Name: David Sable

Learnings 2 with David Sable

Learnings 2 with David Sable


“Think about the job you’ve been given and how to get it done.” – @DavidSable #Insights [Click to Tweet]

David Sable gained valuable #Insights from his mentor Edward on the importance of working in an open office. [Click to Tweet]

Read everything you can. Not just what interests you or supports your biased; read the other side too. #Insights [Click to Tweet]

David Sable: I was very un-corporate.  I had been living on a kibbutz for about a year.  I was really totally and completely in a different head set. I had come to work with this buttoned-up guy who started the American Revolution background, fifth generation Dartmouth corporate wasp.   You can’t even imagine.  He is like this crazy Jewish kid who walks in with long hair.  He was also Republican but very – the old kind of Republican, social-liberal.  He was very social-liberal, physically concerned.

David Sable: I walked in like this – a nutcase, leftwing kind of hippie, whatever.  He became a mentor until the day he died.  He became a mentor.

David Sable: Wherever me and my wife went in the world, he visited us. He came to be with us.  I had a problem on anything, I called Edward.  He was my man.  He was my go-to for everything.  He was amazing.

David Sable: What did Edward teach me?  He taught me a lot of things. He taught me discipline. He taught me how to write better.  He taught me a lot of things like that.

David Sable: But the most important things he taught me were – as I started my corporate career – he sat me down once and said, “David, look you’re going to work at Y&R.  You’re going to work with people who lust for the corner office.” He said, “It’s irrelevant.  Don’t ever sell yourself for an office.  Don’t ever change your job for money. Always think about the job or the task you’ve been given, the job you’ve been given and how you get it done.  So, you don’t need a corner office to get it done.”

David Sable: Which is why today, I sit literally outside on a big open desk. It was so easy for me to do.  It was what Edward taught me throughout my whole career.  It’s irrelevant how big your office is, where it is so long as you can work.

David Sable: In fact, he taught me about the Boiler Room because he came out of that political environment.  He did a lot of work for the Republican Party.  If you know, even back then they were the first open offices.  It wasn’t Silicon Valley.

David Sable: That whole open office, Boiler Room kind of thing was financial and politics because in politics you need everybody in a big room.  That’s how they work – Boiler Room style.  He was working open office long before anybody ever thought about that.

David Sable: That was Edward.  He was amazing and I was blessed to have him.

David Sable: My other two mentors, one is Howard Burson who founded Burston- Marsteller.  Howard is 96.  He goes to work every day.  He’s one of the smartest men that I have ever met and learned a ton from him about corporate relations, about speech writing, about dealing in the C-suite.

David Sable: How do you talk to a CEO? This was when I was a kid.  How do you talk to a CEO?  How do you think?

David Sable: To this day, I share this to everybody here.  Read everything that you’re hands-on.  Don’t just read the things that are of interest to you where it might support the bias that you have.  Read everything about the other side, too. Make sure you understand.

Challenges with David Sable

Challenges with David Sable


@DavidSable believes in looking deep inside oneself to realize your mistakes and learn from them #Insights [Click to Tweet]

Learn to look deep, fix your problems & pick yourself back up again #Insights [Click to Tweet]

Too many people write off adversity as issues out of their control instead of looking to themselves to improve [Click to Tweet]

David Sable: What lessons do you learn from adversity?  Well, so many. So many. At the end of the day we all have faced adverse situations and we’ve all failed.

David Sable: I’ve lost clients. I’ve lost pitches. I had a business and a partner in ’96 that I thought was going to be the greatest in the world.  We were early in the internet and we went boom bust.  It happens.

David Sable: And so the question, “What do you learn from it?”. I think that the biggest learning comes back to what we were saying before about leadership and self-awareness.  If we don’t have self-awareness, we can’t learn from an adverse situation. You have to really deep down inside yourself.  You have to look deep down inside of what happened and be able to say, “Okay what did I do wrong?  What didn’t I do right?  What did I miss?” Sometimes it’s not you did it wrong, sometimes you missed something.

David Sable: Sometimes by the way, it is political. What is serendipity?  What is pre-determined?  All kinds but not always. I’ve had those issues in my life and those hurt when you can’t learn anything because you just look at it and say, “Wow, I got screwed.”  It happens but it doesn’t happen every time.

David Sable: The problem is too many people will just take that view every time instead of looking deep and saying, “What did I do wrong? What didn’t I do right?  What more could I have done?”

David Sable: Frankly, I have had that. I’ve seen it happen to myself. I’ve seen it happen to other people. What do you learn? You learn to a) make sure you never do that again.  Maybe you didn’t pay enough attention.  Maybe you didn’t listen correctly or you didn’t “hear”, it’s probably more to the point. You didn’t hear what was being said. You weren’t sensitive enough to the whole picture.  Maybe you were just focused on what you were doing. You didn’t sit in the shoes of your client or whoever it is you’re trying to be successful with.

David Sable: Maybe you didn’t deliver.  Maybe you just didn’t work hard enough.  You thought you had two more weeks to do it and they didn’t have that time.  Maybe you took the order and they didn’t really want you to take the order, they wanted you to recommend more and you didn’t pay attention. It happens. What do you learn?  You learn first of all to look deep, second of all obviously you need to fix those things and make sure you don’t do that again.  But I think the biggest thing is you just got to learn to pick yourself up.

Leadership 1 with David Sable

Leadership 1 with David Sable


“Surround yourself with people who are better than you in the things you don’t do well.” @DavidSable #Insights [Click to Tweet]

When there’s glory, lead from the back. When there’s adversity, lead from the front #Insights [Click to Tweet]

“What can I do today that’s bigger & more important than I did yesterday?” @DavidSable #Insights [Click to Tweet]

David Sable: To me, leadership progression in your career are based on a number of things.

