Behind the Title: Not To Scale founder Daniel O’Rourke

NAME: Daniel O’Rourke

COMPANY: Not To Scale (@nottoscalehq)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Well, our Twitter description explains this with apt brevity: We create award-winning film content to be enjoyed and shared by all, for some of the world’s best agencies and brands.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Founder/Executive Producer

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Strategically, I spend a lot of time thinking about where the whole group — we have three studios in three different countries and two fledgling divisions — is heading, and then I will also spend time trouble shooting or offering support to help my MDs in both New York and Amsterdam, as we develop our business in both mainland Europe and North America.

Creatively, I’m involved in every major pitch, particularly in London, and I work closely with our roster to stimulate and steer the pitches and productions on a daily basis. I’m the main contact for our financial controller too so I deal with all tax and employment issues with our legal and finance team. I search for new talent for our evolving roster and stay in touch with all of our current directors as much as is possible. We also coordinate a lot of our international marketing strategy from London and I’m involved on a detailed and daily basis with our excellent marketing team. I also make the tea (sometimes).

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
It’s really several roles wrapped up into one, and for me it’s a catchall for so many different skillsets. You have to be fairly even balanced and manage each area of the role that’s demanding your attention with equipoise. You have to be a left-brain and right-brain individual and be able to switch your focus from wildly different tasks at a moment’s notice. I might be in a board meeting discussing figures with corporate financiers and accountants and then need to duck out to go to a color grade, or help a director find the right words, or reference imagery for a pitch, then have an HR and lawyers meeting about updates to employment law or some contractual matters before heading off to a film shoot, and then after try and be funny at a marketing event that we are organizing.

Oddly, I write and draw left handed whilst I play racquet sports right handed and somehow it all just works for me. I enjoy the disruption where others would find the constant daily flux maddening.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED OVER THE YEARS ABOUT RUNNING A BUSINESS?
It takes you a couple of years to learn that if the business isn’t constantly evolving and adapting to a market that can be both glacial and volcanic in its changing demands, then you are basically going backwards and becoming less interesting to that market. We’ve been going nine years and I’m proud to have steered the business through the toughest recession in a generation whilst taking the risk to adapt, expand and grow the business both domestically and internationally. We are a very different business now to how we thought of ourselves on day one.

A LOT OF IT MUST BE ABOUT TRYING TO KEEP EMPLOYEES AND CLIENTS HAPPY.
I get on well with all of our clients. I’ve known some of them for my whole career and we are widely renown for our bonhomie. There’s nothing to balance, I’ve worked hard to create a happy atmosphere in all of our studios. If the Not To Scalers are happy it usually figures the clients will be happy too. The vibe is creative, friendly and very professional, and I empower people to take responsibility for their own roles and tasks more than, handing out things to do. If we’re not laughing, we’re not winning. So we try and enjoy ourselves through the good and bad times. Alcohol helps.

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CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT CLIENTS?
Google (pictured), Burberry, Hermés, PWC, Lowe Superculture, Nike Foundation, Saatchi & Saatchi NY, Virgin, DLKW Lowe.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Seeing my ideas go into helping us win a pitch or improve a problem scene in a film. Watching people grow in confidence and learn their profession at Not To Scale. Travelling the world on expenses, and being able to unwind with a drink at the local pub with the Not To Scale gang.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Sometimes the pitch process is very challenging. You put your mind, heart and soul (not to mention money) into winning a pitch, and losing can be very disheartening. Somehow the “onwards and upwards” maxim always rings true and you just have to take heart knowing you gave it your very best shot and realize that not even the best of them can win every creative pitch they go for.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
The hour before I go to bed, when I can usually let all my thoughts settle, catch up on social media, read, watch TV, have a drink and not be bothered too much about the business for 60 or so minutes.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I think I’d be a gallery owner; it’s much the same role really, a fine artist or director. Can’t think I’d be much good at anything else. I went to film school and earning money by producing creative work is all I’ve ever really known.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Spotify, Sonos, MacBook.


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