"The complexity of it is what makes your brain work hard. If it was easy, I wouldn't be here. It wouldn't be interesting"
Wendy Clark is the CEO of DDB, North America. She was named Ad Age’s Executive of the Year for 2017 and she is rewriting the rules of the advertising industry.
She is a wife, the mother of three and one of the most respected and warmly held leaders in today’s creative industries. She will also ‘crush’ you if you underestimate her.
I talked to Wendy about growing up as the outsider, about the place she never takes her phone, and about her mother’s role in helping her pass her poetry class. This is Wendy Clark unfiltered.
- Being present when you're in the room. The ability to make people feel like they're really important.
- A leadership philosophy. You're very consistent in the way you talk about leadership and the things that you measure.
- Generosity. A willingness to listen to other points of view.
"FEARLESS CREATIVE LEADERSHIP" PODCAST - TRANSCRIPT
Episode 21: Wendy Clark
Charles: The Poet.
Wendy Clark: Who was born with a corner on the smarts? I certainly don't have all the answers and I fundamentally believe that we're better together, fundamentally believe everyone around me probably has really great ideas if I choose to listen and that will shape me and make me better. I am under no illusion that I'm done growing or developing in any way [00:01:00] and I can look at myself just in 18 months of being on this job, where I am now, where I started. I'm like, "God, I know this, I know this. I had that wrong. I guessed that differently." That's part of the journey.
Charles: Leadership means making decisions, even when you don't have all the facts. In fact, leading, by definition, means you almost never have all the facts because to lead means you have to be out in front going where no one has gone before, boldly or otherwise. [00:01:30] This willingness to explore new frontiers is not only a requirement of creative leadership. It's a requirement of every creative thought ever formed. In that way, in particular, leadership and creativity are blood relatives. I'd go so far as to say you can't lead without being creative. You may not produce the physical expressions of creativity. You may not paint like Picasso or sing like Sting but to reach the top of the organizational [00:02:00] tree today, you have to be an original thinker. Email me if you think I'm wrong about this.
You also have to be determined, to bring a core of steel that gives you the foundation from which to launch your forays into the future and with which to resist the attacks of the defenders of the status quo, and there are many of those, armies who fight hard against anything that looks or sounds different. Those attacks aren't limited to the change or [00:02:30] the possibility of the change. They attack the leader of the possibility and those attacks can be, and very often are, personal. I've lived this myself and I've seen it firsthand over and over again.
It's easy to look at fearless creative leaders from the outside and convince ourselves that these people are imbued with magical powers, that they have no doubts, self directed or otherwise. I don't think that's true. I don't think it's that fearless [00:03:00] creative leaders have no fear. I thin it's this. Fearless creative leaders have something that matters to them more than their fear, a goal, an ambition, a destination. If your destination is more important to you than your fear you can achieve things you never thought possible.
Today's guest is Wendy Clark, the CEO of DDB North America. Before taking on this position, Wendy had been the president of strategic marketing at Coca Cola [00:03:30] and the SVP of global marketing at AT&T. She was named Ad Age's executive of the year for 2017. She's known for declaring her intent to crush those who underestimate and she is rewriting the rules of the advertising industry. In the middle of all that, she's a wife, the mother of three children and one of the most respected and warmly held leaders in today's creative industries. I talked to Wendy about growing up as the outsider, about the place she never [00:04:00] takes her phone and about her mother's role in helping her pass her poetry class. This is Wendy Clark unfiltered.
Wendy, thanks so much for being here. Thanks for being on the show.
Wendy Clark: Thank you for having me. Nice to be here.
Charles: It's very nice to have you here. As we get back to work after the end of summer, although I know that's not quite true in your case. You've been at work all during the summer. I like to start, and if you've been listening to these you might already know what I'm going to ask you but I'm going to hope you haven't thought about this. What's your first memory of something being creative?
Wendy Clark: [00:04:30] My first memory of something being creative was feeling a little different in elementary school. I was raised by an American mother and a British father in England and my parents separated when I was very, very young so I was three. I don't remember them sleeping in the same house even that young. The first time I went on a sleepover in class one, as we would've said in England or first grade, [00:05:00] I thought everyone's father lived at another house with another woman. I didn't realize ...
Charles: You literally thought that.
Wendy Clark: I really did so I asked the little girl I was staying with, "When's your dad going to leave?" Then that became a thing. That became a story that I had asked that but what I realized in that moment, it's a long way of answering your question but I realized in that moment was I sort of pivoted creatively and sort of laughed at myself a little bit and in that moment realized the importance of storytelling [00:05:30] and being able to tell a story about myself in a way that didn't feel too vulnerable but that was honest. I can remember vividly. It was first grade but I can still remember my family retelling the story and then having to sort of own the story and be like, "Well, no, actually it's fine." Most of being different, I was always different, whether it was in England I was different and then when I was here I was different. I was never quite one or the other.
Charles: Different from what perspective?
Wendy Clark: From the other kids [00:06:00] and so I think, personally, that my creative journey was always figuring out how to fit in, even though I was massively different than everyone. When I came here in sixth grade I had an accent and I tested out of grades and became very, very different suddenly and I think your creativity allows you to tell a story about yourself, figure out how to fit in and that's my early beginnings of thinking [00:06:30] about ... living creatively, thinking creatively, thinking on your feet and being okay with being different was probably my childhood, was I reflect on it.
Charles: Do you have brothers and sisters?
Wendy Clark: I have three half sisters from my father's second marriage so I was an only child from an only mom. I say that all the time, single mother raising one daughter. I reflect all of her ambition and hope got poured into me for [00:07:00] herself and for me. I carry her journey, too.
Charles: Did you feel that from an early age?
Wendy Clark: Absolutely, 100%. That's, again, back to thinking about creativity in my early life. My mother bought my building blocks. My favorite toy as a kid was a transporter for cars and she was determined that I would not just be sort of somehow sidelined and not able to, and I think at the highest level, support myself. I think she had experienced [00:07:30] a time where she had relied on someone and been let down and that was not going to happen to Wendy [Ludla 00:07:36], my maiden name. She just put all her energy into my broadest development and outlook and I knew from an early age that I would work. I knew I was going to have a career. I couldn't have really even told you what it was but I knew I was very clear I was going to college. I was going to have an education. I was going to have a career. My mother always made that clear.
Charles: That came from her.
Wendy Clark: Absolutely, yeah. Things [00:08:00] she didn't get to do.
Charles: How old were you when you came to the States?
Wendy Clark: About 11.
Charles: You moved to which part of America?
