A Week in the Life of an Advertising Agency CEO

A Snapshot at One Agency Leader's Days Behind the Wheel

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Marc Brownstein
Marc Brownstein
I am made very aware of my age by the fact that my friends and peers in business are sending their kids to me for internships and jobs. How did I get friends who are so old?! Anyway, I always make sure that they have a chance to interview with us. These kids often ask me, "What's a typical week like for an owner of an agency like yours?" That question really gets me to consider exactly what my weeks are like -- especially compared to how I planned them to be at the starting line, on Monday. So I thought I'd share some highs and lows from last week.

Monday: Out of town with a client, learning a lot about how he runs his business. Hard-charging CEO who is very demanding -- on his team and ours. I know he doesn't like to talk advertising too much, so I use the time to learn more about where he wants to take his company -- and how. Stayed connected to my Brownstein Group team and other clients via my mobile device. How great is it to be able to manage the company while touring a factory in Florida?

Tuesday: 8:30 a.m. Early start on a snowy day in Philly. Big , four-hour presentation to the digital team of one of our larger clients. I was briefed on my speaking part (which wasn't much!). Today, the show belonged to the Brownstein Group team that has been working on this project -- our head of strategy, director of user experience and our creative director. This is a smart, potentially tough audience that could punch holes in our ideas. Got a text message during the meeting from one of the clients in the room that he's liking what we're showing. Phew! He also thanked me for being there. 3 p.m. Meeting with a new-business prospect. As the client described her business, I was becoming increasingly worried that her company had ambitious marketing goals, but will not have the financial resources to pull if off. So I was blunt and put my concerns on the table. Last thing I want to do is pursue a prospect that cannot afford our services. Waste of time on both sides.

Wednesday: Lots of internal meetings. Preview of newly-designed logos for a client re-branding effort. Met with my CFO -- those meetings can be very encouraging or really suck. In this one, we brainstormed different incentive plans and reviewed Q1 budgets. Guess that one fell into "encouraging!" 4 p.m. Practice for new-business pitch on Thursday. Birthday party at a local restaurant for a client. Told my wife I'd just stop in for 45 minutes. Two and a half hours later, I headed home. Great crowd. Spent time catching up with some folks on the client side; gained some new insights that will help us serve them better. Nothing like a couple glasses of wine to loosen up the conversation and open up a more meaningful dialogue. Also collected several business cards/leads. Must've made a handful of "Let's get together for breakfast/lunch" commitments. Wonder how many of those I will really have.

Thursday: Big day. Hit the gym early for energy. 7:30 a.m. conference call. 9 a.m. final presentation in what has been a long, new-business review process. Hard stop at 10:30 a.m., as an even bigger new-biz pitch awaits 24 miles away at 11:30 a.m. Deep breath. Stay focused. Important to remember key points in each of my presentation segments. Both pitches went well, but it's been my experience that agencies tend to high-five themselves after a presentation, while clients have a harsher critique. So no Brownstein Group celebrations after either one. Unless we get a couple of good phone calls next week! Attended business networking event after work, sponsored by one of the local business publications.

Friday: Wildly busy day ahead. 8 a.m.-11 a.m.--local radio station does a live-remote broadcast from our offices. They were interviewing local CEOs for their morning business show. Good exposure for my agency. On another floor in our offices, an important client meeting was just getting underway; had to be in both places at once. I was busy running the stairs! Meeting to present new creative to another client over lunch in our conference room. Went well. Yes!!! 4:00 p.m. Heard ideas for a trade show concept by our team for a conference we are participating in next month. Retreat to my office to return phone calls and emails. Exhale.

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Not sure if sharing this is insightful or dreadfully boring. But I do know it answers an often-asked question about what I do all day. And I would imagine it is similar to what other small agency CEO leaders experience. I made a commitment to be out of the office with my clients 25% more often this year. Some days I did that well; others, I didn't. Getting through the week being able to think clearly, make informed decisions, meet with my direct reports, put out a few fires, while maintaining high levels of energy is a regular challenge. Know what? I love the action, the people I work with, the smiles on my clients' faces. And I wouldn't trade it for another job!

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