Question 7: What has been your biggest failure as CEO and what did you learn from it?
Sir Martin: "There are failures every day. The biggest one was probably in the recession of 1990/91, when I over-geared the company following the acquisition of ogilvy. I didn't understand that a convertible preferred stock in a recession was debt not equity.
The lesson — make sure it doesn't happen again."I wonder what AdRants follow up question would've been. "Yeah,...convertible preferred, stock equity, ratio, market, yen, exchange rates, bonds, oil, er... der.... me no get it."
My guess at what Martin was thinking. "I'm titan of corporate industry, you write a gossip blog. You dare talk to me of failure? How about I give you (and your peon readers) an answer involving M&A and corporate finance that your tiny brains can't comprehend and watch you stare back at me blankly."
Maybe, the "over your head" response is a useful tactic when your the CEO of a conglomerate talking to the press, but I've seen many middling digital marketing exec go for it with colleagues that are less tech savvy. Its self satisfying, and often unchallenged to your face. People fear looking stupid, but ultimately it erodes trust and will bite you in the ass.