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Sweathead, A Strategy Podcast

Sweathead, A Strategy Podcast

By Mark Pollard
How do you get good at strategy? Whether you’re into brand strategy, advertising strategy, digital strategy, social media strategy, or you just love doing strategy but you get frustrated at how people use the word, Sweathead will help you delve into the practices and minds of some of the world’s most wonderful strategists. We've just reached 3 years of publishing and nearly 1,000,000 listens! Hit SUBSCRIBE, tell your friends, and leave a kind rating. Real-time action is @markpollard.

You can find strategy classes and "Strategy Is Your Words" here:
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How To Do Account Planning - Mark Pollard

Sweathead, A Strategy Podcast

The Proust Questionnaire But For Brands - Parker Mason, Strategy Consultant
What is your greatest fear? What is your most marked characteristic? Who are your heroes in real life? In this Sweathead episode with Parker Mason, we discuss the Proust Questionnaire and how Parker applies it to strategy projects. Parker has travelled the world doing strategy for big agencies. Now he's in Vancouver helping agencies win business and start-ups get their start. Find Parker on: Instagram Twitter ** Join Sweathead to access 100 strategy classes and pick up a copy of "Strategy Is Your Words" today.
September 23, 2021
Sexual Harassment In Advertising - Amanda Rue
Amanda Rue is a business consultant, facilitator, and the founder of The Shift Work Shop, a human resource consultancy offering consent-forward sexual harassment prevention and training. With over ten years in the advertising industry, including Vice Media, Anomaly (Ace Content) and Team One, Rue is a former brand strategy director turned founder and independent consultant with the mission of inviting more pleasure, purpose and passion into work and life. Her work with The Shift Work Shop has been featured in Forbes, The Rosie Report, Lifehacker and more with a focus on completely eradicating sexual harassment at work through an understanding of consent, power dynamics, and honest communication. You can find Amanda here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and strategy classes at Sweathead here:
September 20, 2021
Without A Problem, You Don’t Have A Strategy - Rodrigo Maroni, Crispin Porter + Bogusky Brazil
What role does linguistics play in strategy work and in everyday life? What exactly is a problem? Is there really a right or a wrong way to deal with a problem? We are discussing all these and more with Rodrigo Maroni, the Head of Strategy and Data at Crispin Porter + Bogusky Brazil. He currently serves as President of the Board at Grupo de Planejamento, the professional organization that represents strategy professionals in Brazil. Previously, he’s held strategy leadership positions at Wieden+Kennedy, BBH, JWT and DDB, in the US and Brazil, working for brands such as Nike, Budweiser, Heineken, Coca-Cola and Mondelez.  His projects have won a total of over 180 awards, including a Grand Prix at Cannes. ** Join Sweathead to access 100 strategy classes and pick up a copy of "Strategy Is Your Words" today at
September 16, 2021
Fast Wit: How Stand-up Comedy and Rap Can Help a Strategy Career
Inspirations on strategy can come from surprising places. In Asha's case, it's stand-up comedy and rap. She takes us through the power of words and fast wit, and how her experiences as a comedian and former rap music artist have helped shape her career in strategy. Asha Davis co-hosts and produces The Disruptor Series podcast, and is also an Integrated Strategy Director at TBWA\Chiat\Day New York. Canadian-born and NY based, Asha has over a decade of experience in the advertising industry and has helped top-tier brands including Dove, Huggies, and Nissan 'connect the dots' across their communications and organizations to create award-winning campaigns. In addition to being an accomplished marketer, Asha is also a talented stand-up comedian and writer and has performed at some of the most famous comedy clubs in New York. ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
September 7, 2021
Dear Strategy Bosses, Here Are Seven Things Your Strategists Want Right Now
We are about to reboot. New interviews are coming. Sweathead is now on Instagram here: And if you’d like to find out more about our first strategy conference The Sweathead Do-Together take a look at
September 2, 2021
How To Use Principles, First Principles, And Problems To Have Ideas - Walk And Talk, Central Park
Also I answer 15 questions from Instagram stories (@markpollard), tell you about The Sweathead Do-Together and give you four book recommendations. I hope you’re doing okay out there. Find us at
July 14, 2021
10 Lessons From Some Of The World's Most Effective Advertising Strategists - Fergus O'Carroll, On Strategy Showcase Host
