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John Nardone always wanted to lead. And now as director of media research for Modem Media, and director of its New York office, he's gotten his wish. Bought out by True North Communications in December, this interactive shop is merging with True North's Northern Lights Interactive units around the world, boosting Modem's staff to more than 400 employees divided between six offices in three countries.

Not that Mr. Nardone could have predicted Modem Media would be a leading interactive agency. While he was senior product manager at PepsiCo in 1993, DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, brought in Modem to work on a new Pepsi product launch. Modem had recommended a cross promotion with America Online, something which, at the time, Mr. Nardone knew nothing about. So he logged on for three and a half hours his first night, and was wired.

By September 1994, he'd jumped ship to Modem. Now, he's likely to spend upwards of 15 hours a week online, mostly checking out clients' Web sites and making sure clients and co-workers stay abreast of the latest in interactive technology. Certainly, online communication helps: He receives more than 100 e-mails daily. His tasks include "knowledge sharing"-sharing the agency's best practices among all the offices.

With the birth of twin sons this spring, Mr. Nardone's notorious 80-hour workweeks have slowed, but with the evolution of new media, this is no time to relax, he admitted. The rate of innovation and new opportunities in new media are "inspiring," he said.

"There just continues to be wave after wave of new ideas and innovations that need to be categorized and linked up and reconceptualized in different ways to figure out the best way to use them for clients," he said. "It's one of those things that really turns me on."

Jeffery D. Zbar

Betcha didn't know: Mr. Nardone has a collection of some 10,000 superhero comic books-some of which he's had since preschool. He also turned down a job with Marvel Comics three years ago.

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