A Week in My Life: Warren Jacobs, Founder and MD, ActiveWin

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

Glasgow-born Warren Jacobs launched ActiveWin in Manchester in 2013 - an agency that is constantly expanding its digital marketing solution.

Jacobs is a successful business owner and digital marketing specialist, and operates a number of joint ventures.

The agency works across services including PPC, SEO, CRM, CRO, display, social and affiliate activity - supporting both national and local brands.

We found out what a week in Warren's life in 2021 looks like...

 

Monday

It might be 2021, but the year and my typical Monday starts in a similar fashion to that of a 2020 Monday as we continue to navigate our way through another lockdown. However, this time round we’re all geared up for working life at home, any challenges likely to head our way, and a week of Zooms, Teams, Google Meets, Skype or anything digitally viable. 

And, so back to my Monday…

I wake around 6am most mornings and kick-start my day with some exercise. Typically I’ll head out for a cycle or run on the treadmill to get some fresh air and focus, before the chaos of getting the kids ready for home schooling! With travelling (locally and abroad) being a big part of my role, I very much enjoy spending so much time at home around the family. 

I tend to make sure that I’m available to the team, where needed, first thing in particular, and indeed throughout the week. We’re very much a people company. They are the very soul of our business, so now more than ever it’s especially important that everyone feels supported, healthy, happy, engaged and involved. We always aim to operate flexible working hours where possible, just to give people the time they need to accommodate home life, home schooling and other activities. I want people to have a happy and enjoyable work life, it’s part of our culture at ActiveWin.

It’s time for my first, and certainly not last, video call of the day with our Finance Director, Ross Kane. We evaluate the company’s current performance, discuss the new financial remodelling and focus on Q1 planning. 

I speak to my senior management team throughout the day and jump on a call with our HR Director to schedule daily Skype and Zoom chats just to ensure everyone is involved. We want to keep up communications and continue to work together to get through this. 

As ever, the day is over in a flash, bringing me swiftly to the evening. 

Tuesday

Today is our 2021 Strategy & Marketing announcement day. 

Since inception, our talented team has grown and our breadth of knowledge and specialisms have followed suit. Over time, we have cultivated a company of highly skilled digital specialists, doing what they love for some exceptional clients.

We want to continue to build on this and to represent great clients that provide a variety of opportunities for our people. For this reason, at the end of last year we pivoted from being a specialist media agency to an all-inclusive digital marketing company.  

My Operations Director and I have been working on the realigned business strategy in light of this, taking the opportunity throughout lockdown to formulate our new proposition.  

We believe that providing digital solutions to our clients has always stood us in good stead, so delivering more of what they require is the right move. Our clients are our partners - we operate as an extension of their business - so our success is underpinned by their results, all of which is achieved through our art of digital acquisition. 

I catch up with our Operations Director, Joshua Gamble, about our newly formed digital proposition and diversification model, with our expertise now available to all types of businesses across various industries. 

We subsequently announce the exciting news on a Zoom call with the entire team. We’d have previously had such talks in the office, where everyone could express their views, ask questions and ultimately have an interactive discussion, but video calls add a new layer to the format. In some respects, they can be much more productive, efficient and concise. 

Everyone is engaged with the new plan and there’s an unbelievable buzz from the team. They love the fact that 2021 is bringing a new, fresh and more collaborative approach to a broader spectrum of projects. They'll be working with key clients to help them succeed and achieve their goals. Given that it’s still a fairly unsettling time, the team are in high spirits and there’s a real positive vibe. 

It’s been a really good day - I like to see the team motivated, enthused and happy. Given the back-to-back events of the day, I haven’t had chance to squeeze in any exercise or food, so I have a large glass of ice-cold water and head out for a cycle on my mountain bike to unwind a little.  

As I pedal and listen to music through the dark country roads near Manchester Airport, my mind wanders and I find myself reflecting on the past year. Although it’s been tough, some great things have come from it. I’ve continued to keep myself fit, healthy and focussed, (didn’t put too much weight on at Christmas, well maybe a bit…) and I’m grateful for the many opportunities and the prospects this year presents. I am also grateful for my family - the team at ActiveWin, who actually make the magic happen throughout the week.   

