On Tuesday night we played host to a very special guest at our regular Tuesday Club Talk, with legendary ad-man Martin Sorrell taking to the stage at JWT. In what was his third Tuesday Club Talk, making him our most frequent speaker, Sir Martin ensured it was another memorable talk.
In front of a packed out audience, Sir Martin, spoke candidly about all aspects of the advertising and media industry. Sir Martin was his usual confident, outspoken self, covering issues as far reaching as industry rivalry, international diplomacy and global trade. But for NABS, the most important points were the ones which touched on happiness, wellbeing and people:
Enjoy what you do
From starting out in a basement office with one staff member, to a global business spanning 111 countries and a 178,000 person workforce, Sir Martin said that it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve this if he didn’t enjoy his career. “You shouldn’t force yourself to do things you don’t enjoy.” Sorrell enthused, “What you do in your career should be first nature to you.”
On doubting yourself
When asked by Mark whether he ever experiences self doubt, Sorrell, perhaps surprisingly, admitted he has from time to time, and he still does have concerns about whether something is going to turn out right. “Every day we make mistakes, but the important thing is that we learn from them,” Sorrell said, highlighting how normal it is for even the most self-confident of people to have doubts.
On the importance of people
People and good working cultures are something that NABS feels is really important, and it was great to hear that Sir Martin thought so too. “Most businesses are differentiated by the people who work there. In an era of 3D printing and maths men that may sound like an odd thing, but the critical element in success is the people.” As Sir Martin pointed out, all good teams whether it be in sports or business are successful due to the people that are in them.
Work life blend
It’s important, Sir Martin said, to balance the three circles of family, work and society. Something he readily admits has escaped him in the past. There are very few people who can do this successfully he stressed, but it is important to get that balance right so that it fits in with your own plan. “I support Flexible working laws whole heartedly. The laws are fine, but flexibility must mean total responsibility in handling your work” Sir Martin added. Being judged on your output, rather than time spent in the office is something NABS supporters will be familiar with, Karen Blackett recently highlighted it at our Working Parent panel last month.
On women in business
It is parents, in particular mothers, who Sorrell believes are able to balance these three circles most effectively. Sorrell also stated that there should be greater responsibility in WPP, where it’s a 50/50 split between male and females outside of board level, and the wider industry to boost the opportunities for women. “Women do better in many aspects in this industry than men. At board level, it’s not acceptable for men to outnumber women.” Equality is something that the industry is moving towards – but there’s still a way to go.
All in all, Sir Martin put on a wonderful talk, answering questions openly and honestly, ensuring it was another fascinating Tuesday Club Talk for all. To watch a few key moments from the event check out our YouTube channel.
Our next Tuesday Club Talk will be with Richard Eyre chairman of the Internet Advertising Bureau on Thursday November 6th from 6.30 at The Telegraph. Tickets are still available to Partner Card holders.