Ep. 17 – VaynerMedia COO James Orsini

Collectively, James Orsini has more than 30 years of finance and operations experience across a broad range of marketing and communications disciplines. Entering VaynerMedia as the Chief Integration Officer helping Gary Vaynerchuk execute his vision, James eventually stepped into the COO role when Gary’s brother and former COO was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In a fast-paced environment, working one year at the company felt like seven years in the industry. James continued fueling Gary’s vision as he helps advise on systems, structures, and process, as well as hiring individuals and overseeing infrastructure and office operations. Together, they transformed a less-structured organization into what it is today. James shares how being the COO enables him to interact with and learn from Gary. He is making sure to keep the vision of VaynerMedia in place and across the team.


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VaynerMedia COO James Orsini

James Orsini is the Chief Operating Officer for VaynerMedia, a digital agency with a core forum on social media. He is working alongside with the founder and CEO, Gary Vaynerchuk or Gary Vee, who’s well known for his bold and effective marketing style and bestselling books such as Crush It!: Why NOW is the Time to Cash In On Your Passion and Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too. Prior to working for VaynerMedia, James was the CEO and member of the Board of Directors of SITO Mobile. He’s also an Executive VP and Director of Finance and Operations for Saatchi & Saatchi in New York. He was also with Publicis Groupe, the world’s third largest communication group. Working for VaynerMedia was not the first time James functioned as a COO. Before joining Saatchi & Saatchi, James was the COO of Interbrand North America, the world’s leading brand consultancy with 40 offices in 22 countries throughout the world. Collectively, James has more than 30 years of Finance and Operations experience across a broad range of marketing and communications disciplines. On this show, you will learn how someone like James can actually work with a character and a creative genius like Gary Vaynerchuk.

James, welcome to the show. We are interested to learn from you both in your journey of working in entrepreneurial organizations as second-in-command and then also working with Gary Vaynerchuk and running VaynerMedia. Give us a little bit of a helicopter tour to your past and where your experience came from.

It’s great to be here, Cameron. Thanks so much for having me on the show. I started in public accounting. I worked for KPMG. I was a CPA and I got introduced to the Saatchi family as a result of being on an audit of one of their subsidiaries. I spent some time on Wall Street working for Goldman Sachs before doing my first stint in a Saatchi sub, which was then a role in public relations which is now MS&L Group. From public relations, I went into branding where I spent some time at Interbrand. Following my Interbrand stint, I went back to Saatchi but this time working for the main advertising agency in New York. I left there after five or six years. I became the CEO of a small, publicly traded mobile media company called SITO Mobile who trades on the NASDAQ. I found my way here into the hallways of VaynerMedia, working with Gary. It’s been a great few years of bobbing and weaving, many years of which has been spent in the overall marketing and advertising space.

You also bring the financial aspect in as well. Does the finance area fall under your purview in COO or no?

Not here but in other roles that I had, it has. In fact, both at MS&L and Interbrand and even early in the Saatchi positioning, I was a global CFO. At my peak, I was overseeing 31 offices in 26 countries both on the PR side and then on the Interbrand side. I had global CFO roles before taking on Chief Operating Officer roles. I became the North American Chief Operating Officer at Interbrand. I was hired to be Executive Vice President, Director of Finance and Operations at Saatchi and I am now a Chief Operating Officer here at Vayner although I was originally hired as the Chief Integration Officer when I first came on.

What’s Chief Integration Officer?

That was interesting because when Gary hired me, he said, “I think I need somebody like you to help execute on the vision. I want to be a $500 million independent integrated international communications company. Can you help me build that empire?” I said, “Yes, I can.” He said, “Great. I’m going to give you a title that’s amorphous and loose enough to have you play in any space that I need you to play in. You’re going to be the Chief Integration Officer.” His younger brother, AJ at the time was the Chief Operating Officer. He held that role and then after I was here about fifteen months, AJ had a very public departure. He announced that he had some Crohn’s disease and that was instigated through high-stress levels. He said, “This is a big company now. I don’t want to run a big company. I’m going to go off and do something else and then you’ll become the Chief Operating Officer.” That’s how I stepped into the role here.

