Category Archives: Personal

Posts focused on myself or my previous companies; KS2 Solutions Inc. or Vision 2100 Marketing

My Top 4 Pieces of Advice for Building Impactful Partnerships

Originally posted on LinkedIn. If you want to read and/or comment there, please click here.

Over the years I have been asked for advice on what a person should consider if they want to excel at building impactful partnerships. I get this question most from entrepreneurs and people interested in a career in partnerships/business development. For me, a great partnership is about finding the intersection of wants between two or more entities to create value for the supply chain of stakeholders.  I would argue that everybody is in the partnership business. Whether you are an entrepreneur, sales reps, work in customer service or formally have the title of partnerships, if you are dealing with internal or external stakeholders then you in the partnership business.


After 20 years in the partnership business, (running my own start-up, running a national agency and leading commercial and M&A partnerships for Yellow Pages), my first piece of advice is that partnerships are like icebergs. What people see on the surface are the press releases, the conferences or what I call the external “fun stuff”. What most people don’t realize about successful partnerships is that there is a lot of work done on the back-end. Partnerships can be extremely rewarding, but you have to realize that some partnerships can take weeks, months or even years to build. (You can read my partnership stats during my career with Yellow Pages Canada, here)


What I am sharing below are some things that have made me successful in my career. They are in no particular order of importance because they all play a role when I am thinking about forming a partnership. In some cases, such as a minor commercial agreement these will be quickly thought though, whereas, in other cases some of these make take days, weeks or even months to work through.


If you have comments on what works for you or questions, please add them or ask in the comments. My intention for this article is to stimulate thought.



Plan the Divorce before the Marriage

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View from Condo in Toronto

816 Days … A Roadmap of Change

Originally posted on LinkedIn. If you want to view or comment there, here is the link.

In 2009 and 2010, I had a hand in developing a narrative and helping with the M&A activity that lead to the creation of Mediative. This became the national agency of Yellow Pages Canada. It was a company that was put together through a number of acquisitions which at the time allowed us to scale a national ad network business, shopper marketing business and enterprise services businesses. On January 6, 2014 I took over the role as President of Mediative.

This post is not about Mediative, but rather the story of my journey with the business and the lessons that I learned along the way. In 2013, Mediative was facing some big challenges. Many of the original founders of the acquired companies had left, many of the senior leadership had moved on, the AutoTrader property was no longer part of the portfolio (which eliminated high-valued display inventory), and the rest of the agency world had caught up when it came to data, programmatic and local based advertising. In addition, Yellow Pages Canada had just announced a new CEO, which meant there was a new corporate strategy to consider.

Despite all these challenges, the opportunity to lead the company through this transition came with a pretty impressive foundation to build from that included:

  • a 120+ person agency in 4 offices,
  • leading some of the most unique shopper marketing programs in Canada for the largest retailers,
  • still considered a leader in intent data for the purposes of programmatic advertising,
  • having one of the best enterprise SEM/SEO teams in Canada that serviced customers globally, and
  • having one of the best usability labs in the country

By April 2016, I had moved back to Yellow Pages core. By then I had successfully transformed Mediative into a different company. The Mediative team had accomplished our goals of growing digital revenue, generating profit, becoming masters at forecasting, changing the corporate culture and giving a new generation of leaders a chance to make their impact. It was an incredible journey.

When sharing my experiences at Mediative with other agency Presidents in Canada, US and Internationally, some key elements always seemed to resonate with people. I have summarized these below.

My time with Mediative consisted of a total of 816 days. I have divided this time into 4 distinct segments.

My first 100 Days

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My Yellow Pages Career by the Numbers

Action shot speaking to Yellow Pages sales reps.

Reflecting back on my career with Yellow Pages Canada (YP), it has been an incredible ride. I have met so many incredible people and made so many friendships that will last a lifetime.

In the Canadian tech space, it is not often you get to play a critical role in helping a company go from $90M in digital revenues (2006) to $556M in digital revenues (2017), build products that are used by hundreds of thousands of SMB’s and get to spend countless hours with the leading digital companies and people around the globe.

This article is not about predicting the future of YP or the state of the industry, rather its to briefly reflect on the past.

Read the rest of the article on LinkedIn


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Be the 9% – My LinkedIn “Request to Connect” Experiment

I changed my approach in 2016 regarding how I manage requests to connect on LinkedIn. My previous way was simple; if I knew you I connected otherwise I declined. There was nothing wrong with this approach, but I was curious – why would a total stranger want to connect with me? For the past year, I have a bi-weekly routine where I review all my LinkedIn requests from the past couple of weeks. I accept the ones that I know, reject ones that look like spam and send the following message to people who look legit but I don’t know.

“” Hi XXX – thanks for reaching and wanting to connect. Not sure we have met each other or ours paths have crossed. What’s the motivation for the request? Darby “”

I have categorized the responses of this experiment in 4 groups:

Click to read the rest of this article on LinkedIn.