What I've Learnt: Abraham Abbi Asefaw, Co-founder at The Pop Up Agency

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo
Abraham Abbi Asefaw, The Pop Up Agency

The Pop Up Agency, which Abraham Abbi Asefaw co-founded in 2012, completes briefs in 48 hours.

With innovative strategies and a pinch of high pressure, Abraham's agency works internationally, bringing a specialised team to proceed from brief to delivery in just two days. This proprietary process has been used for clients including Coca-Cola, KLM Airlines, Sky, Spotify and Facebook.

At The Pop Up Agency, they say "every department is the creative department." As well as earning awards and positive testimonials, it's led to Abraham presenting at leading conferences aross the world.

We sat down with him to find out the secrets behind the success.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

I always start my day by waking up very early (around 5am) and going for a run. This really sets my pace for the day and makes me feel focused.

Throughout the day I try to balance my work with learning new things and always taking time to speak with family and friends, as this is often my greatest source of energy.

What's been your luckiest break?

To be totally honest, I never feel like anyone or anything has been the cause of ‘a lucky break’. Part of me doesn’t even believe in luck. I take a lot of pride in saying that I have worked very hard for everything I have and continue to work hard for what I want for the future. 

What's your best failure?

I dropped out of university to start my first business at the age of 22. I was studying law and politics and realised that I was much more interested in passion projects in music, fashion and creative consulting. I started my first agency then and haven’t looked back since.

What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?

Both in terms of finance and time, my best investment continues to be being an entrepreneur. I am proud of the trust I have in my abilities to succeed and everything I have accomplished being on my own.

As an entrepreneur, I have learned so much more than I would have in the corporate world, and I am allowed to tap into all sides of myself. As I learn more and take more risks, I become more confident in my actions. What's more, experience builds my empathy and ability to understand the actions of others.

Overall, all the experiences of being an entrepreneur make me richer and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  

How would you describe your work/life balance?

There’s only one way to describe it: a constant work in progress. Like any other entrepreneur, there’s no such thing as nine-to-five, and many emails and calls are answered from home. That makes the lines of when to shut off very fluid, and with time I am becoming more conscious of that.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

'Things Fall Apart'. No explanation needed. 

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Be yourself unapologetically, now and forever.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

My family, especially my mother, will forever be my biggest influence both privately and professionally. There are so many aspects of what I do today that I realise relates back to how my mother raised me, and the skills she possesses. It's quite beautiful.

I also take a lot of advice from my friends, in particular other business owners. I have a circle in which we all help and advise each other, and it's a very powerful thing. I encourage anyone to be open and share their ideas, and guarantee that they’ll be rewarded for it through growth.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I absolutely love making food, and always have dinner parties where I do all the cooking from scratch. For some reason, this is always a huge surprise to people. 

What does success look like to you?

I am living it. Success to me is being myself unapologetically and making an impact, small and large.