The Ad Club Blog

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Month: February 2016

Five Things Every Leading Agency CEO Should Be Doing

Written by Lori Hiltz, CEO of Havas Media North America. This blog first appeared on Huffington Post, as part of a series produced by Havas Media (@HavasMediaUSA), in conjunction with The Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum.


Four years ago the owners of Havas approached me with the opportunity to become the CEO of Havas Media North America — a new entity that was the result of a restructuring of several disparate business units into one cohesive full-service media agency network. I did not have the privilege or experience of being a CEO and the role was not without obvious challenges that all leaders face.

However, there is no roadmap on how to be a CEO, no manual, no webex training and certainly no perfect background. Much of the job comes from your ability to rally people and listen to what they’re saying on a daily basis. After three plus years, I’ve learned and feel strongly any successful marketing agency CEO needs to be doing the following things.

1. Read, Read, Read
Seems somewhat self-explanatory but an imperative. A CEO should read… everything. While my days are busy, I make time to keep up whenever I’m in transit — my trusted WiFi card delivering every possible piece of business and industry content possible. I personally love reading the content on the Pope app & the Dalai LamI Quote app in order to have a better understanding of peacefulness and kindness. It’s critical a CEO have a pulse on news, analysis and developments shaping our work for clients. Whether it be industry reporting (the marketing/advertising business is blessed to have arguably the best trade press in any industry), examination from analysts or just the musings of your favorite futurist on Twitter — taking the time to read provides a CEO context for the challenges their company will face upon arrival each day.

2. Meet & Mingle
Yes, as the CEO I’m the lead salesperson and spokeswoman for my company. I’m fortunate to meet a lot of people. However, I often challenge my team to make sure I’m meeting change agents. Media is being disrupted by technology, new social platforms, changing consumer behaviors, cultural shifts and entertainment offerings. I want to meet the people who are doing the disrupting. As for mingling — to be clear I don’t mean working the room at an event. Specifically, it’s critical a CEO mingle with their own people. Our industry’s product is the power of people and the ideas they generate. I make it a point to sit in meetings, attend team gatherings and insert myself as often as I can. By blending the takeaways from my industry meetings with the insights I get from mingling with our team I am regularly surprised with the outcome and how it’s rarely what I previously thought.

3. Stay Close to Academia
During my tenure, I have found that some of the best thinking I get emanates not from the boardroom but rather the classroom. Members of academia whether it be professors, think tank leaders or even students provide unique and often theoretical insight that helps inspire me. Sometimes the suggestions lack the necessary underpinning of business in the ‘real-world’ but the counsel should not be overlooked. Take the time to include a trusted member of academia within your circle and meet with them regularly. You’ll be glad you did.

4. Cultivate Passion
Passion! In a business like ours that thrives on creativity nothing can deliver results more than a colleague with passion. As a CEO you need to cultivate it. Create the environment for it to live, grow and prosper. This starts with ensuring your team has the comfort and courage to chase failure and push the envelope of what was previously thought impossible. It also means giving them the latitude to chase their dreams both in and out of the office so they’re focused and rejuvenated for your clients.

5. Move Your Seat
Moving your seat in the literal sense… sure. No matter how busy — remaining visible and approachable is very important. But in a figurative sense — a CEO should be perpetually thinking about the challenges people in different seats are facing. Moving your seat and taking the time to learn what it is they need or want to achieve at a higher level only helps to strengthen your complete understanding of your business and that of your clients and makes for a stable and powerful organization.


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Are Female Firsts Becoming Irrelevant?

Written by Sasha DiGiulian, World Champion Climber. This blog first appeared on Huffington Post, as part of a series produced by Havas Media (@HavasMediaUSA), in conjunction with The Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum.


Today I’m speaking at a Women’s Leadership Forum in Boston. An incredible event put on by The Ad Club, the event features renowned speakers from across the country with varying backgrounds and professions. I’m humbled to be included with the likes of Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, and the Chief Marketing Officer of General Electric, Linda Boff, among others.

The Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum was created to recognize and honor inspirational women for their leadership, accomplishments and for paving the way for the next wave of female leaders. The event is all about women. Successful females inspiring 1,000 other females with the hopes of one day truly closing the gender gap… In sports, that gender gap is viewed as an achievement gap.

I’ve dedicated my career, as a professional sport climber, to closing the achievement gap. I do this by seeking out ascents that have not been conquered by a female. Once complete, these accomplishments are tagged as a “First Female Ascent.” It is my hope that this empowers and urges other women in our sport.

“Female” as a Qualifier

There has been an ongoing debate about whether or not the term “female” is important to include in recognizing an ascent. One side of the debate argues that the inclusion of “female” as a qualifier for why an ascent may be significant has negative implications on women in that it deems women as inferior to men. This side argues for “first female ascents” to be eradicated and for all ascents to be the same. The other side of the debate argues that men and women are biologically different and that there is no reason to eradicate gender in sports.

Female and Male climbers have the potential to achieve equally, but there is no reason to eliminate the celebration of female firsts in climbing in that women are historically the minority in climbing and reinforcement of progression is a powerful tool in encouraging female achievements. What is important to recognize is that as climbing fills a more macro level space, we consider the role that it can have on issues like gender politics and the need for women’s empowerment still at hand today.

While I recognize with the fact that women and men are capable of climbing equal difficulty, it is important to still reiterate the first ascents done by women. In my opinion, the actual flagging of Female highlights this notion of empowerment. While yes, the name of a female achieving something could theoretically be a sign enough, the fact is that the world is not yet at that point to not need reinforcement of female achievement.

I often receive letters from young girls thanking me for inspiring them. This fuels my motivation. I want to serve as an example that anyone, no matter what gender, size, or demographic you represent, can pursue his or her dreams.

Recently I spoke with Lynn Hill, one of the leading competitive sport climbers in the world, about this topic. She stated:

“I agree that women should support women and that it’s important to have female role models. Back in the early days, women were left out of books such as, “The Vertical World of Yosemite” by Galen Rowell. In his intro to the 90’s, he didn’t put a single photo of a woman climber in the book because he said that there were no significant first ascents done by a women during the formative years of climbing in Yosemite. I felt that it was important to show what women WERE doing rather than ignore them because of what they weren’t doing!”

Not There Yet…

While it is a romantic idea to say we are at a point that “Female” does not need to be reinforced, the fact is, we are not. Women have been routinely underrepresented in sports, politics, and business throughout history. Despite our hyper modern world, we are still at a point that “female” achievements should be acknowledged and highlighted.

I am motivated to establish First Ascents. I have accomplished many First Female Ascents thus far in my career and I am proud of them and will continue to flag the “Female” in the ascent to encourage the women out there who would otherwise be timid in the shadows of the boys to go out and try things despite only men having succeeded on them before.

My hero is Lynn Hill for setting the precedent for men and women. Her achievements and highlighting that she is a woman narrow the gender gap. I think that there is something to be said about women putting themselves out there and going after their dreams regardless of what history tells them.

Perhaps people who are not in favor of emphasizing “female firsts” find organizations like the Women’s Sports Foundation and UN Women irrelevant as well. Perhaps they are also against Title IX, thinking that all women should just buck up and try out for the men’s hockey team. Maybe cut Olympic competition in half by eliminating the women’s medals. And while we’re at it, scuttle the WNBA and women’s soccer as well? I guess we shouldn’t hold these incredibly inspiring female-centric conferences, like The Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum, either. You won’t see me defending these stances.

Reinforcement of female achievements are necessary to encourage progression – and progression is what we need.

I am inspired by female leaders in a multitude of fields and that range of success in on display today.

It is important for women to recognize that the opinions of others are irrelevant to the task. Self-confidence and drive surpass any oppositional negativity.

I would love to see women join together in this effort to empower each other and to show the world that yes, She Can.


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