Get to Know Team Ditto: Steven Melfi
Read more about Steven Melfi. Steven has been working for Ditto for the past 3 years as a Vice President.
Getting To Know You
Where are you from?
I grew up in southern Indiana.
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I began my career in 2005 at a small entertainment PR agency that handled publicity for film releases from studios like New Line and Focus Features. In 2007, I joined an investor relations firm off Wall Street where I first started experimenting with using social media as a comms tool for clients and subsequently launched the firm’s digital practice. I was hired by a crisis communications firm in 2009 to focus on digital strategy for clients ranging from Fortune 50 companies to small startups. In 2011, I joined Burson-Marsteller’s corporate practice and then its public affairs and crisis practice. Wanting to understand the business side of PR, I had brief stint at a small B2B tech agency before leaving to join Ditto in 2015.
Who is your spirit animal and why?
What would your ideal Sunday entail?
Grab a bagel and coffee at the shop around the corner from my apartment to have while I watch Meet the Press. After that, I’m off to the beach if it’s summer. The rest of the year, I’m either going on a bike ride or watching football in the afternoon.
If you could have dinner with three people – dead or alive – who would you choose?
Anthony Bourdain, President Obama and Jay-Z.
What’s your favorite curse word?
How did you arrive in NYC/SF?
I moved to New York for college and never left.
Last song you listened to on your phone?
If I wasn’t in PR, I’d be…
About your work at Ditto
How did you end up at Ditto? And why did you decide to work here?
I’ve been fortunate to work in many different areas of communications. However, one part I didn’t have a lot of exposure to was the business side of an agency. As I was looking for that opportunity, a recruiter reached out and suggested I meet with Trey. We got drinks and had a good conversation about everything but work it seemed like. We met up a few weeks later to actually discuss the role and clients. At the end of conversation when I asked what the next step would be, he told me it was him sending me an offer letter the next day.
If you had to describe Ditto in three words, what would they be?
Anti PR Agency.
What makes Ditto different than your past jobs?
We’re focused on doing great work for our clients; not hitting billable hours quotas.
Bigger thoughts on life and career
How do you think the PR industry could improve?
The industry as a whole could do a much better job at explaining what it is we actually do and then showing the actual business impact of our work.
What tips would you give on balancing work and personal time?
I’ve had this outlook on life for a long time, but this passage from Ray Dalio’s Principles sums it up better than I ever could:
Realize that you are simultaneously everything and nothing—and decide what you want to be. It is a great paradox that individually we are simultaneously everything and nothing. Through our own eyes, we are everything—e.g., when we die, the whole world disappears. So to most people (and to other species) dying is the worst thing possible, and it is of paramount importance that we have the best life possible.
However, when we look down on ourselves through the eyes of nature we are of absolutely no significance. It is a reality that each one of us is only one of about seven billion of our species alive today and that our species is only one of about ten million species on our planet. Earth is just one of about 100 billion planets in our galaxy, which is just one of about two trillion galaxies in the universe. And our lifetimes are only about 1/3,000 of humanity’s existence, which itself is only 1/20,000 of the Earth’s existence.
In other words, we are unbelievably tiny and short-lived and no matter what we accomplish, our impact will be insignificant.
At the same time, we instinctually want to matter and to evolve, and we can matter a tiny bit—and it’s all those tiny bits that add up to drive the evolution of the universe. The question is how we matter and evolve. Do we matter to others (who also don’t matter in the grand scope of things) or in some greater sense that we will never actually achieve? Or does it not matter if we matter so we should forget about the question and just enjoy our lives while they last?
If you view life with this perspective, it makes it easier to balance and prioritize what really matters to you.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice before your first job, what would you say?
Take advantage of the employer 401k match and max out your contributions starting at your first paycheck.