Sharon Massey, CBS
What got you into this business in the first place?
“My dad, in quite a circuitous way, was a big influence. When my brothers and I were growing up, he worked for a major oil company and was always quizzing us about taglines when we were kids to see if we could identify the brand. He made a game out of it. Something about that just engaged me.”
Who was a big influence in your career?
“In my early years in broadcasting, all my managers were great mentors and taught me a lot. They didn’t micromanage our days and hours and we were left alone to figure out how to get the work done. They believed in their employees and gave each of us enough rope to hang ourselves. That freedom allowed for a lot of creativity and the development of self-discipline. We weren’t expected to be clones but were appreciated for the individuality each team member brought to the whole.There was a lot of amazing and creative talent on the air and a big emphasis on community involvement. It was special just to be part of it. You worked hard and made things happen because you wanted to be there. I developed the confidence to just keep doing the right thing day after day and know the rest would follow.”
“Another person who was a big influence on my career was a woman named Edith Whaley. Edith was a legend. She didn’t hesitate to tell you she was the Media Empress. I was lucky as a rookie to work with her in my early years in radio when media agencies were in their infancy. I learned a lot from her strategic and technical approach but also from her personal style. She paid attention. She always knew what was going on. She was fair. She was gracious. And she always treated people with dignity.”
What was “your finest moment,” the thing you’re most proud of?
“I had the opportunity to be part of a committee that founded SAFE, the San Diego Advertising Fund for Emergencies. That organization has helped people from all aspects of the advertising business in times of life crisis.”
Is there a great client story you’d care to share?
“A more general one. I can remember early in my career having a conversation with someone who worked on the McDonald’s account who said they didn’t have a large enough budget to be everywhere they needed to be. I remember thinking, gosh, where does that leave everyone else? It gave me perspective. Over subsequent years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with clients, some not having McDonald’s sized budgets, who grew by creating smart strategic plans and sticking to it. And they had the good sense to know that building a brand and a business is not a sprint, but a marathon.”
Do you have a method for coming up with ideas and solutions for clients?
“I don’t have a particular method or approach, but I’ve learned that I can’t force ideas and solutions. Generally, I try to immerse myself and learn everything I can about the client and their situation. Big download or upload of information and data. And then I let it simmer. Usually an idea just bubbles up when I’m in the middle of something completely unrelated.”
What driving career goals do you still have?
“I would like to write a screenplay. Not an original one, but based on a favorite book I would like to adapt. It’s an old book, a classic, but a story that’s timeless and worth telling to a broader audience.”
What talent do you wish you had?
“Words and pictures. I love fabulous copy, but I wasn’t born with the skill to string words together in compelling ways. I would also would love to have had the talent or training to be a graphic designer. I am crazy about fonts. I can seriously go down a rabbit hole with fonts. It’s probably a good thing I had a fine arts teacher who told me I couldn’t draw. I don’t think she was completely right, but nevertheless, I probably ended up on the side of the business where I belong.”
If you had to live on a desert island, what would you miss most?
“A library. And using my iPad to read. Assuming that all the tech toys are not going to work there.”
What frustrates you the most?
“Fear, in myself and others. I force myself to jump in to something completely new from time to time to keep things on the edge a bit.”
What was growing up like for you?
“My family moved all the time when I was growing up. Life in corporate America during that era. One never got the chance to get bored with any particular location because we were always moving on to another city. It was very hard to leave friends behind, but my siblings and I certainly learned how to adapt to different environments, and most importantly, how to make friends.”
What’s your favorite TV program?
“I would say I find most of my favorites within Masterpiece or Masterpiece Mystery, or Netflix. More a genre rather than a show. Love the historical period pieces like Downton Abbey, The Crown, or Wolf Hall or the John Adams series from HBO. Anything from Jane Austen or Dickens, their use and command of language I find completely entertaining. And I’ve really enjoyed the series Endeavor, an extension of the Morse and Inspector Lewis franchises.”
What do you for a good time when you’re not working?
“My favorite pastime when I’m not with family or friends is reading. I was one of those kids who hid a flashlight under the bed and would take it under the blankets with me at night to read. My mom was on to me, but eventually she just left me alone if I got up for school without an issue. Cold winters in the Midwest gave us a lot of time indoors which I filled with books. I also enjoy hiking and long walks, especially with good friends and conversation. And entertaining when time allows.”
What was college like for you?
“Hard not to love college. I experienced incredible leadership and creative opportunities which probably were as valuable to me as all the lectures and book learning. I completely enjoyed living in a large sorority house with lots of women with a very broad mix of personalities. Incredible drama with accompanying tears but wonderful companionship and loads of laughter.”
What are your favorite internet sites?
“I like to visit Real Clear Politics, an aggregator, to easily be able to find what multiple voices are discussing about the news of the day. Love the app Goodreads to keep track of books I want to read as well as those I have, and research others. And all kinds of other sites which I use for research.”