Rees is the deeply motivated, industrious, and ambitious 20-year old founder of Adduco Media Group. With no formal qualifications he has become an award winning entrepreneur, speaker and mentor and now leads a small team of millennials that influence a considerable segment of the Australasian social media market.
Rees is experienced in navigating the intersection where software and digital marketing meet, well-versed in introducing brands and ideas to millennial audiences.
City where you’re from: Auckland, NZ
Hobbies: Family time, fitness, mentoring, rugby coaching, absorbing finance and business information, reading
Favorite quote: “You’re gonna die” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
For lack of better words, I fell into it. I had all intentions of attending university and furthering my education in the hope of moving into investment banking. Adduco started as an ill-thought through school project that towards the end of my high school life, started to scale. At the time of my end of year exams I had a cool little team of six students helping me out and started to retain a client or two. It was at the point where I had a business that could survive in the real world, which practically begged me to give up my university scholarships and offers and jump into this headfirst.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
My biggest influencers have undoubtedly been my parents. They’re incredibly supportive and insightful, encouraging me when things are turbulent. I was brought up in a disciplined and supportive, yet unrestricted and liberal household that has instilled a very strong work ethos and sense of responsibility/discipline within me. I also have fantastic people around me – sister, family, friends, a great team and a business partner (who is like a brother to me) that I always talk and strategise with. There really hasn’t been a particular defining moment that made me what I am now, rather it’s something that I have progressed into.
I admire a lot of individuals – particuarly in the business realm – but there are none that really hold my attention to a point where they influence my life. I’m very concious about ensuring that I live my own life, and not a version of someone elses.
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
I’m currently working in Adduco.
Started in late 2012, I arrived at the idea after offering to run a Facebook page for someone for a month long stretch. Adduco now runs from three offices, has a team of 12 supported by interns and works with some great local and national brands, servicing Content, Campaign, Creative and Influencer needs.
How is your service different and unique? What has been your favorite moment with it? What’s the vision?
As a company we were built in an unconventional manner and thus apply an approach unique to the industry. It’s a direction that we have really only honed to a concise vision over the past few months, and it’s something that we’ll look to publicise and expand upon later this year. Essentially what separates us from the bulk of competing social agencies is that we actively manage both client and ‘viral’ pages, leveraging these hyper-defined, hyper-engaged audiences and communities together for a myriad of applications. All I’ll say is keep an eye on us later this year…
If you do Facebook ads, what types of creatives/campaigns do you use (we like specifics)?
I mean we run Facebook ads for a living! I could go on for days here so I’ll surmise what we do to promote adduco: nothing. All clients to date have been signed as a result of referral traffic. If we do a good job, people speak and people see. If we do a bad job, people speak and people see. So we focus on delivering and exceeding expectations, so people will see the results and be informed about the results and hire us. Simple.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
To be quite honest, no. Yeah there have been some terrible early stretches where I wasn’t motivated, or the bank accounts were as dry as my humour, or where it felt like the business was just treading water. But no real moment where I felt like it was doomed. I guess if you’re as driven, as vested to make this thing work as myself and my team are, it will only be over when we say it’s over.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
My absolute, ultimate tip is to work your arse off. You’ll hear it from many an entrepreneur, businessperson and even family: but this is the singlemost important tip to keep at the forefront of your mind. Work is the single variable on which your success is based. Success comes irregardless of your idea, your background, the people around you and so on. While those things help get you there, your propensity to work hard is the catalyst for success.
Teach us something about Social Media Marketing. Can you recommend any favorite websites to learn that topic?
Quite honestly the best way to become schooled up on social media is to just get amongst it. For the first two years of the company I placed high priority on upskilling myself and others, shelling out for webinars and reading almost every article that popped in front of me. What I learnt was that social media is an industry that can and will shift overnight. You can study the hell out of a methodology or a great piece of ad creative or a meme that works in the now, but that very thing will undoubtedly be obselete in 3 months. Be observant and look, listen, hear and soak up the social conversation and trends as they happen. Think quick and create quick and you’ll find that your content will get ahead.
