Carat Convos: TS Kelly, SVP Head of Impact, Carat US

“There are a lot of different attributes and approaches towards management and leadership, but I think successful leadership requires humility and respect at the core.”

How did your career start out in media?
I started in radio spot sales. For a good part of those years I was head of research for Clear Channel. One really learns what it means to sell when you’re in radio. I’ve also worked on the vendor side and the buy side a few times. Through it all, you’re always selling. So, I do look at my time in radio as a great place to start one’s career. I feel very fortunate.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in their career?
Always stay curious. You’re going to be in situations throughout your career where there will be people much smarter than you. It’s okay. Just assume there’s always someone smarter than you in the room and be prepared for that. Constantly read the trades and books. Read Al Rees & Jack Trout’s, 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. I also suggest reading Peter Drucker, a favorite of mine, and Katie Payne’s Measure What Matters.

What would you say makes a great leader?
There are a lot of different attributes and approaches towards management and leadership, but I think successful leadership requires humility and respect at the core. When I think of what it takes to effectively work and support a team, I try and see the role and responsibilities through their eyes. I try to understand what they’re going through to get work done. Quoting Peter Drucker, “management is about doing things right, leadership is about doing the right things.”

What do you think helps drive a culture of collaboration and innovation?
Though I’ve only been here about nine weeks, I was involved in new business right from the start. The collaboration I both witnessed and experienced — it was palpable. Working on a team, I try and promote a similar feeling of sharing and collaborating in any way possible. Rewarding it. When I think of what sharing means, to me it’s about giving up every brain cell within and throwing it out there. When I see colleagues uncomfortable in that type of dynamic, I always wonder why — because when you’re sharing, it’s not a one-way street. You get so much more back in return. While I try to elevate the ability to share in small ways, it starts with myself. Hopefully from my own example, I can get the whole team on board.

How do you spend your free time?
Well, I love New York City. It’s a great place to live. I live close to the park, so I can easily get some running in, plus lots of reading and writing. In addition, I’m decent at baking and we have a cat. Just recently my wife taught him how to ring a bell. So, reading, writing, running, cooking and bell ringing.

What is one movie you could watch 100x over?
Willy Wonka, 1971, early Gene Wilder. The movie, even as a child, taught me there are different, unconventional ways of getting things done. For example, I used to love the Lego sets that didn’t have directions. It was more fun breaking with convention; Willy Wonka always reminds me of that.

What do you look forward to the most in the next 6 months?
I think this company is very diverse when it comes to skills and leadership. In fact, I’d argue Carat’s Impact team, between skills and background, is one of the most diverse within our organization. We have data scientists, data analysts, visualization experts, as well account people. They’re all storytellers, all in different ways. In the months ahead, I’d like the Impact team to take their place right alongside our wonderful Strategy, Insights and Innovation folks. In that respect, I’ll be looking at their efforts to be inspired by the many successful ways they interact with the account teams and directly with clients and then build on that.

From an Impact team perspective, the next six months will be about empowering our clients and account teams through knowledge and data. We’ll do it in three specific ways — focusing on quality, performance and knowledge building. Quality is at the foundation from a data and process perspective. Ensuring data quality helps build trust in everything else we do to help brands achieve their business objectives. On top of that is performance, building out new tools and metrics that maximize the value of our client’s media investments. Then, the capstone is knowledge. That’s where performance stories unfold, internally through education and best practices and externally, producing bylines, reports and other forms of thought leadership.


Biggest role model? My mom. She taught me self-reliance from the beginning. If I wanted a new computer, I had to earn it… so I was mowing lawns from sixth grade onwards. On the business side, it’s Peter Drucker. Always inspiring.

Favorite city in the world? Tokyo. I’ve been there about a dozen times. It’s 10 million people — while slightly larger than New York, they’re crammed into a much smaller space. Awesome restaurants, immaculate metro, and really good baseball.

Favorite baseball team? Mets.

Favorite baseball player of all time? He retired earlier this year, Ichiro. When he came over from Japan in 2001, the league was all about home run records. But here he was, going about his business, hitting singles and doubles nearly every day. A guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer.

Favorite social platform? Real life. Just face to face. If you’re going to push me into a corner and talk about ones and zeros, likely LinkedIn. However, I still prefer real life.

Favorite video game? Time Pilot, Dig Dug, Galaxian and other coin-op machines. I loved going to arcades. So, when you watch Wreck-it Ralph, I lived in places like that growing up.

Best piece of content recently consumed? I had the opportunity just this past week to see Ad Astra. A film like that has to be seen on IMAX. It’s a big canvas movie. Though the storyline was good, father — son dynamics similar to Apocalypse Now, the visuals were absolutely stunning.

Favorite song or artist you’ve been listening to lately? Hans Zimmer. That may be a little obscure for some. However, if you’ve seen any Chris Nolan films such as Dark Knight, Inception or Interstellar, you’d recognize his music. When I’m in left brain versus right brain mode for writing or creating PowerPoint decks, I usually put on some Hans Zimmer. That gets the whole brain going so I can work. So, a lot of Hans Zimmer lately.

One thing people should know about you, but they don’t? Just a fanatical baseball fan between the stats and the slow pace of the game. However, last year was the first year in history there were more strikeouts than hits, plus league batting averages are trending down. So presently, I don’t think the game is as interesting as it was just even a few years ago. Another reason why I like Tokyo is the style of baseball there. It’s station to station, full team effort, National League style play.

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