As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jerry Hug.
Jerry Hug is the CEO of AiAdvertising, an advertising technology company offering innovative solutions through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data science. He has spent a career in reinventing companies, architecting, and executing transformations, as well as overseeing successful acquisitions and NASDAQ National Market Listings. Hug is a visionary with a knack for deeply understanding how to pivot company operations to align with the vision of the future. Heis an experienced leader and has served as CEO with SITO Mobile, Co-founder and President of Waveyard Development LLC, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer of Wireless Retail Inc., and was interim CFO leading up to its sale to Radio Shack Corporation, as well as Managing Partner of Redwood Partners.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I have always been enamored by the opportunity to lead and build a scalable successful business. I was first given that opportunity seven years ago with Sito Mobile. As a first-time CEO of a public company, the experience I gained during my tenure with the company was invaluable. More importantly, the lessons I learned there have definitely helped shape the type of leader I am today.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We spent the last two years looking at ALL types of AI-enabled solutions in the digital marketing ecosystem. What stood out to us is that most, if not all, of the companies we looked at were focused on one component of the tech stack. It was then that we decided to “think bigger” and be the first to develop a unified cloud-based solution that integrates each phase of the advertising process that leverages the latest technology to continue to learn and improve. We want marketers to be able to provide their impact on the bottom line and this is how the Campaign Performance Platform was born.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Instead of a traditional mentor, I’d like to share how I have definitely been influenced by Kevin Plank, the founder, and CEO of Under Armour. My cousin and Kevin were roommates at the University of Maryland and they were both on the football team. I had a front-row seat from the time they launched the company. Kevin created the category of moisture-wicking apparel because until then, athletes wore t-shirts under their uniforms that became drenched with sweat. I will never forget the day that Jeff George appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing Under Armour and the brand exploded. Watching him navigate the company from selling a single product to a diversified, global, sports apparel brand has been a true inspiration for me.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Yes, disruption is for the most part associated with positive change. There are very few industries or sectors that have not been disputed and withstood the test of time. Conversely, when you look at the enormous amount of categories that have been disrupted — where the ultimate beneficiary is the consumer or buyer — it is always a good thing. Disruptive solutions that enable efficiency by eliminating waste or “middlemen” in any business ecosystem have proven to be very valuable businesses. Categories such as stock trading, real estate, travel, and rideshare have all been radically disrupted, and the clear winner has been the consumer.
Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Here are five of my favorite quotes that I have amassed over time — I keep them on my phone and read them often:
- “Ego is nothing more than overdressed insecurity.”
- Trust is not given, it’s earned.
- Lead or get out of the way.
- The devil is always in the details.
- “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” — Bob Marley
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We have a lot of work ahead of us. In the coming weeks, you can expect to hear a number of exciting developments in and around key new hires, product development, and new client wins. We will also continue to focus on our Campaign Performance Platform, through which marketing investments are connected to sales revenues.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
I am a huge Michael Lewis fan. I have read most of his books, listen to Against the Rules, which is his podcast, and loved the movie The Big Short.
He is a gifted storyteller and what I love about him is his ability to break down very complex issues and explain them, whether in writing, on air, or on the big screen, in a way that they become entertainment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Learn to deal with the valleys, and the hills will take care of themselves.”
This is easier said than done. Each of us is shaped by the culture of our upbringing and each person’s upbringing is more complicated than you might think.
Life is a series of peaks and valleys, highs and lows, ups and downs, and as I have gotten older, I work hard to remind myself to not let the lows keep me down and don’t let the highs go to my head
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to inspire a movement that encourages people to be kinder to one another. We come in all shapes and sizes, colors, and beliefs — I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t take a lot to make someone’s day. Give someone a compliment, hold the door open for a few people, buy the next person in line a cup of coffee, and pay the toll for the car behind you… a little can go a long way to make someone smile and feel special. Perhaps we call this the “Surprise & Delight” movement!
How can our readers follow you online?
- Website: AiAdvertising.com
- Twitter: @Go_AiAd
- LinkedIn: /company/go-aiad
- Facebook: /GoAiAd
- Instagram: /go_aiad
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!