Kenneth J. Weiss has always been crafting stories. His first job as a writer was for an automotive chemical company – he wrote the labels for the bottles. If you’ve ever seen the phrase, “In case of swallowing do not induce vomiting,” then you are familiar with his work.
From that simple and somewhat nauseous beginning Ken has gone on to work for some of the country’s largest brands. He started as a writer, moved to brand strategy and then to digital marketing.
What every role has shared is the need for a story.
Stories connect people to each other. Stories connect brands to people. Stories connect people to their past and to their belief systems.
Ken grew up in a family of storytellers. His father has a deep appreciation for American history as well as family history, and has a knack for remembering the most interesting details. His mother was a painter and captured people, landscapes and still lifes with her own unique perspective.
His early days in Pittsburgh in the 70’s proved to be an ideal time and place for stories. At that point Pittsburgh could still see its prosperous roots even as the steel industry was collapsing. That was also a place in history where family gatherings were full of people who remembered immigrating to the country, the Depression, World War Two, Korea and Vietnam. Those days were also the end of the Beatles, the celebration of the Bicentennial, and the beginning of the Regan era.
Ken left Pittsburgh for Kent State, a place with its own unique story to tell. There he majored in Graphic Design, but eventually left that program and spent the remainder of undergrad and graduate school studying marketing. He began working as a writer while still in college.
When the Internet came onto the scene, he jumped in. Very few people can say that they have been involved in the Web from “the beginning.” He is one of those people. AT&T ran their first online banner in October of 1994, and a few weeks later Ken was brokering sponsorship deals for a leading tire company with some of the web’s front running properties.
In an attempt to hustle business in the early days of the Web, Ken took a laptop, portable modem and a mobile phone to a consumer products show in Chicago. He walked up and down the aisles of the convention center trying to convince the companies that they needed to register their domain name. At that time, most of the largest brand names in the world were still up for grabs.
Every good story has a twist and this one did. Ken had a front row seat for the collapse of the Dot Com Era. He was working for an internet consulting firm and watched the 9/11 attack from the company lounge on the big screen TV surrounded by leather couches, video games and foosball tables. The air ran out of the Internet bubble quickly.
Throughout these experiences Ken found the time to write, teach, and speak. Business has always been great, and will always be there, but for Ken, faith and family have always been first.
Today he spends time with his family while working and writing in Ohio – he believes the very best stories are yet to be written.