There are two big transition points, one with his brother COO leaving with Crohn’s and then secondly, you coming in as a COO is tough in the first place but coming in when a brother is leaving, how did that transition go? What’s the scope in terms of the number of employees and divisions? Can you give us a bit of a picture of what VaynerMedia looked?

When I came on a few years ago, it was about $42 million in revenue, a little under 400 employees and three or four locations that we were operating out of. We’ll get around $115 million this year. We’ll eclipse to 800 employees across six operating locations now.

People literally think it’s Gary running around on the streets and doing his shticks. What are the strengths of VaynerMedia?

Gary is an operating CEO. He’s a special executive. He’s a strategist, he’s creative but he is an operating CEO as well. I assure you it’s more than Gary running around the streets doing his thing and he is involved in this business. Although he has his hands in some of the other businesses now like the VaynerSports that he is doing with AJ, which is something totally outside of what we are now calling the VaynerX. We’ve actually put together a holding company-type model here that allows us to do a better version of what you see in the industry.

When you came in as COO, they talk about the first 90 days, first 100 days of somebody coming in as a senior executive. What were your first 90 days like coming into the organization? What did you focus on? What would you have changed if you were to be able to go back now? Would you have done anything differently in the first 90?

It was interesting because Gary said, “When you come in, James, I want you to breathe. I want you to observe the culture. I want you to understand how it is that we operate here at Vayner before making decisions or advising on protocols and things like that. Just get a feel for how we operate.” Literally the terminology was breathe. That was great for me in understanding the culture. What’s unique is he’s not an ad guy. He never set out to build an advertising firm. It happened. That’s both a blessing and a curse because the blessing is he doesn’t come encumbered with 150-year industry baggage but then that also comes with the loose structure of, “Here is the way things are done when you’re dealing with a Fortune 100 client-base.” I think it was, “How do we take what is so special about what it is that he’s created and help it live in an ecosystem that permeates structure and guard rails?” It is the race horse that we want to make to run on the plane of Texas rather than be totally fenced in somebody’s yard.

Are you focused on the systems side of the business right now or the people? Is it strategy? Where do you tend to focus?

I actually go wherever Gary needs me to go because I’ve played so many chief roles in my past, CFO, COO, CEO and CIO. I’ve been a Chief Administrative Officer. I’ve seen a lot of different things and I know how departments interact. Do I help advice on systems? I do. Do I help advice on structure and process? I am and I can. Do I help him find the right key individuals and hires that build out his leadership team? I have. Can I help him with infrastructure and office operations? I was actively involved early on in the opening of the office in Chattanooga, in the aboriginal state in London. I helped with his first big acquisition of PureWow which has now created the digital publishing division of the gallery. I have a role in his facilities, built out structures whether it was here at Hudson Yards or our 40,000 plus square foot studio in Long Island City. I go where he needs me to go.

Tell me a little about the acquisition. What did you guys learn in doing your first acquisition?

I think it was interesting because I’ve been part of companies that have had big in explosive growth, but that was mainly through acquisition. I’ve been part of a company that has grown organically like Gary’s. There was a time when he wanted to get into the publishing side of things and it was going to be hard and long to grow it from scratch. He has a relationship with Ryan Harwood, who was the CEO of Gallery. We helped him structure a deal that was a combination of equity and debt through our partners at RSE and went through the process of due diligence, acquisition and then the integration.

One of the core areas that I work with CEOs on globally is an area of a vivid vision and trying to get the CEO to almost extract from their mind a four or five-page written description of what their company looks like three years in the future. How do you stay in alignment with Gary’s vision for the organization and how do you help shape that?

