Tim Fisher

February 16, 2018

In an industry that creates smoke and mirrors, Tim Fisher wears authenticity and honestly on his sleeve like badges of honor. He’s a visionary with a love of family, artistic expression, and surfing. Dive in to find out how failure is our greatest teacher, how respect will get you everywhere, and how Tim’s guest lecture in my college class lead me to send him a very interesting package.

It was my senior year in college and my teacher, Professor DeGeorge, told us that there would be a guest speaker in class who was an award-winning Creative Director. In came a long-haired, blonde surfer dude that put a boombox down in front of the class. He proceeded to play four different songs about ‘Love’ and used it as an example of how the creative process can take one subject matter and produce an infinite amount of unique results. It was an experience I would characterize as inspiring and imaginative.

When I graduated with my MBA, I didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do. I only knew that it would be in the marketing arena and I immediately remembered the guest speaker:

Tim Fisher.

That would be a great person to learn from!

I proceeded to mail him a package that contained my resume, a note, and also a pre-paid cell phone. Why a phone? The biggest barrier to getting an interview is getting a callback, so I thought that if I mailed him a phone I would remove that obstacle – plus I thought it would get his attention. The mobile device had my phone number preprogrammed into it, and there was an arrow pointing to the green redial button that said, “PRESS TO INNOVATE WORKFORCE.”

After a week of sitting on pins and needles, I got a phone call from Tim that went something like this, “Hi Dean, well, I got this … interesting package, so I had to give you a call. We’re currently not hiring, but I would like someone to meet with you.”  It would have been a better story if I got the job, but let’s be honest I had no credentials, no portfolio, and I didn’t have the background necessary in order to land a gig with Tim at Fry Hammond & Barr, a top advertising agency in town.

Being inspired by Tim in class was the spark for me to think creatively and send the first of many creative packages in my lifetime. Don’t underestimate the impact you can have on one person in any moment that might burn a pathway into their DNA.

There is no way that this interview could encapsulate the amazing career that Tim has had. He has had a superb hand in many awards, mentored professionals for three decades, and surely planted his flag in the minds of many customers, colleagues, and vendors. It began with a boutique agency that he started with his partner, Chris Robb, entitled ‘Fisher Robb,’ and now has come back full circle to founding his newest iteration of a boutique agency: Acme Brand Studio. Speaking of full circle, this interview is a nice way to close the loop on the connection that began my senior year of college. Guess what? Now I’m privileged to be able to learn from him. Even though it took me 15 years. Without further ado, here’s my sit down with him …

[Setting: We met at Tim’s office on a Friday morning. It’s located by Hannibal Square in Winter Park, Florida, on the 2nd floor above a restaurant. Nothing was staged in his office, this is how it looks normally. Would you expect anything less from a creative’s office?]

Dean: Alright Tim, so we’ve had a couple of conversations recently and you keep coming back to this concept of ‘planting the flag.’ Can you share with me more about what is ‘planting the flag?’

Tim: Alright, well, I think we use that terminology, and we’re not the only ones obviously that do, but to me, what it means is figuring out what the purpose of a brand is and the essence of that brand, and then developing what the position is for that brand … establish whatever that is and then don’t waver. Stay consistent. So when you plant the flag, you’re basically doing something that’s going to be long-term and believing in the long-term is huge to me.

Dean: Do you think that when a new business is formed … like I was just talking to an entrepreneur yesterday and she’s starting her first business … Do you think that the flag needs to be planted immediately or is it something that you have to be sort of in the game to understand a few more things about your direction before you can do that?

Tim: Yeah, I mean I do. I think there is another part to it and maybe this will be helpful and that is this: when you plant the flag, it’s a rally cry for opportunity or to rally internal and external forces. So to us, it’s important when people on the inside really understand and support that belief as much as the outside is going to understand and support that belief. I think immediately or not, I don’t think it’s imperative that it’s immediate with a company, but I also think if you don’t know what that is and you don’t know what the true essence and the true purpose of the company is in the very beginning, you’re probably having a hard time with that company. You better know what that is and you better have a really good solid reason why you’re doing it and if you do, then you should have enough information to plant the flag right away.

