Ad Ops All Stars: Dennis Colon,

by Kathleen Booth, on Dec 1, 2021 9:00:00 AM

dennis colon headshot

From working in the mining industry to managing a 200+ person ad ops team at CBS, Dennis Colon has done it all. He learned the ad ops business from the ground up, has been an individual contributor and a leader, and is now taking what he's learned to his role as VP of Product and Strategy, Media Division at 

In this week's episode of Ad Ops All Stars, he shares what it was like building the ad ops team at Conde Nast from 7 people to 60+ and how he successfully managed a team of more than 200 at CBS, along with advice for aspiring ad ops leaders about how to prepare to take on leadership roles.

Listen to or watch the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear Dennis's story.

Resources from this episode:

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Kathleen: Welcome back to the Ad Ops Allstars Podcast. I'm Kathleen Booth, your host, and today I'm joined by Dennis Colon, who is the Head of Product and Strategy, Media Division, at Welcome to the podcast, Dennis.

Dennis: Hey. Thank you for having me. I'm really excited.

Kathleen: I'm excited to have you here, and I love that you're sitting in front of shelves full of sneakers, because you are at least my second, if not my third Ad Ops Allstars Podcast guest who has a sneaker collection, fun fact.

Dennis: Awesome. Awesome. Great minds.

Kathleen: Yeah. The other one is Eric Hill at, so I'll have to connect the two of you offline and you can compare notes on all of your shoes. I love that.

Kathleen: Anyone who listens to the podcast knows that I always start out by asking the same question. We're going to do this as our little icebreaker, which is if you had to describe what you do for a living to a five-year-old, how would you do it?

Dennis: Well, it's hard enough to describe what I do to an adult who has no idea about advertising or cares, but I guess if I was speaking to a five-year-old, I would start off by saying that what I do and the people I normally work with is try to corral all the loose and wild ads that are running amuck everywhere, and what we do is we try to organize them, arrange them and try to make sure that you just get just enough of them and not always see it. If it wasn't for us, they'd be running wild and rampant throughout the web.

Kathleen: I like it, so you're like herding cattle, only the cattle are ads.

Dennis: Yes. Trying a positive spin for young kids.

Kathleen: Kind of like a rancher.

Dennis: Yes.

Kathleen: Well, you have had a really interesting background and you've worked in several different ad ops roles for different companies, large and small. Then now what you're doing is even a little bit different than that. What I want to do is kind of go back in time and start at the beginning of your career, and if we could, begin with you explaining how did you even get into this field in the first place?

Dennis: Sure. It's a long time ago. I think like a lot of folks, especially coming up at the same time I did, I kind of stumbled on the role. I was essentially new to digital I had worked at a mining company before working at my first digital job, was really centered around stats and pulling numbers, spreadsheets. It was for a division of Conde Nast and very early stages for them going on the web. We basically had to report on every, single number we could all the time, just to prove out whether these sites would survive or not. It was constantly churning at that point.

Dennis: Basically, I went for a role for more money, trying to plan a family, so essentially I was like, "I need to kind of do more," and I took a role that no one was really able to fill because they couldn't really define it themselves so much. It was a little bit of reporting, which I was really strong at, some tech, which I really wanted to learn, being creative. At that point for that role, we had to create ads as well. It just had so many different tasks and ways to go.

Kathleen: What was your title at that point in that role?

Dennis: I was the ad coordinator.

Kathleen: Okay, yeah. That's a lot of responsibility for that title.

Dennis: Yeah. It was just because they really were just trying to throw duties that they came about when they're trying to build their business that they didn't think of. They would just shove it to that department. It was like the catchall for pretty much all the tasks that someone had to learn or teach themselves because it was so new. Frankly, revenue wasn't a huge thing back then. There weren't high stakes like there are now.

Kathleen: Yeah. So you got into this ad coordinator role because it sounds like nobody else either wanted it or was able to fill it.

Dennis: Yes.

Kathleen: And you were given all of this responsibility. Talk to me about what that experience was like, because I imagine in some senses, it must have been a little overwhelming.

