IN THE BUSINESS OF CHANGING BUSINESS
Whether it's leading a fast-growth company through growing pains, or mobilizing his kids to the beach, Sean believes in falling in love with the problem. He approaches work with the same liberal-arts mentality as he does play -- with both a sense of curiosity and constructive contrarianism. This practice has led him down a winding path to his current role as Head of Strategic Growth at Sid Lee LA, where he builds brands and businesses for the future with one of the most multi-disciplinary teams in the industry. His career and life are forever in prototype.
Sean has been helping brands solve complex business problems for 20 years. He learned the fundamentals of media and marketing in the management training programs of global advertising monoliths Y&R and Grey; he then learned how to challenge those fundamentals at independent creative shops. Over the course of his career, Sean has architected integrated campaigns for some of the world's largest and most-respected brands, wearing many hats, from strategic planning to client service, business development to marketing.
Sean is currently Head of Strategic Growth at Sid Lee in Los Angeles, collaborating with multidisciplinary teams around the world to build brands for the modern age. Clients include The North Face, Netflix, Oath, Yahoo Sports, and Sundance Institute. As a member of the kyu collective he's constantly exploring new ways to use creativity to propel the world forward.
Prior to Sid Lee, Sean lead strategic growth at enso, a mission-driven creative agency that convenes brands, creators, and communities around shared missions. Working with organizations like Google, Khan Academy, and Omidyar Network, enso creates participatory movements that build brand value and drive social impact at scale. That followed a brief detour into the startup world, where he served as Chief Marketing Officer of the venture-backed, direct-to-consumer brand Brilliant Bicycle Co., before it was sold to Priority Bicycles in 2016.
Previously, Sean served as Chief Strategy Officer at Omelet, setting the company's strategic vision, managing a world-class staff of thinkers, strategists, planners, and number crunchers, and leading all growth, corporate development, and marketing efforts. Over the course of his five-year tenure at Omelet, Sean grew organic revenue more than sixfold, from under $5 million to $30 million, transforming a local boutique agency into a global marketing, entertainment, and branding firm.
Sean developed, pitched, and on-boarded client partners at Omelet, including Walmart, Microsoft, AT&T, HBO, Whole Foods Market, Sony, Moet & Chandon, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and NBC Universal. He shaped the company's go-to-market strategy, from its mission, vision, and values to its branding, owned and earned media efforts, and industry leadership initiatives.
In 2013 Sean founded Omelet's award-winning editorial platform, Wake Up, to channel the company's thought leadership. What started as a quarterly magazine expanded to include weekly trend reports and original video content series. The publication has garnered tens of millions of global impressions, over 100,000 reads, and tens of thousands of followers and subscribers.
Before joining Omelet, Sean led cross-disciplinary teams at Young & Rubicam and Grey in New York, and at MZ in LA. At MZ he held a leadership role bridging business development, strategy, and client services for partners including Hormel, Carl's Jr./Hardee's, Yahoo, Monster Energy, and Hansen Natural Soda. At Y&R and Grey he worked on a range of consumer and B2B brands, including AT&T, KFC, Computer Associates, and Aetna, moonlighting on new business and internal transformation initiatives.
A restless traveler, music wonk, skier, and film geek, Sean, like many of his fellow Gen Xers, is trying to balance his Peter Pan complex with the responsibilities of fatherhood and middle age. When he's not locked in a war room at the office or on the road with his clients, Sean can be found hiking in the Santa Monica mountains with his daughter Quinn or chasing snow in Utah.
Sean was born in Quito, Ecuador during a citywide blackout. It was 1976 and a military dictatorship had ambitiously developed the country's oil resources at the expense of its infrastructure. On April 20th, La Clinica Pichíncha, a dilapidated hospital in the oldest part of the city, lost all power minutes after his mother went into labor. Almost 24 hours later, Sean entered the world to a candlelight reception.
Sean's dramatic entrance into the world was just the first of many unpredictable experiences growing up overseas. By the time he was twelve, he'd lived in five different countries, bouncing between Latin America, Asia, and Minnesota, where he and his four siblings developed a near-pathological love for the game of ice hockey. In fact, they proudly hold the distinction of introducing the game to Hong Kong back in 1986.
Some experiences, like being shaken down by corrupt police in Venezuela, left him longing for a more conventional childhood. But not many people are lucky enough to bike through rural China, hike the Amazonian rainforest, and explore uninhabited islands in the Philippines, all by the time they’re old enough to drive.
Sean visited his grandparents in Maine in the summers, went to prep school in Rhode Island, and attended Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, where he met his now wife, Deirdre, and graduated with a BA in Latin American studies. After school he moved to New York City, where on the advice of his father, who counseled that mediocre students in his day went into advertising, he entered the management training program at Young & Rubicam.
After seven rewarding, albeit largely sleepless years in New York, Sean made the trek westward to Los Angeles where his wife attended law school. It wasn't a month before they dropped the anchor and abandoned all talk of moving back east.
Today, he lives in Venice with his wife Deirdre Lanning, a reformed litigator who teaches law at her alma mater UCLA, his six-year old daughter Quinn, who keeps him on his toes with a steady stream of uncomfortable questions, and his two-year old son Keaton, who's actually pretty chill.