Si Muddell is growth director at Enjoy Digital.
Enjoy was crowned as this year’s Digital Agency of the Year – Large at the Prolific North Champions Awards.
Muddell joined the agency in November 2022, to drive its ambitious growth plans and now leads the insight and strategy, client services, marketing and business growth functions.
Over the past 17 years, he has worked both client-side at global brands and at agencies across the UK, Australia, Asia, and the US.
He shared all the lessons he has learnt…
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
I’d have to say having a cold shower. I know it has become a bit of a fad/trend but genuinely, it just activates all my senses (in the most extreme of ways!). Having three boys under seven, there isn’t a day (or night) that goes by without incident, and whether I wake up feeling awesome or feeling a little foggy, nothing helps me feel more alive, focused, and grateful for the day than the feeling this weird and wonderful habit gives for me.
What’s been your luckiest break?
It’s a funny one, luck, isn’t it? I was always taught that ‘luck’ is where opportunity meets preparation and on most accounts, I do stand by this belief. That said, I feel extremely fortunate for the opportunities that have come my way during my career.
One of these breaks came when I first moved to Australia in 2009. Having worked for a digital marketing agency straight out of university in Leeds for 3-4 years, I interviewed at an international sports broadcaster which had a satellite office in Sydney to service its then Australian side of the business.
Armed with enthusiasm and a healthy obsession with all things digital (this is 2012), I was able to transform the sales and marketing efforts of what was a traditional marketing channel-led business to one that (by the end) was pretty much 95% digital-based. Subsequently, we launched another pan-Asian sports TV channel, and was involved in everything from building and launching their first i-players apps, to digitising customer service, and undertaking some amazing digital-first advertising campaigns.
For me, this opportunity was immense. With the feel of a start-up but the weight and support of the mother-ship back in Ireland, it not only accelerated my learning curve, but it gave a heightened awareness and experience of accountability, where ultimately with the decisions we were making, my job was on the line. It also truly honed my data analysis abilities to move beyond understanding what, to seeking to understand why (and how). That’s a skill that has been paramount for me in every job since.
What’s your best failure?
I have a quote by the great Michael Jordan framed on my office wall and it’s a constant reminder to me that failing is an intrinsic part of learning – “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” I have failed hundreds of times, so many times it’s hard to pinpoint the biggest one to be honest, as there’s always been different lessons learned in each of them, and I suppose it comes down to your interpretation of what failure means.
The best ‘worst’ one that does come to mind though is when I was about six months into my first ‘real’ job after university. I was emailing a client and didn’t realise a previous internal email conversation regarding the client – and my somewhat opinionated and unfiltered thoughts – was in the email string that I then gleefully sent back to the client to admire….opps! They sacked us. I learned a few lessons that day. 1) ALWAYS check email copy and historical conversations in the email string, 2) better still, try to keep emotionally fueled thoughts away from email as much as possible; period, 3) proof read the hell out of any communications to anyone and everyone, and 4) talk an issue through with a client before it becomes a ‘thing’.
What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?
Easy. Taking 12 months out and travelling around the world with my partner. At the time we were at a crossroads, mortgage/travel/mortgage/travel. I backpacked, surfed, hiked, flew, drove, sailed, dove, and climbed across 19 countries in three continents. We went with travel and it was everything we wanted it to be and more. This experience felt like moving my lens on the world and the people within it from SD to UHD; truly amazing.
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
This is a tough one because I’ve always read a lot and looked to books to help. My recommendation often changes in terms of where I am currently at but right now, I’d have to say one of two books (sorry!). ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed and ‘The obstacle is the way’ by Ryan Holiday.
When Black Box Thinking came out it totally fascinated me, especially highlighting, through some awesome examples, just how important ‘failure’ is in terms of the iterative improvement process – and the role it plays in creativity itself; think Pixar. The Obstacle is the Way is my go-to book when times are challenging, I am feeling demotivated or stressed. It has helped me pivot my perspective on challenges from a negative into a positive and out of all my book recommendations to people, is the one I have recommended the most.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Always be honest, always be kind, be firm but be firm with compassion, listen more than you talk, never EVER give up on your dreams, and never give up learning. Oh – and keep rocking out on the guitar and stay healthy!
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
Hands down my Grandma, both personally and professionally. She spoke nine languages, moved to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 60’s (as a single woman) which was not the done thing back then, and ultimately dedicated her life to helping others. She taught me the importance of values, to always be curious, to listen, to be grateful, and actually that anything is possible. In life (and now in death), when I am needing to make a decision, or I am reflecting on something important to myself / family / work, I often try to view the situation through her lens – what would she say / think / do. Definitely a guiding star.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
After studying music at university I went into the music industry for a while and worked with many of the bands I love and idolise. It was completely epic, enjoyable, challenging, and fascinating. Lots of memories were made and stories to tell. I’ll keep those to myself for now 🙂
How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?
COVID / Lockdown definitely accelerated digital transformation which clearly has benefited both work and life balance. Being able to work from home, take my kids to school, and actually see them grow up is amazing. Likewise, productivity has increased exponentially, while cost/time invested to service clients and win new business has decreased. In many ways, it has normalised big agencies and smaller agencies. Gone is some of the theatre when you are pitching via a video call.
That said, I do think there have been drawbacks. Work-life when working 100% virtually did at times become a tad too transactional. It was hard at times to really ‘feel’ the room and pick up on how a team member is beyond their screen persona. And the sum total of the many adhoc interactions we have with people when in an office really matter. We have now got to a point where we are working in a hybrid way, giving people the space to be flexible whilst championing the need for some time in the office. It’s definitely positive progress.
What does success look like to you?
Personally – being a great dad, who is always there for his family and is having (and enjoying) new experiences often, constantly learning, developing, and creating new memories. Professionally – being part of growing a business where we are driving and achieving positive results for clients and where I am proud to say I work.
Where we deliver kick-ass work, working with like-minded and interesting people that challenge me and each other, and all delivered with integrity. Also, a place where you can have debates with one another to pull something apart only to put it back together stronger than when you started, to then finish the day having a beer together.