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My Influences: Jon Kelly, Managing Director, Meet and Potato

Jon Kelly

Jon Kelly is managing director at Meet and Potato.

Based in Liverpool, Meet and Potato is a live events and creative brand communications agency working with the likes of Mercedes, Hotel Chocolat, Dunelm and Poundland.

Here, Kelly shares the top three influences that have inspired his life and career.

The person that has inspired my working career the most, and why

I’d have to say my dad. He inspired, motivated, and challenged me in equal measure. In some ways we were opposites, he was a glass half empty sort, whereas mine is half full, sometimes overflowing, but his feedback was always gratefully appreciated because in terms of business acumen he was pretty astute. His view was to look at the worst case scenario and work back from there. So anything that happened afterwards then felt good! When I told him I was starting my own business, he questioned me on every decision, even the name of company, which I don’t think he ever fully approved of.

I always wanted to impress him. He was what you’d call old school, with a stiff upper lip, probably from his army days. He was one of those people who didn’t say ‘well done’, but I knew he was furiously proud of me, I heard it from third parties many times. Sadly, we lost him last year, but I still think of him with every decision I make. I always think, what would he say, how would he react.

I have his work ethic, I’m constantly thinking about the business. Even in his retirement he was still interested in everything and had a very busy and involved life. His legacy, without him here, is ingrained in me. Yes we had different ways of thinking, but we usually agreed on the outcome. My positive outlook doesn’t come from him, but it is inspired by him, his challenging and my desire to impress. I want any decision I make to be 100% all in, to be bigger, better, and bolder than anyone else. I still want him to be proud of me.

The place that has inspired my working career the most, and why

Rather than a dual nationality, I feel I have a dual regionality! I moved to Liverpool from London after being made redundant 20 years ago. I feel totally at home up north and down south. I am a ‘bright lights big city’ person and I feel inspired by the environments of both cities. But I must admit I love the more personal nature of Liverpool. I’ve never regretted the decision to become a part time Northerner. It’s all about how you live your life and run your business to make a positive impact on the environment around you.

I don’t see geography as an issue, obviously the M6 is a challenge many of us could do without, but at least it’s not the rail network. If someone somewhere could pull their fingers out and give us a reliable network in the north it would make a real difference. That said, there are a lot of positives to being a northern agency. We’ve built up a fantastic network of specialist partners over the last 12 years, most of whom are based in the north. And we have a plethora of clients across the country, that we serve without ridiculous overheads. My happy place is onsite, in a great venue with a happy client, doing what we do best.

The thing that has inspired my working career the most, and why

Creating a healthy, happy team that love what they do has always been my inspiration. I hadn’t always worked in inspirational environments prior to setting up M&P, so I made it my mission to create one.

I’ve always said a happy team has the biggest, most positive impact on your business, and the standard of service you deliver for clients. It’s what keeps clients coming back, so it’s absolutely the most important thing to me.

We have many long standing clients, that tell us how much they love working with us, and nothing beats that. At the end of an event, when the client says ‘that was amazing, what are we going to do next year to top that?!’ that’s our drive to continue to evolve, innovate and keep on coming up with creative ideas that inspire our clients and their audiences.

It’s my job to make sure that M&P remains a great place to work, because that is the catalyst for success in every area.

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