The Spotlights on Nick, CEO of Seed this May
This month’s spotlight interview is a very special one and comes from our very own CEO, Nick. In our chat we spoke about lots of different areas of subject matters. This interview covers life before Seed for Nick, who his inspirations are and what is next for Seed!
What was your first job?
I was always encouraged (or forced) to do internships in the Summer, so I worked in a variety of jobs, anything from warehouses folding clothes to a pub waiter. My first “proper” job was working as a marketing executive for a stag holiday company, where my challenge was to get them to the top of google for the keyword “Stag Dos” – I managed to get pretty close to be honest.
Did the time at that company encourage you to enter the digital marketing industry?
Yes, I think so. I chose digital because I enjoyed the fast paced nature of the industry and the impact it can have on brands. Digital interested me a lot based on the measurability of the impact of our activities, and how we could change tactics based on data. It always made sense to me.
Who is your inspiration?
There are of course exceptional people, within organisations However, I am less inspired by individuals, and I get inspired by organisations. I think the proof is in how people work together, within that organisation.
Interesting… Do you have any specific organisations in mind?
I have many for different reasons. I really get inspired by Propellernet. I think what they have done, and how they have carved their name out in the industry and in Brighton really speaks volume.
They didn’t compromise on their values, and they have built a great organisation.
Companies that put an emphasis on purpose over profit (where applicable) should really be the inspirations to us all.
What has been your biggest challenge you have had since starting Seed?
Starting with the heavy questions – I like it! I think the biggest challenge I have had is overcoming my hero complex. What I mean by that is being seen as, and being known as the hero that puts all the hours in, doesn’t stop working, never switches off etc. Linked to this is distributing decision making between the people who are best suited to make those decisions – and sometimes it is hard to realise, that isn’t me anymore!
Okay, would you say then you have been “forced” to overcome that, or it was a natural next step?
I think a combination of both for sure. Initially, I was experiencing intense burn out from building Seed from a one man band, to more than 30 people. I was very central to the agency’s delivery, service, growth and operations.
It became too much for me to be at the epicentre of the agency, and so I became ineffective in all of those areas. I am very lucky to have such a supportive business partner with Robin, and grateful for such a skilled and engaged team. All of the team are eager to step up and help Seed grow, and the best decision I have made is to remove myself as the bottleneck to enable everyone to grow the agency together, as we move towards a more progressive organisational structure.
Interesting! So you mentioned the culture of Seed briefly, what does that mean for you?
Culture isn’t something that you do, it is something that you have. It is a consequence of your DNA in the company – built and carried out by every Seedling. The reality is that having a strong and genuine culture is not something that can just be put in place. It takes a shared belief, collective focus, hard work and time.
Culture is formed and shaped by absolutely every aspect of the business. It’s made from the stories, people, language, nuances, behaviours, experiences, learning, principles and beliefs in an organisation. Our culture is almost impossible to define. But I, like everyone at Seed, am proud of ours.
So – how has the culture changed throughout the years, if it has?
Seed’s culture has evolved over time. But, it is rooted in the core values that we have. So, whilst adjustments are made due to the people at Seed, the core values have stayed the same. That fundamentally hasn’t changed.
However, company culture is often thrown about as a term to attract clients and talents, but for culture to be authentic it has to be part of everyday, consistently. It is every Seedling’s accountability to make sure that we look after, and maintain our culture together. This was especially important in the pandemic. We all worked together to make this happen.
To touch upon the pandemic and how it has affected Seed. What are your thoughts on remote working?
How much time do you have?! I can’t give a short answer here, and it is situational. The working world has changed rapidly overnight, which has forced us to adapt in a short amount of time.
At the moment, most companies are practising a hybrid approach of part remote, part office and everything in between. Seed is currently remote first.
The people that are most at risk of losing out in a remote first world would be graduates, apprentices, and entry level roles.. They haven’t had a taste of the buzz and excitement that an office can bring. The culture, the relationships that are generated. We have kept our office space so that our Seedlings still have a place to go, should they wish to to experience all of this.
Flexible work will always be an option at Seed, and work life balance is key.
So, what is Seed doing to support juniors career development entering the digital marketing landscape – whilst still promoting a hybrid approach?
Following the pandemic, we have introduced and in the process of rolling out a mentor, coach and buddy system. This ensures that each Seedling has a career development plan in place in accordance to where they would like to progress in the company. This new system also provides a great career progression route for Seedlings who would like in the future to mentor and coach.
We also have an apprenticeship scheme, that we work with alongside “Creative Processes” to support juniors and new entrants into the digital marketing space.
Learning and Development is a huge part of our everyday working life at Seed and we allocate 20% of our time a week to learn and develop our skills in areas of interest. This is also supported by a learning budget allowance.
It seems there is a lot going on with Seed at the minute. How do you set priorities to push Seed’s vision and mission?
With great difficulty I think. Prioritisation is still a skill I am working on. It doesn’t all come down to me. Working with the right group of people who care about driving Seed forward is the answer!
What has been your proudest moment at Seed so far?
I have had many proud moments. I am less interested in industry recognition awards. The best and proud moments I have had are at Christmas parties, and the quarterly social events. I look around and see everyone getting along, having a laugh and watching the team grow year on year.
This has been especially emphasised for me during the pandemic, where there have been fewer times we have all been together.
With hybrid working, Seed is competing with agencies outside of Brighton, what makes Seed different?
The past 9 months we have focussed our energy into organisational structures, and what this means for Seed. We are in the process of rolling out a more progressive organisational structure, inspired by Corporate Rebels.
When creating the vision of Seed, I always wanted it to be a company that works more towards supporting growth and areas of interest for Seedlings, rather than just the traditional route. In having this mentality at the core of everything we do we find our team progresses quicker, has more motivation and comes up with innovative ideas.
We believe that incorporating this new, progressive organisational structure puts decisions to the individuals who are best placed due to experience, rather than “hierarchical” expectations.
Okay – last question! What is next for Seed?
Wow, this is a big one. What is next for Seed?
I think the main thing here would be the progressive organisation roll out. We have consolidated and set out our new company missions and vision for the next three years, and had great feedback by everyone in the agency. There are huge growth plans in order to support this mission and vision set, whilst also enabling the team to reach their full potential in the areas they wish to develop.
In line with the progressive structure, and our mission to become a B-Corp certified company, we will be putting huge efforts to “Grow for Good” where we can help businesses, charities or organisations. Starting with donating 6% of our profits each quarter to charities proposed by the agency.
Oh what’s more – we have just launched our new website and new brand, it’s all systems go!