Community//

Elliott Phear of Night After Night: “You want your company to bring out the best in you”

You want your company to bring out the best in you — In other words, you don’t want to get bogged down doing stuff you’re not great at. Running a company is challenging, but that challenge should also be an opportunity to discover your gifts and apply them to your business. As part of our series called […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

You want your company to bring out the best in you — In other words, you don’t want to get bogged down doing stuff you’re not great at. Running a company is challenging, but that challenge should also be an opportunity to discover your gifts and apply them to your business.


As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company” I had the pleasure of interviewing Elliott Phear, CEO of Night After Night, a creative and strategic agency that works with global brands in spirits, music and entertainment and nightlife. After an early career at MTV, writing, developing and producing original programming, Phear co-founded Night After Night to help brands connect with consumers when they’re most open — in their after-hours, once they’ve disconnected from the day to seek the things that fulfill them most. Through strategic planning, talent partnerships, an in-house content studio, and an always-on approach to engagement, Phear and his team have developed and managed marketing programs that have helped add hundreds of millions of dollars worth of value to their client’s businesses.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started? What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I started a small production company, and we used to get hired by ad agencies to produce their ads. But their ideas always stunk. So I hired a brand strategist, and clients started hiring us directly for our ideas and our production talents.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Things are good. They’re never great; they’re never bad. They’re good. And that perspective only comes from having grit and resilience. Because you know you can get through the tough times and that the great times never last for long. But the fact that you get to run your own business? That’s good. That’s very good.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We’re a marketing agency called Night After Night. We have two bars in our office. Our team is very close-knit, and we specialize in helping our clients develop marketing strategies that connect with young people when they’re at their most open — in the night.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

One night I received a phone call from my accountant. It was October 14th — the night before taxes were due (we’d received an extension that year). My accountant rings me up and says to me, ‘Elliott, you owe 250,000 dollars, and it’s due tomorrow.’ No warning. No heads up, just a very large (for us, at the time) bill that was due the next day. I thought, ‘we need a new accountant’. I’d gotten a little too ‘hands-off.. Ever since then I watch the money a lot more closely.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

I created a TV show once and was working with someone more experienced than I was. I wanted to do one thing, and they wanted to do another. I thought, ‘They must know what they’re talking about.’ But, as Ricky Gervais says, ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.’ Trust your gut. If you have a creative idea, that’s the time to stick to your guns and stay true to your vision.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • Patience — Things are never as good or bad as they seem. Wisdom says: persevere, pay attention, and adapt. That’s patience in business, and it usually works.
  • Being a good listener — This is the best management and sales tool known to man. Make your people and your customers feel understood, and anything is possible.
  • Creative. My favorite Tom Petty quote is when he’s asked to give advice to young artists. He says, ‘Yeah, man… make something of quality.’ One way to create a successful business is to make something absolutely special, something that makes people think ‘wow!’.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Our agency was named after our belief that great things happen at night when we can ‘do the things we love with the people we love.’ Part of that means unplugging from work and media and also taking a break from the hustle. I’d suggest to my colleagues that restoring yourself over dinner with friends, at a live music show, or at your favorite local brewery are key to conquering the day. These things are a big part of what makes us feel connected as humans — to life and each other — and, on top of recommending time off the clock to my peers, I also encourage everyone on our team to take the time they need to relish their ‘off-hours.’

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Entrepreneurshiphas gotten a bad rap in the last several years, I think because of ‘bro-y’ tech culture. And where has that gotten us? People in business shouldn’t be so lacking in humanity.

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Sales. Everything is based on sales. It’s not cool to talk about sales, though. People think it’s crass. People want to talk about purpose and meaning. And those things are fine. But I’d take sales over purpose and meaning any day of the week.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.

You want your company to bring out the best in you — In other words, you don’t want to get bogged down doing stuff you’re not great at. Running a company is challenging, but that challenge should also be an opportunity to discover your gifts and apply them to your business.

Watch very closely for bad apples — Because they can spoil the bunch so fast. And get your company way off track. As the boss, it’s your job to throw them out as quickly as you can. If you lose your stomach for it, remind yourself that you’re doing it for your company and for every other person who’s bringing a positive attitude to the game.

Don’t be afraid to screw up — It’s funny because in my life, I’ve been told by plenty of bad bosses or people senior to me: ‘Don’t Mess it Up’ — It sounds like a dated saying now, but I’m sure there are plenty of jerks who still say it. Anyway, I actually think the opposite. I think you shouldn’t be afraid to screw up. Sure, you’re striving for excellence, always, but not at the expense of creativity, of looseness and curiosity, of an intrepid spirit. People take themselves way too seriously in business.

Be as good to your people as you can — You are lucky to be in charge. You may have worked hard, you may have had a great idea, but you are lucky to be in charge. Don’t take it lightly. People are counting on you for their paycheck, and even more than that, people have chosen to spend their time working at the company you lead. Respect that.

Bring your whole self to it — This idea is much more in vogue now than it was when I was starting out. But it bears reiterating because what I’ve discovered is that it makes work a lot less stressful — not having to put on a face is a big relief. Even more than that, it’s the glue of trust, the thing that makes connections between people mean something. Without it, there’s no magic. And every company needs a little magic.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Sign up for my newsletter at wearenightafternight.com, follow my agency on Twitter @TheNightAgency or on Instagram or LinkedIn @WeAreNightAfterNight.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“Why sleep is important” Elliott Phear and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

by Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated
Community//

Ranu Coleman: “Failure is an essential part of discovery and innovation”

by Phil La Duke
The Thrive Global Questionnaire//

Beauty Industry Icon, Bobbi Brown, on Her Media Filled Morning Routine

by Bobbi Brown
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.