Quick-fire Q&A with Jonty Fisher

Jonty Fisher, CEO of Old Friends Young Talent, is a classically trained marketing strategist with close to 20 years of experience on both business-to-business and business-to-consumer brands. He is as adept at conceptualising savvy business strategies, as he is pitching out-of-the-box creative advertising strategies that will give his agency’s clients the edge. He has worked across multinational and local brands such as HEINEKEN, Jack Daniel’s, adidas Originals, KIA Motors, PwC, LVMH, Lindt and Prudential. Finding game-changing solutions in highly competitive categories is what makes him tick.

Describe your leadership style.
I lead by setting a very clear path, with clear expectations and then managing people in a human way along that path. I have an approachable, consultative style and try to help people be the best versions of themselves they can.

Your top tip to beat procrastination?
I try to actively manage distractions like social media, internet rabbit holes and casual office interruptions. And if needs be, I get out of the office to get deep work done.

Favourite getaway destination?
Any cabin in the mountains without cellphone reception.

Who or what inspires you?
I’m immensely inspired by people who have the freedom to be exactly who they are, whether they’re famous artists or young talent we have in our agency.

Your one wish for South Africa?
That we as South Africans focus more on what brings us together than what separates us. We have incredible people in this country and if we work together, we will achieve great things.

If you could have any 3 people over for dinner, who would they be and what would you serve?
I’m pretty hopeless at cooking so it would probably be a braai, and if I could invite anyone, I’d ask Steve Biko, Eddie Vedder and the mountaineer Reinhold Messner.

What five pieces of advice would you give to aspiring young business starters?

  • Practice resilience: Starting a business is tough, and it takes a while to grow something stable, you’ll need plenty of resilience to keep going when others stop.
  • Look for mentors early: It’s amazing the shortcuts you learn from good mentors. Seek them out everywhere and as early as you can. If you need to learn something, find the biggest expert in the field and try to get hold of them – you’d be surprised how many people are willing to offer advice.
  • Live and die by cashflow: A classic, but a classic for a reason.
  • Be patient: Build for the future, not just for the next quarter. Patience is a paradoxically powerful tool in exponential growth. There are very few ‘overnight’ successes.
  • Be comfortable not knowing: You’ll never have perfect information. Trust your gut, get good advice and take convicted but imperfect decisions. Learn if you fail. Celebrate with your people when you win.

  • What is the one thing most people don’t know about you?
    I can’t squint my eyes.

    What would you do with an extra hour in your day?
    Go for a walk on the mountain with my family. Every day.