Name: Jason Brandt
Title: Managing Partner; Growth Officer
Organisation: Stagwell Technologies
For the past 30 years I have worked with some of the most iconic brands to create and manage their direct marketing and digital marketing businesses.
Both from the agency and the brand side, I have run global teams, built innovative products in the fintech, martech and adtech space and delivered iconic programs using measured media.
Part designer, strategist and operator, I understand uniquely how technology in all forms can be used to build brands and create customer value.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Jason's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
It's relatively easy to create a plan and communicate the merits of the plan to your team. What I have found more difficult is helping the team adopt the plan in ways they are comfortable and can work with their own styles, strengths and weaknesses.
I believe many leaders just assume they can create a way forward, hand it to the team and expect them to carry it out to the letter. And those leaders wouldn't be wrong in expecting that. But good leaders must be able to help teams adapt to new expectations or else any type of change can take too long and can frustrate many people in the process.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
It took time and i'm still evolving. I rose very quickly in advertising and direct marketing agencies because I had an innate talent of working with customers and getting the best from teams.
My rise happened so quickly however, that many leadership tools I acquired was a trial by fire process vs. a slow mentoring process many leaders are fortunate to have been provided.
Mine was figure it out as I went along. And many mistakes were made in the process. At first I lacked empathy and patience. Over time I believe that has become my greatest strength.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I take care of the hardest tasks in the morning whether that is exercise, a difficult call, a task that challenges my skills. I spend one hour every day reading everything from industry news, to case studies, to management principles to my clients blog posts.
I reserve one hour to do calls with my team - check in mostly just to resolve any outstanding issues, or lend an opinion to pressing matters or just to catch up on life. I spend 1-2 hours calling customers - whether those are existing or hopefully new. The rest of the time is open for writing, forecasting, or attending meetings that simply come up.
I don't generally eat anything until 11am, drink a ton of water, try and get outside for a walk to clear my head and work through a problem away from my computer. When I travel this schedule is much different :).
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Trust your teams do their job, but make yourself available when they need a hand.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I must admit I do not read a lot of management/ leadership books anymore. Not because I don't like them, but it's just hard to find the time, and also I can find lessons in other places such as a great non-fiction book, a history book or even old science fiction where social and technological issues have been predicted.
That said, I do like Principles by Ray Dalio and Good to Great by Jim Collins. Also, anything from Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm's work in particular has taught me to look at problems not at face value - but understand the root cause of an issue.
Things do not always appear as they seam and Malcolm does a great job providing cultural context why our society is what it is. I have tried to apply that thread to leading.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Here are 3. Never assume you know everything, never stop educating yourself and learn to adapt and be flexible.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Years ago I had to downsize an office severely. It was horrible. I had never done that before and certainly received no training. So it was me, HR and 2-3 leaders figuring out what the new make up of the office would be, how to choose a new set of leaders, structure etc.
The whole shabang. I went into that process, which took the better part of 6 months, assuming these were skills I would never use again because the situation was so unique and frankly extreme.
That assumption could not have been more wrong. The process taught me to relook at structures in non conventional ways, how to recognize and advance new talent, how to re-position product offerings and how to scramble and focus on sales when an office depended upon growth. Skills I use everyday - to this day.