Dennis: It was really tough. Like I said, I felt like I was doing this for the longer-term vision, trying to get somewhere, but a big part about it for me was it was so exciting. I really, to this day, love getting up and not 100% knowing what I'm going to do as far as my task, and that really hasn't changed so much. It's gotten a lot more stable as my career evolved, but just that alone made me kind of deal with all the crappy parts about learning something new without much support and having all these different tasks that were very important in getting dragged, but I was just learning almost every day, all the time. There was real success. It's kind of silly, but when you start from the beginning and you see something worked on on a page on the web, it's thrilling, it's exciting, the fact that you had a big hand in that. That always pushed me.

Kathleen: Yeah, it's interesting that you say that, because I've found that in my own career, too. To feel satisfied, I need to see the product of my work. It was interesting, because many years ago before I went into marketing, I worked in consulting. Some of the projects I worked on were like five year-long projects. I got to this point where I was like, "This isn't satisfying to me, because I need sooner than five years. I need to see that I had an impact, that something came out of this work I'm doing."

Dennis: Yes, yes.

Kathleen: Yeah, that's one of the things I like about marketing. You can do something and you can see the results in terms of traffic of leads or pipeline growth or whatever. I really relate to your description of that. I guess it's not true for everybody, but certainly for some people, that is very important to feel that results.

Dennis: It's also you're able to teach yourself something new as far as your career. That's really not common. You can't go reinvent yourself. I have a ton of friends in this business, and we joke about our college careers or what we went to school. It's rare that... there's a large group of folks that had some type of tech or product or engineering background. It's a wide range of different degrees, knowledge base, and that's just amazing to me, because you can really teach yourself what's really needed to succeed.

Kathleen: Now, so you went from this ad coordinator role, and then what was your next step?

Dennis: My next step, it was process almost of elimination. Basically, I did so much work that eventually, the folks who I reported in to kind of lost a little bit of touch of everything that was going on, and it was a very crucial moment for the company. As time went on, I kept taking on tasks and projects that people didn't really want to be bothered with, and I eventually had to be called to all the meetings with management. The eventually promoted me. I ended up being a manager who was kind of an expert of what they were doing, not a manager of people, first. It was one of those, a senior position where they kind of left me alone in a corner to work on things, and I feel like that's where I honed a lot of skills I use even until today, especially when it comes to product launching initiatives, even tagging pages was something I was doing.

Kathleen: So you were-

Dennis: And then... sorry, go ahead.

Kathleen: ... in an elevated individual contributor role? Is that-

Dennis: Yes.

Kathleen: Okay.

Dennis: Yes. And then, eventually, the projects grew in scope and I started managing people.

Kathleen: And this was at which company now?

Dennis: This was still Conde Nast.

Kathleen: Okay.

Dennis: I was at Conde Nast basically for a very long time, running different departments and developing different divisions. Once I got the people manager role at Conde, I quickly pivoted to launching a yield team, programmatic team, ad tech team, ad QA, and really just started focusing on what the company needed, but really what a well-rounded ad ops group looked like. To me, that consisted of yield, planning, client services, ad tech and really robust training and testing, which wasn't really happening much, which led to a lot of chaos in the early days of ads, fighting with pages to coexist.

Kathleen: I want to make sure I'm getting this right. It sounds like when you were first starting out there, you were either the first or one of the first real ad ops people at Conde, and then over the years, you built a comprehensive team. How big was the team when you left?

Dennis: When I left Conde, it was about 65 to 75 individuals on the team. When I first started, the ad production team, which is what we were in, it wasn't really called ad ops, it was about seven people.

Kathleen: Wow.

Dennis: Yeah.

Kathleen: I really want to hear your insights on managing that level of growth and what it takes to build a team of that size and have it perform well and have the communication work and not miss deadlines. That's a pretty complex organization with a lot of people.

