Shelly Lazarus of Ogilvy & Mather interviewed

Fortune Magazine interviews Shelly Lazarus, the CEO of advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather.

What would you identify as your most meaningful accomplishment and as your biggest disappointment? - Creed Terry, Eagle Point, Ore.

My biggest accomplishment was when I left Ogilvy's direct-marketing arm to return as head of the agency's headquarters at a time when the agency wasn't very healthy. It was after we were hostilely taken over [by WPP Group], but the agency wasn't in good shape even before that. We were losing clients and people every week, it seemed. I had nightmares that I would come in and all our clients and employees would have left.

But we turned the whole agency around. And we did it with the people who were there. We didn't bring new leaders in. I figured if you could divide up the tasks into small enough pieces so that a person could say, 'Yeah, I could do that,' it could work. Anytime I lose a client is a disappointment. I take it personally. I feel a true obligation to every client, and when we are fired, I feel personally responsible.

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