What you described is more traditional and that’s not the way it’s going to work with Gary because he has a finger on the pulse for culture and society. He goes where the attention is which has us pivoting. While he makes his decisions for the long-term, we move quickly often. He’s not afraid to make a mistake. He’s not afraid to blow something up and do it again. He’s not afraid to double down on an area that he believes is the future. That has you operating a lot less structured. The formal business plan that we’re typically used to execute against is simply not here. The more I spend time with him, the more I get an understanding of what it is that he’s trying to accomplish and then I work hard to make sure that we fuel that vision rather than choke that vision in our own hallways.

He is focused on writing the trend or the emerging trend and driving the revenue or deriving revenue from that.

SIC 17 | VaynerMedia

VaynerMedia: Let the structure be the racehorse that you want to make a run on the plane rather than be totally fenced in somebody’s yard.


That’s why he talks about marketing in the year that you live and recognizing where the attention is and more importantly, how does he capitalize on the attention when it hasn’t been priced as such yet because he’s the first guy in.

It makes a lot of sense. I talked to a CEO in India and he said, “Americans try to invent a product and sell it to people who don’t need it and we sell whatever people want to buy.”

That’s what Gary is. Gary understands. He takes the time to understand the consumer first and he’s not afraid to tell the client that it’s not going to work. “What you’re asking me to do will not work because I could back it up with these facts. I’m listening to them. My ear is on the ground. I know what they’re saying. I know how they’re consuming and you are not positioned correctly for that consumption.” I think why we’ve been so successful is because we’ve been a refreshing alternative in the marketing landscape. I saw this term being used and that I loved it, advertainment. It’s advertising and entertainment coming together. That’s what you’ll notice in Gary’s world. He’s first and foremost a media property himself which then gives them the liberty to do so much.

He definitely does have his pulse on what’s happening. How do you then get all of the employees? You mentioned culture, how do you get all the employees to have either the same vision or be able to adopt and adapt quickly? How do you get them to be able to be comfortable with pivoting and being so entrepreneurial when you are a big company?

You absolutely have to be comfortable in change. Gary is most comfortable in change. He changes things up and that may include moving people around, changing a desk or moving it to a different floor. He doesn’t like when people get too angry. We care for our employees. Our biggest department here that’s a non-billable is our research department because that’s what matters most to him. He’s going to over-index on that. He runs what he calls the Honey Empire filled with empathy and he takes time to understand what it is that people want to do. It’s okay if you don’t do it here for two years as long as he knows that. He’s totally transparent with his employees and that results in an extremely low voluntary turnover rate when compared to industries in excess of probably 27%, 28%.

You’ve done a great job on the hiring side. Are you interviewing and recruiting or hiring people who are comfortable with change? Are you looking for that? How do you find that? What do you use to find them?

I think it’s so interesting because we probably have 150-plus applications for every open position. There’s no shortage of people who want to be here and in his world and sometimes it starts with a following. His Gary Vee persona attracts a lot of attention. He has a lot of people who are willing to want to play a part in that world. His world is so vast even beyond the VaynerX stuff. He’s involved with so many different things whether it’s the Wine Library, whether it’s the book, the speaking tours, now sneakers and the VaynerSports. He’s working on a secret wine project. It goes on and on because first and foremost, it starts with immediate property which then gives you the liberty to play in all those other areas.

Do you work with many outsourced companies? Are most of your employees in-house?

Our employees are in-house. We don’t typically use outside recruiters. It’s a lot of word of mouth. It’s a lot of referrals, but we have to understand it’s in this advertising space. I was on a meeting once with Gary where he was talking to a very senior creative person and he was saying, “Maybe some of the top award-winning creatives that you might see at a Droga5, DDB or Saatchi don’t know of me and I’ll have to work hard to get them here. I can tell you this, every student in the Miami School of Design is in my inbox because the future is here.”

You said in the first couple of years when you were there, you started to help him recruit and build out the senior team. Talk to me about that and what it was like building out a senior team and bringing them into such an entrepreneurial space.

