Get to Know Team Ditto: Sam Shillet
Read more about Sam Shillet. Sam has been working for Ditto for the past year as a Account Executive.
Getting To Know You
Where are you from?
I was “born” and raised in Queens, New York (I was technically born at Mount Sinai hospital in Manhattan).
Can you tell me a little about your background?
An avid history and sports fan, I majored in history and played on the rugby team at Wesleyan University and graduated in 2017. I worked internships in public relations and marketing and have always had a passion for leadership and communications. I also helped run the Wesleyan Spring Fling committee, which meant booking and planning a major music concert for 3,000 students – this was one of my proudest roles before my professional career.
Who is your spirit animal and why?
A lion, cause I’m a Leo….and I love basking in the sun and ruling the jungle.
What would your ideal Sunday entail?
It depends on the season, if it’s summer, it’s a Yankees day game followed by a good movie. If it’s winter maybe a trip to a new museum exhibit…also followed by a movie. There better be some pizza in there at some point too.
If you could have dinner with three people – dead or alive – who would you choose?
This should be three people besides Barack Obama because I assume that’s who everyone is putting down: Kanye West, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stanley Kubrick.
What’s your favorite curse word?
There will be no profanity on my profile.
How did you arrive in NYC/SF?
Last song you listened to on your phone?
Do Me A Favour by the Arctic Monkeys.
If I wasn’t in PR, I’d be…
Your favorite on-air sports anchor.
About your work at Ditto
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered (and hopefully overcome) at Ditto?
Learning PR in the first place. While I did some intern work in the past it was not the level at which Ditto operates. Learning all the new businesses I had no history in, then pitching reporters in the space was all new to me. Everyone guided me along my way and nobody ever ceased to help assist me from the most menial tasks to huge projects.
If you had to describe Ditto in three words, what would they be?
Hardworking. Open. Family.
How would you describe working at Ditto?
I would describe it like one big college group project at a top university. We’re all not afraid to have fun but realize that working hard is important and key to our success.
Do you have a moment this year you are particularly proud of?
My first big hit, getting USA Today, was my proudest moment.
What makes Ditto different than your past jobs?
Given it’s my first full-time job, it’s tough to judge, but at past jobs I’ve either encountered ineffectual bureaucracy or just outright boredom from doing mundane tasks. Everyone is very involved, cares about your growth and development, and is ready to challenge you in a positive way. The work I do is almost always meaningful to my accounts.
How did you end up at Ditto? And why did you choose to work here?
I contacted my current coworker Steven Melfi via a business partner of my father who was friends with him. I needed a full-time job and was leaving my last internship. On a chance email, we got drinks and everything took off from there. I wanted a small workspace that was both laid back and in a cool location. Ditto hit all of those and more.
Bigger thoughts on life and career
How do you think the PR industry could improve?
We could get better about pitching journalists as people. Too often I read tweets from journalists about how terrible PR people are, how we’re like robots and how bad pitches are. Those PR people make the rest of us look bad, but we could all get better about our interactions with the press from being more personable to learning beats better.
What tips would you give someone on balancing work and personal time?
I’d say, as someone who can struggle with it, is that people, humans, need personal time. Your work will suffer because of it. The weekends where I would be anxious about the upcoming week led to poor nights of sleep and lesser work as a result. Being happy and healthy at home will lead to better work – so find places to focus your time while at home (from the gym to an art class).
What makes for a positive work environment?
To me it’s comfort. Whether comfort to speak your mind, do good work or not be afraid of anyone or anything. The openness found at Ditto fosters that so nothing is ever really unexpected, and people feel safe in being honest.
If you could go back in the time and give yourself advice before you walked into your very first job, what would you say?
I’d say be more relaxed. I was very tight and always apologizing. I used to beat myself up over small mistakes, and the more I did that, the more I made those mistakes. As with sports, life and anything requiring concentration, being more at peace can only help.
In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a good boss?
Someone who can motivate you to do better without belittling and someone who can take criticism in stride. That’s a two-way street as well. Constructive criticism is key to a healthy boss-worker relationship, and having the freedom to let your boss know if there’s something you disagree about is paramount. That said some poor bosses I had would never told me what I was doing wrong or where I could improve in detail, or if they did, would sugarcoat everything.
Talk about the challenge of balancing priorities like results and outputs with less tangible work like creative thinking.
It can get difficult to take some time out of the day and take some time to think more creatively and less about everyday relations. At Ditto since we really push hard in the morning, it leaves the afternoon more open to balance the pitching of 9 AM with more meetings and general planning which lends to more creative thinking.