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DMN 40Under40 2018: TJ Leonard, CEO, Storyblocks

This year’s group of DMN 40Under40 winners have a few things in common. Well yes, they’re under 40. Also they have a proven track record of marketing excellence and leadership, whether they’re in roles supporting global brands, or leading their own thriving start-ups. Over the next few weeks, you’ll get to know our winners, and what they’ve accomplished.

TJ Leonard is the CEO of Storyblocks, a resource for stock photo, video, and audio assets.

What has been your proudest career accomplishment to date?

The moments I’m most proud of tend not to be press worthy. I love it when, without asking, someone contributes “magic time” (a.k.a nights and weekends) to help a coworker deliver against a deadline, and those quiet celebrations that take place week to week. As part of the Washington D.C. tech community, we were humbled to be selected as one of Washington’s “50 Greatest Places to Work.” In some ways, that award acknowledged many years of those type of moments.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to future 40Under40 honorees? 

Only you can define what it means to be successful. Perhaps the hardest part about being a leader in the digital world (and this is particularly true for marketers) is that everything is measurable. It is cliche (and true) to say that you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Always try to find a way to measure it, but never sacrifice your intuition along the way. And as easy as it is, avoid the trap of assigning your self worth to your company’s KPIs. Goals are essential, but we are much better leaders if we look beyond the dashboard. This means working hard to understand, and invest in things that are hard to measure. Whether that’s your team’s development, your own health, or critical moments in your customers’ journey.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years? 

The way people use stock media (and digital content in general) to tell stories is changing faster than ever as more and more of us take an active role in content creation. We’ve done our job well if we have helped to level the playing field for all storytellers, ensuring that limited resources don’t become synonymous with limited vision. We think the old way of buying stock is broken, and today’s creatives want beautiful content at reasonable prices, with flexible distribution, and licensing anyone can understand. We we have a new model that’s tailor-made for today’s creators that we believe will become the new standard for stock media over the next five years.

What is one interesting fact about you that few people know? 

The first job I ever interviewed for was, unbeknownst to me, door to door sales. I can still remember the pitch for BBQ coupons.

Click here to learn more about the DMN 40Under40 Awards. 

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