Fri, 19 Nov 2021 12:27:08 GMT
Olivia Hirschberg gained her extensive knowledge of the advertising industry by producing for some of London’s key Production Companies and award winning Directors for the last 25 years.
She is now MD of Johnny Foreigner, a leading agent for freelance directors, and a prominent contributor to the growth of the market for independent Directors in London.
Olivia> When I was 12 I took breakdancing lessons. Even though I was rubbish, I really enjoyed breakdancing. We had an exam at the end of the year and I was supposed to learn a routine which my backing dancers were supposed to copy. I freestyled it instead but the guys behind me were still able to keep up and together we created a great set which got pretty good (but not top) marks. It was a good lesson that leading from the gut can sometimes work.
Olivia> It was when I had a series of female bosses freelancing in the early years of my producing career. I realised that I responded better to those bosses who were mothers. I suppose I felt nurtured and was given the time and space to express my individuality. So I decided I was going to get the best out of my crew if I listened, took their opinions into account and most importantly respected their differences. A few times, when the heat was on, I tried out being more dictatorial but it never sat well with me and I always ended up messaging people on my way home apologising…
Olivia> When I was filming with a brown bear in California. No matter how great your CV is, the bear is still the boss.
Olivia> No, I had no idea. Being good at what I did took many years and then eventually I worked myself to running my own company. It kind of happened by osmosis but I think I ended up here because I was kind to people, not because I wanted to become a leader.
Olivia> When I look at my two sons, (five and eight) and how they rule the house – definitely nature, not nurture!
Olivia> As long as I stay true to my instincts, there are no challenges
Olivia> Yes, I have, a few times. I generally fail when I don’t think things through thoroughly enough and say “f*** it'' and just go for a decision. That never ends well. I do it less and less now but when I do, then I try and stop my tracks at that very moment. If its too late and damage is done, then an immediate owning up and apology is the best way forward. Hiding your mistakes is just bullshit and most people are understanding and happy to forgive, as long as there’s honesty. None of us are perfect and mistakes are part of our nature and can lead to growth when properly addressed.
Olivia> Totally, and this is in line with my above answer. I have an honest reputation and I think my trustworthiness is based on my transparency. Being careful and considered is equally important and not mutually exclusive with transparency.
Olivia> The early years of my producing careers were spent under Karen Cunningham and Laura Gregory. These were immensely formative years and I learned a lot from both women. They both have very different philosophies and approaches to the industry which I adapted in equal measures. So you could say I am Karen and Laura’s lovechild.
Olivia> I didn’t. I had my own personal challenges due to a serious and life threatening accident in my family. The tables were turned and my team carried me. They were awesome. One might say that’s what you get from creating a harmonious team dynamic.
Olivia> I supported the movement, for sure, and I suppose I always made efforts to include the diverse. But never at the mercy of quality and creativity. For example I always make sure that my clients pull my ethnic diverse directors into a pitch because of the merits of their reel, not because they have a trending skin colour.
Olivia> You’re only ever successful if you enjoy what you’re doing so I make sure we all take on work that we believe in. Taking it on for the money never ends well.
Olivia> Hanging out in nature. That never fails.