Dennis: No, it was very difficult, and honestly, it's never perfect. That's one of the other beauties of our business. We're dealing with things that aren't perfect and I enjoy that, but as far as growing those teams, for me, it was waiting until it was the right moment for certain groups to kind of become present in the organization. What I really did is I started out with the need and then I would look within the group itself. There's always individuals, especially when you're doing generalist work. I really love that term in ad ops, and that's what I consider myself. I usually try to hire individuals that are in that vein, especially as-

Kathleen: Generalists.

Dennis: ... the business gets more mature. Yeah, having a generalist could be powerful. I would always look for individuals that had some core competency at some of those tasks. If it was yield, there's always a few individuals that are go-to when they're discussing pricing and a lot of the inventory issues, and at that time, it was basically every ad ops person, that was just one of their tasks. I didn't think that was scalable or we had a lot of errors and issues that had nothing to do with the team itself, it was the time, the tools and some of the muscle, and having that ability to control and set some policies as opposed to just taking orders.

Dennis: Found some core individuals, and then I formed the group around that. Especially as you're navigating through a big company, everything has to be documented and you have to document that need. You have to start pitching for it, understanding the budget ramifications and also what the impact is going to be. Always try to report on the impact of the team to the business and what are the potential growth opportunities by having a team focused on this specific thing, is always really strong and powerful. But as you're scaling, you kind of have to do it with the team you have until you really can set things aside, and that's usually how I started out, building out some teams.

Kathleen: So you said it grew to be around 65 people. What percentage of that business that those teams were managing was programmatic versus direct?

Dennis: It was a very small percentage of that team that was managing programmatic. It was essentially about probably five to 10% of that group. That included ad tech all the way down to ad ops functions, very small, which is what you would hope with programmatic.

Kathleen: Right.

Dennis: You want to have smaller teams. Before I left, what I was trying to do with that group was essentially have them coexist with the rest of the full operations team, where there's really no difference between a direct executor than someone working in programmatic, and that was my hope, which was kind of the opposite. It's full circle, trying to break up and create and evolve these teams, but some of the functions I wanted to bring back to the traditional ad ops person so they could have a full view of indirect, direct revenue and a respect for it. That was the hope.

Kathleen: And how did it work out?

Dennis: It did not work out. It was one of those things where you got to try multiple avenues, and some things which I still think is a good idea, just didn't work. A lot of it had to do with the evolution of those ad ops folks turning into sales and partnership individuals, where they were basically, had a budget, had a number. It's hard to meld that into the ops team. That was probably one of the things I would rethink if I was going to do that today.

Kathleen: Interesting. You left Conde and then where did you go?

Dennis: CBS.

Kathleen: Tell me about your experience there.

Dennis: It went from having about 65, 70 people to managing almost 200, 220 teams. Very similar in the scope of what I was doing and the teams I was working with at Conde, but at CBS, the scale was just that much larger, the stakes were that much higher. It's really easy to mess up a video stream. They're very, very difficult to fix. The stakes are super high, but it was very similar except for in this scenario, I inherited different groups that I was tasked with bringing together, as opposed to essentially developing these teams. A huge positive of that is I inherited a very skilled, efficient, strong team. I really had to focus on having them feel like they were a team, even though it was about six or seven department that were traditionally at CBS not so in sync and working together, used to that, or having one set strategy coming down from one individual. That was a focus early on, and it was exciting. I would say it's been rare to encounter such excellent individuals that I did at CBS.

Kathleen: What did you find worked in terms of making them have more of that cohesive team feeling? Any advice for somebody who's stepping in to that kind of a situation?

Dennis: Yeah, sure. I think for me, what worked was getting the groups to work together and discuss projects before they happen. A lot of times, everyone worked in a vacuum, and just freeing up and making communication really open up and down the channel. As an example, I always had an open door policy. I always explained and was free with the strategy that we were moving to, especially considering they would be the most impacted by some of the decisions I made. I made them involved in those decisions, and the whole group as one. We would have a leadership meeting, which I purposely made social for the first three or four, before we really got down to discussing changes or business or things that were happening, and then a part of it was in the social atmosphere, was everyone explaining their jobs and reminding each other that they're not that far removed from each other and have similar goals. Once the group felt comfortable and were outside of the minutia of just talking about work issues. A lot of times you have those meetings that are stand-ups and they turn into negative complaint sessions.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Dennis: People feel like they have to go there with something going on, and kind of change that where we want to hear something positive that went along with something negative, just really trying to change the atmosphere was very successful for me.

