Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
My name is Michael Burke, I’m originally from Ireland but currently based in New York City where I work as Brand Manager at SelfMade, one of the City’s fastest-growing social startups. I joined SelfMade in December last year, where my job involves helping e-commerce companies scale their businesses through strategic Instagram Marketing and advertising.
What exactly does your company do?
So SelfMade is essentially a 360 degree Instagram marketing platform for e-commerce businesses. This includes content creation, strategy, and social advertising. When business partners with SelfMade, we do a deep dive into what their brand represents. We then tell that story across their feed, building them an on-brand and professional-looking Instagram account. Simultaneously, the SelfMade ads team do an analysis on who is that client’s ideal customer is, and then create paid social campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, and drive further revenue for the business.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
After I finished school, I immediately took a job that I didn’t enjoy at all. I last a couple of months there and eventually decided to leave. It was during that period that I was pretty lost and didn’t really know what I was going to do with my life. I made a pretty impulsive decision to up and move to the States, and booked a one-way ticket to New York City, without knowing anyone here, or knowing how I was going to find a job. The first couple of months here living in a Brooklyn AirBnB while I figured out my next move was pretty challenging. I eventually went on Crunchbase, picked out some startups that looked awesome and were growing quickly, and figured out a way to get a job at one. Twelve months later and things now look a little different, SelfMade is a 100 person company, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been listed by The Sociable as one of the 30 under 30 most Influential People in Marketing, Advertising, and Social Media this year, so it’s been an interesting year, to say the least.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
To not worry about failing, and to just try a lot of different things until you find the thing that you like, and are good at. A couple of years ago I started a website out of my bedroom called Talk Show Entertainment, which is basically the E-News! for the world’s most popular talk shows. I quickly grew the Instagram associated with the website to 25,000 followers within a couple of months, and this basically taught me that I had some sort of talent for being able to scale communities online. My point being, I wish I dabbled in more side projects like this when I was in college/just graduated, to get a better and quicker understanding of what I was good at, and enjoyed doing.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
Some of my biggest influences are entrepreneurs who build great products, but also promote having fun along the way. Two guys that stand out are Justin Kan (the guy who founded Twitch) and Noah Kagan (he was employee number 30 at Facebook, and went on to found a really cool company called Sumo.com). They both always talk about the struggles of working at a startup, but also how rewarding it is, and how much you grow personally and professionally from doing so. With regard to people I admire, it would have to be an Irish-American businessman named Chuck Feeney, he has made more than $8 billion throughout his career and given 99.99% of it away to charity through various forms of philanthropy. There is an amazing book about Chuck called “The Billionaire Who Wasn’t”. I’d recommend it to anyone.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?
This will sound extremely cliche, but I owe a lot of my success to my family. When I told them that I was moving to NYC, they supported me and even reassured me that everything would work out ok, and this was at a time when I wasn’t so sure that everything would actually pan out that way.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
Seeing small businesses that I work with every day, turn into big business as a result of the work that we do with them at SelfMade, that and then being included on a list with 29 other marketers under the age of 30 that are making a dent in the marketing world.
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