Stan Richards Curated

Principal of the Richard group.

CURATED BY :  

This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Stan Richards have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Stan Richards's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming advertising professionalss. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • Does the work culture impact effectively on advertisement ideas?

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  • Could you talk about the loyalty of your employees?

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  • Success Ideas and Tips from Master Ad Man, Stan Richards - The Sherwood Group

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  • What is your tactics behind staying in balance?

    In addition to running, I am an avid salt-water fisherman. I keep a couple of boats down at my beach place at South Padre Island. I am also an avid skier. I ski fast, and ski hard. I have a place at Deer Valley, and I spend about 2 weekends of every three during the season there. I take clients and associates up there with me. It is a big part of my life. Right now, just so you’ll understand, I am about 15 weeks beyond a hip replacement. So, my running has been sorely limited. I have not been able to run for about 6 months now, including before and after the surgery. And, I’m just now starting to run again. Yesterday I ran 1/4 mile for the first time. So, it’s probably going to be another month or so before my CFO and I will start our running together. But we’ll get there.

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  • What is your experience on working with business coaches and consultants?

    Though I’ve never worked with coaches or business consultants, I have to tell you, I have a very, very strong CFO, who obviously is a close friend as well. And since much of the business side of the business is in his care, it allows my focus is be on the output, and not much more than that. The business side of the business never takes me more than 1/2 hour a day. That’s an absolute maximum. And, under normal circumstances our CFO and I run together every morning, and we cover most of the business discussion during the course of that 4-5 mile run.

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  • How do put disappointments behind you?

    Back when my kids were playing in kid’s basketball leagues, I was always a coach, because, I played high school and college basketball, so I knew the game fairly well, and always had outstanding teams. One year I had an unbelievable team. We went the entire season and never even came even close losing a game. Very often the team was so good, I would have to impose rules to hold the score down. I would make the kids throw seven passes before they could take a shot. So, they breezed through the regular season, and when we got to the play-offs and the finals for the championship, unbelievably, they lost. And the parents were heart-broken. They were crying and the kids were crying, and the world had come to an end, because this great team that had never experienced a loss before, lost in the most important game of the season.

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  • Would you do anything different if you had to do it all over?

    Oh, about a 100 things. (Laughter) Certainly I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way, and I’ve made some bad decisions, and I would re-do all of those. But I never focus on that stuff. I learned early on to put disappointments behind me, focus on the work at hand, and whatever the disappointment happens to be, it goes into short-term memory and disappears. If you are interested I can tell you how I learned to do that.

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  • What are your thoughts on an accomplishment that stands out?

    There is one thing that stands above anything else. Here at The Richards Group, we are at roughly 700 people. We have the same energy, electricity, and vitality that we had when we were 50 people. That’s a really a hard thing to do. It’s pretty easy with a 50 person organization to have the attitude and the atmosphere of a skunk-works. Everybody is working really hard, everybody is focused on the work, everyone is pushing to make it as good as it can be, but it gets harder as you get to be 150, or 350 or 700 people. But we’ve managed to accomplish that. And of everything that we have accomplished, I would point to that and say it’s the one thing that I am most proud of.

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  • What are your thoughts on getting good clients

    We don’t have a new business out-reach program. We depend on our work to provide the opportunities for us. When we get a call from someone who wants to interview us, or is conducting an agency review, we get really aggressive, and we push hard to win the business, but there is no active business out-reach, other than maintaining a good relationship with many of the search consultants around the country.

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  • What are your thoughts on building and sustaining a career?

    I would say the most important thing is consistency. I have never waivered from focusing on the most important thing, and that is the work. I ask myself every day, “What can I do to make my work better? How can I push it? How can we get it to a level which we hope to achieve?” And that has never changed. So, for over 50 years my Point of View has never changed. Clients have come and gone. And, I think if there is a single attribute that has carried us to where we are today, it is that laser focus on that “one thing” that counts.

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  • Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives?

