Jokes, joy and the juggle with Rob Mayhew, social media superstar
Hosted by Louise Scodie
Louise Scodie – NABS 00:00
Welcome to the NABS Podcast NABS is the support organisation for those working in advertising, marketing and media. I’m your host Louise Scodie. Each week I’ll be chatting with someone from our industry to find out how they support themselves and those around them through challenging times as well as day to day, and it’s all to help you support your own mental wellness. I can’t wait to start chatting.
Louise Scodie – NABS 00:26
Rob Mayhew has over 20 years’ experience of working at many of London’s top agencies. He took his career to new heights when he finally put his experience to good use and joined TikTok in lockdown. Using his skills as a stand-up comedian, Rob found his ability to shine a light on the agency world with his funny sketches, which sooner answer over hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. Rob hates his bios, but he wants you to know that
The Drum called him adland’s favourite social media star. And I’m very happy that not only is the favourite social media star with us, but he’s also wearing a fluffy jumper. So he has not disappointed in that regard. Robert, so great to have you with us. How are you?
Rob Mayhew 01:05
My absolute pleasure. The pleasure is all mine. I’m very good. Thank you. I am wearing today a green sheep jumper. So like the red one, but green?
Louise Scodie – NABS 01:15
Like the Princess Diana jumper that we’re talking about?
Rob Mayhew 01:19
Exactly. Which I have always loved. And I like the black sheep motif that it’s got on there. And then everyone thinks it’s BBH-related. But it’s not. But you know, it’s just a happy coincidence. A happy coincidence. Exactly. But yeah, it’s day. So I’m wearing this. But I’m very excited to be on this podcast.
Louise Scodie – NABS 01:42
Yeah, we’re really happy to have you along and you used NABS back in the day, didn’t you?
Rob Mayhew 01:46
NABS could be a billion-dollar business now, because it almost invented a cross between Airbnb, and like, some sort of flatshare thing. I don’t know if you still do it. I think the times have changed, but you just had a great database of people who were looking for flat shares. So you didn’t have to share, like when you first moved to a big city or whatever, it’s terrifying who you’re going to live with. And you end up living with randoms a lot of the time and now that we’ve put together this amazing list where you can kind of not just live around them, but you can live with people in the industry. So I’ve still got all the emails, I think I’ve still got the same Yahoo email address that I’ve always had. So I still have all the NABS, flatshare emails saved up to one day, maybe that’ll be a book. But yeah, I know NABS. You’ve always
been part of my life, as I’ve kind of negotiated my way through the industry. You just always been there if needed. And I think it’s, you know, I’ve always been aware of what kind of what handholding NABS can do if I need it or someone in my team needs it. It’s always a good resource.
Louise Scodie – NABS 03:02
Yeah, never stops. If you wanted to come to us now for support, then you could absolutely do that.
Rob Mayhew 03:07
Good. Okay, this is good to know. Well, I thought this this is what this, this conversation.
Louise Scodie – NABS 03:12
Yeah, you can tell me all your problems now. Well, let’s start with positive. What does mental wellness look like to you?
Rob Mayhew 03:19
Well, mental wellness for me is right now is about trying to get the kind of three things right. One is kind of happy, in my job, happy in my family. And then I guess happiness, my health and myself, have kind of the three big things. So mental wellness, for me is about doing my best to try and be in a good place with all those three things. And they can be a bit of a juggle sometimes. So at the minute, I’m very, you know, in a sort of happy place. But at the same time, I’ve always had a habit of saying I’m good when I’m not necessarily good. So mental wellness for me. It’s really just about being aware of how you’re feeling and trying to kind of do things that can help you be in a slightly better place. Making decisions that kind of help yourself and those around you as well.
Louise Scodie – NABS 04:25
I’m really interested in that notion of decisions because that seems like some really practical profound self-care right there. What would be an example of a decision that you’ve made this helped to boost your mental wellness?
Rob Mayhew 04:38
For me. I really enjoy going for morning walk before I start the day. And often that involves taking my daughter to her childminder, but it’s just even before she came along, me and my wife during lockdown would go for our morning walks. And it’s about clearing my head.
I’m one of those people who can easily go a whole day if I’m working from home, it’s not leaving the house. So to start the day, in a way where I feel like just I’ve connected a bit with the outside world, and I kind of feel energized, it energises me creatively and just emotionally and it’s also a good chance for me and my wife to talk and catch up and do all those sorts of things. We used to call it an inspiration session as well. So we’d kind of talk about fun, exciting things that we’d like, you know, we’d get excited about. And it’s such a fun way to start the day when you sort of talk about like projects and little things and hobbies and whatnot, which is, which is quite funny, because that’s those conversations are kind of what now has become my life, creating sketches, and just fun pieces of content that are actually now a big part of what I do.