I think that’s what’s interesting. Even myself, I didn’t know Gary. I know his brother AJ. I sat next to him at a basketball game several years ago. When I left SITO Mobile, I was calling AJ to tell him I was going to be getting back into the big advertising space and I’ll see him bouncing around New York City. AJ was like, “James, have you ever met my brother Gary?” I said, “No.” He said, “Did you ever hear of my brother Gary?” I said, “No.” He was like, “You should meet him.” That’s how it started. Once I understand the vision and what it is he’s trying to accomplish, he knows what it is that he wants. We just hired a chief production officer. We hired a chief client officer. We hired a chief financial officer.

All these people were hired in the last several months. Some of them I knew personally, I’ve worked with in the past and some, I was part of the team that conducted interviews and said, “They might be right.” That was part of a maturation process of the VaynerX Holding Company. He is building out a leadership team that can help scale him on various fronts. He was an operating CEO and I helped him scale. He’s a strategic CEO and we now have a chief strategy officer. He’s a creative CEO and we have a chief creative officer. He produces more content than any human that I know and now we have a production officer. He has a media property but we had a chief media officer. How do we scale him?

How do you run in terms of a meeting pulse, meeting rhythms? What are the core meetings that you use or do you avoid them?

I think it’s interesting. The meetings are fifteen minutes because Gary believes, “If I give you an hour, you’re going to fill it up with an hours’ worth of crap. If I give you fifteen minutes, you’re going to get to the point and we move on.” In an industry that prides itself on meeting after meeting, it was refreshing to come into Gary’s world and recognize that the essence of the meeting is not the time but the point that you’re trying to get across. How do you get that to elevate your pitch down? What are the monarch notes of the novel? That’s been refreshing for somebody like me. In fact, I had somebody ping my calendar. If you are a new employee, you put an hour in the calendar and I said, “This is at best a 30-minute meeting. Let’s get the outside people in.” I adjust it and then I click yes and I’ll attend it.

I always tell people to book your meeting for half the time you first think about booking it for. Do you have a meeting rhythm for the leadership team? Does the leadership team meet on a regular basis?

We meet at 9:30 every Monday.

What do you cover? How does that meeting work?

It’s a three-point agenda depending on what week we’re in. Gary does require everybody if you can’t be there in person to dial in. We’re handling issues. We went over a new business list. We got a feel for contribution margins by the client from a profitability standpoint and then Gary got a finger on the pulse because he’s been away for a little bit. He’s got a finger on the pulse with culture. Those were the three points that we covered off in our leadership.

How long did that meeting run?

SIC 17 | VaynerMedia

VaynerMedia: The essence of the meeting is not the time but the point that you’re trying to get across.


That particular meeting ran an hour because we had missed one in the past but they’ll typically run 30 to 45 minutes.

Go back to recruiting for me, do you actually look for specific roles all the time or are you hiring great culture fit people who are smart, who you’ll figure for them after you find them?

The company, in its early stage when it went from $5 million to $15 million to $20 million to $40 million, it was more of the same. It went from a beverage client to a CPG to automotive. It was hiring more or the same people. The transition from $100 million to $150 million has grown wide. There is now a full-service media planning and buying property. We discussed the digital publishing division. We have a full-service studio production company and we still have the more traditional agency setting, account creative strategy and planning. You can no longer hire somebody who’s a cultural fit. The media guy can’t help me in the studio. The agency guy can’t help me on the publisher side. You have to hire more specific to the skill set and that was something that has been new over the past few years.

I agree because I’ve always said that the old adage of hire for attitude, train for skill will get you 7% growth but if you want the rapid growth, you have to hire for the culture fit and proven skills.

