While Edelman was surrounded by his father’s business during the course of his upbringing, it wasn’t his initial plan to work for the family firm after he finished his studies at Harvard University and Harvard Business School.
“I was all set to go work in product marketing in Playtex,” he said. “My dad had an offer to be acquired by DDB advertising and he didn’t really want to sell the company.
“So he said: ‘Please come work here for a year and if you don’t like it, you’re in an MBA (a masters degree in business administration), you can go somewhere else.’ And here I am 40 years later, can you believe?”
Together, father and son managed to keep the business in the family, turning down offers from big advertising holding firms along the way.
Despite the slew of acquisitions seen over the years, when it comes to staying independent, Edelman chooses to “just say no,” even if a big paycheck is on the table.
“What matters most to us is the work, and quality, and some old-fashioned words I suppose,” he said, adding that he’s used to being his own boss and allowing himself to change his mind and “doing what you do when you’re an entrepreneur — figuring it out.”
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