So even though at the time, we did them to help with our mental health and, and sort of get that out of the house and walk around, actually, the benefits of that are very tangible, you know, ended up we ended up sort of discussing, you know, I’m 40, I was 40 years old when I joined TikTok, like my wife was so supportive, she was like you should do whatever you want to do that makes you happy, basically. So creating sketches for myself, you know, I was doing that at the start. So I was freelancing. So I had a bit of time. But just, you know, having that support for my wife, and just like, you know, just, but what I’m trying to say is
that, that all came from just those conversations, we’d have fun walking, walking in the mornings, before the working day. So that’s a little tangible thing I do.
And then just boundaries really, for me. I’ve become better actually, at kind of leaving work at work and making time for my wife and my two year old baby of just trying not to let you know, trying to be present and not let my job and you know, even creating content, which is I love it so much, creating content, that the problem with when you love, what you do is that you think about it all the time, and you want to do it all the time. So actually, it’s not always healthy. So actually, just being able to separate myself from that and be a little bit more present is another tangible thing that I’ve done.
Louise Scodie – NABS 07:35
I guess it takes a lot of discipline. And your videos are just so funny. And they’re also really poignant at the same time. They don’t just lampoon agency life, but I think if you just go to work, then you will find something to identify with, and so many of your videos, and a lot of the time you’re basically saying what we’re all thinking.
Rob Mayhew 07:54
That’s literally what it really is. It’s just trying to think, well, what is it? I would say in this meeting if I really could like or what is it that I’ve noticed in this meeting that I bet everyone’s noticed, but no one is gonna say anything about it.
Louise Scodie – NABS 08:08
Yeah, you know what? The one you did recently about what would really happen in a training video about accepting gifts from people? I mean, that was just so – I won’t describe it any further because you have to go and watch it if you haven’t seen it – but it is just so on the money. It’s brilliant. You’ve got so much going on so much because you’re a dad and you’ve got your… you’re at Gravity Road, aren’t you? How many days a week are you doing there?
Rob Mayhew 08:30
I’m doing two days a week there as creative director, two days a week at home doing content, socials one day a week, I’m in charge of my daughter, just so. So two and two basically and then a day, which I’m very grateful for, being a dad, not just one day being a dad.
Louise Scodie – NABS 08:46
Of course. And as you say you love your work so much that it’s something that is constantly on your mind. Is there anything else extra that you’ve had to do since becoming so phenomenally successful with your channels to try and put some boundaries in that we can learn from because in terms of juggling, I mean, you are really juggling.
Rob Mayhew 09:06
I post every day. So that’s something that I tend I wanted to be really disciplined with this. And so when I first started, I was posting eight times a day because I was just experimenting and I had the time. And I quickly realised I was going to treat what started off as sort of fun. I was going to treat it like a business and actually in a sense of sort of professionally deal with it. Like, this is my writing day. This is my filming day. This is the three hours I’m going to use and by setting kind of a schedule and by just sitting down if I’ve got no ideas just sitting down with a blank sheet of paper, just making sure I did it by just turning up every day and doing that really helped me grow and just be consistent and not give up, because at the beginning you know my numbers were like 200 views for us.
Next month, I was doing like 300 400 views, whereas now I’m sort of it can be almost half a million. And so for me, I really wanted to take it seriously. And just remove any barriers to entry. So for instance, I use a green screen, I don’t need to leave the house, I just need to
ring light, there’s no overhead costs, there’s no other people, there’s nothing, it’s just me, and whatever idea I have. And so by doing that, it’s all down to me just showing up and doing the work. And I felt like because I enjoy it so much, I love showing up and doing the work. I think if I started not to enjoy it, I have to struggle to do that. Because I’m very much all in if I’m doing something I’m all in. If I start to lose interest, then I, you know, I start to lose interest, which has happened in many jobs, basically, as well, for those people that I can get bored quite quickly. So with this, I haven’t and I love it, and I will never run out of ideas.
Louise Scodie – NABS 11:04
This sense that you’ve got half a million people following you. How does that affect you? Do you feel a big sense of responsibility with that?
Rob Mayhew 11:16
No, not really, I think I kind of the numbers are kind of vanity metrics. What I don’t feel like I think because I’m 40, okay, I’ve had I’ve had like, I’ve lived a pretty big life, a very exciting life in this industry, doing this and that and failing and, you know, being made redundant, and all of that stuff. So I’m really enjoying the success I’ve got now on my own terms, because it’s something I’m doing for myself, and it’s something I enjoy doing.
