What I’ve learnt

Nina recently took part in Prolific North's 'What I've learnt' series, which quizzes senior industry leaders on their illustrious careers. It's a really interesting series, which promises to give 'pearls of wisdom and hidden secrets from the careers of the North's key figures.' Thank you for the opportunity, Prolific North.

Nina talks about freedom, why it's the time for smaller, more collaborative agencies like us, and a house party with Prince Harry. We'll guess which bit you jump to.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
Walking. It clears my mind and puts me in a really positive mindset for the day. I use it as my time out, a chance to breathe, reconnect with myself, think and plan.

We have walk and talk meetings with our team and clients and it makes things so much more productive than sitting opposite each other in a boring room or on a Zoom. I find conversations much easier on the move, there’s something liberating about not being face-to-face that makes us more receptive and open-minded. As an agency we are known for being creative, and I always have the best ideas when I’m outside, walking or running.

What's been your luckiest break?
Daring to leave the world of ‘safe’ 9-5 employment where I’d really excelled. I’ve absolutely loved my career to date and feel very lucky to have worked at the places I’ve worked and with the people I’ve worked with. But one of my core values is freedom, and setting up Content Soup has given me so much of that. I write my own script.

What's your best failure?
We got on the pitch list recently for a global client you’d never believe we would get in front of, as a small Northern agency. We got through to the final stage, but in the end we didn’t get it.

We were gutted, but to come second, beating huge London agencies, and to get the amazing feedback we did was such a boost for us after the weirdness of 2020. It was too much of a step change for them to go with us, a smaller independent agency, but they’ve vowed to work with us on projects because we impressed them so much with our creativity.

We’ve taken that confidence into new projects. I think the time is now for smaller, more collaborative agencies like us.

What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?
I invested in a personal trainer a few years ago. It wasn’t a long-term thing, but she got me on the exercise trip and now I run three times a week and am generally pretty active. I can’t imagine not doing it. She told me I looked down a lot and I should look up and out more, and that has really stuck with me.

I’ve always been a positive, optimistic person, and moving more and prioritising my wellbeing helps me stay that way.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont. It’s actually a kids’ book and I bought it for my son because it promotes self-esteem. I love children’s books - I’ve got an idea for one that I’m just discussing with a publisher which I’m really excited about.

I wrote stories and poems as soon as I could spell, and I’d sell them to people passing our house.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
“F*ck it just do it.” Just try. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll learn from it, and at least you had a go. I’ve spent too much time in my career and life worrying about putting myself out there or what people will think. Since I’ve been following this mantra, I realise how much time I’ve wasted! Good things happen when you trust the universe. It runs through everything we do as an agency.

Also: put down your phone!

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
My business partner Jasmine and I went to Glastonbury and planted a seed for our freethinking business during a drunk conversation, and then came back and just made it happen. We gave each other the courage to make the leap I think, and agreed that if it didn’t work, we’d just get another job. People always said how brave we were to do it, but it felt like the right thing.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
I went to a house party with Prince Harry once. It was wild.

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?
People have realised what they truly value in business and life coming out of a global pandemic. We’ve re-evaluated things and we’re moving forward with the bits we want and getting rid of the others so we can be a more authentic version of ourselves. That is so positive for the workplace – it means more work life balance, more purpose, more meaningful connections and more trust.

What does success look like to you?
Picking up my son from school, not feeling stressed, and a holiday home!