What I've Learnt: Oli Yeates, CEO at Clicky Media

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo
Oli Yeates, Clicky Media

Clicky Media has offices in Chester, Nottingham and London. The award-winning digital agency provides digital marketing, design and development services. 

10 years ago, Oli founded the agency with his business partner Sam Gadsby - creating an organisation that balanced their two different approaches. Oli was named Cheshire & Warrington Business Leader 2015 and Digital & Media Entrepreneur of the Year, 2014.

He's a hands-on CEO who drives the company and client projects forward, with a focus on taking the ‘good’ and turning it into ‘exceptional’.

We sat down with Oli to learn all about the lessons he's learnt.

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

An hour in the morning to myself to plan my day ahead and focus on what I want to achieve that day (and not what others are asking of me).

What's been your luckiest break?

Winning my first 12-month contract with a big client for Clicky. The contract allowed me to move Clicky into its first office and leave behind the box bedroom-slash-office at home.

What's your best failure?

Trying to do everything myself. In the early days I thought I could run the whole business myself (accounting, marketing, etc.). I learnt that you can delegate critical jobs to the business to someone other than yourself - someone who cares as much as you do.

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

Spending time and money on making Clicky a nice place to be - not just somewhere to work. Coffee, fruit, PlayStations and table football are important to making our office somewhere you don’t dread on a Monday morning.

How would you describe your work/life balance?

Pretty good. I've learnt how to switch off from work - it took more than 10 years to do it but now I can, mainly due to the brilliant team I have who care personally about the business's success.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

'Shoe Dog', Phil Knight. It's all about the creator of Nike and his journey.

I love almost everything about it and the almost subconscious brand journey he goes on. I love that it is predominantly about hard work, having a team that cares about the business, and being hardy to things that don’t go your way.

Very inspirational, and it's almost nothing like I imagined the book to be before I started reading it.

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

Be confident and keep saying what you think. Don’t worry about being too young - I assumed it was a disadvantage but really it was a huge advantage in my industry.

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

My first boss. I worked for an absolutely madly passionate environmental campaigner and entrepreneur and I was tasked with building, promoting and running the company website and internal database.

He trusted me to do far more than I had the ability to do, and although he was almost impossible to predict or keep happy, he was absolutely fearless and I learnt a lot about growing a relatively small business.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I hate public speaking, despite doing it often. I typically won’t sleep at all the night before as I am irrationally terrified of it going wrong.

What does success look like to you?

I like stability and steady growth. I know we could take more risks at Clicky, but I’d rather we kept moving forward in a steady and manageable way (both financially and in terms of skills) - I won’t make becoming a dragon on Dragons' Den with that attitude, but I am proud of the fact that Clicky has never gone backwards.