will be no different. Or maybe we’ll all be replaced by AI robots in five years. Who knows?

What is your favorite book and can you explain what you like about it?

Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. It’s an oral history of the origins of punk rock in New York City. I really like punk rock music and I’m also a sucker for anything about 1970s New York City, so it checks both those boxes. I also like the book’s core message, which is that a bunch of misfits who could never function well in normal society can, through a mix of willpower and talent, make something important and influential.

What do you think about Executives Diary?

To be honest, some of the functionality on the website is wonky, and it could probably use a visual overhaul. That said, I enjoyed reading people’s personal stories. Answering these questions was also an opportunity for me to take stock and understand how I got to where I am today. I really enjoyed doing that.