We spoke to Jon Kallus, founder of Fate V Future: a marketing services agency that enables businesses, startups, scale-ups, and individuals to own their own future.
“What I'm struck by the most, is the disconnect between our expectations and reality. ”
So Jon, what are you working on right now and what makes it special?
Our whole reason for being at Fate v Future is to eliminate the anxieties and questions around marketing. There’s a lot of jargon and fluff out there when it comes to marketing, even when it comes to creative output. We help people deal with that.
So what we work on is strategies, designs, and creative output —all designed to simplify the overwhelming questions that clients have about marketing.
On top of that, I write a regular newsletter all about business, culture, technology, fashion, luxury, and travel that synthesises all of that information, so you can put it to use, in the form of a conversation, an interview, or just having something interesting to say to a dinner party.
The newsletter and the agency have the same aim: to take fate, and twist it into a better future.
What's the best idea you've had this week, work related or otherwise?
To do this interview, of course! I’m not just saying that to be polite. It's always good to take a step out of yourself, so you can think about the bigger picture. We're all in it, all day, every day, and it can be really difficult to have a perspective. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and take stock.
What's the thing you've worked on in the last year that you're most proud of, and why?
Starting this media company, aka my newsletter. It’s just so different from everything else I’ve worked on but the reason I'm most proud of it is because I've realised I've been able to create something not only for myself, but for our clients, and really everybody that my company and I have ever worked with.
Where do you get your best thinking and work done?
It's a really good question. And I think the answer is “in motion” — whether that's moving at five, fifteen or five hundred miles an hour. I think there is very much something about moving that your subconscious recognises and that galvanises you to be creative.
Where's the weirdest place you've had a game-changing winning idea?
I think the weirdest place that I've ever had a game changing or a pitch winning idea is probably the least weird place that you could think of: in the office on a work day. When you really get to a game changing or pitch winning idea, there's something about being in close contact with people who inspire you, who you respect, and who you like that just brings it to life.
How is talent treated at Fate v Future?
Just like that: as talent! Even before Covid we were 100 per cent remote and autonomous. We treat our talent as autonomous individuals who are able to make their own hours and set their own schedules, and really work in the way they really work in both the way and in the places that they do their best work.
Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
I've been lucky to work with a lot of creative superstars. Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein Tor Myhren, Nils Leonard. The list goes on and on.
But if I had to say who has had the biggest impact on my career? Then it’s got to be my wife, Natalie. We got engaged in 2018, which was the same year that I started my company — and the reason that I did that was purely personal.
Nat’s parents live in Sydney. My parents live in New York. We live here in London. So, when we got engaged, I began to squint and visualise what our life would be like. It was hard to imagine that being at another big agency — or at least one that is in a single place — would work. So that’s when I started Fate v Future.
Did you have any genius idea as a child or teenager that now makes you cringe?
Oh, sure! But I don't have to look back to childhood or teenage years to think of ideas that make me cringe — I can probably just go back to last week.
What’s interesting, when I look back and compare it to now, is how we’re still waiting for those flying cars and jetpacks — what I'm struck by the most, is the disconnect between our expectations and reality.
We see it in the movies — things that were taking place in the 2020s, in 1980s sci-fi films, were so futuristic. But here we are, and when you look around… it's more or less the same. We seem to overestimate how different the world is going to be, so I think the ideas that I had as a kid are still probably 100 years away. So they don't quite make me cringe, but I guess they do speak to things moving sometimes much slower than we expect.
On the flip side, tell us about something from your childhood that rocked but that doesn’t exist anymore?
I love questions like this. Straightaway I have images of super specific things that are emblematic of growing up in a certain era — like running across the room to press record on a tape deck when your favourite song comes on the radio because that's the only way you'd be able to listen to it again.
Thinking about these things makes me nostalgic. But I don't miss it. Every single time, I think anyonewould choose to have a limitless number of songs at our fingertips, instead of having to run across the room every time I wanted to hear a song on demand. I absolutely love the fact that — and I talk about this a lot with clients — that it's basically never been easier to do something or make something, whether that’s creative output or starting a company!
It’s 2030: you’ve landed the role of your dreams — what’s the creative brief?
Well, you know, the small things: saving the oceans, reversing climate change, helping people live longer (and happier) — stuff like that! But in all seriousness, that is what we will all be working on, not just because of brands inserting themselves into those conversations, but because the world, in its entirety, is moving towards having to solve these things, out of necessity. Which ultimately means that this isn’t just my brief but the brief for millions of people around the world —if only because it will take everyone working together to solve it. Saving us from an otherwise dark fate, and helping us build a better future.