Kathleen: I'm dying to ask also, so you went from managing a team of 65, which is a big team. Of all the people I've spoken to, that's probably one of if not the largest, to managing a team of 200+ people, which is definitely the largest. I'd love to just hear your advice also for anybody who's stepping into a management role in ad ops with that many people underneath them. What are some things that personally worked for you to stay organized, to hold it all together, whether that's meeting cadences or project management software, how did you stay organized and manage it all?

Dennis: It was very difficult and I kind of had to learn many new things. I always prided myself in being able to chat with everyone individually on my team, spending time. Even at 65, that's manageable. I couldn't really do that anymore, so I had to figure out ways to connect with everyone on the team, not just the folks that are in my management group, because I think early on, you tend to kind of stick with that group, because you can really efficiently run an organization like that if you have really strong people in key positions, but that's not enough to really get the sense of the team and understand how to utilize resources and how to step back, who needs more support.

Dennis: I would have it on my calendar. I would spend a few hours a day just randomly picking individuals in the group and chatting with them, walking down to the area where the team is and hanging out with folks, and I'd try to make it so that my presence wasn't an issue with people, where they would get nervous-

Kathleen: Right. Like, "Oh boy, the boss is coming."

Dennis: Where I feel like something's going on. They would be like, "Oh, he's coming again. He's always here. He's talking to everyone. You could ask something, and he's really going to respond," and really holding myself accountable to the team. That was another way to really quickly get the group behind me, is our successes, we shared, our failures, we shared. I highlighted individuals. I would ensure that that weekly sales shout-out note that goes out to management starting including ad ops folks, ad tech folks, they're getting presence at meetings and just trying to bring them along to the things that I was doing, and also trying to get involved in some of the things they were doing, because it's really hard to manage that many individuals.

Dennis: I use my calendar a lot for breaks in work, but I have the break, so I'm going to go run over and check to see whose birthday it is, to make sure I could go talk to them, give them a call. Or I would be like, "They're working on this project. They should be hitting a milestone." I want to have an update before the update meeting so I can... they're going to do as they're presenting it. I really try to be involved at that point so that I can discuss it with them. I hate you're doing an interview or you're interviewing someone and they just start reading the material as soon as they talk to you, even though you're prepared, you're supposed to. So out of respect to the team members, I would always try to do that and really understand what's going on to the best of my ability. I think those type of things, when you're patient, you listen, you really get involved from the ground up, success comes from that. At least it worked for me.

Kathleen: How was the team at CBS structured?

Dennis: Everything was done in... it was split up in two ways. We had specific departments. We had our yield. Our ad ops team was specifically focused on execution of campaigns, and then we had client services, which basically managed all the campaigns. They were the campaign managers and they did some planning, as well. Then, I ran an ad tech team that really focused on integrations, maintaining our platforms and partnerships. Within that group, there was a systems team that was responsible for actually making those changes and integrations, and also responsible for SOC, compliance, security and things like that. I had a small data team of one person for about five years until we grew that to three. Then, there was video versus display trafficking. There was further breakdowns of some of the teams, where it was really niche. I try to kind of open up the possibilities for folks, where they would just focus on executing video, I would introduce them to ad tech and project management to see there was interest or just to enhance their current capabilities.

Dennis: Then, it was further broken out by CBS properties, which is where the video was, and then the technology and the c-net side of the house, as well as a small college network that we ran. All those different business units, which were very large, had their own teams, but I made them one department. Client services serviced all those business units as opposed to living in those verticals. There was knowledge sharing, there was coverage. People were able to move. It extended the life of the team as far as attrition by a few years, by exposing everyone to the different teams and not just creating one.

Kathleen: You mentioned the word project management. It made me start to wonder, with all of these different teams and subteams, did you have a single platform you all used for workflow management and project management? How were you coordinating all these different moving parts?

