A conversation with David Anders
David recently joined Javelin to lead business development and strategic alliances. We sat down together to discuss what’s on his mind and to learn more about what keeps him energized outside the office.
What drew you back to Javelin?
More than ever, clients need help creating meaningful experiences for people that drive business results. They’re inundated with too much data, too many tools and too many platforms. And, frankly, too many agencies that focus on themselves more than on solving client business problems. I believe Javelin is uniquely positioned to make a difference for clients. Javelin has data-driven marketing, technology and analytics woven into its DNA. Its creative focus is squarely on impacting human behavior through relevant storytelling — in whatever form and delivered through whatever mechanism. So Javelin is particularly adept in giving clients confidence in their marketing investments by creating work that works — and proving it. On top of all that, there’s a personality and evolving culture within the agency that’s based on confidence, humility, acting like a family and having fun. Put all of that together and I truly believe there’s no better time to be at Javelin and to do what we do. The world needs to know it and I’m thrilled to get to share the message.
What do you most want clients and colleagues to know about you?
I believe we’re at the most exciting time in the history of marketing and advertising. We have both an unprecedented opportunity and an unprecedented responsibility to blend art, code and math in ways that create great experiences for people — ones that provide a fair value exchange between humans and brands.
We can’t do it on our own, though. Agencies don’t succeed or fail on their own. All good things are born from good, trusting relationships — with both clients and partners. When we focus solely on what customers need and then how we can work together quickly to change behaviors, bring down barriers and solve big problems, that’s when the best work happens. Too often we get hung up in worrying about roles and swim lanes and internal objectives. I believe so strongly in forming partnerships based on respect, openness, sharing and a sense that we’re in it together. Relationships create magic.
What do you want to accomplish in your first 90 days?
I’m most focused on establishing new relationships while also reconnecting with my former Omnicom colleagues and friends. I’ll be on the road with the intent of sharing the Javelin story and listening for ways to legitimately help clients and partners.
What’s one thing we should know about you?
I believe our very best work comes out of having fun and not taking things too seriously. Don’t misunderstand — business is serious and our approach has to always be smart, disciplined, agile and supercompetitive. But when we have fun, we tend to relax. And when we relax, creativity thrives and ideas flow more naturally. If we’re not laughing, we’re doing something wrong.
What is key to winning business — and keeping clients satisfied and wanting more?
It’s the same now as it’s always been — listening well and doing the right thing. The pitch process is often convoluted with complexity and protocol. The key is about reading between the lines and taking the time to try to figure out what the client really needs — not just what they say they want. When we show that we’re not only capable of answering the “ask,” but also of bringing value to clients in unexpected (but pertinent) ways, success usually follows. The same holds true in day-to-day life after a win. Sometimes we get caught with our heads down, doing the work, and thinking that the client will stay happy as long as we answer the brief and deliver on-time and on-budget. But the relationship inevitably takes a turn when we lose focus on what’s ahead, the very real seen and unseen threats facing our clients’ businesses and how they can stay ahead of the curve. So we have to do both equally well — prove that we can deliver well and that we have a vision for where to take the business.
Right-mindedness — wishing to always do what’s right and behaving that way — is another critical attribute. That means always telling the truth. That means having hard conversations. That means admitting when we’re wrong. And, sometimes, that means saying that we’re sorry.
And we mustn’t undervalue the importance of being likable people to work with. Every seasoned search consultant will tell you that clients want to hire an agency they actually like. They want a true sense for who the people are, whether they like and respect each other, and what it’s going to be like working with you after the decision is made. So things like agency culture and pitch team chemistry really, really mater. We have to be obsessed with maintaining a culture that people believe in and compete to be part of — because clients are people, too, and they can sense the vibe.
When you’re not working, what do you most enjoy doing?
I have two daughters and I love watching them do the things they enjoy. Whether gymnastics or art or simply jumping on the trampoline, I enjoy watching them have fun and develop new skills.
On my own, my favorite times are when I’m standing next to an ocean or running on a trail or listening to music (ideally all at the same time).
Favorite travel destination?
OK, this sounds like an oxymoron, but my favorite place in the US is a tiny little spot on the far southwesternmost tip of Washington state called Cape Disappointment. The area was named Cape Disappointment by English Captain John Meares after unsuccessfully searching for the Columbia River. But what the place lacks in a tourism-worthy name, it makes up in awe-inspiring ocean views, fern-covered forest floors and the most wonderful solitude-satisfying yurts. When I need a break and time for deep reflection, that’s my place. My heart is there.
Top 3 things on your bucket list?
I don’t maintain a bucket list per se, but there are all kinds of things I’d like to learn, places I’d love to go, things I’d love to do. Things like:
• Learn to play the blues harp
• Fill my passport with new destinations, starting with Europe and South America
• Take art classes (emphasis on drawing, sculpting and glassblowing)
• Experience weightlessness
I believe music is the most moving and magical combination of creativity, mathematics and technology. No other form of art has the power to unite people, make you feel invincible in one moment and move you to tears the next. Music serves as an adhesive for lifelong memories and is equally powerful consumed alone or with a group.
I love music of all kinds, with the exception of anything country from 1980 to the present. My defaults are electronic (breakbeat, specifically), hip-hop and rap, but I also love the blues, indie rock, jazz and classical. Favorite artists include Tupac, Nirvana, Chopin, Foo Fighters, Public Enemy, Billie Holiday, LL Cool J, Prince, Michael Jackson, Hall & Oates, Beck and A Tribe Called Quest.
Among my favorite possessions are my Columbia phonograph and collection of wax phonograph cylinders — the earliest commercial form of recorded sound. It’s essentially the first “printing press” for sound, invented about 450 years after Gutenberg.