Jared Shapiro: “Don’t be afraid to say no to client or turn down an offer”

Don’t be afraid to say no to client or turn down an offer. I know it sounds crazy, but we’ve actually let go of more clients than have let go of us. We hold ourselves in high regard, and with that said, we’ve had to end things with a few clients that we felt didn’t […]

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Don’t be afraid to say no to client or turn down an offer. I know it sounds crazy, but we’ve actually let go of more clients than have let go of us. We hold ourselves in high regard, and with that said, we’ve had to end things with a few clients that we felt didn’t quite fit our demeanor, what we stand for, or how we operate. We’ve also just flat out turned down clients who approached us or passively just didn’t chase it. It’s not that we couldn’t take on the business. Sometimes — as I said above — it’s just a gut feeling. I’m not always right. But if it feels right, there’s probably a reason.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jared Shapiro.

Jared Shapiro is a New York Times Best Selling Author and former Editor in Chief of Ocean Drive Magazine, as well as former Editorial Director of Life & Style Weekly and In Touch Weekly. Jared is now the principal of the Miami located and globally connected “The Tag Experience” PR firm which represents clients all over the world in tech, finance, lifestyle, fitness, food, celebrity, sports, design and more.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I always wanted to be a writer, either of books or movie screenplays. I found it easier to write creatively than to take tests. So, for me, writing my way out of something just came naturally. I grew up in Norfolk, VA. You would never think it, but some of the most creative and successful people in sports and entertainment come out of there. So, I always knew it was possible to pursue a career some kind in arts or entertainment. After college, I booked the first flight out to Los Angeles to try and make it as a writer. I never looked back. Once I moved to NYC, I found a book agent — Scott Hoffman — who believed in me and my idea. The rest is history.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There’s this great quote — “We have all been in rooms we cannot die in.” It’s a quote with multiple meanings. And you can interpret it many ways. For me, throughout my career, I’ve been in some really fascinating situations. Whether it’s a room, or car, or moment with some of the most famous or intriguing people in the world, I’ve been in rooms where if I did die at that moment, you probably would have never believed it. On that same note, because of my job when I was first starting out as a celebrity reporter, and again -in some of the situations my career has put me in, there have literally been rooms I cannot die in. I’ll save that stuff for a book one day.

How would your best friend describe you?

Consistent. You know what you are going to get with me. I don’t believe from a personality standpoint I have changed very much. For me, life and career are like running a marathon. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. I always say “talk to me when we are 75. I’ll be here. Healthy, happy and successful.” I never look at the way other people live their lives, that’s not for me. I just do what I need to do.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much?

Well first I would say “persistence.” You have to just keep going and chasing, especially for what you want. As I said above, I’m consistent. I’ve been living my life in a pretty similar fashion forever. So whatever goals or dreams I’m chasing, I play the long game. Second, I would say creative. I believe I had an ability to creatively come up with something in the moment that could just “wow.” Whether it was an audience, a boardroom, or a one on one, I’m a big fan of the “wow” factor and usually that comes from being creative. Lastly, I would say “insecure.” Some people wouldn’t call this a quality. But I’m insecure about my success, about my bills, about my future, about everything. So, knowing that, it’s allowed me to work hard, try harder, and keep pushing. I’ll never be satisfied that it’s ok.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

I moved to Los Angeles directly after graduating college. After a great experience trying to be a screenwriter and “make it” in Hollywood, I packed my things up and headed to NYC where I got a job at the very thriving Us Weekly magazine of 2002. I went to awards shows like the Grammys, interviewed top celebrities, and worked 55–60 hours a week hitting the pavement as a reporter. I sold a book to St. Martin’s Press, hopped over to Star Magazine, wrote a book with Perez Hilton, wrote another book with Perez Hilton, landed a job as News Director at Life & Style Weekly, wrote “Being Kendra” with Kendra Wilkinson which became a New York Times Best-Seller and ultimately became Executive Editor of both Life & Style Weekly and In Touch Weekly. After 12 years in publishing in NYC, I headed south to Miami where I landed the dream job of all dream jobs as Editor in Chief of Ocean Drive Magazine. I honestly didn’t think after that anything could top it. I got to tell the story of the moments and people in one of the most exciting cities in the world. I felt like that was the peak. So, I left publishing forever after that.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

I realized that all throughout my career in publishing that people — usually wealthy people, CEO’s, celebrities, or big brands — were begging me to help get them in a magazine. Or they would ask me to connect them to someone as a favor. I was always doing people favors as an editor. And so, I thought to myself, why not turn that into a business? Especially in Miami, which now may seem more like New York than ever before, but hasn’t always been that way. I thought if I could bring a worth ethic and sensibility to brands and startups and personalities of Miami who wanted to be in the spotlight, I might just be able to make it work. So, I launched a company — The Tag Experience — that is part public relations, part marketing, part branding and social media. We do events, we do content writing, we do influencer marketing. Basically, a brand or person can come to us and say “We want help,” and we can turn around and help them. We also do a lot of things for companies which they don’t want you to know and I probably don’t want to brag about. But I know the importance of that stuff.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

I saw how desperately people wanted to be in the magazines I ran. “I’ll literally do anything” a publicist would say to get their brand in. But more important than that, I spoke to a few business owners who genuinely wanted to do great things. My first client, Fuel Venture Capital, which is run by a former Merrill Lynch executive here in Miami, Jeff Ransdell, was launching a 200+ million dollars fund that was targeted at really interesting startups. I knew that was the space I needed to be playing in. Getting to grow alongside some of their amazing companies and CEO’s has been a wild ride.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I realized my rolodex was worth more money being used for branding and PR than it was being used for publishing. Who I knew, the outlets I could get in touch with, and my abilities to craft narratives and story lines — it was just a seamless transition.

