marketing

POSITIVE IMPACT IN ACTION: SAM CONNIFF ALLENDE

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Sam Conniff Allende, Serial Entrepreneur & Pirate

Multi-award-winning serial entrepreneur, with 10 start-ups to his name, including industry leading Creative Youth Network; Livity, is at it again. Restless for social change, Sam is now the best selling author of Be More Pirate. We find out what it’s all about.

Did you have any role models or someone you admired as a kid?

I once had a lucky experience. My friend’s mum worked in Parliament and I bunked off school so she could take me to see Nelson Mandela speak. His gravitas was not lost on me. I’d seen so many political figures on TV, like Thatcher, but never in the flesh. Mandela pieced together words in a charged room of people hanging on every one of those words. It was then compounded as he left the stage and walked in my direction and I couldn’t have felt smaller. He stopped in front of me and asked why I wasn’t in school. My mutter of reply was that being here today was more important. He chuckled and said, “Hopefully you’ll learn the right lessons, then.” It was an instructive moment. When I was playing characters as a kid, I thought maybe I want to be Nelson Mandela one day.

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We all know you from your heady days of building the incredible Livity agency. An agency and brand with purpose and that seems to give a sh*t about young people. What drove you to set it up in the first place?

Multiple reasons. A deep one I discovered later in life, that my dad had followed a very similar path to me. He died when I was 5 and my family made sure I was sheltered from his death so I didn’t find out much about him. It turns out that he set up a version of Livity in professional services (rather than marketing), which focused on community engagement. I believe my deep subconscious proves why I did it.

And then I have always needed to know what people’s values are. Fairness drives me. I want to know what your values are, what you sit up and fight for. It’s actually quite rare to get people who know what their 3 values are. I grew up in South London living with my mum, grandma and my sister. We were also a surrogate middle class family for disadvantaged people, for years we gave them beds and food. I was very conscIous of the opportunities I had compared to my peers.   

What’s the campaign you remain most proud of at Livity?

I can’t name one as there have been so many. What’s very clear is that Livity is better run now. Alex Goat, who took over from me, is amazing. It’s difficult for me to take sometimes. It makes you reevaluate that you’re not as good as you think you are. What Livity is doing with young people is incredible. Take Livity’s product, Digify, a talent spotting and hot-housing digital skills incubator and supported as part of Sadiq Khan's Digital Talent Programme. When I was around it used to be a diversity programme centred around digital skills. It now flips on an old problem and solution to be a fully grown business. I am very proud of the new look.

What started your obsession with pirates?

Well, tell me one person who hasn’t been touched by pirates in some way. They’re in culture everywhere – from the hardened biker with skull and crossbones to 5 year olds who grew up reading Peter Pan. They are a proxy for rebels and I didn’t know their history beyond Treasure Island and the rather alluring Jack Sparrow.

My favourite work with Livity was always working with young people - they inspire me and I knew that they’d help me in my preparation for transitioning out of the business. (Sam was 24 when he started Livity and nearly 40 when he left). I didn’t want to be that old guy desperately trying to hang out with young people. Taking that age old fact that as an entrepreneur you must do what most scares you, I decided I needed to write a book. I hadn’t gone to university and it was time to write the wrong - excuse the pun. Purpose had to come first though, otherwise the book would end up being like a TED X Talk in Balham. It began as an entrepreneur guide book. I went to hundreds of entrepreneur workshops to test it out and I got a lot of feedback on my overuse of metaphors and that basically it wasn’t very good! My interest in pirates continued to grow with the more I researched them. Their story is not one we know - they were true creators of social revolution and rebellion. The mainstream story wasn’t promoted at the time as they were seen as a threat. I fell in love with pirates. Finally I had found something people don’t know. They had to be exposed.

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You’re calling for a rebellion in the form of ‘professional rule-breaking’. What can progressive businesses that want to protect young people’s futures do to foster this mindset?

Be honest about what change is made in an organisation and question whether you listen to your talent - which you probably don’t. Do you really believe what they say you are? Are you close enough to the culture that you can hear the future of your business being talked about by staff in the pub? Do you know their side hustles, their walks of life? Young talent has more than one thing on the go at any one time and you must assume that they’re hustling when they’re not at your workplace. Businesses need to choose whether they want to be an incubator to serve young people’s futures. Most businesses are of the past and they’re not going to get anywhere without emotional experience. They’re missing a big opportunity with the very people with the tools to change the world and work alongside those who have already been around the block. Naivety meets wisdom...there’s chemistry in that.

You talk about the fact that no one is coming to save us. This is both scary and realistic. But not every young person has it in their armour to be a pirate and re-write the rules. What are the key strengths of pirates to be successful in this fractured society?