Wendy Clark: I moved to Florida. There's so many stories here. We could go and. We'd do five hours of podcasting. Moved to Florida and, again, back then, early '80s, no internet. My mother had an older sister who had also lived in England and then moved back. They both married Brits and then divorced them and then moved back to be near family. Her sister lived in Clearwater, [00:08:30] Florida and so that just became a target. We had to go to the library to research things and what life would look like. She had been in England for 18 years at that point and so we just sort of landed in Florida and, to me, at 11 years old America was Mickey Mouse and hamburgers. I thought it was fantastic. Then suddenly sunshine in Florida was even more fantastic, moving from England, and grew up all around Florida.
I actually went [00:09:00] to and again, in retrospect, I went to five schools in five years so from my school in England. Then I went to four other schools in sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grade here just as we kind of found our way and figured out how to settle in. I reflect no that experience now and think. We all worry about moving our kids from schools and don't interrupt them midyear. If it's high school, it's too late. They've made those lifelong friends [00:09:30] and I think about it. I think, "Hang on a minute. I went to five schools in five years on two different continents and, if anything, I never enter a room without knowing how to make a friend." It doesn't daunt me to enter a room because I had to do it most of my life.
I think those sort of skills stay with you. I don't think I loved it at the time. I'm not going to lie and I actually became quite introverted. People will go, "There was never a time when Wendy Clark was introverted." I really was quite shy but you kind of put your head down and figure out [00:10:00] and read the room and then figure out who you can go, and I had to do it again and again and again.
Charles: What was your relationship like with your mother? As she was moving you around, what was your view of her?
Wendy Clark: Amazing. She was my and still is my person and I'm very clear I'm her person. She's amazing force in my life now as I have a career and a family. She helps definitely fill in some of the gaps as she lives with us, not with us [00:10:30] but in Atlanta. Every time we've moved for my job she's moved with us. She doesn't ever live with us so I just want to be clear. Independent, wants her own life but I have three children and she's very active in their life, very present in their life, goes to all their sporting events and that is a wonderful gift. To see your mom sit on the floor playing Monopoly with your kids is one of the best feelings in the world.
Charles: As you're getting settled in Florida and figuring that out, how did you decide what you wanted to focus on from an academic standpoint?
Wendy Clark: [00:11:00] I went to, and again, because of our financial situation and the other thing, I've worked for as long as I can remember. I had to. It wasn't, oh hey, maybe I'll work. It was, no, you need to go to work and I talk a lot about my first job being at McDonald's which is sort of a fun fact now. I worked all the way through high school, all the way through college. Just had to but by definition my university choices had to be in state just because of [00:11:30] tuition costs and that sort of thing so I went to Florida State University and I think probably there, for the first time, came out of my shell a little bit. I just was surviving a lot in middle school and high school as we had moved so much and I think by university I was actually quite American. I had transitioned from the British schoolgirl into more of an American so I kind of had a grasp on the culture.
It was a [00:12:00] great experience and I just fell in love. What I studied was English, creative writing. I thought I wanted to be a writer and fell in love with words. I had always loved reading and writing and they push you when you do the curriculum. I had to write poetry. I had to write short stories. I had to write haiku. They push you all over the map to kind of figure out what you like and I enjoyed all of it. I was miserable [00:12:30] at poetry. I will tell you straight up. If you want a really good podcast story, my senior year I did poetry as whatever, the 300 or 400 level class on poetry. I got a C the first time in poetry and it was my second poetry class. It was my senior year and at this point there's quite a strain on my mom with supporting me while away at college and that sort of thing so I needed to graduate. It was time to move on [00:13:00] out into the world and at mid year I had a D in poetry.
I called my mom, this is such a good story. I can't believe I'm saying it on a podcast. To this day, we howl about it but this is probably showing you the bond between a mother and her daughter. I called my mom. I said, "I've got a D in poetry." She said, "Oh, no, you don't." I said, "No, I do. Mom, I'm writing stuff all day. I'm trying but there's no Keats coming through me. Nothing's flowing out that makes any sense." [00:13:30] She said, "I don't care what you do to raise that grade to a C, up to and including sleeping with your teacher. Just figure it out." [inaudible 00:13:37]. Here's me on the other end. I'm like, "Did you just ... I just heard you say ... "
She's like, "Wendy, just figure it out." I was like, "All right, done!" I didn't do that, just for the podcast record, but it's a good story that we laugh about. I was very clear where she stood on getting that grade to a C and I did, ethically.
Charles: Setting clear objectives is always helpful, right?
Wendy Clark: [00:14:00] Yes, principally. Yeah.
Charles: That's right. It's always good to know where you stand. You graduated and moved where?
Wendy Clark: I moved to Atlanta because my mother had transferred to Atlanta and I went on the hunt for a job in advertising because I thought I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write advertising and, of course, back in the day we just mailed endlessly paper CVs to anyone who would take them.
Charles: Advertising was the physical place where [00:14:30] you can actually get paid to write. That was your perspective?
Wendy Clark: Yes. Yeah. I mean, I just thought I was clever.
Charles: You knew that.
Wendy Clark: I was quite full of myself. I thought I was clever and funny and I could write and that that surely would manifest in a great career writing for advertising. After I had written my CV and mailed it to no end I actually, and literally, had moved back in with my mom who at this point was like, "It's time to get back on with your life. It's nice to have [00:15:00] you home but, you know, off you go." I emailed, with some desperation, a small ad agency in Atlanta called the Denmark Group who are still in existence today. They actually went through a slight rebranding. They're called Denmark, The Agency now but a woman-owned small, local ad agency some 30 years ago now. They had an opening for a receptionist and I just wanted to get in. I just felt like if I could get in [00:15:30] and get my foot in the door and so I was not at all qualified to be a receptionist. Let's be clear. I hadn't ever done that before but said, "I'll do whatever you want me to," and got the job.
My first job and I can remember to this day walking back home into my house with my mom. I said, "I got a job." My mom said, "That's great. What are you doing?" I said, "I'm going to be a receptionist." She said, "Okay," like, "It's not what I sent you away to school for but okay." I said, "I'm earning $14,000." I remember $14,000 [00:16:00] felt like everything and then I think I promptly followed that with, "And I'm moving out." She's like, "Good luck." Then the rest of that story is that no first dates were turned down after that because I was starving. Anyone who wanted to buy me a meal, I was like, "This will lead to conversation," and second dates become slightly more problematic but first dates, not a problem. I would accept all first dates because I was starving. I don't think I [00:16:30] was that engaging because I was so hungry. I had my head down, I was like ... Oh. The second dates didn't ever really materialize anyway because I was too busy eating but I was starving.
Charles: Did you always think you were clever?
Wendy Clark: No.
Charles: When did that show up?
Wendy Clark: No, I don't think I'm-
Charles: When did that confidence show up?
Wendy Clark: I say that in a sense of probably slight overconfidence in what I thought I could do and I had to work my way up like anyone. I think it was a good knock to go in as the receptionist and that, of course, it's what I love today to be able to [00:17:00] look at an agency of 2,000 people and say, "I've done it." I know what it's like to be in those roles. I've done just about everything from a rank level and it's such good experience.
