Greg Galant and his buddies watched in dismay, day after day, as the parade of vessels barreling through Huntington Harbor sent the sea creatures they were trying so desperately to hook scurrying for safer waters.
They continued to cast their lines for an entire summer, hoping something would bite; anything. Yet the season passed to no avail—the group with nothing to show for their determination.
“I was never an expert fisher by any chance,” Galant laughs.
No worries; he’d be reeling in a much, much bigger catch soon enough.
The Huntington-born whiz kid cast a much wider net, turning his real love—technology—into a social media-inspired juggernaut that now carries him across the globe, worlds away from the North Shore waterfront village where he first began developing websites for local businesses.
It was the mid-’90s, and many Americans—at least those who owned computers at the time—were just getting acquainted with the World Wide Web. Galant, however, the son of two Newsday journalists, had already been dabbling with coding and the inner workings of the Internet and was more than ready for the oncoming revolution about to sweep the globe. He credits suburban melancholy.
“Growing up on Long Island I was always very much into tech,” he says, “very bored like a lot of kids were.”
At 14 years old he began drilling into local businesses the importance of creating a website. Local newspaper The Long Islander and a French philosopher, of all people, were among his first patrons. His client list would soon be replete with businesses the world over—willing to take a shot on someone not yet old enough to drive because “nobody knew what they were doing on the Internet,” at the time, he says.
Galant, now the CEO of Sawhorse Media, the umbrella company for Muck Rack, a social media site for journalists, and the Shorty Awards, which annually honors the best in social media, is an unassuming 30-year-old who wears a full dark beard and carries himself with quiet confidence.
Social media drives everything he does. The Shorty Awards, which appeared on the scene in 2008, went viral on Twitter, forcing his team to make accommodations for more journalists than they initially expected. Shorty Awards was also one of the first to use Twitter as a nomination site.
Galant wasn’t sold on Twitter at the social media site’s outset and actually admits he didn’t think it would be a success, but he became one of its first million users—his Twitter handle @gregory putting him in its exclusive “first name” club. It’s because of his initial skepticism that Galant chose the famous Big Duck in Flanders as his profile picture instead of his own headshot—an icon of his roots which he keeps to this day.
A lot of what Galant has done in his short and wildly successful career has been on the whim.
And to think, it all happened because he was a bored teenager on Long Island.