What I've Learnt: Charlotte Nichols, Managing Director, Harvey & Hugo

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by Charlie Spargo

Charlotte Nichols founded Harvey & Hugo in 2009 - a PR, content, design and social media marketing agency based in Darlington.

Nichols manages the day-to-day operations at Harvey & Hugo, as well as being the 'Head Girl' at Hugoversity, the PR and social media training school run by Harvey & Hugo. She's also a Board Member of Darlington Partnership, a member of Darlington Cares, and a mentor at Transmit Start-Ups.

We found out what lessons Charlotte has learnt in her career...

 

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

My 5am wake-up time! I love the quiet and lack of distraction I find between the hours of 5am and 9am - it’s my most productive time.

As well as enjoying the peace, I also feel like I’m getting a head start on the day, which means I can fit in some exercise - a real must for me!

What's been your luckiest break?

It would have to be getting my first job in PR, as, after graduating I was a bit stuck for what to do in terms of a career - nothing I’d tried had really appealed to me. As soon as I started, I instantly fell in love and knew that I wanted a long-term career in this industry. 

What's your best failure?

I played water polo for Great Britain in the Junior European Championships where we lost every single match and finished last in the tournament. 

Although it was humiliating at the time, it taught me to be resilient and about the power of camaraderie, even when things aren’t going well.

It also taught me how not to dwell on failure, and instead use it as a motivator to drive future success. 

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

Making time to exercise - even if it’s at 5am - is the best investment I make. I’m a big believer in healthy body, healthy mind - and that’s especially true at the moment. 

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

I’ve just finished reading 'Man’s Search for Meaning', by Viktor Frankl. I’d really recommend this for anyone finding lockdown tough; it really helps you gain some perspective. His psychological theory - logotherapy - makes a lot of sense. Essentially, he believes that we need to find meaning in life through the way we respond to life’s challenges, rather than always reaching for the meaning of life. 

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

I wish I could go back and tell me to believe in myself! When I was 21, I was incredibly shy with no self-confidence. 

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

My Grandad, who set up his own retail business and grew it to a chain of 26 shops during the 80s and early 90s. He died when I was very young, but he inspired me to set up my own business. 

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I like to dress up as an 85-year-old lady called Joy, who sometimes comes to work instead of Charlotte. Her two main passions in life are gin and holidays in Benidorm – she can’t wait to get back out there! 

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

It has shown us how flexible we can all be, and I hope this continues. I feel one unexpected benefit is that people can have a better quality of life, balancing some time at home and time in the office. 

Having missed those social interactions, it will make us value time spent out at meetings and with team members much more instead of taking it for granted 

I also hope that we will be more environmentally focused and do more meetings online wherever possible, rather than travelling all the time for the sake of it.

What does success look like to you?

Constantly striving to achieve my goals - I don’t want to ever feel as though I’m done. 

I heard a great business talk a few years ago about someone who had sold their business for a large sum of money and thought they’d finally made it. However, they concluded that when they got ‘there’, there was no magical ‘there’ - it was all about the journey. 

It made me realise that you have to find success and joy in striving for your goals, rather than simply achieving them.