3 Principles That Will Make or Break Your Business

shadow of people helping each other

Building and growing a successful business is a very difficult thing to do. The truth is, most businesses will fail within the first three years. It is imperative that the culture of the company creates the best possible environment for success.

The three principles stated below are the same for any size company. It does not matter if you have two employees or 200, these principles do not change.

However, as you grow your staff, you must be creative to keep these principles alive. Remember, bureaucracy and negativity can damage a business.

It is important to understand that these three principles all work together to create a culture. If you fall short on any one of these, then all three will break down. These principles work together like a well-oiled machine. If you are weak in any area, then the machine will not function at a high level.

Of course, this is based upon the assumption that you have an in-demand product or service that is viable to the marketplace. In other words, if you’re selling VCRs, I can’t help you.

The three principles below will affect everything you do, and I do mean everything.

Principle 1. Effective Communication

When you see these two words you may think, well of course. But, and this is a big but, most people who think they communicate effectively fall short.

The most important part of communication is the art of listening. Great communicators are great listeners. You need to ask yourself and your employees “are you listening/understanding what is being communicated?” When someone is talking to you, are you thinking about what you want to say while they are speaking or are you intently listening, processing and then responding.

The word responding is important. There is a big difference between a reaction and a response.

A reaction usually means the person was not listening and will lead to communication breakdown. A reaction is usually emotional and not based on facts. When you get two or more people not listening and reacting, you now have a passive aggressive environment where productivity and problem solving will not function at a high level.

The only safe assumption when communicating is to assume the person knows nothing.

We live in a very complex business environment where technology is a huge part of business. Individual projects are a huge part of growth. Collective day-to-day emails, phone calls, conference calls and in-person meetings will ultimately determine the rise and or fall of your company.

Effective, detailed over-communication is vital in the new world of business.

When I first presented to the great business icon Red McCombs, the presentation was very simple with, for lack of a better term, “dumbed down basic details.” We came from the perspective that Mr. McCombs knew very little about the internet advertising industry.

I was a bit nervous before the presentation because I thought we might be insulting his intelligence. So, before we started, I told him that the presentation was full of simplified detail, and I hoped he would not be offended. I will never forget what he said to me that day. He simply said, “Jon, just present to me like I know nothing about your industry or company. A great author or presenter always assumes the audience knows nothing.”

While I know Mr. McCombs did not invent this philosophy, it has stuck with me to this day because it demands that you never assume somebody knows what you know. When you get very close to anything, it is easy to lose site of the fact that even people in your company may not have the same perspective as you. You must always share all details from your perspective for them to fully and completely understand where you are coming from. There is nothing wrong with over-communication of details from your perspective. It creates accountability for all parties.

FYI – Mr. McCombs knew more than we thought he did, but he was never offended or insulted by our presentation. In fact, he really appreciated the detailed over-communication.

Details have always been important to a business, but now a lack of detailed communication can severely damage a business or project. Especially with a startup.

Principle 2. Mutual Accountability

Of course, accountability in any organization is very important. However mutual accountability is not always practiced within a business.

Accountability is a two-way street. No matter your position in the company all parties must be accountable to each other.

Being the boss doesn’t mean that your words and actions are not accountable to the team you manage. In fact, the more you are accountable to the team, the easier it will be to hold them accountable. This builds trust, loyalty and long-term respect.

When a new employee comes aboard, it is always important to explain that when you say you’re going to do something you are going to do everything in your power to make your words come true. If for some reason, you cannot turn your words in to reality, you will let them know why immediately and come up with a solution. This goes in both directions; you will hold them accountable for doing their job and delivering positive results. In other words, we are both going to do our jobs at a high level and if either of us have an issue we will discuss it in a respectful, solution-driven manner.

Your employees need to know that your door is open for effective communication and mutual accountability.

Principle 3. Mutual Respect

Respect within an organization is earned. While many people may be motivated out of fear of a boss, that is not what I’m referring to. It is important to understand that I’m not referring to fear.

If all a boss offers is fear, then your only motivation is not getting fired. This type of motivation usually does not end up creating productivity. It creates an environment where you do just enough to keep your job and creates a political environment where individuals jockey for position while the overall company/team fails.

Most bosses are not respected for just being the boss. They are respected for bringing knowledge, judgement, experience and wisdom to the team. They are respected by taking care of the team members that are taking care of the company. This is true respect that will create loyalty and growth.

When talking to someone you do not respect, how productive is that conversation? Do you leave the room thinking negative thoughts pertaining to the task at hand getting done the right way? Of course, you do.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not about liking a co-worker on a personal level. This is about having respect for a teammate’s talent, productivity, work ethic and how they will help the company and you achieve goals.

