In conversation with… Andrew Bloch

We were lucky to get hold of Andrew recently.

He runs a boutique consultancy, meaning his work takes him into multiple different areas. One of them is M&As, helping to buy and sell predominantly marketing services companies. He is also a personal PR advisor, and amongst other things has been Lord Sugar’s personal PR guru for the past 20 or so years.

Despite being so busy in so many areas, he somehow found time to tell us about his favourite brands, his best advice, his first job.

In short, his career story.

And what a story it is.

What was your first-ever job?

I was hungry to work from a very young age. One of the first things I did when I was still at school was to sell timeshares. And it was a really interesting job. If you’ve ever been to a shopping centre, you’ll recognise the sort of free prize draws where you could win a free holiday. Basically, my job would be to take those entries and tell people that they had won and then persuade them to attend a timeshare presentation.

I did it every single school holiday and quickly became the top salesman in the company, going back year after year. I always think it was the best training I could ever have. In any profession, you need to be able to sell and selling timeshares is probably right up there with selling ice to Eskimos.

Who would you most love to share a coffee with / go for a drink with?

I have a genuine interest in people and I always try to meet interesting people. You never know what’s going to come out of it. There are lots and lots of people I admire, particularly in the business and agency world.

But if I was going to narrow it down to one person, I would probably say Banksy.

I’m a real admirer of how he has managed to build infamy in the art world without ever revealing his identity. I find it totally fascinating in a world where people are completely obsessed with fame and personal branding.

Highlight of your career (so far?)

There’s been a lot. The first that comes to mind is when we sold the agency I co-founded in 2000. That was a pretty big landmark for me personally, but also in terms of just the business achievement.

We’ve also won countless awards. I think the ones that meant the most to me were winning Marketing Agency of the Year three times, which no other agency had ever done. We also won a Cannes lion, which was something I’d always dreamt about since I first started in PR.

Nature or nurture?

I think it’s probably a combination of both.  You have to have a certain drive and temperament to do business well, which I think comes from your education and your role models. My parents were big role models for me. They were both really ambitious and entrepreneurial, with a fantastic work ethic – both of them in their own ways. Without hard work, very few people achieve great things.

But then I also think you can develop talent and train people. If someone wants to be successful and achieve, you can help them. A lot of the work I do today is helping individual agencies grow and develop. And that’s about creating techniques that will help them perform to their optimum capabilities.

Best advice you ever heard or received?

Very early on in my career, my dad told me I was wasting my time. You never make money working for someone else, so just do it yourself, he said. I never really understood it as a 22-year-old, but I understand it now.

He also said that when you’re young, those are the years to put in the effort and to take the risk. You don’t have the same kinds of responsibilities – such as a big mortgage or kids to support. With those words ringing in my head, I worked so, so hard. But I found time to play hard too!

What is your favourite brand and why?

I’ve got lots of favourite brands.

I’ve always admired Innocent and have been fortunate enough to work with them as a client for many years. I think a lot of people have now looked and copied their style of marketing, which always feels very, very natural. At Innocent, they talk about it as being professionally unprofessional, and it’s actually a deliberate strategy. I really admire that and I think it’s helped them stand out in a very crowded and competitive market.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn? What failure did you learn the most from?

You can’t just keep doing the same thing again and again and expect the same results. And I believe, in the business world, that if you are standing still, you are actually going backwards. You have to keep moving forward inch by inch, day by day, month by month.

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