Dean: Right. So what originally led you to get into advertising?

Tim: When I was a kid, I drew a lot. I was really into art, I liked to paint … One of the things that’s kind of funny is here we are, we’re called Acme Brand Studio. When I was a kid, I used to watch Wiley Coyote and the Road Runner and I used to love the fact that he would go after him with all of this Acme stuff. So as a kid, I used to watch those cartoons and I’d draw these little Acme things and I just used to think that was the coolest thing. I didn’t understand branding at all. All I knew was fun and drawing and whatever. Well as I got older, and I got schooled, the thing that became the most important thing to me, even though I loved baseball, became surfing. So surfing became so important that I actually seriously quit the high school baseball team so that I could surf on the weekends. They practiced on the weekends and the coach was so mad that I wouldn’t practice that I finally just quit.

Anything to do with creativity is subjective, so you have to have faith and you have to believe that that idea is going to work …

Dean: Where did you grow up?

Tim: In Winter Park. Here. So, I finally made the decision, you know what, surfing is more important to me. I’m just going to surf, I’m going to quit the baseball team. I played baseball and some other big league teams and stuff like that and senior league teams … As I got older, I realized that I didn’t want to give it up and I played competitive softball and I loved all that. Competiton in sports was huge and that had a lot to do with me getting into advertising in a lot of ways. People don’t think that they go hand-in-hand, but they do because it’s very competitive and I really care a lot about … You know when I’m playing sports, I care obviously about winning, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. It’s important that you always give it your best shot and try. I believe the same thing goes for advertising and marketing. The difference is, typically the things that become magical and win are subjective things and they’re not things that you can say are absolutely or finite. You can only give a guarantee of hope, you can’t give a guarantee of anything other than that.

Dean: So it kind of ties into something that I had in mind. When you’re talking about how there’s subjectivity and there’s no black and white, I had this question in mind about what is the best mistake you’ve ever made? When I say that, what I mean is perhaps something that seemed like an absolute mistake and felt like a mistake at first, but ended up taking you in a completely new direction. It could be either something in your career or project or anything like that.

Tim: I think that’s a great question … it’s really important and I think people realize that failure is probably the best way to achieve an understanding of how to win. There’s a whole series that Honda did called ‘Failure’ and I always go back and refer to that because I think it’s so amazingly well done. It gives everyone this chance to just try and don’t worry about failing because if you do, you’re going to learn from your mistakes. Just don’t make the same mistake twice. My dad used to say that all the time. It’s okay to make a mistake, just don’t make the same mistake twice. What’s great about this failure thing and what I believe about that is that you do learn a lot and it does give you the opportunity. If you approach things with the understanding that it’s okay to fail, you’ll try things that typically you would never try because it takes away some of that fear factor. So, I do believe in that.

I would say that the biggest mistake that I ever made that turned out to be a really good thing was starting [the company] Fisher Robb. Chris Robb was a buddy of mine and he was a guy that he and I grew up together, we surfed together, we just hung out together, you know? We just loved the whole bit of exploring life and enjoying life. We started this company if you can believe it, back in 1983. That was probably the biggest mistake I ever made because we realized not long after we started the company that we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. We didn’t know how to run a company, we didn’t know finances, we didn’t know how much you had to make to be able to pay salaries, we didn’t know how to treat clients or customers properly because back then, we just looked at everybody and said everyone is going to want what we have to offer. What we have to offer is that we’re going to try to give them the best creative product. What we found very quickly is that there are very few people that really understand what that means and the very few people who want what you have, they typically want you to do what they want you to do. And so we adopted a phrase back then and to this day I still believe in it, and it’s “Our job isn’t to give you what you want, our job is to give you what you need.”

Dean: Do you think in order to make really good mistakes and failures, I guess you can phrase it both ways … does it take a bit of useful arrogance early on for people and entrepreneurs, you think?