Change follows a pattern and if you identify a problem and don’t raise it or complain about it, nothing happens. This seems to be a habit rather than a rule. Rules have always been made in the past when circumstances were different. The biggest mistake to make is to accept things the way they need to be. The weird paradox is that 99 per cent of leaders would like to hear from young people in order to create positive impact. Young people need to stand up to change.

You liken pirates to Suffragettes in their similarities of workers’ rights and ambitions for social revolution. Do you think that women today are pirate enough?

I am inspired by women I see today and I support the debate. I grew up in a strong feminist household in which only one would call themselves a feminist. The Slumflower fills me with excitement and I am rooting for her to create a children’s book for my daughter.  Emma Gannon is another who has been very open with her journey. The thing is; the topic of gender equality is getting divisive – diversity and feminism can create a vacuum. We need a unified sense of action. Strong leadership is as important as strong messages. And to draw on the quote, “well behaved women rarely make history”, we definitely need more female pirates.

You’ve talked about the changes advertisers need to make to stop selling ‘fake’ happiness in a world of adversity. What can they be doing differently?

Doing something else. They need to work with a business model that champions ‘less is more’. Coca Cola being pleased with themselves that they’re using less water in their products when water shortage threatens life is disgusting. And they do not own the word ‘Happiness’. We’re still in the Malboro era of selling us stuff wantonly for money. The saying, ‘Advertising needs to decide if it wants to be a signature on humanity’s suicide note’, springs to mind. Business models are broken and non–circular business risks being a war crime.

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What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to be an entrepreneur that you'd think you'd struggle without?

Optimism. I think I have a buoyancy of optimism. If everyone could switch on optimism all would be fine. With me, even if it slumps low I see it rise gradually again to the surface. I think also the support I get is invaluable. We think about resilience retrospectively but we need to consider it in real time. When we see loved ones break down we look back surprised that everyone is surprised. I keep an active resilience chart with 4 quadrants - Resilience, Life, Personal Development and Leadership. Under each quadrant are key aspects of my life I need to keep in check and I refer to it regularly. It’s now habit to check my levels of resilience in real time and if they’re off balance, it’s time to address them.

Who is the female pirate of 2018 and the future?

Again I’ve been so impressed by Chidera - The Slumflower. She came down to Livity and did a talk - she is a special woman, articulate and channels her anger masterfully. The way she speaks vociferously about complex issues such as trans-identity is incredible.

Name the quote you live by

‘You don’t know what don’t know’. I spent half of my professional career believing I knew everything. I later got over my ego and realised that my knowledge is really small when I put my ambitions into context. As humans we have no comprehension of what we don’t know. And that’s okay.

 

Check out what Sam is up to on his quest to build the #bemorepirate movement by following @samconniff on Instagram and Twitter.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: JESS MACINTYRE, CO-FOUNDER, MAC&MOORE

If you follow CLO PR at all you'll know that we're fierce cheerleaders of marketing consultancy, Mac&Moore. We have a tight partnership based on a shared vision, attitude and we also share some stonking client work too! We caught up with one half of Mac&Moore, Jess MacIntyre, to delve into why she aims to promote equality with attitude and her perspective on creating positive impact for clients, people and the world.

I don’t want to just talk about the unfairness of equality. I want to do something about it.
Jess's love of sassy female musicians played out in her teenage years

Jess's love of sassy female musicians played out in her teenage years

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

I was completely obsessed with music when I was a kid and instead of going stir-crazy over boybands I was more interested in singing an angst ridden female anthem a la Alanis Morrisette and Gwen Stefani. In real world terms I was lucky enough to have some kick-ass BFF’s who served as my everyday role models by bucking the status quo with a general “I’ll do whatever I damn please” sassy attitude. This definitely taught me the importance of being a part of the sisterhood and how we’re stronger together.

What led you to start Mac&Moore?

I’d been thinking of going solo for a few years before Mac&Moore was dreamt up as quite frankly I had a perpetual headache from being pressed up against the glass ceiling.

Aside from that, in my 20s I’d always felt like something was missing doing the 9-5 grind and working for somebody else. It became especially difficult when some of the interactions I had in business showed how little integrity and empathy was present. I just wanted to work hard and be nice to people! As soon as I set-up on my own I knew I’d found my calling.

How do you think your early years have influenced what you're doing today?

