Doug Cox, Upnotch Mentor & President of posterGIANT, Inc, started his company in October 1999 — long before Seattle lifted its ban on street-level postering.
With that vision, a sense of perfection, and work ethic honed by years of production and touring experience, Doug has helped turn posterGIANT into the place to go for clients like Nike, Sony, Live Nation, and many more, who want to connect with the public on a grassroots level.
Who are your mentors? How have they helped you?
My grandfather was my first mentor. He had a really big impact on my life and definitely taught me a lot over the years.
The second one was Mike Fisher, a guitarist who owned Pro Show USA in Seattle. I worked for him for a few years and I definitely learned a lot from him. He took a lot of time out of his career to teach me the ropes of audio production.
I graduated from the Art Institute where I met Tom T., who was a teacher there. He became a mentor for me outside of school. I was a monitor engineer and we did shows together when I was a young man coming up in the industry. I learned a lot from him.
Gilbert, who was a sound engineer at the Moore Theatre was another mentor. I worked under him for 10 years as the second audio engineer. I learned a lot from him as well.
Those are probably my top mentors.
Describe a time when a mentor pushed you further than you thought was possible or accelerated your career.
Most of them accelerated my career through just being there as I was young and coming up, learning the ropes. They all taught me very valuable lessons about not just the job itself, but how to be successful and how to reach the top of your industry through hard work, dedication, and determination.
What makes a great mentee in your opinion?
Someone who wants to be there. A lot of people go through life trying to figure out what they want to do. I believe that we're all born with a special skill set. We each need to identify those skills. If what you want to pursue is the skill that you're born with, then that makes a really good mentee. Someone who's determined, who found their skill, their passion, what they want to do, and all they want to do is learn. That's somebody who's going to be successful.
What is advice that a mentor has given you that you can share or pass on?
Show up to work on time, be dedicated, be driven. I think it really comes down to you, having the passion for what you're doing. You really have to be passionate about what you're doing. If you’re disciplined, driven, and dedicated, then you're going to achieve great success. One other thing is don't give up. Be willing to keep pushing, let it grow and be patient. Things don't come as quickly as we would like them to. Nowadays, we live in a pretty quick society with information and things happening pretty fast all around us. There are lots of things in life that just don't come that quickly. You have to put in the time and hard work to achieve great things.
What would you tell your mentor if they were listening to you right now?
I’d thank them all profusely. They've all given me so much that has brought me to where I am today. I didn't start off my career with any intention of being in marketing or advertising. I ended up here because of what I've learned from all my mentors. It's kind of universal, right? When the opportunity comes along, and the door opens, if you have the skills necessary, there's no reason not to go through that door. When the opportunity came along. When I went through that door, I had the necessary skills to pursue it and become successful at it because of what I've learned from the people in my life that I had, that encouraged and mentored me along the way.
Why do you mentor?
It's mostly personal reasons, I personally like to see people succeed. I feel I've accomplished a lot of my dreams and goals. I've done things that I didn't think I would have the opportunity to do or that or that were possible. I like to see people be successful and to succeed at what they set out to do, their goals in life. I think it's important to be a mentor.
What does success mean to you?
Success is something I think is personal. It's not necessarily about money or freedom. A lot of what I do, and the reason why I work hard is that I believe in it. You can't help others unless you can help yourself. I like to give back to the community. I like to help other people. In order to do that, you have to be in a position of strength to help the community and help people around you. I get to help startups and all kinds of people reach their goals, every single client that comes to us is looking to achieve something. They see us as a vehicle to their success.
When did you know you achieved career success?
I'm a fairly humble person. I don't really look at my success. It's usually other people wanting to talk about my company, what I've done, what we've built. I've been asked to be in interviews in the media. That's when you figure out that you've gotten to success when other people start to recognize and want to hear from you, your input, and want you to be a part of that.
Describe a time you had a breakdown that led you to a breakthrough.
Business is full of challenges, life is full of challenges. There's been several, over my career, several challenges and hard issues to solve. The key to solving any of these big issues is to be determined, to be patient, and work your way through it. You can't give up. Challenges don't go away easily. You can run from them and hide - or you can take them head-on and get through it, find a way past it. It might be painful, it might take longer than you expected, but if you stay on your path and you keep fighting and going forward, you're going to find your way.
Did you ever have a moment, an embarrassing moment early on in your career where you were thought, “Oh my gosh, this could this could be the end of it.”
I've had embarrassing moments in my career without a doubt. One was at my very first arena show, I was the sound engineer. All of a sudden, during the concert, we hear this high-pitched noise. When those things happen, everybody turns towards the sound engineer to fix it. Luckily, I got it under control, but it was one of those moments when I wasn't sure if I was going to have a job after the show. The key to getting through those times is to remember what you've been taught and what you've learned.
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