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HawkeStar Spotlight June: Max Finke, Sales Manager


Hawke Media celebrates employees that embody our culture, values, and mission to their core. Today, we’re excited to interview Max Finke, Sales Manager, in recognition of his June 2021 HawkeStar achievement.

Q: Congratulations on being named HawkeStar! You’ve been with the company for a while. What was Hawke like in the beginning? 

A: When I started in December 2017, we had just over a hundred employees. We’ve doubled since then. We’re way more organized now! A lot less like “startuppy,” fly by the seat of our pants, build the plane as we’re flying. We’ve retained some of those elements, but I think from a work process, a client-facing process, we’ve become a lot more dialed in. It’s exciting from the business development/sales perspective to be able to talk to that progression.

What I remember from when I started was having a bunch of different teams in six different offices, in the same building. Being able to walk into all those buildings, make friends, and most importantly learn, that’s what helped me early on in my career at Hawke. I didn’t come in knowing anything about digital. I would just sit with the different teams, have lunch, and learn from the people that are doing the work.  I think we’ve maintained a culture that allows people to do that.

Q: What’s the best part about working at Hawke? What made you want to build your career here? 

A: The easy answer is the people. The ability to learn from smart people was always the most important thing to me. I started in our most entry-level position on the sales side. All I wanted was the opportunity to grow.  I also wanted to make friends because I had moved from a different city and I didn’t know anybody. So the ability to make friends with people. More importantly (or maybe equally as important), learning from people who are experts at what they do has kept me inspired. We work in a dynamic industry. You can learn new things every single day from every channel. Things change so quickly, so having good people around is something that excites me to come to work.

Q: Take me through your journey. What was life like before you started working at Hawke?

A: So I grew up in Wisconsin outside of Milwaukee, in a suburb called Waukesha, spent my entire childhood there, went to school at the University of Minnesota, studied marketing, graduated with a marketing degree, and went to work in retail management for three years in a large Macy’s stores in the Twin Cities area. That was my first experience managing teams. I had 25 associates that I was managing and coaching. It was fun, but retail was not a good spot to be (and continues to be a tough spot to be for a lot of people). So I quit one day, packed up the car, drove to LA, and found a place to live. I didn’t have a job, didn’t know anybody. Hawke said they’d pay me and that I could grow into other roles. I was like “all right”, well that’s about all I could ask for at this point. It’s in digital marketing, which I’m interested in, so I took the job.

Q: Sounds like you had a lot on your plate…

A: Yeah well, I also had a job at Vans.  I would work both, double up on Wednesdays, work at Vans on the weekend. Eventually got a raise at Hawke so I quit Vans. Three and a half years later, three promotions later,  I’m excited to be the Sales Manager and HawkeStar.

Q: What does being named HawkeStar mean to you?

A: First and foremost, it’s an awesome and wonderful thing to award hard work across the organization. I’ve always been a fan of our core values, learning quickly, being cool, and getting shit done: To do my job effectively, above expectations, consistently, being cool in the interactions with my team members, across the organization, supporting the growth and learning of people in a way that I was supported throughout my career here, and yeah just getting shit done. 

Q: What do you think goes into making successful relationships?

A: I won’t pretend to have the answer, but I’ve noticed a few things. There is a saying that I learned in college, “seek to understand.” It’s a very simple sentence, but an incredibly powerful act, to listen, it’s an act to understand somebody. It doesn’t just happen. In any relationship, you need to actively show up and participate as much as whoever is talking or sharing their perspective. That’s the only way you earn that right to share your perspective, build a relationship, and have a conversation. 

Q: Now that you’ve won HawkeStar, what is next? What other goals do you want to achieve here? 

A: Yeah does everyone just say Disney World? In all seriousness, I’m super excited about this new role! I was promoted in March, so I still consider myself learning to a certain degree. My goal as a manager is to not let people fail, to help them succeed. One thing that motivates me is seeing my entire team hit their monthly and quarterly goals consistently, then become self-sufficient members of the team that control their own business and their lives. I want people to be able to be independent, so empowering them with the knowledge that I’ve learned so that they go off and be successful, break away from the nest of active management is what’s next.

Thank you, Max, for all that you do! I know we’re biased, but Hawke Media does have the best people. Stay tuned for our next feature.

Special thanks to our friends at HawkeMedia for their insights on this topic.
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