On Sunday, The Huffington Post UK turned three. To mark this occasion, the front page carried the three best bits of advice business leaders have ever been given in the pursuit of success. In the same vein, then, I'm sharing the three tips I've distilled from my twenty years working in the advertising and marketing industry.
I've had the privilege of meeting and working with so many interesting people whether they be bosses, colleagues or clients, and these experiences have helped shape what I deem to be important to succeed. From my first job through to my first role as CEO, the most important lessons are ones that I still adhere to today. Here are my top three most valuable lessons:
1. People will give you breaks if they like you; your job is to drive home that advantage
My first boss taught me this. He gave me my first break in advertising because he liked me, but it was up to me to make the most of this opportunity. This is true in everything we do. It's said that 80% of our actions are about conviction of thought and opinion and how you go about delivering that with compassion and empathy. It's a simple equation, if people like you as a person, they are more likely to buy your opinion.
I've always tried to go that step further than others to get people to like me. I remember writing letters to clients after a marketing campaign or a piece of advertising we had produced for them had launched, outlining my views on how it had fared and where we should go next. By showing I took the time, care and attention to craft and post a letter, instead of a standard email, made them like me and believe in me more. Once that trust is gained, It's important to deliver on these breaks to drive home the advantage otherwise you risk losing that relationship.
2. Stand on the shoulders of giants.
Success shouldn't just be because of you, it should come from the team around you too. Make it a priority as a manager or leader to hire the very best talent you can find and attract, give them a direction and create a culture of team and collaboration - and then watch it fly
You should never be worried about bringing in smarter, more talented people than yourself, in fact you should feel liberated by it as it will drive you and everyone around you upwards towards success. Hiring talent does cost, but it is something that should never be scrimped on. We need to push our budgets as far as we can to attract this talent, because great minds do great work for people, and great minds working together leads to success.
3. Love thy clients
Two very practical but hugely invaluable pieces of advice I received at the start of my career can best be pulled together under this heading. We should always love our clients' product and business more than they do and we should always remain one drink behind them!
Clients can often get so wrapped up in their environment's day to day goings on, the politics, the departments, the pricing issues and the shortfalls in sales that they can sometimes lose sight of their product and their business and what makes it so beautiful, useful, fun and engaging.
Our job, and this is relevant in any industry, is to keep that product or service right at the forefront of everything we do for them, shining it, changing it, improving it and making sure that both we and the client are proud of it, because if we can do this then the end customer will be proud of it too.
And as for that piece of advice for remaining one drink behind our clients, that ties in with my point about being liked - our ability to drive home the advantage might be hindered by that extra drink.