Described as a man who defies description, JD Gershbein exemplifies the verve and vision of the social media world. He is that unique blend of scientist and artist, combining the pragmatic with the whimsical to deliver an extraordinary and deeply moving personal brand experience. Having received global acclaim as a LinkedIn strategist, JD is blazing a trail as a new media personality, and making an indelible impression in the business community as a speaker, facilitator, and edutainer.
He was one of the first to the field of LinkedIn training, a leap of faith for a traditional marketer who blazed a trail as a specialist while many others took an overview approach to the social platforms. Playing out behind the scenes was his long-time love for broadcasting and performance art, which enabled him to pioneer new and interesting modes of educating professionals and organizations on the benefits of social networking for business.
He was born Joel Dan Gershbein in Chicago, Illinois on September 5, 1957 to parents who were both scientists and artists. His father, Leon, was a dedicated man of medicine who toiled on the front lines of cancer research, and a classical musician (double bass). He met Ruth (nee Zelman), then a clinical chemist, in the laboratory of Northwestern University, and an impressionist painter (oil on canvas). The couple eventually settled in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette.
On his first day of freshman year at New Trier West High School in Northfield, Illinois, JD joined the school’s FM radio station, WNTH. He quickly took to the craft of broadcasting, a skill that he honed throughout his collegiate years. He was also involved with New Trier’s closed circuit television station, ITV, an experience from which he routinely draws as a professional speaker and video producer.
After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, he began his professional career in healthcare marketing. While working, he continued his studies throughout the 1980s, earning a Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology in 1985 and a Master of Business Administration Degree in Marketing Communications in 1989, both from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
During that period, JD also indulged his passion for writing and improvisational comedy. From 1985-1987, he took classes at The Second City and became part of a performing troupe. The skills he learned propelled him in a career that flowed from marketing to sales to a trusted social media consultant and public speaker. Through this training, he learned howto be present in the moment and communicate on a more visceral level.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, and throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, he engaged in several creative pursuits, including cartooning and playwriting. A lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs, JD created “Cubbles,” a cartoon character that was licensed by Major League Baseball and became part of the team’s marketing portfolio. He also scripted a stage play entitled Our Gonfalon Bubble, which dealt with the team’s legacy of futility as seen through the eyes of a family in crisis.
From the moment he discovered LinkedIn, JD was hooked. It was late 2006, and the social media sites were emerging. At the same time, there was a recession underway. The global economy was tanking. Although JD could have never predicted that he could create a livelihood around LinkedIn, it felt right. He answered a call and never looked back.
In today’s Digital Era, where anyone with an idea and a camera can become an authority figure overnight, JD earned his status organically, through long hours and hard work. His thought leadership on LinkedIn for business led to appearances on network TV news programs (FOX and CBS), radio talk shows (WGN), podcasts, and writing opportunities for The Huffington Post, Forbes, NBC, and SUCCESS Online.
Fast forward to right now, and JD is carving out a niche as a “professional edutainer.” He speaks at conferences, companies, and colleges all over North America, training sales teams on LinkedIn best practices, helping business owners gain clarity on their brands, and molding the next generation of thought leaders. There are new video marketing initiatives on the horizon, including the development of an Internet TV platform, that will enable him to provide even greater value to an ever-expanding audience.
Often emulated, never duplicated, JD Gershbein is a living example of the power of personal branding.
He is doing exactly what he was meant to do.