60 seconds with: Alan Coleman

Business, Editor's Choice, Interviews | Fri 6 Jan | Author – Business & Finance wolfgang digital alan coleman

Founder and CEO of Wolfgang Digital Alan Coleman takes the Business & Finance 60 second challenge.


Q. What was your first job?

When I was 15 I started my working career in The Fun Factory, an indoor playground in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. Apart from the MD the place was run by students, making it an incredibly fun place to be.

I used to get in an hour early to wax up the slides and then boot down them on a mat. I worked there for three years and until I started Wolfgang I hadn’t lasted three years anywhere else. Work should be fun!

Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

This year exceeded our expectations. Wolfgang Digital established itself as a world-class digital marketing agency, winning seven awards across the UK, Europe and the US for our work. There were ‘Grand Prix’ and ‘Best Agency’ prizes included in the haul. To complement the awards, we placed sixth on the Fast 50 list of the fastest growing tech companies on the island. 

I’m very protective over quality of output and I’ve seen lots of businesses sacrifice quality for growth. My big fear in going from six to 36 people was the challenge to skill-up and scale-up simultaneously. I’m proud our 2016 achievements proved we could do it.

Outside of work, in 2007 myself and a friend swam from Howth Head to the 40 Foot. To do it we developed our own training plan which took us from 800 metres in a pool to 12k in the sea over nine months. After we completed the swim we learned that we were actually the first people to swim that stretch across Dublin Bay. Any career successes I’ve enjoyed since have been modelled on lessons learned during that adventure.

Q. If you could step into the shoes of one businessperson for a day, who would it be and why?

From a performance perspective it’s got to be Joe Schmidt. The success he’s delivered on the international stage for Irish teams is unprecedented and he’s created an environment which enables players to consistently over-perform.

It’s a wonderful testament to the power of the leader that his team, and they were his team, that slaughtered the All Blacks in 2016 was not as talented as the side he’d recently inherited that couldn’t beat them three years before.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Every great business has a secret plan. McDonalds is a property business. Littlewoods is a bank. Google will be an artificial intelligence company (which will dwarf its search business and make a bigger global impact).

I’m actively working on Wolfgang’s secret plan.

Q. In three words or less, how do you define success?

An idea realised.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

Wolfgang gives people the opportunity to achieve career highs beyond their expectations. We’ve a number of international award-winning digital marketers in these four walls. I take a lot of pride in putting ‘Wolfgangers’ on stages, international blogs and in the media.

Other business owners tell me I’m crazy to place our most important assets in the shop window. However, I’m convinced it’s a win-win and simply the right thing to do. I firmly believe Wolfgang provides people with an unrivalled environment to achieve.

If somebody ever did feel grass was greener elsewhere and moved on, we’d have a number of smart and hungry digital marketers eager to step into their shoes.

Motivation is no different for me. I spring out of bed every morning excited about the day ahead.

I’ve turned down a couple of acquisition attempts by bigger agencies because I would feel a lot less sprightly in that moment when I wake up if I was going to work in somebody else’s business.

Q. How do you relax?

If you love your work, enjoy the people you work with and go home at a reasonable hour with a smile on your face – you’re a millionaire.

Q. What are your business aspirations?

Wolfgang Digital to be the world’s most famous digital marketing brand. Of course there is also the matter of that secret plan.

love your work, enjoy the people you work with and go home at a reasonable hour with a smile on your face

AMADEUS, AMADEUS

Wolfgang Digital is one of Ireland’s leading digital marketing agencies specialising in search and content marketing.

Its team of digital marketing nerds love proving there is no recession online!