What is a piece of advice you are glad not to have taken?

The problem with having opinions is that everyone has one. Have you ever politely just said thank you and ignored the “helpful” advice you were given?

We speak to IAB committee co-chairs from content leads to commerce heads on what was a piece of advice they were glad they didn’t take.

Rika Sharma, managing director, Digitas

Don’t work for the passion, work for the money.

Advice is free! So, everyone wants to give it but it’s really what you make of it. The worst piece of advice I was ever given was to work for the money and not worry about the passion.  This might be controversial but for me this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s contradictory to how I have built my career. If you can call your work your passion, there is nothing that can be more gratifying.

It’s what’s pushed me to do better for my clients, for my team, for the companies I’ve worked for and for myself. It’s what keeps the flame burning, it’s what makes the Monday blues turn into Monday joy, it’s what makes every day spent at the office feel like a playground and it’s what makes me always push myself to do more…

This is not to say that there won’t be days that you don’t feel passionate about your job or love everything you do but, as I always tell my team, as long as the good days outweigh the bad ones – the passion will unlock a world of opportunities you didn’t think was possible. Believe it or not, money will follow.

And really, when is the money enough? Our work consumes most of our lives, so if you can be happy everyday of your life and still get paid for it, isn’t that Holy Grail?


Alban Villani, regional general manager, Southeast Asia, HK and Taiwan, Criteo

“The secret to successful entrepreneurship is similar to a sound marriage – you need a very strong ally.”

I set up five companies so far in my career, some more successful than others. All very different and requiring various skills: film production, mobile game design, oenology (yes, for wine!), brand strategy, and fine art expertise.

A common misconception is that you absolutely need to find a co-founder with the right specialised skill or experience.

Although it may be true in many instances, it should not become a rule written in stone. Sometimes, a very talented partner complete with the so called necessary specialised skills, can still prove to be the worst partner in the universe: lazy, unethical, non-committed and so on.

Therefore, in my opinion, finding the right alchemy between founders is more important than the technical or creative skills you lack.

Even if you are a sole founder, you can always hire a team of experts with much lesser stakes in the company, or you can work on acquiring the required professional skills on your own, through trainings, networking or/and on-the job.


Thomas Wagner, planning director, BBH Asia Pacific (Singapore)

You should get out of a creative agency, because marketing will be about automation and optimisation and not about strategy and ideas.

About five years ago, a former boss, mentor and friend told me after a few drinks that I should get out of BBH, and turn my back on creative agencies. I’ve heard it before. The future was in algorithms, automation and optimisation, and there was simply no role for what we were doing anymore.

Now I might always be proven wrong in the future – as Keynes said, in the long run we’re all dead – but in the five years since I received the advice, evidence still suggests that no amount of targeting and optimisation can beat a great creative idea that reaches many light buyers at scale.

That could be one of the reasons why amongst the biggest growing spenders on large scale creativity is the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. That’s not to say there’s no role for automation and optimisation – there obviously is.

But while the Holy Grails of marketing and advertising technology have yet to be cracked, and might not be cracked perfectly anytime soon, for the foreseeable future, fame makes for marketing effectiveness, and difference makes for fame: They still don’t make ad blockers for a tabloid, a BuzzFeed headline or a chatty taxi driver. And creativity still solves business problems beyond mere advertising.

Rushit Jhaveri, vice president, advertising sales and digital partnerships, A+E Networks

The client is always right.

Early in my career, I was often advised “Client is King – do what needs to be done, to close the deal”. I have seen commercial objectives often trump creative ambitions, and that’s where content marketing goes wrong. A creative opinion is a subjective one, and often, the client’s ‘subjective’ opinion matters the most. As a media executive, you would never build meaningful long term relationships that way, not only will you lose your client, you will also lose your precious audience.

It’s not easy striking the right balance, and at times it may mean, taking a tough stand with a brand partner. But, if they have chosen to work with you, as a media owner or publisher, it’s because you offer them a unique audience. You are the stakeholder to that audience.

Some of the best creative talents fall under the trap of – ‘will the client like it’ whereas, the only lens they should be looking at is, ‘will my audience like it’. As the boundaries between business & creative merge, your role as a media executives is not to be a ‘Yes Man’, but to be an expert in the field and guide partners to effectively communicate with your audience.

Mark Newton, general manager, Singapore, Columbus Agency

Shoot first, aim later.

This is a common cliché thrown around in business, generally referring to instinct-driven decisions. Fail fast, as they say. While this works for start-ups, and maybe getting ahead within the organisation, it is a terrible thing to do when thinking about marketing activity. Without defining a clear-cut strategy, you will never know what failed, or why it failed.

Defining your strategy is the bedrock of success. Not wanting to spend the additional time it takes to do this could prove fatal. Defining goals and objectives is important. Defining how you will achieve them is critical. We must ask ourselves what are the variables, what we will test, what the potential outcomes are, and how our actions will change with certain outcomes.

These questions will allow us to refine our approaches, and better understand the misses. This approach helps us achieve success faster, ultimately reducing time spent and budget wastage, that otherwise comes with a shoot first, aim later approach.

Read More News