Benjamin Billups: A Conversation I
This Part 1 of a 3 Part Conversation with one of the Visionaries in Outdoor Advertising.
We caught up with a very busy and well-traveled Ben Billups, Founder/CEO of Billups. Founded in 2003, Billups is the nation’s largest independently held, out-of-home media specialist agency. Forbes recently named them one of America’s Most Promising Companies. Billups is headquartered in Portland, Oregon with 13 offices spanning the US. Independent. Effective. And like its Founder, Successful. Driven.
BBoard: Ben, you are one of the most elusive, least public Agency leaders of the OOH planning and buying shops. Yet, I personally know you to be a warm and charming person who loves people and genuinely is passionate for OOH. Why the low profile? Is there a contradiction we are not aware of?
BBillups: Elusive? Low profile? That certainly makes me sound mysterious! I agree, though, that I’m likely the least understood public agency leader of the bunch. Personally, I believe that teams and relationships are much more important than individual visibility. I’ve always said that I started the story, but it’s being written by our people. Privately, my team knows me very well and that’s good enough for me from an industry perspective. As a leader, I deeply value the traits of humility, kindness and modesty. When you get down to it, I’m only interested in delivering amazing and moving the world. The rest of it I can live without. If all that makes me low-profile, but nourishes me personally, I’ll take it.
“I’m only interested in delivering amazing and moving the world.”
BBoard: Speaking of team; some past employees described you in the exact same words, yet with completely different tones. for example, “Ben is intense and laser-focused, driven hard for our objectives.” Here’s the thing: We have heard the comment in a critical manner, as well as a very positive attribution of your leadership style. And we’ll add, of the previous employees, more were positive in tone with conviction, much more so, than the few who were not. I hope you have heard it before. How do you respond?
BBillups: Yeah, I’ve heard this, or some version of this, my entire working life. It makes me laugh because it’s mostly true. In response, I think I’d say, first, that I appreciate the candid analysis and the authentic feedback from any employee, past or present. I sincerely value that. I’d also say that life’s journey is as much about successes as it is failures or disappointments. That includes me. I’ve never pretended to be perfect, and I know that I will miss the mark sometimes. But all of those failures change us and help us grow, right?
Billups: The truth is, I’m not interested in mediocrity or compromising at all. I’m also not afraid of failure. Sometimes that type of mentality scares people or can make them a tad nervous. But I believe in having hunger, urgency and obsession as the building blocks for an enterprising company. Sure, we’ll run into failures along the way. As long as we remain driven and learn from those failures to create future successes, we’ll continue to take major steps towards our vision of becoming the most inspired, innovative and influential location-based company in the world.
“I believe in having hunger, urgency and obsession as the building blocks for an enterprising company.”
BBoard: What did your father do?
BBillups: Believe it or not, my father actually drove for UPS. Funny coincidence, I know. I’m proud of him and very thankful for my upbringing.
Benjamin Billups: A Conversation. Part II continues tomorrow with more including Acquisitions and Posterscope.