Ed Whitacre who was the CEO AT&T, long time CEO whom I just adored, his first job, he became the leader of the largest telecommunications company in the world at the time, [00:17:30] before China Mobile went on its roll. He was a pole climber. He had climbed the poles and strung the telecom wires. I think if you have that experience, your empathy within an organization I think is massive and I'm so, so glad that I got that knock.
Charles: It's a big deal, isn't it? [inaudible 00:17:51] who ran Hired for years started as a doorman at Hired.
Wendy Clark: I think it's so important.
Charles: It's really important.
Wendy Clark: So important. Yes.
Charles: How did you move out from behind [00:18:00] the reception desk?
Wendy Clark: The funny thing is I got a big break. They did press releases and advertising. It was like a eight-person agency and they asked me one day to write a press release and I was just thrilled. I wrote the press release and then literally it went back and forth to where by the time they had finished doing the edits on the press release, the only word left that I had written was "the" [00:18:30] and I was like, "Okay, maybe I'm not so good at this writing thing," which then led me to flip to account service so I then became an account coordinator and worked my way up on the account side.
Charles: At the Denmark Group.
Wendy Clark: At the Denmark Group. I didn't stay there long. I was there two years and then had a series of other jobs. I did an internal communications job at a company called Information America which is a early, early gathering of data. They [00:19:00] were buying the government's data, resorting the government's data and then selling it back to the government, essentially, and I did employee newsletters and stuff like that, internal coms there. I think probably the big thing that got me into marketing, as I was not a trainer market by education, was a woman named Linda Smith who had worked at Hitachi and at the Denmark Group she was one of our clients.
She reached out to me about three years after I left the Denmark Group and we had [00:19:30] remained in touch and she was a single mom with a single daughter. That's sort of a recurring theme through my life. I have people who've sort of helped me navigate a network but she was a trained market. She had her MBA from Emory and she was working for this big telecom company called Bell South and they had just moved her to Florida.
She was way more the science side of marketing and less the art and she came back to me and she said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Oh, I'm having [00:20:00] a blast. I'm the director of marketing at some tiny company." I had this massive title, had no business with the title but running around. I think by that time I was earning $35,000. I was like, "Everything is great. Everything's great." She said, "Really? Bell South, they hired me. They've moved me to Florida. I'm running all the marketing for Central and North florida but I need someone to come run my advertising and what would you think about coming to move to Orlando and running my advertising?"
"Orlando [00:20:30] is not my speed. I am in Atlanta. Everything's high speed here, comparatively." She said, "You know what, Wendy. You don't know what you're doing." She literally had a great mentor moment when she said, "You don't know what you're doing. You're 26, 27. You don't know what you're doing. You're having a good run of things here but you don't know marketing and your title is director of marketing and you don't know marketing. If you come do this, my commitment to you will be I'll teach you the pieces of marketing you don't know if you'll do [00:21:00] the pieces that I know that you're good at already." Fortunately enough, I think I had the perspective that she was absolutely right so I packed up and moved to Orlando, Florida.
Charles: You didn't resist that notion at all?
Wendy Clark: No. No because I knew I didn't understand R and D and innovation and pricing and the other piece were quite foreign to me and I knew that either I'd have to go to school and do my MBA or I could do some sort of on-the-job and her, [00:21:30] it was a gift. It was an absolute gift.
Charles: Were you conscious of having an ambition back then?
Wendy Clark: You know, it's funny. I would always describe myself as ambitious but I'm very, don't tell anyone around Omnicom but I'm not that motivated by money. I mean, money comes with things and it's why we do. I sort of lovingly, and I've said it at Coke, I said it at AT&T, I've said it here, half the time I'd show up without a paycheck. I just love what I'm doing. If that didn't exist, [00:22:00] then I wouldn't show up for even more money. You know what I mean? That's where I know my pivot point is. If I don't love what I'm doing, the money cannot make up for it. It's got to be sort of the combination. I've been ambitious to ... I guess have impact more than anything, whatever way that that's possible.
Obviously it varies a little bit differently from what AT&T was doing to Coke to DDB but I like to be part of [00:22:30] something that's a greater whole and want to have impact. That's one of the things I think we said last time was I don't think anyone wakes up any morning and says, "You know, today I'm just going to be average. Today, just shoot it down the middle." I don't get out of bed, you don't get out of bed, we don't get up and go, "I just want to have just a kind of blah, average." No, I want to have a great day every day. I want to somehow say, "Gosh. It was good I got to out of bed today." [00:23:00] That's always been part of my psyche, part of my DNA.
Charles: Did you have ambition to lead?
Wendy Clark: You know, McDonald's actually, I talk endlessly about what a great experience it was at McDonald's. I would have my children work at McDonald's for the experience you get, for the age you are. At 16 years old I was running an entire shift of a restaurant and you learn leadership the hard way that way. I had to deal with customer satisfaction, [00:23:30] cash management, insubordination. It's unbelievable what I was dealing with at 16 years old and it just shaped me. I couldn't have articulated to you in 10th or 11th grade that I wanted to be a leader. You just were and people were counting on you and asking you questions and you had to have answers and they had to be in the moment. You had customers staring at you and lines out the door and suddenly you just do it and then it sort of became a habit once you did it.
Then in college I was a leader in my sorority. [00:24:00] Those things kind of have a knock-on effect. I never went, "I must lead people." It just sort of happened and then I think when I'm around people who I don't think are very good at what they're doing, I sort of naturally go, "Why don't we try it this way?" I'm not so good at holding my piece ...
Charles: It's funny. I talked-
Wendy Clark: ... when I think it could be better.
Charles: I talked to Emma [Cookson 00:24:27] a few weeks ago and Emma said, "I definitely can't sit by [00:24:30] while I need to provide the leadership when nobody else does. Sometimes even when other people do, I still have to do it."
Wendy Clark: I learn something every day, every week. It is both a privilege and a pressure to lead people and I try to always keep that in balance. I learn so much from people. Every pitch, like we were just talking about, every meeting, especially the younger people but [00:25:00] the younger people in our organization who will say, "Would you mind having a coffee?" I'll spend 45 minutes having a coffee with them and I walk way going, "This, this, this, this, this and this." Infinitely useful for me. I think, without question, Roy Spence and Judy [Trobolsi 00:25:22] shaped my leadership, unquestionably. They are ...
Charles: At GSD&M.
Wendy Clark: ... incredible leaders.
Charles: [00:25:30] Where did you go from Orlando?
