Former MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan on the Art of Networking to Win in Business

He opens up on how to identify, capitalize on, and merchandise winning opportunities

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Following Michael Kassan’s acrimonious exit from MediaLink, which involves him suing owner United Talent Agency (UTA)—which has issued its own lawsuit in response—we look back on conversations with the influential business executive.

What does business success imply? Money? Talent? Expertise? Probably all of them. But there is more to it. And today’s guest will share his secret sauce for leveraging opportunities to grow your business.

In the latest episode of The Speed of Culture podcast, Michael Kassan, CEO of MediaLink, joins Suzy Founder and CEO Matt Britton to discuss how his company serves as the media and marketing industry’s trusted connector by identifying areas of opportunity, optimization and growth for its clients.

If you’re sincere and actually care about the people that you’re interacting with, and if you build meaningful relationships, it’s the greatest gift I could give anybody.

Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO, MediaLink

Kassan has led the firm’s expansion from strategic advisory into multiple business lines, including executive search, financial due diligence, agency reviews and trade marketing. Before MediaLink, he was president and COO of Initiative Media, where he helped grow the company’s initial $1.5 billion in billings nearly 10 fold.

Here, Kassan talks about how to identify, capitalize on and merchandise winning opportunities, and why businesses should focus on “brandformance.”

If you want to learn more about leveraging media and marketing for growth, check out the takeaways from this episode.

Key Highlights:

  • 05:21-07:29 — Seizing Opportunities — Transformation is a good thing, whether you view it from a business or personal perspective. Kassan reinvented himself in his early 50s and established MediaLink. He believes that has to do with what he calls his superpowers: identifying, capitalizing on and merchandising opportunities.
  • 09:21-15:25 — The Ultimate Connector — MediaLink differentiates by connecting the right people at the right time. As Kassan describes it, the company is at the intersection of marketing, media, advertising, entertainment, sports and technology. These disciplines are represented by five Ts and six Cs. The Ts are trust, transparency, talent, technology and transformation. And the Cs are culture, community, creativity, content, commerce and curation.
  • 17:56-23:37 — Focusing on ‘Brandformance’ — As brands navigate macroeconomic challenges, businesses must be more judicious about their spending. Merger and acquisition activity was robust at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. But now, money is expensive, and spending habits have changed. As companies shift from brand-based to performance-based business models, try to take advantage of lower-priced opportunities.