Tim: Yeah, I think so for sure. I mean, that’s another thing that I thought of is that as I’ve gotten older … and it’s too bad that this happens to us … I think we all seem to start realizing, well maybe not all, but many people realize that as you get older, humility is huge. Being humble is a big, big thing and it’s important, but when you’re young, you’re egotistical, you’re cocky, you go about things with a different zest. Your confidence, I think, is sometimes unfounded. I thought about this too, no matter what, if you’re in this business where you’re creating things that are subjective … that’s what we do, we create subjective ideas … and anything to do with creativity is subjective. So you have to have faith and you have to believe that that idea is going to work and it’s going to be good. I do, for the brands we serve, I want them to be successful because if they’re successful, we’re successful and then we have a good relationship. So it’s huge to me to see that they’re successful and ultimately, we’ll have a long-term relationship with them, but people say, well how do you know that a good idea is a good idea? You have to believe and I say it all the time, “Just keep the faith.” That’s a line that I totally believe in and the other line I believe in is, “Stand for something” I love it because if you stand for something … if you believe in your creative idea, you believe in doing things a better, more artistic way … and communication can be art … then I think that you will have that confidence and therefore, brands will be magnetized to that confidence. And the ones who aren’t and the ones who don’t trust you, they’re typically not the right fit. So, I believe that you find, like, water seeks a level, right? Ultimately, you find a brand or somebody that’s got a product or service, you find out whether or not they align with you and if they do – and this is a huge word – they trust you. That’s huge because we’re not always right, we’re just responsible.

Dean: Who is the most remarkable person that you’ve ever met?

Tim: Probably my wife. I’d probably say her. She’s pretty amazing. She changed my life. I’d probably say her.

Dean: Is there a mentor that you can attribute some or most of your success?

Tim: Yeah, I mean, well, first of all, I feel incredibly blessed that I would even be considered successful. The people who had a lot to do with like my life and advertising and believing in what I do, I’d say the very first person would have to be Chris Robb because he was my best friend and he really believed in art. To this day, he’s probably one of the best artists I know. He’s really into that and he’s into communications art and so when we got together, he would study all these things and share things with me and I would share and study with him. Hopefully, he feels the same way about me, but if he doesn’t that’s fine, too, because he actually influenced me a lot. From there, I would say there are two more people. There was a gentleman at Carmichael Lynch, his name was Lou Bacig. Lee Lynch you’d think would be the first one that I would say at Carmichael Lynch, and he’s an amazing guy and I love that guy, super creative guy, but Lou Bacig became more of a mentor in some ways because he was so smart. To this day, I still call him the smartest man I ever met in business and he never got a college degree, but he was really, really smart and he really understood – and this is a key thing and I still embrace this is – don’t sell help. That’s the way he was. He was always about helping people and that made him feel good. Super smart guy and he cared a lot about finances and whatever and they owned eight buildings or something in Minneapolis. This guy was super wealthy and successful, but he was one of those guys that as I got to know him, the more I realized that he was a very principled man and so am I. The things that he would say sometimes cost them money and I said you know, Bill Bernbach says it’s not a principle until it costs you money and he said, I totally agree with that … [Dean starts messing with his iPhone because he’s paranoid that it’s not recording the interview] do you need me to stop for anything?

Dean: No, no, just checking the recording …

Tim: So, I do think Lou Bacig was the other mentor and I’m going to give you a couple of names only because I think it’s really important, but Tom Kane was another guy who became my righthand guy and partner, at worked at Fry Hammond Barr for 20 years, we became fast friends because we believed philosophically the same things. He was very honest, which that’s something that we embrace in this business is being really honest and truthful. Obviously, wisdom is huge in this business because you’re making decisions based on subjectivity, so wisdom is huge and experience is huge and I think I attribute a lot of those things to him. He was a really great guy and even though I was his supervisor, I still considered him a mentor. People like Sean Brunson and Shannon here in the office, I still consider them mentors to me because I learn from then every day. My kids, too. I could go on and on and on. Too many people have mentored me, you know?

