Evidently, one of the most important characteristics that every CEO should possess is finesse. Anybody can read a book and understand what the role of a CEO involves. However, to be a genuinely successful CEO, you need the finesse to build a culture that not only wins, but wins regularly. You need to be able to create total organizational clarity and foster a cohesive culture. This requires softer skills that often go unstated. A pressing issue for all CEO’s to contemplate is how to build and sustain an incredible culture. Each person in the company needs to be an advocate for the business.
One such prominent personality is Mikey Taylor, CEO of a creative platform for advertising, marketing, and branding Channelzero. The branding expert, Mikey has experience working with major MNCs such as PepsiCo, Lion Nathan, Bacardi, and McDonalds.
Journey of an Inspirational Innovator
Mikey’s career started within a legal profession in the United Kingdom, and it wasn’t long before he realized that it wasn’t the career he wanted, so he switched to a sales and marketing role with Pepsi. Whilst he was working at Pepsi, he was approached by two archetypal Australians who were about to launch a juice brand in Australia. They were brash, savvy and a lot of fun, so he decided to join their clan and moved to Sydney in 2003. He used his expertise in sales and marketing to help grow the startup juice brand, Nudie. His adventure with the juice company saw the company grow from start-up phase to one of the Australia’s largest juice brand.
In 2008, he saw a gap in the creative agency landscape ─ he noticed that many agencies were focusing on award winning work, rather than on creative work specifically designed to deliver sales results for their clients. This was the premise upon which he partnered with Francis Callanan to develop Channelzero. Their work at Channelzero is predicated upon the idea that they must change results for their clients businesses.
Mikey believes creativity is the only legal unfair advantage that any company can exercise over their competitors. Therefore, at Channelzero he focuses on the return from creativity. Channelzero’s philosophy is that if they manage their IP well and produce great advertising – they will genuinely change results for their customers leading brands. Channelzero has grown to become one of the region’s largest creative agencies. They are trusted with the advertising accounts for some of the world’s most iconic brands. They have also started a number of their own brands through Channelzero, to illustrate that they practice whatever they preach.
Strive to Thrive
Mikey was impelled to become a CEO of his own business by ‘large agency frustration’. He had worked with many of the big advertising agencies as a client, and he found the process of dealing with some of them deeply bureaucratic, costly and focused on the wrong outcomes. They would have their clients spending hours over results tables with endless metrics about reach, pouring, TARP weights, CPC’s and so on. These struck him as vanity metrics, designed purely to baffle the less discerning and to justify excessive spending. He remembers intellectualizing that surely the only metric that really matters is whether they are growing their client’s business each month. Subsequently, he created a Channelzero model for creativity that is based on simplicity.
Channelzero’s IP is designed for their clients to simply: Get noticed – Get remembered – Get bought – Get bought again. As a matter of fact, Mikey’s early career in law has had a profound influence on his work as an advertising agency’s CEO. He has seen how some of the biggest global law firms control their margins, systemize their workflow and plan for the best resources. He took this learning into Channelzero, and set up the business to be efficient, but without the need to focus so heavily on the dreaded ‘billable hour’.
As energetic and pragmatic leader as Mikey already is, he envisions, “My ultimate goal is to be the ex-CEO of Channelzero, in that I want to build a business that has a strong legacy long beyond me. I aim to have some fun along the way and to engage and inspire others by always being the most positive person in the room.”
Envisioning Growth Through Acquisitions
Channelzero has used their creative agency to extend their business operations into ownership of a few popular brand names; Cor de Coco, Foxy’s, SuperCubes, Newtons Nation, Super 7’s Rugby and BBQ Mudd.
Mikey and his team plans to expand Channelzero through the twin engines of organic growth and the acquisition of high quality agencies with unique offerings. Their organic growth will be driven by their first global product, a free brand DNA analysis tool. This will give them unparalleled data that will be used for a white paper on internal branding metrics.
Recently they have also completed two tactical acquisitions, a retail agency & a content agency, that add new services and expertise to their business. These acquisitions have been very successful in increasing the depth of relationships with their clients, allowing them to use the agency across a broader range of projects. For the foreseeable future they will seek opportunities to acquire agencies that are a good partnership for them.
Advice for Ambitious New Entrants
Mikey asserts, “50% of businesses fail in the first year and only 4% survive to make it to 10 years. So, if you just want a happy and peaceful life, with a nice little house in the suburbs you should get a good job and work for someone else. If however, you’ve got some fight in your belly and you want to change the way things are done then buckle up because you’ll be tested. Your resilience, tenacity, energy and your closest relationships will all be tested. Be sure that’s a challenge you are up for. If it is a challenge you want to tackle, make sure you value people over profit on the journey. You have to aim for happiness first and success second.”
This means that a properly defined brand culture is an essential element, and sadly it’s too often overlooked. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up thinking that the next deal, the bigger house, the faster car, etc. is what’s going to make a business successful. But that’s really not the case. Mikey discovered that if an individual wants to be genuinely successful, he/she needs to treat themselves kindly. Make time for the things you love.