On Episode 6 of The Executives Unpacked Podcast we were joined by Marco Tinnirello, the CEO at Eurovision Services. He has been in the broadcast industry for nearly 25 years, starting out with Globecast in an IT and data role before working his way to becoming the CEO at Eurovision services. He’s a man who believes that ambition matters more to success than talent does, and whose childhood aim was to be a highway patrol officer.
Read on to tap into his insights into the content and media industry from an executive position.
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned during your career?
The road to doing the right thing isn’t always easy. You want everything you do to be a success and be great. The reality is, that’s impossible. The main lesson that I’ve learned over the years is that it’s okay to fail. It’s never great to fail, but you have to be comfortable with it, because you are going to fail. Embracing it and knowing that both outcomes are possible, is a really important lesson. If you don’t have that attitude, it will block you from trying stuff. I learned that the hard way. When I’ve messed up or when I made a mistake or when I failed, that’s when I’ve developed the most and gained the most. That’s a massive life lesson, it’s really helped me think differently about taking on opportunities when they present themselves.
What do you wish that you had been told earlier?
I’ve been pretty fortunate in my career, and I’ve always had great bosses and colleagues. good advice around me. It is very easy just to meander through your career without any objective, going from job to job just because it’s a job. One of the things I wish I discovered earlier was what I wanted to do with my career. You need to know what you want to do, and how you’re going to get there, because otherwise you’re just going to meander around. I wanted to be a leader. Realising that was a real light bulb moment. I just wish it had happened earlier.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
One of my recent bosses said, ‘You’ve really got to back yourself’. It was a throwaway comment, but it wasn’t in this context. We had just gone through a certain change in the workplace where he had two choices; he either swallowed it and went, ‘I don’t agree with that, but I’ll stay’ or ‘No, that’s against my principles, so I’m leaving’. It takes a lot of courage to do the latter if you don’t know where you’re gonna go. You do that by having the confidence to say, ‘I backed myself, I know what I’m capable of, I know I’m going to be okay’. The guy who said it to me was a fantastic boss, and he told me that you’ve got to believe in yourself, and you got to back yourself, have the confidence to do the right thing, and you’ll be okay. It was just a throwaway statement that was said at an incredibly important time.
What has constantly kept you awake at night?
What keeps me awake is things that challenge your values and morals. As a leader you often have to make tough decisions. Sometimes you have to make restructuring decisions that impact people’s lives. Those keep me awake because I have to reflect carefully around them. The other thing that keeps me awake is the responsibility of leading an organisation. It’s my job to make sure that we’re performing, which means I have to demand a lot from the team. I’ve always been super lucky to work with brilliant people who step up to that challenge. Question is, when do you push someone too far? I’ve got two responsibilities as a leader in this business, you know, deliver what the shareholders need in terms of performance and objectives; profitability keeping the workforce safe. One or the other doesn’t take precedence, you have to give both of them 100% attention. You’ve got to live by doing the right thing every single day. You’ll only sleep well if you never go against your morals.
Can you identify a single thread that has run through your career that has led to success?
My ambition. I’m very rarely the smartest person in the room, and I don’t have magical powers or talent that no one else has. I’m often surrounded by more talented and brighter people. As a leader, you need to do that. There’s some ingredients that I picked up from my parents, who were immigrants into the UK back in the late 50s, when the UK was looking for labourers. They came with two very simple ingredients, which is that you work hard, and you always do your best. They run a family business and as a kid I had to help out, and my job was to make up the flat-packed containers our cucumbers went into. If you ever ask ‘What’s the most boring and soul destroying job on the planet?’ I can tell you what it is because I’ve done it. It’s picking boxes. It takes stamina to carry on. I’ve carried that lesson through my life. I’m not talented in any particular way, but what I do have is incredible staying power and determination, which you need in business. Those two words, determination and stamina, have been the keys to my success.
What one bit of advice do you always give to others?
I’m going to pass on two pieces of advice that were given to me. Number one is back yourself. Never go against your morals, never go against your values, always stand by who you are. The second is never let the risk of failure limit you. Failing is just part of the journey. You have to accept that. If you went back to being a kid and stopped walking and after falling over a few times, you wouldn’t have gotten very far. That’s how it is throughout that journey of life. I don’t know why we ever stopped realising it’s okay to stumble and fall over. Remind yourself it’s okay to do that. It’s part of the journey. So always back yourself and have the determination to keep going through failures.
To hear more about Marco’s life and insights into the industry, listen to the full conversation on The Executives Unpacked Podcast here.
For more behind-the-scenes insights into John Harris’s life, listen to the whole Executives Unpacked Podcast episode here.