I have had many people that I liked very much as a person, but they did not make the cut and vice-versa.

If true mutual respect does not exist among teammates, things will breakdown and you have the wrong team.

How these three principles work together as circular equation.

This is quite easy to understand.

Without mutual accountability, your organization will not have effective communication or mutual respect.

Without effective communication, your organization will not have mutual accountability or mutual respect.

Without mutual respect, your organization will not have mutual accountability or effective communication.

If you have any problem with operations or company culture, you will be able to tie it to one or more of these principles.

When all three of these principles are in place, and are being practiced by all team members, you will have a positive culture of highly productive individuals that work together for a common goal.


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November 7, 2023
Devin Monds
Head of EMEA Sales

Devin is a dedicated and experienced media sales professional with over 15 years in the digital media space in both North America and EMEA. He most recently headed up the International Team at Adludio, the premier advertising platform for delivering strong creative on mobile devices. Prior to his role at Adludio, Devin worked on the Global Brand Partnerships team at CAA Sports in London, and was International Sales Director at LoopMe where he built out the US West Coast Sales Team from Los Angeles. With a proven track record of new business development and revenue generation, Devin has a multitude of solid relationships with brands and agencies, globally.

He relishes the opportunity to engage with new clients on a daily basis, in order to identify tailored solutions that can drive their desired outcomes. Furthermore, he takes pride in his culinary skills, often experimenting with new recipes and delivering delectable results.

    Brad Quinn
    VP of Publisher Development

    Brad Quinn is the VP of Publisher Partnerships based out of our NYC office. He has over 15 years of experience across Agencies, Publishers and Tech. At KERV, Brad leads the Partnerships team focused on content providers and distributors. He integrates KERV’s tech capabilities across ads and content to create a real‑time interactive/shoppable experience.

    David Knight
    VP of Engineering

    Before joining KERV in 2018, David Knight spent over 31 years building software products for large corporations like IBM and Schlumberger, 3-person “garage” startups and everything in between. He’s spent the last 15 years discovering and refining the tools, development process, and necessary culture that create great Engineering teams capable of meeting the special demands of technology driven startups.

    Dan Bloomfield
    VP of Technical Ad Operations

    After spending time living in New York and working for NBC Universal’s first digital operations team Daniel moved to Austin in 2009 to further pursue ad tech. During the next decade, he built a career working on interactive video first for Sizmek and then Nexstar. He immediately jumped at the idea to work for KERV and was one of the first to join the company in 2017.

    Creed Pettit
    SVP, Head of Partnerships

    Creed Pettit is an entrepreneurial sales executive offering experience in all aspects of solutions selling, team management, negotiation, organizational leadership, go-to-market strategies and momentum driven models. Prior to joining KERV, Creed served as Media & Entertainment Vertical Sales Leader, Global Business Solutions at TikTok.

    Karen Germ
    VP of Marketing

    Karen Germ is a seasoned marketing and communications professional with a nearly 15‑year history serving in leadership roles across the advertising and technology landscape. Most recently, Karen served as OAAA’s VP of Marketing where she implemented industry leading initiatives to elevate and promote the power of OOH for advertisers, agencies, partners and consumers. 

    Ryan Schoenfeld
    VP of Digital Strategy

    Ryan Schoenfeld’s career started as an intern at a smaller digital media agency while attending the University of Texas. Since then, he has spent over 15 years working in the programmatic advertising/video space.

    Bill Roberson
    VP of Media

    Bill Roberson has worked in the digital space for over 17 years, spanning Media Buying, Ad Operations, Analytics and Optimization, Account Management and now Creative.

    Grant Gorton
    VP of Creative

    Grant has been with KERV as VP of Creative for over 5 years, and has worked as a designer and creative director at agencies and media companies for the last 17 years.

    Michael Fleischman

    Michael Fleischman serves as the CFO at KERV Interactive in addition to being an Executive Residence at Progress Partners, a Merchant Investment Bank and Venture Fund. Prior to KERV Interactive, Michael was the CFO and current Board Member at Digital Remedy, a privately-held media execution company supporting agencies, publishers, and brands in navigating the complex adtech landscape of digital success.

    Previous to Digital Remedy, Michael spent 20 years at Cablevision and Rainbow Media Holdings during which he was instrumental in the launch and management of multiple regional sports networks and a number of national cable networks including American Movie Classics, Bravo, The Independent Film Channel as well as the structuring of partnerships with companies including Liberty Media, NBC, Fox/NewsCorp, and MGM. 

