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Featured on Nov 16, 2011

Phil Toronto

"Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive."


Phil began his journey as a collegiate scholar in 2005 at The College of New Jersey. 4 years and 20 plus pounds (of knowledge) later, Phil graduated with a degree in teaching. Between the screaming teenagers and the lack of recess in middle school, Phil realized that teaching wasn't for him and that he'd leave the classroom for Mr. Feeny. After spending 18 months as Gary's assistant, Phil has moved on up like the Jeffersons to become the Manager of Emerging Technology at VaynerMedia.

What are your responsibilities as Manager of Emerging Technology at VaynerMedia?

Essentially, I meet with as many startups and entrepreneurs as I can and help find interesting ways for them to work with our clients. I love meeting people and I love seeing all of the awesome products that they are passionately building. It's super exciting for me.

You ran your own company, 201 Motorsports, for over four years where you were an importer/distributor of high end automotive performance parts for both retail and wholesale markets.  How did you initially get into this business and did you have any difficulties balancing your time since you were still in school?

I had purchased a part for my car from a vendor that I found on a forum and wound up talking to him on AIM about his company and how he started. It turned out that he was 23 and finishing up a degree while running a relatively successful eCommerce operation out of his parent's garage. I was 18 at the time and my eyes were really opened to entrepreneurship. It took me a few months to get going after that initial conversation, but I hit the ground running and that same vendor wound up being the first person I purchased wholesale from.

I ran into quite a few difficulties with time management. I'd miss deadlines for class because I was up all night crafting a microsite for a sale I wanted to run or simply too focused on making sure everything was running smoothly with the business in general. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and I see so many errors when I look back now, but that's what the future is for.

If you could do it over again, would you change what you studied at TCNJ?  If so, what do you think you’d choose to major in?

Honestly, I wouldn't change much about my college experience other than maybe focusing a bit more on my business (sorry, Mom). I wound up graduating from the Education department and I'm actually a certified teacher in NJ. I'd do it all over again. If anything, I would choose to spend more time in Holman Hall and try to learn more from the Interactive Multimedia or CS majors.

Learning effective teaching methods has helped me immensely during my time in the tech world. Who knows, maybe I'll find myself in front of a college class one day as a professor. That's an interesting option I'd consider down the road.

How did you get your job as Gary’s assistant?

Ha! It was quite the ride. Gary had tweeted about an open position at VaynerMedia so I sent in my resume. It turned out that MTV was going to be filming the entire process from start to finish for a new reality show called "Hired". When I first found out, I thought I was actually going to be on "Punk'd", but that wasn't the case thankfully. I didn't wind up getting the job, but I had sent Gary a follow-up email thanking him for the opportunity and he responded asking if I'd be interested in being a VM intern. I was happy to join VM in any capacity and I don't think I've ever responded to an email faster in my life. After 3 months, I was hired full-time :)

Manager of Emerging Tech