While working on your project, have you come across any interesting bits of knowledge that you’d like to share?
The most interesting conclusions that I have drawn from my time with Adduco are all marketing and business-centric.
What fascinates me is how quickly consumer tastes, trends and preferences will change, and how easily we as marketers – more particularly social media marketers – can manipulate them. A social agency can start a worldwide trend in half a day and get hundreds of millions of people to talk about something. What worked for a business last week can kill a business next week. I’ve watched companies be built and destroyed literally overnight on social media, so to me this is crazy because of the power on tap here.
Another fascinating observation is the level of which future-forward companies prioritise customer satisfaction. We’re seeing roles like ‘Customer Happiness Manager’ pop up, and I find it interesting that positions like this weren’t even really considered 10 years ago. It’s an area that we keep very close tabs on, as we base our marketing messages heavily upon consumer emotion.
What daily habits do you have that allow you to perform at your peak?
As a result of my upbringing I keep a very structured schedule to my life, such as incorporating exercise and taking time to look after myself. Although I primarily do the same things every day, I will always change up the order and structure of my agenda in order to prevent burnout – I find that by rejigging my agenda and responsibilities based around my mental energy, physical energy and workload, my brain and body have to constantly readapt and therefore eliminates the chance to become complacent and fizzle out. As far as productivity habits and daily processes, I never really stick with something for a while either because it bores me or I’ll burnout doing it.
Cognitively speaking I am a ruthlessly pragmatic, logical thinker. If something doesn’t fit, takes up too much time or isn’t making sense then I find another solution or move on. Time is incredibly limited for me so quite often I find myself having to weigh the opportunity cost when making decisions on how my time is best spent, which certainly aids my work life balance.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Writing their own story and genuinely enjoying it, rather than living a version of someone else’s life. Society today has been bred to correlate ‘success’ with money, fast cars, nice homes, and a tailored suit. We’re living in an age where we can become anything we want, we’re connected to each other and the world in a way that enables us to showcase and monetise what we’re good at. Ask yourself: what do you love doing? Become fanatically obsessed with it, eat, sleep and breathe it. Tell as many people as you can about it.
We live in a world where if you took everything away from me today I’ll build myself back up again in no time. If you took every material item that I have earnt, all the perks, my salary, my clothes, my nespresso machine; I couldn’t care less. I’d start the journey all over again and enjoy the hell out of it.
If, as an entrepreneur, you can’t say that exact same thing then you need to be finding something else. Love the hell out of what you do and do it for your own enjoyment.
Walk us step-by-step through the process that you had to go through to get from the early stages to where you are today.
- I started by asking as many people for help as possible. First through my immediate ‘first-degree’ network, which branched from there. My ‘in’ always was a coffee and a quick 15-min chat, which often turned into hour long discussions. As my network grew, I’d go out of my way to meet knowledgeable businesspeople (all of whom I gauged would lend me valuable advice) and sometimes jumped on a plane after school purely for a meeting over coffee.
- The next crucial step was identifying precisely what I was good at doing and how to communicate the value of that to companies. This was incredibly difficult, because a new business with no track record will always find it hard to get a look-in. By asking for feedback and looking at my company from a critical distance, I slowly refined the service offering to a point where our skills and expertise could serve value to companies in an efficient, scalable manner.
- A third imperative step that took a long time to sink in was that you always have to deliver. If I promise something to a client and don’t deliver, I can kiss that relationship goodbye. No question about it. Deliver, deliver, deliver. On time, on budget and always above expectation.
What are some of your favorite books?
All time favourite – Good to Great by Jim Collins. An imperative read for anyone that wants to become a better leader and realign their company culture.
Focus by Daniel Goleman is also a fantastic read, as well as The Intelligent Investor. Anything by Michael Lewis is always good too.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
I don’t think too far into the future and never plan further than 12 months both personally and professionally. They way life and business is these days you can almost guarantee that your plan will change in a year’s time. As long as I am happy, have good people around me, can help others and enjoy what I do; I’ll be content. Everything else is just a bonus.