It’s been over three months since I’ve left Mindshare for a third time, so I had time to reflect. Me and Mindshare have had an interesting relationship over the last 8 years. We’re like a couple that splits up, to go “explore options” only to get together again 12 months later. I’ve worked for Mindshare on and off for the last 8 years in three different offices (London, Sydney and Amsterdam). Each of them have been unique in its own way.
I think we’re not being grateful enough for the opportunities given. All the good shit that happens at work (like promotions, pay rises, relocations) we take for granted. Because we deserve it, right? But all the bad shit get’s thrown around, your friends get to hear it every night how your hard work is not fully appreciated. We should cut our bosses some slack, running a company of 1000's of employees and gazillion competitors is kind of hard work, and things go wrong, but there is always someone trying to fix it, to make it better.
Do you know an employer that would hire you back three times (after you’ve left twice), every time in a new country? Do you know an employer that would bring you onboard in a team of 20 people where everyone works in a language you don’t speak (Dutch), but where everyone would happily accommodate and interact with you in English? Do you know an employer that would hire you over a Skype call while you’re still traveling somewhere in Costa Rica? Well, I do. It’s Mindshare and all of the above has happened to me personally, so I can vouch for it.
My first move to Mindshare was accidental. I wanted to move from account planning into pure strategy and there was relevant opening in Mindshare global team in UK. At that point I had a feeling that all top 10 agencies are kind of the same. Similar offerings and similar corporate culture, but boy was I wrong. Mindshare is lead by Nick Emery and he is a no bullshit kind of guy. Every live presentation I’ve ever heard from him (ok, not that many, may be three) has included a good measure of F words. But always to make a point, not just to sound cool (actually, I think he can’t help it). This culture of straight talk trickles down. If you work hard, you get rewarded. I’ve seen so many of my fellow colleagues promoted to senior roles all over Mindshare network. But if you’re a dickhead, you’ll leave sooner or later ( come to think of it, I hope I’m not that dickhead, given how many times I’ve left, haha). Mindshare is no place for dickheads. I met a couple of those over the years, but they are gone now.
My second move back to Mindshare was after I took a year off and travelled the world. I got hired back over a Skype call, while I was still traveling around Central America. When I returned to the UK, I had a Mindshare role lined up at the Sydney office in Australia. How cool is that! Sydney period really allowed my to grow and become a real media strategist, thanks to then head of strategy now CEO Katie. When I arrived I was more of a accounts guy, but when I left almost 3 years later, I could actually work the insights, use them to come up with interesting media solutions and mold it all in a comprehensible story. Mindshare Sydney period is when I grew the most professionally and personally. Unfortunately, I also soon realized that next logical step to work towards (head of strategy), did not appeal to me. So I left Mindshare for the second time, to move back to Latvia and start my own clothing label — Skinny Latvian, where I could put my heart and soul.
Fast forward 12 months and I realized that being entrepreneur is actually pretty fucking hard. When you are in charge of all the processes, things still go wrong, stuff get’s shipped late. Surprise, surprise! My clothing label was great learning curve, I sold 500 pairs of trousers (not just to friends and family but even to complete strangers, can you believe that!). But the margins where dreadful and I was not making any money for a year and I had to eat. So I went back to a thing I know, media, and to a place that knows me — Mindshare.
For the third time Mindshare were so kind to hire me back, this time in Amsterdam. Office where everyone is Dutch, it was me and I think 2 other foreigners that could not speak fluent Dutch. I’ve only ever worked in English speaking markets and multi-cultural offices. So loosing this crucial cultural context of language was tough, but interesting. Soon I had worked out a system where I’d Google translate all the incoming emails, but all outgoing stuff from me would be in English. In meetings under 4–5 people we’d switch to English. In bigger team meetings, I’d try to follow in Dutch (and fail). It was weird as hell operating like this, but somehow it worked. I actually managed to get some work done and people seemed to enjoy having this weird foreigner on board. Sadly also the third stint at Mindshare did not last, as I’m still desperate to create something of my own. As they say, it’s not you, it’s me. May be there is something broken in me, but a good salary and decent job is not enough for me. I need to find a way to really impact peoples lives, change them for the better. May be I’ve just read too many books about freakin’ passion and it’s messing with my perception of reality.
So why am I telling you all this, my (working) life’s story? The point I’m making is this. Media agency world is not for everyone, but, if you ever do decide to work for a media agency, make it Mindshare. They’ll take good care of you, let you grow and provide with opportunities, you just have to take them. They’re nice bunch of people that like to get shit done.
I’ve promised to myself that my career in media agencies is over, I’ve stopped growing so its time to take on new challenges working directly on brands or launching something myself. I just want to say thank you. Thank you Nils, thank you Katie, thank you Atva and thank you Mindshare, it’s been a good ride. I’m still purple at heart.