Marketing and communications strategist, and former retail, marketing and advertising executive with the JWT and Ogilvy advertising groups in South Africa and in New York City, Clive Simpkins has been running a consultancy in South Africa since 1986. Simpkins, who hosted his own show on Talk Radio 702 a few years ago, is also author of Media Appearance Secrets; Presenting, Speaking and Facilitating Secrets; and Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life. He takes five minutes to tell Totally MAd about his godmother; his love of social media; and why the S-type Jaguar personifies him.
1. What was your first job/ where did you start?
I was a junior short-term insurance claims clerk with the Prudential Assurance Company in Cape Town by day, to fund my drama school classes with Rita Maas-Phillips at night.
2. What made you want to build a career in your profession?
I started out wanting to go into theatre – but the head of the then Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB) told me I lacked the height to play regular roles. I was devastated, but it was a frank and valuable piece of advice. That led me into retail; marketing; advertising; and communications in South Africa and New York.
3. Describe a day in your life at present.
I start my day at 04:00 with an hour of yoga breathing and meditation. I co-rear a gorgeous brother and sister combination, aged four and seven. If I’m around, I love being involved with their breakfast and getting them off to school. In between that, I’m feeding my beloved dogs; checking email; Facebook; Twitter; Outlook; and drinking ginger tea. Then it’s writing; media skills coaching or public speaking; meetings; strategy sessions; pro bono work; and, if I’m around, catching up with kids and dogs at the end of the day. Then I cook my own vegetarian supper and email; do social media; contemplate; and get a late-night’s sleep.
4. How do you unwind behind the scenes? List your favourite song; movie; and book.
I truly unwind only in total solitude. I write; I read; I think. My favourite music depends on my mood at the time. Mostly, I prefer external silence as my life has so little of it. My favourite movie is The Nun’s Story with Audrey Hepburn from a thousand years ago. It’s the only movie I’ve ever seen a number of times. My favourite book is Alastair Campbell’s The Blair Years. I love political biographies. The players are so trashy!
5. Who would you most like to meet – dead or alive, and why?
I no longer have a desire to meet anyone – whether dead or alive! In fact I’m ‘people-meeted’ out!
6. What has been one of the most important lessons you have learnt?
I’ve learnt that this life is about evolving spiritually. I’ve also learnt that deep introspection and self-understanding lead to a state of some balance and calmness amidst the turbulence and chaos of life.
7. What is your secret indulgence and your three ‘can’t live without’ items?
My no-longer-secret indulgence is soft, chewy ginger-bons from the Philippines. The kids and dogs raid every conceivable hiding place and hijack them. My three can’t live without items: my laptop; Blackberry; and an internet connection.
8. Who do you think is getting it right in the industry?
Google; Facebook; and Twitter – because they understand how people wish to communicate.
9. Which people in the industry do you think is making waves?
Google Co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, are catalysts for an on-going communication revolution.
10. Who is your alter ego?
I am my alter-ego! Does that make me schizoid?
11. What is your favourite perfume?
My godmother gave me Chanel Anteus several years back and I still love it.
12. Which car would best personify you, and why?
An old S-type Jaguar: distinctive; unpretentious; comfortable.
13. What is your favourite reality TV series?
I no longer watch TV, but when I did, anything that uncovered new talent.
14. Who is someone you truly look up to, and which qualities do you most admire about them?
My godmother, who is 81, is deeply spiritual; wise; serene; and compassionate.
15. What’s your stance on social media?
Is the Pope a Catholic? It’s how people connect these days. I love it!