Darren McKinon’s clients and colleagues love him, as evidenced by his winning the Media Owner Rising Star Award at this year’s MOST Awards. Entrepreneur chatted to him about putting clients first, focusing on achieving your goals, and always staying positive.
The MOST awards are voted for by the media industry. What does it mean to you to be voted Rising Star?
This was a goal I set for myself three years ago. To achieve this accolade is confirmation for myself that if you set your mind on something, anything is possible. It’s particularly important to me that my clients voted for me, because it means I’m consistently delivering on my promises and commitments.
I’ve built up long-standing client relationships over many years and at all levels. I believe you need to be willing to put your client’s challenges ahead of your own agenda, and to understand what really matters to their business. This is the key to building partnerships and trust.
What is your business ethos, and how has this impacted the way you operate, and how your industry, clients and colleagues view you?
Teamwork, humility, perseverance, and a whole lot of fun along the way. Whether I’m in a client meeting or at the office with my team, I’m the same guy. Being real is crucial. In business and life, people see through the BS.
I’ve always believed that you can get absolutely anything you want by going about it the right way.
Winning should never be at the expense of something or someone else. You should always have a sense of humour. This has worked well for me – if you’re having fun, not only does your best work come out, but people relate to you that much more.
If there’s one key lesson I’ve learnt, it’s that making people feel at ease is an important part of any negotiation and a crucial start to building a real relationship.
But the real magic lies with your team – surround yourself with the most dynamic people you possibly can, give them the tools to do what they do best, and then get out of their way. I have the best team in the industry, and I’m privileged to work with them on a daily basis.
What is your productivity mindset, and how does it promote effective and efficient work?
Make time for yourself and be selfish about it. This comes at a price as it means unplugging, switching off or tuning out. Work never ends, so manage yourself and your time in order to commit 100% of your focus to the task at hand.
Being connected has massive advantages, as everyone has access to information. This greatly benefits productivity as long as it’s used responsibly.
In general, my mindset is extremely positive – even on bad days. Having a great attitude is a fundamental force in driving productivity and achieving positive results. It’s also infectious. I surround myself with positive people. Time is too precious for negativity.
How important is a personal brand?
It’s a double-edged sword. Your personal brand is everything, but should never be the driver or reason for why you are doing something. It’s the by-product of doing something meaningful and being honest and real.
Building your personal brand takes time, and time means consistency. If I could sum it up in one word, your personal brand is trust. And be humble in your wins – it’s almost never a solo effort.
What does success mean to you?
Balance. It’s not a destination. You’ll never arrive at ‘success’. Instead, I focus on being present in everything I do, and enjoying the ride.
If I’m at work, I’m committed, driven and focused. When I’m with my family, they get all of me. Put everything you have into what you’re currently doing and you won’t go wrong.
What’s the most exciting thing currently happening in the advertising and media world?
The fact that everyone has a voice. Consumers have taken the lead and brands are being forced to listen, change and adapt. I get to be an important part of that for a variety of different brands. Every day is new, challenging and unpredictable. I love it.
Out of Home (especially Digital OOH) is changing the media landscape, and allowing synchronisation and synergy between all other media types to take place. It’s forcing everyone out of their media bubble, to understand what clients are needing in the bigger media picture, and ultimately connecting with consumers on a more meaningful level.
I’ve witnessed huge innovation in the OOH space during my time in the media industry, from classic to digital OOH, mass reach to activations and experiential marketing. OOH has become both a mass reach, high impact media platform, as well as an interactive, experience-building opportunity for all audiences.
What big changes do you see on the horizon that you believe your industry peers should be keeping an eye on?
The answer has to be digital, but it’s in the way it’s applied. Digital allows for a more relevant, in-the-moment interaction that should lead to more meaningful connections, but I don’t yet see enough brands using digital for these reasons.
Some brands are getting it right, and understand the synergy between platforms in order to engage with their consumers at various times throughout the day and in the right way. They understand consumer mindsets and plan their campaigns and communications accordingly.
Digital has played a big role in the fragmentation of media, which is often used as a negative term.
Instead, this fragmentation, or niche opportunities as I’d prefer to call them, has allowed for far more meaningful and personal connections.