    Take your ego out of it—listen to criticism but believe in your work. Have a book that’s diverse with some beauty, cars, home goods, services, etc. Not a book with just one thing. Put your best work at the top of your book. Network and talk to people in the industry whenever the opportunity rises. UT is a good resource, so when an agency comes to visit, take the chance to talk to them. Most importantly, have a good attitude about the whole thing.

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  • Did you hold any internships while in college? If so, how did they prepare you for a full time job?

    I did have one internship the summer before my senior year and throughout my senior year. Internships 100% help by placing you on real work and learning about the ins and outs of agency life. You can only learn so much in a classroom, but being put onto real briefs and getting challenged by your mentors is something that will help you once you get a full-time job. You also learn more about the processes of agency life and have an understanding of the agency and client relationship.

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  • Who was your favorite professor at UT, and how were they influential to you?

    One of my favorite instructors Brent Ladd was actually someone who was filling in for a few semesters for Art Director’s Seminar. You can tell he genuinely wanted us to get better, was excited to hear we were getting interviews from agencies, and pushed us to submit work for award shows. I think it’s that attitude that I want to have in the future when it’s my turn to mentor. Unfortunately, although advertising is a great industry to be in, I think it’s also known for the ego that comes with more experience. But I want to be encouraging and be someone who’s going to push the work for young creatives.

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  • Are there any challenges you face in the workplace that you didn’t expect coming out of college?

    At the beginning, it was process. At first, you don’t know who to share what to and you don’t know who to talk to when it comes to certain questions or concerns you have. My copywriter also mentioned that being in a workplace where you’re not surrounded by people your age, you’re also unsure of how to get to get to know someone that’s not your age. There are so many unspoken rules that you have to figure out along the way.

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  • What is your favorite brand that you’ve worked on and why?

    I wouldn’t say I have a favorite brand to work on. I think it depends on the projects. I have favorite projects. Since I’m on many brands, sometimes it’s fun to think about anti-aging and then switch it up and start thinking about babies. But I always gravitate towards projects that don’t just sell products, but more of creating a brand voice and giving brands something to stand by. That’s my favorite thing to work on.

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  • What is it like living in New York?

    New York is incredible. I love the pace and the energy the city has to offer. You can never be bored. I hate the MTA though.

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  • How do you like working at Saatchi & Saatchi?

    Saatchi has given me many opportunities to grow. Although I’m still new to the industry, I had amazing bosses and project managers that trust me and my copywriter enough to put us on larger briefs, giving us the opportunity to learn and grow by working alongside people who are more senior than us. And sometimes, our work gets chosen and we go into production for it!

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  • What organizations were you involved in at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) that helped you prepare for a career in advertising?

    I wasn’t in any advertising or communication-based organizations but I was actively involved in other organizations that helped me manage my time. When you’re bouncing around officer meetings, dance rehearsals, internships, and putting together your portfolio, there’s no excuse to slack off.

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  • How did the Texas Creative Sequence help shape you as an art director and designer?

    I did have a little design background but Texas Creative helped me think beyond visuals and more conceptually and how to make insights into something more human. I’d also say it helped me learn to take constructive criticism. I remember in Portfolio I, I dreaded getting my work ripped apart, but now I know it’s to improve the work and make it the best it can be. Plus, it’s useful in the industry when you don’t get upset over ideas that get killed. Thick skin is key.

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  • What made you choose to major in advertising?

    Funny enough, it was an accident. I was an undeclared major at Moody and at my freshman orientation, they told the undeclared majors to “choose an informational session based on what you might you like.” I was like, “What? That’s why we’re undeclared. We don’t know.” I randomly went to the advertising one and as they were describing the major, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I told my advisor I immediately wanted to be an ad major and they made it happen.

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  • How do know if people are living the culture?

    It’s easy to spot. When people pass each other in the hall, do they smile and say hi or look away? That’s a tell-tale sign of the kind of company culture you’ve got.

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  • You don’t believe leaders should micromanage. As the leader of your company, what do you do instead?

