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Agency Life

¡Pura Vida!

¡Pura Vida!

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

July 17, 2018

Havas Tribu’s Jorge Oller talks about motivating a team—and living your best life.

Jorge Oller, Chairman of Havas Tribu, shares how coffee, Scotch, generosity, and a little faith can lead to success.

 

So, tell us about your professional journey.

I come from Hatillo, a humble neighborhood in San José, the capital city of a small country with no army and no airline. I come from an edge of the world where true transformation happens through adversity. Pura vida, clean energy, friends and my family, rainforests, and volcanoes have all been here for generations. I’m now a nomad and maybe a knowmad as well. I believe in reinvention, and I hope my story is a reflection of my convictions.

After working for McCann Erickson for the first 10 years of my advertising career, I started my own shop, Tribu, and we made it to No. 1 in Costa Rica. We opened other companies, and a regional group flourished from Guatemala to Colombia. There was a time when we employed more than a thousand talented people. It was fun until I got drained, and I decided to declutter my life.

We sold BOSZ Digital to Publicis. Then Darwin Zone to Lionbridge. Campus Tribu to Improsa. We transferred Informa to management. One closure after another continued, including nine companies were sold to Havas, the best and most human group in the world. In a nutshell, countless strikes and a few hits.

I am lucky to be a member of the Global Creative Council, chaired by Jacques Séguéla. He is a wonderful, creative being. He’s a living inspiration for all of us, and I personally want to say: Muchas gracias, querido Jacques. Merci beaucoup.

Today I do with my time as I see fit. Freedom’s priceless, and I finally chose to devote my days to my passions: creativity and peak performance. Havas Tribu is an area of focus for me, and so is the Latin American Creative Council. And yes, I’m about to finish my second and third MBAs.

I’m privileged, and I’m grateful.

What advice do you have for those who may be fearful of starting a project, the way you launched Tribu in 1989.

Discover your strengths! Aim for one and maybe two. Then, stay in your zone most of the time because there you’ll be the most valuable to your team. Forget your weaknesses and accept they will never forget you.

Drink coffee and Scotch. Be a person of your word. Trust and be trustworthy. Sincerity will take you far, and loyalty makes good business sense. Trek mountains and travel far. Stay fit. Live with a growth mindset. Read a lot. Be generous, and make love. Believe.

What defines the advertising market in Latin America and Costa Rica, specifically?

There’s no such a thing as one Latin America. It’s 33 different countries in a region with more than 600 million people—one third in Brazil. It’s a vast, fragmented, and diverse region, producing about 5% of the world’s GDP, with an advertising market defined by one common idea: opportunity.

Costa Rica is all about inspiration and aspiration. We wish, and we thrive. Here we dream a lot, and I believe it’s true what business mogul Jack Ma said: “Imagination is the first productivity.”

"Dream, think, do, celebrate. Passionately. And in every phase, adopt, adapt, and aggregate."

What nuances should marketers know if they want to succeed with consumers in Costa Rica?

Populism has been defeated in this country, and we’re moving forward to a fossil fuel-free economy by 2022. We love our life, and we believe it’s pura vida, somehow signaling risky conformism. Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries on the planet. As a result, local consumers might be reluctant to change.

What makes a good leader?

I neither manage nor lead—I nudge. In fact, leadership is overrated. A good leader is a team player who inspires, challenges, and respects.

What’s the best decision that you’ve ever made?

To align my life with the priorities of my heart.

The worst?

Not to have taken my best decision earlier.

How do you inspire your team?

I like the way elegance can be an organizing idea. I believe it’s elegant to inspire by doing. However, it’s crucial to listen twice as much as you talk.  

Best advice for someone starting a career?

Dream, think, do, celebrate. Passionately. And in every phase, adopt, adapt, and aggregate.

Best advice for someone toward the end of his or her career?

Sing Blackbird by the Beatles every day.

What haven’t you learned that you would like to know?

French.

What’s something that no one knows about you that you would like for everyone to know?

I’m an introvert!

Your Costa Rica must-see?