Dennis: Yeah, we had a single workflow for everything. Early on, it was email and a spreadsheet, but then it evolved into Slack. Slack is, I would say that that was a game changer for having all these groups and the communication just flowed very easily. That's kind of how we managed communication. As far as managing the teams' budgets and all that, one of the benefits of working for a large corporation is you have individuals assigned to you, and I had a really strong finance person who worked with me on my budget who was really supportive and we chatted a lot, probably more than they used to with other individuals.

Dennis: Marketing I was very close to, just to ensure that my team members were getting some profile abilities to speak at places. In the past, it was just leadership, but I wanted to extend that to everyone. I feel like that's the next step in your evolution as a professional, is to be able to do that. We even tasked people with, "This year, you have to do one speaking engagement."

Kathleen: I love that.

Dennis: Just for their personal growth, as well.

Kathleen: Yeah. How often did you meet with your direct reports?

Dennis: Weekly. I met with my direct reports weekly, as well as many side conversations. Then, the next level, it was every two weeks. Then, I would try to attend the monthlies with the whole department. And then, every quarter we would have a full group meeting.

Kathleen: By the way, I feel like I could talk to you about this for hours because it's really interesting, all that goes into managing a team of that size, but you have done other things since CBS, and I want to make sure we save time for that.

Dennis: Sure.

Kathleen: You rose through the ranks at CBS. What was your title when you left there?

Dennis: I was senior vice president of operations and strategy.

Kathleen: Okay. Where'd you go after that?

Dennis: After that, I went to SuperAwesome, the kids ad tech company. Basically, there, I managed their marketplace, their partnerships and creative services. This was kind of taking a chance at a company that's really drastically different than my experience. I worked for very large corporations. This was a startup, it was exciting.

Kathleen: Yeah, what made you make that leap? I'm so curious.

Dennis: To be honest, I wanted to make the leap and do something else, but due to the pandemic, that had to slow down. That's actually what I'm doing right now. This is something that everyone should be prepared for in anything in life, is have multiple plans and options if something doesn't work out or there's a hiccup. I was very eager to talk to the folks at SuperAwesome, just because of what they were doing. So had that conversation while trying to work on something on my own, and that slowed down, so the conversations with SuperAwesome kind of picked up, joined the team. Joined them through an acquisition by Epic Games. They didn't spend much time there, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that what I'm working on now started taking off, was back on the table. The folks at SuperAwesome really knew that. They knew that I was interested in starting my own thing at some point in my life. I'm getting old so, not many years left to kind of take some chances.

Dennis: Secured the transition from SuperAwesome to Epic Games and excused myself and here I am at, where I've worked on RPA, robotic process automation for ops, all those departments that we've been talking about and all those tasks and managing that, it comes with a very large amount of manual steps and processes. We kind of deal with so many new items quarterly sometimes, and yearly, that the systems don't really have a chance to catch up. We work in a third party kind of system management, where we don't really own the tech. Everyone's really kind of users at a very high level. I had the opportunity to take a product in the industry not related to ours, but redevelop it with a focus and a lens on operations, and develop products to automate trafficking, planning, billing, kind of really the soup to nuts order to cash, with a focus on helping those teams. They're never staffed appropriately, there's always budgets. Even with 200+ people, I had 11 to 15 open heads in any given department at any time and deadlines, and really trying to build something that worked.

Dennis: It took a year and a half, because as an ops person, I wanted to make sure the product worked for me and it wasn't something that wasn't unstable. That's kind of where it went. Taking, I feel like this role and this opportunity is taking everything I have learned. Everything I have learned as a trafficker all the way to a leader to kind of iterate and develop the product, but also all that I learned as a project manager, a product manager on some days in the ad ops role to kind of set up a business that is thoughtful and kind of trying to solve a problem, but not overextending itself. The ad ops guys are usually the reality check for a company or a business, and I'm trying to bring that to the project at Jiffy.