    I believe in giving people autonomy and opportunity. It makes all the difference in the world. No one here should feel managed. We provide the opportunity, and it’s up to people to seize those opportunities. It makes us more productive and effective.

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  • Do you hire for cultural fit? What are you looking for in a new hire?

    When I interview someone – and I still interview all of the creatives who work here – I begin each conversation not with their portfolio, but their back story. I ask them about who they were in high school. You can learn a lot about someone by the things they did when they were younger. Athletes, for example – they need a certain amount of discipline and hard work to succeed. They have a work ethic that fits us. I ask them to talk about their family – their parents, siblings, their lives. From their answers, I can tell a lot about who they are, what they hold to be important, and how they might conduct themselves in our environment.

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  • People who come to work for the Richards Group tend to stick around for years – in many cases, even decades. Why?

    People find it hard to leave, even though they get offers all the time from our competitors. Because so many things are working well for them, they don’t want to go. And there’s our model of profit sharing, of course. We don’t have any shareholders or investors or outside partners. All of the money we make is paid out to the people who work here. That doesn’t exist in any other ad agency in America. But it really comes back to the way we treat people – with respect.

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  • You planned the company’s new office (opened in 2016) to be extremely open – lots of common areas, few walls. What was the goal behind the design?

    It reflects who we are as a company. We decided to cut the number of conference rooms and used all of that open space for huddle tables where teams can meet up. Instead of giving leadership the corner space, we turned that into an open meeting area for our people. We prefer that people are up and about. It leads to more encounters and better relationships. People are always passing one another, getting into each other’s space, and that’s great for collegiality. At the very least, they get to say hi to one another. And I think there’s a lot to be said for just saying hi.

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  • In 2017, you were ranked by Glassdoor to be the third most well-liked ad agency CEO. Why is that?

    Well, I’m a pretty nice guy. (Laughs.) And people know I treat them with respect. The net effect of that is that they like me. But I don’t seek to be liked. It’s not a goal. I only seek that our work is as good as it can be.

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  • You hire lots of creative talent. How do make sure that talent is continually developed?

    Group heads are responsible for nurturing people to make sure they’re growing. We want everyone who works here to be a star. We guide all of our employees so that their star continues to shine. And there’s mentorship, of course. Every new person who comes to work here gets a mentor – someone aside from their direct supervisor – who they can turn to for support and guidance. That is something we’ve found to be very helpful. And because we sit people from different groups next to each other, you are learning various part of the business – account management, marketing, design – much faster than you would in a divisional arrangement.

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  • You believe that the driver of your culture is respect. Is that something your employees are taught or simply learn along the way?

    It’s observed and absorbed. I meet with all new employees during their first three months on the job and stress the level of respect we have for each individual and that every individual must have for everyone who works here. Advertising agencies are permissive about people exploding when someone disappoints them. That’s totally unacceptable here. If someone lets you down, you sit down with them and try to figure out what went wrong. I learned this hard way. In my first job, I worked for an agency where a culture of disrespect prevailed. I hated the work. I hated the place. From that experience, I was determined to do it differently. It’s that level of respect that makes all the difference for people.

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  • You run a very disciplined agency – people clock in by 8:30 am and fill out time sheets – and yet the Richards Group continually puts out some of the most creative work in the industry. How do you maintain creativity alongside the discipline?

    If I were a gallery painter, I would start everyday at 7 am and I would paint. And I would paint until the end of the day. I wouldn’t wait for some muse to come along and inspire me. And that’s the same thing we do here. If we’re struggling to find an answer, we don’t find the answer by going to a guru. We find it by working our way through whatever the problem is. You stick with it until you find it. That’s how we operate. So while we’re a free-wheeling environment, we’re also a very disciplined environment. We work until we get the work right.

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  • Do you feel a responsibility to contribute to something bigger than yourself?