What do you learn from interviewing some of the world's best advertising strategists and account planners about their agency's best work? Fergus O'Carroll hosts the On Strategy Showcase podcast. He focuses on one thing–the stories behind incredible advertising campaigns. In this episode, I gently encourage Fergus (joking, I totally forced him) into a list of ten things he's taken away from tens of his own interviews.  They are: 1. We don't understand enough and need to push for a deeper understanding in our work 2. Don't let the search for an elusive insight ruin a good strategy 3. New shiny objects are killing us 4. There's no one way to plan 5. There's no one truth–there are many truths 6. Don't forget the other 50% 7. Rediscovery is more powerful than reinvention 8. Study the past 9. Develop the brand's voice over time because it won't happen over night 10. There's no shame in your strategy showing   You can find Fergus and his work here: ** Bonus points: Fergus is talking at The Sweathead Do-Together this September. Find details and tickets here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
May 31, 2021
How 550 Strategists Are Feeling Right Now - Part 1 (Plus The Sweathead Do-Together Speakers)
In this episode, I download you about the first three findings from the recent Sweathead Feelings Check-In Survey. These are: 1. They appreciate the job and the money but they have questions about this version of capitalism. 2. They are not in a bad mood but they are in a mood to move. 3. They are raring to go but often feel sidelined in their work. 550 strategists responded. You can find the deck here: Also, I run you through the speaker list for our first ever conference, The Sweathead Do-Together. Excitement. You can find details here:
May 25, 2021
How To Get The Advertising Industry To Understand You - Fabiola Nguembu, Account Planner
How do you get the advertising industry and your clients to understand what you bring to the table?  Fabiola Nguembu is an account planner and researcher in Dakar, Senegal. She is one of a handful of planners in sub-Saharan Africa. We discuss what it's like to try to work in an industry that might not want to think too much and in which account planning is relatively new and not yet a major force. You can find Fabiola here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
May 4, 2021
Screenplay Techniques For Your Next Presentation - Victor Pineiro, CD & Author
What if your next presentation wasn't fifty slides of numbers followed by fifty slides of tactics? What if you could present your thinking within a story structure? Victor Pineiro knows stories. He made the documentary "Second Skin" about people who play online in different realities, he's written books, and he's helped to create some of your favorite social media brand presences - think Skittles and YouTube. Oh, and he has taught screenwriting.   In this episode, we discuss the most useful parts of movie structures and try to apply them to a hypothetical presentation.   You can find Vic here ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
April 27, 2021
How Insights From Outsiders Are Useful - Erika Brenner, The Outsights
How are the insights of outsiders useful and how can outsiders find anything more than a stereotype? Erika Brenner has worked as a planner and insights manager, and now works in marketing for Helly Hansen. Born in Brazil, Erika spent eight years in China after university and is now into her fourth year in Norway. With all this moving around, she has had to explain the value she can bring to local advertising and marketing teams by not being local, something she now captures in her website The Outsights:   We discuss: - Belonging everywhere and nowhere at once - How to work with stereotypes - The reality behind stereotypes about Brazilians, Norwegians, and Australians ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
April 23, 2021
If Your Research Is Boring How Can Anybody Use It? - Gunny Scarfo, Ben Zeidler, Nonfiction
How much of the research that brands commission ever gets used? And isn't that the point? Gunny Scarfo and Ben Zeidler set up Nonfiction Research in 2018 to do research in an unafraid way, a way that might just open a soul or two.   We discuss: - Having an "unassailable" research methodology - Unusual experts such as bank robbers - Building a research business like Non-Fiction with a clear set of values - Insights they've discovered on their adventures   You can find Nonfiction here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
April 20, 2021
Not Starting From Scratch When You Respond to 1000s Of Marketing Briefs Per Year - Nick Susi, Complex
When you respond to thousands of briefs in a year, how do you not start from scratch every day? Nick Susi is Head of Strategy at Complex Collective, a group that sits in the Complex media organization that is owned by Hearst and Verizon. His team often has 24 to 72 hours to help their sales team pitch ideas capable of winning budget.   We discuss over 7 ingredients that help strategy and creative teams work without much time–from a clear philosophy, understanding common client requests, hiring people connected to the zeitgeist, and more. You can find Nick here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