Kathleen: This is interesting to me, because robotic process automation has come up a couple of times in just the interviews I've done in the last month. All of the sudden, I'm starting to hear a lot more about it. I think it's easy to understand at a very basic level. Sure, if you can automate things, it makes all of our lives easier, but I'd love to just hear your vision for where you think this is going to go in the future in ad ops. When we really push the limits, how much of ad ops will be able to be automated?

Dennis: I think it's already along that path, it's just the automation is coming from the platforms that you use. You essentially can push a shell over from an LMS into an ad server, but there's still a lot of work that has to be done, and really the way I see this evolving is it kind of puts the control in the end user's hand and they choose what they want to automate, as opposed to a platform dictating what happens and then really kind of maybe not being able to handle the switch and transition to another platform. So that's one thing, is I really want to put the control... once you do that, you're going to see the product and automation in general just kind of grow. I think it's going to have very, very large growth for the next few years, and it's really those manual tasks that I'm talking about. It's like hitting this checkbox, this dropdown and choosing number seven for priority every time or adding these tags or pixels that came in. It's that type of work that honestly no one likes to do, no one wants to do, and when you build a resume or job description, it's like 20 to 40% all this really cool stuff where you're impacting margins, products, you're investigating new initiatives, and then the other stuff is like executing campaigns, very vague. It's all manual shit that you really shouldn't have to waste your time doing.

Dennis: I don't want my robot to be thinking about how to productize something or roll out a new ad unit or handle video, handle identity. But what I wanted to do is to execute the campaigns to a certain level so that your guys can focus on really things that impact the business. Like I said earlier, you really want to impact the business. You can do it on a mature level in a mature business now. Just sending an ad live used to be really impactful, but now it's not when there are thousands of transactions happening. Just getting to that information is what I want my product to do, to free up the team's time. I feel like it's a utility and another tool in their tool belt.

Kathleen: I think there's definitely the one side of the discussion, which is like, "Oh my gosh, yes. This will make our lives easier. We will not have to continue doing all of these rote, manual, super boring tasks," but then there's the other side, where people, and this conversation comes up in any industry whenever automation is mentioned, where people think, "Is it going to replace me? Are people going to lose jobs?" I don't know that we can speculate so much on that, but I do think the question that I feel is important to ask and to think about for anybody who's work in ad ops is knowing that automation in so many industries is inevitable, but in this case in ad ops, that it's coming, if somebody's working in the field and maybe isn't yet in a leadership role and they're thinking about their future career, what are the aspects of the skills and the experience that they should be focusing on to position themselves for success in the future, knowing that more things will be automated? I guess what I'm really asking is what will not be automated and how should they be positioning themselves to really take on those roles?

Dennis: Yeah, no, that's a great question. I think one piece everyone should be doing is researching automation and how they could use it for their current roles. That'll keep themselves very relevant within their organizations.

Kathleen: Yeah, knowing how to run the robots, right?

Dennis: Exactly, right? There's a lot of analytics that come with that that can change your business. Being the first to provide those insights are super valuable. The other piece is it's the optimization, it's producing the reports, it's the analysis of that. It's helping roll out products. Everyone is dealing with identity and cookies going away. That needs to be productized internally and set up properly. The money's not just going to come. The CPMs aren't going to grow. You have to be able to look at it on a daily basis potentially with new things, initiatives like that that are wide impacting. If you're executing campaigns, you don't have time to do that. I know that was the number one priority and that's what you drop everything for, so if you can focus on some of that other stuff, it's going to involved working beyond the hours of your day because you're doing all these other things. That's going to set you up regardless of RPA, regardless of anything coming. That's setting you up for the next conversations in the boardroom and really changing the business.

Kathleen: That's good advice. All right, we're going to shift gears because I feel like I could talk to you forever, but we're going to run out of time. I want to make sure we have time to ask the questions that I always include at the end, the first being exactly as we've talked about here, this industry is changing really rapidly, whether it's things like automation or if it's privacy-related changes, there's just a lot going on for people to stay on top of. How do you personally stay educated and are there certain sources that you rely on to stay on the cutting edge of what's happening in the world of ad ops?

