Run it Like a Girl

Run it like a girl with Andrea Cook, Season 2, Episode 5

November 04, 2019 Season 2 Episode 5
Run it Like a Girl
Run it like a girl with Andrea Cook, Season 2, Episode 5
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Run it Like a Girl
Run it like a girl with Andrea Cook, Season 2, Episode 5
Nov 04, 2019 Season 2 Episode 5
Andrea Cook, President, FCB/SIX
In this episode Andrea talks about being a women in the male dominated agency world.
Show Notes Transcript

Andrea Cook calls herself a career advertising girl, although she graduated from university as an economist, thinking she might want to be a trader. Following an internship, it became clear to Andrea that stock market trading was not in her cards, and she made a sharp turn towards advertising.

Andrea is now the president of FCB/Six, an award-winning digital advertising agency, with offices in Toronto, Montreal and New York City. In this episode, she tells us about the gains women have made in the ad industry, despite the fact that it has traditionally been a male-dominated business.








Brian:
0:01
Andrea Cook calls herself a career advertising girl, although she graduated university as an economist thinking she might want to be a trader following an internship in the business. It became clear to Andrea that stock market trading was not in her cards and she made a sharp turn towards advertising. Andrea is now the president of FCB/ Six and award winning digital advertising agency with offices in Toronto. Montreal and New York city.
Andrea:
0:32
I took the normal trajectory, kind of climbing the ladder. I got into leadership roles pretty early on, and I spent about a decade, I would say being, the man behind the man, if you will. Then I realized that that wasn't where I wanted to stop. So I made the conscious effort to pull up into leadership. And about four years ago I was given the opportunity to run an ad agency. Within that time, FCB six has grown more than 100% and has received the highest accolades in the industry, including agency of the year.
Brian:
1:10
Andrea says FCB six is a different kind of shop.
Andrea:
1:16
I think the leadership style that we took was a visionary one. We wanted to change the game and so we looked for people who wanted to be brave and get into the mess and put a thumbprint on it themselves and design something different. And I think there are hungry people who want to disrupt, who want to transform. And we looked for those kinds of folks
Brian:
1:44
On this episode of Run it Like a Girl Andrea tells us about the gains women have made in the ad industry despite the fact that it has traditionally been a male dominated business.
Andrea:
1:56
The me too movement has done a pretty good job of combing out a lot of, in our industry specifically the muck. I was surprised to actually see that we didn't end up with a big expose in our business cause, there's a lot of stories, but I think that the industry is focused on moving forward. I think women have made some real strides in our industry and I think that we would just rather focus on the forward momentum than looking back
Brian:
2:25
On this episode of Run it Like a Girl Andrea talks about some of the bad advice that she was given by mentors including to never be 100% truthful about herself to staff when in leadership positions. One mentor even advising Andrea who's a mother to lie about having kids.
Bonnie:
2:51
So today I'm sitting at home on what is decidedly a fall day,now the kids are back in school and I'm super excited that I get the opportunity to chat with Andrea Cook who is president of FCB six. Andrea, thank you so much for joining us for an episode of Run it Like a Girl.
Andrea:
3:08
My pleasure.
Bonnie:
3:09
Very happy to have you here. It was a colleague of mine, a friend of yours, Christine Robertson who put us in touch. She also was a guest last season so I'm really thrilled that you agreed to take time out of your busy schedule. And we can just get started. So you're the president of a pretty large agency, which is really cool. And you're also an award winning agency. I'd, I'd love to talk a bit, you know, to step back to talk about your background and your journey to now becoming an executive in the field.
Andrea:
3:39
Actually I graduated university as an economist because I thought I wanted to be a trader and it took me about two months of a summer internship to realize that wasn't my path, and so finished school and went into advertising right away. So I've pretty much been a a career advertising girl. I took the normal trajectory, kind of climbing a ladder. I got into leadership roles pretty early on, and I spent about a decade, I would say being the man behind the man, if you will. Then realized that that wasn't where I wanted to stop. So made the conscious effort to pull into leadership. And about four years ago, I was given the opportunity to run, an ad agency. So we have in that time grown more than a hundred percent. We are known as agency of the year. We have received the highest accolades of any that any agency can get. So we've had a really great run. We're a different kind of shop and I'm super pumped to have the opportunity to have led this kind of the recreation in thr industry.
Bonnie:
4:48
So what was that like coming in to take over at an agency? How did that go? Whatwas your leadership style when you came in to get people kind of bought into the vision and what you wanted to do and where you wanted to take the organization?
Andrea:
5:03
So FCB-Six is a bit of a different kind of agency. We're designed for the digital and data future. We throw some of those traditional kind of agency work, sacred cow process at the window a little bit. So I'm probably not popular with everyone. But I know I came in believing that this industry was destined for better things and, it can be a little hesitant, hesitant to change as an industry. So we're a bit of an anomaly.I think the leadership style that we took was a visionary one. We wanted to change the game and so we looked for people who wanted to be brave and get into the mess and put a thumbprint on it themselves and design something different. And I think there. hungry people who want to disrupt, want to transform. And we looked for those kinds of folks.
Bonnie:
6:03