Book a rustic cabin and explore everything around La Parcela. The further south, the better. You’ll find the Whale Thailand, and, later, Corcovado, where you may like to do Caminos de Osa.

Jorge Oller, Chairman of Havas Tribu, shares how coffee, Scotch, generosity, and a little faith can lead to success.

 

So, tell us about your professional journey.

I come from Hatillo, a humble neighborhood in San José, the capital city of a small country with no army and no airline. I come from an edge of the world where true transformation happens through adversity. Pura vida, clean energy, friends and my family, rainforests, and volcanoes have all been here for generations. I’m now a nomad and maybe a knowmad as well. I believe in reinvention, and I hope my story is a reflection of my convictions.

After working for McCann Erickson for the first 10 years of my advertising career, I started my own shop, Tribu, and we made it to No. 1 in Costa Rica. We opened other companies, and a regional group flourished from Guatemala to Colombia. There was a time when we employed more than a thousand talented people. It was fun until I got drained, and I decided to declutter my life.

We sold BOSZ Digital to Publicis. Then Darwin Zone to Lionbridge. Campus Tribu to Improsa. We transferred Informa to management. One closure after another continued, including nine companies were sold to Havas, the best and most human group in the world. In a nutshell, countless strikes and a few hits.

I am lucky to be a member of the Global Creative Council, chaired by Jacques Séguéla. He is a wonderful, creative being. He’s a living inspiration for all of us, and I personally want to say: Muchas gracias, querido Jacques. Merci beaucoup.

Today I do with my time as I see fit. Freedom’s priceless, and I finally chose to devote my days to my passions: creativity and peak performance. Havas Tribu is an area of focus for me, and so is the Latin American Creative Council. And yes, I’m about to finish my second and third MBAs.

I’m privileged, and I’m grateful.

What advice do you have for those who may be fearful of starting a project, the way you launched Tribu in 1989.

Discover your strengths! Aim for one and maybe two. Then, stay in your zone most of the time because there you’ll be the most valuable to your team. Forget your weaknesses and accept they will never forget you.

Drink coffee and Scotch. Be a person of your word. Trust and be trustworthy. Sincerity will take you far, and loyalty makes good business sense. Trek mountains and travel far. Stay fit. Live with a growth mindset. Read a lot. Be generous, and make love. Believe.

What defines the advertising market in Latin America and Costa Rica, specifically?

There’s no such a thing as one Latin America. It’s 33 different countries in a region with more than 600 million people—one third in Brazil. It’s a vast, fragmented, and diverse region, producing about 5% of the world’s GDP, with an advertising market defined by one common idea: opportunity.

Costa Rica is all about inspiration and aspiration. We wish, and we thrive. Here we dream a lot, and I believe it’s true what business mogul Jack Ma said: “Imagination is the first productivity.”

"Dream, think, do, celebrate. Passionately. And in every phase, adopt, adapt, and aggregate."

What nuances should marketers know if they want to succeed with consumers in Costa Rica?

Populism has been defeated in this country, and we’re moving forward to a fossil fuel-free economy by 2022. We love our life, and we believe it’s pura vida, somehow signaling risky conformism. Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries on the planet. As a result, local consumers might be reluctant to change.

What makes a good leader?

I neither manage nor lead—I nudge. In fact, leadership is overrated. A good leader is a team player who inspires, challenges, and respects.

What’s the best decision that you’ve ever made?

To align my life with the priorities of my heart.

The worst?

Not to have taken my best decision earlier.

How do you inspire your team?

I like the way elegance can be an organizing idea. I believe it’s elegant to inspire by doing. However, it’s crucial to listen twice as much as you talk.  

Best advice for someone starting a career?

Dream, think, do, celebrate. Passionately. And in every phase, adopt, adapt, and aggregate.

Best advice for someone toward the end of his or her career?

Sing Blackbird by the Beatles every day.

What haven’t you learned that you would like to know?

French.

What’s something that no one knows about you that you would like for everyone to know?

I’m an introvert!

Your Costa Rica must-see?

Book a rustic cabin and explore everything around La Parcela. The further south, the better. You’ll find the Whale Thailand, and, later, Corcovado, where you may like to do Caminos de Osa.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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