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LeaderPROMOS Marketing Agency

LEADERStory: Diplomacy

Business took Joe Rezabek all around the world before ending up in Columbus, Ohio, but it was an unexpected friendship that brought him to Leaderpromos.

“Two of the first people my wife and I met in Columbus were Stephanie and Brian Leader,” Joe said. “We were out to dinner, and the more the merrier, you know?”

Joe and Stephanie were friends long before Joe joined Leaderpromos as chief financial officer, and it was not a partnership they took lightly. “They’re kind of our family here, but we never talked business. So we were very, very cautious about entering into any kind of business relationship.”

Born and raised in New York, Joe was a promising athlete in high school and was involved in the punk scene in the 1980s. New York City gave him exposure to the arts and a culturally diverse community that gave him an expanded view on different cultures he carried throughout life.

That cultural exposure would prove useful in a successful corporate career in banking and asset management that would see Joe follow assignments that took him to South Korea, Ireland, and Italy. He climbed the heights of the corporate world but found himself seeking something more fulfilling and enjoyable.

Enter Leaderpromos and a professional partnership with Stephanie that became a harmonious yin and yang where he jokes “Stephanie is the gas, and I’m the brake.”

“It’s been a fun ride, and I’m grateful to be part of it with a friend,” Joe said.

Get to know Joe and how his experiences have helped shape the Leaderpromos success story.

What’s your life story in one word?

The one word I always use to describe myself is “diplomacy.” I’ve worked all around the world, navigating the various cultures and nuances of things. Here I’m a bridge between the tug of war, the push and pull of priorities on a day-to-day basis.

When people ask me about, you know, sort of my secret sauce, both personally and professionally, it ties back to that word.

What do you love most about Leaderpromos?

I love the energy of this place. I came from an environment where it was $2,000 suits every day, buttoned up tight, playing chess in my brain. I love the creative aspect here and bringing my business acumen to those things.

As we’ve grown, I’ve focused on trying to ensure that we don’t lose the integrity of who we are as an organization. It’s those elements of that family business that I think I love the best.

What’s the most challenging part of your role here?

You have to be nimble every day. You have to pivot, dive, make readjustments, and reprioritize, sometimes two or three times any given day.

Coming from the corporate world, what are the benefits of a company our size?

We have all the same horsepower and tools as larger organizations, but we have a greater ability to pivot. They’re a massive cruise ship. We’re a speedboat.

We’ve invested heavily in technology and operations. We’re a creative organization at heart, but the creative piece is only as good as your ability to execute every single day.

What advice do you have for your younger self?

It’s two words: humility and authenticity. Be humble, and be your authentic self. I literally say those two words to the point where my daughters are sick of it.

Earlier on in my career, I would see things that I liked about a person and try to mimic them. It took me a long time to figure out that someone else’s style doesn’t work for me.

What advice would you have for someone who wants to get into promotional product marketing?

Do your homework and get a sense of what it really is. Even after I did my due diligence and signed on board, I was shocked at how complex this business model is.

It’s a world of infinite possibilities.