“Our business is change”
Berlin, December 14th, 2016
Truly successful industry leaders are always looking for ways to learn, advance, and progress in their set field. The team at MING Labs fits that bill. With over 60 employees spread across the globe in offices in in Germany, China, and Singapore, MING Labs has worked with various companies and brand from all over the world, primarily creating crafty digital products that help their clients succeed in their business goals
We started our series talking with CEO and Co-Founder Matthias Roebel and we now continue this discussion with Marc Seefelder, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer. A team is highly impacted by its leaders, and MING Labs is not exception to that concept. We’ve been profiling the leadership team to piece together a better understanding of the qualities needed to run a successful multinational digital product agency. Our interview series forges ahead with Marc where we learn about his career beginnings, what parts he least likes in his job, and his favorite tunes to listen to at work.
How did you become interested in the industry?
Mainly at university. At Business School I looked at what all the others did, and then took the opposite direction.
How do you stay inspired?
Reading, reading, and more reading!
What are some of your favorite digital brands:
Tencent, Google, and Xiaomi.
In your opinion, what ingredients are key to create a successful digital campaign?
We are not a marketing company and are not really into creating digital campaigns. However, as a digital product company, we strongly believe that at the core of a good campaign an innovative and differentiating user experience or digital product is key to success. This includes all stages of engagement: from discovery through experience to the call to action and a tangible value proposition.
What does the word creativity mean to you, in your own words?
Finding new solutions within given constraints.
Which are the things that never should miss when you prepare a project brief?
The deeper purpose. The why.
How do you define the brand voice?
For me, it’s not about the voice or words. It’s all about that ‘feeling’ you associate with a brand. Unbelievably hard to get right as there are so many touch points involved. What you want is a positive emotional acceleration along those touchpoints. To master this is the toughest job of all. Virgin is a great example and a master of it.
What project was challenging for your team?
We are usually hired for the hard problems; solving challenges is our passion and doing this in partnership with the client guarantees the best results. When clients have a tough time to take the leap of faith, positive challenges can turn into the opposite. Trust at all stages of the engagement is a bare necessity and the hardest challenge would actually be not to have that.
What is the best way to earn trust from customers?
Be authentic. Be yourself. And deliver kick-ass work.
How much time do you spend with customers?
I spend around one third of my quality time with customers. The rest of my time is for quality assurance, reviewing projects, and our people.
Where do all of you envision the industry in 5 or 10 years?
Our business is change. This takes many forms, and the current iteration that allows us to be upfront where it’s happening is digital experience design. In a near future, with ‘no interface’ interfaces and more focus on connected hardware and the physical world, that is where we will have to orient ourselves to continue to be at the forefront of it and create value for people.
What advice do you often give to people who are starting to work in your same field?
Be open-minded, be humble and observe well. Be confident in your abilities and bold enough to take a stance. The rest will come naturally.
How do you work with engineers/Product Managers/designers?
I listen very carefully to all of them. Sometimes I have to mediate or act as the peacemaker, sometimes I have to make the decision for them. Moreover, I never use a laptop or a mobile device in conversations. They have my full attention.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
1) Follow your intuition and stick to it – even when people around you try to convince you otherwise. You are the leader after all. You are in this position for a reason.
2) Hire people smarter than you. Don’t try to clone yourself. Find people who are brilliant but complementary to you.
3) Embrace misfits. It might be uncomfortable at times but it’s totally worth it. Find the genius in people that others don’t see.
What keeps you up at night?
Usually issues with our people. The worst is when we have to let someone go. It’s a horrible feeling – but sometimes it’s necessary.
What do you like doing in your free time?
What I actually do a lot: Watching movies and TV shows. What I would love to do more often: Karting, golf, skiing. What I should do more often: Gym and eat healthy