What I've Learnt: James Welch, Chief Innovation Officer, Embryo

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

James Welch has been with Manchester digital marketing agency Embryo since 2018, and focuses on improving sales and marketing strategies at the company.

It was recently announced that Embryo had grown its headcount to 43, having doubled in size over the course of less than a year. It works with brands like I Saw It First and Burgess, along with recent client wins like Wonderbra.

Welch has worked at a wide range of leading companies in his career, supporting their growth and success - including ITR Events, where he was Executive Director; Online Ventures Group as Director of Sales, Marketing and R&D; and Regus's Global Head of Online. He has published two books and is a regular public speaker.

We found out the kinds of lessons he's learnt.


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

Looking for daily inspiration on Product Hunt. This website is like a fountain of ideas that bubbles up every day.

What's been your luckiest break?

Meeting two different mentors at two key times in my career.

What's your best failure?

I turned a stagnating IT company into an industry leader in 2.5 years. But I allowed the owners of the business to take the credit instead of letting people know that it was my work. It was the best work of my career, yet nobody but a few people know about it.

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

To always have read around 1,000 articles about any subject that I want to take seriously. It has served me very well.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

'Release Your Brakes' by James W Newman. It is the only book anyone serious about their career needs to read. It is the favourite book of many successful people, yet is relatively unknown today.

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

Work harder than everyone else in the room. I didn't start doing this until I was 26. Also, learn to genuinely not care about what people think. I didn't start doing this until I was 40.

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

A Tony Robbins' course called 'Get The Edge' that I listened to in the early 2000s. It took me from being a 9-to-5er into a determined, passionate workaholic. It showed me that working hard can be one of the best feelings known to man.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I am the biggest fan of Dolly Parton. Not for music, but for her business acumen and wonderful philanthropy. I even wrote about her on LinkedIn here.

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

As with any such occurrence throughout history where scarcity of some kind came to be, COVID will have driven various innovations many years before they would otherwise have happened. And some that would have never happened at all.

What does success look like to you?

Having nothing in my work diary for the day, which means that I have the time and 'brain space' to create my next invention.

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