Wednesday

This morning, I genuinely struggled to get out of bed - I’m listening to the first episode of the ‘How to be Superhuman’ Podcast, while on the treadmill and contemplating a trap for the squirrels that keep eating our plants. It’s hosted by the remarkable ultra-runner Rob Pope (the Liverpudlian athlete who ran 15,700 miles across the US dressed as Forrest Gump in 2016) and explores the limits of the human endeavour. 

Today, he’s chatting to the man who cycled around the world in 78 days, Mark Beaumont. Averaging 240 miles a day for 78 days and 14 hours, Mark talks about the challenges he overcame to finish the ride, and how he pushed through the limits of his own physical and mental capabilities. It’s certainly given me plenty of inspiration to complete my 35-minute jog, and as ever what can be achieved when you put your mind to it. Fabulous podcast, I highly recommend it. 

The week has been full-on with virtual meetings and calls, so I take some time to catch up on emails, as well as with clients, messages and updates. I also make a mental note to try and eat dinner with the family tonight. 

It’s around midday and my stomach is calling. I’ve been doing intermittent fasting, or the 16:8 diet as it’s also known, which means only eating between 12pm and 8pm. I’m enjoying it, I feel sharper for being on it and it doesn’t really seem like a diet. It’s certainly less intrusive in that respect, plus you don’t have to be quite as conscious about your food choices, which is always a benefit when your faced with a short window to grab something to eat. Missing breakfast has actually reduced my hunger pangs at 10am.

I'm involved in several joint ventures, where I serve as a director, investor and board member, while also juggling the development of new technology, so there’s never a dull moment, and indeed my work never stops. It’s around 6pm and I finish my UK day and continue my US day. Cooking and dinner seems like a far-fetched dream at this point and an even less happy wife seems more like reality.

Thursday

I check-in with Fred Done, creator of Betfred - my trusted advisor, investor and friend - this morning. We are collaborating on some exciting new projects, some of which are close to launch, so we catch up on all things new business; the list is long!

Working on innovating and entrepreneurial projects has always been a passion and driver of mine. I love creating something new and seeing it evolve. It’s more about the journey for me and the exits are usually a by-product as opposed to a goal. 

This is probably how we’ve come to establish a similar ethos at ActiveWin - we believe in being brave, entrepreneurial and authentic, and I believe this is what has given us longevity in the market. Despite all the recent challenges, with the inevitable longer-term effects yet to be seen, we have taken an agile approach and adapted nimbly to the ever-changing market. As the digital landscape continues to evolve rapidly and rise in popularity, we intend to grow with it. 

The afternoon is underway already so I quickly check in on the kids to ensure their home schooling is going to plan and then take the opportunity to jump on the treadmill. Keeping active definitely keeps me mentally healthy and energised. With a mid-afternoon run, I tend to blast it out for a few kilometres at full speed, and then rein it back so I can take a few calls at a far slower pace, of course. You could call it multi-tasking, sort of! 

Tonight I take to the kitchen. My culinary skills aren’t horrific according to my family. I’m not likely to be your next MasterChef champion, but I find it therapeutic and enjoyable, so I try to cook when I can. 

Friday

It’s Friday, so what’s not to love?

The morning is filled with strategy sessions and catch-ups with leaders of associated businesses including Adzooma, Grace Media, Betable and New Shore. I then check in with the senior management team to catch up on the week, and ensure their teams are engaged and working towards clear organisational goals. This has really helped keep focus over the past 10 months, as impromptu catch-ups, coffees and office chats are missed at home. 

I then swiftly check in with as many people in the team as possible, see how they are and simply have a quick chat to round off the week.  

I try to wrap up work earlier than previously in the week. The afternoon tails off with considerably fewer emails, ideally no meetings, and only expecting calls or messages for anything urgent for the rest of the evening. 

For me, after a busy week, the weekends are about spending time with the family, doing those DIY jobs I’ve been itching to do all week, as well as those chores I promised my wife, Chen. Where possible I’ll have a Zoom coffee or glass of wine (or two) with friends and the family in Scotland. 

My week is a lot less exciting than it may sound - it is demanding and has its pressures and stresses, but I wouldn't trade it for any other job and am constantly thankful that I sit on a comfortable chair with half-decent internet in a warm home instead of being geared up in the heavy rain and cold trying to protect our country and way of life. To those men and women, I am forever thankful.