Source: Little Black Book
The CEO and founder of IdeasXMachina Group, part of Hakuhodo, and country CCO on growing up inside a prison compound, being the person he needed when he was a kid and living on a rice farm
LBB> I read an article where you said you were ‘practically raised by prisoners’, tell us more…?
Third> Yup, that’s why I’m very comfortable dealing with the toughest customers.：D
LBB> Speaking of your early years, what was life in Muntinlupa like and how much did creativity play a part in your life?
Third> In a tough environment you need to really outsmart your circumstances. I learned to be ultra-independent and to gun for your dreams.
LBB> You studied Integrated Marketing Communication at the University of Asia and the Pacific, what was this like and how did it drive you to take a role in advertising?
Third> “Marketing” to my mind was the closest thing to “making commercials” so I took this course. I loved coming up with “crazy ideas” already even back then. The university has an excellent “on the job training” with real big agencies and companies. I was assigned to McCann. The rest is history.
LBB> What lessons from your early years stand out to you?
Third> Know your audience. Find your unfair advantage with them.
LBB> Tell us about the employees that make up IXM.
Third> They’re a creative bunch of people with a big chip on their collective shoulders. We are used to working so many things at the same short span of time all while keeping the quality of the work high, the energy in our bodies and the cheerfulness in our hearts. We’ve embraced the grind and that’s why I think these IXM people are going to be quite wealthy someday. Whether they’re still in IXM or somewhere else. IXM is a teaching agency.
LBB> I love all of the benefits there are at the agency, including the ‘date your parents’ initiative and breakup leave…tell us more about why this is important to you?
Third> I don’t like talking about these things anymore because it’s attracting the wrong talent prospects. It’s just an internal thing now, a way to make sure our people don’t fall in love with advertising. Ah, now that’s something we can discuss lengthily.
LBB> What advice do you have for youngsters joining the creative industry now?
Third> Grow into the person you needed as a kid. And listen to the Freaknomics podcast.
LBB> Where does your creative inspiration and motivation come from?
Third> From my handy dandy notebook. Err… I mean, iPhone Notes. I’m in the practice of writing down ideas I encounter in movies, things I read, or people I talk to. For example, just a few days ago I was chatting with a farmer (a real one, seasoned and hardened by years of squeezing the land) under the shade of bamboo. I offered him a sip of my coffee, which was brewed, as his coffee was 3-in-1 the instant kind. I said this (mine) was “real coffee”. Then he asked back “Why, what IS real coffee?”
If his beverage is warm, gives him a kick that lasts him enough, and allows him to sit back a few moments before going at it again—which is exactly what my coffee does to me, right, he confirmed—then what makes me say his coffee is less real than mine? I have a feeling I’ll be able to use this insight sometime in the future.
LBB> As CEO of the agency, what has it been like leading your team through this period of uncertainty?
Third> Honestly… easier. People look up to and rely upon the leadership more in times of uncertainty. They get their cues from me. I had to really do my job well, and be the opposite of uncertain. I think that’s the most important, to be decisive in this time. I may make a mistake but even my mistakes are intentional!
LBB> Outside of work, who is Third? What passes your time?
Third> I am a weekend Rice farmer. I bought a small piece of land with my earning and savings and, thanks to the pandemic and a strong WiFi I conduct my advertising business from the discomfort of my Rice paddies.
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