The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. – Mark Zuckerberg
In this edition we take a peek into the mind of a digital strategist, a shrewd planner, David Ole (Director of Planning and Insights, Sponge Nigeria) who feeds on insights daily.
The first time I met with David I didn’t need a soothsayer to announce to me that I was conversing with a man living out his interest. His soothing and calm nature quickly projected his ability to see through the needle’s eye. A thinker who tackles every problem headlong with the confidence that there exists a solution,
Having been able to proffer solutions to clients like MTN, Reckitt Benckiser Coca Cola, Diageo, First Bank among others, he provides profound and useful nuggets that has kept him thriving in the industry which I believe would be of great help to you.
Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.
How did you come to develop interest in Strategy and Planning?
I’ve always been passionate about solving problems and was fortunate enough to identify this early in my career which led to my interest in the Marketing and Communications industry. After graduating with a degree in Business Administration, I had a brief stint in Brand Management Consulting before jumping neck-deep into digital. This was very early in the game when the market was still getting used to the idea. I joined the team at Web Liquid as one of the founding members and at the time was on the Client Services team. I was exposed to strategy formulation process and thoroughly enjoyed it which led me to make a case to the business as to why I was a better fit for the strategy unit. They bought the idea and I have never looked back since.
What’s the most challenging and equally exciting project ever handled?
There’s just so much plus more everyday which makes it really difficult to select one. I’ve been privileged to develop strategies across Web, Mobile and Social for some of the biggest brands in the world such as Reckitt Benckiser, First Bank, Coca Cola, Diageo, MTN amongst others. I’m always happy to talk about how we were approached by one of Nigeria’s leading banks to formulate and implement their Social Media strategy. We successfully did this and they went from zero to top three banks within their first three months of engagement. Another exciting one is a Digital Activation designed for Reckitt Benckiser with the objective of connecting with millions of mothers in Nigeria via their mobile device. The local team received global recognition for this. Today, one of my key projects is building valuable connections between brands and content creators.
Do you think creativity is learned or innate?
I think you have to combine both for it to be truly impactful. Yes, there is natural ability but it has to be nurtured either within a formal or informal environment. The ultimate key is continuous learning and improvement.
I’ve always been passionate about solving problems and was fortunate enough to identify this early in my career which led to my interest in the Marketing and Communications industry.
What has been your mantra or guiding principle over time?
Not so much a mantra but three things I hold really close; the first is to think deeply at all times because there’s always a solution/answer – no problem is impossible to solve. Second is to approach every challenge as an opportunity for growth.
Finally, find people that are equally as passionate or perhaps more passionate to collaborate with. It would go a long way in helping you achieve what you set out to do.
As a strategist, how do you get your ideas?
The first step for me is to define what it is I am trying to achieve. Is it a problem that needs a solution or opportunity that needs to be explored? A clear definition is an important step in the right direction. Once this has been done, next would be to get as much context as possible. Is there an audience? You need to find deep human truth – insight. Insight is the trigger that helps you find your road-map.
Your top three most inspiring quotes would be?
This is another challenging one – I’ve probably heard so many quotes, it’s difficult to pick just three. I always reflect and go back to “Start with why” which is a two-edged sword in a way since it’s actually the name of a book and iconic speech by best selling author and speaker, Simon Sinek. All of Muhammed Ali’s quotes are also quite iconic. I consider him one of the world’s greatest speakers. You’ve got to love this one -“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was”.
think deeply at all times because there’s always a solution/answer – no problem is impossible to solve.
What are the skill sets you think a lad interested in strategy and planning should possess?
Planners are logical thinkers with the ability to relate research findings to creative solutions. As such, a mix of analytical and communication skills to present their findings, in addition to marketing and consumer research experience would come in handy. You also need to have strong numerical ability with good data skills. Since teamwork makes the dream work, the ability to work well as part of a team is a plus. Ultimately, I believe the greatest assets for a Planner are curiosity and resourcefulness.
In your opinion, what opportunities lay bare for young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the Digital space?
The world is evolving to an increased reliance on data-driven decision making. My advice would be to explore the value they can provide in this area. Also explore ways to deepen connection between brands and their consumers. Programmatic is going to increase in dominance. Content is going to grow. Consumers will demand less intrusion and more participation in determining how we promote brands. The opportunities are endless. We are all set for an exciting ride.
Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs at the comment box.