When I first started in the marketing industry, I took a job as a media sales rep, selling cable TV. I fell into it by accident. I was looking for a job and I saw an ad that said “Make $1800 a month in 6 months guaranteed in sales”. I ended up liking it and making some pretty good money. The boss that I had was a really nice lady, but the problem was that she wouldn’t allow me to grow the business. She wanted me to do things her way. But her way was “old” and cheap. After 8 months, I started losing accounts because of her methods. I gave her an ultimatum because for 3 months back to back I made less than $100 a month and I had a family. So I told her I need to be able to grow this business the way I want to and without her interference, or I walk away. I had already gotten some recognition for the company so my leaving would have been a red flag towards the company. So she left me alone, and after 4 more months I gained that business back. Ever since then I enjoyed what I was doing. I was able to turn that market into one of the most profitable markets in the company that I was working for. I was the #1 account executive in the company. I had gotten recognition 6 years in a row, as part of the President’s club, which was reserved only for top reps in the company.
Growing up, I was fucking poor. I grew up with my grandparents. They were migrants. They would travel to Wyoming to work in the sugar fields. The fields were about 2 miles long. That work is how I would get my school clothes and when I was 13 I said “fuck this shit, this is not for me” and that is one reason why I have the work ethic and discipline that I have. This shit is not hard labor. It is time consuming, and it takes away time from my family, but I love it and I wouldn’t ever do anything else. I think that is one of the reasons why I have never complained about the work that I have to put into this. I would always tell other AE’s when they would ask how I do it “I don’t fucking complain, I just get the work done”.
About 8 years ago, I decided to dive deeper into digital. I knew where the industry was headed, and I knew the company I was working for and how they were teaching us to pitch digital, but not giving us the fundamentals to understand it. There was no training other than teaching us the right answers to clients’ questions. I didn’t want to know a sales pitch; I wanted to be able to truly explain the process. I got a lot of resistance for my IAB training from the executives who were in charge of the digital products we sold because even they didn’t understand it and they felt threatened. I wasn’t trying to make anyone uncomfortable. I was really just trying to be a better salesperson. After a while I realized I knew more about it than they did. Here’s the crazy thing about digital; it changes so rapidly that if you don’t constantly educate yourself, you’ll get left behind. I was the only account executive in the company I was working for that was certified. I even hosted my own training, on my own time, to train other employees for free. Some of them were scared of it because they couldn’t comprehend it. It was difficult for them to understand it because in a way they had, in a matter of days, untaught themselves what they had been taught for so many years about digital. What I didn’t realize was that in doing that training I was setting myself up to move to a different stage in the company. But unfortunately, people don’t leave companies. They leave bad bosses. And that led me to look for a company that would embrace my knowledge. Which led me to East Texas.
Moving here was actually one of the best decisions I’ve made. While I have been here, one of the things I picked up very quickly was that, like back home, they didn’t understand digital. They didn’t understand the information they were selling. They just wanted to make a quick sale. But I soon realized, that with the knowledge and experience I had, I could build a company on my own.
I started this company with my partner in February of 2017. We both left six-figure jobs. Has it been difficult? Fuck yeah it’s been difficult. One of the craziest parts of owning an agency is that it’s lonely as fuck. But it’s one of the reasons why all of my experience in the past 18 years in media and marketing, the ups, the downs, have given me the clarity to create the core values I want to instill in my company: family, accountability, and hustle. One of the most important parts about Starfish is that I’m not here to sell this company. I am here to build a legacy. I want to be the number 1 programmatic ad agency. And knowing that the future of programmatic is shifting, and traditional dollars are moving towards digital, being able to harness a programmatic platform and utilize our capabilities to access and use private marketplaces is extremely powerful, not just for our business but for our clients’ business. “Believe in your fucking self” is on a sign hanging above my desk. I look at it every day and remember the journey that I have been on to get to where I am at today. And it also reminds me that the journey isn’t over.
Starfish is growing. Just like any company, we have our ups and downs, and anything that goes wrong is clearly my fault and when we have wins, its everybody’s win. Because without my staff I would not be where I am at. Most people don’t trust other people when they hire them especially in a small business because they feel that they will learn the secrets and go off and start a business on their own. Personally, more power to them. I’m not afraid of it. There’s a clean difference between someone having an idea and someone having the balls to execute it. Everyone has ideas but you have to put in the fucking work to make it happen.
-Abel motherfuckin’ Sanchez.