Creative, passionate, innovative, and driven. These are just a few words to describe Sam Zises, a leader and entrepreneur who has launched several successful businesses and always keeps his finger on the pulse of marketing, branding, and technology trends. His forward-thinking mindset has helped many clients effectively tell their stories and grow their brands, and his leadership has connected, excited, and inspired other industry professionals.
Needless to say, Sam has been busy since graduating from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications, currently running his own business, [L]earned Media, in the heart of New York City. [L]M for short is a content marketing and design agency focused on websites, content and campaigns for real estate, tech and consumer brands. As the founder and CEO, Sam lives and breathes today’s fast-paced, ever-evolving world of media and marketing – and recognizes its incredible power and value when optimized.
His team of strategists, website developers, content creators and designers at [L]earned Media focus on creating the highest quality creative content that tell a compelling brand story and deliver meaningful ROI for its clients.
“First and foremost, I love all things media, content, and technology,” explained Sam. “Whether it’s reading a great article or watching an entertaining video, content can provide an escape from daily stresses; it is powerful.”
His love and appreciation for content marketing is nothing new to Sam. During his time at Northeastern, he held several internships in media and marketing, from MTV and NBC to esteemed ad agency Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal. While at school Sam even took production classes that taught him how to shoot and edit video and manage a crew while directing a shoot from a control room. After graduation, he continued to build and strengthen his marketing skillset at Big Fuel, a social media agency, and then at Ogilvy & Mather, a global advertising, marketing and PR agency, where he worked in group marketing and business development.
In true entrepreneurial fashion, it was around this time that Sam had the idea for a new location-based events planning app called Wendr, which allows users to see what their friends are doing on any given night. Inspired by his days as an undergraduate at Northeastern, Sam wanted to find an easier way to gather friends for fun things to do together – and the app, which integrated content from Fandango, SeatGeek and HotelTonight, did precisely this.
Right after launching the app, the stars aligned and Sam spotted a call for start-ups to pitch their ideas to Budweiser at an event. Sam’s app Wendr won, launching a successful partnership with the American beer company, who ended up hiring Sam and his team and acquiring the app brand rights, along with BlackBerry in Latin America. You can learn more in this Q+A with The Huffington Post.
With Budweiser and BlackBerry as effective clients, Sam launched his own agency to help other brands and startups launch and grow their businesses. He has now been leading [L]earned Media since 2012, and describes his leadership style as one that embraces coaching, encouragement, and making his employees feel confident and comfortable.
“The way I like to run the company is to make being in the office feel like being in a living room. I find that when people are comfortable, they will be happier, more present, and of course, do better work,” explained Sam. “I lead like a coach, and always try to focus on the positives and ways to improve.”
And while leading [L]earned Media is his day job, it likely comes as no surprise that Sam is also involved in several other groups and initiatives.
Sam, along with his partner and twin brother Ben, are early-stage investors through their BS Ventures, where they have had the opportunity to get to know, advise and invest in many innovative companies. One in particular, Quip, is getting a lot of publicity and accolades, labeled by journalists as “the Tesla of toothbrushes.” It produces slim, travel-ready electric and manual toothbrushes that are attractive, functional, and convenient. As an entrepreneur and self-starter himself, Sam enjoys surrounding himself with equally inventive individuals and companies.
Sam is also the President of the Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA), USA Chapter, a position he has held since 2016. In this industry networking role, he manages and works with the community of people who work in branded content. And of course, Sam loves staying involved in the vibrant Northeastern alumni community! He has helped coordinate several alumni meet-ups in the New York City area, from bowling to networking, and looks forward to staying in touch with his alma mater.
“I really value the time I spent at Northeastern, from being on such a great campus to gaining real-world experience,” Sam said. “I always say you can only get experience by getting experience. Doing internships and being able to immerse yourself in the work environment and culture as a student sets you up for a successful career.”
On that note, Sam concludes by leaving current students with some honest, practical advice.
“Think about what it is you want to do with your life and then avoid making excuses,” he said. “Life is short, so figure out what you want to do and then do it now – make it a priority.”