Issue 120: Letter from a Ghost Town
From Serial Marketer: "The Cutting Edge of Marketing”

Last week, taking the subway and then walking through midtown Manhattan, the first line of the essay below came to me. I had to write it. I then published it on Facebook, and after one person requested it to be public, more than 20 people shared it. 

If you already read it there, I've added a coda, as voting gave me yet another perspective on the city.


New York City isn't dead, but it is a ghost town.

How do you reconcile all the different reports you're hearing about the nation's largest city?

How can anyone make sense of it? Two people living in my own building or even my own home could have opposing perspectives.

In anything resembling a 'normal' year, this city of 8 million is a city with infinite perspectives.
Now, there isn't any sense of what normalcy will look like for us on the other side of the pandemic.

I was here for 9/11. You know enough about that.

I was also here for 9/12, when signs were posted saying blood banks were full, and when people would stop where they were on the traffic-free streets to applaud fire engines cruising by. I don't know that I've ever felt so much pride in my city or country as I did on 9/12.

And then came 9/13, a day that is more striking the longer we go through the current crisis. 9/11 was a day that lived in infamy, but 9/13 was a day that thrived in normalcy. Traffic was back. People were commuting to work. You couldn't get bread in a grocery store, but those shelves would be restocked soon.

Today, seven months after the city shut down, I'm living in a much different city.

I've been away from Manhattan for less than two weeks total since March. In June, I took my first subway ride since the winter -- to restock my wine fridge. I've spent most of my time close to home in midtown but have ventured to Queens and Brooklyn. A number of days this fall, today included, I walked from the north of Times Square down to Herald Square and through Koreatown.

I often don't feel like a mere resident here. I feel like an observer. And sometimes I feel like I'm part of the neighborhood watch.

The city is less safe than it has been, and I'm more likely to be aware of my surroundings, not unlike I would be when on vacation in any other Western city. In June, when some rioters crashed the protests and busted up the 7-Eleven across the street from me, I was warier of going out late, but I have fewer concerns now.

We were spoiled in this city with historically low crime rates that somehow kept dropping through three very different mayoral administrations. Crime was far worse in the city when I moved here 20 years ago than it is today, and as the economy recovers, even this bump should subside. The city overall is safe.

There are signs of it thriving too. Walk through Koreatown at 7pm, and it does feel like Europe. Streets are closed off, outdoor tables are all full, and the smells -- my god, the smells would even make a vegetarian tempted to try one of those plates of sizzling short rib, if only for a bite.

Murray Hill is like that too. It's more of a local crowd; few travel there, and tourists don't wander over to 3rd Ave. Most of those tables are full, typically with twentysomethings on dates or with small groups of friends grabbing wings or hummus platters or tikka masala and washing it down with craft beer as they take a swig on a crisp fall night at their table on a stretch of pavement that used to be a parking spot.

While the city's not dead, it is a ghost town.

Ghosts are everywhere.

You start a call with a friend you haven't spoken to in a few months, and you ask, "Are you still in the city?"

Or you check behind them on Zoom and see if you can detect the cramped furnishings of someone sticking around -- there's even something about the style of the closet doors that's a giveaway -- or you see some greenery and know they left, at least for a spell.

You walk around and see a building and go, "Oh, that's where so-and-so lived," or you see a restaurant and go, "Oh, so-and-so would love to know that it's still here," or you see an empty storefront and go, "Oh, so-and-so would be so sad to know it's gone." And so it goes.

You feel their ghosts.

My barber yesterday showed me the list of the 12 customers who had shown up by 3pm that day. He said normally they'd have 60 by then.

The higher-end pizza place near me that thrived on corporate and tourist traffic closed. The owner of the Murray Hill pizza joint that's been my staple said they're only here because the landlord gave them a break on their rent, and the outdoor dining hurt their business because trendier spots siphoned off some of the remaining business. So many here are hurting.

Many people who left the city were considering doing so anyway, but hardly everyone. Some who left will return; others won't.

