The Future Of Marketing

Michael Kalman
Chief Strategy Officer for PersonalRX, Advisory Board Member for iCleanse, and was previously the founder and CEO of MediaCrossing.
1hr 53min
May 18, 2023
About the Show

"There were no promises of early success. There was no golden ticket...it was a combination of you're going to work hard and you're going to kind of eat what you kill."

Michael Kalman is the Chief Strategy Officer for PersonalRX, Advisory Board Member for iCleanse, and was previously the founder and CEO of MediaCrossing, a digital marketing agency which sold to Kubient in 2021. 

Kalman is a media and digital marketing expert who has been in the industry since 1990. On this episode of Forward Obsessed, learn about how a group of people started a trading desk to offer programmatic digital media to middle-market clients, and how their focus on good governance and hiring the right professionals led to a successful sale of the company. Hear about the importance of having a core team that believes in the vision of the business, finding personal relationships that can help improve oneself, as well as the importance of balancing work and personal life. Build better teams with Michael’s tips for identifying individuals with passion and integrating them into an established group. Interested in selling your business? Learn about Michael’s top tips for setting your acquisition up for success. 

Key Moments

"Your work sucks, and your work's not going to drive traffic to my businesses. And if you guys can't drive traffic, I don't need you."

When Michael Kalman, age 23, heard these words coming from the mouth of one of the top clients of his marketing agency, he knew he was in trouble. Not only was he about to lose a major client, word-of-mouth could lead him to losing that entire market segment, as well as his job. That day, Michael quickly learned something that helped him build one of the top Digital Advertising agencies in the world - failing even one client could destroy your business forever. 

Michael Kalman is the founder of MediaCrossing, a programmatic advertising agency that focuses on middle-market clients. He has over thirty years of experience in the advertising industry, along with experience in varied marketing ventures. He is now an investor and advisor for companies like PersonalRX and iCleanse.

In this podcast episode, Michael shares his insights on strategies marketing agencies should adopt to succeed. We have outlined our top 3 key takeaways that marketing agencies can't ignore to succeed:

1. Focus on Middle-Market Clients

Kalman emphasizes providing programmatic resources to middle-market clients to bring a shift in how businesses approach the marketplace. Instead of providing programmatic resources for advertisers who already have a platform, agencies need to focus on serving middle-market clients who are underserved in audience buying. This approach can help marketing agencies differentiate themselves from the competition and make their services more accessible to businesses with a smaller marketing budget. By dedicating efforts towards this market, agencies can build long-term relationships and achieve sustainable growth.

2. Emphasize Good Governance

Media Crossing was sold for a high value due to their structure and emphasis on good governance. Kalman believes in following best practices in all areas of the business, including good governance, optimized employee practices, and audited financials. Proper governance can make your agency look more professional and trustworthy. Adhering to industry standards also makes your agency more attractive to clients, as they are confident that you have their best interests at heart. By emphasizing governance in all areas of the agency, marketing agencies can create a solid foundation for growth.

3. Hire Individuals with Passion

Kalman believes that passion is essential in finding the right fit for jobs and creating a healthy company culture. Agencies should hire individuals who are passionate about their work, as they are often the ones who excel and help drive the success of the entire team. This mindset can particularly be helpful in the creative department, where enthusiasm and passion for creating can help to create better content and campaign strategies. When individuals are passionate about their work, they tend to work harder, leading to job satisfaction and positive work culture.

By focusing on middle-market clients, complying with good governance, and hiring individuals with passion for their craft, agencies can build long-term relationships, achieve steady growth, and create a strong reputation in the industry. It's important for agencies to adhere to and implement best practices to maintain their professional reputation and gain customer trust. Every marketing agency can benefit from Michael Kalman’s insights, so we recommend viewing the entire podcast episode for a more in-depth understanding.


  • (00:00) - Intro
  • (1:30) -  Early years at a small agency
  • (7:53) - The first time I got my “teeth kicked in” by a client
  • (12:00) - Your client wants you to succeed
  • (14:43) - The root of every personal and professional problem
  • (17:27) - The hardest challenge that agencies face
  • (20:30) - The problem with unspoken expectations
  • (24:14) - Reliance on social media can be a disservice for brands
  • (27:41) - Finding a way to grow through a niche
  • (33:15) - What made MediaCrossing different from other agencies
  • (39:45) - How NOT to structure your company
  • (45:21) - Learning to let people down as a leader
  • (50:40) - Strategies when you become overwhelmed
  • (54:27) - Taking mental health days are key to growth
  • (59:14) - Learning to take care of yourself and your family
  • (1:02:24) - Teaching work ethic to your children
  • (1:08:30) - How to cultivate passion in your team
  • (1:16:00) - Managing (and firing) underperformers
  • (1:21:15) - Selling a private company to a public company
  • (1:29:03) - There are no shortcuts to selling your business
  • (1:35:20) - How the pandemic restrictions killed our industry
  • (1:39:11) - What’s next for the American economy
  • (1:42:30) - How to build a company in with “remote work first” generation



programmatic platform, digital multi-tactic campaigns, middle market advertisers, trading systems, alternative markets, funding, Minder Chang, agency, Newman's Own, salad dressing, health retailers, supermarket, spaghetti sauce, popcorn, sales calls, work ethics, early career, competition, volunteer work, giving back, student debt, middle-market clients, audience buying, non-performing assets, media, smartphone, programmatic digital media, core team, balance sheet, excellent finance person, empathy, relationships, SVB, Dow Jones, governance, audited financials, investment banker, good practices, public company, advisors, personal relationships, work-life balance, customer acquisition, retention, liberal arts education, passion, board involvement, robotics company, company culture, new hires, sale, purchase agreement, premium price, governance strategy.


  • Podcast website: https://forwardobsessed.com/
  • Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/forward-obsessed/id1615760781
  • Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/2TrkOZ7xL7WSlzc2mrwXuC?si=aa5e7790aca64e05
  • YouTube Full Episodes: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-ldUUGxQZ5b9WPqVXz_qlfXgK3hHPs4z
  • YouTube Clips: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-ldUUGxQZ5Yt0LiPml0y6pNUSrqHzWql



  • Digital Surgeons Website: https://digitalsurgeons.com
  • TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@digitalsurgeons
  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/digitalsurgeons
  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/210497/

Join the list

Stay in the loop for future episodes drops, exclusive promos, and other great F/O content.

Your on the list!

In the meantime enjoy the latest episode of the show on your favorite podcast app.
Listen Now
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.