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Agencies 4 Growth Festival Logo

The Importance of Mind-set

'Tales from the non-exec’ harnesses the insights and lessons gained from the board rooms of marketing agencies around the UK and abroad from one of the most experienced non-exec directors in the sector, Miles Welch, the founder of Milestone Advisory and former CEO of Digitas and COO of Harvest Digital. Issues such as business strategy, exit planning, growth pains, expansion, culture, leadership, process and people will be covered in the form of tips, tools and advice. Powered by The Drum Network, ‘Tales From the non-exec’ is an essential read for any agency leader looking to grow a better business.

As I sit here on holiday relaxing on a sun lounger I can't help but observe how quickly my 18 month old daughter learns from observation of her older sisters at play. They navigate the slides and water shoots with ease and laugh as she goes down the slide sideways, only to repeat it again and again themselves as they discover how fun it is. My youngest didn’t know that going down sideways wasn't the way it's done, but it certainly was the most fun.

Milestone are non-exec advisors to agencies in the marcoms sector.

It got me thinking about a seminar I attended a few years back on creating high performing teams and how behaviours and limiting mind-sets can inhibit your potential to succeed.

The story they told us centred around a 60-year-old Australian farmer called Cliff Young. Every year a race would take place across Cliff's land. This race was very long, an ultra-marathon some 500km in length from Sydney to Melbourne. One year, Cliff decided to take part.

All the seasoned ultra-runners sped off at the start, leaving Cliff behind. Cliff just kept shuffling along, one foot in front of the other. As Cliff hadn't done the race before (or any such race in his life) he didn't realise that the runners stopped overnight at camps, so he missed the checkpoints and kept going, eventually winning the race.

An interesting story of age over youth, yes, but the real message here is not one of the physical but of the mind. Cliff didn't have the limiting mind-set of the other runners in the race, he didn't know that camping down overnight was the 'done thing'.

I'd challenge you to listen to the limiting mind-sets and paradigms in your own company. They will exist: preconceptions about your competitors or about your ability to achieve certain levels of performance; the blame you place on “the market conditions or” the client that “won't buy any more”.

By recognising the flawed assumptions that are hampering your company’s thinking and performance, you can start to achieve results well beyond your current expectations. It’s time to start thinking “sideways”.

Milestone are non-exec advisors to agencies in the marcoms sector, specialising in board advisory, growth consultancy and preparing for exit. Miles can be contacted at

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