Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?
I am the ECD and co-founder at SHARE Creative, and I am responsible our strategic and creative teams and their output, as well as overall agency growth and success. A typical day usually involves a good mix of client conversations, collaborating & supporting the team, and creating KeyNotes & pitches. Plus, the occasional run.
What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?
Overall, I consider myself pretty lucky - I’ve not had to face any ’major’ challenges. Some hiccups like recessions, client losses, or pandemics have slowed progress, but I try to see every problem as an opportunity (a cliche, but it’s true!). A goal now is to try to use this position to help others tackle theirs, and hopefully get rid of some legacy challenges others have faced.
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
When I think back on my childhood and background, it’s now clear how it was almost inevitable for me to end up working in advertising. I grew up in the 90/00s in a small seaside town, in a period where we truly looked forward to seeing the latest ads from the likes of Guinness, Tango, Levi’s, Pot Noodle, Budweiser, and Nike.
It was proper playground fodder and culturally ingrained in our chat and my world view ('wassssuuuuup’, anyone?). As a result, brand identity was crucial at school (I used to get paid in sweets by classmates to tip-ex logos on their pencil cases), and an understanding of brand clout was real from a young age.
A later personal and academic love of art, graphic design, business studies and creative writing combined nicely to move into marketing and problem solving. Weekend days spent teaching sailing and windsurfing made me comfortable presenting and leading teams and weekend evenings running club nights boosted my business savviness (and increased comfort working late into the early hours!).
Add all this up with entering the industry at the exact time Web 2.0 and social boomed, it all kind of makes sense.
What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?
Winning clients and getting work live is always great, and there have been some amazing moments over the years with dream brands like LEGO, Vans, Quiksilver & Red Bull. However, the moment when we started SHARE and landed our first large client, The North Face, was probably the biggest of them all, impact wise.
There have been some big pitches and client losses, but they are insignificant to not being able to continue working with some amazing people. We’ve had hard times, and redundancies have happened. That will forever be a big failure, but also, good lessons were learned for the future.
Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
Inspiration for me usually comes from reading and consuming all sorts of books, magazines, spaces etc., but I can definitely point to a few individuals I’d recommend others to get into. Industry titans and well-known thought leaders like Paul Arden, Malcolm Gladwell, Dave Trott & Seth Godin have given me plenty of food for thought over the years.
Outside of that, I take huge cues from philosophers, writers, designers and artists like Marcus Aurelius, Dieter Rams, Alain De Botton, David Byrne, Saul Bass, Raymond Loewy, Ray & Charles Eames. The closest thing to heroes are typically agencies or company leaders who have created something epic or unique… the likes of Yvon Chounard, Phil Knight, David Ogilvy, or R/GA, Kessels Kramer, or Uncommon.
If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?
Overall, no regrets, no changes - I’m happy with the way it’s all turned out! That said, I still wish to swim in more seas, meet more people, learn new things… so, I’d maybe recommend doing plenty of that.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I’ve always been drawn to creative problem solving, and very nearly followed a life of product design.
What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?
Even less rigidity or ‘old school club’ ness. I came in only really seeing the big agencies like Saatchis, BBH, W&K, WPP, etc., and while I looked up to that and their work, I was always keen to pursue new routes.
I’d love to feel the presence and impact of smaller shops that are full of more diversity, perspectives, backgrounds and opinion, innovation, tech, and agility. And I’d love for them to be empowered to lead big brands.
What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?
Optimism first. Quality second. Go in with good intentions and an up for it attitude on any brief or challenge. Take it on, put something together, then perfect the output as you go with people who’ve been there before.
What are your top tips for other creative leaders?
Listen to your team and your peers, help make their goals a reality.
When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?
Equality, respect, optimism.
Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
Essential reading for anyone joining my team includes books like ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius, ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcom Gladwell, ’Be More Pirate’ by Sam Connie Allende and ‘It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be’ by Paul Arden.
I’m an advocate of devouring all sorts of information or stories from all over. That intel becomes useful eventually! I’d start to do that with magazines (and their resulting blogs / podcasts), despite how off topic they might get… a few good places to start include Monocle, Courier, Huck, Sidetracked, WeMove, Wired, Adbusters, Popeye, iD.