Anthony DiSibio began his career on a much different path than he is on today — with a Master's degree in Secondary Education. However, the difficulties that he faced during his early career as an educator led him to create a framework that would guide his current endeavors.
He's also an active Business & Bourbon member with lots of valuable stories and lessons to share. See what wisdom Anthony has to share in our recent interview!
Tell us about your education and background.
I’m a South Jersey kid that graduated from West Virginia University in 2012 with a Masters in Secondary Education. Growing up in a family full of educators drew me to the field from an early age.
That same passion brought me to Charlotte, NC where I landed in a Title 1 school teaching 6th grade Social Studies. I felt like I was doing important work, but it had its challenges. An example was finding a shell casing on the floor during my first week. I ended up leaving the education field after my second year. Great experience but I knew I hadn’t found my sweet spot.
I sold in the education world for a few years, but it was not until I landed a Field Marketing Representative role with Presidio, a national Managed Services Provider, that I found my calling. Around the same time, my dad started a leadership consulting company called Colonel's Leadership Council. I volunteered to create and manage the company website, social channels, and overall brand.
Unknowingly, this experience laid the groundwork for pivotal skills that I utilize today.
My role with Presidio led to a similar role with CenturyLink (now Lumen Technologies) and finally to a Field Marketing Manager role with Nextiva.
At Nextiva, I'm part of the Channel Marketing team and am responsible for Field Marketing within the Central Region. Although Nextiva was founded in 2006, our Channel Marketing team is less than two years old so I’m at a place where I can directly impact national strategy. At this point in my career, I couldn't ask for a better situation.
What was your first job?
If we look past mowing lawns, my first job was as a Cashier at CVS Pharmacy. I applied for a job the second I was old enough to obtain a workers permit (16). Why did I want to start working at the end of my sophomore year of high school? The main motivation was buying my first car.
My parents and grandfather agreed to match my earnings, all of which would go towards that purchase.
Did it work out? Sure. But part-time minimum wage only gets you so far.
I ended up with a Dodge Intrepid that broke down during my sophomore year of college stranding me in the hills of Morgantown, West Virginia. But that's a story for a different day.
Describe your most pivotal career experience.
I faced a boatload of challenges during my early career as an educator. Not only was the school Title 1 but 85% of my students were English as Second Language or Special Needs. How many teacher aids did I have in my classroom?
They’re designated for the state-tested subjects, Math and English Language Arts. This left me with an incredible challenge. How could I provide the same level of education to such a diverse group of students?
It was at this point I remembered an obscure lesson from my 4th/5th year at West Virginia University. Not exactly sure which year. WVU ranked the #1 party school during my tenure. Anyway, the lesson…Differentiated Instruction.
Differentiation Instruction is a framework that involves providing ALL students within a community of learners a range of different avenues for understanding new information. This framework was the difference between treading water for two years and thriving. But it wasn't an overnight process.
It took weeks of trial and error, too many failures to count, and a massive amount of self-doubt. But guess what? It worked.
We had the highest performing 6th grade Social Studies class (out of four). We exceeded expectations, and then some.
As I moved into my Field Marketing Representative role with Presidio, I came across a term that resonated with me...Differentiated Marketing.
Differentiated Marketing helps fulfill a range of customer needs, rather than appealing to one specific need. I had a head start since the concept was what I used as a framework to make a difference as an educator, but still had much to learn about customer needs, industry trends, etc. Differentiated Marketing is the main skill I've carried with me over the past six years as a Field Marketer.
Who is/was your mentor and what was the most important lesson you learned from them?
My professional and personal mentor is my dad, Dean DiSibio. He's worked within sales and marketing for 30+ years and currently serves as VP of Sales & Marketing for an Industrial Distribution organization. He also served in the US Army Reserves for 30 years.
Recently, we had a fair bit of leadership changeover at Nextiva, and we lost folks that acted as my biggest advocate. I learned that my dad found himself in similar situations a handful of times throughout his career. His advice... "Make sure YOU are your biggest advocate. Don't sit back and wait. Schedule 1-on-1's with the new leadership and advocate for yourself and your teammates."
Not only has this advice positively impacted my career at Nextiva, but it also led to my relationship with Ronnell Richards and Business & Bourbon.
what piece of advice would you want to give colleagues?
Your professional title doesn't tell your story. Everyone comes to the table with a variety of life experiences and skillsets.
I love the movies and Taken is one of my favorite action movies.
Liam Neeson (main character) has a famous line where he says: “I have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career.”
Everyone has their own "Particular Set of Skills" that allows them to contribute at home, work, and in their communities. It’s your personal responsibility to:
1) Believe in your skillset.
2) Do whatever you can to fill your "skill buckets" (professional/personal development)
3) Utilize your "Particular Set of Skills" to help others.
What are you most proud of in your career?
My two years as an educator. I would arrive at school two hours early and end up being the last teacher in the building. It was the lowest-paying, toughest job of my career but it filled me with pride on a daily basis. The countless hours I spent developing Differentiated Instruction-based lesson plans laid the groundwork for how I educate and differentiate marketing strategies for our Channel Partners at Nextiva. It all came full circle!
If you could change anything in your industry, what would it be and why?
The love affair with SPIFFs & Promos. I understand it's pivotal to their bottom line, but adding/subtracting numbers takes away from the Partner Experience.
For example, our NeXus Partner Program is an industry leader with a Demand Generation Menu for all partner sizes. But most of our partners have been trained to only focus on monthly and quarterly SPIFFs & Promos instead of digging deeper.
It's my belief that there are portions of our NeXus Partner Program that can provide more value than SPIFFs & Promos. It would take more effort on the front end, but the potential returns are huge. It's my job to find new and exciting ways to educate this concept to Nextiva's new and existing partners.
What lasting contribution do you hope to make to the professional world and society as a whole?
My goal is to create an educational program that provides a framework for young professionals to recognize skills they've developed through life experiences, fill up additional "skill buckets" and utilize their entire skillset to contribute at home, work, and in their communities.
To stay connected with Anthony, follow him on LinkedIn.