Patrick Reid, CEO, spoke exclusively to CNBC as part of the ‘My Biggest Lessons’ series exploring life lessons from top executives, entrepreneurs and thought leaders.
“Throw the dice when you’re young”
I would advise people to drop the analysis paralysis and go for it especially when you’re young.
I learnt this early in my career. After leaving university I was pressured into going into accountancy, I didn't have a financial background and whilst it wasn’t a wasted experience because I learnt a lot about how companies work, I knew that I wanted to be part of a creative company creating products and services. So I took a big gamble, I quit my job without having a job and came to London starting in an unpaid role at Imagination - I've never looked back and really saw the value in taking a chance.
Cut forward and, aged 24, I was offered the opportunity to set up our office in Hong Kong. I had no experience but again absolutely grasped the opportunity. It was a sink-or-swim situation. It gave me fantastic experiences in terms of living in a different culture, working in a different environment and was a huge accelerant of my experience and knowledge.
“Create unusual, sometimes magical combinations”
Don’t shy away from different backgrounds and diverse experiences. Stronger, more diverse, eclectic responses and powerful outcomes happen when you mix teams up.
Here at Imagination, a typical project for us could involve stage managers, creative technologists, ex-ballet dancers, and scriptwriters. We really do dial-up that experimentation to get very powerful results. This is something you can build on in your personal life. I have a pilot's license and even though on the face of it it’s not connected to the work I do day to day, it does provide often unexpected insights when you least expect them - from how you present data in a cockpit and how that could help when presenting to a client, to dealing with the pressure and decision making - you can always find something interesting and useful.
“EQ is just as important as IQ”
You can see this happening in the experience economy, businesses are developing services that connect people in an emotional way and make them feel different or act differently.
Understanding what makes people tick, understanding relationships whether partners, suppliers or customers and being able to see things from different perspectives is invaluable. My experiences of working in different cultures have proven incredibly useful, EQ translates universally.
“It’s never as good (or as bad) as it may seem”
As a leader, your role is to remain calm and focused on your long-term goals. That doesn't mean you can’t shift and change, evolving and pivoting as you go along, but you must avoid being dragged in multiple directions.
As you go through life and business you must stay true to what is important to you and your business. If you’re not a contrarian at times you’re not going to get the best results - sometimes you have to do what is different to the herd to deliver outsized results.
I also found that some setbacks have provided new valuable opportunities or perspectives for learning. On the flip side when things are going really positively, be aware and stay sensitive to adjust and change as you go ahead.
Everyday I try to stay focused and I do personal things which work for me, like cycling to work which gives me an uninterrupted moment with my thoughts. And I listen to a lot of history which often puts the day-to-day into a little bit more perspective!
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