Baseball, Star Wars, and a Beat Up Furby: Dan Sykora Member Spotlight

Showcasing the professionals of The Thuzio Executive Club

For today’s edition of the Member Spotlight, we spoke with Chicago member Dan Sykora of WHOSAY, an influence marketing agency that powers marketing campaigns for brands.

To start off, can you offer some insights into what your company does and your day to day role

I joined WHOSAY 6 months ago and we are an influencer content marketing company. We create branded content for marketers using influencers from all walks of life from A-list Hollywood stars like Alec Baldwin to professional athletes, to mommy-bloggers. We’re a full-service company so we handle all aspects of the advertising process. We work with our advertisers and look to really understand what they are trying to accomplish from creative ideation, talent casting, production, and content distribution. One key differentiator for us is that we take a brand first approach, which means we represent the best interest of the brand as opposed to representing the interest of talent, distribution channels, or media properties. We’re completely agnostic.

Dan, second from the left in both pictures, at previous Thuzio events in Chicago

Influencer marketing has become a huge buzzword in the marketing space, what has changed most in your industry over the last couple of years?

The industry is crowded, it’s muddy. There are a lot of companies out there who do a ton of different things in the influencer space. One thing we know is that influencer marketing is powerful. People respond when there is a voice behind a message, even when that voice is ‘advertising’ in nature.

The big thing that has changed is that there is a real need for regulation, there’s a real need for some sort of policy or best practices that advertisers should follow. We’ve heard a lot of things in the industry with influencer programs that have gone bad. I think what we’re finding at WHOSAY is that we have a number of ‘best practices’ that we have developed from our experience running over 300 campaigns. The big thing that has changed is that it is here to stay, but it’s been a wild west show so we need more standards and regulation in the industry.

How has Thuzio itself and the influencer focused events we host serve as a tool for you and your team?

When I joined Thuzio 3 years ago, I was in a different type of marketing. Now being a part of WHOSAY, there is a strong correlation between what we do and the excitement of Thuzio and the use of influencers to get people excited to do something different.

“The core premise of what I love about Thuzio is that they provide a completely different type of experience. There’s nothing more exciting than engaging a client and connecting on a more personal level. Giving a client the chance to meet their childhood hero or someone that they came of age watching, seeing that person take a photo or engage in a one-on-one conversation with an individual that they idolized, there’s nothing more powerful than that.”

What’s cool about Thuzio is they not only bring in power names, but they bring in people who are also colorful personalities like Ozzie Guillen or Pete Rose, just people that have really unique stories, interact with the audience, and overall people that leave memorable impressions on guests.

What are some of your core business philosophies?

Two things: integrity and honesty.

Nowadays, when things move so quickly, people have less time to engage in their relationships. It’s important to always do the right thing and not take short cuts. Always taking a ‘work hard’ mentality, being honest, and treating people with kindness to me is how I’m able to create valuable relationships with people and why I’ve been able to excel in my career.

If you are going to have any sort of sustainability, your reputation is going to follow you. If you move around from one company to another, it’s going to catch up with you. You want to be known as a reliable, honest, and trustworthy person.

What advice would you give your 22 year old self?

Go for it. Don’t limit yourself. Don’t be timid due to fear or hesitation.

Be respectful and kind, but be willing to state an idea and stand by it. As a younger professional, that is something that may have held me back, being shy and timid.

What has been your favorite Thuzio event to date?

We all have key clients that we want to get outside of the work environment at some point. Last year, I had this key client who is typically hard to get out and it’s hard to grab her attention. I found out that she was a Notre Dame football fan and I invited her to the Notre Dame/Michigan rivalry event last year with Rocket Ismail and Jarrod Bunch.

The moment she stepped foot into the restaurant, she was in Notre Dame heaven. John Turnbull of Thuzio was able to grab her and introduce her directly to Rocket and she lit up with excitement. Turns out, when she was in high school and deciding to attend Notre Dame, he was one of her heros. Simply having the opportunity for her to not have to talk business and not have to hear my pitch, but to go to an event that was on topic for what she loves I was able to get her out when my other colleagues had been unsuccessful.

Even now, she’s moved on to another company, but whenever I reach out to her we always go back and forth about that event.

What is the most unique object on your desk or in your office?

I have sports and baseball stuff, Star Wars stuff that my girls have given me. But, the one thing that I have that I cannot throw away is a beat up old Furby.

It reminds me of when my twin daughters, who are almost 13 now, were little and almost serves as a memory for a point of time that was filled with pureness for me. When I think about my life and career, for some reason the old Furby holds true value.


Thuzio Executive Club is a national membership organization consisting of business professionals who leverage our events to boost their relationships with clients & prospects while networking with fellow members.

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