As a child I really didn’t understand some of the injustices of being a girl. I was often scolded for being “difficult”, “bossy” and “opinionated” whilst noticing that when boys (or adults) acted the same they were treated differently. It genuinely perplexed me as to why this was the case. I was a really curious child and being silenced when I spoke out had a huge effect on my self-esteem. So I’ve always wanted to prove people wrong and that anger about being silenced initially fueled me to do things differently, take risks and build a huge amount of resilience which is needed in today’s business world. That anger has dissipated now but I’m grateful for where it got me.

How do you keep learning more whilst building a business?

I’ve always been obsessed with reading. However especially in the digital age coupled with my severe lack of patience I struggle to make it through a full book or dedicate daily reading time. So to counteract this I consume blogs/podcasts and Ted Talks which cover a wide range of subjects from philosophy, women’s rights to science. I’m currently obsessed with Farnam Street a blog dedicated to “mastering the best of what other people have already figured out.”

I also love meeting new people especially if they come from a different world than I inhabit. You can learn a lot by asking the right questions and taking the time to listen to others. I try and meet one new person a week – it’s a hard task but I’m all the better for it.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I love the “underdog” so whenever I see somebody who has overcome an incredibly difficult situation/life experience I always feel hugely inspired. I’m currently in awe of Hannah Gadsby and her Netflix comedy special Nanette. Her intelligence, self-awareness and passion to speak out about her story using the vehicle of comedy absolutely floored me.

Jess with her BFF, Jade

Jess with her BFF, Jade

Why do you promote equality with attitude? 

I’m a strong believer in “action speaks louder than words”. I don’t want to just talk about the unfairness of equality. I want to do something about it. I’ve been subjected personally to sexual harassment in the work place and been undermined repeatedly because I’m a woman. Enough. I want my business to be platform for women and men who want to push for a fairer workplace and world. Working as a mentor for the incredible charity YouMakeIt is another small way I can use my privilege as a platform and create positive change.

What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

The total female population worldwide is roughly 49.6% (3.52 billion) and yet most businesses have way less than 50% of women in their workforce – how is this reflective of today’s world? Whilst businesses are becoming more diverse I still believe there’s a long way to go in order to create more equality and diversity at management/board level where most critical business decisions are made.

Jess, during Mac&Moore's sojourn in Amsterdam

Jess, during Mac&Moore's sojourn in Amsterdam

What are marketing agencies doing right / wrong in 2018?

Being short sighted by thinking more about revenue than about what’s right for their customers, employees and culture. The very best agencies are just being themselves and constantly challenging the status quo. Creative work should be brave and you shouldn’t be afraid to challenge the client.

Also the best agencies nurture talent. Giving autonomy and confidence to young people is crucial if you want to get the best out of them.

What advice can you give to businesses that want to make a mark through their marketing?

I love this quote from Dave Trott: “People buy a product for what it DOES. But they buy a brand for what it SAYS about them.” Think about what your business and customers stand for. Then communicate these values effectively and consistently via all of your chosen marketing channels. I’ve recently purchased a Chilly bottle as I’m super aware of how much plastic I’m using day-to-day and wanted to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles I buy on the move. Reusable water bottles are a bit of a “statement” piece of kit so I chose Chilly as I loved the brands style, ethics and product benefits.

Name a brand you admire and why?

Here’s a few:

Aesop: Beautiful design paired with ethical quality ingredients.

Vice: They saw a gap in the market and gave the next generation a platform and voice. It’s incredible to see how much they’ve achieved in such a short space of time and truly are the voice of a generation.

Bodyform: Two GREAT ads the first a hilarious tactical campaign in response to a Facebook post – check it out here. The second is their latest Blood Normal campaign. We loved the second ad so much Nat wrote a piece for the Huffington Post about it!

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to be an entrepreneur that you'd think you'd struggle without?

I’ve always hugely relied on external validation and I’m working hard to change this as I’m aware this isn’t a healthy habit. So practicing self-care and setting up new daily habits/routines such as exercise, good eating, new ways of learning and avoiding toxic people have made me better as a person and at what I do. Also my amazing boyfriend, friends and family who give me that boost of support when I need it the most.

What's your biggest learning so far since starting Mac&Moore?

  1. Stop listening to what other people think. Have the self-confidence to listen to yourself. You’re better than you think you are.

  2. Lots of men will mansplain to you.

Who's a woman you watch or someone you admire in 2018?

I tend to look in the real world first than to someone well known. We’ve recently made pals with loads of incredible females in the creative entrepreneur/advertising world so I can give a few shout outs here! Cookie and Alexa from Mellor&Smith, Jana who runs The Completist, Jess Sims, Natalie Cutler, Sophie Livingston and of course our favourite Claudia from Clo PR!

Friends Anneli, Jade and Jess

Friends Anneli, Jade and Jess

Name the quote you live by.