    Yes, in more than one way. First of all, I think it’s important at my stage in life that philanthropy becomes an important part of what I do. I’ve been successful for a long time and I don’t need to worry about money anymore. There will be some left over for my kids and my grandkids but basically, I don’t need any more. So, what you do when that happens, you give it away. And generally, pick very few nonprofits that are doing great work and you do the best you can to help them. And I do that. The problem with it is that when you’re on that list of big givers, and I’m sure there’s a list somewhere, there’s somebody always contacting you looking for help. And, with the exception of the super rich, nobody has enough money to be able to help all of them. So, you wind up having to say no more often than you say yes, that’s not what I want to do. And so, you’re limited to a very few beneficiaries. And that’s where the money goes. There’s another way, I think there’s something bigger than myself. And it dramatized itself, a few weeks ago. I had an early morning meeting and I was going to be picked up in front of our building by one of our account guys and then he and I would go to that meeting. We all come to work at 8:30 in the morning. We are really good about being on time. And so, I was out front of the building waiting for him to pick me up at precisely 8:30. And this long string of cars came across the front of the building and pulled into our parking garage. We have 742 employees, so basically 742 cars came by and I was standing there waiting for much of that time. And I thought about all of the people who are educating kids, buying homes, taking care of their families, and living a good life as a result of the firm that we have collectively built. And that was probably the most emotional and telling moment I’ve ever had in thinking about what our business accomplishes.

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  • Was it a member of your family or friend who might’ve inspired you the most in your youth?

    No, I don’t think so. Not in terms of inspiration. When I was a little kid I drew all the time. I was always drawing something. And I got to be pretty good at it. I could draw better than anybody I knew. My mom decided that I was probably going to be the next da Vinci. And one of the things that she did was insist that I take painting and drawing classes on Saturdays. I wasn’t thrilled about that because I’d much rather have been out playing with my friends. But I did it anyway. And I just got better and better at painting and drawing. When it came time for me to choose a college, I chose Pratt Institute, which was the preeminent school in the country for design. So, my course was set early on. [I had] no idea that advertising was going to be the answer because I thought that I’d probably wind up being a gallery painter, but I found that I loved advertising. It had all of the challenge and the joy of doing what I loved to do. And what I would do for nothing, and I was just delighted that people would pay me for it. So that really set the tone for my career. I graduated from Pratt when I was 20 and have been working in advertising ever since.

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  • Your team recently won the Shiner Bock account. Congratulations! Do clients like these find you or do you reach out? How do you win new business?

    That particular one, since you brought it up, there’s a history there. About 20 years ago, we were hired by Corona beer and Corona was a very sleepy little Mexican brand that hadn’t made much headway in the US. We introduced an idea for Corona that was terrific. It was to take Corona to the beach and everything about Corona should bring up the idea of how nice it is to be at the beach and how relaxed you are and how much you enjoy life. So, everything that we did for—oh probably maybe an 8- or 9-year period, maybe even a little longer than that—was all about the beach. Really revolutionized the brand. It went from being a very small player in the imported beer business to being the number one import in America over the period of time that we worked on it. As it happens, we were the agency for the distributor that had the eastern United States plus Texas. There was another distributor that had the western United States. And our client at the time, who owned that distributorship, was Carlos Alvarez. Fabulous guy that we did a lot of great work for. And we had a terrific relationship with. Ultimately, Carlos lost the brand. It went away. And of course, we were gone too. But then Carlos bought Shiner. So, we presented for Shiner and whether it had anything to do with the fact that we had a big success in the past working for Carlos or it was our presentation. I’m not going to decide which had the most important role. But we were hired by Shiner. And that’s how that came to pass.

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  • Could you briefly share with us what you’re working on now? Or what’s your current project?

