John Caruso is in charge of our agency’s business development. A lifelong outdoorsman, cook, winemaker, gardener, as well as an overall nice guy, John brings a unique approach to our business development. Part of our agency’s strategy as a Creative Café is to bring together like-minded creative people who share a passion for life. In this blog post, John will share some of his correlations between his love for the outdoors and how it applies and benefits the agency's business development.
You recently returned from a trip to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska on a fly fishing trip. What got you into
I have been fishing as long as I can remember. My grandfather and father both were avid outdoorsmen. So as a tag along with them I was exposed at a young age to an affordable and easily accessible activity in fishing. I didn’t start fly fishing until about 2006 when I was 18. A group of my friends and me went on a trip to Erie, PA to fish for steelhead, a large strain of trout that is stocked in The Great Lakes. Over the two days, we observed and talked with multiple more successful anglers who were fly fishing instead of the traditional spinning rod setup. After that, all of us realized that we had the wrong gear, and dove in head first to the world of fly fishing with the hopes of emulating their success.
Is it difficult to learn? What would you tell someone who is interested in starting?
Yes, it is certainly more difficult and daunting to start. I think it is very similar to starting a new sales job, especially in a new industry. You definitely don’t know everything, so the best approach that I have found was to just jump in and start. Pick up a rod and some gear, read, ask people questions, there are always other people looking to help and share in your success. The most important of all is listening. Listen to those people who have been doing it, and apply it. Before you know it, you are getting results and adding your own tweaks and lessons. Also, don’t forget that you are never done learning. Two of my friends ended up guiding at lodges in Alaska, they are still learning and applying new techniques.
A lot of people ask you if fishing is boring,
what do you tell them?
It’s fishing, not catching. Just like sales, the excitement for me is usually in the pursuit. The journey of learning, and figuring it out is the most fun. Obviously, at a young age, you want to just catch fish and it is more about the number of the fish you catch. As you get older and more mature, it is definitely more about the technique. At first, I only bought flies from shops and friends who tied them. Now I bought the materials to tie my own because the thought of creating something and then seeing the success of it is so much more rewarding. The biggest investment in fishing is time, you spend hours preparing and sometimes casting unsuccessfully, but in that time you learn, and also get a moment to think without distraction, which is very attractive to me.
Explain fly fishing to us as someone who
works in advertising.
It is the first 75 degree spring day, the sun is shining and bouncing off the water like a prism. The water is ice cold from a mountain spring, the sun is just warm enough to make you uncomfortable in a long-sleeved shirt. All you can hear are birds chirping and the low noise of the water bouncing by over the riffle. You cast continuously with your favorite fly as you reel in trout after trout. You think about the fantastic sandwich and kettle chips back in cooler in the car nestled in next to the Coors Light, but if you leave to go and get it, you might lose your spot. Now doesn’t that make you want to go fishing haha?
What would you say is the biggest connection between fly fishing and business development?
I think the biggest thing in both is to stay curious and to stay passionate about what it is you are doing. Fly fishing isn’t for the faint of heart. If you are going to do it, give it your best effort. You have to be willing to do the work, the preparation, and make changes on the fly, sorry for the pun. There is so much in agency business development that is relatable. You have to prepare accordingly, you have to make multiple casts and calls that are unsuccessful, and you have to catch and handle the smaller fish in hopes that eventually it will help you catch a big one. My favorite comparison to fly fishing is that you have to bend over and flip over the rock to see what bait you need, the answer is often right there at your feet, but you have to be willing to bend over and get your hands dirty to get the answer.
I know you have caught a lot of fish from what you told me, do you ever get discouraged after a
bad day of fishing?
Absolutely! Some days are good and some days are less eventful. Some days you land a lot of fish or a big fish, and some days they get away. Just like advertising, you definitely pitch a lot, and that means you often lose those pitches. I think the education in both experiences is frustrating, but it is a constant reminder to learn from the mistake or loss and move forward to making the next cast.
What is your favorite part of fishing?
My favorite part by far is the time spent with friends and loved ones doing something you enjoy. I think this translates so much into your professional life. If you are going to spend a large amount of time and commitment doing something, make sure you are doing it with people you enjoy and share the same passions with. Some of my favorite times are memorable experiences with the people instead of the actual success.
What else would you like to say to anyone interested in fly fishing or working with the agency?
If you want to learn more just let me know. I’ll be more than happy to talk with you, take you fishing, or get you a creative campaign. I might even share my Coors Light. Tight lines, and thanks for reading.
JOHN CARUSO, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
John heads up business development at Elisco. His primary focus is to build awareness about the agency’s unique capabilities among prospective clients, in addition to developing and maintaining relationships with current and past clients. Prior to joining Elisco, he established and fostered supply chain management relationships at PLS Logistics. John graduated from La Roche College with a B.S. in Marketing and Business Management.