CommonSense Blog

Interview with W2O Group CEO & Chairman on What Makes Us Tick

By Aaron Strout | Jul 01, 2013

A few times a year, there are certain publications that do annual directories (and sometimes rankings) of key players in the areas our company cares about — marketing, healthcare, technology, PR, etc. Here at W2O Group, those outlets include the likes of AdAge, PRWeek, Holmes Report, O’Dwyers and MM&M among many others. To that end, while we don’t get too hung up on where we are ranked, we do like to take a step back and “smell the roses” as our CEO and Chairman, Jim Weiss mentions in one of his answers below.

In light of the recent MM&M listings where the editors provided a review of their top 100 agencies (we are on page 184), I sat down with Jim and to ask him a few questions about the past, present and future of our firm:

  • [Aaron] Jim – we’re in our 12th year of being in business. Rewinding back to your early days of just a few of you working out of a single office in NYC, did you ever imagine that you’d be leading a nearly 400 person agency with 7 offices in the U.S. and London?
    [Jim] Well, it was actually only a few folks in San Francisco not New York City when we started over a decade ago — New York only came online as an office around 2005 or so in the second bedroom of Hala Mirza’s New York apartment — and no, I actually envisioned 350 people or so.  So, we are now beyond what I had imagined it to be and will now be working off a next 5-year strategic plan which doesn’t look all that different from the one from the prior 5 years. 
  • [Aaron] What is the one thing that gets you up every day in the morning?
    [Jim] My family and the promise of a new day.
  • [Aaron] What’s the one thing that keeps you up at night?
    [Jim] Real Housewives & MadMen episodes. But in all seriousness… it’s usually about feeling I or we are falling behind in some way vs. Going and staying ahead.  I have a great fear of becoming obsolete or irrelevant.
  • [Aaron] From whom do you get your inspiration?
    [Jim] Anyone who gives it their all all the time usually against the odds or expectations.
  • [Aaron] Seeing where W2O Group falls in the rankings or learning that we’ve made it onto the listing of the top 100 agencies in publications like MM&M every year serves as reminder of the progress you’ve made. Do you use these opportunities as motivation?
    [Jim] Actually the listings/rankings are a “stop and smell the roses” opportunity for all of us to step back and see the bigger picture accomplishments versus day to day minutiae and fire drills.  I am fortunate to sit in a place where I get to see the whole organization and the many ways we have gone ahead, especially in the last few years, where the change and accomplishment has accelerated and compounded more rapidly and markedly than ever before.
  • [Aaron] You’ve talked a lot about building the agency of the future that focuses on delivering “next practices” to clients. What’s next in this evolution for the firm?
    [Jim] Combining the power of our data-driven insights with automated marketing in the cloud with our human expertise and talents as the way the world does business changes.  I feel our business purpose going forward is to help corporations, organizations and brands evolve the way they do business and relate to customers and constituents in the modern digital age driven by mobile and online media.  Integration and collaboration are now the keys to our future with the same goal of becoming the best in the industry at what we do.  We will do this by hiring the best people, doing the best work and working with the best clients as well as through education, thought leadership, flawless execution, co-innovation with our clients and taking calculated informed risks where we fail and learn fast.
There you have it. Inspiring words from Jim Weiss, leader of W2O Group (parent of WCG, Twist and Brewlife). Lots more to come over the coming weeks. We hope you’ll join us in our brief “smelling of the roses.”

You can acces PDFs here of our listing on MM&M and Jim’s recent write up on PRWeek’s Power list.