Optimist Performance

Leading London-based creative agency Dark Horses recently brought in Ollie Phillips as a motivational speaker and mentor. Afterwards their MD Simon Dent shared his thoughts about their growing business and where Ollie can help them.

Optimist Performance: Tell us about Dark Horses and what you get up to

Simon Dent: We’re a sports-focused creative agency based in London for people looking to break away from the field. By that I mean the people within our four walls and also our clients. We deliver world-class creative for brands operating in sport and at the moment we’re working with Nissan, Peloton, Wiggle and Southampton FC.

We think there’s a huge opportunity out there to inject a higher level of strategic and creative thinking into the world of sports marketing. For us that goes across four key areas: the first is creative strategy and finding the unique sweet spot between a client’s brand and its audience. The second is advertising, transforming those ideas into execution. Then there’s content production, from films to blogs and everything in between, and finally sponsorship strategy, where we help brands and rights-holders make sure they’re both getting maximum benefit and value from their relationship. In an ideal world, we work for a client across all of those areas.

OP: What’s the Dark Horses ethos?

SD: We exist for those wanting to break away from the field. We’re built on the DNA of the UK’s most creative company, Lucky Generals, and our drive is to always exceed expectations. We do that by assembling incredible creative talent but also, most importantly, by applying a really strong work ethic of constantly challenging each other to do better. One of my favourite sayings is “The moment you see yourself as the favourite, you’ve lost the race”, and we try to really live that.

OP: You’re growing fast – what challenges does that present?

SD: Our culture is hugely important to us, so recruitment becomes incredibly important. Preservation of what we have built to date is my main priority and as we scale up we need to maintain and even distil that chemistry, not dilute it.

OP: You brought in Ollie to talk with your team. Why?

Ollie is a hugely impressive team player and inspirational leader who’s also making a success of himself in the world of business. He’s been in some of the toughest environments you can imagine, whether out on an international rugby field or sailing the seven seas, but beyond that he has an uncanny ability to relate everything he’s learnt, including to the work place.

Every member of our team is a leader and we want them all to feel empowered to grow quickly with us, so we’re always looking to bring in positive role models, to learn from and also to inspire and help us sense check our values and our behaviours. That becomes especially important as our numbers grow. Ollie is a great example of what can be achieved with focus, dedication and positive mindset.

OP: Would you recommend Ollie, and why?

SD: Yes. Ollie is inspirational and I would recommend him to any business looking to inspire a team and get them thinking about mindset and personal growth. He’s worked in a number of different environments, in rugby, sailing, at Cambridge or now becoming a Director at PWC, and he’s always attained ‘best in class’ status. I’m a big believer that one of the keys to survival and success in any field is the ability to adapt and evolve quickly and his continued reinvention of himself is a lesson to us all.

Are you facing challenges in teamwork, culture, behaviour or leadership?

Join the long list of businesses benefitting from a day with one of the most inspirational speakers and mentors in the city. Contact Ollie at Optimist Performance now!