In preparation for his first day next week, we thought it would be fun to give the SaatchiNY team a brief introduction to our new CEO Durk Barnhill. In lieu of our traditional King Street survey, we crowd sourced questions from people at the agency and sent them to Durk to respond. Read up, get pumped, and be sure to say hello when you see him around next week!
What’s your favorite TV show?
In my house we watch a lot of sports, which I consider to be the original reality TV. The Fox Soccer Channel review show Sunday night is a must.
What’s the last book you read and would recommend?
Unbroken. It’s a true story of a WW II soldier who is shot down in his B2 bomber and survives capture and torture by the enemy. It is a story of perseverance and ultimately forgiveness. Couldn’t put it down.
Which advertising legend do you admire most?
Pat Fallon. Pat proved to me that you can be a big agency and still be a good agency with an incredible culture. He cares about the people at Fallon and brings passion, energy, intelligence and fun to everything he does. During my tenure there everyone knew what our mission and direction was and you walked into the office everyday believing you worked at the best agency in the world. Now that’s culture.
Who are your roles models (outside ad biz)?
I truly admire great coaches. Bill Parcells, Tom Coughlin, Lou Holtz to name a few. They lead groups of people and inspire them to be there very best by working together. I was amazed how Coach K had the respect of the US Men’s basketball team in the Olympics. Here was a group of some of the highest paid athletes in the world (guys known for having huge ego’s) listening to and following a college coach. Coach K is an amazing leader with passion and intensity and got these guys to buy into what he was saying.
Why didn’t you ever go client side?
I have always felt (and this has been confirmed by clients) that the best part of any clients day was the time they got to spend with the agency. So I choose to spend my entire day with the agency.
How does the office resemble the soccer field?
To me soccer is the ultimate team sport. You need skill, determination, strategy, creativity and a common goal. Every member on the team has a specific role that plays to their strengths and no single individual can do it by themselves. Scoring is also very hard as you can take shot after shot after shot without it being a winning one. Sounds like the creative process to me.
What’s your favorite travel/vacation destination and why?
I have been fortunate enough to travel to some pretty cool places. Wherever I go I like to be active and do things with my kids so one of our favorite places is Aspen Colorado. We love skiing in the winter and hiking and mountain biking in the summer. Paris isn’t bad either
What’s your POV on work/life balance?
I try to work hard and play hard. I also know that I am more productive when I am able to consistently work out and make it a priority to squeeze it in. I have three kids who are all athletes so being able to see them play and compete is also important to me. I find sleep to be over rated so I am able to fit a lot into a day.
What’s the most recent Creative work you’ve seen that has made you green with envy?
I loved what Oreo did on Facebook for gay pride week with the rainbow Oreo. Simple digital idea that gained an incredible amount of chatter, negative and positive. I also love that Kraft was willing to take on what they knew would be a polarizing idea.
The Direct TV spot with John Cleese made me laugh out loud, the poor butler.
What advice do you give young professionals or recent grads?
If you want to get into the advertising world you better have a passion for it. You need to have an entrepreneurial spirit and be willing to work work work.
What do you think will be your greatest challenge in your new role? What will be the easiest thing about being CEO of SSNY?
The last three agencies where I have worked have been small to medium sized. I enjoyed knowing everyone on the team from top to bottom. I want to bring that same intimacy and sense of team to Saatchi. It might take me some time to learn everyone’s name but that’s my goal. I don’t pretend that anything about leading an Agency is easy. It’s incredibly rewarding but not easy.
How will you measure success at our Agency?
In many ways. It will certainly be about winning new business, producing great work that’s effective in the marketplace and being successful financially. But I also want to help expand the Saatchi culture by having a team of people that love coming to work every day. If we can do that we will realize the dream of being revered as the hothouse of world changing creative ideas that transform our clients businesses, brands and reputations.