So what I’m just grateful for is that I get to do it, and I get to do it the way I want to do it. And getting money from it was always like a by-product of it. Brands wanting to work with me was never the long plan, I really joined it to I joined create, start creating sketches because I wanted to during lockdown and wasn’t able to do stand-up anymore. So I wanted an outlet where I could sort of be creative. And even though I’m a creative director, now, I wasn’t before as an account handler, I was head of influence at an agency. So it’s almost I needed an outlet to be able to be creative. I wanted to be a TikTok expert, because I was kind of bored of other social media or become an expert of TikTok. So it just seemed a lot more fun. Also, what was the question?
Louise Scodie – NABS 12:42
Whether having such a big following feels like a responsibility?
Rob Mayhew 12:46
Yeah, so it doesn’t, it doesn’t, it just allows me to, it’s given me the confidence to create the content I find funny. And I can create the content that I know my content will be seen by people who work in the industry. So I don’t worry too much about whether something does 20,000 views or if it does two million views, it doesn’t really make much difference to me. It’s only when I do some work for brands that I want it to do a lot better, because that’s one of the metrics are measured on when I’m creating my own content, I just create stuff that makes me laugh. So having a big audience hasn’t really changed that I still was making this content when it was, you know, 2000 views or that and 200 views, it would still be the same stuff I’d be pulling, I’d be performing and doing.
Louise Scodie – NABS 13:38
So you’ve been a stand-up comedian, which is a tough, tough thing to do. And you’ve basically made your name by being funny. For us mere mortals, what role you think comedy has in the working day? Do you think we should all be making an effort to have more fun than to be funny in the office or working from home, just to help us feel better.
Rob Mayhew 13:59
So the reason why we got into advertising, marketing, PR, whatever discipline it is, was because it’s a fun, creative place to be, you know, creativity was always meant to be a fun endeavour, coming up with something that people will like, and the big reason why agencies are kind of a fun place to be was because, you know, the culture and, and it was full of people sort of your age, you know, in the early 20s.
When you first joined it’s kind of really sort of fun, exciting environment to work in. So I don’t see why that you know, I still think fun as a really big part of a because otherwise we’d go and work for a boring corporate job, which there are many of and I feel like you know some of the demands in the agency world of pitching and distressful parts of the job cuz it’s nice to have the fun as well, that kind of counterbalances that. I’m not saying that you should make an excuse for some of those behaviours that we do like with pitching and stuff, because some of that does need to go. But in the same time, you know, I’ve always enjoyed myself working at agencies, I’ve always enjoyed the people that gravitate to work in the industry.
At my wedding, a few years ago, I looked around and I realised all these people I knew 99% of them were people I met working in agency. Like they became my best friends. And almost every job, I was sort of pick one or two people, collect one or two people who become friends for life. And it’s just, they’re just kind of because they’re your people. And it’s the same with having fun. I’ve always gravitated to the agencies that kind of, I’m quite a fun person. So actually, my personality wouldn’t work if it’s not a fun agency. In fact, I think I’m glad I’m quite senior now. Because if I was a junior starting, and it was all working from home, I’d struggle a bit, I think, because my personality probably isn’t, you know, you kind of want me around, and this is me speaking. Yeah, cuz I can say it, people like to have me around, because I’m quite fun in an agency, I still work.
But actually, you know, my personality, if you took away that extra element, I don’t really have a USP, like, I’ve got nothing. You know, I am me. And so if you, if you put, if I was just working from home, you’re really just measured on your work. And not really what you bring to the office and you know, motivating people and getting people the enthusiasm that I have, is difficult to really show when you’re working from home or on a zoom call.
Louise Scodie – NABS 16:46
But given that so of us are still hybrid working, and will be for a while, if you’ve got any tips for us to have more fun when we’re working from home, is it a case of having some comedy chats on Teams, for example,
Rob Mayhew 16:58
I think you just need to like you need to be free to be able to talk about your feelings and what you’re, you know, you should be encouraged to say what you’re thinking and have a laugh and not to kind of punch down on anyone but just to like, you know, it’s okay to kind of enjoy yourself.
And just having social get togethers, wherever they’re on Zoom or in, in real life, just, it’s so important to kind of have that team bond, the bond you have with your team is so vital. And you need to do everything you can to make sure that everyone knows everyone, and just regular get togethers are really important. And just making the effort to go out to those functions.
