Derek started his professional life in the hospitality industry, working for US Airways for over 10 years. After that, he spent a brief time as an asset manager in Philadelphia before moving to Florida in pursuit of warmer temperatures and a slower pace. Soon after he arrived in the Sunshine State, he decided to pursue his lifelong dream of starting a business and with the help of Joe Imbrogno, he founded Visual Alliance Media, a predecessor company to Exakt Marketing! An early adopter and pioneer, Derek loves to try new technologies and always has a few “game changing” ideas in his back pocket. In his role as Exakt’s CEO, he oversees the strategic direction of the firm as well as all practice areas.
Tell me about your pet: He’s a 3 year old Lhasa Apso that I can’t imagine being without. He’s incredibly smart and just plain fun to be around. He teaches me how to be a better person every day.
What would be your very last meal? A Marco’s thin-crust white pizza with chicken, bacon and mushrooms. Oh, I’d add onions this time since apparently I won’t be around after eating to know who I’ve offended with my breath.
What is your favorite exercise activity? If we’re talking about cardio, definitely running. If we’re talking about lifting weights, I love doing legs. And throw an Insanity DVD in and I’m all about it. Love the small group training concept.
What’s the best event you’ve attended? I’ve enjoyed so many events that I can’t pinpoint down to one I would consider the best. But I can say that my top 3 involve cruise ships, costumes and vodka…
Where would you like to travel if money was no object? Everywhere. That’s the real answer. I’ve already been to most of the places I’ve ever wanted to visit, so having the flexibility to travel for months at a time without negative consequence is what appeals to me more than a physical location.
Favorite quote? I have two: “Question everything” and “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the ones that are doing it.”
A situation where Explore, Inspire, Evolve fits into my life every day:
Explore: We’ve had the privilege and opportunity to work with the Gasparilla Distance Classic Association for the last 3 years now. They are the amazing people behind the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic Race Weekend. I’ve been intently observing the inner workings from the planning stages all the way to the actual race weekend. And every year I’m simply amazed at the accomplishment, what is done for the community and how the legacy charities are helped.
Inspire: I’m inspired by Susan Harmeling (Race Director) because she manages to make each and every participant in the race weekend events feel like they are special. That’s quite a feat when you think of the nearly 30,000 people that participate. I’m inspired by the volunteers that give of their time with a smile. I’m inspired by the runners – each with their own story. In fact I was so inspired from the very first time that I had the privilege of taking photos of the finishers as they crossed the finish line, that I became one of the runners in 2013 for both the 5k and 8k races and I haven’t looked back.
Evolve: Now I can’t stop. This after my doctor telling me that running wasn’t in the cards for me. I participate in running communities and forums. And I make it a point to try to be an inspiration to others with my dedication to the sport. I received this message from a friend: “Seeing your races got me to the gym myself on quite a few occasions. So in a way we’re like a virtual team–at the end of the day, it’s about digging deep and getting it done.” It makes it all worth it.