Steve Olenski

Steve earned a place among the world’s most influential journalists and writers having written for many leading publications for over 20 years including Advertising Age, Adweek, Business Insider and Forbes.

Steve Olenski

Travels From



Leadership, Storytelling, Personal Brand, Marketing

Social Media


Like his older siblings, Steve Olenski began his professional career in the supermarket industry where he learned the value of rolling up his sleeves and getting one’s hands dirty. Eventually migrating to the white-collar world, Steve never forgot his blue-collar roots and “getting dirty” and putting in a hard day’s work.

Having never graduated college nor taking a writing course in his life, Steve fought his way to working in marketing departments of the biggest brands in the world including Oracle as well as creative director on the agency side.

Moreover, Steve earned a place among the world’s most influential journalists and writers having written for many leading publications for over 20 years including Advertising Age, Adweek, Business Insider and Forbes.

Over that time he has amassed a close network of executives and thought leaders that are second to none. He has been referred to as “The Distiller of Truth” and “The CMO Whisperer” by the former CMO of Walmart and Prudential. The former CMO of the Grammys calls him “…one of marketing’s definitive authorities” while the former CMO of PayPal says of him “I value his partnership, skillset and experience.

He is truly in “rarified air” for he has achieved an unrivaled respect and trust among those in the c-suite. His diverse background – ranging from the agency side where’s served in many roles including creative director, and copywriter to his current role as Communications Director at Oracle.

No one is more attuned to the state of marketing and advertising than Steve.



How To Use Storytelling To Grow Your Brand

Regardless of industry, Storytelling is a fundamental tool for marketers and brands. Storytelling can be an incredibly effective tool in building relationships with audiences and establishing resonance. However, to get the most out of it, businesses first need to understand the specific components that make up a good story and how they can be incorporated within the context of their brand.

In this presentation, Steve will weave a story of his own as he lays out best practices for storytelling for any brand in any industry.

Why Thought Leadership Is Vital For Any Brand

Thought Leadership, like most things today, has an endless number of definitions. I like this one: “Thought Leadership is the expression of ideas that demonstrate you have expertise in a particular field, area, or topic.” And while many leaders strive to be true thought leaders, many fail because like everything else in life, there is a right way and a not-so-right way of “doing Thought Leadership.”

In this presentation, Steve will explain the Do’s & Don’ts along with the Why’s because many leaders are still not convinced of the efficacy and need for Thought Leadership.

We Are All A Brand: How To Utilize Personal Branding To Your Advantage

While some may argue this point, we are all our own brand. Jeff Bezos believes personal branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. In other words, it’s what speaks for you when you cannot speak for yourself. When it comes to building a personal brand, some people dismiss the process as being too time-consuming, too complicated, or not that important.

In this presentation, Steve, the living embodiment of what can be accomplished by building and fostering one’s personal brand, will share best practices when it comes to your own personal brand.

Overcoming Perceptions: The Hardest Battle You May Ever Be In

Ask yourself this question right now: ‘How do people in your life perceive you?’ Not how you perceive yourself but how they perceive you. Are you trying to live up to their perceptions of you? Of what they think you should be? It’s ok if you are.

Steve Olenski was there many years ago. The perceptions his family & friends had of him were vastly different than his own yet he put aside his own dreams and ambitions to try and live up to what someone else had in mind for his life. With the help of a few people in his life, he got the courage to ignore the perceptions, skepticism, and cynicism to chase his dream and live his life which took him from college dropout to, among other things, a featured Forbes writer, one of the world’s leading marketing authorities, and The CMO Whisperer

“CMOs of today are inundated with so many things during the course of their day. It is virtually impossible to stay up to date on everything that is marketing related. That’s why someone like Steve is so important. His column is an absolute must read for his articles cut right through the noise and tell me what I need to know as a CMO. To say I value and trust his opinion would be an understatement. I’ve sought out his counsel on more than one occasion. I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to know Steve on a personal level and he is as down-to-Earth as anyone I’ve ever met. He’s also fun, engaging, connected and very generous with his time and help. If you’re a CMO, read his work and get to know him for his real-world experience and his refreshing, no-nonsense approach to marketing.”

Deborah Wahl

CMO, Cadillac

“As a marketing executive I am constantly on the move. I don’t have time to read every article so I am very selective about what I read. One absolute is Steve Olenski. He literally keeps me apprised as to what other brands are doing, the latest trends and so much more. I’ve been fortunate to get know Steve as well on a personal level and he’s even a better person than he is writer and marketer, which is saying a lot.”

Bruce Hershey

VP of Marketing, Men’s Wearhouse

“Steve is in rarified air, truly. He is unique in that he is not a journalist by trade. He has walked the same walk that marketers and advertisers have (and he continues to do so), so when he shares his opinions, he’s doing so based on real life experiences. He is deservedly respected by those of us in the c-suite. As a CMO/marketing leader it can be challenging to wade through all the noise when it comes to ‘so-called’ experts. However, I refer to Steve as ‘The Distiller of Truth.’ I value his opinion as much as anyone I’ve ever met. If you’re a CMO or marketing leader you owe it to yourself to follow Steve and read/listen to what he has to say. His counsel can do wonders for your personal brand. And last but not least, he’s just a super-nice, funny, and down-to-earth guy.”

Julie Lyle

CMO, Walmart, Barnes & Noble

Steve is a smart, intuitive, and creative thinker. Because he has the real-world chops of a marketer, his writing is consistently on point and valuable. I also appreciate Steve as a thought partner in helping develop an idea / concept. I value his partnership, skillset and experience. He is also a great guy and a pleasure to work with!”

Patrick Adams

CMO, Paypal, Victoria’s Secret

“Marketing and business leaders today are completely inundated by the sheer amount of content, articles, etc. on a daily basis. It’s becoming harder and harder to weed through all the noise. Fortunately there’s Steve Olenski or Steve O as he likes to be known by, which is apropos to call him that because he is without question the most down-to-earth, casual person you’ll ever meet. Because he has the real-world experience other writers/journalists may not, I know when I read something of Steve’s it’s rooted in practical application. Quite simply the man knows his stuff and then some. You would be wise to not only read Steve’s work but to engage with him as well. He’s one of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. And his network of leaders is second to none. Get to know Steve. You can thank me later.”

Robert Chin

CMO, Gallo and Bar Louie

“Simply put, Steve gets ‘it… and by ‘it’ I mean the ins and outs of what it means to be a CMO leading the charge across customer engagement, growth and experience. You may not even realize it, but if you have consumed true thought leadership on key issues that keep the modern CMO up at night, you have likely consumed content crafted by Steve. He has earned the title, The CMO Whisperer. He has also more than earned my friendship, respect, and admiration proving time and time again that he is a trusted colleague and co-conspirator. As someone who quite literally writes for a living, I am not ashamed to admit that I am often terrified of sending Steve anything I have written. How do you send someone copy when you KNOW they could have written it better and likely with equal if not more authority? His words have both weight and meaning. His thoughts are authentic and honest — sometimes brutally honest, but always earnest. I can’t recommend Steve and his capacity to craft, shape and mold conversations enough.”

Liz Miller

SVP, Marketing, CMO Council

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