Alex Bogusky on New Biz

Alex Bogusky today urged attendees of the Mirren New Business Conference to defy convention when approaching potential clients but warned that some may think “you’re an idiot.”

“We can mock what the new business meeting is like right now. That part we see,” said Bogusky, co-chairman of MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky and chief creative insurgent of MDC. “But stepping out of our culture and redesigning the new presentation where you’re going to say things that no one else can, do you really want to potentially seem that stupid?

“So five agencies have gone before [you]. They’ve all said the same thing. We know that’s going to happen,” Bogusky added. “Then here you come and you’re going to say something completely different. Some people are going to like that and a lot of people are going to think you’re an idiot.”

But to Bogusky, that’s just fear talking. “The reality is people will actually think you’re smart,” he said.

Bogusky was the second of three featured speakers at the three-day, annual conference, which takes place in New York. R/GA’s Bob Greenberg spoke on Monday and Droga5’s David Droga will speak tomorrow. Adweek is a conference sponsor.

Among the conventions that Bogusky questioned were the value of search consultants (he’s not a fan), the notion of being an expert at social media (something that, by definition, is a relatively new phenomenon) and the idea that you can learn from your mistakes.

“I’ve never learned anything from my mistakes,” Bogusky said. “Again, I hate conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom is learning from your mistakes. What about learning from your successes? That’s where I’ve focused [my energies]. Like, this works, we better get down and study on this.”

Bogusky also sees no value in keeping time sheets (“It’s a data point that you don’t really need”) and encouraged attendees to focus on the future because “if you’re thinking about the ways things are right now, then you’re outdated.”

Toward the end of his presentation, he also shared a profanely funny anecdote about working with Volkswagen.