Zach’s Story Part 2: How MGMT Digital Was Created

Zach’s Story Part 2: How MGMT Digital Was Created

This blog is a part of a series presented to you by the MGMT staff. Since we spend so much of our time working and wearing our business hats, we thought it’d be fun to open up a bit and get personal.

When I was leaving treatment, it felt like I was walking through a big open door of endless possibilities. I was simply loving life. The sky was really blue, the palm trees were really tall and I noticed every part of it. Addiction professionals describe this time as ‘riding the pink cloud’, and man, I was riding it.

I’d love to say that’s when my fairytale ending began and my life has been smooth sailing ever since, but I can’t. In hindsight, my life has infinitely grown bigger and bigger throughout every stage of my sobriety, but there were some dark, dark moments in there; and it’s important to talk about them.

Assessing the Situation

It was an interesting time learning that the drugs weren’t necessarily my problem, and that when I stopped doing them, all my problems would magically go away. My problem is and has always been me, and it wasn’t going to take just a couple of months of talking to a therapist to resolve twenty three years of my existence on earth. 

Fortunately (and others may disagree that this was fortunate) I was introduced to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not going to get into too much detail about twelve step programs, but my path was choosing to do the work, which gave me my solution. On top of this solution members of AA love to talk about, I made friends – great ones. That’s how I met Danny, the tall, charming Irish redhead from Brooklyn, NY. I’m not sure if it was because we were both from New York, or spent our college years in South Florida,  or both active members of Alcoholic Anonymous, or all the above, but we became inseparable best friends.

Everything Happens for a Reason

Danny and I spent a lot of our time together, and even became roommates. We were sober, ambitious guys working in the addiction treatment industry – life was good. Just like me, Danny came out to California to get sober after living in South Florida for some time. Dreaming big, Danny and I always had long conversations about owning a business together. We would spew out ideas, discuss our passions, explain our strengths, and eventually, circle back to what made the most sense. 

Danny talked about his life in Florida. Back in the sunshine state, he worked at a digital marketing agency. Our conversations about owning a business quickly shifted to digital marketing and the treatment industry. So, where was the missing link? How could we take our experience in the treatment industry, Danny’s experience in digital marketing, and combine the two worlds we were passionate about into addiction treatment marketing? How could we also do this with no savings and no investment?

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The Beginning of MGMT

Fuck it, it didn’t really matter was the consensus. Like I said, we were young, sober and determined. If we wanted it bad enough, which we did, we could. We both agreed, we would make it happen.

So, in addition to the best friend and roommate friendship, Danny and I became business partners as well. For the next few months, the two of us stayed up late, creating what became MGMT Digital, a boutique digital marketing agency, all the while maintaining the jobs we had at the time. 

During this time, Danny mentioned that his coworker from the marketing agency he worked at in South Florida was now living in California too. He tried describing Steph, which is a difficult task because she’s pretty much indescribable, but he would use words like brilliant and genius. We invited Steph over, who was currently working at a large marketing agency, and told her everything about what was then the beginning of MGMT, and our behavioral health marketing dream. I’m not exactly sure how far we were in this development stage, but Steph was in. After landing her dream job at this large agency, she quickly realized that it wasn’t a dream after all. 

Passionate about helping others, the three of us collectively discussed how we would use the skills we had to do good and create change. At the time (which hasn’t changed much), the treatment industry had a dark side with a lot of gray area, and unethical practices taking place. Right there, we came up with our mission, which remains today, to be an ethical solution in the treatment industry.

Addiction IS a Disease

Fast forward to when we landed our first client, it was an incredible time for us. We were proud and excited. We were really doing this. 

A few days later, Danny lost his life to this disease that we’re constantly battling. I couldn’t really understand why, especially when it seemed everything was going so well. We shared the same excitement creating MGMT, and the same excitement when we got our first client. I realized that the why doesn’t matter, and that the disease doesn’t care about anything at all. I also realized that my life would be significantly different, and I wouldn’t have what I have today without my best friend Danny. 

The day Danny passed, my life and MGMT Digital took on a different meaning. While the MGMT mission remains the same, I made it my personal mission to continue building our dream.

Nicole’s Story: Marketing with a Mission

Nicole's Story: Marketing with a Mission

Hi there! I’m Nicole, the Junior SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Manager here at MGMT Digital. Since I’m new here, I wanted to share my story, and the motivation that brought me to MGMT.

A Little About Me...

Just a small town girl…” I grew up in a small town called Truckee by Lake Tahoe, California. My childhood and teen years were mostly spent learning to ski, skiing, and teaching people how to ski. Not a bad life at all. There wasn’t a lot of TV watching in my house, but there was a whole lot of mountain biking and camping. My favorite saying is, “dirt don’t hurt”. But, how the hell did a little Jewish woman from a tiny town in the middle of nowhere become a marketing manager in LA? I’ll get to that in a bit.

I moved to Long Beach for college, trying to expose myself to the exact opposite of where I grew up, and was immediately immersed in new opportunities. I studied abroad twice, and ended up traveling to 11 countries during that time. While in Thailand, I had the opportunity to help build a school for stateless children in a very rural part of Chang Rai. This experience changed my life, and I realized my true passion was volunteering and helping others, and that I would not be completely fulfilled without this being a part of my career.

How I Got Into the World of Marketing

While I did major in marketing during my undergrad, universities do not prepare you for modern marketing. The world of marketing these days is no longer the traditional billboard style of marketing that it used to be. A huge chunk of marketing today is actually just trying to get Google to obey your wishes so your website is shown when people search your industry. And boy, do I love it. 

I got an internship at a large digital marketing firm during my third year of college, and managed to score a part-time job while I finished up school. I worked my TAIL off to graduate in 3 and a half years, while trying to keep up with the competitive environment of my new job. I was the youngest one there by far, one of few women, and the only one still in school, so I had to work twice as hard for them to take me seriously. While this job caused me a ridiculous amount of anxiety and stress, and completely consumed my life for a year and a half, I am very grateful for it. I learned a lot about SEO, marketing, interpersonal relationships, myself and my capabilities.

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How I Ended Up at MGMT / Why I Work With These Crazy (Awesome) People

Like so many others, I was laid off at the end of March, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the states. At first, I was devastated. However, I soon realized that my job loss had to have happened for a reason and that this opened up a lot of new opportunities for me. I could finally find a job that combined my two passions: marketing and helping people.

So, when Steph, our Director of Digital Strategy & Operations, reached out to me over Linkedin, and asked “This is random but do you have any experience with substance abuse treatment and mental health marketing?”, I said no but SIGN ME UP. 

A few things I have learned from working at MGMT Digital so far:

  1. Using my skills for a good cause, to help people find the treatment they need, is SO fulfilling.
  2. Working with a team that cares so deeply about their work and about the world is very motivating.
  3. Work doesn’t always have to be stressful, it can be really fun!

My Future Plans

I love what I do. I love the creativity, the strategy, the fast-paced environment, and the people. I am definitely someone who wants to do anything and everything in life, including going to every country, and living in a few. Luckily, this career is very easy to work remote with, so I just might be able to!

Above all, though, I want to continue my passion for helping people. Eventually, I would love to start a nonprofit organization to help girls have access to education in underdeveloped countries. No matter what, my goal is to continue marketing with a mission.