Dean: A lot of gratitude there. You mention a lot of people that have helped you throughout your career. For young business professionals or just business professionals in general, is there a tip that you can share on how they can differentiate themselves within an organization?

Tim: Yes and it kind of comes down to one word and that’s respect. I think that’s a huge word to me and I think that it’s crazy how the world has changed and it’s so busy now and everyone is busy chasing what I call bright, shiny objects. I think that the digital world has opened up something that’s created madness in many ways to me. It gives people the opportunity to have a platform to speak their mind politically and professionally or socially or whatever. Whether you believe in it or not, it’s troubling to me that there are people out there saying things that I think are just sometimes antagonistical things to say … that might be a word I just made up … but they’re antagonists and they want people to react in some way, shape or form, and that bothers me. People say you can ignore it, but it’s really hard to ignore it when it’s on places where people see it all the time and so what’s happened, in my opinion, is that as kids have grown up in this day and age, there’s more of an entitled feeling to success or to having their own opinions. I actually don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I love it that they feel that way, but the fact is that so often it seems that they don’t understand respect and that bothers me a lot.

I’m not always right, but I’m always responsible.”

So I say that word a lot, I say people should really understand it, and as people get older, like I’m not getting any younger … I don’t expect respect unless I earned it. If something comes in from somebody youthful in the business, if they don’t have that understanding … the one thing that I remember about Shannon, and I’ll say this and I used to write it in her reviews all the time, is that she never said: “can’t.” She was amazing in that she never said “can’t” and she would try to figure out to do it if I said something. That all equated to respect. She would go, you know better than I do, so I respect your opinion, I’m going to make it work. Now, I wasn’t always right, and I’m not always right and I know that. I used to say to them all the time and I said it earlier in this interview, that I’m not always right, but I am always responsible. And I’ve been proven wrong so many times when I come up with things, but people have to take a chance, you know. You have to take your foot off of first base to steal second, right? You’ve got to do that stuff and take chances. Sometimes, it proves that you weren’t very smart in the chance you took, but at least you took it and I have a lot of respect for that. So that’s huge to me that people actually respect other people when they go into business and it’s not just their way. Even though they might have some really good ideas and ways of doing things, I still think that sometimes you’ve got to suck it up a little bit even though you may not agree and you may be right, but you got to suck it up a little bit and you need to support the people who have been doing it for a long time. There’s just an honor thing there that I believe in.

Dean: Is there a way that you fight the status quo if you feel like you’re falling into the status quo, however you define that? Whether it’s just following the herd or deviating from perhaps a more maverick mentality.

Tim: I think it’s kind of an inbred thing. There are people I think in the world that actually settle for status quo and you know, good is good enough.

Dean: Everyone’s doing it, shouldn’t we?

Tim: Yeah and years ago, I remember doing a brochure that said, “Good isn’t good enough,” and that’s our mentality here. It’s Sean’s mentality, it’s Shannon’s mentality, it’s Amanda’s mentality … good isn’t good enough, we’ve got to be great at what we do. People don’t come back just because you’re good. Comfortable is important, but being a little bit challenging is sometimes even more important, but you can’t challenge yourself, brands, or clients unless they trust you. And once again, it’s that full circle thing that I so believe in; having that point of view, that belief, that faith, and having that trust from a brand that allows you to do remarkable things. It also allows you to fail remarkably, but that’s okay. Failing, like you said earlier, is a great thing and a great way to learn. Maybe the best way to learn.

Dean: Tim, what I’m hearing from you also is kind of parsing the word ‘comfortable’ maybe into two things. It’s good to feel safe, safe to be open, safe to trust, safe to take chances, but then comfortable could be the enemy of stealing second because you’re sort of fat and happy, just kind of keep it going status quo, why rock the boat.

