We’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day 2017 with the Herd’s favorite Irishman, the one and only Mike O’Leary, founder and president of Kicking Cow.
Mike opened the barn doors 17 years ago, initially working with two pillar clients: Nestle Purina and Hallmark. The barn has grown tremendously since those days, but we still remember to enjoy the interests of our fearless leader.
As the name O’Leary suggests, Mike comes from a strong stock of Irishmen. This is seen just as equally through his spirited St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as it is through Kicking Cow’s competitive work ethic.
A few quick words with Mr. President (of the Herd) himself:
What is your favorite St. Patrick’s Day tradition?
Mike: Not sure if it is an official tradition or not, but my Dad used to get several dozen green carnations and present them to the all the ladies he encountered that day- the ladies at his office, out at the pubs and of course he always had a very nice bouquet of them for Mom.
I just love seeing a lady smile when she gets one. You always get a smile when you hand a lady a green carnation on St. Patty’s Day and every once in a while a kiss on the cheek if you have the luck of the Irish.
Speaking of tradition, why did you choose historic Laclede’s Landing as home to the Barn?
Mike: I wanted to be in the city as my family has a business that has been located at 1909 Cole St. since 1873, so it just made sense to me. I love the city of St. Louis and I love downtown St. Louis. From Washington Ave. to Soulard to Lafayette Square to Forest Park to Dogtown to Laclede’s Landing- there is so much rich and colorful history this city has to offer. Now I can’t think of any other place I would want our offices to be located. We are as much a part of the Landing as the Landing is a part of St. Louis.
What are you most proud of as the owner of Kicking Cow?
Mike: I am proud of all the Herd members who have passed through the Barn and then went on to bigger and better things both professionally and personally. I have a deep debt of gratitude for the time they gifted our Herd as they each left their own personal stamp- or should I say brand- on the Cow.
What is our favorite part of the company culture you’ve created at Kicking Cow?
Mike: You give me way too much credit thinking that I created a company culture here. The Herd, past and present, created the culture. I merely try to provide my team with the tools and freedom to take the Cow where they want it to go. Sometimes it’s worked, other times not so much. In the end I think the one line to describe our culture would be “we work hard and we play hard!”
What habits make you a successful leader of both the agency and your employees?
Mike: I’ll let you know when I become a successful leader…
What lessons have you learned as Shepherd of the Herd over the last 17 years?
Mike: Oh, where to start! I learned quite a bit over the years; however, putting those learnings into action are not as easy as one might think. I guess the main lesson I learned is to afford all of your mistakes. If you can do that and still have some money left in the bank at the end of the year- well, I guess some folks would call that being successful.