Dan Casarella is someone you can easily call a jack-of-all-trades. He’s taught swim lessons to kids, squeezed lemons behind a bar, coordinated golf club rentals, and dabbled in the world of late night television (most recently as an associate producer on Jimmy Kimmel Live!). He even launched his own podcast last year, drawing on his days as a college radio host.
Dan first started working with Lightning Media Partners as a freelance copywriter in late 2019. As he continued to write for us on a consistent basis, even throughout the pandemic, he became an integral part of LMP’s growth.
In July 2020, we hired him as a part-time employee, and today we are thrilled to announce that he is officially a full-time Staff Writer for LMP. Dan brings so many skills and ideas to the table that have helped shape us into the agency we are today, and we’re all excited to see him flourish in his expanded role (in addition to writing, he’ll now be helping out our founders with some business development and sales outreach!).
We asked Dan a few questions about his background as a writer and how his past experiences have led him to his current role at LMP.
1. What made you want to pursue a career in writing?
The summer before my senior year of high school, I bought Rob Sheffield’s “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran” based on the title alone. It was a coming-of-age memoir based on the Rolling Stone critic’s experience growing up as a homely Irish Catholic music nerd in 1980s suburban Boston. He paired a different life experience with a song from the decade, sometimes analytical about music at the time, sometimes sharing a story from his youth, like the summer he was a teenage ice cream man. It was the most engaging book I ever read.
Before then, I had never read a book or article where the author seamlessly blended their upbringing with such appreciation for the soundtrack that accompanied them. I fell in love. So inspired, that summer I decided to write a blog where from the first day of school I would count down the 287 days to graduation with a blog about a song. I got through 128 before I got a girlfriend and lost interest. But that’s where the spark started.
2. How do you spend your free time when you’re not working as a full-time staff writer for LMP?
Mainly I like to read and run. I make an effort to stay in touch with friends and family as much as possible, so I try to call a different person at least once a day or have a Zoom coffee with them in the morning.
Last year, my sister asked me to officiate her wedding. Though honored, I felt grossly unqualified to do so. To prepare for the writing of it, I planned on talking to different people about their experiences and perceptions on love and having a background in radio, I turned it into a podcast. “Out of Love” was a weekly podcast where I tried to answer questions like “what makes a good wedding ceremony?” “how do you date during a pandemic?” and “why do so many people quote The Office in their dating app bios?”
It was a really fun and personal project and culminated in a meaningful wedding ceremony for my sister. I really enjoyed doing a podcast for leisure and am working on another personal side project, as well as two new shows now.
3. How have your past career experiences led you to where you are today?
In college, I worked at a golf course in South Philly that was known as “the worst golf course in America.” Based on my first answer, you probably correctly assumed I was no athlete growing up. Customers would come in and ask to rent golf clubs and I had no idea what they were asking for. I would go to the back, image search what they asked for, and bring out the cleanest one closest to the picture. And they were happy every time.
Be it radio, late night television, or golf courses, I strive to exceed the expectations of the audience or customer. I may not always have the answers, but I will research it, learn about it, and put the best product forward for the client. Unless the greens are underwater that day. In that case, we’re closed.
4. What does your morning routine look like?
After I wake up, I’ll usually do a workout of either running, weights, or yoga and stretching. Then, I’ll take a shower and make breakfast and coffee before starting the workday. What I eat for breakfast is deeply personal, and I will not be taking questions or comments about it at this time.
5. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
A professor once told me, “it’s good to fail.” At the time I thought he was just bracing us for a career in media, but it’s really insightful. Life isn’t going to go the way you plan it. It’s better to know that and embrace when things go wrong, be accountable, and learn from your mistakes. Don’t get too down about when you do; no one will be harder on you than yourself. Some of the traits I like the most about myself come from failures and learning to be better.
When I talk to people my age and younger they’re often concerned with figuring out the right thing to do next. Do something you’re curious about and the rest will follow. Companies go under, industries change, the people you do think have it figured out likely won’t be in that same position even five years from now. What comes next doesn’t have to be permanent, but it should be valuable to you.
1. Coffee or tea? Coffee to wake up, tea to wind down.
2. Idealist or realist? I don’t see why I can’t be both.
3. Books or movies? Books — more is up to the audience’s interpretation, and you have as long as you need to tell your story.
4. Rain or snow? Rain. When I lived in southern California, people native to the area always got excited when it rained because it was so rare, so I guess that rubbed off on me. Snow, while beautiful, is inconvenient and dangerous.
5. Adventure or comfort? For some, adventure is comfort.
6. If you wrote a memoir, what would be the title? “Am I Human? Or Am I Dan, Sir?”
7. Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving.
8. Describe yourself in three words: Answering this question.
9. Your guilty pleasure: When I’m with a group of people I like to say “hey, check out this cool new indie band” and then put on Sugar Ray.
10. Song or album you can’t stop listening to: I love supporting the local Philadelphia music scene. Gladie released the excellent “Safe Sins” last year, then followed it up with three EPs. Orion Sun’s “Hold Space for Me” is amazing and always on repeat.