Wendy Clark: Orlando to Atlanta. I did the Singular launch so that's where I met all your favorites. Susan Cradle and I worked together on the Singular launch the first time I met her and she and I have remained such good, good friends and that was last century. That's how long I've known Susan. Then I went to GSD&M after that so tried agency [inaudible 00:25:56] and, again, probably overconfident. I was 29 [00:26:00] at the time, 29, 30 and they hired me to be the head of account service so it was a $1.2 billion agency, 26 accounts. I had 120 people on the account team. GSD&M was massive back then with Southwest Airlines and Walmart and Land Rover and others.
Charles: Why did they hire for you?
Wendy Clark: Just for a secret moment, let's remember I'd never worked in an agency before other than being the receptionist. This was like a big jump. [00:26:30] They hired me because we all fell in love with each other. In fact, I just texted them this morning. Very, very close with them, very close to this day. Through the Singular pitch, they were part of the pitch, they did not prevail. BBDO won and Susan was at BBDO but I fell in love with GSD&M and we had a values connection. That's something I say a lot now in the agency when we're looking at prospective clients. [00:27:00] If we have a values connection with a prospective client, there's nothing we can't do together. It's the ones we actually don't have values in common with where you're like, "This is going to be hard work and it probably won't be sustainability successful."
I think what I felt with Roy and Judy, and to this day feel with GSD&M and Duff and Marianne who are running GSD&M now, it's a deep connection and values connection. We share the same beliefs and we operate [00:27:30] the same way and what I got out of working there for them was an immersion in how to be ... They are exceptional leaders. I hope to be as good as they are some day but I learned so much and mostly that it takes everyone. We could go on for another podcast on all the Roy-isms that are in my mind. He's not called Reverend Roy for no reason. No one has a corner on the smarts, a great idea can come from anywhere. We ride [00:28:00] at dawn, that relentless optimism and enthusiasm and mostly that you don't have to be smart at the cost of kind. They're among the kindest people I've ever met in the industry and I think, again, that empathy, that humanity, being kind, as Bill Bernbach would say, nice, talented and nice. Not only did they practice it, they refined it in Austin and to this [00:28:30] day that is what GSD&M is.
Charles: That was, to your point, that was a huge job. You're 29 or 30.
Wendy Clark: Yeah, they didn't realize how young I was. That was actually a funny part in the interview process where I was with all of the partners so Tim, Steve, Roy and Judy, GSD&M. No, not the D. Jim [Darlett 00:28:50] wasn't there but Judy was the ampersand. They're interviewing me and they were asking me my career history and I was like, "Well, Bell South and then before that, kind of this, this," and you could see them doing the math [00:29:00] in their minds and they're like, "How old are you?" We were all the way down the path at this point. I'm getting ready to pack and move to Austin, type thing. We've really don't several rounds on this when I told them 29. I thought they about fell out of their chair. They were like, "We hired a 29-year-old to run our account team," but it was fine. It worked. It was great. It was more than fine. It was fantastic.
Charles: What did you think it was going to be when you got there and what did it end up [00:29:30] being?
Wendy Clark: What it ended up being was a great education for me on the agency business. I didn't really understand how agencies made their money. I had negotiated a few contracts at that point between Bell South and Singular but I'd never really stopped to think about what that model might look like so that was really educational. They sort of inserted me as the head of account service. What I didn't mention is there had never been a head of account service at GSD& [00:30:00] M because it was always the partners and it just had got too big. 120-person account team all reporting to one of the partners, they needed one person. The other thing was there wasn't necessarily a welcoming party like, "Oh, great, great. She's going to come in and go right in between our relationship with you," so it was a really tough assignment from that perspective. Every single of my direct reports was older than I was. No surprise there.
Charles: How many of them were men?
Wendy Clark: It was [00:30:30] probably better than half. Account service tends to have at least reasonable representation of women and back then even I can remember there was a decent, and I got to hire some people. Three years on, we did good stuff. I think we established that there could be this role. We established some great just routines and rhythm of account service. I think that's one of [00:31:00] the things I tend to do when I come into a job is establish routine and rhythm. I think that's sense making. We're going to meet this often, we're going to talk this often. We'll have one-on-ones that look like this. This is what a review might look like. These are some of the things we'll discuss. If we can establish some of those expectations and that rhythm of how often and frequently and when and how we meet, that then kind of creates a, all right, here's a rhythm of our relationship. It's not this sort of amorphous unknown thing. Yeah. Everyone gets a vote on that [00:31:30] but let's agree what the routine [inaudible 00:31:32].
Charles: How do you hold that intention against the pressure of the kind of calendar pressure you or any senior executive has?
Wendy Clark: It's tough.
Charles: Obviously it's one thing to say want to meet every week. See people say that and then it goes out the window because other things. How do you hold that?
Wendy Clark: You have to be willing to do it not face to face, so right now a lot of my engagement with my directs is by the phone, sometimes by email. Brian Nienhaus [00:32:00] who runs our unlimited agency, his rhythm with me is I get a once-a-week email update on a Sunday night because I want it before the next week and it's really long but my commitment is to read it. You type it, I'll read it and I'll respond and we'll engage that way. That's kind of what works for us. Another one of my directs, Rich Guest who runs Tribal, he and I have a standing call at 10:00am on Mondays and wherever I am and wherever he is in the world, we work it out.
It's different rhythms and routines for different [00:32:30] people and then the thing that we've established is a leadership team for DDB North America. We meet once a month which was something that was quite foreign when I got here. I don't think that you can be a leadership team if you're not actually meeting together and talking about the business and charting the business together. We would become very fragmented. With 17 offices you could see how that would just fragment and we'd all be off on different directions so that rhythm was really important to me, that the [00:33:00] leadership team heard one another once a month.
Charles: I know that accountability is one of your important leadership reference points so presumably that's one of the ways that you're able to hold each other ...
Wendy Clark: Yeah, that's right.
Charles: ... and yourselves accountable.
Wendy Clark: That's right. Yeah. Leadership, I think we said it last time, three things for leadership is what mountain are we going to climb? Again, you can have Wendy Clark's view or I think we'll have a much more robust view if it's the leadership team who helps say, "Yeah, that's the mountain. We're going that way and it's that mountain." Then second job is to remove [00:33:30] any barriers or cheer lead along the way. It's like, "Let's go, we're going to do this so let's take the barriers out of the way that are preventing us from climbing the mountain. Let's cheer lead ourselves along when we need it. Let's get a good extra shot of energy at the time when we need it." Those are leadership's job. Then the final thing is did we climb the right mountain, right? That's the accountability. That, to me, really encapsulates just about everything that a leader should do, vision setting, any acceleration [00:34:00] or enabling of the accomplishment of the vision and then accountability of did we actually achieve the vision?
Charles: Very much so. From GSD&M what was the next move?