Because you need someone in the studio or that head of design or whatever, you’ve got to know who these people are and what they do and what they like, what they don’t like, who is annoying, who’s not annoying. And then you can have those conversations and have fun if you’re not meeting people face to face. And, you know, you’re just, you’re just at work on Zoom all day, then that’s a different side of you. And I don’t feel like that can be as fun as really knowing people properly, which is kind of you can bond quite strongly over, you know, working from home and those intense conversations you have on video calls and stuff.
But there’s nothing that beats just being face-to-face occasionally. And, and you know, having an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink and just catching up and moaning about work or talking about your wins that week and just having a laugh. I think they’re really important.
Louise Scodie – NABS 18:46
Yeah, I think so. So there’s a lot about building community. It’s something that we’re really passionate about at NABS. And how community can help to lift you up make you feel better. What have you found two things that you’ve said, which I think are really true of the work experience. And that notion of having a work best friend and collecting people as you go along. I think that’s really common in the working experience. And also that notion that at work, there are annoying people and non-annoying people and that it’s actually really funny to share that in a non-cruel way.
Rob Mayhew 19:17
Yeah, absolutely. And I think you know, it’s, it’s great, you just meet like-minded people, and it’s so nice. Some of the friendships I’ve got from work in an agency and it’s just I feel so fortunate to have met even some of the worst agencies I’ve worked at which will remain nameless. Dammit, they’re almost trauma bonding. You know some of these, the worst the agency, the more friends I have from it. So it’s almost like even though you might not have the best work experience, there’s hopefully you can get something from it, which maybe some contacts or some friends or something. It’s kind of a little bit of value there.
Louise Scodie – NABS 20:00
So is that how the adland community lifts you up, by offering this notion of like-minded people to become friends with? Is there anything else that you would say?
Rob Mayhew 20:09
The online community, I just I find people in adland so inspiring, like, and even more so the last few years as I’ve kind of become more creative, there are just individuals and you know what people love to talk about themselves. So you can reach out to people now you never I never know used to know this. But you can reach out to people you admire, and you look at look up to, you can easily drop them on LinkedIn or, or connect with them on social media, and just have a 10-minute chat with them. I do that all the time. And it’s people do it with me as well.
I just find the online community fascinating. The people who I really admire, I can now reach out to and talk to and never was able to do that before. But that was only because I didn’t know you could they love to talk about themselves these people in adland.
There’s so many people like Nils Leonard, Cindy Gallup, and just people who are, I’ve always admired, I can now have conversations with and it’s also just, I, like I said, just the friendships I’ve made. Working at the agencies, it just that lifts me up just the bonds I’ve made, the different agencies, I just find that in advertising, nothing beats that nothing beats the people. And it’s so interesting, it’s so nice and inspiring. When I see people who I started with 20-something years ago, who are now leading, you know, network agencies in New York, or running big clients, like Samsung, it’s like, it’s incredible that these people are doing these things, but they’re still the same people.
And everyone in the industry, whether it’s a scary client, or your boss, the founder, whatever, they’re just people with the same stresses and annoyances as you so that was a big learning for me as well, just, everyone’s just a person, the client, whoever it is, they’re just, you’re just, they just want to be made to look good. And that’s basically the secret to success, make people look good. And you’ll do well, in this job.
Louise Scodie – NABS 22:23
I think there’s something else that your videos show as well, that we’re all united by the common experience of going to work and work just being a bit of a ridiculous place sometime with all of these codes and hiding behind words and things that you’d have to put
up with. And actually most of us can see through all of that and find it quite funny. So we were able to unite by laughing at our experience aren’t we?
Rob Mayhew 22:48
Absolutely, and you know what, the times I when I post a sketch and I get someone right, and this is me and on LinkedIn, especially with the comments, if you just read the comments that clearly everyone’s gone through these things.
And I might do a sketch about something that I think or no one’s gonna know what I’m talking about with this one. And I’m always just surprised by actually no, there’s, you know, 30 40 comments about like, oh, my God, this is actually happened to me this week. So you’re never alone. Everyone’s going through this.
And I think that the good and the bad, like all my content is a love letter to the industry, even though it’s like I’m, you know, holding a mirror up and poking fun of it. It’s only because the poking the fun is probably the funniest element of it. But at the same time, it’s, you know, it’s an industry that does have its issues, you know, there are many kind of big topics to cover. And we’ll try and do a couple of them. Whereas I feel like I can share a bit of a voice on those things. But most of the time, I just want to make people laugh and smile and just, you know, be a bit of a voice for people in the industry who, you know, have to go through pitches have to, you know, to go to meetings hungover or whatever it is.