What we’re not afraid to do is challenge the status quo. What does that mean? We may want a strategist who has played a role at Amazon or Google as opposed to just, “Here are the three agency roles that they’ve held before.” It enables us to broaden our perspective in what it is that place in the role and I think that’s what’s unique here. We have so many things in our hallways that you won’t find with the traditional agency. We have a twenty-plus person eCommerce division. We have a smart products division. We have a small business division. You wouldn’t typically find them in a traditional agency setting.

Have you killed off any areas at all, have you killed off any low margin?

Gary is not afraid to make mistakes. We dabbled in sampling early on and we killed that off. We had something called VaynerLive where we thought clients would be interested and pay us for event-type services. We killed that off but we now resurrected VaynerExperience whereby Gary actually owns the events now. Instead of us staging event from the client, we own our own events. He is the keynote speaker of our own events. We hire panels of people whether it was the Agent2021 that we did in Miami which was for real estate agents, insurance brokers and car dealers. The VoiceCon that we did here where he’s doubling down on brands having a voice on Alexa and Google Home Podcast. That’s a version 2.0 of a division that was killed a few years back.

I’ve always believed that the leader’s job is to grow people. I was telling a CEO who called me out of the blue and he was complaining about one of his employees in an area that she was deficient. I said, “Your job is to grow her. Don’t feel bad if you find an opportunity for growth.” How do you guys grow your people inside of Vayner and then at what point do you realize that you can’t grow them anymore? They’re the wrong fit.

I think that Gary comes out and says, “Everybody’s job is human resource. It’s not the nine or a dozen people in that department there. I want you to be James, our Chief Operating Officer/Human Resource Director.” He has given us a mandate and mantle to play that human resource role, to interact with people, to be able to see signs. If somebody is coming off the rails, we have the liberty to step in and try and make it right or bring it to his attention or bring it to our chief heart officer. That title alone, chief heart officer, that title alone speaks volumes. This is a company with a chief heart officer.

We had a chief people officer at 1-800-GOT-JUNK when I was building that brand out and her role was to sit in on all the leadership discussions but look at the people impact. What’s your chief heart officer?

She helps scale Gary on the culture side. We talked about all those other C-level roles who scale a particular skill set than Gary, but he wants to build the greatest people on-demand and as a result of that you need people to help scale you on that side. Claude, our Chief Heart Officer, does that. She has a background in psychology, but she also has tons of years inside of agencies mostly on the account strategy side. She played that role for us early on. In fact, she was one of the executives that I’ve met with before saying yes to the role. She left us for a while and came back as the chief heart officer role and she’s an important part of scaling Gary on the culture side.

Why did she leave and why did she come back?

She knew she wanted to do something different. She knew that she was done servicing CPG clients that she has prior. This is what Gary does. He takes the time to understand what it is that you want to do and then not be afraid to create a role for you to have you do it in his world.

It’s the classic, “Get the right people in the right seat.”

My Chief Integration Officer role was that as well. Early on when he was smaller, he had a lot of second basemen playing centerfield, but now we’re getting much better at putting people closer to their sweet spot.

How do you identify the wrong people? Either the cultural cancers or the people that are underperforming and remove them from the organization.

If they’re not selfless. When they become selfish, we quickly realize that they may not be the right fit for us. When they step outside, when they’re doing things that are best for them and what’s best for the logo, we step outside. We have a few key indicators that tell us and obviously they’re not your basic performance of tasks. We give everybody a chance to succeed. It not like you’re one mistake and you’re out the door. We over-index. Another thing that’s great is that we will find you a role outside of these hallways if we mutually decide that it’s time to part ways. We’ve placed numerous employees at other companies which have now come back to be our clients because we do the right thing on the way out.

I read about that, the whole idea in a book called The Dream Manager years ago and how they try to move people off. Is there a couple of core areas that you might be as an organization trying to grow your mid-level team in terms of their management or leadership skills?

