Regional Conference: Vox Media with Zach Kahn (10/27/2017)
By: Savannah Arnold
On Friday, October 27th, AMA hosted their 5th Annual Regional Conference right in Alter Hall. The first speaker was Zach Kahn, a recent GW graduate who works on brand marketing and sponsorships for Vox Media. His present was a take on how to build a ‘personal brand’; a phrase that has been extremely stressed recently. Kahn listed three elements and skills that worked together to create a personal brand; the benefits of curiosity, opportunity, and how to thrive on change. He stressed that there is no set path into achieving your own personal goals, and that those three pieces of advice represent that idea.
First up, curiosity. Curiosity produces new knowledge, assessment in synthesizing material, and an overall motivation and passion. To prove how important curiosity is, Kahn relayed personal stories of his own internships, and how mainly took them out of curiosity. He had an internship with Spongebob, working on their Facebook page, to creating advertisements in podcast for shaving brand off of Warby Parker, and then interning for Google’s Nest app in San Francisco. The only common thread among these miscellaneous projects is that Kahn simply was curious about them; something sparked in an interest him. He advised that this component of curiosity as a part of one’s own personal brand, because it offers an eclectic variety of opportunities.
Leading into Kahn’s next big talking point, that is opportunity. In order to maximize on every opportunity, Kahn advised in being bold and persistent, and to put in the work to do what you love. This lead to his story of how he got hired by Vox, and explained what Vox Media really does. Vox is primarily a journalism website that touches on news, entertainment, technology, sports, lifestyle and more in order to create substantially immersive content for its audience. They want to engage their readers with depth on interesting topics, rather than simply cover everything; they strive for personalization. The word ‘vox’ itself translates to ‘voice’ in Latin. Then Kahn clicks to the next slide, which shows the text and A+ meme, “*record scratch* *freeze frame* ‘yup. that’s me. so you’re probably wondering how I got myself into this situation,” where he told the story of how he won a contest offered over a podcast to attend one of Vox’s conferences, and was able to meet some of his journalist idols who worked for Vox, get pizza with them, make connections, and end up getting offered a position. As far as taking opportunity goes, Kahn would advise to just go for it if it’s something you truly want.
Kahn’s last words of advice were to ‘thrive on change’; which is incidentally Vox’s motto. In order to effectively use agents of change, he advised reflecting on what matters, finding a purpose, and looking towards the aid of your mentors. Even in his few months at Vox, Kahn had several different roles from organizing sponsorships to brand marketing for tech and entertainment. There is and will not be a single, clear path; although it may be draining, it is normal. The spontaneity of one’s career and life is something to be expected, and to be thrived on.
After taking questions regarding podcast analytics, rejections, and his own personal opportunities, Kahn offered his twitter @zkahn, and stayed for additional questions and opportunities to talk to him and network. Thank you, Zach Kahn, for presenting at AMA’s 5th Annual Regional Conference, and providing us with lighthearted anecdotes and stories, but most importantly, valuable takeaways!