‘Don’t be afraid to screw up’: Beyond the Brief featuring Pej Sabet, Pitch, Inc.

Pej Sabet, CEO/COO, Pitch, Inc

Creativity is important—the work, the innovation, the awards—but solving business solutions, and ensuring that they make clients money is the imperative for any advertising agency. Pitch, Inc’s CFO/COO Pej Sabet understands this more than most.

The USC MBA grad literally means business. Under his guidance at Pitch, the agency’s been able to expand its services into post-production, creating Bicep Productions. But even before his agency days, Sabet was a wizard at mergers and acquisitions for investment banks USBX and Houlihan Lokey. Using that expertise, the native Angeleno went on to help launch H.D. Buttercup, LA’s premier furniture retailer.

It’s Sabet’s knowledge over currency that helps give an agency like Pitch its foothold as a scrappy shop on the rise. After almost a decade in existence, Pitch is being noticed as an agency to watch, a place where clients like Westfield, Quicken Loans, Arrowhead spring water, and Netflix invest in the agency’s mission to provide “return on creativity”. Making sure that creatives get a basic gauge on making the most out of their budgets — as well as openly “teaching the math” — is key to that mission’s success, a part that Sabet happily owns.

A husband and father of 3, Sabet is sure to teach his kids the values of pennies saved and all the places they can go towards their own personal successes. Thankfully, their dad has set a great blueprint of living beyond the brief.

If you were a client for a day, what would you tell your agency?

I'd tell my agency don’t be afraid to screw up, don't try and hide the screwups from me and — most importantly — don’t be afraid to admit screwing up. If you’re functioning from a place of fear and worry, I won't be getting your best work. And if you’re spending your time trying to cover up something that went wrong, you’re wasting precious time and energy that could be used to do something great instead. So, tell me when a screw up happens, then tell me what the solve will be and let’s move on. We've all screwed up in the past and will do so again in the future. Just don't make a pattern out of it.

If your boss sent you to a desert island for a week and could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?

If I was sent to a desert island by my boss I would take our Operations Manager, because he knows how to get sh*t done and would make sure we survived (I know he's technically not a thing). I would also take two bottles of scotch—one to drink and one to send to my boss as a thank you for the reprieve.

What book would you suggest to a stranger?

Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Suess

What life advice do you give others?

Personal success is the result of properly allocating your personal resources; your time, your energy, your capital. Allocate them to what's really important to you in life and not to short-term signs of achievement.

To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with us at The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)? We’re interviewing 100 people at 4A’s member agencies — across all disciplines, levels, regions, and agency types — to get a glimpse into what drives them at work and what fuels them in life.

See the industry pros we're featuring here.

To pitch someone from a 4A's member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.

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Bennett D. Bennett

I am a NYC-based writer who calls BBDO NY home — putting copy together for major brands (and fiction for myself and others) and pushing for more inclusive, smarter work environments everywhere. I've previously sat on the ADCOLOR Advisory Board, and currently am a member of AAF's Mosaic Next-Generation Leadership Council and the 4As Steering Committee for High School Initiatives.

All by Bennett D.