Some will come and take advantage of the lower-than-usual cost of living. A New York City full of ghosts is still more vibrant and full of potential than wherever these new residents are coming from.

There's a lot of life here. Call this a dead city, and you insult everyone living here.

But there are more ghosts living here too, and we have to share this city with them.


The day after I wrote that, it was my birthday, and as a present to myself, I took part in a historic event.

October 24 was the first day for early voting in New York -- not just for this presidential election, but the first time ever.

Walking over, I approached Madison Square Garden as my brother, born 8 years and 364 days before me, called me from his home in Canada. I shifted the display to the rear camera, and we both saw the line heading from the Garden atrium at 32nd Street and 7th Avenue extending for one block, then another, and then around 34th Street almost to 8th Avenue. 

I got in line because I had some time to wait, but I didn't expect to stay long. I could always find another time to vote, and I had an absentee ballot that I could mail in if needed.

But then, as I stood there responding to birthday greetings on Facebook, I kept looking around and seeing more life than I've seen in the city since March. It wasn't just the voting line. The shops were busy. There was car traffic and foot traffic. The weather was that perfect fall-in-New York 65-degrees, and everyone was out in the best of moods -- the joyfulness that never gets captured on TV or film because a happy New Yorker on a screen must always be sarcastic, rapacious, or a second away from walking into a bus. Yet this was joy.

The battery was low on my phone. As I rushed out to vote, I brought my mask (of course) and sanitizer but not my charger. I saved my power to keep taking photos of the chalk art -- "I'm so proud to be a New Yorker" (punctuated with a heart), "This ghost town shows up and votes," "This is what democracy looks like," "We can brunch when this is over" (really).

Minimizing device usage let me pay more attention and also allowed my mind to wander. Some passersby would ask others on line what the wait was for. I wondered what I would say if someone asked me. "Jay-Z is playing the Garden." "Sale on Yeezys." "Rumspringa." 

Outside the main entrance to Penn Station on 7th, I bought a pretzel and a Diet Coke from a street vendor. I wasn't that hungry but was happy to see him working. I was never that impressed with our pretzels, but this had a smoky flavor I never tasted before. I wanted to attribute the taste to the halo effect where everything about the city seemed better that day, but no, this was the best street pretzel I'd ever eaten.

After I finished, a man came up to me, and my guard went up. He told me that some cash -- the change from the pretzel guy -- was about to fall out of my pocket. It was another reminder of how safe the city was.

It reminded me of a time when I was on the subway in October 2004 and the train stopped underground between stations. We waited 10 minutes, which then became 20 and longer. I kept my eye on a few teenagers who I could tell grew more restless with each passing minute. I knew they were going to do something; the cork would pop out, and they'd release all that energy. Sure enough, they started shouting to everyone, "Y'all gotta vote for John Kerry! Make sure y'all vote! Vote for John Kerry!" Yes, this was what I had to fear: political activists.

Is it any wonder I've stayed in this city?

Two-and-a-half hours after I got in that line, I voted. The polling staff couldn't have been friendlier. After scanning my ballot, I felt like I was glowing. I left slowly, savoring it.

It felt this momentous in New York. In my district, every race was predictable, but it still felt like I was performing a sacred act for me, my city, my country, and my family. 

Winter is coming. Beyond the Northeast, Covid rages everywhere. People who worked much harder than me to vote, including people who (unlike me) have had to fight for their right to vote, may find their votes aren't counted.

But, that day, it was a day for renewal. My birthday coincided with a fall awakening. It left me more certain than ever that after this fall, this city will rise yet again.



2021 Social Media Trends: What the Experts Say

Power up your marketing strategy and discover the top ten trends that will matter most next year. Download the #SocialMediaTrends2021  eBook, filled with expert advice from 70+ industry leaders.