April 13, 2021
How Side Projects Help You (Especially When Snoop Dogg Is Your First Customer) - Jesse Nicely, Strategist and Entrepreneur
Side projects don't have to be side hustles - but what's the point of them? Jesse Nicely is a Group Strategy Director at Cashmere in Los Angeles.  After studying psychology and journalism at NYU and editing the subculture magazine Frank 151, Jesse has found a place in the advertising world but he keeps one hand in a side project called Puffington's Golf. Puffington's Golf is a brand for golfers who also play with cannabis.   We discuss: - The benefits of side projects - The struggles of side projects   You can find Jesse here And you can find Puffington's Golf here ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
April 8, 2021
The Story That Wasn't Told - Why The Dark Places Are So Ripe For Research And Strategy - Lindsey Wehking, Investigative Strategist
Why is it so uncomfortable for marketers and agencies to delve into dark emotions? Lindsey Wehking is an Associate Director of Strategy at Nonfiction Research. She recently led research into the way people use music playlists on Spotify to identify and process dark emotions. Nonfiction published this research under the title "America's Secret Playlist Report".   We discuss how the team approached this research and what they found. Hint: dark places aren't bad places.   What I took out of this chat is this: 1. "Negative" emotions are useful and need dealing with; they need labels and names if we're to address them . 2. Vivid language disappears somewhere between what we say and what people tell us and what strategists put in their formal documents. 3. When you're conducting a research project, it helps to have breathing room between an initial qualitative phase and the quantitative phase so you can work out what you're really looking to put numbers to. 4. "The Story That Wasn't Told"–this is what Lindsey focuses on in her research. Do enough strategists ask themselves for the untold story before they write creative briefs? 5. People want to go into dark places with others because our public lives focus the light on heroic acts by heroic people as if those heroic acts are eternal and infinite. You can find Lindsey here: You can find Nonfiction Research here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
April 6, 2021
Missing People – Advertising Isn’t Working If The People Making It Don’t Reflect Reality, Gavin Barrett, Derek Walker
Black, indigenous, and racialized minorities are barely visible in the advertising industries in North America, which is where we are going to situate this conversation. We’ll situate it here because Derek Walker (USA) and Gavin Barrett (Canada) are on a mission to help more people become visible to and in the industry and North America is where they’re plying their trade. Gavin Barrett is Chief Creative Officer at Barrett and Welsh in what Canada claims to be the “most multicultural city in the world”, Toronto. He’s also Co-Founder of People of Colour in Advertising and Marketing (POCAM). Gavin is here: Derek Walker is CEO of advertising agency brown and browner. A prolific writer and truth-speaker, Derek has been writing daily profiles about Black American advertising talent for several Black History Months. Derek is here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
March 30, 2021
Strategists, Can You Bake In Your Value Or Do You Constantly Have To Prove It? - Ilana Bryant, The American
Ever been hired to a strategy or account planning job only to arrive in the company and they don't know what it is, they aren't sure they want it, and they make you justify your existence every day? Ilana Bryant was one of two American planners in London in the 1990s. Read that again. It's not the premise of your next Netflix binge-watch but it could be. Ilana finished her postgraduate studies in the UK. She studied law at Oxford. Then she stayed on as an account planner. Not only were there few women in the agencies in which she worked, there were few Americans in the London advertising industry at all, let alone... well, hardly any American women in planning in London at the time. Ilana has worked with some prolific creative leaders. She's worked at BBH, Lowe Lintas, and HHCL. She was the CSO of Strawberry Frog for 5 years in New York.   So we discuss the differences between planning in the UK and the USA and how a planner can prove their value in a country–I mean, "agency"–that isn't sure what they are. You can find Ilana in her company Special Forces here:  P.S. Some of my questions don't quite make sense in the second half of this. It happens. I was excited. ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
March 24, 2021
Mental Wellness Is Not An Initiative That Excuses Poor Advertising Agency Work Practices
Dear advertising agencies, mental wellness is not an initiative you can use to wish away cultures and processes that are not mentally healthy. What makes an agency culture mentally healthy? 1. A sense of meaning 2. Autonomy 3. Psychological safety 4. Reasonable hours 5. Work getting made 6. Small, focused teams 7. Gentle hierarchy Mental health in an agency starts with doing meaningful work in a 
