Pawl Cub­bin, 46, sold his ad­ver­tis­ing agency to a large cor­po­ra­tion – a move he soon re­alised spelled dis­as­ter for his vi­sion – be­fore buy­ing it back.

Collective Hub - - RESILIENCE -

My agency be­gan the way of many agen­cies; with me, alone, in the spare room of my house be­fore I found a busi­ness part­ner to team up with to build some­thing great. Two heads are al­ways bet­ter than one, and my then-part­ner and I grew our de­sign-based agency over a pe­riod of seven years. Af­ter a merger with an ad­ver­tis­ing agency, we be­came Zoo, a cut­ting-edge agency with 40 staff.

My then-busi­ness part­ners saw an op­por­tu­nity to sell the ma­jor­ity of their shares to a small na­tional agency group, which was then ac­quired by the com­par­a­tively gar­gan­tuan STW Group. I could see it was the right thing for them, but it wasn’t the right thing for me. I fig­ured if I stayed and didn’t sell my shares, then per­haps much would re­main the same – even though I had a ter­ri­ble feel­ing that it wouldn’t.

The first day I walked in af­ter the deal was emo­tional for me. STW now owned 51 per cent of what I’d built, so the com­pany didn’t feel like it was mine any­more. I hired a new man­ag­ing di­rec­tor be­cause I was not used to man­ag­ing an agency of that size, but it be­came clear quite quickly that he wasn’t the right fit for the com­pany and clients be­gan walk­ing out the door. It was painful to watch ev­ery­thing I’d worked so hard on crum­ble in front of my eyes, but I wasn’t ready to walk away. Af­ter a pe­riod of soul-search­ing, I saw that my only real op­tion was to buy STW – who weren’t in­ter­ested in re-in­vest­ing – out, re­take con­trol of the busi­ness, and take it back on the path I’d orig­i­nally set out on. That was eight years ago.

Of course, not ev­ery­thing is as easy as it seems on pa­per, and with the rein­ven­tion of the Zoo Group, I lost a sub­stan­tial amount of clients and staff. When you’re work­ing for or with a busi­ness in de­cline, peo­ple tend to lose their mojo or they say, ‘I can see what you’re do­ing, and it’s great, but I’m done’. They need to go off and rein­vent them­selves, too. So even though I had to build the busi­ness up from scratch, I still started day one with a feel­ing that I’d done the right thing for both my­self and for the busi­ness.

I took what I learnt in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne and moved the of­fice to Can­berra, which made it clear to clients that this was the new Zoo. I also wanted to rein­vent the tra­di­tional agency so, for the very first time, I ac­tively looked for new staff out­side our in­dus­try, even­tu­ally hir­ing MDs with ex­pe­ri­ence in larger agen­cies, cre­atives who were look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent and ‘suits’ from fi­nance and busi­ness con­sult­ing back­grounds who were keen to learn ad­ver­tis­ing. It took a lot of time and per­sis­tence, but our strat­egy soon paid off – we’re still proudly in­de­pen­dent, but we’re net­work in­de­pen­dent with bou­tique agen­cies in Mel­bourne, Syd­ney, Auck­land and Sin­ga­pore.

I don’t re­gret the path I’ve taken to get Zoo Group where it is to­day. I feel like you have to go through stuff and get some things ter­ri­bly wrong for you to ar­rive at the best ver­sion of your­self, both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. Some jour­neys are worth tak­ing, even if they don’t seem at first glance like the most tra­di­tional route to suc­cess.

I FEEL like you have to GO THROUGH STUFF and get some things TER­RI­BLY WRONG for you to ar­rive at the BEST VER­SION of your­self.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.