You know how much I love Upstream; Serial Marketers is running our 9th event there this week (see below for more), and it's been my favorite way to meet people all year. Now, Upstream officially launched, and you'll see Serial Marketers featured there. They have a new office hours product too, and I'm one of the first members to offer it, so feel free to book a time

Thanks to Jaimee KniffenChris GorgesDon SteeleRachel Pasqua, Matt WurstWilliam AlvarezWendy Weatherford Marks, David Kohlberg, and William Alvarez for spreading the word about the newsletter recently.

Here's your own personalized link, with more referral rewards for sharing the newsletter. Visit to see how you're doing. 

Share via: Email | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


Please send over any events you're hosting or attending, and I'll add them to the list. All events below are virtual, and all times are EDT.

October 29, 12pm (this week!)
November 12, 12pm
December 3, 12pm
December 17, 12pm
Join the virtual 1:1 rapid-fire speed-meeting event to connect with fellow Serial Marketers, hosted by the Upstream app.

Tuesdays, 3pm
RSVP on our private Meetup (request access if you're not there)
-11/3: Election Day (USA). Please vote and get every eligible American you know to do so (better still, do so sooner). In honor of democracy, there's no Salon.
-11/10: Anna Bager, President & CEO of Out of Home Association of America (OAAA)
-11/17: Service as a Product with Andy Richman, Partner, ProductSavvy-11/24: Thanksgiving week gratitude refresher
-12/1: Resume Brand Strategy with Ali Roth, Executive Resume Writer, Ali Roth Writes
-12/8: The Real Meaning of Community with Bilyana Freye, Co-Founder and CEO, Orbiit
-12/15: Member Holiday Extravanganza

October 29
Hear from social media leaders at the keynote session of Talkwalker’s 2021 Expert Series. Talkwalker and Social Media Week will speak with Pinterest and Vimeo about the impact that the events of this year have had on their user growth, and how brands are approaching customer engagement and crisis management within their increasingly socially conscious communities. Join the session to learn about the evolving social media landscape and how marketers can set the right tone to connect with their audiences.
The discussion moderated by Talkwalker CEO of Americas Todd Grossman and Toby Daniels, founder and executive director of Social Media Week, will also cover the industry trends to keep on your radar when planning your strategy for the coming year.

November 4, 6pm
First Wednesday keeps going strong. We have dozens of people RSVPing for this fun NYC tradition led by Zack Rosenberg. Len Bilello might even by you a drink.

November 5-6
Marketing must change to align with this shift, now. Reuters Events: Strategic Marketing USA (Nov 5-6) is uniting the world’s most influential CMOs to set benchmarks, showcase innovation, and map the future of marketing – one where brands are purpose-driven, campaigns are intelligently data-backed, and innovation drives growth. Register now to join 5000+ marketing leaders and ensure your brand remains hyper-relevant.  

November 5 / November 12
This group is amazing. Check them out. "We have a trust problem in the marketing and advertising industry. Over the past 15 years, as new distribution mechanisms like social, disciplines like content marketing, or initiatives like diversity and inclusion emerged, we silo’d. We continue to silo, not integrate–while we watch the world innovate. This compromises brand experience, and, in turn, threatens brand trust. Big Yellow Think Tank seeks to advance collaboration across brand experience. By leveraging this abrupt shift in the world, we will reimagine the way we work and serve brands. Big Yellow Think Tank is ready to set a new standard and we need your voice. Our first initiative? A virtual hackfest."  

November 19
"Each year, CMI produces our signature LGBTQ Marketing & Advertising Symposium (now in our 13th year) for marketing/advertising/communications professionals. The event is held in collaboration with, and hosted by Google NYC."


Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. I've added some descriptions of top-secret searches there, and others have posted some leads too. 

Chief Marketing Officer
This is from my friends at Hunt Club. If you're a good candidate for this, let me know, and I can refer you. The job is not listed publicly. 

