Find a partner.
Find a business partner you can stand next to and trust completely. Mary and I met in Cabo San Lucas a few years ago while I was judging the Andy's. We instantly clicked. She's passionate about creativity—she's my first bounce. We share the same business card and her office is connected to mine, on the creative floor.
Get to know your clients' business intimately.
Fall in love with the clients you've inherited. Spend time understanding their business objectives and needs. Be a good listener. You'll move clients forward naturally by laying out a plan and realizing that you will get there together by building trust between each other. With trust comes the way forward.
Surround yourself with people you can trust.
Coming into an agency as new management, you find three kinds of people. The first group are the "Yee-has!" They're the guys who say, "This is going to be so great!" Then you get the middle people—"What's going to happen to me?" And then the third group are the most dangerous, the cynics. Your first job is to take the yee-ha energy and radiate it; hug and love that middle group of people and tell them it's fine. Then, find that third group of people, and if you can't convert them, get rid of them. Cynicism is a cancer and can rot an agency from within. It also helps to bring in key players who already know your belief system and will act as champions. Any organization, if you don't have the inherent belief that you can achieve something, you just won't achieve it.
A creative department is all about balance. You need the seniors, but you also need the babies. Juniors coming into the business are really up to speed with where media is. Seniors are brilliant because they know about craft. I'll often put a person who has had a lot of experience with a person who hasn't, in a team together, and as long as the senior person doesn't play the parent role, you've got a really dynamic team. Senior and junior, female and male. Local talent and international talent. A lot of our work plays globally, so it's very important for us to have diverse cultural backgrounds.
Be light on your feet.
As clients and the media landscape changes, so does the agency need to. An ideas company should be able to create content for whatever medium the target demands. It's a little bit like Muhammad Ali was. He was so light on his feet. He could move and dance and change tactics—and have fun while doing it.
Start small. . . but think big. When I came in, I focused on print because it's the quickest one to change. You bring in some experts and it gets done really quickly, while you work on reinventing the television process and the digital focus. Awards—effective, as well as creative awards—are very important. The Holy Grail for me is to win a Gold Lion and a Gold Effie for the same piece of work. If you look at the top ten most awarded commercials on the planet, Guinness "Evolution," Sony "Balls," etc., they all have extraordinary business results associated with them. Awards help attract the finest talent because the best talent wants to be associated with the best work.
The bigger, more conservative clients have more at stake. They require more patience. It's OK to take baby steps, as long as you're building trust and you can prove that these steps are leading to a better place. When you take too much of a giant leap forward, it can rock things too much, so patience is a wonderful thing. There needs to be a plan to get a client from where they are to where you would like them to be.
Bar silos. create communities. There are no silos. We don't have an online/digital silo, an interactive silo, a direct mail silo. We don't need to force collaboration really because it happens kind of naturally. When we first got here, everyone sat in their own individual offices, with the door closed. [Now, offices are open spaces.] It was very quiet. I guess there's nothing wrong with that, but Mary and I want our clients to come into work and see the energy of the group. To be collaborative, to be noisy, is a good thing.
Believe you can. Drive that belief into people.
My personal mission and mantra is "Life is too short to be mediocre." I don't get up in the morning and go, "Hey! Today I'm going to be mediocre!" I want people around me who are on a mission to be the best and to be famous.
What Mary and I have been up to over the last two years is building a team that is focused on growing our existing business, making our relationships even stronger, and bringing in new business. New business is really the lifeblood of any agency—it keeps us fired up!