My Media Week: Karl Weaver

From tapas overload with Carat’s new global chief to an acquisition opportunity, we join Karl Weaver, the chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network’s marketing effectiveness arm, Data2Decisions. 

Monday

The radio wakes me up at 6:45 am with Sarah Montague on the Today programme. It’s dark outside and surprisingly cold inside as I quickly discover that the heating is playing up. Spurred on by being chilly I wake up the kids, get ready and scan emails over breakfast, then de-ice the car ready for my wife to drive our daughter to school.

My week always starts with a highlight – taking my nine-year-old to school. What gems will he have for me this morning? Today’s discussion is about how we could float up in the air and lay down on the ‘duvet of fog’ that covers the green at the top of my road, peppered with testing his spellings. He also has a considerable list of things he wants me to do, but he negotiates well, gives me a hug at the school gate and asks me to think it over.

It’s a 20 minute walk to the station from the school and I make sure my Guardian app is refreshed with news so I can read it on the underground.

The weekly meeting of Dentsu Aegis Network brand heads is, as usual, deftly chaired by Matthew Platts, president of Amplifi. We share thoughts on how we can address a variety of business challenges for clients and review some operational matters. These discussions are really helpful for the successful operation of our business model, and it sets the week up nicely.

My evening involves a drink with a freelance management consultant I have worked with on and off for about ten years. She is writing a book which has a section on marketing effectiveness and I am happy to give a perspective.

Tuesday

The executive members of Data2Decisions’ board meet for breakfast every Tuesday in a fantastic coffee shop close to our offices (Ben’s House, Fitzrovia, but please only order to go if you visit as I don’t want more people taking all the seats). It’s an informal discussion to review new business opportunities, but it’s a valuable opportunity for me to gauge how our board, people and clients are feeling.

Once in the office I review the next two weeks of my schedule with my PA, and iron out as many diary clashes as we can. Then off to a brisk lunch with Will Swayne, the newly appointed global president of Carat.

I note the expert cross sell and up sell from the waiter as we order far too many tapas dishes. The conversation ranges from Will’s ambitions for the brand to how Data2Decisions can now optimise for growth across digital channels.

Two possibilities for the evening – an investment bank has invited me to a review of the economic outlook for 2016, or I can go to an entrepreneur seed investment session. I opt for the seed investment and buy The Economist on the way. No ideas spark my interest on this occasion, other than one around helping the wider public collect art.

Wednesday

The day starts with a useful briefing with Sarah Steer, our PR and comms expert. Some conference invites to consider and a discussion about our PR strategy for the year ahead. Then I have a meeting with a retail client, talking to them about how we can link up digital and offline analytics and optimise across all platforms.

I’m glad to be back in the office for an internal meeting on innovation. I don’t get to enough of these sessions, and this one is led by Kirstin Billsborough, our advanced analytics expert who talks us through a new approach we have developed that enables us to identify the most effective sequencing for customer journeys.

Then I am on a call with some of our people in the US. Data2Decisions is involved in a number of multi-market pitches and I want to check that our leaders have access to the resources and information they need on our latest developments.

My track car has arrived back at home, with a new exhaust system fitted. It was an emission scandal in its own right, the catalysts having disintegrated under the heat. I am like an excited child, particularly as I have found an outfit place close to my home that specialises in chassis dynamics and powertrain optimisation, this ‘secret’ discovered through word of mouth.

My wife texts to say that our seven-year-old daughter was brave enough to try horse riding, eventually. Good news. Then dinner with a client who wants to discuss how they are planning to restructure their team and how this will affect our work with them.

Thursday

I am a fourth generation Spurs supporter, my son is fifth generation, so last night was good for us. I grab an iPad and wake my son up to review the match highlights (including son’s stunning goal and great assist) against Leicester in the FA Cup on the BBC website. I resist texting Paul Dyson, Data2Decisions’ founder and loyal Leicester City supporter. Well, he was polite enough not to make a big deal of Leicester’s win against us in the league a few days earlier.

Most of the morning is spent on my regular update with Katherine Munford, our chief operating officer and employee number three of our now 150+ people across Data2Decisions’ 11 offices. She gives an update on client projects, team news, her review of 2016 budgets and also provides a host of ideas she has for looking after and investing in our people. Some brilliant stuff and I look forward to kicking it all off with our first Wellness Week in early February.

Back at home and Stampylongnose is blasting out of the kitchen TV via YouTube. His voice really cuts through, but I have found you build up immunity around the four-month point. Kids are pleased to see me, and I ask my daughter how she did in her spelling test today. She is characteristically indifferent to getting 10/10. I tell her she’s smashing and wonder how she does this apparently so effortlessly. 

Friday

This morning I have some client calls and then a brief discussion with Mark Creighton, Dentsu Aegis Network’s chief operating officer, about a possible acquisition opportunity. Then I look over some contracts that either need signing or attention. Fortunately, the Dentsu Aegis legal team is hyper efficient.

Friday afternoon usually brings another highlight of the week, the D2GetDown email from Daniel Poursaeedi, one of our consultants. It’s a few very funny paragraphs where Dan tries to empathise with our plights of the week and, via several tenuous links, suggests that the themed DJ set at 16:00 in the office will make us all feel better. Almost guaranteed I will laugh out loud at some point during reading it.

At home and a mate wants an opinion on a car he is looking to buy. I click the link through to the Autotrader website, run a few comparisons, notice how keen B&Q is to sell me a kitchen.

A chap has been in and has fixed our heating – a good end to a good week.

Lowdown

Favourite media: Radio, with me in the morning, at night and in the car.

Biggest inspiration: My grandfather. He died 20 years ago, but was an example in being both generous and getting what you want.

Dream job: Motorsport related. If not the drive itself then leading a motorsport team.

Not a lot of people know this about me: I’m not a big fan of the chocolate flavoured French Fancies. I consider the yellow and pink ones to be much better, and I don’t think I am in the minority on this.

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