Mark Carroll | Pinterest (Part II)
October 25, 2020

InterviewsMark Carroll | Pinterest (Part II)

Read Part 2 of Mark's interview where we explore the skills needed for creative strategy and the fear of irrelevance.

Mark At Work

Part 1 of the interview with Mark was published a couple of weeks ago in the Anthro Community Newsletter here and the full interview here

What skills would you say creative strategy requires?

I’ve always had a strange cynical view on the title – you are required to be a generalist and jump around both sides of the role title;

Strategy – what is the business problem being solved and why is the platform right for long term impact. Don’t forget a lot of strategy work has been done by the brand ahead of you getting a brief too, so you need to align and truly understand, challenge or build on that.

Creative – coming up with interesting ideas or executions that can deliver on that strategy. Again, often a lot of groundwork exists and you need to comprehend and compliment.

In both instances it’s not just coming up with it, but also creating the presentation and delivering it. You also have to mix all of this in with educating, as often you’re one piece of the puzzle and not everyone uses and knows about every single platform or format.

Maybe overthinking it (I always do), but where possible, in order to do the most interesting work you need to keep yourself in check, not jumping straight into the solution too quickly, understand what is needed. The fast paced nature of the role can get you jumping ahead every time.

Open to criticism – you don’t often get all the information you would like. You’re a bit of a one (Wo)man band working with clients and agencies that know their brands and verticals deeply.. Getting any brief response spot on first time is very unlikely – so collaborate and stick with it. Remember you’re trying to help solve their problems and help them succeed, ahead of your own career.

What do you think has helped you get to where you are today and carve out a niche for yourself in the brand/social media world?

I’m not sure I have a niche, I’m at least 80% sure that’s a good thing – maybe being a generalist with a fairly deep understanding of a lot is my niche and gotten me this far.

I think I start to feel uncomfortable once boxed into one topic or discipline for a long period of time. This is why my role at Snap and Pinterest is great, the breadth of clients I get to work with from FMCG to Steaming and Console to App Games.

I’ve always loved advertising, technology and where things are heading. That fear of irrelevance I mentioned earlier, keeps me looking at what has been, what is here and what is coming – how does all that connect and look. Staying interested makes you a little more interesting and stumbling on more interesting people. I think I’ve also been extremely lucky to have some amazing people see more in me than I maybe even saw in myself, they gave me great opportunities. 

Mark After Hours

What are your tips for showing up as your best self?

Be yourself. It will make everything easier in the long run, trying to fit in by acting how you think people want you to be is tiring. Being yourself means employers and colleagues end up wanting you for you, they promote you for you, and all going well you can look back and know it’s ‘you’ that got you to where you are. 

Try and do something you enjoy a majority of the time, nothing is perfect, but as long as the pros outweigh the cons you’ll have more fun and showing up feels less of a job or chore.

Do you have any specific practices  that make you feel the best day to day?

I have been trying to figure this one out. Back in the office days the commute broke the day up, there was corridor conversations, impromptu lunches or a trip to the pub. Now with none of that, you have to force yourself into these breaks and distractions. I’ve been more strict on taking a lunch break – making sure I do – where possible go outside for it, maybe even try to do a little reading if I haven’t managed to get away.   

One small thing I feel has made a difference to the working day is that I have my desk and chair, but then I set up a small set up (IKEA Kallax with ring light and chair) which I treat as a ‘meeting room’ so work is at desk but calls have that slight shift in scenery (only talking about 2 metres to the right facing a different direction). Different mindset and posture seems to help break things up.

What are your biggest motivations and inspirations?

I  find inspiration in various places, people and things. I think one of my biggest fears is becoming irrelevant so I’m always looking at what is out there, what is changing and big shifts in trends or behaviour – especially youth culture. I’ll become a fan boy of various people on twitter who  dive deep into topics or have interesting informed points of view or just producing great work. Not often talking to them (never meet your heroes) but wanting to hear or read anything that they have to say. Current list includes Nils Leonard, Zoe Scaman, Rob Campbell, Jack Appleby, Jon Wexler to name just a few front of mind right now. . 

This is also the hardest part of not having the physical office, the exposure or ease of stumbling upon an interesting person or conversation, some of the gems you might learn at the water cooler or coffee machine from someone you’re not even sure what department they work in. If your output is only as good as your input, a lot of that has been taken away day to day.

You can read Part 1 of Mark’s interview on Anthro here, or get the spark notes via the Anthro newsletter here.

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