    A native of the New York City area, Michael resides with his wife where he enjoys biking, tennis  and spending time with his wife and three adult children.

    Taylor Pate

    Taylor Pate serves as CTO at KERV Interactive. Taylor’s experiences in the advertising and creative industry spans 14. He began his career in 2008, working as a designer, animator and art director specializing in the design and production of interactive art. Early in his career, he created 3D character animations and tools for best-selling video game series The Sims while working at Edge of Reality, who developed video games for Nintendo 64, GameCube, PlayStation and Xbox.

    In 2012, Taylor made the shift to work in-house at an online advertising and media services agency, LIN Digital, where he was promoted multiple times in a four-year span. He worked on a variety of online, interactive projects for clients while also developing and automating internal tools and processes. Taylor then spent the next two years working as the director of engineering at multi-platform digital media company HYFN Local, a division of multi-billion-dollar corporation Nexstar Digital LLC.

    Jay Wolff

    Jay Wolff serves as Chief Revenue Officer at KERV Interactive, leading global revenue and partnerships, in addition to being the Executive Vice President of 212 NYC, New York’s leading organization for the digital advertising industry. 

    Jay’s expertise in revenue and partner growth in the advertising industry spans 19 years. Most recently, Jay served as CRO of Varick Media, and Chief Growth Officer at Boostr, the first end-to-end SaaS revenue management system for media companies. Previously, as Regional Vice President of SambaTV, Wolff built the revenue organization and east coast market from the ground up. 

    Prior to joining SambaTV, Wolff served as Vice President of agency and brand partnerships at PulsePoint; instrumental to the merger of ContextWeb and Datran Media.

    Jay holds a BS in Marketing from Syracuse University and a Certificate of Management from the University of Chicago. He resides in Rye Brook, NY with his wife and daughter, Olivia. 

    Dan Bienenfeld

    Before co‑founding KERV in 2017, Dan Bienfeld spent the previous 35 years founding six start‑ups in various verticals such as publishing, licensing, med‑tech and ad‑tech. Within these companies, he enjoyed two meaningful exits, which provided him with the ability to continue his passion as an entrepreneur. 

    Aside from bringing together ‘Rock Star Talent,’ his main focus has been raising over $50M, primarily for the startups identified above, as well as creating strategic partnerships. Currently he lives in Westlake Village, CA with his wife and two kids. In addition to his entrepreneurial journey, he also enjoys working out, traveling and an addiction to sushi.

    Gary Mittman

    Gary Mittman brings more than 30 years of experience in technology and direct marketing, as well as substantial experience in building startups to exit with creativity and agile development. Before starting KERV, he held numerous top‑ranking leadership roles, including Founder & President of Nami Media (which was acquired by Lin Media/Nexstar Media Group), CEO & Founder of Marina Communications (also acquired), and Vice President of New Business Development, Direct Response at Western International Media (now Initiative Media).

    Gary also brings a decade of experience in the entertainment industry, including managing all booking for New York City’s premiere performance night club, The Ritz, as its Executive Manager and Booking Agent, Executive Producer of the MTV concert series ‘Live At The Ritz’, a Professional Manager at Chappell Music Publishing, and started out as an Assistant to legendary Clive Davis at Arista Records.

    Andi Fenster

    Andi Fenster went into the profession of Human Resources 30 years ago, because she believed from a young age that the way you treat your employees is what you get out of them. Her goal as an HR professional has been to help create the type of work environments that inspire folks to want to come to work. She is also a Management/Leadership/Career Coach and her focus is optimizing humans focusing on the mind‑body connection. 

    “We, each, have tremendous potential and the abilities to level‑up if we choose to understand how to get the support we need to get us there. Helping talent thrive and helping them create success is my reason for doing what I do.”

    Marika Roque
    COO & Chief Innovation Officer

    Marika Roque is a top expert in digital media, data and organizational infrastructures recognized with over 15 years of professional leadership experience. Previous to KERV, Marika worked as the vice president of digital operations for Mass2, a division of multi-billion-dollar corporation Nexstar Digital LLC. Prior to Mass2, Marika served as vice president of digital media activation at LIN Digital.

    Marika has held senior-level positions for leading advertising agencies in the Austin, Texas area including Sizmek and GSD&M. She also spent years in Chicago working for FCB Global and Starcom MediaVest Group. While at Starcom, Marika was recognized for her involvement in the creation of the first agency-side programmatic pipelines and what the industry now refers to as an agency trading desk.

    Marika holds a Bachelor’s in Advertising from The University of Texas at Austin, which she achieved while also participating as a former D1 collegiate athlete.