Tim: It’s so funny that you’re saying something that I’ve been saying lately a lot. I use a different word though, I use the word lazy. [Dean laughs: it’s probably more accurate!] But it’s all the things you’re saying. I’ve admitted that I think that I got to the point where I was comfortable and I felt like that was not a good thing and I consider myself a little bit lazy because of that and I’ve said this now to Shannon and Sean a few times and that’s that I’m done being lazy. We’re not going to be lazy, we’re going to go off and attack things, we’re going to battle things, we’re going to win business, we’re going to do good for business. Everything that we do, our focus at this business, is about doing communication as art so that the brands we serve can be proud and that we can be proud. I don’t know if you realize it, but in everything in that circle, I didn’t mention money one time.

Money doesn’t have anything to do with that part of it, although money does have something to do with freedom and the fact that you have to be funded properly to do things the right way. I’ve been doing this a long time so we have minimums that we work with brands and we only work with brands that really understand that and don’t look at us as an hourly vendor. An hourly vendor is evil to us, it’s like the Evil Empire, you know. Vendor sucks, so we say we hate that word. What we like is the word ‘value.’ We like people to think of us as providing value and the value that we can provide to them … you know the whole thing about how much money does that cost, well, how long is a piece of string, you know? People always say that it’s really hard to put a price tag on creative thinking and why is it that a Leroy Neiman painting will get thousands and thousands and sometimes even more than that, hundreds of thousands of dollars for a painting, as compared to somebody else that will sell a painting for $600? Well, there’s this experience thing, and there’s this ability that this guy has learned through all of his time, and that’s respect for this guy that he has this ability to do something so, therefore, he’s equated to a higher level and it makes him more money. Does it make him a better artist? Well, ‘better’ is a very subjective word, too. There really isn’t any way to say a piece of art is better than another piece of art, it’s all opinion.

…If you stand for something, if you believe in a creative idea, you believe in doing things a better, more artistic way … brands will be magnetized to that confidence.

Dean: Yeah, maybe the piece of art has a better story behind it. I think that’s essentially the essence of it.

Tim: Yeah, I mean in all that art, there’s probably 15 five-foot by four-foot pieces of metal leaning up against that right there, and I’ve taken all of these pictures that I’ve done in two locations. One is Vegas and one is Argentina, and I’ve made this series of pictures. You know, would I say that they’re better than some other piece of art? No, I mean what’s better? That’s a crazy thing. It’s my artistic expression of something that I like. I like this visually, it’s something that is unique, and if I get paid for that then that’s wonderful, two thumbs up. If I don’t, then okay, it’s still two thumbs up because it’s a way for me to express my artistic beliefs. I love that, I think everybody should have that opportunity.

Dean: Do you have a project in your mind that you remember as your favorite or maybe the one that you’re most proud of throughout your career?

Tim: You know, I would actually answer that as no. I don’t probably have one in particular, one project in particular, and the reason is that I kind of look at everything now that we do as very similar. I look at it like this: if it’s successful for the client, and it’s done really well for the client and they’re happy and they’re proud, and it works from the communication and marketing standpoint, and I’m really happy and proud of it, then I’m like hey, that’s a great experience for me. I’ve been fortunate. That’s happened a lot in my career. I can’t say it happens every time, but it’s happened a lot and when it does, it makes me really proud, so I don’t really have any single one that I would probably elevate over another. I have all kinds of interesting stories that I can tell and obviously you don’t have time, but I can tell you stories about all kinds of successes and failures of brands and things, sometimes some of the best things that I think we ever did that didn’t make it. One, in particular, was something for Florida Department of Citrus. They had the craziest thing in this business and that is when somebody has money, and they did, they had to spend it at the end of the year and they did. It was all budgeted and allocated to spend and the group, the Commissioners and all these people who took all this tax money and everything, they had all of this money sitting in there, and the marketing guy said, you know, we’ve got $400,000 or $500,000 that we have to spend, and we really want to try to do something in the broadcast world. That was when broadcast was even bigger than it is now, and so we called a guy, a director, and I had this idea. It was this over-cranked, very slo-mo juice pours and things and all kinds of stuff. I said there’s a few people that do this really well, so I looked at some reels, and I picked this guy from Santiago, Chile. He was a really amazing film guy. He spoke English, not great, but he came and we shot it all in Miami. I remember that the marketing director watched all that we were doing, she had no clue what we were doing, but was fine because we were spending the money that they had and allocated in the budget. She was a really nice person, but whatever, it’s cool and neat what you’re doing.

