David Steinberg

Always be out there selling your business. You have to pitch over and over and over again – the monotony kills most people, but it’s the only way to truly be successful.


David A. Steinberg is the Founder and CEO of Zeta Global, a leading marketing technology company that combines the industry’s 3rd largest proprietary data set with Artificial Intelligence to unlock consumer intent, personalize experiences and drive business growth. Under Steinberg’s leadership, the company was listed by Forbes as one of America’s 50 Most Promising Private Companies. Prior to co-founding Zeta, Steinberg founded InPhonic, the largest seller of wireless phones and communications products and services on the Internet. InPhonic topped the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies in 2004. Steinberg also was chairman and CEO of Sterling Cellular, a B2B and retail wireless communications provider, and Sterling Communications. He sits on the boards of the Milken Institute’s FasterCures center and the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, as well as on the Board of Trustees of Washington & Jefferson College. He was named the Greater Washington Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for communications in 2002. Steinberg Holds a B.S. from Washington & Jefferson College.

Where did the idea for Zeta Global come from?

The idea for Zeta has evolved over 12 years. The terms Big Data and AI hadn’t even existed yet. But we did believe that Data and Analytics would change the way marketing worked. And on that premise, we founded the company and it has evolved dramatically since then.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I wake up around 6am, I start with Asian and European messages and then move into US messages. I typically work out every morning to get myself focused and set for the day, sometimes while I’m taking calls and meetings. I always try to spend time with my children before they go to school, and catch up with my wife before I head to the office.
Like most CEOs, my day is filled with meetings and calls. It’s very hard to find strategic time during the day so I try to do that on the weekends — I do family time, but also make sure I take time for deep thinking and truly being thoughtful.

Because I don’t sleep that much, I spend most evenings catching up on other work

How do you bring ideas to life?

Anytime you really want to bring an idea to life, you have to be forceful. I tend to be good at this. You also have to fail fast – if an idea isn’t working, shut it down and move to the next one.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Artificial Intelligence. The possibilities to understand what a consumer really intends to do – something that marketers have been trying to figure out forever – comes into fruition with the development of artificial intelligence.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

It’s probably working out everyday. If I don’t work out, I’m not as productive – I have a harder time centering my mind.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Buy Google (haha).

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Time doesn’t really exist. It’s simply a way for humans to catalog our day, weeks, months, years. Once you understand that, you can be more productive by not having to worry about it.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Always be out there selling your business. You have to pitch over and over and over again – the monotony kills most people, but it’s the only way to truly be successful.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

One of the best strategies I’ve used to grow Zeta Global is to hire the best people that are specialists in their field, and always keep a forward-looking mindset toward innovation.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

As an entrepreneur, there is always the notion of potentially failing – it’s a risk you have to be willing to take. You overcome it by failing forward, and learning something from the experience that can bring you and the business to a better position the next time around.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

All I’ll say is that Artificial Intelligence will continue to become more and more advanced over the years to come.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I gave $100 to a homeless person who really looked like they were down on their luck, and not just asking for money. It was great to see how it uplifted them.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Apple OS! I do all my work off an iPhone, which provides me with the opportunity to be travelling to meet clients and our teams consistently while never missing an email or meeting. This wasn’t always the case when we first started in the business world.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Freakonomics” would be the closest because it shows you that certain things lead to outcomes that you would never expect. In hindsight, they’re obvious. That’s what AI does – it looks for trends that no human would see, and then it becomes evident.
Otherwise, my other favorite is “Interview with a Vampire” for fun/not business.

What is your favorite quote?

“To be or not to be”

Key Learnings:

  • Start your day early and make the most of your time
  • Always keep selling
  • Leverage artificial intelligence as much as possible