self-directed way. And this episode is a rapid reminder about what actually matters to strategists and their mental health. You can read this episode on Instagram here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
March 22, 2021
Do Management Consultancies Solve The Chunkiest Problems? - Michaeljon (MJ) Alexander-Scott, Fjord
If you hunger to solve toothy problems, where can you even do that work right now? Many agencies talk a good game when it comes to solving problems only to put the brains fiending to do such work on social media calendars and hashtags and into inter-agency meetings gone wild. MJ Alexander-Scott is Group Director at Fjord, which is part of Accenture Interactive. He leads the strategy and insights practice there. In his work, MJ finds himself drawn to problems without a playbook, a siren that has led him from the agency world into the management consulting world.    We discuss: - Why so many people in advertising are wondering, "What else is out there?" - The kinds of problems management consultancies deal with - The different kinds of companies that strategists and account planners who are frustrated might do well to explore You can find MJ Alexander-Scott here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
March 18, 2021
When Opportunity Knocks After You Flare Out Of An Agency - Brinn Phillips, Strategist
How does it feel to leave a 5-year-career but then to flare out of the new agency that you join in a matter of months? And what if the flaring out really helps you work out what you want in life? Brinn Phillips is a strategist in Detroit. After a long run in one agency in which she grew in responsibility and in titles, had a mentor she enjoyed, and started to mentor other strategists, she left. She lasted a matter of months in the agency to which she moved, an agency that she hoped would open her to more client variety and a broader range of strategy. This journey will happen to many strategists.  For Brinn, stepping out of a new role, taking a short break, and examining what she wants has led to many doors opening, many new conversations, and a stronger sense of what she wants to pursue. You can find Brinn here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
March 15, 2021
Newish To Hiring? Here's How It Feels And How To Approach It - Nicole Rajesky, Senior Strategist
You're about to interview your first potential hire, how on earth do you feel right now? In this chat with Nicole Rajesky, we discuss the journey from not hiring to hiring. Nicole is a Senior Brand Planner at Rethink in Toronto, Canada. They do good work. Very good work. Nicole is 18 months into hiring and was kind enough to talk about the guilt she feels when interviewing people, feeling like a fraud, and wanting to be desirable while still making an assertive decision. You can find Nicole here and Rethink here ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
March 11, 2021
Advertising Freelancers, If You're Trying To Build Your Own Business, Listen To This - Brandon Williams, Strategist
If you're a freelancer exchanging time for money, and chasing invoices while trying to explain to people what value you can really bring, how could setting up a company help you? Brandon Williams runs 55 Media Group in Los Angeles. We were going to talk about what it's like to freelance–to go in and out of companies that aren't always functional–but we ended up discussing Brandon's journey from artist to advertising freelancer to business-haver to, now, business-runner. Brandon has such a broad background and works in so many different ways that, as we spoke, I kept trying to put my finger on exactly how he is trying to fit into the world. This is because I speak with a lot of freelancers and consultants who are trying to work it out. And I thank Brandon for letting me basically interview him to understand what exactly he is trying to do. And it's big. His goal is to hire the most people of color in North America while making afro-futurism happen now. You can find Brandon's 55 Media Group here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
March 8, 2021
When The Idea Counts The Most, Process Might Just Count The Least - Genevieve Grandsen, Selma Ahmed, Will Grundy from adam&eveDDB
Ever worked in a company that fusses with process and organizational charts but never makes good work? Yeah. The question houses the truth, doesn't it? Genevieve Grandsen, Selma Ahmed, and Will Grundy work at one of the world's best agencies (although, now I've interviewed six people from adam&eveDDB, it sounds like "the world's best agency" is the "key message" but this is very un-British so I'll be British on their behalf and say "one of..."). Having spoken with CCO Rick Brim and CSO Martin Beverley, I wanted to find out if their relatively low-fi way of working is real. It seems like it is. And this will disappoint many agencies that are new to creative teams and account planners and spend their days in offsite meetings reviewing all their management things. Apparently, hiring people who know how to do what they need to do, expecting good things from them, and letting them talk is a pretty adequate process. And that's what we discuss. You can find Gen and Selma here and Will, because he's a planner and isn't on somebody else's website, here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
