Web stars speak
/ Interview with Joe Szabo
Joe Szabo is Writer for Modem
Launched my career in Budapest in 1993. Wrote my first TV script.
Won my first award.
Spent most of my EURO days at an agency called Ammirati Puris Lintas, roughly
Moved to Vancouver, British Columbia and spend my time running a small
design firm on Vancouver Island.
Eventually moved to the island and turned the design shop into an ad agency.
It was sold to Palmer Jarvis.
There's only so much sea-kayaking a man can take so I moved to Toronto
and began writing for a small shop called the BrainStorm Group, where I
created the Lemons were hurt real bad campaign for mike's hard lemonade.
After poking in and out of the interactive world I jumped online in August
That's when I joined Modem Media as a writer, and have been here ever since.
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were you first introduced to the internet?
I heard about the Internet while living in Eastern Europe in the early
90's. When I returned to Canada there was a steering wheel icon on my desktop,
the icon for Netscape Navigator. I clicked on it and that was it.
you remember your first impression of the internet?
I knew it would change the way we communicate.
are a copy writer, when did your love of words start?
I am a Canadian-Hungarian. Hungarian is the third hardest language to learn
in the world. I went to Hungarian grammar school when I was 5 and the differences
between the two languages continues to fascinate me.
My mission is to master one of them.
your path to becoming a professional writer.
The path is never the same. One day it's pure joy and the next is littered
with broken bits of glass, frustration and self-doubt. Oh yeah, and it never
do you look for when hiring?
Confidence, eagerness and fresh thinking.
makes for a good project?
A good client; a good producer who gets what you need; a good creative
director who lets you go out to left field and knows how to bring you back.
was your initial profession?
Writing was the only real job I ever had. I wouldn't call "Leisure
& Recreation Consultant" a profession, at least not a paying one.
did you first get involved in content publishing?
I wrote advertisements for seven years. Toward the end of my offline career
I started writing web sites for fun. Then I had to write one for a client,
mike's hard lemonade. Mike's a pretty wacky guy. And so was my first web
do you sharpen your talent?
READ. PRACTICE. LISTEN.
is your favorite writing material. Why?
Anything that I believe in. If a client can convince me that her salad
dressing is better than the competition's, the easier it is for me to convince
makes a good team?
When everyone is on the same high with same intentions to fulfill the same
makes a good storyboard?
A simple one.
what is *inspiration*.
Anything that stops me from looking at one thing the same way.
what is a top-notch client.
A top-notch client has to believe in what she's doing because it makes
a writer's job a lot harder when they don't.
She has to be honest and unafraid.
do you protect clients from their own ignorance?
Whenever client's make idiotic requests it's because they're unhappy with
what they have. They're not sure what it is and some clients are better
at articulating themselves than others.
I always try to find out what it is they don't like and why. If we're off
strategy, it's our fault. If the client is being subjective, I resort to
the objectives that were set forth.
do you promote your talent and land gigs?
Work harder than the next guy. The gigs will come to you.
you get involved in online marketing?
My clients have their own interactive marketing departments and I'm very
lucky to be exposed to the things they do. It's incredible.
When we feel their strategies won't work in the online world we try to
figure out how it will.
branding an important issue online?
Branding is fundamental to the survival of any brand, on or offline.
was the catalytic thought that gave birth to your career?
I wanted to be a radio DJ.
what the internet means to you?
3 qualities necessary to succeed online.
Vision. Passion. Knowledge.
is the single achievement that makes you most proud?
Making the transition from the offline ad world to the online world.
there were no budget limitations - which single dream project would you
The first chartered flight service to Mars.
a one line counsel to newbies.
READ whatever you can get your hands on. Learn it, and learn it better
than the next guy because he is most likely after what you're after.
is your opinion of the present situation in the dotcom industry?
People/companies who shouldn't be on Internet are finding why they shouldn't
be there. They need to rethink their objectives and set realistic goals.
Clearly, it's the time of winners and losers.
your view, explain what is convergence?
Convergence to me is when I use the Internet to do a task and all my needs
are met at every channel.
the www an international network?
It will be.
us what the future (net) looks like.
The net will be a much better place. We'll go to it on a daily basis like
we go to work or school to get something done, something that would have
taken a lot more time and effort before everyone used the net.