What I've Learnt: John Kehoe, CEO of Media Agency Group

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by Charlie Spargo

John Kehoe heads up Media Agency Group as they create innovative national and international multimedia campaigns.

Since taking over from Lee Dentith in 2016, he's seen the company go from strength to strength. In this week's What I've Learnt, John told us about the opportunities he's had, the lessons he's learnt, and the way he gets away from it all.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

The gym. I start each day with a workout and find the release of endorphins first thing gives me energy, motivation and focus for the day ahead.

What's been your luckiest break?

I feel like I’ve been fortunate to have several lucky breaks in life, but I have been extremely lucky to have grown an independent agency and for it to continue to grow year-on-year, competing with the global agencies and weathering challenging times.

We have a great team who all have the same work ethics and values, and who are all driven by creating great work for our clients and their brands. That to me is very lucky!

What's your best failure?

A difficult question. Probably learning and growing from business mistakes.

A bit of a cliché, but if life throws obstacles in the way, it is important to learn and move forward.

What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?

Eight years ago, we decided to relocate our HQ to MediaCityUK, and we’ve never looked back. Manchester is thriving as a creative and media hub and subsequently we have seen an increase of talent relocating to the area, which has been hugely beneficial for us as a business.

We’ve spent both time and money attracting and retaining the best people, so we can offer our clients the finest in the industry and so we as a business, can continue to evolve.

How would you describe your work/life balance?

It’s a juggling act - but all in all, I’d say my work/life balance is pretty good.

The media world is a busy and fast-paced one, but I try to get into the office early and focus on clients/staff and business during working hours and aim to get home for bath/bed/story with my three young kids.  

Each week varies, (especially if I have events, awards or I am working away), but I make a conscious effort to be home for a few hours of family time, and try and get an old-fashioned family meal and catch-up in the weekly schedule as often as is possible.  

Technology allows me to still be connected to our clients and team, even when away from the office.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’ by David Ogilvy. It was written in the 60s by a man who was recognised as the godfather of advertising’. It is a timeless classic and a great read.

The industry has immensely changed since it was written, but it captures the fame and romance of the advertising world (think Mad Men!) and identifies how the core values of looking after clients and managing their and your brand make for great practice in business.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Be much more mindful and enjoy the moment.

The media/ad industry is constantly moving, and we tend to always be looking forward and so focused on the next client win or campaign launch that we don’t take time to take stock of the here and now, and just enjoy what we have achieved.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

My children. My eldest is 10, and as she and my other kids have grown, so has our business. I think you feel a bigger sense of responsibility when you have kids, and you are motivated to strive for so much more to be able to provide, but also to be a good role model.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I live a fast-paced life in the city in the week, and then come the weekend I turn into a bit of a country bumpkin. I love nothing more than being outdoors with my kids and herd of alpacas and chickens - I think there is a bit of a farmer in me! I find living away from the hustle and bustle helps me to switch off and chill out, revitalise my energy and focus for the week ahead.

What does success look like to you?

Success to me is being happy and content in your work. I genuinely enjoy coming into work each day. I love what we do, our clients and our team - who are like one big family. Every day present new challenges but also opportunities - which continually excites me.

I believe if you’re happy in your working world, then that truly is success.