We go back and forth on the mid-level trying to determine if they are the most valuable commodity in the building or are they the least valuable commodity in the building. Gary over-indexes heavily on junior talent, the hustle of junior talent. That’s important for us. The question is, do you move to a fewer better model on the senior side and then get this young, hungry hustling talent that needs them? We’re exploring that. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been taking the time to bring in some professional development whether it’s presentation skills training, storytelling initiatives to help develop that mid-level beyond that. We have to realize here is one year at Vayner is like seven years in the industry. We’re careful with how much we spend in a structured professional development because the way we service our client changes every six months.

SIC 17 | VaynerMedia

VaynerMedia: When people become selfish, we quickly realize that they may not be the right fit for us.


Give me an area then that you guys have struggled as an organization and what you’ve done to turn that around or an area maybe that you spotted that you had to champion or lead?

We’re still questioning our project management role, not the capability. We know it’s needed in the building. What we’re questioning is, where does it belong? Does project management at Vayner belong in a separate department as it had existed for long? Does it belong rolling up into the production division as it currently resides? Does it belong as part of account management and account services as we are debating? As our business model changes, we remember where this company was. It was micro-content, a lot of pieces thrown out into the internet, small bits of creative with community management are people seeing how others were engaging with it and then doubling down when they see where somebody engages. Now, it’s fewer, better pieces of creative content with media dollars behind it. It’s a different way of operating. Therefore, the visions that were right and built in a certain way need to change because the way we’re servicing our clients changes.

How do you interact with clients? Do you spend a lot of time on-site with clients? Are you working with them over video remotely?

Yes, the clients love being here because they sense the energy. They love taking meetings here. I was helping get the Vayner Productions Studios back on track to look more closely aligned with Gary’s vision. I was spending two days a week in the Long Island City location, and I know because I was part of the team that built it, but no other agency has what it is that we’ve built there. No other creative agency has that. Other separate production companies exist like RadicalMedia, they exist but they’re not owned by an agency to have that resource. That resource is right for probably 60% of what the agency does, maybe 70%, 30% of the time. The agency will still have to go outside to get what it needs to be done, but that studio was built in such a way that it could take direct-to-studio work and direct client relationships that fill the other 30% to 40% that’s not being filled by the agency. Clients love being there. They love seeing what we’ve done there and they get a real wow factor. Gary loves being there. He’s been spending more time there as well.

We talked a bit about not outsourcing with search firms. Do you guys use any partners or other companies to do any parts of the business for you?

We have an enormous partnership platform team. Think about all the platforms that we have to partner with, the Facebooks, the Snapchats, Instagram, Pinterest, the Googles of this world and the YouTubes. Oftentimes we become a preferred vendor relationship for them because there are so few. You go on the Amazon, we’re a preferred vendor of the Alexa Voice Skills build. We were one of the first approved agencies with an API into Snapchat’s advertising model. We have a wonderful working relationship with Facebook. We have a deep and broad partnership portfolio team.

How about remote employees, do you work with any remote employees? Do you have most of them working out of offices?

We have most working in our offices. I won’t say that we don’t. We’ve become an on-demand society. The days when I used to be able to go on vacation, shut things off and address it when I got back. We’re always up. You’re answering a text, you’re dealing with an email even from a remote vacation area. Our people can work from anywhere but we don’t have a work-from-home policy per se.

Are you guys an always-on company then?

We pride ourselves on that because this is why Gary sees this as the future of public relations. The days of, “I’m going to issue a press release and then I’ll react to things in the morning when I get back at my desk,” that’s not how it goes now. With social media, if somebody’s doing a number on your brand at 2:00 AM you want somebody reacting to that, not like at 9:00 the next morning, let’s get to that.

That’s got to be a huge cultural norm that you actually hire for them.

That’s why the average age of our employee is 27.

It’s interesting that you’ve got that heart-centered approach and that you care so much about the culture and yet at the same time you can build that always on organizations. It’s got to be a delicate balance because so many organizations in the media try to talk about the five-hour workday.

