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On-the-go with Mike Abel

Published: 8 February 2010

Mike Abel, Chief Executive Partner of M&C Saatchi Abel, takes five minutes out of his hectic schedule to speak with Totally MAd on social media; fear and opportunities; and why Mahatma Gandhi is someone he looks up to.

On-the-go with Mike Abel
Mike Abel, Chief Executive Partner of M&C Saatchi Abel, takes five minutes out of his hectic schedule to speak with Totally MAd on social media; fear and opportunities; and why Mahatma Gandhi is someone he looks up to.

1. What was your first job/ where did you start?
In 1988, as a student, I opened a small media company in Port Elizabeth that printed advertisements onto contra-vision (that perforated PVC material). It was specifically applied to the back windows of Black Taxis. We did very nicely and then I got conscripted…

2. What made you want to build a career in your profession?
I love creativity, I love Behavioural Psychology. This is a great way to combine the two. I started studying architecture as I thought that would be the best way, and then I discovered advertising…

3. Describe a day in your life at present.
Rushing my boys to school; rushing into a catch-up for the day with my partners; rushing to return calls and emails in between rushing to various meetings with prospective clients or employees. Then it’s rushing home and eating dinner with my wife and sons. After they go to be bed (ah, calm), I spend three hours in my study thinking and applying calm and sanity to our clients and business strategy.

4. How do you unwind behind the scenes? List your favourite song; movie; and book.
Song: Father & Son by Cat Stevens; Movie: Being There – Peter Sellers; Book: Shantaram.

5. Who would you most like to meet – dead or alive, and why?
My paternal grandfather. He died two years before I was born. I knew and loved my other three grandparents and saw how they enriched my life. I would have loved to have met Julius Abel.

6. What has been one of the most important lessons you have learnt?
Challenge is your only opportunity for growth. Embrace fear – don’t run from it.

7. What is your secret indulgence and your three ‘can’t live without’ items?
My secret indulgence is great food – the truly delicious stuff. Three items: great wine (Aussie Pinot Noir); travel (preferably snow-skiing); and the sea.

8. Who do you think is getting it right in the industry?
There is a great divide between what clients require to grow their business and what agencies offer. We hope to fill this space.

9. Which person in the industry do you think is making waves?
Again (sorry), I think we are.

10. Who is your alter ego?
Sponge Bob SquarePants.

11. What is your favourite perfume?
The smell of the ocean in the morning.

12. Which car would best personify you, and why?
The Golf GTi – it is fast; handles well; is gritty; ever-young – all the right stuff.

13. What is your favourite reality TV series?
Super 14.

14. Who is someone you truly look up to, and which qualities do you most admire about them?
Mahatma Gandhi – natural simplicity; love; compassion; dignity; and honour.

15. What’s your stance on social media?
Love it! The great democracy of mediocrity! Truly wonderful the conversation; sharing; and possibility it provides. Love the collaboration and voice it literally gives everyone!
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