The Agency Interview: 26 Questions with Israel Mirsky

September 26, 2016

The Agency Interview: 26 Questions with Israel Mirsky

Israel Mirsky is Global Managing Director for Intel at OMD Worldwide. He will be appearing on a panel during the “LinkedIn B2B Forum: Beyond B2B” at Advertising Week in New York on Tuesday, September 27. The panel is titled, “The Changing Agency Model: What’s Next?” Ahead of the panel, we asked Mirsky 26 questions about work and life, and here are his 26 answers.

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Nothing. I’ve been experimenting with “IF” — intermittent fasting — for energy. A little bit of hunger helps me feel sharper in the morning.

2. What’s the last great thing you binged watched and why?

Stranger Things. My wife and I watched the whole thing in a single marathon the first day. Pitch perfect for the best show Stephen King never wrote. I loved every minute.

3. On your LinkedIn profile you’ve posted a quote: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Why is that quote important to you?

That idea has, I think, many facets. For one, I believe that the visions we create about the future help determine what we develop as a society. A great story about a possible future makes that future more likely – and I’m a heavy reader of hard science fiction, in part for that reason. It helps me think about how technology may change society, so that I can do a better job of picking out important nearer term trends that actually might have an effect. A second facet touches on the idea that for people who spend a lot of time thinking about what may happen, there is both a joy and responsibility in being part of creating the future you want to see exist. It’s a kind of hunger to be responsible for making your vision of what is possible into something real.

4. What’s the last great book you read? Why was it great?

I loved William Gibson’s “The Peripheral” — an exploration of what happens to at the edges of a society with strong 3-D printing technology and ubiquitous surveillance. It isn’t pretty.

5. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

My mother’s family lives in Tromso, in Norway. Going there, fishing in the fjords, eating the food, spending time with my cousin, uncle – it feels like getting a missing limb back.

6. What’s the biggest change in the agency business since you started?

The rise and fall of organic social. In 2008, it seemed like organic social was really going to fundamentally change how brands related to their customers and dwarf paid media. It’s still important, but the monetization of social and the issues with getting data to compare organic consumer-driven impressions – dark social  — with paid impressions really gutted the idea that organic social would triumph. 

7. How have you (and your agency) adapted?

It’s good for the agency. Resolution Media, our search and social agency, is absolutely on top of their game.

8. What’s your proudest moment in business?

I have to say winning the Consortium pitch to do the combined campaign for Intel, Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo and HP. A lot of the incumbent agencies pitched, so the competition was incredibly tough. The team really did an amazing job pulling together an incredible strategy for a unique situation — there are one-of-a kind-challenges and opportunities to consider when you have five data-driven clients and we really put something wonderful together. Some very senior clients in the room called it the best media plan they’d ever seen. I am very proud of that work.

9. In life?

Watching my daughter take her first steps. My wife and I lie in bed late at night and watch the video over and over again. Nothing prepares you for kids, I think.

10. What’s the most important way the rise of social media, from YouTube to Facebook to LinkedIn, has changed the way companies tell stories?

It’s forced them to be engaging, or pay the price — and it’s forced everyone to change the way they approach each platform. It’s not good enough to be good at making video for TV, or even TV and YouTube. You need to be good at making content that appeals to the aesthetics, mindset and conventions of each platform you intend to play in.

11. Digital ad spending is poised to surpass TV ad spending. Is this a problem for agencies or an opportunity?

Digital takes more work than TV to execute because of the ongoing optimization necessary, and until we have strong artificial intelligence, it will continue to do so. Agencies are, fortunately or unfortunately, paid mostly based on their staff plans — so I’d say it’s good for agencies, though the responsibility of the agency to deliver world class work is high.

12. Is content marketing an evolution or a revolution?

Depends on whether or not you’re doing it well.  I think brand as publisher is a big deal. What remains to be seen is whether brands will really invest the way they need to in order to become publishers. It’s not an easy transition.

13. How do you use LinkedIn — for networking? For content marketing? Searching for talent? For sales prospecting? For staying abreast of news?

Pretty much all of the above. We use it for content marketing for Intel, but I use it in talent searches all the time. And I find the consistent quality of content on LinkedIn to be quite high — it is a go-to news source for me.

14. How do you use LinkedIn advertising for your clients, and what’s working well for them?

We use Linkedin for our B2B work — both B2B “branding” and driving actions. We do extensive content marketing on LinkedIn as well, and are often cited as a case study. We created the LinkedIn IT Center showcase page as a stand-alone resource for IT professionals and as a destination that would encourage an exchange of ideas. We’ve engaged that audience and have been constantly improving the content to meet the audience’s interests and using LinkedIn’s tools to bring more people into the conversation. We’re currently the No. 1 page followed by IT professionals in eight different global markets on LinkedIn. I find there are very few datasets as valuable or accurate as Linkedin for B2B media. It’s quite effective for us.

15. What is your top-secret superpower?

I have a good phone voice.

16. Who should play you in the movie version of your life?

I don’t know – Henry Cavill, maybe?

17. If you weren't at OMD, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be building my own startup, or be in a think tank somewhere dreaming up implications and business models for emerging technology.

18. What is your favorite Disney character and why?

I think Winnie-the-Pooh is now owned by Disney — I’ll go with him. My parents used to read the stories to me — those are some of my earliest memories. I have a print from the story where Pooh is stranded up a tree during a flood with his jars of honey in our house. Now I read them to my daughter.

19. What do you have an irrational hatred for?

Contractions. “Spesh” unnecessary ones.  Really, they make me want to break things.

20. Best movies ever. Go:

Embarassingly, Hackers, with Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller. It’s why I first got into computer science. The depiction of coding is ridiculous, but the subculture looked like so much fun, and for me it felt like technology just beginning to be sufficiently advanced to “become indistinguishable from magic,” as Arthur C. Clarke said. It’s the magic that attracts me to technology.

21. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A paleontologist. I spent a lot of time at the New York Museum of Natural History as a kid! At that age, dinosaurs are only a short step from dragons.

22. What's your most annoying habit?

I cough a lot, and I do that thing where you bounce your knee up and down when I’m thinking or bored. Also I snore like I’m choking to death. It’s a small miracle I found a woman to love me. 

23. How long would you survive a zombie apocalypse?

Oh, a long time. I’m a borderline urban prepper. Until my daughter came along, the room she is now sleeping in was full of camping and survival gear. Now it’s hidden away...

24. What’s not on your LinkedIn profile?

My love of fishing and the outdoors! Fishing is a great hobby, because it gives you a reason to be in places at times of the day that turn out to be incredibly private and beautiful. I’d never have enjoyed as many sunrises as I have if it wasn’t for chasing fish.

25. What’s the best dinner you’ve had in the last week?

I got Popeyes delivered to my house via Postmates Very dangerous and addictive. 

26. What are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Having a conversation with my little girl, as soon as she’s old enough to get past “Da-di.”

For more insights from Israel Mirsky, B2B marketing related or otherwise, register for the livestream of “LinkedIn B2B Forum: Beyond B2B” at #AWNewYork next week!

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