It was one of those weeknights that I had stayed at work inadvertently much later than I’d planned. You know what that’s like. Staring at the computer screen, mesmerized, mind completely elsewhere. Michael stopped at my office door to say goodnight. Sensing that I had something significant on my mind, he asked me what was going on. I answered him with a question of my own, “How do people in a relationship make decisions together?” Michael smiled and said, “In my experience, usually one person makes a choice, and the other responds.”

A few months later, Michael decided to leave the firm at which he had founded a new media practice and hired me as a web producer. About to graduate from my MBA program, I decided to walk out the door alongside him in search of the territory ahead. Rob Cima decided — in the middle of a recession that followed the bust — to take a risk on a new venture. The three of us founded mStoner, 15 years ago this month. Happy birthday to us!

We began the company with the simple decision to do what that we loved to do, our way, with a team so bright and so fun to work with that we’d look forward to every new day and each new challenge. Some 300 projects, four continents, and more than 60 awards later, we’re stronger and more energized than ever, and we’re looking forward to what the next 15 years will bring.

On the topic of decisions, I’d like to share the news that Michael has decided to retire in 2018.

Deep. Cleansing. Breath.

Those of you who know Michael won’t be surprised to learn that this announcement is years in the making and the result of deliberate and careful planning. Our entire team has worked hard to build a strong foundation for the future — we’ve developed incredible expertise across a wide range of services, earned a great reputation, and continue to look for ways to provide exceptional client experiences. Life in the digital world moves at breathtaking speed and with dizzying change, and we’re up for the challenge. Bring it!

We know the mStoner team won’t be the only ones to miss Michael’s thought leadership. He has made a lasting impact on education over the years. He started one of the first blogs to focus on marketing in education back in 2003, launched EDUniverse — a place for professionals to share their own thought leadership in 2011 — and then merged the network with Higher Ed Live two years later. He edited “Social Works” and found and published “#FollowTheLeader.” He’s presented at hundreds of conferences. In the last few years alone he’s spearheaded primary research with prospective teens, admissions professionals, advancement offices, and campus marketing and brand managers. Through his career, he’s established best practices for us as communications professionals and set an example of dedication, insight, kindness, and generosity for all of us to follow.

In the most ideal of evolutions, organizations preserve the very best of its traits, imbued by its founders. In mStoner’s case, those traits include collaboration and creativity and curiosity and commitment to doing great work and a great collective sense of humor. We thank Michael for fostering those values and for the fact that we will continue to enjoy his leadership and his companionship for a little bit longer.

Voltaire Santos Miran

AUTHOR - Voltaire Miran

I've developed and implemented communication strategies in education for more than 20 years now. I think my team at mStoner is the smartest, funniest, and coolest group of colleagues ever, and I can't imagine being anywhere else. Except Barcelona. Or Paris. Or Istanbul. To quote Isak Dinesen, "the cure for everything is salt ... tears, sweat, and the sea." Find me on

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