Wendy Clark: AT&T which they were our biggest client. That was one of those awkward agency client moments where, and actually just things are so strange, but the client reached out to me on the day before I was going out on maternity leave with my [00:34:30] second child and I was a scheduled C-section so I knew I was going out. He absolutely positively had to have lunch with me my final day, the day before I left and it was going to be 12 weeks of maternity leave. He came out and took me to lunch.
Honestly, the one thing you won't ever believe unless I show you a photo which you'll be aghast. I was enormous when I got pregnant, enormous. It was like a license to eat. I'd have two milkshakes [00:35:00] a day. I love chocolate. I gained 60 pounds all three times I got pregnant and I was 10 pounds heavier than I am now so just envision that for a second, like five chins. Half the time I'd turn around like, "I think the baby's in my ass." It was like I'd sashay down the hall. I was enormous. I cannot tell you how big I was the day before I had Josie.
We're at lunch and I'm all the way back because my stomach's hitting the table and we're eating. He proceeds to launch into this, " [00:35:30] Listen, I wanted to talk to you because I've bene promoted," and his then boss said, "Who's your successor? Who could take your job?" And I said, "You got to go get Wendy Clark at GSD&M." I'm looking at him going, "I'm having a baby in 24 hours. You don't get it. I'm having a baby." He's like, "What do you think?" I'm like, "I'm having a baby, Rick. I can't even process another job. Moving, because we'd have to move to San Antonio." [00:36:00] He says, "Well, just think about it." I'm like, "I'll think about it after I have a baby. I'm about to go through a massive life change."
Long story short, as I did think about it on maternity leave and I had two children then and one that was two years old and one that was a few weeks old. I started thinking about it and I thought, "This is going to be a hard gig on the agency side with two little teeny weeny ones," [00:36:30] because so much of my job at the time was doing the clients' decks and I was very hands-on in the business and helping to lead this very large team and I started to talk to my husband about it and say, "You know, if I was on the client side, then I get to call the agency and have them do my decks and maybe we just kind of take it down a notch for a little while. Maybe we just downshift here and we'll go [00:37:00] to San Antonio. Everything's manageable. Let's just take it back a notch." Jeff Clark thought I was crazy. He's like, "We're going to leave Austin and go to San Antonio. All right. He's sort of tracking with me, not really."
Long story short, we ended up doing it and then the kicker to that story is I start there in August, August 1st, 2004 was my first day at AT&T and by the end of that year Ed Whitacre had announced his intent to buy AT&T [00:37:30] for a $16 billion and overnight became the largest telecommunications company in the world based in San Antonio, Texas. Then we go into this massive rebranding of SBC and then not a year later he announces his intention to buy Bell South in an $86 billion transaction to buy the remaining piece of Singular he didn't own so that he could then have it all and my life was never the same. I've never worked as hard. The agency business looked like [00:38:00] a walk in the park net to rebranding hard hats and trucks and rebranding launch campaigns. We did a $1.2 billion launch campaign for the new AT&T. That all happened and I managed to have another baby so I still had time for sex so that was good. [inaudible 00:38:16] you're not ...
Charles: Well managed schedule.
Wendy Clark: ... working people hard enough. If they can get pregnant, there's some measure of time that you're not working them hard enough. Yeah. I had another baby. JB was born, ironically [00:38:30] enough, on the day, December 29th which was the day of Department of Justice approval on the final transaction on the Bell South transaction so I had a baby and literally, and Suzanne Vernice and I have actually talked about this. I was doing interviews from my bed nursing my baby with Suzanne Vernice on the rebranding. No one ever knew whether I was in a suit in an office or in a bed with a baby. No one knew. [inaudible 00:39:00] [00:39:00] that time is crazy.
Charles: How do you compartmentalize that?
Wendy Clark: You don't. I think that's kind of the fallacy of compartmentalizing. I don't think you can.
Charles: You just blend it together.
Wendy Clark: To me, it's about being present. You and I are together right now. I didn't silence my computer in case your listeners can hear my dinging email. I get it. There's a bunch of emails coming in but you and I are together right now and I'm going to focus on this. I'm not going to worry about what that is. I'll deal with that once you go. [00:39:30] I try to be as present as I can be in the moment and sometimes that means just finely slicing your time into just really focused time. I really, really do try and there are times when I'm not good at it. I'm like anyone. That's why my phone's not here right now. If my phone's in front, you can't help. It flashes. It buzzes. Your attention's naturally drawn. Try to give your attention. What anyone most wants from you, it's what my children want from me, it's what the people who work [00:40:00] for me want from me, it's what my husband wants from me, my friends want. They want your attention.
Charles: Where did you learn that, because that's not obvious to most people?
Wendy Clark: I don't know. I guess by doing it wrong. Most of life's learnings come when you get a D in poetry and you figure out how to fix it. I don't know but I'm really clear on what they want from me.
Charles: I was going to say do you practice being present but how do you become more present? How have [00:40:30] you found that?
Wendy Clark: You do need to get away from your phone. This day, that is the single biggest challenge and I'm as guilty as anyone, in meetings and everything else. I say if it's going or you're expecting something and you're anxious to hear it, you're wondering if that's it. One little tiny thing that I've done with my family, and it is a tiny thing, I admit but I think it helps illustrate to them, I never take my phone in a restaurant with my family.
Charles: [00:41:00] Never?
Wendy Clark: Ever. When I'm with my family, I do not take my phone ina restaurant because I want to be present and these no advertising emergency that is going to happen over a one to one and a half hour period when I'm eating with my family. There's nothing that cannot wait an hour, hour and a half. I don't take it in and if I don't have it, guess what I'm doing. I'm looking up, I'm not looking down. Even if you're really [inaudible 00:41:24] you go, "Oh. Oh, I can't remember, let me just check Google." It now becomes part of our lexicon [00:41:30] of how we actually engage with each other because we can always have all the answers to anything we're talking about. What team won that? What did the and then the phone comes out and so I just don't have it. I don't have it and it's liberating to me. That shows you how bad it is but even in those small moments to not have a phone in a restaurant and look up or look at my family or people watch or whatever, whatever we've doing, that's I think great.
Charles: [00:42:00] You strike me as somebody's who's clearly engaged with other people and generous and caring of other people but also very willing and able to look at yourself and analyze what works and what doesn't. How can I show up in a better way? How can I be [inaudible 00:42:15] the things that matter to me? Is that accurate.
Wendy Clark: You've got to be. Tim Rogers who founded Rogers Townsend, one of our agencies in Saint Louis, he retired last week after 41 years. He started at Darcy. He [00:42:30] and Tom Townsend founded Rogers Townsend, just one of the most wonderful people you'll ever meet in this industry, as smart as he is kind and such a wonderful man. We were talking last week. I got to meet his wife, Mary Beth, for the first time last week at his retirement party. I've known Tim. He used to work for SBC so Tim and I have known each other since last century also. I've never met Mary Beth all these years and he always talks about Mary Beth. I know he's got three [00:43:00] children but I've never met her and finally got and I sort of embraced her last week and I said, "I've heard about you for so long and shame on me that we haven't met before now but it's so nice to meet you."