Looking for: Proven success in developing and leading an end-to-end brand and marketing strategy in the consumer space, the future Chief Marketing Officer has: 

  • 10+ years of experience within CPG with D2C + Retail Experience (Ideally within Beauty, Health & Wellness, Food & Beverage)
  • Skillset of classically trained marketer: able to formalize brand pillars and brand architecture, owning product development from ideation through commercial distribution
  • Proven ability to scale a company from to exit within 2-4 years
  • Mentality of a go-getter, someone who can adapt easily, operate in a fast-paced environment, and roll up their sleeves to execute
  • The Honey Pot is a plant-based feminine care system, that provides women with a healthy alternative to feminine care that is free of chemicals, parabens, carcinogens, and sulfates. Our washes are gynecologist approved, clinically tested and pH balanced. Say hello to the future of feminine care.

Head of Global Digital Marketing
This is from my friends at Hunt Club. If you're a good candidate for this, let me know, and I can refer you. The job is not listed publicly. 

With 10-15 years of experience in the marketing arena, the future Head of Global Digital Marketing has:

  • Experience preferred in the B2C or services space (e.g. financial services, insurance, mortgages, etc.)
  • Ability to mentor, advise, and support affiliate universities with all aspects of digital marketing (inclusive of SEM, SEO, PPC, SMM, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Influencer, and Affiliate Marketing)
  • Knowledge and calibre to lead customer acquisition through digital channels (inclusive of CRM configuration and analytics and sales force design and optimization)
  • Experience in developing, monitoring, and reporting on all relevant digital marketing budgets

Enterprise Account Executive
This is from my friends at Hunt Club. If you're a good candidate for this, let me know, and I can refer you. The job is not listed publicly. 

Having demonstrated experience with strategic selling methodologies, the future Enterprise Account Executive has: 

  • Proven success in B2B Enterprise SaaS or Software business application sales exceeding a $1M+ quota - bringing in average deals of $200k
  • Has been able to drive sales cycles forward in their prior experience 
  • Can quickly articulate value prop and be an effective communicator
  • Experience navigating large/complex enterprise businesses and accessing the key stakeholders
  • Operates as a collaborator – does not have a lone wolf mentality
Graphic Designer
NYC / Remote
This is a great firm my friend Mark Lee shared in Serial Marketers: "We offer a unique opportunity for a graphic designer to help us develop and expand multiple brands as part of a startup studio. You’ll be working on multiple projects dependent on the needs of each client, with a focus on digital assets. This is a full-time contract position, with opportunity to transition into a permanent role on the client side."

Digital Marketing Generalist
Via a friend who posted this in Slack -- find her there or I can make an intro: "This new Digital Marketer role will support long-term, sustainable revenue growth in our core markets by planning and deploying all inbound and outbound demand generation activities for Duarte and optimizing multi-channel campaigns for the best ROI. While this role will report into the Director of Marketing, it will collaborate with a range of teams within the company—including product, sales, customer success and operations—to understand business requirements, offer informed recommendations, and provide proactive and timely execution."

Head of Acquisition Marketing
Remote first, then based in NYC
Via a friend there (happy to refer you): "With interest in the stock market surging among a new generation of investors, our community is growing rapidly. To support our ambitious goals, our team is growing and we’re looking for sharp, enthusiastic people who believe in our mission to fundamentally change the way people invest. In normal circumstances, we’re located in New York with an office in Copenhagen & Raleigh NC, but in these times we’re maintaining momentum as a remote team."

Chief Marketing Officer
This is from my friends at Hunt Club. If you're a good candidate for this, let me know, and I can refer you.

Coming in as a seasoned marketing leader, the future Chief Marketing Officer has:

  • Background in the B2C technology marketing space (music or adjacent industry is a plus)
  • 10+ years of management experience building & leading diverse marketing teams
  • Track record and expertise in building a premium brand with a focus in brand, content, creative, messaging & events
  • Vision with willingness to show up and get things done; operating as a strategic executer 

Founded a mere 90 days ago and backed by big players in the music and startup world, Mandolin is a live streaming concert platform for fans, artists, and venues that already has world-renowned musicians and over 10k users. With ticketing, merch sales, and other artists feature built right in, Mandolin is bringing live music back to the stage!

