Tag Archives: guest blogger

Guest Blogger: Q&A with Qnary Founder Bant Breen

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Bant Breen, the founder and CEO of Qnary, has had a long career in global communications and marketing. In 2011, he left his position as Worldwide CEO of Reprise Media, Interpublic Group’s global search and social media agency, to start a company focused on helping individuals benefit from their digital identity, the publicly available information about them that could be found online. We sat down with Bant to figure out how he discovered his passion for advertising, when he realized he was good at it — he was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Achievement in 2010 — and what advice he would give to others who were just starting out.

Q: In the beginning how did you know that advertising was right for you?

BB: I was excited about advertising and the advertising industry from a very early age. I grew up close to Chicago and visited the ad firm Leo Burnett when I was a kid. The characters that they created inspired me. As a teenager, my best friend and I created our own ad agency and made ads and promoted events in our hometown. I liked the clever nature of the work. I also loved the idea of pushing yourself to do something that nobody had done before.

Q: You led search, social media, and mobile components of advertising campaigns before those areas were well known. How were you able to stay ahead of the curve?

BB: I like to play around with new digital media ideas — even really bad ones. At the birth of the digital media era I remember sitting in college messing around with all  of the very basic HTML things that were possible at the time. New ideas, even when incomplete, start to share a glimpse of what is possible. I don’t know if I stayed ahead of the curve, but I certainly have always lived and worked comfortably within the curve. I always welcome change.

Q: What made you want to start your own company?

BB: I have spent my career split between being inside large companies and outside launching startups. I am almost always an intrapreneur when inside a large corporation coming up with new ways of thinking and innovative business models. When I am outside the big companies, I am the entrepreneur trying to raise the relevance and importance of a new product and service that in many cases is a radical departure from the normal way business is conducted.

Q: What do you look for when you’re hiring people?

BB: I only hire people who can write well. For some reason, writing is the one skill that seems to have been overlooked by higher education over the last decade. The quantitative skills are at an all-time high but conveying ideas and arguments in written form alludes most graduates.

In terms of personality traits, I tried to create Qnary as a business with a full range of characteristics in its staff. We have the highly analytic and introverted, the extremely outgoing and every mix of the two that you can imagine. We are an interesting, eclectic bunch.

That being said, there are work traits that matter to me. People have to be passionate, have to be willing to work very hard, have to have a “find a way” attitude to problem solving, and cannot take themselves too seriously.

Q: What types of experience should college students try to get to improve their career outlook?

BB: The reality is that getting exposed and involved in any and all types of work helps improve a career outlook. Do something and be interesting. Doing nothing and just partying in college is the only thing you should avoid.

Q: What organizations were you involved in during college that helped you early on in your career?

BB: My college experience was pretty wide-ranging. I tried sports and realized quickly my days as an athlete were over. I dabbled in student government. I moved on to writing for magazines and the college newspaper. I worked at the Admissions Office of my university.

My big eye-opening experience in college actually took place at graduate school. I organized a film and television society that ended up working with one of the first cable providers of interactive TV content. The exposure to this interactive technology drove me towards digital media.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out in his or her career?

BB: Work hard — really hard — and learn fast. Make mistakes, once but do not be afraid to make them. You aren’t pushing yourself enough if you don’t make mistakes.

Q: Why does your online identity matter to those who are looking for a job? How can you improve it?

BB: Before people meet you, they look you up online. After they meet you they look you up online. If you’re looking for a job, your recruiter has probably seen at least one of your social profiles. According to Jobvite, 86% of recruiters check candidates’ social media profiles. An additional 77% scanned search engines in 2006, according to ExecuNet. A Reppler study showed that 69% have rejected applications based on what they found online. Go to Qnary.com and follow the optimization steps to improve your online presence.

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Manage and maximize your online presence with Qnary CEO Bant Breen!

Qnary allows individuals to see, optimize, and benefit from their digital identities. The platform (http://www.qnary.com) provides users with an understanding of how they look online and a tool suite to help them improve their online identities. Qnary’s consultants provide brand strategy expertise for those who seek individualized engagement.

Part of Social Media Week at the Wasserman Center. Reserve your spot while there’s still space!!


To RSVP, click here.

Recovering from an Embarrassing Moment

By Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of The 11 Laws of Likability

It was the first class of the semester teaching the part-time MBA Business Communications class at NYU.  I had a room full of business professionals and I decided to climb up on top of a table to make a point.  I had everyone’s attention, I was setting the tone for the class – it was a moment.  And then it was an entirely different kind of moment.

