What I've Learnt: Jonathan Goodman, CEO at LIDA

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo
Jonathan Goodman, LIDA

LIDA is a customer agency which works with brands including Costa Coffee, Experian, and the FA, with offices in London, Sydney and New York.

Jonathan has been with the agency for nearly 10 years - becoming Managing Director in 2014, the same year LIDA was named Agency of the Year by Campaign. He spent time facilitating LIDA's US expansion from 2016 to 2019, becoming Partner and President of LIDA New York, and returned to London in January 2019 as CEO, overseeing its modern relaunch.

We sat down with Jonathan to find out the methods behind his busy lifestyle.

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

Putting on my Homey slippers when I get home – I must be on my tenth pair. They say: "Work’s over my friend, chill out, grab a drink, you deserve it." (Check them out, they might change your life!)

What's been your luckiest break?

Being given my job at LIDA by the immensely talented Lisa Thomas and Mel Edwards in 2010. This was the break that led me to where I am today.

What's your best failure?

As LIDA grew, we really wanted to hold on to the great, small-agency, family culture that made it such a great place to work, so we split the agency into five ‘families’, each headed by a management team.

The idea seemed solid but, put into practice, it added more management time for everyone and didn’t live up to its ambition. So, we reverted back to departments after a year or so. My key learning was that it’s good to try new things, but you’ve got to accept that sometimes you’ll end up with egg on your face as not all ideas that look good on paper actually translate in real life.

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

It was the time invested in packing up my London life and moving to launch LIDA in the US. The learning from starting out with nothing - no home, no bank, no network and (more importantly) no credit - was a real shock to the system.

It was incredibly tiring building a new life and a new agency brand at the same time, but it taught me so much about myself that it will forever be a key moment in my life.

How would you describe your work/life balance? 

The lines are, of course, so blurred now. I did 20-odd minutes of work on my phone at the gym this morning; and holidays no longer mean a complete switch-off.

That said, I don’t take my work home with me and I’m able to switch off and enjoy life outside of work. I think if you haven’t got that balance, you might be too invested, too obsessed and too stressed to be effective and do the best job.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

'Pitching to Win' by David Kean. I was given it by an old boss years ago, and it turned a switch in my head about how to pitch well. It really does what it says on the tin. A great one for people starting to get involved in pitching.

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

Don’t overthink your career. At 21, it was a fun job. At 27, I thought it might be the wrong job. At 31, it all came together.

I think you don’t realise you're compiling all the pieces of the puzzle until it is almost complete, then suddenly it all makes sense and you go forward with no internal blockers.

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

Sounds cheesy, but that would be my wife. I think she saw potential in a 27-year-old adman/boy. She gave me that extra impetus to really push myself.  

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

My middle name is Tsimmu. It means Brave Young Wolf in Native American. (Yes - my mum and dad were hippies.)

What does success look like to you? 

Happiness. Being successful at work, but always remembering that being happy is the true measure of success - I blame my hippy parents!