Brian Berner is an advertising media and technology executive with over a decade of experience. He is the Head of North American Advertising Sales for Spotify, the popular streaming service, and he leads nearly 200 employees across various departments in all matters related to advertising sales and revenue within the United States and Canada.
Discovering his passion for advertising as a college student, Berner began his career at an email marketing firm that would eventually evolve into MySpace, the premier social media site at the time. He quickly grew from his role as an individual salesman to a managerial position, jumpstarting sales efforts for MySpace on the West Coast, eventually doing the same on the East Coast and in the Midwest before moving on. After a stint as the Vice President of Midwest Sales for marketing solutions company Centro, Brian Berner was approached by Spotify for the position of Regional Vice President of the Midwest, and soon advanced to Head of Advertising Sales in the US. As a result of his continued excellence, he subsequently became Head of Advertising Sales for North America in its entirety.
Brian Berner’s wide breadth of experience in areas such as information, data, technology, and advertising have given him a distinct advantage in his career, providing him with a detailed understanding of digital-driven strategies long before they became the norm. His background in management information systems and informational hierarchies has also contributed heavily to his reputation as a well-respected leader with a proven track record of cultivating talent.
In looking forward, Brian Berner intends to continue excelling and achieving in his career, with hopes to one day start his own entrepreneurial efforts. Brian also has a passion for philanthropy and education, and his desire in this regard is to help improve Chicago’s education system, where he grew up.
Interview with Brian Berner
What’s the most important thing we should know about you?
Brian Berner: Everything I live and stand for personally and professionally is family. My family is who shaped me growing up. They’re who define me as a boss, husband, father, and sibling. They’re who have helped me lead and grow great teams.
Name the most impactful lesson you learned from failure.
Brian Berner: Failure leads to learning. It’s something I learned early on in my life. We shouldn’t be afraid of failure, as it helps us grow and better ourselves for the next opportunity.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Brian Berner: Professionally, being the Head of U.S. Sales and going public with Spotify. It came with a great amount of learning, planning, strategy, and execution. To see it successfully come to life was a great moment.
What did you waste the most time on when you were first starting your career?
Brian Berner: Trying to learn everything alone. There’s a vast amount of people before me that “have done it before” for all types of problem solving. I could have spent more time networking and learning from people who already had experience in whatever problem I was trying to solve before attempting to do so without first laying some initial insights and prep.
Name a tool you use for work that you can’t live without.
Brian Berner: Salesforce. I love the CRM and insights that can be derived from such a good tool like this.
What is your favorite hobby and why?
Brian Berner: Golf, but it should be noted that includes walking the course (no carts). It’s such a nice opportunity to be able to go outside to relax and refresh at the same time.
What excited you the most about your industry right now?
Brian Berner: The continued growth of streaming audio. As more consumers lean into streaming, especially Podcasts, the entire audio landscape continues to innovate and is affecting growth and advancements in other industries as well, like the connected car and home.
What concerns you most about your industry right now?
Brian Berner: Trying to understand what the long term effects of COVID will be on consumer behavior and the advertising industry.
What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?
Brian Berner: Professionally, when I first took the job as Head of Sales for Spotify in the U.S. Taking the job was a no-brainer, but the real challenge was moving a wife and 4 kids to a city where we had no family or established friendships in the neighborhood. At first it was one of the biggest challenges of my life getting our family settled in New York, but it was also equally one of the most rewarding opportunities to grow closer together as a family.
Name one small habit that positively impacts your productivity.
Brian Berner: Placing “Do Not Book” time slots on my calendar through various times each day. As we all know, our calendars can get overwhelming, therefore I’ve gotten much better at making time to block that’s just reserved for me. Whether that’s getting through my inbox or just creating some white space, it keeps me energized throughout the day.
What tips do you have for getting a seat at the table?
Brian Berner: Know your client’s objectives and what your value proposition is.
What book has made the biggest impact on your life?
Brian Berner: I’ve read them all, but one in particular was “Raving Fans”. It’s an incredibly easy read, but truly rang home with me about what customer service is, and how we define and lead with customer service.
Do you value intelligence or common sense more? Why?
Brian Berner: Both, it can never be just one. Data will always help provide direction and insights. Common sense tends to be learned through experience. Having both always leads to better outcomes.
What would you consider to be the perfect day?
Brian Berner: A day out of the office with my family.