One of the most important aspects about strategic planning is asking thought-provoking questions to better understand the drivers of human behavior. For Ted Roumanis, Planning Director at Trisect, some unique experiences and a general curiosity of the world around him has shaped how he approaches advertising today.
As a first-generation American of Greek immigrants, Ted learned some very important lessons early on in life — work hard, be nice and keep your eyes wide open because somebody might need their beer mug refilled.
He’s a part of the traditional Greek-immigrant story: parents arrive in the United States and settle in a small college town hoping to provide a brighter future for their children. Along the way, they start a successful restaurant, raise a family, make education a priority, and ultimately send both of their kids off to college.
“It’s funny, the last thing my parents wanted me to do was to go into the restaurant business. Little did I know, working in advertising is not that different from working in a restaurant.”
At the age of 10, he started working weekends busing tables and serving food to hungry college students. As a teenager, he made the restaurant a daily hangout because he found every day to be a learning opportunity. “It’s funny, the last thing my parents wanted me to do was to go into the restaurant business. Little did I know, working in advertising is not that different from working in a restaurant.”
Whether it was listening to the philosophical conversations his Greek uncles had with professors during coffee hour or observing how pizza toppings could spark or squash the potential of a second date, the restaurant business fueled real life experience no classroom could have replicated.
It was at Michigan State University where Ted discovered advertising as a career opportunity. He was drawn to it because it provided an opportunity to continue the observation of human behavior but also met “the family’s” goal of pursuing a “traditional job in corporate America.”
At his first agency job, a manager gave him David Ogilvy’s iconic book “Ogilvy on Advertising”, wherein Ogilvy compares the advertising business to the restaurant business. In the book, Ogilvy draws a parallel between the creatives and the chefs and the waiters as the account people.
“It’s just ironic. I read that book after I entered advertising. But, I still can’t figure out who the account planners are in the restaurant. I think they’re probably the bartenders because they will sit and listen to everyone’s story.”
Outside of advertising, Ted finds that his curiosity about politics and pop culture leads him to question the very nature of the world as we know it.
“We should be asking ourselves why do people react the way they do to certain things… Why do we feel this way about Caitlyn Jenner? Why is Chicago America’s most violent city and why doesn’t anybody know about it? Why is there a Greek debt crisis in the first place and why did those ‘lazy Greeks’ vote OXI (NO)?”
Asking “why” makes for good conversation and if you ask it enough times it eventually illuminates a solution — in real life and in advertising life.
-This has been a Between Two Interns update with Ryan Parker and Max Braun
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Trisect is an Independent advertising agency with over 140 people across our two offices in Chicago and Los Angeles. Simply put, we are a change agency. As one of the country’s fastest growing independent shops, we help brands navigate a constantly changing marketplace, adapt and win. We listen harder. Collaborate better. And infuse business with exhilaration.