“Jonathan Breiter is a 40-year veteran of the global marketing business world. His experience ranges across marketing, branding, licensing, retail and e-commerce relations, manufacturing, and product development. He has managed accounts for companies such as Wendy’s, General Mills, and Hasbro, and brands including Yoplait Yogurt, Pokémon, SpongeBob Squarepants, Elmo, Barney, Dora The Explorer, Eddie Bauer, Jeep and Carter’s. In 1994, Breiter started his own company, Oh Baby! In a remarkable move for a start-up, Oh Baby! was able to secure consumer goods licenses for both Sesame Street and Barney. Breiter is now the Owner & Principal of Public Group LLC, an international new business development and marketing advisory with specialties in manufacturing, product development, financing, licensing, branding and retail. In January 2018 he joined Sierra Nevada University as the chair of the Entrepreneurship program.” (Medium.com) Currently, he is a Level II Lecturer in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno @ Lake Tahoe and a Doctoral Candidate for 2026.
Learning has been an integral part of Jonathan’s life and professional success. He knew from a very early age that he wanted to work in the world of advertising. He studied in the School of Public Communication at Boston University (and later received his MBA from Hofstra University) where he was able to learn from professors who worked for some of the top advertising firms at the time. He stayed up to date on the industry by reading trade journals and other advertising related publications including Advertising Age and Adweek. He figured, “If I want to be in this business, I want to read about this business”. His commitment to continuously studying and learning about the industry would begin paying off early on in his career. In fact, Jonathan used the knowledge he gained from reading these journals to help him land his first job in advertising. During one of his first interviews, Jonathan recalled reading that the firm for which he was interviewing had just acquired the fast food chain Wendy’s as a client. In the interview, Jonathan said something along the lines of, “You know…you guys should be hiring because you just got a very big piece of business. You just got Wendy’s”. The interviewer was stunned by Jonathan’s knowledge of the development and asked how he knew this. Jonathan replied explaining that he read it in a trade journal. He told the interviewer about the various publications he read to stay up to date on the industry. The man was impressed and after completing the interview process, Jonathan was awarded the job out of a large pool of qualified candidates. While this one comment was likely not the only reason he was awarded the job, it would foreshadow the means by which he was able to begin building a successful career within the company and in the industry going forward: learning.
Once he was hired, Jonathan began working on the Wendy’s account. During one of the first meetings he was brought to, Jonathan decided to address the 20 or so executives in the room saying, “Hey, I’m the newbie in the room. I’d like to work in your stores. I want to go work in one of your Wendy’s locations”. Upon hearing this, the room fell silent until the Senior VP of marketing for Wendy’s responded saying, “Let me tell you something, not only are you the first advertising guy to ever ask to work in our stores, I’m completely flabbergasted and amazed that you want to do this…and I’m gonna call your bluff. We have a Hamburger College. You’re gonna come out and work at Hamburger College for two weeks, and you’re gonna learn everything that you could possibly learn about Wendy’s. Are you in?”. Jonathan agreed and spent two weeks learning everything there was to know about Wendy’s right down to the precise method by which their french fries were fried. It was an unconventional strategy, but it allowed Jonathan to gain an understanding of the Wendy’s chain and their offerings that went far beyond what someone without his experience would be able to have. This exercise, dedicated fully to learning, allowed Jonathan to return to his team with information and knowledge that would ultimately help them launch successful campaigns going forward.
Jonathan would carry his commitment to learning with him through each project and account he worked on. When he transitioned from the Wendy’s account to introduce Yoplait Yogurt, he took a similar approach to find success. In his words, “Again, I [did] my thing. I wanted to learn everything about yogurt…everything”. And he did. He learned everything there was to know about Yoplait’s offerings and methods as well as everything he could about existing competitors. He spent so much time trying the many different brands and flavors of yogurt available that once he transitioned to a new project, he never again had a bite of the dairy product. This unwavering commitment to learning is, in large part, what allowed Jonathan to succeed on the Wendy’s account, Yoplait Yogurt, and the many other projects and ventures he’s been a part of since then. His commitment to and love for learning is also, in large part, what has allowed him to be such an effective teacher for the past six years.
Jonathan’s journey into the world of high academia was different than most. He spent 30+ years in business before attempting to retire. It was around this time that he began mentoring students at Baruch College in New York. He took an immediate liking to mentoring and eventually decided to take it a step further and begin to teach. Jonathan recalls the mentors and teachers that had the greatest impact on him as the ones who were practitioners in their field of study. His professors in the School of Public Communication at Boston University were top advertising executives, world class copywriters, and employees of some of the largest newspapers in the area at the time. Coming from this experience, Jonathan understands the value that students find in being able to learn from and be mentored by experienced practitioners like himself. As such, he strives to make himself available to and form personal connections with as many of his students as he possibly can. In his words, “I’ll do anything to engage a student today”. He’s found that, “…students love to hear [his] stories because they’re real life stories”. They seem to resonate with students more so than other more traditional methods of teaching. He also strives to be as interactive in the classroom as possible. He tends to focus more on speaking, discussing, and debating with students than on giving a more traditional lecture. His methods and experience have made Jonathan, “one of the more popular professors” at UNR. His students regularly stop by his office to ask questions, seek advice, and simply to talk and learn from him.
One of the main focuses of Jonathan’s approach to teaching is centered around staying relevant to his student’s and their lives. In his words, it becomes a question of, “How do I resonate? How do I get into [a student’s] mind and make [them] listen to me or engage with me so that we can talk or interact or debate?”. This first starts with opening up the line of communication between teacher and student in the classroom. According to Jonathan, “Even in my biggest classes, I still feel compelled to interact [with students]”. He takes time to regularly ask students questions simply for the sake of getting to know them. He asks, “Who are you? Tell me about yourself. What do you care about? What do you value?” and uses this information to provide a classroom experience that is much more relevant and valuable to students than a simple lecture or presentation.
Jonathan strives to keep his classes relevant through his commitment to continuous learning as well. He’s found that staying up to date on what’s happening in the world and in various fields allows him to keep things fresh and interesting for his students. To do this, Jonathan spends much of his free time reading from various sources to seek out new knowledge that he can bring into the classroom. In his words, “I spend a lot of time reading news…I really try to read a lot of journals…I watch a lot of documentaries that interest me…I’ll read textbooks…I attend webinars…I go to a lot of training sessions…I learn a lot doing research on specific topics…and I just love picking people’s minds.” He employs the same commitment to learning for the sake of his students as he did when he was learning for his work. One of the main reasons that Jonathan got into teaching in the first place was to give back. There were many mentors and individuals along Jonathan’s path that he learned from and who helped him grow. Now, Jonathan is doing much of the same by sharing insights from a lifetime of learning and helping students achieve their goals in any way he can.
Jonathan’s commitment to learning and providing students with the insights, tools, and knowledge necessary for growth is inspiring. Ahura AI is seeking to do much of the same by expanding access to information and learning tools for learners of all backgrounds. We are honored to be able to highlight such amazing teachers like Jonathan and look forward to using the insights they provide to build products that truly enhance the learning experience. Now we want to hear from you! What do you think about Jonathan’s teaching approach? Have you ever learned from a practitioner like Jonathan in a classroom setting? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments and be sure to tag us @AhuraAI so that we can see what you have to say!
Author: Alex Murray, Operations and Client Success Intern, UC Berkeley ‘23