Meet Mike Power, a visionary brand strategist known for ‘Turning Beliefs into Behaviours‘ across North America, Europe, and the Middle East. With a unique and creative mind, he believes in the power of branding and marketing to influence culture and human interaction. Trained and certified in Design Thinking, Mike understands the value of emotional context and connection in driving human behavior. Get ready to be inspired by his innovative approach to brand positioning and strategy!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in your field?
My career journey was a happy accident. Two years out of university, I was still living at home with my parents, working only full-time and being a bit of a slacker – my life was a bit of a constant party and I had no prospects or money.
My parents, understandably, were eager to see me get a job. It was around this time that I happened upon an ad agency during a routine stroll. I remember standing there, taking in the hustle and bustle and thinking to myself, ‘Advertising? I could do that!’
I was a smoker back then. I had a zippo lighter; you know those metal ones with the lid that flicks back and forth and makes that cool retro sound? I had 9-5 etched on the front. The meaning was that I never wanted to live the 9-5 life. I had worked part-time in offices during the summers at school and I had vowed that I would never do that. Yet here I was contemplating going to work in an Advertising office.
And so, it began. My adventure in advertising was anything but traditional, but it allowed me to explore my creative side and lend a voice to various ideas. It’s not always straightforward, it’s not always conventional, but it’s always rewarding. I would soon realize that this was not the stereotypical 9-5 I had imagined in my mind.
This can serve as a reminder that life doesn’t always follow a prescribed path. Sometimes, our careers choose us in the most unexpected moments, and it’s those moments that often lead to the most fulfilling experiences. I am just saying if you are starting out, you don’t have to have it all figured out in advance.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?
Sure, I’ll elaborate a bit more while keeping it concise:
In navigating my career, I’ve come across several challenges. Office politics and power plays were among the first I encountered, a maze I had trouble navigating initially. The financial strain due to the advertising industry’s notoriously slow start in offering substantial salaries was another significant hurdle.
Interestingly, I also grappled with a degree of mediocrity and limited thinking in a field that’s meant to be centered on creativity. There was a noticeable culture of passing the blame, or ‘Blamestorming’, and an undercurrent of egos that sometimes caused friction within teams.
To overcome these, I held steadfast to my values and focused on honing my skills. I learned to deal with the politics, persisted through the initial low-pay phase, and kept pushing my own creative boundaries to rise above the prevalent mediocrity. I made a conscious decision to focus on problem-solving rather than participating in the blame game, and cultivated resilience to navigate around the high-ego scenarios. All these hurdles, in retrospect, have been integral to my professional growth.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout your career, and how have they influenced your approach to leadership?
The essence of what I’ve learned throughout my career could be distilled into two key points: nothing is permanent and there isn’t a fixed, linear path to success. The landscape of life and career is in a constant state of flux, shaped by circumstances that are often beyond our control. Quite paradoxically, my greatest opportunities often sprouted from the most challenging circumstances – a downsizing, a job termination, or a toxic work environment. And while these experiences were difficult, they were also transformative, leading me to better places and teaching me that sometimes, the best-laid plans are those that don’t work out. They pushed me to improvise, adapt, and grow in ways I couldn’t have foreseen.
As for leadership, I see myself as perpetually learning, evolving. Instead of following traditional leadership models, I’ve chosen to adopt an approach of collaboration, of being an instigator of greater imagination and broader visions. I aim to inspire teams to dream bigger, to break conventions, and to overcome their own barriers. I aspire to lead by example, to serve as a living embodiment of the principles I stand for, and in doing so, give others the permission to do the same.
But am I a perfect leader? Far from it. I’d consider myself more of a co-conspirator, a collaborator. My approach to leadership might not fit the classic mold, but it’s an approach I believe in – one that values shared vision, mutual respect, and collective growth above hierarchical structures.
One thing that people don’t know about you?
I am an open book so most people who know me – know all about me. At least I don’t really keep any secrets. Some interesting things about me might be that I am an ex marathon runner – I ran over 15 marathons and qualified for Boston twice. In fact I was running it the year the bombs went off at the finish line and I missed it by 19 minutes. I was in a small scene of the movie Tommy Boy with Chris Farley – the scene at the beginning of the movie at a frat party. I can be seen mingling.
What advice would you give to young professionals or entrepreneurs who are just starting out in your field?
Have fun. Take it only so seriously. Find your joy and the parts of it that excite you and make you feel like you are making a valuable contribution. Do whatever you can to invest in your imagination and creativity – but disconnected from ego and self-importance. In that place you cannot fail. And it will be like you never worked a day in your life. But as this is also reality – always consult rule #22 ‘Don’t take yourself or anything else too seriously’ – we are only here once.
A big thank you to Mike Power for sharing his remarkable journey and invaluable insights with us. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to learn from his experiences and gain valuable knowledge that will surely resonate us. Thank you, Mike, for an outstanding interview!
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