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Leaning Into Leadership: A Q&A with David Aaker

About the Series

Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves.

Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers. This has led me to create this interview series, “Leaning Into Leadership.” I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox.

My first interview is with Prophet’s own Vice Chairman, David Aaker. To start, David is humbler than he should be. Since Dave is all about storytelling, I’ll start with a story: During my first week at Prophet, I was sent to Switzerland to work at an event where he was giving the keynote speech. I was young, new to the company, and hanging with the Vice Chairman. Though he was treated with white glove, celebrity treatment at the event, to me he was kind, generous and funny. David welcomed me to Prophet in a down-to-earth way that never changed throughout the years.

I’ve worked with him on writing thought leadership and speeches, books and book launches, and have attended award ceremonies and events with him throughout the years and his kindness always prevailed. I will always admire his straightforward and practical advice, his style of leadership and his continued commitment to teaching and learning.

I hope you enjoy my inaugural interview with the Father of Modern Branding himself, Mr. David Aaker!

Amanda Nizzere: What do you do at Prophet?

David Aaker: I’m Prophet’s Vice Chairman and support Prophet’s Board of Directors. I am always available to help client teams chat or brainstorm about any issue that comes up in a pitch or engagement. My primary “job” is author. I write books and blogs about strategic branding and marketing, with over 17 books written to date (with a new one on the way). I also regularly participate and podcast interviews and speaking engagements, primarily in Asia.

AN: What’s a skill you’re currently working on?

DA: I am working on my new book, “The Future of Purpose-Driven Branding,” so that is taking up most of my time. I am also working on my golf game but as a very amateur player.

AN: What’s your go-to productivity hack?

DA: In grad school I started doing three hours of solid work each day before procrastinating. It works.

AN: Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

DA: Peter Drucker and Phil Kotler are my role models for what they have accomplished in thought leadership.

AN: How do you prefer to start and end your day?

DA: I start each day with an hour of exercise and like to end each day watching a bit of YouTube to decompress.

AN: What energizes you at work?

DA: Talking to my colleagues about their work and discussing ways to overcome challenges.

“I have been amazed at the continued growth, the talent and insight of the leadership…”

AN: What’s one thing that surprised you about working at Prophet?

DA: It’s not really a surprise, but I have been amazed at the continued growth, the talent and insight of the leadership, and the impressive quality and skills of people throughout the organization.

AN: If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?

DA: I love history and could easily write books on history.

AN: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose?

DA: My daughter Jennifer Aaker. She’s a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, an author, speaker and researcher. She always does the coolest stuff and hangs out with the most amazing people.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Known as “The Father of Modern Branding,” David Aaker is Vice Chairman of Prophet, creator of the Aaker Model and a revered author, speaker and thought leader (and a man I’m lucky to call a colleague and friend). A professor true to his word, if you have any additional questions you’d like to ask of David, feel free to send them to him directly!

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