March 3, 2021
How Advertising Happens At One Of The World's Best Agencies - Richard Brim (CCO), Martin Beverley (CSO)
How does one of the world's best agencies–adam&eveDDB-work? The teams of Chief Creative Officer Rick Brim and Chief Strategy Officer Martin Beverley are responsible for some of the UK's most famous advertising. Their John Lewis Christmas campaigns are what all other Christmas campaigns are compared to. So how does the magic happen?   In this interview, we discuss: - How the account planners work with the creative teams at adam&eveDDB - Why simplicity matters, and - What it feels like to be only as good as your next idea   You can find adam&eveDDB here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
March 1, 2021
Calling B.S. On Your Own Strategy Work - Rachel Bateast, Strategy VP
Why are you so caught up in being accurate instead of compelling? And that 100-slide deck–can anybody even use it? Rachel Bateast is VP, Strategic Planning, at The Mars Agency in Detroit, Michigan. To the advertising industry on the coasts, the mid-west advertising scene can feel way more conservative so what does it even mean to call B.S. on work in Michigan? In this episode, we discuss and role-play (you're welcome) specific situations to show people how to question themselves to tighter thinking–from research to creative briefs and presentations. You can find Rachel here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
February 26, 2021
15 Things That Need Saying After Interviewing 300 Strategists–Sweathead Third Anniversary Special
So, you've interviewed over 300 strategists from around the world and spoken with thousands more... what aren't we talking about enough? In this episode published on the third anniversary of the Sweathead podcast, I (Mark) run you through a stream-of-consciousness list of fifteen points that I feel are true but not in a science way. They're true in a "we need to pay more attention to this" way. You can find this podcast episode as a post on Instagram and on LinkedIn if you'd like to share it with colleagues: Thank you for listening to the podcast and for being part of the Sweathead world. ** Favor: If you have enjoyed the pod, could you drop a kind review or rating? I haven't asked many times before but it's time to step up what I'm doing. Thank you. 
February 25, 2021
How Feedback And Reviews Can Help Big Teams Do Even Better Work - Aly Baer, John Lee @ Twitter Next
Let's say you have one hundred team members spread across the world. They work on thousands of briefs for massive brands every year. Often, they have to reach great ideas within a matter of days. They're doing well but you believe they can do ever better. Where do you start? Aly Baer is a Director at Twitter Next in New York and John Lee is a lead of the Twitter Next lab in San Francisco. Their team helps marketers and agencies create ideas worth talking about on Twitter.  This is an unusual discussion for me because I'm talking with two people with whom I worked on exactly the challenge above. Having spent time with all kinds of companies, I can say that their challenges weren't uncommon in the happening but they can be uncommon in the way companies tackle them. And, because of this, I wanted to talk about the work we did together knowing we'd tread a fine line between what they can feasibly say as representatives of one of the world's most influential companies and not wanting to be too self-indulgent or sycophantic. We discuss: - How thousands of ideas travel through Twitter Next - Giving feedback about work while it happens - The benefits of frequent reviews of work once the work has happened You can find Aly at and John at ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:  
February 22, 2021
Turn That Observation Into An Insight–7 Ways To Stumble Your Way There
You have reams of research in your head but you need to whittle everything in your head into an insight fast–what do you do? In this episode of Sweathead, I share a few steps I like to use–especially in workshops–to take an observation and land on an insight. These steps–or "stumbles"–can work in customer interviews too.   You can read this episode on Instagram here: ** Find the book "Strategy Is Your Words" and 100 strategy classes at Sweathead here:
February 17, 2021
How The M&C Saatchi Group's Employee-Led Diversity And Inclusion Network Works - Tanya Brown, Simi Nijher
Advertising agencies have responded to pleas to open their doors to people from different backgrounds in different ways. Some have resisted the pleas, some have faltered in public, and others have managed to listen and make structural, policy, and cultural change happen.  In t