The Cutting Edge: Les Margulis, 53, Media Director

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Les Margulis has reinvented himself several times during nearly three decades as a media director. Always eager to identify new trends, at Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, he urged his bosses and clients in the late '70s to move into cable TV; in the '80s and early '90s he lobbied to expand buying globally. "I try to see what's around the next curve," he says.

By late 1999, the Internet beckoned. Meanwhile, Mr. Margulis was watching media buying and planning momentum shift from full-service ad agencies toward media specialist shops. Appeals to vanity (an opportunity to build a company and change an industry) and greed (stock options potentially worth millions) swayed Mr. Margulis to leave his longtime employer. On April 5, 2000, his 22nd anniversary with BBDO, he resigned to join OneMediaPlace, a dot-com that aimed to streamline buying and planning.

Unlike earlier career risks, Mr. Margulis reaped few professional rewards from his Internet experience: "It was like falling off a plane and finding you can't fly," he says. Eight months after starting at OneMediaPlace, he realized the company was doomed. "It was a grand idea, but we didn't have the resources," he says. "And the industry didn't want to change." In March, less than a year after he signed on, OneMediaPlace fired almost its entire management team, including Mr. Margulis, and merged into another company, Mediapassage.

Mr. Margulis, 52 at the time, was on the street. "I knew I was going to get a job," he says. "I just didn't know where." He'd prepared for the possibility of unemployment while at OneMediaPlace by taking free-lance consulting gigs. Out of permanent work, he focused on winning new assignments and job hunting.

"I'm very aggressive," he says. "I called people I hadn't spoken to in 20 years." He looked the world over, from Australia (his wife's homeland) to Paris to Malaysia. In June, a consulting project with the Vidal Partnership, a $70 million Manhattan agency focused on marketing communications to Hispanics, yielded a full-time job. "This is the next big thing," says Mr. Margulis, the agency's VP-director of communications. "And I'm happy to be here."


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