By Chloe Tinson
Mike was recently interviewed by Prolific North to celebrate the anniversary of Principles Agency. Read his interview below. Mike Hackett is Director at one of Leeds' long-standing marketing agencies, Principles Agency. Recently celebrating 36 years in business, the agency has secured a string of client wins including Velcro, South East Water, Ucan and Lyons Coffee. Mike has a wealth of experience in the agency world, previously working at Leeds agency Brahm until buying Principles Agency seven years ago. He shared all the lessons he has learnt...

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

I’m a creature of habit. Every morning I make the bed, grab a cup of tea, prioritise what needs doing that day and spend half an hour listening to BBC Radio 4’s Today en route to the office - this leaves me raring to go!

What's been your luckiest break?

Being born to supportive and loving parents. I stumbled into the industry, which was pretty lucky as I’d made a hash of school life, partying just seemed a better option. They’ve always taken an interest in my career and supported me regardless.

What's your best failure?

Failing at school - It was a huge wake up call for me. The day I left the deputy head teacher, Mr Whittaker said that unless I bucked my ideas up I would waste my life. The day I first walked through the door of an advertising agency, as part of a work experience scheme I had joined, I realised I needed to take this chance and really make the most of it..

A few years later I saw Mr Whittaker in a local pub. I bounded over to inform him I now had a company car and I was making a career for myself in marketing. He smiled, patted me on the back and said ‘I’m so proud of you, well done Michael, I knew you had it in you’. Feeling a tad silly, I said ‘thank you’. I owe you, Mr Whittaker.

Thankfully I believe something positive has come out of every mistake I’ve made, and there have been quite a few.

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

Financially, buying Principles Agency and realising a long term ambition. It’s been a wonderful seven years; I still feel as excited about the business as I did on day one.

In terms of time, people are 100% the biggest investment I’ve made. Not just professionally either, I value more than ever, every hour spent with my four children.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

It’s always the last one I read. Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a fascinating novel which tells the story of the Biafran war through the eyes of four people and how it affects their lives. It will make you both smile and cry.

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

Firstly, be more humble if you meet Mr Whittaker! Secondly, the perfect world does not exist and you will never be perfect. Too often this has affected my thinking. Striving to be the best you can be, be kind to those you meet and you’ll find a happy place.

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

The owners at Brahm - the second agency I worked for had a huge impact on my life. They created a wonderfully inclusive and creative culture which shaped my thinking. I still feel immensely proud of being part of a great team of people.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I have no respect for men who carry umbrellas. Irrational, I know.

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

I hope it will lead to a grown up conversation for all businesses about what the perfect work/life balance looks like, which can be very different to implementing a ‘work from home’ policy in my humble opinion.

What does success look like to you?

A long lasting legacy for the business...and an invite to the Principles’ Christmas party in 2051.

Beyond that, opportunities to do different things, continue to challenge myself and spend as much time as possible with my children. Perhaps a beer with Mr Whittaker too!