Wake The Town
Stuck in Motion
Contemplative Reptile
  • International Edition
  • USA Edition
  • UK Edition
  • Australian Edition
  • Canadian Edition
  • Irish Edition
  • German Edition
  • French Edition
  • Singapore Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Polish edition
  • Indian Edition
  • Middle East edition
  • South African Edition

Bossing It: Ann Asprodites on Why Failure Is Your Friend


Asprodites Reps' owner/sales resource on celebrating others’ ideas, challenges creating community and company culture

Bossing It: Ann Asprodites on Why Failure Is Your Friend

In the 13 years as sales at Morrison Productions in New Orleans, Ann Asprodites grew the roster and billings from a small, regional one-director production company to Conspiracy in NYC and Austin and Code in LA studios, all with a hefty roster of talent.

In 2000, Ann started Asprodites Reps with four directors from Morrison Productions, who each wanted their own company. The business model was simple but different: the Southeast as a separate territory. 23 years later, Asprodites Reps enjoys a solid roster of live action, VFX/post/animation and music. Most of the companies are long time members of the roster and the friendships forged are part of the joy of work. 

In 2020, Ann joined forces with fellow LA rep Veronica Lombardo to create the Alliance of Independent Representatives, a 5016 trade organisation that supports and celebrates the rep community in the US and abroad. As co-founder and VP, Ann hosts Clear the Air with Ann, a round-table of advertising and production professionals who discuss the common speed bumps and issues.

The business of advertising and content creation is fluid and ever changing but some things are constant: respect, communication, enthusiasm and the joy of work. These are the foundations of Asprodites Reps.

Along with a love of business, Ann loves riding and showing Baker, her thoroughbred Hunter, travelling with her artist husband Randy, dinners with friends and reading.

LBB> What was your first experience of leadership?

Ann> After organising all the kids in my nursery school class (yes, I did that) I created a group called Ad Hoc, the coming together of all the advertising organisations including the Ad Club, the Art Directors Associations and other like associations. After that I was part of the creation of the Louisiana Film and Tape Association and created a directory of members. 

LBB> How did you figure out what kind of leader you wanted to be – or what kind of leader you didn’t want to be?

Ann> I never thought of myself as a leader, more of a doer. But now that the question is posed, I want to be a leader that celebrates others’ thoughts, opinions and ideas. A leader that pulls people together and encourages community.

LBB> What experience or moment gave you your biggest lesson in leadership?

Ann> When Ad Hoc fizzled before it got off the ground, I realised that a mission statement must be concise, targeted and meaningful to the members. Since then, every experience is a lesson for leadership – a tough conversation, the need for extra energy to wrangle an extra task.

LBB> Did you know you always wanted to take on a leadership role? If so, how did you work towards it and if not, when did you start realising that you had it in you?

Ann> Being a leader was not- and is not - a formulated goal. There are no vision boards or a planned-out life. I just always thought if there was something I wanted to get done I would have to do it. Long before the pandemic and AIR, I wanted to create an event that brought together production and agency people to discuss our common issues and professional speedbumps. I was able to put together two such round tables long before AIR only because it was something I wanted to do.

LBB> When it comes to 'leadership' as a skill, how much do you think is a natural part of personality, how much can be taught and learned?

Ann> The best quality I have is one I never realised until recently: I am not afraid to fail. I really don’t worry if I stumble or trip in any attempt. The second quality is respect for other people. Not sure this can be learned. As far as the skills of leadership, I have not had any formal training.

LBB> What are the aspects of leadership that you find most personally challenging? And how do you work through them?

Ann> Listening. Really listening to people so that you actually hear, digest and understand their opinion and acknowledge their point of view. That does not mean agreeing but acknowledging. This is an on-going challenge for me and a skill that must be practised daily. 

LBB> Have you ever felt like you've failed whilst in charge? How did you address the issue and what did you learn from it?

Ann> Failure is my friend. Early in my career, as sales manager for a post house in New Orleans, I asked that representatives from all the advertising and production associations come together and attack common goals. We had one meeting and no one wanted to discuss the hot button item of not getting paid. In fact, it grew a bit contentious and that was the end of that group. I remember being mad and a bit embarrassed (probably because I was young enough to get embarrassed) but not daunted. The experience did not scar my willingness to jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.

LBB> In terms of leadership and openness, what’s your approach there? Do you think it’s important to be as transparent as possible in the service of being authentic? Or is there a value in being careful and considered?

Ann> On my desk I have a small note that says 'The two rules of success': One: Don’t tell everything you know. That doesn’t mean obfuscating or being inauthentic or even keeping secrets. To me it means to be thoughtful and considered instead of spewing information for the sake of showing that you know something.

LBB> As you developed your leadership skills did you have a mentor, if so who were/are they and what have you learned? And on the flip side, do you mentor any aspiring leaders and how do you approach that relationship?

Ann> My biggest mentor was (and is?) failure. 

LBB> It's been a really challenging year - and that's an understatement. How do you cope with the responsibility of leading a team through such difficult waters?

Ann> Challenges bring people together with the common goal of solutions and the need for support. Challenges created the fulcrum of community.

LBB> This year has seen the industry confronted with its lack of action/progress on diversity and inclusion. As a leader how have you dealt with this?

Ann> In every case possible, when diversity is part of the agency/client ask, I ask how real is your request and how is your leap of faith? If an under-represented director doesn’t have the work on the reel because they are under-represented, can the client take that leap of faith? I have also signed up for AICP’s mentoring team and started mentoring on my own by assessing the reels of under-represented talent. Then, I have to put my money where my mouth is by taking on companies with under-represented talent. This is where I work closely with the EP to elevate and support the directors.

LBB> How important is your company culture to the success of your business? And how have you managed to keep it alive with staff working remotely in 2020?

Ann> Easy. My company culture is me. I have not, to this point, taken on a partner because I am unsure of how to maintain the culture of me with another person. Not to say this would never happen. It might. But to answer the question, I maintain it by maintaining me. And having a sense of humour.

LBB> What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help you along your leadership journey?

Ann> In no precise order: Respect. Respect for the people in the companies I represent and respect for my agency and brand clients. Respect for their jobs and their time. Friendship. This industry handily blurs the lines between commerce and art, business and friendship. I cherish the relationships I have with my companies, current and past, as well as my agency clients. There are one or two exceptions, but for the lion’s share of my career, I have made friends. Listening and hearing. Again, this is a lifelong learning process that I will never master but will continue to try. Energy. The energy to listen. The energy to nurture relationships. The energy to be responsive. 

view more - Bossing It
Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
Asprodites Reps, Tue, 07 Feb 2023 14:26:29 GMT