It’s not a delicate balance when you realize that that’s how society operates. We are always on that’s why Gary says he observes society. It’s hard if you’re going to try and make somebody something that they’re not. It’s very easy when you’re fitting. Why is it so collaborative here? Because these guys are used to collaborating in a college environment. They work four and five people together. They’re not worried about anybody stealing their idea or who gets credit for it. People ask me when they walk into Hudson Yard, “Why does it feel so different here? Why does this corporate environment feel different?” I say, “There are four or five offices and 600 people share their views.” If this were down in one of the other companies that I worked for, all the big wigs would have little corner offices and everybody else would sit in the dark center hole. That’s not the way it is. There’s an open floor plan not because they came from an office but because they don’t know any other way of working anyway.

Is it an open floor plan even for the senior executives as well?


What are your favorite technology tools that you guys are using internally then for Vayner?

We’re using Slack as a communications tool that we use I’ve been working with my studio people using the Marco Poloapp. It’s worked well for me because I told you I’m only there two days a week. When I’m not there, the other three, I need to feel face to face. It’s how I keep in touch with the people that run my London office, my LA office. It’s not to say I don’t visit there because I will. Those are some of the things that we’re finding useful but we haven’t walked away from text messaging either. I think that’s pretty unique for us and then we follow each other on all the social platforms too. It’s great to see what happens on the weekends on somebody’s Instagram account or with the Twitter hack of the day. I’m active on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

It’s interesting because you even made a couple of comments about some of the senior team and understanding who they were as individuals. It’s great to hear that as part of the culture. The last question I’ve got and this is more of a leadership tip for anyone aspiring to be in the second-in-command role or even any entrepreneur who wants to grow a great organization. What would be your strongest skill or leadership skill that you would want to pass on to somebody else?

SIC 17 | VaynerMedia

VaynerMedia: It’s hard to try and make somebody into something that they’re not.


Gary asked me, “Can you describe what you do in one sentence,” when we were having dinner for my interview. I said, “I take dreams and visions and I make them into action plans.” He was like, “You’re hired.” How did I become a Chief Operating Officer? I was sitting in the conference room with twelve people at Interbrand and then the North American president said, “Who in here has great ideas?” We all raised our hand and he was like, “Who in here can execute?” I raised my hand. After I was a publicly traded CEO, I read a book called Consiglieri: Leading From The Shadows by the name of Richard Hytner who used to work at Saatchi and it was about being a great number two.

I was like, “This is who I am.” I’m glad I played that number one role. I’m glad I could say we’re so few who can actually say that they were a CEO of a publicly-traded company but I did. I had a three-year contract for six and a half years but I know what I don’t want to be. Having played that role enables me to interact with Gary differently than the other employees here because there’s nobody else in these hallways who has played that role. There are times where he’s making a decision. I know how difficult and lonely that decision was and I might ping him and then say, “I thought you handled that well and I know how hard that was.” It’s a lonely position as a CEO.

It’s amazing that you get that. Thank you for sharing that. When I was the second-in-command for 1-800-GOT-JUNK, I considered that my role is to make Brian the CEO iconic and my role was to play in the shadows and be that. That’s a huge insight to be sharing. Thank you for that. James Orsini, thanks for being on the show. It’s great to hear from the chief behind the chief.

Thanks, Cameron. Thanks for having me.

I appreciate it.

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 About James Orsini

SIC 17 | VaynerMediaPresident working alongside serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck. Previously Chief Operating Officer for one of the largest independent social media digital advertising agencies. Former President and CEO who has served as Chief Financial/Operating Officer and CPA with nearly 30 years experience in Social and Mobile Media, Advertising, Brand Management, Public Relations and Wall Street. Provided proactive leadership utilizing corporate resources to deliver sustainable financial growth in highly competitive global and domestic arenas. Change agent demonstrating broad-based competencies in corporate restructuring, strategic planning, efficiency modeling, procurement, mergers and acquisitions, cash management and organizational development. Career foundation in Big 4 Public Accounting.


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