What we were shooting with back then was called Unilocks Lights and we were shooting a thousand frames a second, so you know what I’m talking about, but it was like when you hit that button on that camera, it wouldn’t just go “whirrrrrr” it would go “zzzzzzzzz.” I mean, it was crazy the sound that would come out of that camera because it was shooting at a thousand frames a second. So Unilocks Lights, they’re flicker-free, they help when you’re shooting at that speed, you can’t shoot without lights going, “ticka ticka ticka ticka” so you’ve got to time it, so that’s what we did. The crazy thing is we did this series of stuff and we had all of this film in the can that was beautiful. We cut it and I was able to go to Miami, and this is a crazy story, but I went to Miami by myself, no client, no account executive, just me and an editor, and the editor who cut all this stuff was a guy named Jeff Sternberger, who to this day, he’s a very good friend of ours. We’re talking like 25 years ago, you know, maybe more. And he cut this stuff and he had this idea and I remember going to Peaches, do you remember Peaches, what they were?

Dean: Yeah, there used to be one on Sunrise Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale when I was growing up.

Tim: Okay, it doesn’t happen this way anymore, but I went to the music store and I went to the kiosk that had all of the music listed … today, you just do everything on your computer … but I went there and I started going down the list and I started picking stuff out. I picked a couple, I picked a song by the Lovin’ Spoonfuls, “Did you ever have to make up your mind,” because we shot red grapefruit juice and we shot yellow grapefruit juice. So I picked this song, and then I picked this other one that was by EMF, it was, “You’re unbelievable.” A one-hit wonder group, but we cut this whole thing to that and I took it back. They showed it to 150 field managers and they all just applauded, they said that’s the best stuff we’ve ever done, super cool, let’s do it. We got the music rights to do it from the EMF group … these guys were all drugged out, they’re all over Europe, but we finally found them and we were able to get a number, and they wanted $250,000 for the rights to this song. Lovin’ Spoonful was fine, that wasn’t going to be a problem, but to do that and to run it, well, we finally were able to negotiate them down to $60,000. I mean can you believe that? From $250,000 to $60,000, it was a nutty thing, but we did, and then we ran it for two weeks in Boston and a couple of other markets. The Director of Citrus got wind of it and said, “Can I see those spots that we’re airing and testing and all that?” Then he said, “Well, there’s nothing in here about heart-healthy.” I said, “Well no, of course there’s nothing in there about heart-healthy, but aren’t you trying to persuade people to buy more grapefruit juice, red or yellow, and isn’t this about taste?” He said that their strategy was all about heart-healthy and he pulled them. Pulled them! We spent, I’m not kidding you, we spent over $500,000 on all this stuff, and those things never saw the light of day after that. They ran for two weeks and to this day, I sit back and go it’s crazy to think that because the Director wasn’t willing to look and this and recognize that 150 field managers applauded this and said this is the best stuff we’ve ever done, this is going to get people to drink our grapefruit juice, but it didn’t matter to him because he had come up with this heart-healthy thing that he wanted to do, so he stayed with that. Believe me, I believe in strategy and that kind of stuff, but in that case, that’s one of the ones that to this day, I think about.

Dean: If you can dig up any images of that, I would love to share it. Maybe I’ll make a gift of it or something.

Tim: I’ll show you those spots and you’ll die. They’re so cool, they’re great spots.

Dean: I would love to see them … Tim, is there something that is totally true about you that most people that know you wouldn’t believe?