That's amazing. And you know, I think that's a great segue. I'd love to ask you about women in leadership, It's been a hot topic for years, but people are getting louder and louder about equal opportunities, equal pay. And then of course last year, I think it was with the #Metoo movement. I'd love to know how this has affected your industry and what you think needs to be done in order to advance more women into leadership roles.
Andrea:
6:37
So, we've all seen mad men, advertising has been a traditionally male dominated industry and that is still very true at the top senior levels. The global holding companies are exclusively male run.Our business is divided up into disciplines. So you have account services, project management function, a strategy function, and creative function. I would say just in the last five years we've seen our first female chief creative officers coming to pass, FCB/Six however is very different. We actually have a 70% female ratio, and for a tech company that's super rare and our leadership has about 73% female as well. So what do I think we need to do better? A couple of things.
Andrea:
7:31
We are big supporters at FCB/Six, seven initiative called CFBs, uh, which is creatively focused, but effectively it's the concept of if you cannot see the role models, then you cannot be the role. You can not be that role, um, as easily as you can if you have people sort of laying the path and letting you witness that leadership styles and things like that. So see it be, it was established by Ken, which is, um, the Ken festival of creativity is and, uh, is kind of like the Oscars of advertising. And they recognize that there was no female creative leadership in the industry or representative at the shows. So they invented this, this program called [inaudible]. And that moves out into the, um, advertising space and different cities will come together and, and, uh, hold conferences and try and promote women in leadership. So S, uh, six was the first to bring that into Canada and we've hosted it for four or five years now.
Speaker 2:
8:25
It's fascinating to get real talk going. I think about what it's like to be a woman in this industry. And I think we can tend towards soft conversations around balance and things like that. Or we can get into hard conversations around things like #Metoo. And imposter syndrome and things that are real topics I think people need to hear. And that's what we've steered that too. It's fascinating to see that our industry has evolved and we're better now with females, I wouldn't say all the way to bright but better with female representation and maybe not so great on, other forms of representation.
Andrea:
9:12
I was sitting there hosting this panel and I actually feel like we've gone somewhere. But darn, I've never seen this for a non-creative female leader. I ended up putting all my energy into doing this for everyone else. And my mission coming out of it this year is to try and figure out how I can...maybe there's five female CEOs that I know of in advertising in Canada, five in advertising agencies proper. And so how can we do a better job of trying to do better in my own part of the industry. So, that's one thing. I think another thing that's really crystallized for me, having gone through the process of this I think women as I did, get stuck in believing that we're happy being in the man behind the man position. You know, I don't think I wanted it for some reason. I don't know. I do clearly want it, you know, and I'm doing okay, but I don't know why I didn't say that. I think we need to train ourselves to want to go all the way. I think it's more natural male tendency to do that. So thats top of mind for me as well.
Bonnie:
10:32
So that's interesting. So with five females running advertising agencies, when you meet with your peers from other agencies, if you get together at conferences and stuff like that, what do the panels look like? Like how do they find diversity of voice? Do they find it? What about all the men that are leading agencies, what's their role in trying to get more equal opportunities for women at the top?
Andrea:
10:59
So panels are often me and four guys, especially because I get asked to speak for technology a lot and there's not specifically that many women in that vein. I think that the #Metoo movement has done a pretty good job of combingout a lot of the muck. I was surprised to actually see that we didn't end up with a big exposition in our business because there's a lot of stories but you know what? I think the industry is focused on moving forward. I think women have made some real strides in our industry and I think that we would just rather focus on the forward momentum then looking back. We Had a time's up event that was hosted. Actually Six was one of the signatories behind bringing that to Canada as well.
Andrea:
11:50
And what really bubbled up is the willingness to just do that. No one wanted to spend time talking about the millions and millions of stories we could all share, and we all can. I think 100% of people wanted to, you know, to move forward. I think no one can get away with that kind of behavior anymore in our industry. I'd be shocked to hear that. And I think men and women have a role in making sure.
Bonnie:
12:20
To think about, I'm surprised I haven't heard any a huge scandals because like you said, the mad men era, the, kind of mentality around it certainly exists. So you briefly mentioned mentorship, and I'd love to know what kind of role it's played in your own career, and now that you're in a position of leadership, your views on, on mentoring others.
Andrea:
12:47
So I've never had a female CEO as I said, but I have had really strong female leaders in my life and I have been active in seeking out CEOs, whether leaders from other industries or within my own industry. Today I have in my FCB global parent company, there are three or four women CEOs and I regularly speak to all of them. I think it's important to talk things through. You know, when you feel impostor syndrome, which everyone does by the way. To know that it's normal to feel like you're going to crack when you're trying to balance your personal and business life. Someone telling you to listen to those little warning bells that rise up, if you're not having those real conversations with someone, you've got to find someone.