In the remarks I made at his event, I actually stole words shamelessly from Dan Widen who said these words at Mike Hughes's life celebration. We all know who Mike Hughes is, the founder of the [inaudible 00:43:25] agency who battled lung cancer for about a decade after never smoking [00:43:30] a cigarette in his life. Dan spoke at his life celebration, we weren't allowed to call it a funeral. Dan said, and I'll never forget this, Dan said, "Mike Hughes loved words and his favorite word was Jenny," his wife's name. I borrowed that last week and I gave credit because I love Dan Widen. I said, "Tim Rogers, in the same way, if he had two favorite words would be Mary Beth." It's so [00:44:00] important for us, and I'm coming around to your point, but it's so important for us to recognize other people in our lives who make it possible to do what we do in the way we do it and part of that is a self reflection of ...
Tim and I were having this moment where I said, "You know, Jeff Clark and Mary Beth see us when were not these great people who people love to put on podcasts, right? They see us when we're prickly, when we're difficult, when we're awkward, when we're not our best selves and they help us get better through their love and support and their [00:44:30] endurance with our careers and our decisions and our prickly moments. I think the people closest to you can really hold up that mirror for you and my husband does, my mother does. My mother's the first one to go, "Honey, I saw that press picture. You need to get a haircut. Your hair looks terrible."
No one's going to be more honest with you about when you're good or bad than the people who are closest to you if you choose to listen to them rather than kind of brush them aside. I do try to listen to people who [00:45:00] are close to me. I do try to engage people who work for me and say, "You can tell me a better way to do this," and I do try to listen. I know probably sometimes I don't. Who is born with a corner on the smarts? I certainly don't have all the answers and I fundamentally believe that we're better together, fundamentally believe everyone around me probably has really great ideas if I choose to listen to them and that will shape me and make me better. I am under no [00:45:30] illusion that I'm done growing or developing in any way and I can look at myself just in 18 months of being on this job, where I am now and where I started, and think, "God, I know this. I know this. I had that wrong. I guessed that differently." That's part of the journey.
Charles: What do people not know about you that you think would surprise them?
Wendy Clark: I don't know. I have different color eyes. There's always that one. That's always my stall tactic when people ask me that question so I have a green eye and a blue eye [00:46:00] and Jeff Clark says the green eye gets really green when I'm mad so that's always a key for anyone ...
Charles: That's the tell.
Wendy Clark: ... looking at me like, "She's pissed. The green eye is glowing." What people don't know about me. The thing that I do try to talk to particularly younger women about is the imposter syndrome and I think people look at you and go, "You have no self doubt. There's no voice in your head going, 'You got it all wrong,' or, 'You can't do it.'" [00:46:30] Absolutely, that voice is alive and well inside my head. Shelley [Zalis 00:46:36] and I, last year the girls' [inaudible 00:46:38] did a little talk and this became a refrain that she's now used a lot but I said, "You just got to shut that bitch up. I hear her all day long every day," and part of I think what age does allow you to do is get control of the voice but the voice is there.
I think people often kind of go, "You're confident. You have no doubts." I [00:47:00] have massive doubts. I told you, don't look at my cuticles because I'm so nervous about that pitch that we did. I have massive doubt. I have massive moments of insecurity or lack of confidence. I think it's what you do in those momenta that age kind of helps you with and experience helps you with to not let them take over you but just get control. Listen to them, shape yourself a little bit in that moment and then move forward but they don't paralyze me anymore. [00:47:30] Perhaps they did when I was younger but I think people think I'm more confident or not filled with doubt than I actually am.
Charles: I often find that, [inaudible 00:47:42] I think you're absolutely right. We're all caught up in those moments, aren't we? The thing that I find most helpful, certainly personally, is the sense of trying to achieve something that's more important to me than this fear or inhibition that I'm struggling with. Does that resonate for you?
Wendy Clark: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. The thing you don't want to do, obviously, [00:48:00] is let people down. As their leader, and again, the privilege and the pressure of being a leader, the last thing you want to do is to let them down. Again, I got to give Roy credit on this because Roy, I learned the hard way in going into pitches with them and there were one or two that we knew we couldn't win that we were defending or something at the time. I can remember him afterwards literally calling us all together and saying, "I failed you [00:48:30] because I took us into a battle that we really had no chance to win." That's the leader's responsibility to make good decisions and I feel that pressure.
Across the summer, people have postponed vacations, they've canceled vacations. They've worked nights, they've worked weekends, they've missed sunny glorious days. We're making those decisions and you're thinking, "Did I make the right call?" [00:49:00] You are doing it for that grasp at something bigger. This is why I'm at DDB and why I love this particular opportunity is there's so much potential here. Potential's my favorite word, bar none. Potential's my favorite word in the dictionary and there's so much potential at DDB and [00:49:30] I just, I stay up all hours of the night thinking about ...
I always say if you could look at my ceiling above my bed, everything I want to do is written up there with my eyes. [inaudible 00:49:41] if we move this here and do this here. I'm constantly thinking about it because it's like a Rubik's cube to me and I know there's a series of turns and twists and shifts that we're going to have to make but the end could look perfect. I know it could and that's what gets me. I just love that [00:50:00] and I love that people think it's not possible. I love that people do think it's possible. I love the to'ing and the fro'ing of it, the changing the wheels while the bus is driving of it. That's particularly difficult. We're still part of a publicly traded company. We still have to make quarterly results while we're trying to have a long term vision to make change. The complexity of it is what makes your brain work hard. If it was easy, I wouldn't be here. It wouldn't be interesting [00:50:30] to me.
Charles: You've had a number of really senior leadership positions at this point. When you walk into a new leadership position, are there themes that constantly show up for you or do you find that every challenge is specific and unique to that? What do you find is the challenge you have to overcome when you walk into a position like this or the position you took at Coke?
Wendy Clark: Up until this one, I think [00:51:00] they were all relatively similar from the fact that I wasn't necessary. They were like I was sort of outlined in at GSD&M where they're like, "Oh good, a new person we didn't want." At Coke, by the way, it sort of felt very similar. It was like there was sort of this we'll just outlast her thing.
Charles: We don't need her. What's she doing here?
Wendy Clark: I was external. I wasn't from packaged goods. [00:51:30] There were all sorts of stripes that were missing from me at Coke which was why Joe [Trapote 00:51:34] hired me and he kept say, "I want someone entirely different." The thing that I've actually talked about quite a lot was there was buzz in the halls that the reason I got the job was I was a woman. He didn't have any female direct reports and it was quite well known that he was looking for a woman so I had that going against me. It was like, "Well, she's a services marketer. She's not a packaged goods market. She's not been in Coke. She doesn't really and she only got the job because she's a woman. We'll just outlast [00:52:00] her."
