Boss It like...

How To Boss It Like… Lindsay Pattison, worldwide CEO, Maxus

By Oliver Smith 14 April 2016

These leaders are changing the world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world. Jeff Lynn, Tom Blomfield and Paul Frampton seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning as part of The Memo’s marketing month we’re talking to Lindsay Pattison, the worldwide CEO of media agency Maxus, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

As well as leading one of the Sunday Times’ Top 100 Companies to work for and the 8th biggest media agency, Pattison has also found the time to work as vice chair of the World Economic Forum’s Future of Media Global Agenda Council.

She has also fought the corner for all women in marketing, calling for other media agency leaders to do more to shrink the pay gap between men and women.

A busy woman, with big ideas, The Memo asked Pattison how she gets it all done.

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

I am genuinely a morning person. So I get up relatively early (6.30am) and try to use this peak time as effectively as I can.

When I’m away, which is often (this is week three of four, right now), I get myself going with a session at the hotel gym or a brisk walk outside.

At home, I might enjoy a rare lie-in or a Pilates class with my husband (David) – to stretch, energise and clear my mind.

Immediately after that, I tend to have a breakfast meeting out with a client, or internally with one of my team over (very good, very strong) coffee.

What apps or methods do you use to be more productive?

I use my brain (still the best app out there) and the added brainpower of my incredibly on-it EA [executive assistant], Liz, to organise me. Together, we use my Outlook diary to schedule not only work meetings, but also to set aside dedicated time for preparing presentation decks and speeches.

For me, exercise is really vital to productivity levels, so I always schedule in some time at the gym as well.

When I’m travelling – and this is a sad but true reality of a life lived across time zones – I use reminders to make sure I check in with my husband and friends.


App-wise, I rely on Uber and Addison Lee to get to where I need to be on time, and Wallet is fantastic for checking-in quickly for flights and paying on the move.

What smartphone do you use?

I have a white iPhone 6, which is currently toting a particularly cool Kate Spade leopard print case (one of a few I mix and match including a black Swarovski crystal one from our client Otterbox). I like my phone to have personality!

I try and stay really on top of emails. I’ll reply and clear as I go (as far as possible) while staying present to whoever I’m with – it helps keep my head clear too.

How many people do you meet in a day?

It can honestly be anywhere from 10 to 100. Over the course of a typical day, I’ll meet a mix of internal, clients, key media owner or tech partners. If I am away, I will always have a Town Hall, where I outline my strategy, show what I’m doing transparently, share goals and results and have an open floor Q&A with the whole Maxus agency.


From there, I go into one-to-ones with our local leader and senior teams, which might well be over lunch and should definitely involve a good catch up as well as work talk. These trusted relationships, as well as those I build with clients, are a crucial and enjoyable part of my working life – I thrive on being with people.

What book are you currently reading or which one book would you recommend?

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg should be compulsory for women and men, but right now I’m reading All Involved by Ryan Gattis, which offers brilliant, varying perspectives on the LA riots post the Rodney King incident.

Another favourite is Amy Cuddy’s Presence. If you haven’t watched her Ted talk on how our body language shapes our identities, you definitely should. You’ll never slouch again.

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

Hmm, ‘could do better’, I think my report would say. As a global CEO there is always someone awake, so I do have to be mindful of this, but mindful also of what time zone the recipient is in.


I’ve got a natural tendency to be always-on, it goes with the territory in media, but weekend emails should not be standard. We try to implement a digital sunset at home, turning all devices off well before bedtime, but I do find it a challenge to completely switch off from work mentally.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone starting a career in marketing or advertising?

My mantra, which I live by, is ‘be interesting and interested’. In practice, this means being relentlessly curious.

Don’t wait until the “are there any questions?” moment to show that you have a passionate interest in your work. And don’t be shy to keep asking until you’re sure you’ve got it.

Curiosity keeps us engaged and ensures we keep exploring new perspectives, which is vital whatever level you reach.

Be curious, say ‘yes’ to every opportunity, work hard, and you will go far.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a business leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.