Moshe Isaacian moved from Israel to Los Angeles with his parents when he was 9 years old. Growing up, he was a huge fan of the TV series House. Coming from an immigrant family, he was expected to enter one of three professions: law, business or medicine.
Around the age of 10 or 11, Isaacian wanted to be a doctor. He was named after his grandfather, who died from stomach cancer at a relatively young age. His grandmother passed away from a pulmonary embolism soon after he was born. He wanted to help. He wanted to give back.
While taking courses in biology and chemistry and studying toward medical school, however, he became interested in electronic dance music. This interest grew into a passion as he began writing for music blogs, managing communities of readers and running various social media accounts, such as the now defunct Digi10ve.com.
Starting to feel torn between two worlds—medicine and marketing—Isaacian finished his pre-med classes and prepared for the MCAT. But he also decided to take a summer course on marketing at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. The program ended with an opportunity to pitch a campaign idea to Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co. Isaacian’s idea won, and was used as the firm’s first brand campaign. It was yet another turning point and a significant one.
Believing a career in marketing might just work, Isaacian put his pursuit of medicine on pause and it’s remained on pause ever since. In January 2020, he moved to Portland, Ore., to join Laundry Service as a social strategist working on Nike.
Isaacian credits his career trajectory with his background of methodical medical training. Social media is all about the details, he said, and he learned the value of rigorous scientific study while preparing to be a doctor.
He’s applied this organized hustle to networking online with people in the industry, too. He observed. He made lists. He reached out for advice. He considered when to enter a conversation, and when to stand back. He didn’t want to come across as a person who “jumps up and about.”
As for his family, what do they think now?
“My parents are definitely proud of what I’m doing,” Isaacian said.
He didn’t manage up. Instead, he assumed he could get by on good work and good will, and that management would eventually notice. “It doesn’t work that way,” Isaacian said.
“You have to be proactive with the success you want to make,” Isaacian said. “You can’t just expect your manager to teach you things. You have to reach out to them.”
How He Got the Gig
After years of building relationships on Twitter and participating in online discussions, the right opportunity came along at the right time. Isaacian just so happened to know the right person to pass along his resume.
“As much as they say it’s the people you know, it really is,” Isaacian said.
Build an online presence and start networking. Ask questions, add value to conversations and follow people who inspire you. Ultimately, Isaacian argued, people want to help. “Twitter is the biggest secret to success,” he said.