Charles: Did you feel there's any truth to that when you took the job?
Wendy Clark: Probably. I didn't care, though. I love that. The best thing you can do with me, the very best, broadcast to all competitors, is underestimate me. I will find 48 hours in a 24-hour day if you underestimate me. It is just the fuel I need and I talk about that a lot. I went to the BCU brand center and spoke there and said to students, "Don't let [00:52:30] people underestimating you defeat you. Let it fuel you. It is singularly the best fuel you can have is when someone says you can't. Just tell me I can't and everything in me wants to prove you wrong."
Charles: Where do you think that came from?
Wendy Clark: I don't know. Who knows where all this came from? It's crazy. Crazy woman. Definitely, I think about my childhood just being so atypical. It's not atypical [00:53:00] now but in the '70s divorce wasn't quite as prevalent. I was definitely the more unusual one, being the kid with the single parents and trading houses on weekends and stuff like that. I think just being made to feel like you don't fit in and then just making yourself like, "Watch me go, watch me go." Yeah, I don't know. I never played sports so I don't have that kind of thing. [00:53:30] My husband was an athlete and I can see, and my children are. I can see that sport and competitive thing coming there. I didn't so I didn't get it from sports but I definitely have it. I'm unhealthily competitive. It's not healthy but I admit it. I guess it's good if I admit it.
It goes back to the puzzle, though, the competition. In that Coke moment, it just [00:54:00] became like I wanted to prove obviously that I was there for reasons other than they thought. It's like a good story. You have to have an enemy or a foil and that became my foil ...
Charles: You need tension.
Wendy Clark: ... and my enemy. That was my tension.
Charles: Yeah, you need a natural tension.
Wendy Clark: Totally. Yeah. Seven and a half years at Coke. It was awesome.
Charles: You said that walking in here was different. It felt different to you [crosstalk 00:54:30] completely different standpoint.
Wendy Clark: Walking in here was different because [00:54:30] Chuck recruited me for a year for this job so it was not a slam dunk. I had to be quite persuaded and when he called me at first I was like, "You are crazy." We had a drink here in New York and he's like, "What do you think?" I was like, "I think you're crazy." At the time I was on sabbatical doing that one political stint that might have been reported on and so I wasn't even at Coke. I was away [00:55:00] from Coke. I'm like, "Look, I'm not even at the job where I could even ... I got to go back to the job before I can contemplate doing this." Anyone who knows Chuck knows he's really persistent. He's like a dog on a bone. When he gets an idea about something, he can be pretty relentless.
He literally every trip I'd find that Anne had put something on my calendar with my assistant at Coke like, "Oh yeah, you're having breakfast with Juan Carlos," or, "You're meeting Amir," or, "You're having something with Keith." I'm like, "Why are all these DDB meetings [00:55:30] keep showing up on my calendar every trip to New York?" Cam, I met with Luis McGowan. He just kind of brought the network to life for me through a series of meetings and then suddenly sort of 10 months in I was like, we sort of have a thing here. I didn't mean to have a thing but now I've got a thing and John Wren and I met which was one of the funniest stories, too, was meeting with John because we couldn't be seen together for obvious reasons.
We met at the Dream Hotel which is probably the most [00:56:00] unlikely place that you'd find John [inaudible 00:56:05]. Chuck really is like, "We got to think about somewhere where no one would recognize that the two of you were together." The Dream Hotel, that'll do it. That will do it, Chuck. The Dream Hotel. That's where John and I met which was a great meeting and John was fantastic. The thing that I've said repeatedly in the last 18 months was everything that Chuck and John told me would be the cast was the case. They have not [00:56:30] failed me, backed off anything, reneged. They have only said, "Run as fast as you can. We got you. We're right behind you." I have felt that confidence from Omnicom every step of the way which I think is a lovely thing to be able to say.
Charles: Absolutely. We'd be remiss if we didn't touch at least briefly on the issue of diversity. I know we talked about this in our webinar but I just want to come at it from a slightly different perspective. How do we fix the [00:57:00] issue of diversity from your perspective? There's a lot of people who are raising the issue, justifiably and correctly. How do we fix it? If we've got, what is it? 11% of the creative leadership in the advertising industry are now women, that means that 89% are men. How do we change that ratio? What are the practical steps?
Wendy Clark: I think there are probably, like anything, like the resurgence of DDB in North America, there are hundreds of things we've got to do. If there were five [00:57:30] things we all would have done the five things, it's so clear to me. There are hundreds of things we've got to do. I think most specifically what I'd love our industry to just take a minute. I'm reading Tom Friedman's "Thank You For Being Late" and he talks about pausing. Let's just take a pause for a second and just get off the treadmill on saying the right things around diversity inclusion. Pause and have a think about what we want to do and really have a deep think.
The thing I would say [00:58:00] off the bat, if I had a magic wand tomorrow it would be that the top, whatever, you can mark your number, 20, 25, 30, 50 agencies, if we just got in a room for a couple of days and each were tasked to bring five of our best practices, three of our best practices and share those, you'd have a slit of 100 things very quickly that you can immediately start doing on diversity inclusion. It is, like I said, it's [inaudible 00:58:28] the things. Yes, the pipeline has to be better. Yes, [00:58:30] we have to require that for any open position there is always a diversity candidate that is considered. Yes, we have to make sure that we're equally paying and promoting and training all candidates in our company. Yes, we have to create cultures that feel inclusive and welcome people's individuality and uniqueness. We can go on. It's yes, yes, yes, yes.
We have become I think slightly intimidated to report [00:59:00] on the facts of our agencies because of some of the headlines that are out there and I think until we get to sort of a more transparent and open dialog on this, here's my starting point. I'll tell you exactly where we are on this and I know everyone else has measured this so how do we move forward together and create systemic change, ecosystem level change rather than individual? A win or a victory for DDB, at the cost of just taking someone else's diverse candidates and now systemically [00:59:30] looking at this and saying, "How do we take a shift, a step change in the industry?" I think we're going to be running around in circles a bit and I don't think that we're getting to the root of ... The pipeline isn't there. We're not promoting and advancing and training well enough inside our own agencies. We're not driving enough accountability so that we can see year over year improvements.
As one market, when I was at Coke I led the women's [01:00:00] leadership council there, in the final years that I was there, and when I joined the council I didn't lead it from the beginning but I did by the end. When I joined the council when I first joined Coke, we were at about 19% representation of women in what was called senior management positions. When I left, we were at 32% in six years, seven years. That is significant change. Now, what we did was, number one, we had sponsorship from Muhtar, the CEO at the time. This was his council so leadership was serious about [01:00:30] it. If we got serious with leadership being serious about this in the industry, you can create change. We had to read out. The accountability was driven into people's performance reviews and their bonuses. If we don't make this change, if you don't move more women into leadership roles, this will affect your ...