“For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“Stop saying yes to shit you hate.” Unknown legend.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: JO HAGGER, DIGITAL TOUR DE FORCE

Jo Hagger is a force to be reckoned with in the digital industry. Clo was more than keen to talk to Jo about her experience of leading successful businesses, her passion for mentoring and thoughts on the #metoo era. Clo met Jo at an event for which she was on the panel and instantly admired her tenacity and mission for positive impact. Jo has led businesses including glue London (now Isobar, part of DentsuAegis), AAR and SapientNitro. She works in a consultant-coach capacity with a number of agency leaders and businesses and her most recent roles include Senior Industry Head at Google and MD at Possible and Wunderman. Read on to find out more about what makes this woman tick. 

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1. You've had quite a year! Tell us what you're up to at the moment.

Currently enjoying a short sabbatical, to build up my good karma - time with the family, volunteering, and considering lot’s of interesting possibilities. 

2. You have led some of the most successful agencies out there. What's the one job you feel has given you the most personal satisfaction?

Without question, managing Glue London through some crazy successful and creative years. Finding and working out how to attract the best people, building the team, developing and growing the business and doing some brilliant work in the process.

3. You've talked about your hate for being described as 'ambitious' and a 'go-getter', just because you're at the top of the chain. Do you think there's a lot of negatively perceived ideas of what success looks like?

I think there are a lot of 'loaded' words that we use without much thought or care, for sure. I also think it's really narrow minded to consider 'success' in one dimension and assume that everyone has the same notion of what that looks like. For me, success is about happiness, life balance and always learning new things. 

4. There's a well-documented heritage of sexism in the industry. As one of the few women at C-level, is this something you've had to deal with?

I have encountered sexism in many different contexts and flavours, although never to such a degree that it’s stopped me doing what I wanted to do. In that respect I feel pretty lucky, but I also feel the weight of responsibility that we should all feel, to drive positive change and make tangible positive steps towards improving gender diversity, inclusion and mutual respect - in business and in life. 

5. The industry has a big pressure to address equality right now. For example, the IPA just announced it will introduce a code of conduct in the wake of the 'Top Five' email, do you think the industry is doing enough and what, in your opinion, should help to solve this?

No I don’t think the industry is doing enough at all. A lot of the problems exist or are set at the very top and become systemic. I’m hopeful that the brave and tenacious entrepreneurs and future business leaders (female and male) who are leading the charge towards more progressive and inclusive business practices will get more and more publicity and traction. I also think that calling out bad practice needs to be a lot more widespread and honest - and backed by action. 

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6. The rise of #metoo and #timesup has created an important opening in discussion on gender equality but it has also put fear into young women of what they may expect to experience in the working world. What would you say to those wanting to pursue a career in advertising /marketing?

Do your research and know why you want to do it, know that the people you’ll work for are good people and that you’ll be able to learn whilst working hard and supported to find the right career path for you over time. If you are going to work in the industry then it has to be fun as well as hard work - and to be fun you’ve got to be surrounded by the right people. 

7. You're a SheSays mentor, Creative Equals coach, Inspiring the Future volunteer, NABS mentor and Help for Heroes mentor.  What draws you to coaching? 

Seeing what amazing and beautiful things people are capable of when given the opportunity (and often when they’re not!).

8. There are a lot of young (and older) women starting their own businesses and are seeking coaching on how to take their business to the next level. What would you say is the biggest thing that women need to get right to run a business?

Being clear about your proposition - why you exist, what you’re there to do and who you want to do that for and with which customers. This isn’t complex in itself but it takes time, clarity and discipline to follow your path. And find a good supportive mentor or coach who can provide extra counsel or support when needed ;)

9. What is the one thing you find keeps coming up as the problem that needs solving for your mentees?

Fear of what happens in career terms after having a family or simply how to cope with the juggling and multiple demands. Not least of all those demands we put upon ourselves and lack of confidence.

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10. Do you think women at the top get enough support in business? 

I think women at the very top often benefit from very good and extensive support systems extrinsically, but emotional support can be much harder to come by. It’s the classic ‘loneliness of the leader’, which is where clubs and networks (like WACL, for me) can be invaluable. 

11. Being at the top of a business, are you able to stay inspired?

I am always inspired, but often by things or people that are nothing at all to do with work or business!

12. Where do you get your inspiration?

New experiences, meeting great people, coaching and mentoring, and continual learning. 

13. Who do you look up to?

My mum - she’s strong, loving, fearless and a staunch feminist.

14. If you weren't doing what you do now, you'd be....

On a beach in Mexico, cooking up my next project?!