‘Every Founder Tells A Story’ Personal branding and PR

Propeller Group explores what makes a founder tick and how they can build their personal reputation 

Propeller Group’s Comms Club 2023 featured an engrossing session with Dino Myers-Lamptey, founder of media consultancy The Barber Shop. He sat down with our own Associate Director of Partnerships Ben Titchmarsh to talk about the qualities needed by a leader and how to build a credible personal reputation and help the industry in its efforts to embrace diversity.

Tenacity pays off

Dino nearly didn’t pursue a career in advertising after his work experience at an agency lacked the creative opportunities he expected. “Rather, it was more on the media side. You were lining up the CYMK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key) and lining up screen prints for newspapers – all the whilst I wanted to go on the computers and start designing. The whole experience almost put me off advertising completely.” 

But at university he found outlets for advertising and marketing. “We would organise club nights at the student union which involved a lot of promotion. Designing flyers, distributing, communicating, getting people out there – really selling something. This opportunity to experiment with ideas showed me that the marketing part (and particularly the creative side) was something I wanted to get into.”

However, he has found the industry’s recruitment processes at the time lacking and says the graduate schemes were almost a closed shop. “The door was closed without being able to even knock on it – and this is where the recruitment process was flawed. They were fixated on CVs and hiring people from top universities as opposed to employing creative people throughout the company. I had a CV that was six pages long and I couldn’t even get an interview.”

First career break

Newspapers offered Dino a route into the media industry. “I joined the press department in its heyday – when papers had their biggest circulations. And whilst it didn’t last as long as expected, you realise the influence and power of the medium. 

There’s a certain stature about being an advertiser in those environments as well. Not everyone can do it – it means you’re a brand that’s there to stay, that’s thought long and hard about what you’re communicating and how you’re doing it. And I think there’s an appreciation of the overly amplified influence of the paper.” 

But while writing well is a great skill, aspiring leaders, founders and advisors also need to hone verbal communication skills for interviews, pitching, presentations and much more. Dino said that if you are going to position yourself as an expert on a topic, for instance AI, you have to equip yourself to speak confidently about it. 

Devil is in the detail

Ben asked for Dino’s advice on a problem that many people in the industry face. “A lot of people fear public speaking even more than doing a sit-down interview. I’ve always thought you have a stillness in the way you compose yourself – what advice would you give to others?” 

Dino explained that you need to nail down the basics. “There’s a lot of good, simple stuff out there in terms of preparation. Write your own slides, check them, check them again – be really comfortable with it.”

But he also said the most powerful effect can be made by telling your story without the slides. “This allows you to talk and engage, and I think that relates to being yourself, which is one of the hardest things to master. It’s really the case of not getting hung up too much on other people’s stars. Presentation advice can be too much about ‘do this, do that’ – but you should find what you’re comfortable with and make a virtue of it.” 

With two diehard Liverpool supporters in the session (pictured at a recent Merseyside derby) it was inevitable that the theme of reputation and leadership should focus on LFC manager Jürgen Klopp.

Dino identified Jürgen Klopp’s ability to empathise with his players as the foundation for his success. “He has really high standards – impossibly high. But he takes the stress away from the players. That outer perception of calmness and ‘we’ve got a plan’ – he’s a leader you feel comfortable around. You know that he cares a lot about what he does, and he’s not going to quit on the team. He works with the team and brings the best out of individuals.” 

Playing forward for a better industry

Dino champions organisations devoted to bringing more diversity to the industry and representation in advertising, like Brixton Finishing School (BFS), which Propeller also does pro bono work for, and the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN). 

He explained that eventually people realise they need to look beyond their personal profile. “It’s easy to start your career and naturally be concerned about your own progression. And you should be focussing on what you’re doing and trying to build a reputation.

But it gets to a point where you’re searching for people to open doors for you. This is when you realise that there’s not enough older people with long tenures in our industry. Whatsmore, you see a lot of younger people go down the same path – and struggle. And whilst you may have navigated through it with luck and determination, others might not have the same fortune.”

He stressed that “at a certain point” it’s the right thing to do to carve out some time to help others make progress. “You need to speak more about things, and that starts with commenting and getting yourself and your viewpoint out there. Things like BFS and CAN came about by being in a room, talking with the right people and showing passion.” 

He added; “I’m a strategy person. I’m interested in ideas that become real, actual solutions. Strategy is the art of making choices from complex options. And when someone puts this big problem of the lack of diversity and opportunities in our industry, you recognise that’s a clear problem. Everyone’s talking about it – but who’s doing something about it?”

Thanks to Dino Myers-Lamptey for taking part in Comms Club 2023. You can watch the full session below.