Perla Bloom & Ronak Mokhtassi
Perla Bloom & Ronak Mokhtassi are the co-founders and hosts of Think Twice, a podcast that explores consumer insights based on speculation. Made up of lively discussions based on their experiences as Strategists and connecting with leaders within the Media & Comms industry, they cover topical themes such as: our brain & creativity, influencers, and Gen Z myths.
Renee: Perla & Ronak why did you start Think Twice, how did the title come about and in your own words what do you cover?
Perla & Ronak: Think Twice was born when we both overheard the same lazy insight, "Gen Z don’t drink anymore". We were moaning about the fact that many people reference this insight in conversation, with little information of why they believe it to be true. After grumbling for a few minutes (maybe more), we decided to do something about it. We created an insights platform, called Think Twice, with the sole purpose of kicking lazy insights out of Ad Land. We’re now both on a mission to myth-bust in each and every topic we cover in our podcast; a recent episode tackled stereotypes around eSports and the gaming audience. Our aim is to enable strategists to be on the front foot when they are briefing in creative work.
Ronak: The name Think Twice also suggests that we’re a double-act, two brains representing two different sides of an argument. We often take on different roles in the episode to try and spark up debate.
R: Who is the podcast for and what can they expect?
P & R: As the podcast is based on marketing insights it’s aimed at everyone who wants to be “in the know” in the advertising industry. They can expect to listen to two strategists discussing topics they have sourced material for. We cite a plethora of studies and reports and include them in our episode notes (this hopefully saves search time for strategists). With each episode being a deep dive into a topic which is about 25-30 minute long, it’s perfect for a morning commute.
R: We share a guest who has featured on both our podcasts. The wonderful Jessica Geary joined Greater than 11% in February last year! What a delight - she is so articulate and completely skilled at breaking down complex processes and concepts. She was also so open and vulnerable - it was a real honour to spend time and learn more about her creative journey. We are big fans of her Margot’s Club projects too.
When Think Twice caught up with Jessica you covered; scanning technology, privacy policies of tech giants and that consent is gorg! What did you both take from the discussion?
P & R: We are so lucky to have worked with her but also to have her as a close friend and mentor – she is positively gorg and so talented, she blows our minds.
From this particular discussion, we learnt not to be scared of voice tech, to instead see it as another mode of ‘search’. It also made us question the ethics surrounding data, as well as some up to date info about the GDPR laws. We squeezed a lot into that 30-minute slot and were so lucky to have had her on one of our first episodes AND we were able to have a grand old time whilst recording.
R: It’s a heap of work running a podcast, which isn’t always evident in the finished product - you are six episodes in, how has it been?
P: You’ve actually caught us after our whirlwind of a week recording our two-part series about targeting gamers and how brands can get involved in gaming culture. It’s the first time we’ve recorded two episodes back to back and wow was it exhausting.
It’s been a lot of work, but we have met and spoken to so many interesting people and had the creative freedom to build and develop our very own brand – no brand guidelines or tone of voice booklets! Everything is our own and exactly how we want it to be. We wanted our podcast to have the fun, laughter and dry humour that ‘Broad City’ has, with academic intellect and information at its core. The brilliant Lee Jarrold developed our brand look and feel.
R: Any tips for budding podcasters?
P & R: We would say, keep going. Everything will take twice as long at the beginning, especially as you start to figure things out – but don’t give up on getting the end product that you want, and concentrate on content, not so much perfect sound quality. As long as you’re able to hear what you’re saying, then you’re all good. Oh, and if in doubt… add some jazzy background music.
R: You are both strategists - Perla you are Senior Strategist for Saatchi & Saatchi and Ronak you’re a Lead Strategist for Gravity Road. Can you give us an overview of your roles and your career paths?
P: After falling in love with strategy during a 2-month internship whilst still at university, I found a job as a data strategist for Mercedes Benz, which was all about targeting and building audience profiles. However, I was missing being a part of the more creative output and having more of an impact on brand sentiment. So, I applied to move over to the creative side and I’ve never looked back. I have just started at my role at Saatchi and I am mainly working on all aspects of strategy for the Visa account on some really exciting projects, including Revolut and their big Christmas campaign. I also lead the social strategy for the HSBC Global Instagram, which has been rewarding and I am really looking forward to more challenges to come. R: After studying Economics, I went on to gain a Masters in Behavioural Economics and Consumer Psychology. After various internships and work experience, I started my first job as a Junior Strategist at the same place where I met my podcast buddy, Perla. I’m currently at Gravity Road, which is packed full of ambitious, brilliant folk. We’re the lead digital agency for Sainsbury’s which is my main account at the moment, as well as Three mobile.
R: What is the biggest challenge you both faced in your career?
P: For me, it’s probably a self-confidence thing. A strategist is meant to know the answers, whilst remaining cool, calm and collected. We’re often looked at as ‘the brain’, which is a lot of pressure, especially at the beginning. Yet, I have also found sometimes being a young woman in the industry makes it that little bit harder for your opinion to be respected and heard every time. Saying that, I’ve been incredibly lucky to learn from some amazing women who have taught me to defend my strategy if I believe it to be the logical solution and in my career in general, to always run towards something, never away from something else. But above all, my most treasured piece of advice is to be selective/clever with my time and to protect my energy – which is SO important, to stop yourself suffering from burnout. R: At risk of sounding like the ultimate eager beaver or people pleaser - when I started out I found it difficult to not say yes to every work demand or deadline. Obviously it’s important to be keen and enthusiastic, however it can often be slightly self-destructive if you say yes to everything. Elizabeth Day, author of “How To Fail”, offers up an interesting perspective on gender and learning when to say no in the workplace - I’d highly recommend her book!
R: What do you each individually love about your role?
R: As a Strategist, part of the role is to keep your finger on the pulse of culture and what’s going on around you. You need to stay curious to everyone and everything, no insight is irrelevant or out-of-bounds: you never know when a reference might come in handy! I love that being "in the know"is so relevant to my role and that curating cultural references and case studies can breathe life into a presentation or creative briefing. It also helps me excuse my excessive “screen time”...hey it’s part of my job!
P: I love the fact that no two days are the same, even if I’m working on a brand for a long time. An important part of writing a strategy requires insight from culture and ever-changing audience truths, which means that no two strategies should ever really be the same, nor should your methods for finding out information – whether that be a cringey all-agency email, trawling through trend reports or speaking to someone at the pub.
R: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a strategist?
R: I would say stay curious always and be a sponge for everything that is around you. Something I learnt from an APG talk once was that if you want to truly understand your audience you have to read everything you can get your hands on, whether that’s a Tweet, a reddit forum or even a gossip mag – don’t just listen and read your own opinion and don’t be snobby with your sources. P: Once you start on an account you get a feel for the type of role you’re suited to. Any experience on an ad agency account is so valuable when you’re starting out! If everything feels out of your comfort zone at the start, that just means you’re learning to grow and develop into a bold and brave young strategist.
R: What’s coming up for Think Twice?
P & R: We hope to continue to bring on exciting guests, get a bigger following and then eventually do live recordings and events where we can answer your questions live. Think Twice will continue to be a go-to place for strategy insights, we want to spark debate and have a bit of fun within our community. R: Thank you so much - loving Think Twice and looking forward future eps already.
You can connect with Perla and Ronak via instagram @thinktwicepodcast.