, 2022-07-31 03:17:41,
On one wall of Sells Agency in downtown Little Rock hangs a large, framed print of a pencil maze, the kind where one draws a line from the perimeter to the center finish, avoiding dead ends and box canyons as you go. The illustration could be a former marketing piece or maybe it’s just another imagination trigger for a creative team on deadline. But whatever its actual purpose, the artwork serves as an apt illustration of Mike Sells’ life journey, always seeking a way forward, learning as he goes.
“If I were doing the same thing now that I was doing yesterday — if I hadn’t learned new things from when I started — I’d be bored to tears,” he says. “One of the benefits of this industry is there’s always something new.”
Sells has been in the advertising game for decades with a client roster laden with heavy-hitters — and those aspiring to be — to show for it. Meeting Sells for the first time, what you see is what you get, but there’s a lot to look at, each underlying traunche earned by design, by accident and quite often, the hard way. Each lesson brings him a little closer to who he is, what he does and how he does it, so he seeks out new subject matter at every opportunity.
“In this business you have to have a stick-to-itiveness and a desire to always be learning,” he says. “Until a year and a half ago, I had never heard of cyclocross as a sport, and I’ve been a cycling fan my whole life. That was a lot of fun to learn and now, we’ve done advertising and marketing for two world-caliber cyclocross events and we’re working on a third.”
Sells’ approach has made him and his firm (which includes a second office in Fayetteville) exceptionally flexible, which is not to say unfocused. Sells Agency’s creative work is distinguished by its intentionality and clarity of message, the virtues of which are relentlessly hammered home by its president.
“I drive a lot of people around here crazy about words having meanings and to be really precise,” he said. “Some of my favorite questions are, ‘What are you really saying?’ and ‘Can you say that in a different way?’
“I’ll be in a meeting and people will say something and I think to myself later, 80% of the people in there didn’t understand what they were trying to say, but nobody asked. We have to seek to understand and we can’t seek to understand if we’re not asking questions and listening hard to those words.”
A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER
There’s a lot about Sells that doesn’t satisfy assumptions. For instance, despite making…
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