What I've Learnt: Chris Whittle, Founder and MD at Experience12

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by Charlie Spargo
Chris Whittle, Experience12

Chris Whittle runs Soho's "pop culture marketing agency" Experience12, bringing more than 20 years’ experience in the world of entertainment and events with him.

Experience12 specialises in creative development, experiential events, PR stunts, exhibitions and worldwide tours for entertainment brands.

They work on projects encompassing TV, film, gaming, art and more - targeting pop culture fans directly and bosoting results for clients that include Disney, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox and Universal.

We talked to Chris about his world.

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


What's been your luckiest break?

Many years ago, I was having a quiet August afternoon in an office at a Students' Union in London. I took a phonecall, and as a result ended up booking out 20 club night promotions for a film during Freshers' to give someone a hand, because (to be honest) I was a bit bored.

My success at that resulted in a job offer. I haven’t looked back since. 

What's your best failure?

Not being brave enough to set up for myself when people told me I should (that and Game of Thrones, it’s been eight years and we never worked on it). 

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

Investing in having time for people.

How would you describe your work/life balance?

In terms of hours in the office and being out on campaigns, it’s recently improved immeasurably. However, one of the downsides of operating your own business is that it’s very hard to turn off. I really believe the ‘always-on’ device culture that we’re in is incredibly detrimental for our wellbeing but I’m still a sucker for it.   

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

I’m currently a bit obsessed with ‘The Joy of Work’ by Bruce Daisley at the minute.

It may just be that it reflects my worldview, but it seems to talk a lot of sense. I really believe that we need to reduce the amount of time spent reacting and take more time to actually think.   

(Also, I’ve always thought that big brainstorms suck.)

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

Cut your hair.

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

Sad to be a sap, but my parents. They’re on my mind a lot at the minute as my Dad isn’t too well and it’s only then you realise that at some point, you’re not going to be able to phone up and talk something through with them.

They’ve known each other their whole lives, and before they retired were both teachers. It’s something I’m really proud of them for, as it’s an incredible responsibility - it’s also a lot more important than what I do for a living. We didn’t have a lot of the toys that our friends had when we were young, but we did have a lot more time with our parents because of the school holidays.

Now I’ve grown up, that feels like a pretty decent trade-off (but a tiny bit of me is still a little gutted about not getting the Millennium Falcon for Christmas in the mid ‘80s though).

Despite - or perhaps because of - the teaching, they’ve always been generously inclusive, almost ‘collecting’ interesting and stray people, adopting them, giving them an ear and definitely feeding them. They’re always helping someone out with something random. I try and apply that kind of mentality to my work and personal life - life’s too short not to.  

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I am addicted to The Archers.

What does success look like to you?

Being able to do what you want to do, where you want to be doing it from.