I had the pleasure of interviewing Drew Gerber, “Nomad CEO” of Wasabi Publicity. He is on a mission to change global conversations and challenge industry conventions. He lives to spark “aha” moments, helping people discover new ways of thinking to create positive change.
Recognized by PR Week and Good Morning America for its innovative business practices, Wasabi Publicity helps clients expand their impact through top media. A member of Forbes Agency Council, Drew is author of “Destination Aha! Becoming Unstuck in Life and Business.” He lives in Budapest, Hungary, and Serbia, where he started an IT training center and employs locals as part of Wasabi’s international team.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My degree is actually in chemical engineering, so I never planned to be the CEO of a PR company. But, as fate would have it, I had a passion for marketing and fell in love with PR. When I met my business partner, Michelle Tennant (Nicholson), that was when I got clear about the power of PR in changing what people are talking about, which ultimately changes the world.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
In the beginning of Wasabi Publicity, we were actually recognized by Good Morning America and The Christian Science Monitor for innovative business practices — being a virtual business that allowed us to work from anywhere in the world.
How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.
Being a virtual company allowed for two things. One, it allowed us to scale quickly and become profitable immediately because we didn’t have high overhead. Two, it allowed us to be able to work with top talent from anywhere in the country and the world.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
I learned the difference one letter can make in the meaning of a sentence when I was working on marketing copy for a company. Instead of me putting “Your publicist is your most sacred business relationship,” I put “Your publicist is your most scared business relationship.”
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A lesson that my business partner Michelle Tennant taught me is this: If you really want to edit yourself, you should read your copy back to yourself backwards.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now we are in the process of doing four very exciting book launches that we believe will fundamentally change the way we look at different aspects of ourselves as humans. John Assaraf’s book, “Innercise: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Hidden Power,” is really diving inward with a scientifically proven methodology to help people pinpoint and eliminate the mindset or emotional obstacles that are holding them back from achieving their life’s goals and dreams. Lynne McTaggart’s book, “The Power of Eight: Harnessing the Miraculous Energies of a Small Group to Heal Others, Your Life, and the World,” really proves the power of intention and group prayer. Allison Maslan just hit the Wall Street Journal best-seller list with her new book, “Scale or Fail: How to Build Your Dream Team, Explode Your Growth, and Let Your Business Soar.” And Anita Sanchez is bringing indigenous teaching which is so needed on our planet now with her international best-seller, “The Four Sacred Gifts: Indigenous Wisdom for Modern Times.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
Only get into PR if it really is your true passion. Most people don’t realize it is a very challenging career path because you are always managing clients’ expectations. The amazing thing about PR is anything is possible. But because of that, clients generally have very high expectations and they relate to PR like the lottery.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
The best way I believe to be a great networker is to always be looking out for how you can provide real value for people that you are networking with. Because in networking, nothing is truer than what goes around, comes around.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
One book is “The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari,” by Robin Sharma. Why that was so impactful for me is it had me get really clear on what matters in business and in life. It has always helped me to prioritize what matters, what to focus on, and what brings true fulfillment at the end of the day. That’s a theme I continued to explore in my own book, “Destination Aha! Becoming Unstuck in Life and Business.”
Because of the role you play, 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?
That we have choice over how we view the world, and when we know we have that choice there is a great sense of freedom.
One of my favorite quotes is from the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” by Deborah Moggach: ”Everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end.” If I could create a movement it would really be to have people relax and enjoy the journey.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
Don’t focus on the destination — enjoy the journey.
It doesn’t matter how happy you are with a particular result. At the end of the day, all that matters is whether the client is happy with your work.
Find your work-life balance as quickly as possible.
You can’t make everybody happy, and you can’t make some people happy no matter what you produce.
Surrounding yourself with brilliance is the recipe for a happy work life.