“Know Yourself to Lead Yourself” 5 Leadership Lessons with Brent Barbee, President of Conquer
I had the pleasure of interviewing Brent Barbee, President/Principal of Conquer
· Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
As a business major, I was advised to not pursue the agency career path. It was “too difficult to find a job.” However, I had grown up with some impressionable brands and ad campaigns like Nike’s “Just Do It” and Budweiser’s “Bullfrogs”. I dreamed of the action and fun of the ad industry. I scored an internship in media sales which put me on the front lines of ad impact and face-to-face with every type of industry imaginable. Media sales led me to the full-service agency side with JDA Worldwide within 5 years.
In 2015, Conquer was formed which was a brainchild of Brad Benbow, JDA’s Chairman, and myself. It fit my “before 40” goal of launching something new with personal ownership and accountability. It was clear that the market needed a media agency that was committed to creative thinking and bridging the gap between advertisers and media companies.
My advice is to listen to your heart more than well-intended advice when making a career choice. I wake up energized and filled with purpose all because I pursued my dream.
· Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I’ve had all sorts of behind the scenes opportunities with major television programs, actors, and musicians — all the stuff that makes media integration fun. But the most interesting story for me personally was a trip to Kolkata, India in 2015 to scout media opportunities. The sheer amount of people running in different directions, the noises, the pace was all fascinating and really challenged my notion of best-fit tactics. One of our best executions turned out to be paint-units on walls and buses throughout the city.
· Yitzi: So how exactly does your company help people?
Conquer is a media agency. We design, implement, and monitor media plans featuring a mix of established media like linear television and outdoor, to emerging non-linear platforms on mobile and connected devices. We ensure that the media partners we work with get an intimate understanding of our client’s goals and challenge them to bring their best to the table during the planning and buying process. It would be hard to find a more creative and relational media planning team on the planet.
· Yitzi: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
To play on an industry term, we provide “added-value” beyond the scope of the agency agreement. For such a highly analytical crew, Conquer adds creativity into the media planning space, instead of limiting ourselves to a “spots and dots” spreadsheet approach. Clients like Farm Rich Snack Foods https://farmrich.com/ invite us to the table early in the brand planning stages each year, because they expect big ideas that will add value across their entire brand plan, not just media. We’re known for delivering “first-ever” experiences for our clients, generating ideas and finding a way to get them done. We work with trusted and respected media brands and client brands. So, we’re big on creating reciprocal value between both — we’re relying on partnerships, not “buys” to get results. Examples at conquerww.com/work/
· Yitzi: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
Lots of people have helped, but none more than my wife, Tonya. We were married not long after college and have had a fun run together. Tonya believes in me and Conquer. She’s a professional therapist too. Enough said.
· Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My mission is to be a liberating leader. Which means helping others challenge themselves in order to grow. I think anytime you have a hand in helping individuals become what they were created to be, you’re helping the world. Everyone is here for a purpose, but it’s easy to get sidetracked.
· Yitzi: What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why.
2016–2017 was an awesome time of introspection and training with organizations like GiANT Worldwide. Some of the points below represent things I learned in their XCORE program.
a) Know yourself to lead yourself — everyone is wired uniquely with certain tendencies, patterns and actions. Don’t like the current reality? Check yourself first.
b) Deliver high support and high challenge — these can coexist when you’re intentional.
c) Who says you can’t? — I’ve learned to ask myself this question to discern whether I’m being “prohibited” from accomplishing something or actually avoiding something I’ve “inhibited” myself from doing due to fear of the unknown.
d) What were you thinking? — No matter the result, negative or positive, I now evaluate what I was thinking at the time of decision. Was I being growth-oriented? Did I visualize and expect success? Or was I concerning myself with the potential downside? The majority of positive results I experience originated with well-developed, optimistic, clear thinking. More than just gut-feel, but a mental picture of the expected victory.
e) Repetition creates retention. — This is normally reserved for media-speak. Frequency is required for a message to sink in. However, I now apply this principle to leadership as well. Whatever I do frequently becomes a pattern and eventually becomes my reputation. Life is better when you recognize a pattern and recalibrate…early.
· Yitzi: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans and Detroit revivalist. While our primary footing is in ATL, I’m convinced DET is a fascinating market to continue our growth. I’ve personally witnessed the evidence of Dan’s revitalization efforts in downtown Detroit and it simply pumps me up to see it. You’re either growing or dying. Thanks to Dan and other supporters I see the American classic of Detroit growing again.