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Cutting through the clutter with Craig Segal of Nine Mile Media

Published: 2 November 2010

Craig Segal is MD of Nine Mile Media. He's especially proud of Billads, conceptualised by Nine Mile Media, which are designed for convenience, complete with pen, tip and credit card recess, while the inside of the bill folder is used as advertising space. He tells TotallyMAd about his early days as a 'bean counter' and why social media is so important.

Cutting through the clutter with Craig Segal of Nine Mile Media
1. What was your first job/ where did you start?

My desire to be an entrepreneur probably started at the age of six, when I bred budgies and sold them to my friends at school. I moved on to selling material off-cuts, heat packs and leather jackets at flea markets. I worked as a sales person at a hi-fi and bicycle shop and was a night manager at a coffee shop. I also re-packaged audio accessories under my own brand and my mom would drop me off at the top of Louis Botha Avenue where I would walk its length and breadth, approaching every audio installation shop to sell them my wares. These are a few things that got me started.

My first full-time job was working for the Grant Thornton audit firm where, believe it or not, I did my accounting articles. A bean counter with a difference!

2. What made you want to build a career in your profession?

I wanted to learn how to run a business and, after completing my Bcom Marketing, decided to continue studying to become a Chartered Accountant. As an article clerk, you have direct access to the CEO of businesses and are able to interact with them and gain an understanding of why they make the decisions they do. This had great appeal to me and I used the opportunity fully.

After each audit I would walk out of the business and have a blueprint of that business in my mind. As a right-brained artist who writes poetry, studying and being in the accounting environment was a huge challenge for me and I had to use Bach’s 4 tempo music and Tony Buzan's Mind Mapping and colours to use my right brain to access the deep dark depths of my left brain and 'awaken the giant within', as Anthony Robbins says.

So, after a stint in the corporate world, I realised that I was not fulfilled and decided to follow my passion by starting my own thing in media and marketing. With limited funds and an attitude of 'if I know 1% of what I need to know, but ask the right questions, I will be okay,' the adventure began.

3. Describe a day in your life at present

I wake up around 04:30 and get onto my bike or go to gym if I am lucky. I come home and play with my 10-month-old daughter, Tanna Jade, for a few precious minutes and then hit the office for a day filled with meeting clients, ensuring campaigns are running smoothly and pushing the team to explore fresh ideas and leads. In between all the glamorous stuff comes admin and managing people.

An entrepreneurial business is like a casualty ward, you never know what is going to come through the door on any particular day. I try to make it home by 18:00 for bath time, which is followed by the email catch up of the day and, if I’m still awake, we may go out for wining, dining or whisky with friends.

4. How do you unwind behind the scenes? List your favourite song and book.

I unwind when I am surrounded by trees and water, so I try to spend as much time outdoors as possible by walking, hiking, biking and chilling.

Song – I can’t do just one. My favourites include No Women No Cry (Bob Marley), The Dolphin’s Cry (Live), Living On A Prayer (Bon Jovi) and Better Man (Pearl Jam).

Book: Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

5. Who would you most like to meet – dead or alive, and why?

Barack Obama. He is an inspirational leader and President of the most powerful nation in the world.

6. What has been one of the most important lessons you have learnt?

To listen. When I lived in Bangkok, Thailand, I worked with a man who owned one of Thailand’s largest insurance companies. Working with him taught me how to listen to people. He was extremely busy, but always made time and ignored his multiple cell phones, emails and a million other distractions to really listen and give advice and direction.

7. What is your secret indulgence and your three ‘can’t live without’ items?

My secret indulgence would have to be Death by Chocolate, an Ola ice-cream. It’s not so much of a secret though, as I like to end every week with one!

My three 'can’t live without' items would be rugby, adventure and a good whisky.

8. Who do you think is getting it right in the industry?

I think the guys playing in the mall space are doing a great job. They have been innovative with escalator and lift wraps.

9. Which person in the industry do you think is making waves?

Dave Mckenzie from Boo.

10. Who is your alter ego?

Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story – well, that is what my friends tell me!

11. What is your favourite perfume?

Anything my wife is wearing, life is much easier that way!

12. Which car would best personify you, and why?

A Porsche Cayenne, it has the off-road ability but the power and prowess to manage most situations and go anywhere anytime. I want one!

13. What is your favourite reality TV series?

Idols. I am a music fan.

14. Who is someone you truly look up to, and which qualities do you most admire about them?

Raymond Ackerman. He is focused on what he does and has built an empire based on a laser-like vision. He stands up for what he believes in, like consumer rights, challenging the government on the fuel price, and giving back and making a difference in the community.

15. What’s your stance on social media?

It is an interesting space. Nine Mile Media offers social media solutions to our clients to complement and amplify campaigns that include competitions and promotions.

Facebook has 500-million users. This is the largest community of people ever built that crosses every nation worldwide. That is powerful. Social media platforms gather information and make money at the same time – so, the challenge, is balancing a successful business model and keeping users happy at the same time.

For more on Billads, call Nine Mile Media on 0861 64 63 64 or email info@billads.co.za.
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