Despite leaving school in year 10, without a clue of where he hoped to go in his career, Jimmy Hyett heads his own agency, sits on the Media Federation of Australia board, and is a 30 Under 30 winner.
The 30 Under 30 Awards, presented by Vevo, are back for another year, with entries closing on 22 February. In the lead up to the awards, I’ll be speaking with past winners, and leaders in our industry to see where it all began for them.
He’s a man who has taken the obscure path, but as Hyett says, he lives life like there’s no tomorrow.
I caught up with Hyett, a surfey, vibrant dude, now 36, to chat about his journey, to ask how it all started, and how he went from a clueless teen to a leading professional in the independent agency space.
It’s a story with a few key lessons for young adlanders, summed up best in a few lines he told me about taking risks, and following your drive.
“So many people think about doing things in the future and don’t take that step or that leap,” he said. “I would say, there’s no point holding back.”
Jimmy, you won a 30 Under 30 Award in 2014 for the ‘media agency’ category. It’s an award that still sits in your LinkedIn bio.
How significant was this award win?
30 Under 30 occurred at an interesting time for me. It was just as I started to do things outside of my daily role. I was running a small production business as a side hustle, and there was a big focus on career progression, particularly at that stage in my career.
So, entering the awards was half forward thinking, and going, ‘okay, is this something that’s really going to help in the future and give me that leverage of being named and being successful?’.
The other half was looking back and going, ‘well, I’ve really busted my ass for years, and this is something that could recognise the work that I’ve put in’. Winning was a dual result, off the back of that.
I also really enjoy a challenge, in terms of being put up against peers and seeing where you sit on the spectrum. It’s nice to get the ‘chocolates’ from that process.
In addition, you say in your LinkedIn bio: “My path has been obscure, my passion is intense, my obstacles are exciting and my success is living life like there’s no tomorrow.”
I wonder if you’d be happy to explain what you mean by that?
I didn’t do the typical—leave school in year 12 and go to uni. I left school in year 10, didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do in my career, then I started working in a different way.
I started working in surf shops, in customer service, which then led me into the sales side of the media, in magazines. That time in magazines got my foot in the door at agencies, and then I worked my way up from there, through a pretty extensive career across a few agencies.
As you said, you busted your ass, Jimmy. You’ve worked pretty hard to get where you are then?
Yeah. The hardest part, especially when you don’t know really what you want to do, is trying to find a path. And I didn’t really understand, I didn’t really know what my passion was or what direction I wanted to go in.
Things kind of fell into place as I started to move into different roles. Even before I got into advertising agencies, I started to get excited about the constant challenges and what businesses were doing to solve them, but I got into media and I thought it was my passion.
But it wasn’t until I started my own business that I realised ‘business’ was my passion—media was my skill. That elevated everything to the next level, because it made me think differently: outside our industry, but still within our industry’s walls, if that makes sense.
This Is Flow is nearing its sixth year in operation. It’s a company you founded while you were still working as MediaCom’s group business director.
Why did you decide to found the company, and what pushed you to move to This Is Flow fulltime?
As I mentioned, I was doing some production work on the side, at the time. It was very media focussed, where I would do video production, shoot, edit and produce videos. I had a few smaller clients, and I really loved what I was doing—the excitement of creating something yourself.
I then had a couple of good opportunities with the businesses that I was working with that wanted some help buying their media, and that allowed me to start the wheels in motion.
I basically decided to take a leap of faith and put all my eggs into one basket, and it coincided with Care Pharmaceuticals (who was our founding client) looking to consolidate their media, and that’s how it began.
That allowed me to go fulltime. We took it slow in the first few years, really building our foundation. These last two years have been an absolute skyrocket of growth, which has been amazing.
I was by myself for the first two to three years, and now we’ve got eight staff.
It’s exciting to see something start so small and then now to be really competitive in the industry—continually making the other agencies look over their shoulders.
In December, you welcomed six new clients—most of which are from the wellness and fitness industries—who cited choosing This Is Flow after first using the Digital Incubator platform.
Could you explain why you created the Digital Incubation platform?
COVID was an interesting time for everyone. There were a lot of people outside of typical agency clients that were looking for help, and looking to know what to do with their media.
We wanted to basically create a platform that allowed clients, new businesses, start-ups, business owners—that didn’t have the budgets to really utilise an agency—to access the sort of service and results that an agency could deliver.
We put processes in place with the team to make it like a subscription model, so a little bit different to the normal offering, with strict, straightforward reporting, implementation and optimisation all included with that. We also allowed our own team to work on this, and this had a dual function.
It not only helps clients get to know and understand the digital landscape and how they get a return through those things but … for the newer people in our team, and the ones with less experience, it gives them experience on how to work on a business, including the strategy, the implementation, the reporting, the communication.
That experience has been invaluable for the team, because as they move up in their role, they already have this sense of ownership and confidence in terms of what kind of conversations need to be had.
It’s going to stay active.
You joined the MFA in 2020. I’m wondering why you wanted to do that?
The MFA has been a part of my whole career, in multiple ways and multiple fashions. From the very beginning, I was attending a lot of events.
I then joined the MFA NGEN committee, and as I progressed through those years, with the extra training, and the chance to get to know people from other agencies, having an impact on the industry was really big for me.
Moving into the MFA 5+ was also important, as I think that this industry has some of the best talent in Australia. It’s incredible, and I want to try and harness as much of that and keep them within our industry.
Joining the MFA board was a no-brainer, because it meant that, not only were we at the forefront of decisions, it also meant that I could have a voice for a lot of the independent agencies as well, in an industry which is very heavily driven by multinationals.
It was a big step for me and an exciting opportunity. One of my biggest focuses is on the passion and innovation that excites the younger end of our industry, as they start to grow into leaders—I want to inspire them as they go on their own path, no matter what that is.
Jimmy, what advice would you give your younger self?
That’s a good question.
I was terrible at studying at school. I hated school, I hated studying. It wasn’t until I found my passion that I really started to absorb, and crave, and want more information.
So, I think I’d say to my younger self, get out and experience more. Experience more different directions, look for opportunities, and grab it with both hands.
So many people think about doing things in the future and don’t take that step or that leap. I would say, there’s no point holding back. If you really crave it, if you really want to do something, you should just give it a go, because we have so much time.
If you weren’t working in our industry, where would you be?
I’d be in business still. It would be running small business, whether its retail or another sort of business, it would be in business and strategy.
Media is one of the things that impacts business on such a massive scale that it drew me to it. But if I wasn’t in media, I’d definitely be running a business. I’d probably own my own shop, of some description.
What are you waiting for? Enter B&T’s 30 Under 30 Awards! You can submit your entry here.
The 30 Under 30 Awards will be held at The Factory Theatre, Sydney on Thursday, 15 April.
If you’d like more information on the event, head to this website.
Other key information
- Entries close Monday, 22 February 2021
- Late entries close Monday, 1 March 2021
- People’s Choice Poll launches Wednesday, 3 March 2021
- Judging period: Wednesday, 3 March to Friday, 19 March 2021
- Shortlist announced Wednesday, 24 March 2021
- Early bird tickets close at 11.59pm Wednesday, 2 April 2021
- Full price tickets on sale at 12am Thursday, 3rd April 2021 (until sold out)
- People’s Choice Poll closes Friday, 26 March 2021.
Thank you to our incredible sponsors for making this event possible.
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