Getting up onto the table was no problem, but coming down was a different story.  I had been nursing a knee injury and was careful about just how much weight I was putting on that leg.  So, as I’m trying my hardest to step down as gingerly as possible, BOOM – the table flips up behind me sending all my papers flying into the air while I struggled to stay vertical. I didn’t fall on my face, but as the students so eloquently put it, “I surfed off the table.”

This is kind of an embarrassing moment, don’t you think?  The kind of moment that shows up in work-related nightmares or even keeps some people from speaking in front of groups all together.  So, what does a professor of public speaking do?  I steadied the table upright while a gallant male student leaped to help.  I picked up a few of the papers and turned to the class with a big grin on my face and said, “Wasn’t that awesome?”  We all shared a quick laugh, but they were still tentative.

I continued, “This is one of the best moments in a classroom for me.”  Now they were entirely confused.  I went on to explain that there’s no better way to teach a lesson on how to handle things when they don’t go as planned than by example. Now they were starting to get it.  I then polled the class and asked if they were embarrassed for me.  The resounding answer was, “No, we weren’t.”

“That‘s exactly the point,” I said. “If I am not embarrassed for me, then you are not going to be embarrassed for me either.”  As the speaker, you set the tone and participants follow your lead. It’s inevitable that at numerous points in all of our lives, we will fall upon some rather embarrassing moments.  Whether we forget what we are talking about mid-sentence, trip in front someone we want to make a good impression on or bump into a wall, these situations are unavoidable.

It’s not about being perfect all the time. After all, there really is no such thing as perfect. It’s really about how we recover when we do something that’s not perfect.  The fact that I was comfortable with what happened made everyone else comfortable, too.  And, ultimately, this kept all of us focused on the class.

Think about it, when was the last time you did something embarrassing and then let that one moment dominate an entire situation?  How could you have handled that situation differently?  What could you have done to stay in control of your ‘recovery?’ Share your story with me on on Facebook or on Twitter.

Guest post by Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of The 11 Laws of Likability. Michelle Tillis Lederman is the author of The 11 Laws of Likability and founder of Executive Essentials, a training company that provides communications, leadership, and team-building programs, as well as executive coaching services. Also an Adjunct Professor at NYU, Michelle believes real relationships lead to real results and specializes in teaching people how to communicate to connect. She has appeared on CBS, Gayle King, NPR, and Martha Stewart Living and her work has been featured on New York Times, Working Mother, MSNBC, Monster.com, USA Today, AOL, Forbes, CNBC, and About.com. Connect with Michelle on Facebook or on Twitter.



If you’ve heard the joke about start-ups being the new “hipster,” it’s because the combination of the current economical and technological climate is well suited for such an environment. Thanks to laptops that weigh nothing, the universal mobile market, and the fact that the internet can do anything, you cannot doubt the fact that, right now, start-ups are enjoying their golden age.

A startup is described as, if you want to get technical, “a company or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.” Because startups are designed to search for ideas, they are the perfect working environment for people who feel their creative right brain often outsmarts their analytical left.

I’m a NYU Tisch alum (Dramatic Writing ’11) and do marketing and communications for Pluto Mobile. We are ourselves a start-up, and we just launched the beta build of Pluto, a local discovery app for iPhone that will revolutionize the way you discover New York. I handle all of Pluto’s Social Media and PR.

As much as I’d rather not admit it, the collective phrase “wearing a lot of hats” works better than any other common statement does at describing the start-up environment. Working with a small team on a product that is not yet established means you are really thinking conceptually all of the time. It isn’t so much stepping on other people’s toes as it is working together to craft a product that is innovative, smart, and marketable. So I’ve learned a lot about marketing, which I knew nothing about, sales, which I knew nothing about, and mobile apps! Which… I guess I knew a lot about already.

There are, in general, a lot of perks to working at a start-up. Sophia (Marketing intern)’s immediate reply when I asked her what her favorite perk was is, “We get to wear whatever we want to work.” Jeans included, guys.

Danny, our Marketing Manager, explains: “At a start-up, everybody’s voice is heard. At a corporation you are [often] just a number, but at a start-up, you are actually a person who gets listened to.”

If you are interested in being part of the Pluto team, drop me a message and your resume at christina@myplu.to. If you are interested in being part of the Pluto community, sign up to test our Beta here.