How are things going with this new initiative?

The Tag Experience is doing great. We had uncertainty, like all business with Covid-19. So, 2020 of course was a roller coaster but we’ve managed to come out of it stronger and in a better fighting position. We’ve hired up and expanded our client base to include tech, finance, food & beverage, sports, fitness, celebrity, packaged goods, health and wellness, space, music and so much more. And we learned to work remotely. From a business standpoint. I would never want to do 2020 over again, but I’ll look back on it as a learning situation.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I think about that a lot. I’m a big believer that life is a marathon not a sprint. I mentioned that before. “Talk to me when we’re 75.” So, I can’t just look at the last couple years like that. I have to think about every step of the way. There have been so many mentors, lifesavers, friends, family, teachers, co-workers, employees — really across the board there are not only so many people to thank but really that I continue to lean on years if not decades later.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

When I was in high school, my baseball coach once made a joke in front of the whole team that you could use a calendar to clock me running around the bases. It was true, speed was never my thing. But last year, my company was involved in an event with Bolt mobility, an e-scooter company from the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt. And I remember working with him and talking with him and one time when I was shaking his hand thinking it was the moment that the world’s fast man and world’s slowest man met. It’s funny the turns that life takes. I’m not sure I was ever supposed to meet Usain Bolt on the track. I was supposed to meet him with a suit on, on the red carpet.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

In the working world, I always felt like I was invincible. I get a rush from a job well done. I certainly worried about making a transition from being a writer/editor my whole life to just stopping that career and deciding to open an agency to help with PR/branding. I quickly put those fears to rest when I not only realized I could do it, but was able to hire a great team to help me.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

I hired people who knew what they were doing. Even right now, my team, they specialize. I’ve got a tech/finance division that owns the space. I’ve got a lifestyle division that consistently wows for our clients. As a Miami based team, we also do great work in the US Hispanic and LaTam markets. That again is a testament to my great team. They focus on the tasks at hand to execute our clients’ visions. My social media manager on her own has 40,000+ followers watching her every move on Instagram. Who better to run our social media? My support system overall is in full effect.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

For the last four to five years of my career, as the editor in chief of Ocean Drive, I had to be the center of attention for photos, for advertisers, at events. I was very comfortable in that position, but also because at Ocean Drive we had a fantastic team of people who really knew what they were doing and told me where to be and when to smile. But from day one as a publicist, I had to stop being the center of attention and put the spotlight on my clients. It’s why I came up with our tag line “At Tag, You’re It!” It’s about you the client, not me. A few days into my new career, I found myself on the red carpet with a client, making sure she was properly photographed. It was no longer about me.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Actually, for each thing, people actually warned me. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do about it.

  1. Get the money up front and don’t let invoices build up. Chasing clients for money they owe you isn’t fun. But it also can screw up your plans. A business is lying to you if they tell you they work just as hard for the company that is 4 invoices behind as they do for the ones that pay a month in advance.
  2. You get what you pay for. When you are starting a business, you are watching budgets like crazy. I never took a dime from anyone, never had an investor, and just started the company from scratch. So, there wasn’t any capital to go out and hire 10 people. We had to scrap for it. That said, I can’t say I was prepared to offer premium salaries. So, it wasn’t like people were dying to work for me
  3. Listen to people with experience. Sometimes they are years ahead in the advice they are giving you. Meaning, whatever they are saying may not make sense or even seem right at the moment. But usually there’s some truth in it for down the road.
  4. Go with your gut. You can spend hours, days, weeks and months agonizing over the right decision. Sometimes you have to just make an answer. Right or wrong. You have to keep the trains moving.
  5. Don’t be afraid to say no to client or turn down an offer. I know it sounds crazy, but we’ve actually let go of more clients than have let go of us. We hold ourselves in high regard, and with that said, we’ve had to end things with a few clients that we felt didn’t quite fit our demeanor, what we stand for, or how we operate. We’ve also just flat out turned down clients who approached us or passively just didn’t chase it. It’s not that we couldn’t take on the business. Sometimes — as I said above — it’s just a gut feeling. I’m not always right. But if it feels right, there’s probably a reason.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I’m always fascinated with teaching the next generation. I was blessed to really have some amazing, powerful bosses and mentors. I’ve really seen the right way to do things. The proper way to work. I always try to pass that on. I am not the original and I don’t claim to be. Maybe my employees will look at me in the same way I looked at some of my bosses or mentors. If I can create that kind of work place and inspire people and teach them to do great things, then I’m setting up other people for greatness.

What do you want to be remembered for the most?

We’ve talked a lot about business and strategy here. But if you know me, you know I want to be remembered and known as a great dad.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find me on LinkedIn, and I’m super active on Instagram and Twitter as @Jarshap

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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