Interviewed in the latest installment of the Shiny New Object Podcast Automated Creative founder, Tom Ollerton, is Adam Boita, marketing director at The National Citizen Service and former head of marketing at Pernod Ricard. Here are five things Ollerton found out as a result of the conversation.
Follow your ‘red thread’
Boita's latest career move,to the NCS (The National Citizen Service) might seem a little incongruous compared to previous roles at vodka brand Absolut and gaming giant PlayStation. However, Boita sees it as a logical step. He’s followed a consistent ‘red thread’ throughout his whole career, one of understanding and marketing to the next generation. He’s also very purpose-focused, both within his ‘day job’ and beyond. Absolut, while of course being a commercial company, has always been very supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, and working with a brand that was doing good in the world was something Boita felt strongly about. So when the opportunity to work for a completely cause-driven organization came along, it felt like a natural next step.
Young brains have fresh perspectives
Boita gave me a fascinating glimpse into how the NCS works; its aim is to provide young people with a sense of self-belief and ultimately equip them with the skills they need to drive positive change. It works across three phases. Firstly, participants are taken out of their current environment, put together with people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and are given activities that help bridge divides and build social cohesion. They then learn skills and life lessons - anything from coding to sex education. Finally, they go back home and deliver a project that they’ve created themselves that will benefit their local communities. Boita said he’s seen incredibly powerful ideas come from this process - some that are so simple but have had national impact. Take, for example, one person who deduced that labelling products throughout supermarkets as ‘food bank suitable’ would serve to remind shoppers and increase donations. It did - and now Sainsbury’s has taken this up across its stores.
Incremental gains make big leaps possible
Boita is a serial entrepreneur. He sold conkers to fellow kids age seven. He’s now progressed quite a bit further with his side hustles, creating both a portable ‘safe’ for surfers to stash their personal belongings (Tan Safe) and a range of eco-friendly bags (Boita Bag Co). His achievements may seem a little overwhelming to us mere mortals, so I asked him if he could break down the elements of his success for aspiring entrepreneurs who haven’t quite cracked it. He said it comes down to a few different elements, but one important thing to remember is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Boita Bag Co was a four-year itch that was waiting to happen before it actually did. Ideas can be constantly in the back of your mind, and you may end up progressing in tiny steps until one day everything falls into place. It’s the law of incremental gains - keep plugging away and doing whatever you can to reach your goal. If you're passionate about something, you’ll stick at it.
Tech is enabling today’s entrepreneurs
There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur Boita points out. We’re fortunate to live in a world where there’s an abundance of technology and innovative service companies that, for very little cost, enable people to run their own businesses. Boita's list of recommendations is pretty huge: Kick-Off Labs helped launch the crowdfunding campaign for Boita Bag Co; AppSumo is a customizable cloud-based community platform that provides members with affordable tools to better manage their business; legal tech company Rocket Lawyer handles, well, his legal stuff. And there’s plenty more - check out the podcast. It’s incredible that, with a few clicks of the mouse, you can save yourself two days of desk research into e-commerce trends by finding a coder who can whack all the data into a useful, insightful spreadsheet in two hours. Tapping into this is what keeps all the plates spinning for Boita.
Keep making connections
Throughout my chat with Boita there’s a common theme. A friend of a friend introduced him to the guy who ended up helping him make Boita Bag Co a reality. He got talking to someone who happened to be in the eco-clothing industry. He’s pitched up at meetings with just a few ideas and an abundance of enthusiasm, and people have taken a gamble on him. Making connections seems to come easily to Boita, but his entrepreneurial journey is a perfect example of how every chance meeting can take you on another step towards your goals. Even if, at the time, you’ve got no agenda other than chatting to new people and enjoying hearing about different experiences. You never know where your next conversation will take you - having an open mind is crucial.
Listen to the podcast in full below.