The Agency Interview: 29 Questions With Patrick O’Hara

September 22, 2016

The Agency Interview: 29 Questions With Patrick O’Hara

Patrick O’Hara is Global Chief Strategic Officer of gyro. 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 O’Hara 29 questions about work and life, and here are his 29 answers.

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Peanut butter on toast and coffee.

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

HBO’s “The Night Of”.

3. What’s the industry buzzword that annoys you the most these days?

Pivot. Because it tries to disguise going off strategy behind a sports metaphor.

4. What lessons did you learn at Anderson + Lembke, a pioneering B2B ad agency in the 1990s, that you still use today?

B2B purchase decisions are more emotional than B2C.

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

Robert Seethaler’s “A Whole Life” – short and moving in its utter simplicity.

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

 The paradigm shift from persuasion to experience.

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

By embracing human relevance as a guiding mission that governs all interactions.

8. What’s your proudest moment in business?

Reinventing the Roomba, the world’s best selling robot.

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

They have had to relinquish control by making the consumer/customer the conduit for content.

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

An opportunity as long as they embrace digital.

11. You have a theology degree from Cambridge. How has what you learned there affected how you approach your job at gyro?

It’s not the similarities between people and cultures that matter; it’s the differences that make the difference.

12. You’ve made the case that data can be overwhelming to potential buyers, who often make decisions by gut instinct. How can marketers take advantage by understanding this?

By radically simplifying and making relevant what information they share with people in both content and format.

13. You also make the case that culture is critical to success for any business? How is a shop like gyro helping shape the culture of its clients?

We explore culture and aspirations through collaborative work sessions which we call the Humanizer, and we ignite engagement with the culture through internal communication and events.

14. How do you use LinkedIn?

I use LinkedIn for research and to make sure I keep up to date with my connections.  Also to share content with my network.

15. You were a diamond dealer in Antwerp. Why is a global perspective important to you and how does it shape your role at gyro?

I have always had a global perspective. What attracted me to gyro is that it is a “global ideas shop": with a borderless approach to gathering insights and spreading ideas. B2B is all about how the world works, and the world is borderless. What happens at a nuclear power plant in Japan instantly affects the whole world. The post-tsunami nuclear accident at Fukushima was a Black Swan event that caused massive unforseen disruption in global supply chains.

16. You’ve directed many plays. How does your experience in the theater impact what you do at gyro?

It is important to bring drama and creative tension to the work you do, and it is important that you are able to adopt many roles by understanding where someone else comes from.

17. What is your top-secret superpower?

Active listening.

18. What sports team has broken your heart most often?

Not a team sports guy except that I support the All Blacks, and they are the winningest team in rugby.

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

Peter Sellers.

20. If you weren't at gyro, what would you be doing?


21. What is your favorite Disney character and why?

Dumbo is unbelievably poignant.

22. What do you have an irrational hatred for?

Soft rock.

23. Best movie ever?

Anything with Klaus Kinski and directed by Werner Herzog.

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

A businessman like my father.

25. What's your most annoying habit?

Um, Um, Um I don’t know.

26. How long would you survive a zombie apocalypse?

Ages, but only if I were in the U.S. Traditionally, U.S. zombies, such as "The Dawn of the Dead," "The Walking Dead," etc. move slowly; whereas U.K zombies, as portrayed in "28 Days," run fast. 

27. What jobs did you have in high school and what lessons did you learn from them that you still put into practice today?

Selling over the telephone taught me not to be intimidated by cold-calling.

28. What’s not on your LinkedIn profile?

My reading list.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?

The end of the election.

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