Tim: I think most people that know me probably think that I’m a pretty caring person, so I don’t think that’s a surprise. As I’ve gotten older, I love people, and I think giving each other the benefit of the doubt is huge to me and that’s something I say all the time, but I’m aggressive and when I was younger, I was very cocky and overconfident. I had a big ego and I was always trying to tell coaches how to coach the baseball team or whatever. I learned a lot. I think that to this day I’ve mellowed a lot, so I don’t think that people would be so surprised about that. I don’t really know if there would be like any big surprise, you know. I think what you see is what you get, hopefully. I don’t have any hidden agendas, the most important thing will always be my family. That’s my wife, Shannon, my son, Shaun, and my daughter, Paige. From there, it starts breaking out, but then I embrace my friends a lot. I care a lot about them. My surf gang, the group of guys that I surfed with. One of those guys passed away and we did a paddle out for him. I mean, all of those things are super important to me and they always will be, but I’d say Shannon and Sean and this company, that’s my life. I care a lot about where we go, but it’s just business. It’s not every bit of my life. My life is really more about every moment like what we’re doing right now. It’s a moment that’s a memory and that’s a cool thing that I want that to be the most important. Every moment should be like that. I have this saying that I do in the morning for Shannon and it’s, “Let’s make today the best day of our lives.” I write that, every day. [Tim leans over and writes this acronym]

Dean: I was going to ask you … and by the way, I wanted to know what that is. Can you tell me what that is?

Tim: I’ll say this real quick and I’ll read this since you’re not videotaping, but I use this a lot for the planting the flag that you asked earlier. To me, it’s a really good example of how you can plant the flag and how people can say that they kind of get it. It’s all about positioning and it’s all about having something that really means something to a brand. Well, one of the things that I use a lot is the example of sports apparel. Today, Under Armour is one of them, but it didn’t use to be when I first did this comparison, but say Under Armour, Adidas, Reebok, and Nike, and I use those four and I talk about it all the time. I say the difference between a blended rate or an hourly rate and value and the difference between how value creates equity for a brand is very easy to demonstrate when you plant the flag for a brand like Nike. This was something that Nike wrote, and Phil Knight embraced this, now the people who wrote this, probably Dan Wieden from Wieden and Kennedy when they created that whole thing, but this is what it says, and this is all about, and I’m going to say this quickly is that Under Armour, the position line for Under Armour is obscure. You probably could never figure out what it is. The position line for Adidas is obscure, you probably could never figure out what it is. The position line for Reebok is obscure, you probably never figure out what it is, but Nike? You probably figure it out really quickly. It’s “Just do it,” and everybody will say that and I use this in big auditoriums, for small groups or big, and I usually say, “Tell me what it is, tell me what it is, tell me what it is,” and then I get to Nike and the whole room goes, “Just do it!” I go, does anybody understand the value and the power of that? The innate awareness of a marketing position line that is the purpose behind a brand that says you can do anything, it doesn’t matter if you’re a baby or Lebron James, so this is the copy that came from that: “It’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety, and security to come galloping over the next horizon. Come to terms with the fact that any guarantee of happily ever after must begin within, and in the process, a sense of serenity is born of self-acceptance awakening. Too often we are scared. Scared of what we might not be able to do. Scared of what people might think if we tried. We let fear stand in the way of our hopes. We say no when we want to say yes. We sit quietly when we want to scream. We shout with the others when we should keep our mouths shut. Why? After all, we do only go around once. There is really no time to be afraid. Just do it.”

Dean: Powerful.

Tim: Super powerful. And this is what I live my life by, you know?

Dean: I’m going to put it in the blog and I can share it. Tim, okay, put your humility aside. I know that you were talking earlier about how humility is important, put it aside. What’s your secret to being outrageously remarkable?

Tim: Well I said to you earlier when I saw that, I was like I’m the furthest from that that you can be. So, I don’t have any secrets to that because I don’t think I am that. I think I’m real and honest and authentic and I think that’s pretty important today, so I don’t really have any other answer.

Dean: Sitting down with you today was as inspiring as the first time I heard you speak. Thank you, as always, for keeping it real and authentic. 


Check out Tim’s company Acme Brand Studio and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Interview pictures by Josh Johnson. Check out his work here.

Can I send you an e-mail when my next interview posts? Subscribe here to be an insider