Manager, Creative Strategy Remote
This is from my friends at Hunt Club. If you're a good candidate for this, let me know, and I can refer you.

With experience owning the creative marketing strategy at a fast-paced or startup environment, the future Creative Strategy Manager has: 

  • 3-5 years of experience within relevant creative marketing field 
  • Ability to operate creative across multiple marketing channels including: Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, print materials, newsletters, etc.
  • Expertise in direct response marketing
  • As a team leader, has managed a creative team in their past

Bright Cellars is a subscription wine experience that matches members with personalized monthly selections. By taking a data-driven approach to consumer tastes and personalization, Bright Cellars is engaging with customers and brands in a way that's new to the industry. Based in Milwaukee, Bright Cellars recently raised an $8.5M Series A led by Revolution Ventures.

Other job resources:

  • Ad Ops Online: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more.
  • Advisable: Get instant access to top marketing freelancers
  • AMA Job Board: Listings from the American Marketing Association (maybe you can also ask them anything)
  • Built in NYC: Jobs at a range of levels and functions, as long as you're okay working in this quaint, backwater hamlet.
  • CareerList: Here's a form for companies hiring and a form for job seekers; here's the public list with tabs for both 
  • Content Writing Jobs: Content marketers, enjoy
  • Creative Women of Color: List yourself in the database and find talent, via Women Who Create
  • ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster)
  • GLG: Get paid to share your topical expertise; it can lead to some interesting conversations at a potentially decent hourly rate
  • Grace Blue Transitions: A portal for hirers and seekers with resources from this exec recruiting firm
  • The Hired Guns: An array of jobs in marketing and related fields at brands, agencies, and media companies
  • Hue: Amplifying voices of people in color working in marketing
  • Hunterz: A way for connectors to get paid to introduce startups to large enterprises
  • Lead5: A paid service for executive roles, plus intel on changes with companies and PE investments; you can try a risk-free weeklong trial to see if it's any good for your needs
  • Lunch Club: Match 1:1 around predetermined goals with accomplished professionals (free)
  • NYC Ad Jobs & Networking: A popular Facebook group
  • One Club for Creativity: COVID-19 jobs Board
  • #OpenToWork: There's a channel in Serial Marketers where you can share what you're looking for
  • Pangea: Where you can hire college freelancers (and college students can get gigs)
  • Pocit: A platform connecting people of color with jobs in the tech industry
  • Remotists: Remote startup jobs, chronicled weekly
  • Startup.Jobs: There's a section for marketing jobs
  • TechNY Daily: While more technical, there are also some sales and marketing jobs at NY startups.
  • VC Job Boards: AlephEniac Ventures, PearSequoiaUnion Square Ventures
  • VentureLoop: Free startup job listings; their paid option is $15/month and might surface more leads (but it might not).
  • Wanted: Wanted helps top talent in tech and marketing find a job at your desired pay. Plug in your salary, stay anonymous at first, and connect with companies that want to recruit you.
Do you run or enjoy other job listing sites? Let me know, and I'll share them.


Share your personal link.

David Berkowitz, publisher


100+ TECH RECOMMENDATIONS (updated semi-regularly)

BERKY'S MARKETING ENGLISH (now in hardcover)

LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter / Meetup (public)

LinkedIn / Facebook / Meetup (community-only) / Goodreads

The most important rights reserved. You can have the other ones.
(c) 2020 Serial Marketer
PS: Thank you so much for reading this.


This email was sent to you only because you subscribed. To remove yourself and get that awkward email from me asking you what happened, unsubscribe below. (I'm probably kidding about the awkward email part.)
Copyright © 2020 Serial Marketer. The best rights reserved. You can have the other rights.

Want to change how you receive these emails? 
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list .
I do hope you stick around though.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp