How Vice, Mindshare, Fallon, BuzzFeed, Others Nurture and Protect Talent

Plus, a Look at What Skills Need Development Among Junior and Senior Execs

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What skill is your most junior talent lacking?

Eric Lee
Eric Lee

"The ability to say no. Our junior staff are hungry and look to take on any and all challenges presented to them."
–Ted Kohnen, chief marketing officer, Stein IAS

"Empathy! Most juniors have no idea what it's like to be a client. So they have no idea how to sell their ideas to clients. You cannot sell an idea to a client because it's 'cool.' But you can sell a really cool idea, if you can show how it solves their problem. Making risky ideas appear less risky -- by using logic, metrics, research -- can help get great ideas made."
–Angus Tucker, executive creative director-partner, John St.

"Something they are not teaching here is to ask the right questions. In China or in Asia, people are not trained to ask questions, they are trained to listen to information."
–Eric Lee, CEO-partner, Anomaly Shanghai

We are trying to foster entrepreneurialism for our younger staff here at H&K. I feel that our junior talent have just not really been taught how to network and bring in new business."
–Mike Coates, president-CEO, Americas, Hill & Knowlton Strategies

What skill is your most senior talent lacking?

Joel Greengrass
Joel Greengrass

[A] big priority for us is making sure leadership spends time with junior staff. An awesome new tradition our president, Greg Coleman, started is once a week a random mix of 10 New York City-based employees will grab lunch with him to learn more about what he's working on, offer advice and get to know employees on an individual level."
–Joel Greengrass, senior VP-super human resources, BuzzFeed

–Andrew O'Dell, CEO and co-founder, Pereira & O'Dell

–Colin Kinsella, North America CEO, Mindshare

"Senior talent needs to be faster, more prolific. We all grew up on coffee-table craft, and we could use a 'done is better than perfect' shove from time to time."
–John King, CMO, Fallon

What's your secret to attracting and retaining employees?

Meredith Kopit Levien
Meredith Kopit Levien

"Our employees are encouraged to involve themselves with projects across departments, spanning production, creative, editorial and more. The freedom to pursue projects that are of interest allows for a uniquely creative and collaborative community, which is fully backed by the company's amazing resources."
–Nancy Ashbrooke, global human resources director, Vice

"We are very focused on making it known that nothing matters more to our ability to succeed than our talent. Everyone understands that real achievement can come from anywhere at any level. Our famous Dialect Quiz was written by an intern; our biggest sale of the year was driven by someone in his 20s; our most-read piece of branded content was developed by two women who had been at the company less than six months."
–Meredith Kopit Levien, exec VP-advertising, The New York Times

"Our average 23-year-old has more responsibility at BuzzFeed than an average 33-year-old in another work environment. This pushes people to grow faster, work harder and constantly collaborate. Other qualities we prioritize here are transparency, mutual respect and fun. Every other week we have internal BuzzFeed Brews, where the entire company gathers for pizza and beers and teams will share things they're working on. To wrap up, Jonah Peretti, our CEO and founder, will take five questions from employees on anything and everything."
–Joel Greengrass, senior VP-super human resources, BuzzFeed

"There's a strong push on internal mobility. It's what allows people to stay here and build a career here. They are not painted into a box."
Carin Stein, senior VP-talent acquisition, Viacom

"I personally interviewed and approved our first 150 employees, hopefully setting the tone around hiring top talent that functions well as a team. We also operate with an extremely high level of transparency, sharing the positive 'big wins' and not sugarcoating the challenges. At our company meetings I answer anonymous questions from all of our global locations on the spot."
–Bill Demas, president-CEO, Turn

"I have breakfast once a month with our junior employees, the ones I don't know. It's fun for me. I like it very much, and I get good ideas."
–David Carey, president, Hearst Magazines

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