David Sable: First is I think you just have to have total self-awareness. You have to be aware of what you do well and what you don’t do well. I think you have to have confidence in the abilities that you have to do things well, to surround yourself with people who are better than you in the things that you don’t do well.  Don’t be afraid of it.

David Sable: Don’t be afraid to find people who are smarter than you in some area, who know more than you in another area, have more experience in something.  It’s okay.  It’s really okay. And then, your contribution is to be able to hold the whole thing together.

David Sable: This advice was given to me earlier in my career. I think it’s an absolute brilliant fact. I can honestly tell you when I left Y&R after a year, so I’ve been in the training for almost 21 – and I’m 22.  I go to Wells Rich Greene.

David Sable: They just won a piece of business. They thought I came from the training program in Y&R. I didn’t know anything but they figured, “What the hell.” I must know a lot. So, they said, “You got to hire 15 people.”  I said, “What? Hire?  What does that mean?  How do you hire somebody?” I had no clue.

David Sable: Today there’s a whole system, there’s a process. Back then it wasn’t quite that organized and particularly we were a small company at that time.  It wasn’t that well-organized.  They said, “Let’s go hire them. Don’t worry, somebody will help you.”

David Sable: What did I do?  I called the smartest person I knew. She worked at Y&R.  She was the head. She was already working in the system. I said, “Sue, here’s an opportunity. You got to come. I need your help. This is great.”

David Sable: I paid her more than I was getting paid. She didn’t know that but I thought I had to, just in case it ever came up and I wanted her to know which I never told her until a couple of years ago. Here’s the joke. Thirty years later, we are still connected and we still work together.

David Sable: I brought in somebody who knew way more.  She was more buttoned up than I was.  Her expertise in particular areas were bigger than mine.  I was more creative.  She was more foundational, analytical.  It was awesome.  It was fabulous. She helped me hire all these other people and we were very successful.

David Sable: I think that’s the thing. You can’t be scared. That’s number one.

David Sable: Number two, you got to be an entrepreneur. Always every day is an entrepreneurship. You have to consistently think, “What else can I do? Where else can I go?”  Personally and with your clients, whatever it is that you’re working on. I think it’s really, really important.

David Sable: I have a motto, “Do it big or stay in bed.” If you can’t come up with an idea every day that’s bigger than the one you had than the day before, then don’t even bother. Sleep the rest of the day.

David Sable: I wake up every morning and I try to think about, “What can I do today that’s different and bigger and more important than I did yesterday?”  I think that’s really critical.

David Sable: Always lead by example.  It’s critical. There are times you lead from the front and there are times you lead from the back. You lead from the front whenever there’s an adversity. I learned this in the army. I was in the Israeli army.  Always lead from the front. You don’t yell, “Charge!” And point to the front and everybody runs ahead and you’re standing back with your sword. You got to be the one leading the charge when there’s adversity.

David Sable: When there’s something, when there’s stuff to share, when there’s glory, you lead from the back.

Learnings 1 with David Sable

Learnings 1 with David Sable


Through working at companies like @YoungRubicam & @B_M @DavidSable has gained valuable #Insights [Click to Tweet]

Work experience is starting early, especially for high schools that immerse senior students in work programs #Insights [Click to Tweet]

Writing copy in high school to running global advertising at @YoungRubicam @DavidSable #Insights [Click to Tweet]

David Sable: How did I get here to be a CEO at a company like Young & Rubicam? I began actually in advertising when I was in high school.  I started writing copy.

David Sable: How I started writing copy as a senior in high school, I went to a very progressive high school and they figured by the time January rolled around you’re already in college, you got accepted.  The rest of the year was a bit of a waste so they had a work program.

David Sable: I went to work for friends of my dad’s at a local, in New York City, advertising which at the time was very, very well-known.  Small but very, very large in terms of their media output, in terms of the work that they produce and I went to work for them.

David Sable: I just had a knack for it and I started selling copy. All through school I sold copy and designed ads. I learned how to do production. I used to buy time at Channel 9 WOR New York, the smallest television station in the market and I would go 2:00 in the morning and pay whatever the low in the union rate was because they had studios open and do little commercials for people and things. Mostly for non-profits but I started doing a lot of work with.

David Sable: I had an opportunity to work for a company called New York Tel.  They were Young & Rubicam’s largest client at the time. They were beginning before the whole Bell system blew up. They were one of the largest. Worked for them, had an amazing time, amazing experience for me. I was writing and designing and doing stuff.  It just gave me tremendous opportunity in the summer.

David Sable: Then they said, “You got to work in Y&R,” and so I did. They helped me get a job there in 1976.  I was in the training program. I left there right after I graduated the training program. I got four times my salary which was probably about $8.

David Sable: At my next job I went to work at wells rich greene.  It was also an exciting opportunity. I had an opportunity to go to Israel. I went to Israel and founded a company in 1979-1980 with somebody who became my partner and still my older brother after all these years.  He was an Israeli.  He was a graphic designer, graphic artist, brilliant and done mostly B2B.   Somebody partnered us and it was the beginning of the high tech industry in Israeli which today is probably the most famous in the world but we were there at the very, very beginning of it.  And so, it was amazing.

David Sable: We learned how to do everything. The ads were obvious but we learned how to do annual reports and how to create booths for credible trade exhibitions, global ones and create the collateral for it. It was an amazing experience.

David Sable: I came back to the US and worked at Burson-Marsteller which is sort of a natural progression. It was something I didn’t know. I always wanted to do something I didn’t know, which we can talk about later. I went from there to run global accounts at Young & Rubicam because I had this global experience back in 1985 and not many people did. I was travelling the world in ’85.

David Sable: We didn’t have cellphones. There was no email. You got on a plane, you were gone for two weeks. Couldn’t always call back home.