    Well, we have lots of clients and probably at any given moment in time we have maybe 50 campaigns that are under development. And although I don’t take the primary responsibility for any of them, I take a role. It’s a review role where I see all of that work and I sit in the meetings and the work is presented. I may see it in interim stages as well, but at some point in time I’m going to see virtually everything that we do. That doesn’t include the 5th generation of a direct mail campaign that we’ve been doing for a long time. I don’t need to see that. But anything that’s new, I’m pretty much a part of. So, how do I spend my time? The day before yesterday I looked at rough cuts on the new campaign for Shiner beer. And the rough cuts were terrific. They were outstanding, and the team that was responsible had done an outstanding job. Shiner is a decent-sized client so we will be doing a lot over the next several years. On the other hand, we have a new client Nature Nate’s Honey. A tiny client who is never going to spend a lot of money, but it’s an opportunity to do something outstanding creatively. And that is as exciting to me as some of the big things that we do for some of our other clients. Sometimes we are dealing with television spots that are going to cost a million dollars to produce. And other times we’ll be doing things digitally that cost $2,000 to produce. And yet I could get just as excited as the little ones as I can the big ones.

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  • Could you give us an example?

    Probably my favorite campaign of everything we’ve ever done has been the campaign that we did for Chick-Fil-A. The cow campaign was one of those things that the world has never seen before. The category had never seen anything like it before because the category has always been, show pictures of the food with an interesting line and that’s how you sell the product. And we didn’t do any of that. We went a way that no one had ever explored before. And it turned out to be the most successful campaign in the history of fast food. And that campaign probably set standards that have never been achieved before and maybe will never be achieved again.

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  • You often refer to yourself as the creative guy. What satisfies you the most being a creative person?

    I get the most satisfaction out of coming up with an idea. And an idea that has real value and lasts for a long, long time.

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  • You have been working in advertising for many years. How has the advertising industry changed for the past 20 years?

    The changes have been extraordinary. If I go back 15 to 20 years, 100% of our income came from traditional advertising. Television, radio, outdoor, print, newspaper. For the bulk of my career, that’s what we did. Now, 60% of our income comes from digital. 60%! Now that is an enormous change. And it’s changed everything that we do. We still do lots of television. We don’t do as much print as we used to because magazines and newspapers have just gotten skinnier and skinnier. But we still do lots of radio, lots of outdoor, and lots of television. But the bulk of what we do today is something that is going to happen digitally. It’s going to run on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and any of the other digital media. And it occupies 60% of our staff and accounts for 60% of our income.

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  • You talked about the importance of portfolio and presentation skills. What would you suggest to young creatives to prepare them? If you could give one piece of advice for people just starting out, what would you say?

    I guess when I talk to those kids I hope to make them understand that this is hard work. That it can be great fun. It can be exciting. One can be very well compensated for it over a career, but it’s also very hard work. And you just have to do the hard work. Spend the hours, spend the commitment, work as hard as you possibly can no matter what the requirements are. There are going to be times when it doesn’t come easily. When you have to slug it out with trying to find an idea that is a terrific idea. But you can’t just stop because you ran out of time. And you can’t miss deadlines. Deadlines are deadlines and they cannot be missed. You have to somehow figure out—how do you get to the right answer and get to the right answer in the amount of time that you have allotted for it.

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  • The Richards Group was ranked the #1 place to work in DFW. So, every year you must go through quite a number of job applications. When you’re searching for young creative talent for your agency, what qualities do you look for the most?

    What we look for the most is a great portfolio. We want to see their work from school or from a previous job. And it’s important that that work be the kind of thing that is done so well that when I interview one of those kids coming in for the first time I can find two or maybe three pieces in a portfolio that I wish we had done—that are that good—that could easily have come out of The Richards Group and I would have been very proud if they had. So, the portfolio is the primary evidence of what they are capable of doing and we care a lot about that. In addition to that, you have to look at personality. What kind of a person is this? Is this somebody that is going to be fun to work with? Somebody that we will all enjoy having as a part of the organization? Are they likely to have good presentation skills? You can’t judge that in an interview, but it’s important that you get a feel that this person has enough confidence that they can become a highly effective presenter. And those are the characteristics I look for most.

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  • What are the plans for your successor?

    https://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/news/2019/12/23/richards-group-glenn-dady.html

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  • And more: How did you gel with the challenges at Richards group?

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  • The way Richards group operates is completely different from other companies. What is the purpose of that?

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  • How did you get into creative art?

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