Torrence Boone – CUP Catalyst Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I lead Google's global agency business which basically means that I help advertising and marketing agencies understand the possibilities of our products and platforms for the campaigns they develop for brands. It also means that I lead large scale deal negotiations (financial and strategic) with these important partners to help drive a transformational agenda for our respective businesses.

I found the digital marketing world after a good stint at Bain during the mid-late '90s: it was the height of the first Internet boom and I was fascinated by the potential of the Web and technology. I took a big risk and leap to lead the NY office of Avenue A, now Razorfish. I thoroughly enjoyed the open-ended, rapid pace of innovation and have been hooked since.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?
Combatting the misperception of some agency partners that Google seeks to disintermediate them.

What is your proudest achievement?
Winning a full scholarship and graduating with honors from Phillips Academy, Andover. I grew up in inner city Baltimore with a single mom who struggled to support me and my older brother. Andover was my "big break" to potentially reset the trajectory of my life and my family's life. I seized the moment at age 13 and achieved success against a lot of odds. I feel good about that.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
Hadrian, the Roman emperor: he was the first true Renaissance man. Abraham Lincoln. Twyla Tharp, the choreographer: I was briefly a professional dancer and remain passionate about the art form; Twyla helped define 20th century dance; I also stand in awe of her creative discipline. The Dalai Lama.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I'm an aspiring writer, so I hope to be retired from business and focused on a new career as a novelist.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
Focus on excellence in everything you do.

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?
I've always been fortunate to have mentors and I serve as a mentor to many others. Mentorship has made me more confident and has allowed me to build intuition (professional and personal) more quickly because you're tapping into wisdom and experience in concentrated form. In mentoring others, I've become more self-aware because you have to step outside yourself to understand how your frame of reference informs your counsel to others.