Feature

Advice to my younger self...

It's a cliché but it's true: the media business is a people business. We asked some of those who have helped shape the industry over the past 30 years what pearls of wisdom they would offer themselves if starting out again

Advice to my younger self...
Advice to my younger self...

Steve King, worldwide chief executive, ZenithOptimedia

"Marry wisely (achieved). Try not to embarrass yourself (failed). Only work for people who you respect. Always try to work for the toughest clients. If you find yourself in the same role for more than two years, and not learning, move on. Listen more than you speak. Treat people with respect. Be honest. Be competent in at least one foreign language."

Claudine Collins, managing director, MediaCom

"Work-wise, get experience in other departments – but, other than that, I have loved every minute of my career and wouldn’t really change anything. Personally, I would tell myself to end my relationships with two of my boyfriends years before I did. I would tell myself that work isn’t everything and to spend some time on my personal life. And that one fabulous man who I said no to… I would tell myself to say yes."

James Wildman, chief revenue officer, Trinity Mirror

"Surround yourself with great people and keep them with you as long as you can. Pay attention when people start talking about digital. Ask for forgiveness rather than permission and keep learning. Extend yourself and buy property. Enjoy Arsenal’s 2003/04 season – you won’t get another like it for a while. And be super-involved with your children. You won’t believe how quickly they grow up."

Colin Gottlieb, chief executive, EMEA, Omnicom Media Group

"Back in 1985 when I started working as a non-broadcast planner/buyer at Chris Ingram Associates, I would have given my 24-year-old self two envelopes, one inside the other. The larger one would have had ‘Open in 1996’ on it and contain a very detailed explanation about paid search. The second, smaller envelope inside would contain a simple message: ‘FFS, now go find the two guys developing BackRub at Stanford University, tell them all about paid search and see what happens.'"

Andy Jones, chief executive, IPG Mediabrands

"Believe in yourself, push yourself, persist and don’t be fobbed off. If you work hard, you can achieve most things in this business. Learn about computer sciences and algorithms, then create a computer-based page that finds stuff or connects people – and market it. Make sure Campaign only uses flattering photos of you. Do not be complacent about Liverpool routinely winning the title.
And don’t worry too much – it’s not worth it."

Rosemary Gorman, group advertisement director, Mail Newspapers

"Place greater trust in your instinct. Realise that learning from small failures makes you stronger, so recover quickly and move on. And that power-dressing with shoulder pads in the 80s looks ridiculous."

Nigel Sharrocks, former chief executive, Aegis Media Global Brands

"I count myself extremely privileged to have stumbled (a little more than 30 years ago) into the media side of advertising. We’d all like to be perfect but, sadly, we’re not: the sooner you come to terms with your strengths and weaknesses, the better. A career in advertising and media can be, for all but a few, brutally short. So make the most of every opportunity, have fun and enjoy it."

Marc Mendoza, vice-chairman, Posterscope; non-executive chairman, VCCP Media

"However fast you’re going, however busy you are, however important you think you are, whatever you’re chasing, you should find the time to spend with people who are important to you. You will spend a long time regretting it afterwards if you don’t."

Mark Howe, managing director, agency sales, North and Central Europe, Google

"Whoever told you a ginger moustache and bug-eyed, plastic-rimmed glasses is attractive was having a laugh. At work, always do what you enjoy most. Remain true to yourself as people will ultimately like and respect your sincerity and honesty. Financially, sell your share options when the price is strong or you need the cash, especially when the company you’re working for gets bought by Telewest or else you’ll lose a small fortune by being greedy. Silly bugger."

Lindsay Pattison, global chief executive, Maxus

"Trust your instincts on people – some colleagues and clients will become your best friends, some never will. Don’t take things personally, but do take responsibility. A tricky balance. Step in front of the work sooner; it’s not all about the work but the relationships, the confidence you give others and the spirit in which you work. A good blow-dry is well worth paying for."

Steve Hatch, UK managing director, Facebook

"Be comfortable with being outside of your comfort zone. Where you come up against resistance, embrace it – it’s a sign you’re creating change. You don’t need to do it alone; stay passionate about ideas and your team and the best work will follow. Treat everyone well and try to breathe in every moment, because you never know which experiences will change your life. Most of all, appreciate your good fortune. There are people who would love to have your bad days and you’re going to make your very best friends and meet the woman you marry – just make sure you buy her flowers, often."

Lorna Tilbian, executive director and head of media, Numis Securities

"If a CEO buys his stock, follow him in as there is only one reason for buying. Similarly, if a CEO sells (for a myriad of reasons, including the three Ds - death, divorce and debt), follow suit again. It’s all about fear and greed."

Stephen Miron, group chief executive, Global

"Go out there and meet as many people as possible as often as you can. Some of those people are going to be incredibly special and important to you in your later life. Trust your instincts and always be true to yourself. Oh, and have fun – it’s the best business on the planet."

Dee Ford, group managing director, radio, Bauer Media

"First, have a confident, common-sense approach to all things in life. Second, leadership is about responsibility, not privilege, and doing what you say you’re going to do builds trust deeper and faster than anything else. Education is important but being smart is better, and successful people are not successful every day. Finally, nothing in the world can take the place of persistence and determination: don’t wait for your boat to come in – swim out and meet the bloody thing."

Pippa Glucklich, co-chief executive, Starcom MediaVest Group

"Pay attention to the wise words attributed to Darwin and always adapt to, embrace and celebrate change."

Neil Jones, media consultant; former group commercial and marketing director, Johnston Press

"Savour the successes for longer and pause to learn more from the mistakes. Realise how lucky you are to be working in such a dynamic, fun, vibrant, diverse, creative and, ultimately, highly rewarding industry. Sure, it is long hours, can be very stressful and is sometimes undervalued, but the media industry is still a great place to work that offers a fantastic career and is always intellectually stimulating. Always be true to yourself and trust your instincts as they are invariably correct."

Philippa Brown, chief executive, Omnicom Media Group UK

"Work smarter, not harder. Focus on things that make a difference. Embrace technology in all areas. And enjoy the journey."

Daren Rubins, chief executive, PHD

"Be generous with your time and you’ll be rewarded. Work out your strengths and weaknesses before others do. Keep asking questions – just not the same ones. Marry someone in the business or who understands why you work late and claim that lovely dinners are part of the job. Get friendly with that smug bloke who started the same day as you, Nick Robertson. He’s got an idea called ASOS floating around in his head."

Bruce Daisley, vice-president of Europe, Twitter

"When I started at Capital Radio, people told me that, to get on, I had to stop asking difficult questions of senior people. I never really listened to advice then and I’m not sure Young Me would listen to Old Me now. But let’s say I did… my suggestion is make sure you learn to touch-type. Could come in handy."

Simon Daglish, deputy managing director, commercial, ITV

"You know those barriers/problems you think are in the way – they are not. They are constructs of your own imagination. Believe in what you do and it will work – the problems can argue with themselves. Oh, and by the way, that pretty girl on reception at Coley Porter Bell – you’re going to marry her, so best get on with it."

Liz Jones, managing director, PSI

"Don’t underestimate how valuable your network is, or will be – ensure it is full of inspiring, challenging, amusing people. Make lots of tea (for other people) at every stage of your career"