Alex Herder, President & Creative Director, The Duke & the Duck

Alex Herder

Alex Herder
President & Creative Director
The Duke & the Duck

Alex Herder, a longstanding AMADC member applied to the Mentor Program last fall to get more involved with the region’s marketing community in a “well-defined way with a clear definition of goals,” he says. He cofounded The Duke & the Duck, a D.C.-based motion graphics and animation studio in 2009, after nearly two years as marketing manager at Voxiva, a startup healthcare technology firm. Entrepreneurialism, he says, runs in his family: his brother, his uncle, and two great-grandparents were self-employed or company founders. Here, Herder explains the how-and-why of his involvement with AMADC’s Mentor Program.

Wow! You are a busy guy: president and creative director of a nine-year-old company, with two children! What motivated you to apply for AMADC’s Mentor Program? I’ve been an AMADC member for many years, and wanted to become more involved with the region’s marketing community. When I read the Mentor Program e-mail, I saw it as an opportunity to give back in a clearly defined way.

Why focus on mentoring? Although this is my first formal mentor relationship, I view guiding and counseling my staff as a primary role in my company. We’re young and growing, so helping employees explore and build skills is important. I try to read up on these issues, and we hold regular coaching sessions, for instance. AMADC’s program offers a great learning experience.

How have you prepared to be a mentor? In addition to drawing on what I’ve learned from leading my staff, I’ve also copied the approach used with my own advisors: I ask questions and listen, and (hopefully) help my protégé see that he has the answers to his own questions. Even though I’ve not had a formal mentor, so to speak, I do have a couple of people I trust and turn to on occasion for counsel. I go to them with questions, and through talking with them, work through finding a solution. They are my sounding boards. I’ve found that what I really needed in many situations was permission to follow my own instincts.

Advice for would-be protégés? Keep asking! Mentors might be busy people, but if they’ve agreed to be involved, they’ll make time for you. Waiting for permission or to share an update means you are leaving valuable insight on the table. 

One word — verb, noun, adjective, adverb — that describes a Mentor’s role: reflection.