studio (un)scripted: 5 questions with matt mcdermott.

MATT MCDERMOTT, CEO, Humble & Wallop (and my personal agency hero)

To me, the studio is my happy place. Where is yours?

Mick O’Sheas, an Irish Pub in Baltimore. It’s where I had my first date with my wife – and our rehearsal party. Also, many Saint Patrick’s Days, some I remember, some I don’t.

You are the most thoughtful person I know. Not just thoughtful in that you are kind, but thoughtful in that you put so much consideration into everything you do. When did you learn that and why is something that you’ve stuck with?

Aww, get outta here! I’m shamelessly selfish, with bursts of thoughtfulness. I’m sure I learned it as a kid. I had a great family. I think I became more thoughtful after having a kid and teaching high school in Baltimore City. Also, volunteering at BARCS – the Baltimore Animal Care and Rescue Shelter. All of those have taught me something about my duty to others or provided a much-needed reminder at certain times in my life that it’s not about me. Now, I try to be thoughtful from a mentorship standpoint. Anyone who reaches out to me for advice, support, or a favor (and isn’t looking to sell me something in the process) will always get a callback.

We’ve all had shitty leaders and amazing leaders. What is something you learned from both?

Most of the shit leaders I’ve worked with were shit because they were uniquely selfish or shockingly disengaged. They showed no interest in genuinely supporting their teams, often subverting the work the teams did out of spite, jealousy, or an inability to let go. They’d rather be the best than hire the best. The ones who paid little to no attention to staff were also awful. I had one administrator in my final year of teaching who never once stopped by my classroom. They were checked out. From the best leaders — and I’ve been fortunate to have more of those than the shitheads — I’ve learned not to make it all about yourself. My first creative director showed me the power of brute force optimism, even as he succumbed to ALS. From my last boss, I learned that the best leaders are the ones who eat last, only after their team has had its fill. His love for his staff was palpable. I’ve tried to bring those same qualities to work every day.

How have you leveraged influencers at Harvey? Has it been successful? Why?

We’ve used many influencers to support and promote our clients. It’s been a great way to meet people who genuinely care about the products and the brand and provide them an opportunity to express that affinity in their own way. It’s successfully built our audiences, increased reach, and taught us how to better connect with consumers.

If you could ask me anything, what would it be?

How the hell do you do it all, and with so much joie de vivre? You’ve given audiences an intimate look into your biggest trials and tribulations. How much of yourself do you share with your audience vs. what you hold back — and how do you find that balance?

Follow Matt’s latest endeavor, Humble & Wallop everywhere that you can. You won’t regret it.

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