Dennis: Sure. That's growing so much, which is fabulous, but I would say the thing I do most, it still holds true for me, and that's the conversations I have with my peers. It's a really small, tight-knit community and I learn so much from just a casual conversation. To be honest, a lot of the conferences that are available to us today, I get so much more out of a casual conversation and I learn so much from that. That's always a source. Please, everyone try to grow your community and your friends, because that's really saved me many times. It's been very insightful and I learn to this day. Beyond that, it's-

Kathleen: Any particular events, by the way, that you must attend?

Dennis: Sure. I'm an AdMonsters guy. I've been a member since the early 2000s. Anything Beeler does, I try to watch, listen. I'm reading AdExchanger, the IAB, what they're doing, but I think when it comes to all those sources, it all depends on the issue. Some folks cover it better. I love what the IAB does sometimes when it comes to tech and those conversations. Some of the other guys are good on policy. I just try to read as much as I can and speak to people.

Kathleen: Yeah. Yeah. Speaking of people, of course we profile ad ops leaders, past or present, on the podcast, who's somebody that you think is doing really outstanding work in the field that we should profile as our next guest?

Dennis: Sure. There's so many people that I could say and say are doing really great thing, but I'm going to pick Derek Nicol, who is on my team at CBS, runs the ad tech. Derek just, always on the cutting edge, always has strong opinions, very strong opinions.

Kathleen: I like strong opinions. That makes for a fun conversation.

Dennis: Yeah, and as I said earlier, I didn't always make the right choices and I even explained one. He's someone else who, that's something I really respect, people who will admit they failed and really quickly pivot. That's a sign of strength and those people are generally more successful.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Dennis: And anyone who can talk that way I'm always gravitated towards.

Kathleen: Oh, that sounds like it would be a great conversation. Good one. All right, last question, and this one is special just for you, what is your favorite pair of sneakers in your collection?

Dennis: Oh, that's a hard one.

Kathleen: Is it like picking a favorite child?

Dennis: Well, I won't say that out loud in case my kids hear me, but no. I would say I have them always out. These are my favorite.

Kathleen: Now, what are those?

Dennis: These are Jordan 3's, the black cements. They're not really valuable. I have some sneakers that are super valuable. These are the wet pair. They're really valuable. Those are the first pairs I was able to buy on my own. When my parents let me go shopping on my own, it was to buy those Jordans. I was able to get another one in my collection, so they're really my favorite shoe.

Kathleen: Sentimental, yeah.

Dennis: Yeah.

Kathleen: You know you made it when, right?

Dennis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And then I have another pair that is a pair of Filas. I don't know where they are. I think I have them. I'm cleaning them, so I have a room where I clean them.

Kathleen: Wait, you have a room just for cleaning sneakers?

Dennis: It's in the laundry room, but yeah, I keep an area where I just clean my shoes.

Kathleen: I love it.

Dennis: It's a pair of Filas. They're the first shoe I saw that I was like, "Wow, those are really cool."

Kathleen: Yeah.

Dennis: You know what I mean? It's when you know that may be a thing. I've had about 200 of those over the years. If they get dirty, I replace them. Yeah. Again, not really a popular shoe, but my favorite.

Kathleen: Yeah, awesome.

Dennis: They introduced me to sneakers.

Kathleen: I love it. That's what sparked the interest.

Dennis: The obsession.

Kathleen: Yes. All right, well, if somebody is listening and they want to learn more about you or connect and ask a question, what is the bet way for them to do that?

Dennis: They can reach out to me on LinkedIn. They can just search Dennis Colon. You know what? Shoot me an email, as well. is another way to reach me, but yeah, I would love to talk to anyone and help answer questions or have them answer questions I have.

Kathleen: That's awesome. And of course if you want to learn more about, head to If you want to hear other conversations with leading ad ops experts, you can head to and visit our resource center, we have all of the past podcast episodes, as well as a bunch of other resources that will help with protecting your brand, your user experience and your revenue. This was a ton of fun, Dennis. I really appreciate you coming on. I feel like I could talk to you forever, but we don't have forever, sadly, so thanks for joining me this week. It was great.

Dennis: Thank you for having me, really appreciate it.

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