One of my perennial joys is having the opportunity to get to know and be inspired by exceptional people making tremendous contributions to the art and science of marketing and media. This week brings one of the most important of those opportunities, when the American Advertising Federation celebrates the 2013 inductees into the Advertising Hall of Achievement (AHOA).
This annual honor, the industry’s gold standard for recognizing the leading young ad professionals, age 40 and under ( which makes me momentarily hate them…), is a testament to the type of barrier breaker the computer programming community calls a “10xer,” a person who makes an outsize contribution to whatever it is he or she is doing.
These individuals don’t just make things better; they help change how business is done. They are engines that move our industry forward. Because their contributions reverberate so widely, recognizing these young superstars’ achievements is vital in creating great examples for our industry as well as the many industries that rely on advertising to communicate to their consumers.
This year’s class of inductees exemplifies the talent, passion, and commitment to excellence we set for ourselves. They include such talents as:
- Adam Bain, Twitter, President of Global Revenue
- B. Bonin Bough, Mondeléz International Vice President, Global Media and Consumer Engagement
- Robert Candelino, Unilever, Vice President, Branding and Skincare
- Tara Walpert Levy, Google & YouTube, Managing Director, Global Ad Marketing
- Lynn Lewis, J3 UM, Global Managing Partner
- Emmanuel Seuge, The Coca-Cola Company, Vice President, Global Alliances and Ventures
- Todd Pendleton, Samsung Telecommunications America, Chief Marketing Officer
I am fortunate and honored to be co-chair of the AHOA, and in preparation for this week’s event, I kept thinking of something entertainment legend Jeffrey Katzenberg said during our session at Advertising Week last month. When asked about how to identify and grow great people, he said: “follow your talent, not your passion.” The idea struck me as a perfect place to begin a conversation with our inductees to discover what makes them tick and how they view the challenge of industry innovation.
We asked each of them four questions, beginning with a paraphrase of the Katzenberg quote. Since many of our MediaLinked readers won’t be in the room when the AHOA class of 2013 is formally inducted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles this week, we’ve compiled a sampling of their responses. I have no doubt you will find their insights as fascinating as I do
1. Jeffrey Katzenberg spoke about “following your talent as much as your passion” – speak a bit about that in relation to your career path (and your success) thus far.
- Levy: “No amount of talent ever overcomes lack of passion. And even if or in the rare instance it does, it doesn’t make for a very happy life. Obviously, it’s ideal to have both—and most people tend to retain passion only in those areas where they have or are able to develop talent”
- Candelino: “I think Jeffrey is correct. If it was only about passion, I’d still be trying to be a professional athlete”
- Lewis: “ About 10 years ago there was an opportunity to move to media side of the business (from creative). It was not the norm at the time. But it was the way to communicate with consumers and the creativity was exploding on the other side of the business”
- Seuge: “I wanted to be a soccer player as a kid, pretty quickly recognized I didn’t have that talent. So I promised myself wanted to stay involved with world of soccer and of sports. So in business school, a year before the world cup, I sent my resume to every sponsor figuring that if I was hired, it would be a dream come true. Of the 12 sponsors, Coca-Cola hired me…and the rest is history”
2. What project or aspect of your job inspires you most right now?
- Lewis: “The access to data and insights to build better business solutions is truly incredible. At J3, data-mining is such a critical part of our agency success and something we are most proud of”
- Seuge: “[Being] focused on organizational design, structure, and creating an organization today that fits for tomorrow”
- Levy: “ The ability to work with content differently. [Google] is investing heavily in video creative and storytelling in a way that really blurs the distinction between b2b and b2c”
- Candelino : “To be able to lead a team of thirty-six and a broader indirect team is a gift and honor – to teach, challenge, and inspire is undoubtedly the greatest part of my job”
- Bough: “The scale and pace of China is just so huge and the ambition so palpable. One of my focus is on a ‘China-out’ strategy – how do we drive the innovation and creativity from china out to the rest of the world. At the same time I love the general approach of reinventing communications starting with content/ video. Just look at our work on trident where we are reinventing TV in partnership with Adam Bain and Twitter it’s never been done before that’s what excites me”
3. What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
- Levy : “Power isn’t in your title or position. It’s in your reputation and your network. Invest wisely”
- Lewis: “Hire for what you don’t know – don’t surround yourself with people who are exactly like you”
- Candelino: “Being different is the key to marketing”
- Seuge: “Never take no for an answer with ‘humble confidence”
- Bough: “Ari Emanuel told me life is not address rehearsal, Peter Guber told me anything worth doing is something worth giving your all to, and my dad told me just keep getting up in the morning. But the best advice ever came from my mom – anything u can dream u can do!!!”
4. What’s your favorite book on business (and it doesn’t have to be a business book)?
- Levy: “My favorite book of the moment is Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. It’s about the idea that great leadership is not about being the genius, it’s about being a genius maker”
- Seuge: “Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela and Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School by Richard Branson”
- Lewis: “ Steve Job’s biography by Walter Isaacson and Freakonomics – which is apropos given her focus on data and creativity”
- Candelino: “Onward by Howard Schultz – it distills the challenges we face every day as marketers”
- Bough: “ My new book will probably be my favorite but while I read a ton of books I read more magazines and I just think that having a pulse on culture is the most important thing ever. So I buy hundreds and I read almost every magazine on the newsstand”