Mike Albanese serves as the CEO of Galore Media: a talent driven media company for the creative and daring Gen Z girl. Previously, he served as president of Observer Media: the publisher of The New York Observer, Betabeat, VeryShortList, SCENE, and other digital and print titles. Prior to joining Observer Media, he was the publisher of SPIN Media, where he oversaw a 25-site digital network, and the sale of SPIN to Buzz Media (re-named SPIN Media). Mike is also an investor/advisor in Galore Media and other startups, including Chefsfeed, Topcoder, and Suitey.
1. How do you define success?
Creative and financial freedom.
2. What is the key to success?
If I had to make a laundry list, it would be a) always taking pride in work, b) knowing your strengths and weaknesses, c) challenging yourself and the people around you daily, and d) leading by example.
3. Did you always know you would be successful?
Success is incredibly relative, and I really feel it’s more of a process rather than an end. Try to get better at something every day, treat people well, and the rest will take care of itself.
4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I don’t like failing or losing, so more times than not, it’s less of a conscious choice and more a reflex to push onward.
5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
I learned at my first job, which was at a startup magazine in San Francisco, that there is no pre-ordained roadmap for businesses or people. Anything is possible, both positive and negative. It’s a simple insight (something I probably could have picked up in Philosophy 101 had I paid more attention), but a very powerful (and empowering) realization.
6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am a photographer and also invest and advise in start-ups. I also love dinner and brunches with friends, and a good steam on weekends.
7. What makes a great leader?
A great leader is able to get different people, with different backgrounds and different individual goals, all driving toward the same place with passion and vigor. A great leader is able to attract great people, and hold everyone, including themselves, to account.
8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
When I started at The New York Observer, Jared (owner) shared with me his philosophy about being “long-term greedy.” That is good advice. Be patient in the near term, find opportunities where you can pick up experience, learn from great people, and be associated with something worthwhile. And when opportunities open up, seize them!
This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.