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What I’ve Learnt: Paul Inman, Managing Director, 75Media

Paul Inman, 75Media

Paul Inman founded 75Media in 2020, following more than 15 years managing UK-wide OOH operations.

Headquartered in Leeds, out-of-home (OOH) operator 75Media has big ambitions to become the UK’s number one billboard advertising network for brands and expanded its network into Scotland earlier this year by acquiring 122 new billboard sites.

Prior to his years in OOH, Inman spent 10 years at the helm of branding and design agencies, both in the UK and Middle East, working with clients HSBC, Nike, First Direct and Ford.

Here, he shares all the lessons he’s learnt across his personal life and career…

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

My morning dog walk. Being out in nature and fresh air helps clear my head. No headphones – simply time to think. And it has to be done whatever the weather, no excuses!

What’s been your luckiest break?

Meeting my ex-business partner Simon Boon at a networking event. Simon became my mentor and the benefits of having a good mentor cannot be underestimated. Having someone you can bounce ideas off and speak to about anything to do with your business – it’s worth its weight in gold. Simon has retired now, but he’s still an inspiration and a great advisor to me.

What’s your best failure?

I ran a design agency and we expanded too quickly into international markets. I didn’t have enough experience to realise that I didn’t have the right team infrastructure in place to manage that – I was overseas a lot and I didn’t have the senior support on the ground back at home. It made me realise you can’t ever let it all rest on your shoulders and how vital the correct team structure is.

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

Setting time aside to read has been my best investment. I read a lot of business and personal development books. They help drive me and the business forward. Sometimes I feel my time slipping and realise I’ve not read in a while, so I make a conscious effort to get back into it. It can seem impossible when you’re drowning in the day-to-day but it’s so worth it.

Which podcast or book would you recommend others to read and why?

Seth Godin’s The Dip. It offers a new perspective on what it feels like when things aren’t going the way you think they should. It has lots of really useful strategies on how to turn things around – or knowing when you should say enough is enough.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

When you decide what you want to do, focus on it. Don’t be distracted by a million and one shiny new ideas. Focus is key. And the ideas you think will get you to where you want to be, likely won’t be the ones that do!

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

My dad. He was the hardest working man I’ve ever known. He worked really long days as a self employed painter and decorator but he always prioritised good quality family time. Looking back now, I don’t know how he did it as he never stopped. His commitment, drive and focus never faltered. He was an amazing role model.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I once spent a week on my own in Bangladesh photographing migrant shipworkers. I was only 20 and I was following in the footsteps of renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado and the work he did in his Workers book. It was the scariest thing I’d ever done, but I’m glad I set myself the challenge rather than playing it safe and staying local.

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

I think the number one thing is improved levels of trust. I really hope it has encouraged companies to show more trust in their teams, that they can in many cases work wherever and still get the job done. I also think it’s made face-to-face interaction more valuable. It was possibly overused before, and we had meeting fatigue. Now we have more flexible tools available to enable productive and appropriate means of communications suited to the task in hand. So when we do meet face-to-face – which is vital for some things – I think those meetings are more productive and more meaningful.

 What does success look like to you?

It sounds cliched but it’s not about money or the size of the company or anything like that. To me it’s about how the people in the company are doing. When people come in with limited experience or lacking in confidence – I love to see them flourish and progress. Success to me is how much you’re helping to give opportunities to others.

One of the best emails I ever had was from someone who had joined the team when we saw potential, despite his lack of experience. He is now a global art director. He got in touch a little while ago to say thank you for the opportunities and the start he was given and that means so much. Hopefully they then pass that along the chain too, nurturing the next generation.

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