SD: You made it to the top possibly faster than any other Canadian ever has. Three reasons why?
SC: I think you need to put yourself in a position where it's easy to remain passionate and positive about what you're doing. For me it was working in emerging markets like China, Indonesia and Russia. For others it's building their own company. Regardless, when you're passionate and positive about what you're doing you're an unstoppable force.
SD: You're now clearly settled in Russia after a great run in Asia and Canada. What's the biggest difference been for you between a career there versus in TO?
SC: I think working in foreign markets teaches you humility. You quickly come to realize that, not only do you not know everything, but in many case you don't know anything. It's a constant learning experience, which serves as a constant reminder that you've got a lot to learn. I'm not sure that working abroad has made me a better ad guy, but it's definitely made me a better person.
SD: Coming in as a president in a foreign country isn't simple. How did you onboard yourself in the role?
SC: To be honest, I just struggled through it. Going in I had a very detailed and logical plan for easing myself into the role, but learned very quickly that planning is overrated when it comes to leadership. All you can do is remind yourself why you are where you are, trust yourself to do what's right, be big enough to admit you screwed up when you get it wrong, and stay positive no matter what happens. Four years later the approach isn't much different.
SD: You have a bunch of direct reports. How much time is left to manage up and be with clients?
SC: The human resource aspect of the job is the hardest part of the job, and by far the most important, so I don't think you can ever spend too much time on it. As a CEO, everything you do eventually finds its way to the work and clients, either directly through you, or indirectly through the people who look to you to show them the way. If anything, it's finding adequate time for people internally that's toughest. And most detrimental if neglected.
SD: What does a Cannes Lion mean to you? Happy with the performance thus far?
SC: In a market like Russia, where few Lions have been won, I think Cannes wins can mean even more. Russia's become one of the world's most important ad markets in business terms, but creatively it's still well behind. I think there's a collective sense of urgency here when it comes to the need to begin competing in international award shows.
Stefan Danis, reporting for Adnews.com, is CEO of Mandrake and NEXCareer and has published Gobi Runner, a book about overcoming adversity, available at Amazon.