Today’s social media climate rewards those who act and react quickly. Luckily, Paradowski account supervisor Matt Salanik prefers moving at a speed that would give Sonic the Hedgehog a run for his money.
“Specifically, I love how fast-paced social media is. That's why I work in advertising—because it’s always changing. And I think social media changes more than anything. You have to keep up with the times, and it's not the same thing every day. I mean, you can’t just put the same exact post on social media twice.”
Matt was raised in Swansea, Illinois—just over the river from St. Louis. (Not Belleville, to be clear.) He believes he inherited his work ethic from his father, a house painter who taught Matt its value by example.
“He was just a great dad. I worked for him one summer, and it was exhausting and just made me appreciate everything he did and how good we have it in advertising. To be able to do that for 30 years and own your own business takes one hell of a work ethic.”
Though his father passed away a couple of years ago, Matt proudly lives out the value system his dad instilled in him with a smile on his face.
“He had a lot of pride in what he did. And if he can do it and get through it, there's no reason any of us can't get through whatever work issues we have. We're just fortunate to work in the industry we do.”
Matt’s dad used to tease him for how easy he has it in advertising—regular, happy hours and complimentary snacks are easy targets, apparently. But the tenacious approach Matt brings to his position is far from leisurely.
“If you're sitting on your hands at work, there’s probably something you can be doing. You could be helping out a coworker. You could be thinking of the client's business. It's account service 101. You want to make sure your clients are okay at all times. You're never standing still, and you're never really satisfied with anything.”
Is Matt maybe a bit intense? Yes. But does that make him productive in ways I can only dream? Bigger yes.
But that’s who Matt is at his core.
A man who longingly describes the Saturday dinner rush at the pizza place that employed him in college.
A man who used to wake up as early as 6:30 AM on weekends to get a jumpstart on laundry while his roommates were sleeping.
A man who’s a bit more than slightly disappointed that his nephews spend more time inside on their iPads than outside running around and playing with friends, like he did during his formative years.
“I've always been go, go, go. And I've scheduled myself now to a point where I'm always needing to do something. I think that's just my personality. I don't like to sit still. Growing up, I was definitely not satisfied if I was just sitting at home, when I knew I could be out doing something.”
No, Matt doesn’t stop often. But when it comes to social media and his role within that space, stopping is everything.
“Good social media is going to make you stop. Everyone just scrolls and scrolls and scrolls. It has to be something that's going to make you stop and think.”
But to him, stopping is only half the battle. The other half is getting that stopped scroller to engage.
“From there, there's a million different variables that come into play on what you want them to do. But they've got to at least stop to see the message, the creative, the idea.”
In Matt’s mind, every word in every post should be purposeful and reflect your understanding of your audience.
“I really appreciate what goes into a social post. People see it on social media and think, ‘Oh, they could have just done this in a day.’ But I value the time it takes to craft a good message and really think about all the strategies that are in place to hit the right person at the right time with the right message. It really takes a village.”
As evidenced by his lifelong love for sports, Matt is quite the competitor. And the competitive nature that made him a force to be reckoned with in wiffleball also makes him a perfect fit for today’s social landscape.
“In my position, you can usually measure the work that you do. You might have a single social post or an ongoing campaign, and it does great. But then you're looking at how we can make it better next time.”
A “good enough is never enough” mentality seems to infect everything Matt touches—as if the Paradowski core values are his personal commandments.
“You want to keep pushing the envelope and see what's the next big idea that you have. For our clients, I want to push their business and make them a little uncomfortable in a good way.”
After learning about Matt’s perspective, it makes me wonder: What line of work would fit Matt Salanik if he weren’t alive in the digital age? What could he have possibly done professionally to appease his seemingly unquenchable thirst for movement?
Perhaps he would have made a great air traffic controller during peak hours at LAX. Or maybe he would have excelled as a switchboard operator at an understaffed telephone company.
I don’t know the answer, but questioning it gave me a headache.
Throughout our conversation, a recurring theme is “collaboration.” The frequency with which Matt uses that word increases when we talk about Paradowski.
“What makes Paradowski so great is that everybody wants to collaborate. I know that sounds cliché, but nobody seems to think that they have all the answers. Nobody's afraid to ask questions. And nobody's afraid to give feedback.”
Yes, Matt constantly goes the extra mile for his team, but that doesn’t mean he feels compelled to put the team on his back, so to speak. In fact, he’s quite complimentary of the fact that everyone at Paradowski has a bio on our website—not just the leadership team—because every employee brings something different to the table.
“It’s crazy how intertwined we are. There's just so many moving parts on every project. Everyone here seems to understand that collaboration is important and that the answers to your question most likely live within the halls of Paradowski.”
Collaboration is also what makes Matt click on a personal level. Beyond his love for sports, Matt is quick to brag about his wife Elizabeth, their dog Paisley, and the home they share in Webster.
Some of their favorite activities include going out to eat and traveling. As you can imagine, I was curious if Matt maintains the pace of his everyday life when he’s on vacation. He said he and his wife go on both busy and relaxing trips, but it all depends on the destination.