You can absolutely do this but I think when we're doing it in isolation ... I'm determined that we're going to make progress at DDB but I think the advancement could be much faster and, again, [01:01:00] a step change and ecosystem impacting if we did it as an industry. That's ...
Charles: I think that's true.
Wendy Clark: ... [inaudible 01:01:08].
Charles: The other quick thought, before we wrap, that I'd like to get your point of view on is it struck me it can, actually, listening to a lot of these conversations, that there are really two fuel sources for every creative business. One is where companies get money from, clients, customers. The other fuel source is talent. I wonder what would happen [01:01:30] if, when we hired people, we made part of their development program the responsibility for them to hold leadership accountable for creating the kind of environment that that kind of diversity represents. In other words, I don't want to work at a company that is not diverse. You make this company diverse or I'm leaving.
If the talent themselves were charged with becoming a bigger voice and bigger advocates for that environment, I think companies would respond because [01:02:00] watching General Mills at the talent [inaudible 01:02:02] talent conference last year say, "We have become culturally representative. We are in Minneapolis and we've been able to do it." When they charge agencies, suddenly agencies figure out how to do it because their revenue stream is threatened. Threatening ourselves with the things that are important to us, I wonder whether if we started to catalyze that, whether we'd actually create change that would help us in the long run as well.
Wendy Clark: I would like to do it and I think absolutely but I think it's got to be part of still one conversation. I think when we get too uneven on the legs of the stool [01:02:30] or get an overdeveloped muscle and actually that muscle gets bigger and bigger but we don't solve the whole piece of it but I think, absolutely. Why wouldn't we have talent represent themselves and voice themselves? In a microcosm way we've tried to do that at DDB where people can absolutely feed back. We have the annual employee surveys as you'd expect but I've read every single verbatim from each one of the 17 agencies and that has helped me and it's thousands [01:03:00] and thousands of comments but that, more than the score, and the fact that I've told everyone I am going to read every one of these so if you comment, I'm going to read it to really get people commenting and feeding back.
The other thing we do every week is I broadcast to the whole agency network every Monday at noon, wherever I am, on Zoom platform where they can ask me questions. It's like they're not practiced or they get to just hit up and I have to answer on the spot. I think that vulnerability [01:03:30] and-
Wendy Clark: Honesty, right. How could it be any other way? If I'm not willing to do it, how could I ask my leaders to do it? There's sort of a natural connection in that but that's been a place of great discussion about this where we get questions many weeks or we'll drive the topic when it's a sharp topic of discussion in the industry. We'll use that forum to be open, to convey our point [01:04:00] of view. Obviously the Monday after Charlottesville, that was one of the harder broadcasts I've had to do. I felt as broken as anyone else and how do you try and make sense of that for an organization? The privilege and pressure of leadership says you have to. How can I convey some confidence to our team that, on our watch, that no one with any ideology that matches remotely what we saw would ever enter the walls of DDB, wouldn't [01:04:30] ever be accepted, would ever sit unchallenged from us. Those are the things I think you have to be 100% clear on in the moment.
Charles: If there was going to be an industry wide conversation, convention I guess almost, who or what would be the catalyst for that? What would be the central force behind making that happen?
Wendy Clark: I think we do a lot of conventions and I think we do a lot of events and I think that's actually, [01:05:00] there's a ...
Charles: Yeah. Wrong word, probably.
Wendy Clark: Right. I think that's actually kind of the problem. It's like, "Oh, come to the ... "
Charles: No, I agree.
Wendy Clark: " ... X, Y, Z women's conference [inaudible 01:05:06]."
Charles: What's the unifier for [inaudible 01:05:07] who does it?
Wendy Clark: I don't know. Maybe you're asking me a rhetorical question. To me, it would be an absolute sleeves up session. There's no glory. It's going to be a windowless ...
Charles: There's no award at the end.
Wendy Clark: ... conference room. There's whiteboards everywhere and our sleeves are up and we break the back of it. It's hard work. It's not-
Charles: It's people at your level.
Wendy Clark: I think it [01:05:30] has to be.
Wendy Clark: Yeah because you have to come with the ability to put your numbers down, put your PNL down, bear your soul here to say, "We've tried this, this and this. This worked, this didn't. Here's how much it cost. Here's what the results were. Here are the results off my employee survey. Here's what my team are saying." I think you got to kind of bear that forward where we can find the connections with one another and go, "Interesting similarity. We tried this and we did this."
Charles: If you can [01:06:00] get 10 companies in the room to start with ...
Wendy Clark: I'd love it.
Charles: ... it'd be amazing. I like to wrap with my quick ...
Wendy Clark: I like to rap, too.
Charles: ... take.
Wendy Clark: Some call me Drake.
Charles: You do it so well. I like to wrap each episode, I should say, with an attempt to summarize the three themes that I've heard that I think make you successful so I'll take a crack at that and you can tell me whether you think I'm right or wrong.
Wendy Clark: That's very flattering.
Charles: The first obviously, and you've talked about this actually, [01:06:30] is the fact you're present and that you're hyper connected when you're in the room and when you're in the situation. Everything else sort of falls away. I think you have that ability to make people feel like they're really important and that's very powerful, I think. The second is I think, I don't know whether you would describe it this way but it strikes me that you have essentially a leadership philosophy. You're very consistent in the way you talk about leadership and the things that you measure. We haven't talked about Sun Tzu today. We have in the past but you're consistent about that.
Wendy Clark: He's lurking out there in the background.
Charles: He's around.
Wendy Clark: He's always there.
Charles: [01:07:00] Your three principles of leadership, I think it's always fascinating to me to hear people espouse things consistently and say the same things today that you did months ago so I think that's powerful. Third, I think is just your generosity. The fact that you're willing to have this conversation or the fact you're willing to engage and listen to other points of view from wherever they come I think is really powerful. Do those resonate with you?
Wendy Clark: They sound like really kind things that you're saying about someone I would seek to be but, yeah.
Charles: [01:07:30] I'm pretty sure you are.
Wendy Clark: That's kind. It's a journey. I think that's the one thing I'd always want to say to people. There are days I get it right and I go, "Oh, that's kind of good. I got it kind of right today," and then there are days I get it miserably wrong. I'm like, "God, I'd like to reboot that day," but we're human and I think that as long as we can own those moments and recognize when we didn't get it perfectly right and, gosh, own it and adjust, then it's good. Yeah. I hope to be as you say.
Charles: Perfect summary. Wendy, [01:08:00] thanks so much for being here.
Wendy Clark: Thank you. Thanks. It's always fun.