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Life Lessons: Steve Lowry, Discover Media House

Want to make a big career change? Set a deadline
Steve Lowry, founder, Discovery House Media

Steve Lowry’s career has taken several twists and turns. He started off as a lawyer, then went back to school to earn an MBA and worked as an investment banker in Toronto. With his friend Zac Killam, he then co-founded Play Taxi Media, a company that puts video screens in taxis. 

Last April he branched out on his own and founded Discover Media House, a startup offering ad buying for many different types of media – print, digital, television and radio – using an online platform.

Looking back on his early experience, Lowry says both law and investment banking were interesting, but he recalls feeling that something was missing in both careers. 

“Law seemed like a good starting place when you’re getting into your career … but I always had this sense I was using only one part of myself: the analytical side and not the creative side,” Lowry said. “[I was] looking for ways to utilize every skill I feel I have and, eventually, through some start-up iterations, landed on a role I really feel captures everything, where I’m giving 100%, 120%.”

Lowry feels he’s found his niche as an entrepreneur in the area of advertising and media. But making the jump from a safe, well-paid job to a new career can be scary, so when he decided to leave law, he gave himself an extra push.

“At one point I imposed a deadline. I went for a walk on the beach and said, ‘Six months from now, I want to be doing something else,’” he said. “I think it was setting that requirement that kept my eyes open to what else was out there.”

Discover House Media now employs five people, and the company is making inroads in the ad-buying business, Lowry said. The industry has traditionally been dominated by a few very large agencies, so Discover House has been focusing on smaller agencies and clients who might not have the same in-house technical resources as a large organization.

“In my career I didn’t have any sort of premeditated path,” Lowry said. “It’s often more of a sense of where I think I’d do well and following that opportunity when it comes.”

On playing by the rules | “Usually when you work for a large established company there’s a way of doing things, and you become socialized to how the people around you work and you adapt to that. As an entrepreneur, I’ve had to go right back to first principles and rebuild from there, because there’s no one around to show you how to do it because … you’re breaking new ground every day.”

Has a work or life challenge taught you a key career lesson? Contact Jen St. Denis at [email protected]