Men of Vancouver is an editorial series featuring stylish and professional men in Vancouver. MofV producer and stylist, Jason Sarai of Style by Sarai, recently interviewed Dario Meli of Quietly for this exclusive in-depth photo editorial.
What do you do for work?
My company is called Quietly. We help brands navigate content marketing by combining the science of data with the art of excellent editorial. Every brand needs to be producing content – we make sure it’s done right.
I also have the pleasure of working on my wife’s magazine, Hayo, which just released the first print issue. It’s gorgeous and I highly recommend you pick one up.
How did you get involved in this career?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years. Quietly was born out of the understanding that as people and brands are able to communicate freely to extremely large amounts of people, they need to take care in what they are saying. Brand voice and brand safety are not new concepts at all, but what is new is the ability for more than just the biggest brands to be able to broadcast, communicate and interact at huge scale. Brands have effectively become publishers.
What do you enjoy most about your career and company?
I love the team here at Quietly and I love being part of something that helps alter the current media landscape. The timing for any company is critical and we’ve hit it just right!
Where do you see your careers in five and 10 years?
The long term goal is to build Quietly into a truly global company that transforms the way media, publishing and brands create, distribute and monetize content. It’s a lofty goal, no doubt. Why would we bother if it wasn’t?
What are the challenges of starting a business?
Basically everything. It’s hard work! But in every challenge there is an opportunity and that’s how you’ve got to look at it.
What are the challenges of investing in a business?
Focus. I have the luxury of being around a lot of great companies, ideas and people. I often need to remind myself of what the most immediately important tasks are. It’s a perpetual struggle and one I’m constantly trying to improve.
What has been your greatest business challenge to date?
Working hard on this right now!
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
Freedom but with the ultimate in accountability.
What’s your advice to entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with excellent people who genuinely want to see you succeed. Not just in business, this is my advice for every aspect of life. But remember, it goes both ways.
What’s the best advice/mentorship you received when building out your career?
Start small. Build and prove what works and make sure it’s not a red herring. I’ve tried to go huge right out of the gate before and fell flat on my face. It wasn’t fun but i won’t make that mistake again.
How do you manage your personal and professional life?
My answer to this is somewhat controversial. Happy to talk about it over a drink sometime.
Outside of work, what do you do in your spare time? (family, friends, social, travel, etc.)
My wife and I love to entertain and we often host gatherings at our apartment. We love meeting new people so friends of friends are always welcome.
And travel is very important too. It’s often a perfect blend of business and pleasure, which is one of the best ways to balance both. Straight up vacation has been very hard to come by but there needs to be one in the near future.
What charitable organizations/programs do you work with?
Plan – Joanna, my wife, and I are working with them to build a school in Mali. This is an organization that i have a lot of affinity for. Non-governmental, non-religious, non-political, they focus on getting the job done in a sustainable way.
Kiva – I’ve been loaning and re-loaning money through Kiva for several years. Instead of giving gifts at Christmas time, my family often puts cash into a Kiva account. It’s been fun and pretty amazing to see how far a relatively small amount of money can go when it’s continually re-loaned a opposed to donated outright.
At Quietly we’re just getting started with our giving programs and are going to be focusing on things related to literacy and education both here and abroad. One of the events we just signed on to participate in is Ride Vs. One, which is put on by Chip Wilson’s Imagine 1 Day.
How did you get involved with this cause/organization?
I first became aware of Plan through my friend Kevin Campbell’s Lochmaddy Foundation and immediately took a liking to the people, the philosophy and their ability to execute. More importantly, they allow you to craft programs that matter. It’s not just about cookie-cutter giving.
Why is giving back important to you?
I don’t really consider it ‘giving back.’ It’s more about supporting people and ideas that aren’t covered in a market economy. Lots of things actually require philanthropy to exist so I try to pick causes that are important to me. There is a lot more to be done in this realm and I am excited to get really serious about it in the very near future.
What does a typical weekend look like for you?
I try to relax on the weekends. This doesn’t always work.
What are your favourite places to go eat in Vancouver?
For coffee: Birds and the Beets or Coffeebar.
For cocktails: I love L’Abbatoir and Notturno.
For dining: Chambar, Supermarine and Ha Long Bay.
For late night food when you dont really need to eat: Hot Pie, High 5 Grilled Cheese.
For drinks when everything else is pretty much closed: Gringo. It’s a great place to end the night and have a drink with the rest of the industry people who’ve wrapped up their nights
What do you recommend someone to try when at Birds and Beets?
Their coffee is great, of course, but I highly recommend their sandwiches. The pork is fantastic, as is the fish. And their pastries are also amazing, I’m just trying to be less indulgent in that realm. Basically, you’ll be happy with whatever you’re looking for there. Go!
What do you like most about your experience at Birds and Beets?
The atmosphere is very relaxed, there is lots of room between tables, and the staff are super friendly. Plus, the water taps drip out over a living planter. It’s subtle but a clever attention to detail that makes me smile when I see it.
What do you recommend someone to try when at L’Abattoir?
To wrap the week or begin the night, I love a strong cocktail and their Oaxacan Old Fashioned is nearly perfect. Tequila and Mezcal get your night started proper.
What do you like most about your experience at L’Abattoir?
Sit at the bar, chat with the bartenders, talk to strangers. That’s pretty much my MO anywhere I go, but the bar at L’Abattoir is always full of great people from all over the world.
What’s your drink of choice?
At the bar or at home, I love to sip Negronis. So simple and delicious. Penicillin is another favourite. If the bar you’re at is confused when you order it, you’re in the wrong place. I also love Japanese whisky but that is generally reserved for sipping at home.
How do you think people would describe your style?
My wife says dapper. I would say clean and simple but with some flavour.
What does style mean in your world of business? How has it played a part in your career?
Style and technology entrepreneurs don’t typically go together but I like looking fly and try to keep it interesting, which has helped to stand out a bit.
What does style mean to you?
Individuality. An expression. I do think style (not just fashion but an attitude) is important but it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
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