Andrea:
13:38
I think you've got to be tenacious, man, female, whatever industry. I think you've gotta be tenacious to strive for the thing that you want and it can be really helpful to learn off of other people's lashes. That said, I think it's important to have male and female role models. I've had some great female leads. I've had some great male leads. I've had terrible leaders who were both male and female. Some of the worst advice I've ever received is from female leaders. I had a woman tell me to never to speak about my children. Oh yeah. Never to speak to lie if they are sick. So I think there's an insecurity with women sometimes where being one of the few, I don't know. I don't know. I think people need to be generous.
Bonnie:
14:34
Absolutely. I mean, she was probably just speaking from experience, right. I guess then as, a leader, we hear the word authentic leadership a lot. I'd love to know in your perspective, what does it mean to you to be an authentic leader?
Andrea:
15:01
Commitment, transparency, frequent communication. Um, leading with your heart, owning your mistakes. I think being really clear about your expectations and delivering on your promises, what you think, what you say you're gonna do it. I think handing away the spotlight as a religion. Um, and I think being, being really thankful of the people that have helped get you where you are and being generous, I think with the lessons that you've learned for others.
Bonnie:
15:42
That's amazing. So remembering to give back. So this next question, the final question of the formal episode, is one we ask everybody, which is if you could go back to the start of your career and have lunch with yourself at that age, what kind of advice would you give yourself? What would that conversation look like?
Andrea:
16:05
God, it was such a different time. Um, can I put out a hit on someone back then? I'm just kidding. You know, I had an instinct about transparency very, very early on, and I was guided against that. I was guided by a man and a CEO, never to really be 100% truthful. I remember feeling that was strange to hear that feedback. And I, I didn't think I listened to it, but it reverberated in my head for a lot of years until I realized it was wrong. So I think I would go back and tell myself not to listen to him. In most things he taught me actually as it were. To trust your gut on stuff. I think if you have a thing that's working, not that we don't all need to learn it evolve, but if you have a thing that works for you and it's something like a transparency or a really strong ability to connect, I think these female like tendencies are powerful and we have trouble seeing it. I think we tend to adopt these kind of male characteristics in what leadership is, supposed to be.
Andrea:
17:27
Have you heard of the Athena doctrine? The Athena doctrine talks about all of these different styles of leadership. And I think he was trying to squeeze out the things that were truly me. And,I would tell myself to not listen. But, but today, can I get my advice for someone today?
Bonnie:
17:51
I would love that. Okay.
Andrea:
17:54
I actually heard this from one of my global CEO partners and this is a mantra that I've tried to live with, which is to be good but also good. And so that is work your ass off. There are favorites and, and I think there should be, right. The best athletes win because they are the best. I think the same goes for business. Be good at what you do. Work really hard to be good at what you do. But I also think we should be generous. So that's the other good. Be able to lead with your heart and be successful.
Bonnie:
18:30
I love it. I love that you're good in your good, huh? So that kind of ends more of the traditional questions that we ask, but we've added a new component this year after one of our guests suggested it. So it's basically just three quick questions. I'd love to get the answers off the top of your head, and we'll see how it goes. Okay. Okay, great. So the first one is: What is your favorite podcast or source of information?
Andrea:
19:00
Twitter, honestly, probably Twitter and that I'm a big industry pub readers, so there's sort of industry quick news would probably be the things I go to most.
Bonnie:
19:13
That's great. Twitter is actually my go to as well. The second question is, What are you currently reading?
Andrea:
19:21
So a really cool book written by a woman whose name escapes me, but it's called The Culture map. So FCB/Six is expanding globally and this book is about different cultures around the world and how they have different approaches and styles.
Bonnie:
19:46
And the third question is, Who are you drawing inspiration from right now?
Speaker 2:
19:52
Currently my team, I think we've got an unbelievable mix of talent and, we've built a really unique group of people under our global CEO, Carter Murray, who, you know, his mantra is hire great people and then get out of the way. And so we've got these incredible people who all respect each other so much and I've done so many impossible things with the company that we were four years ago. And so daily I think I draw inspiration from watching them continue to evolve into global powerhouse of the company and be proud, but, you know, waiting for them to take my job.
Bonnie:
20:35
That's amazing. And the imminent future. I love it. well Andrea, this has been really fun talking with you. I'm at so, thankful that you agreed to do it. Thank you so much for being on an episode.
Andrea:
20:50
My pleasure. Thanks. for the time.
Brian:
20:52
The host of run it like a girl is Bonnie Mouck. Brian Long is the producer technical support provided by Dan Mouck and music courtesy of the talented Brooklyn Gillecheck. On the next episode of Run it Like a Girl, Sherrie Stevens, found herself broke, jobless and smack dab in the middle of a recession. It's then that her entrepreneurial light bulb was set, a glow, and she opened up her first staffing company. That company is now much larger. Sherry has twice received a top 100 most powerful women in Canada award from the women's executive network, w X, N a company that she would fittingly acquire several years later. Sherry Stevens
Speaker 6:
21:42
on the next episode of run it like a girl.
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