Louise Scodie – NABS 23:58
Or have to it was one of your recent videos showed ordering late night pizza for everybody who’s working in the office and to put up with all the ridiculousness around that as well. That’s a very funny video again, watch that if you haven’t. So given that you are here giving a voice to our collective experience and being a light for so many people. What’s one lesson that you’ve learned through all of this about how to support yourself?
Rob Mayhew 24:25
For me, the one lesson is to make sure you take care of your yourself so basically you’ve always just got to be aware like go and get some fresh air going, you know, you don’t have to go out and get drunk all the time and socialise and do everything, you can say no to some of that.
Like just take care of yourself because I found the better I took care of myself the better success I would have at work in my life. It’s okay to kind of take stock and take a step back and just, you know, think I need some help or whatever it is just to be able to turn to your colleagues, your friends or whatever. And take a deep breath, go for a walk. And just understand when you’re, when life’s getting a bit too much for you as well, like, just try and try and learn how to read yourself.
Or if people are telling you that, you know, you probably need a bit of a break, just you should listen to them. It’s okay to take breaks, it’s okay to go on holiday, it’s okay to, you know, to be annoyed at work, it’s okay to have a moan and a bitch about someone at work. And that’s all right, it’s all healthy.
But it’s also okay to really enjoy what you do. Like, don’t feel like you need to settle. This is another little extra thing. So never feel like you need to settle. If you’re not happy in your job, you’re not happy with your boss, you’re not happy with whatever. It’s not being entitled you’re or deserve to just kind of enjoy what you do. Life is too short to spend it in a job in this industry. There’s so many amazing agencies out there, so many amazing brands you can work for. So don’t settle for anything less than what you think you deserve. And that same time, you know, just learn and just be enthusiastic and inquisitive and curious, like those things can go along a lot further than just having, you know, a talent for working hard. I think
just being curious is really important. I was never the hardest working person. But I was very pretty one of the most curious people at my job. So that did meet well. But each agency needs different types of people. So there’s probably a spot for you out there as well.
Louise Scodie – NABS 26:54
I agree with all of that. There’s so much wisdom there. And I would say that if you need help with any of that, whether it’s talking to someone about wanting to change your job, or you’re feeling like everything’s got a bit too much, or you just need a listening ear call NABS, that is what we’re here for. If you feel that you can’t talk to friends or colleagues, or if you just want a different kind of chat, then give us a call. We’re objective, and we aim to support.
So very excitingly, Rob, two things to announce here. Firstly, you have a book coming out is the book out yet,
Rob Mayhew 27:26
I do have a book coming out. It is going to be out in the next few days. So it’s very exciting. It’s basically a notebook. So it’s tailor made for people who work in agency world. So it’s got some funny things in there that I’ve written, like finance meeting bingo, brainstorm bingo, where to sit in a meeting, when you’re you don’t want to you want to, you know, what’s the best seat in a client meeting. Basically, it’s a little guide to that.
There’s some little signs in there that you can hold up, like make me a cup of tea. Next slide, please. It’s a real notebook. And you can actually pick which jumper I have on the front cover. And you can also put your own face your own avatar on the back of the book. So if you work in business, specifically agency, I’d say if you work in advertising, marketing, PR, whatever it is in the industry, this is the ultimate notebook upgrade. And it will be useful, I promise, and you’ll look very cool with it if you walk into meetings.
Louise Scodie – NABS 28:39
I’m sold, I’m sold an avatar that looks cool, sign me up, we will grab the link off of Rob and put it in the chat. So you’ll know where to go and find the day book if you’re interested. Also to announce that Rob is joining us for a NABS talk on 9 November at one o’clock. It is free to join, it will be online, we will have another beautiful hour together. So please join us and you’ll be able to put your questions to Rob during that hour as well. So if you go to the NABS website and go to the calendar, you’ll be able to sign up again, we will put that link in the show notes. Until then, it only remains for me to say a massive thank you not just for joining us today but also just for being so funny. And for lifting me up and for producing videos that are so good that I watched one four times back to back.
Rob Mayhew 29:25
Thank you so much, Louise, and thank you to NABS for like just being there for everyone. It’s one of the things that you only really know about when you really need it. But as you just didn’t know it’s there. I think it’s great because it’s just that support. And I think everyone in their career to you know, okay to reach out to get that help for anything minor or major. And I think that’s why it’s now just a such an important role.
Louise Scodie – NABS 29:47
Thanks so much. We’re really glad that we’ve been able to be with each other today and can’t wait to chat to you more in November.
Rob Mayhew 29:55
Looking forward to it. Thank you