{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Hello, I am CCO/ECD for a small London agency you've probably never heard of. We do have a few \"big\" clients and are reasonably successful. If it's helpful, I am very happy to answer any questions you might have and offer a perspective from someone running an agency. \n", "post_id": "61deb0bf4983ba002b687469", "reply_count": 48, "vote_count": 12, "bowl_id": "5990d0f09cb18000167dd462", "bowl_name": "Londoners in Advertising", "feed_type": "bowl" }

Hello, I am CCO/ECD for a small London agency you've probably never heard of. We do have a few "big" clients and are reasonably successful. If it's helpful, I am very happy to answer any questions you might have and offer a perspective from someone running an agency.

likeupliftinghelpful
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I didn't understand the post at first. I guess never really seen anyone offering to answer everyone's question like this. Congrats, you're very kind. Here's mine: I'm a mid creative who wants to be an ECD/CCO one day. I think I'll be better at managing creative teams than I am at my current role, but the sole idea of being a CD kinda scares me. Impostor syndrome. How do you learn what to do as a CD? What do you do that the creative dept don't see?

well, you should kinda already be doing the job before you get the job. that's the secret to a promotion or pay rise. Being honest if you don't know about something or what something is. it's a lot better than pretending you know about something and fucking it up.

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Thanks for doing this. Genuinely insightful! Q: I definitely want to run an agency in the future…but the thing that’s always felt make or break with getting there is having the connections? I.e Having the previous famous agency name to bring gravitas, and having the relationships with clients to potentially bring them over. Would you say that’s how it is?

Agency name, it helps. Great book it helps too. I had relationships with clients when I was a junior, and still keep in touch. You don’t need to wait till your an ECD to do that. With client sincere, honest and prove to them you really care. Start building relationships now, see if you can do it!

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That’s very nice of you! Q: how did you get to this point? Can you give us a quick career history please?

worked at big agencies, luckily involved in projects that won some major awards and landed me a senior role at another agency, then learnt the ropes and found I was good at leading a business (probably better than I was at being creative if I am honest)

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What has been your biggest challenge in the pandemic? Being in a big network agency a lot of decisions seemed to have been made to accommodate shareholders first.

Trying to keep people employed and happy.

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What is an outcome of running your own employee policies that surprised you?

of course, yes. it's not really applicable for us as we're so small.

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What’s a massive hurdle you weren’t expecting?

Covid was pretty awful. is that a cop out?

What keeps you up at night? Lol I think I’m done now with the Qs, thanks again for your time!

Honestly, keeping people in their jobs and trying to work out how to grow a business whilst not being a total ruthless dick.

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How were you able to transition from working with smaller clients to landing that first ‘big’ client?

I didn't start the agency so it already had bigger clients. But we always try and do the best work we can, treat every client the same regardless of their spend.

how difficult is it for a small agency to hire foreign talent that needs a visa?

I'll be honest we haven't tried to hire talent from abroad as we've got great people here and any role is filled pretty quickly. But it isn't difficult to arrange visas I've done it in the past at previous agencies (I didn't physically organise it)

how do you balance rivalry, companionship and admiration with other agencies? is it different than when you didn't lead an agency and had jobs depending on a "successful" rivalry?

to answer the question, it doesn't change no.

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when you became cco, what did you set out to do? and were you successful? what was an unexpected hurdle? or a reality check?

I wanted to see if you could run an agency, that strove to make the best work possible but didn't break people. so is it possible to be a great agency, make great work but avoid working weekends and evenings? Our work is getting better, we've mostly avoided weekends and evenings but I don't think we've made great work or are a great agency yet. Nowhere near in fact. I believe it's possible, but let's see...

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Can you give us a clue who you are?

Nah. I don’t think it matters who I am. I’m not here for self promotion. Plus I couldn’t answer questions as honestly if I did.

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What are the benefits to someone of working in your small indie agency, compared to working in a big network agency or a creative hot shop? (Also, thank you for doing this honest AMA session here.)

Autonomy. If a network is a tanker, and indie is a speed boat, you feel all the waves, it’s easy to fall in the water but you can move it quickly in the direction you want.

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Your best piece of New business / pitching advice?

I want to work for you

So nice of you to offer this! How do you define a good manager? Any tips for a new manager who’s 100% remote? Thank you!

It's a good question, obviously, I have no idea if I am good or not (you'd have to ask the team). Different people need different things from a manager. But I try and set clear expectations for what I expect and what doing their role well looks like, and then try (and sometimes fail) to have regular catch-ups if something has happened that wasn't right or if they did something well, rather than leave it to a yearly appraisal. I give the team plenty of space to work how they want, as long as they deliver at the time agreed and it matches up with the expectations set. Managing remote, (I'm still figuring out myself) but what I've found to work is over-communicating with the team. What you lose in an office environment is the corridor chats, reading body language etc, so over communication gives you more chance of spotting issues. Hope that helps? But I'd welcome any advice on remote management too.

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Are you hiring Americans ?

When I’m in positions to hire, I don’t care where they come from.

Any recommendations for a great headhunters? Just moved back to UK after a decade abroad and I'm a bit bit of the loop.

I’m probably not the best person to answer that! It’s been awhile for me, and I try and find teams without a headhunter or they come to me (sometimes)

How important are awards and industry recognition when it comes to moving up the ladder to your position? Like yourself I have a niggling feeling I’m better at managing teams over actual creative but seems like every top CD has at least one or two awards to their name . . .

Hard to answer, cd doesn’t matter. I don’t know every ecd background but it does seem, as you say, everyone has won something. Sadly seems to be a key part of progression.

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