A Week in My Life: Ben Tyson, CEO of Born Social
Born Social is an award-winning social-first agency based in London, working with brands that want to think like David, not Goliath. CEO Ben Tyson talks us through his working week, with some brilliant top 3 lists thrown in there too...
I get up at 6.30 – a good Monday can make or break a week so I like to start (and leave) early. We introduced flexible working so people can choose how and when they work.
At the office, it’s time for coffee. Those at Born know me to be a self-confessed coffee snob. Top 3 London roasters you ask?
- Origin - technically Cornwall-based, but their cafe in Shoreditch is great.
- Square Mile - consistent quality.
- Workshop - their filter coffees are always sublime.
With coffee in hand, we all gather in the main office for the Born Briefing, our Monday morning kick-off for the week. We’ve done this for the entire 8 years of our existence, and although we need a few more chairs now, it is so valuable. Discussion ranges from team agendas to company numbers. Transparency is key to the way we work and these meetings allow everyone a window into what’s going on.
I hot desk every day. It’s a way to get to know the ever-expanding team and to keep in touch with the company culture.
Monday evenings, I sing in a folk choir in Camden. Occasionally, we make a passable attempt at singing!
Tuesday morning starts with a run. It’s cold, crisp and quiet out. At Born, we offer a Wellness budget – mine is spent on a running coach.
Next is my ‘monthly’ meeting with our Creative Director, a catch-up dedicated to discussing his wellbeing and development. Every team member at Born gets this dedicated time.
We’re always hiring new talent, so today I spend some of my time getting to know new starters. We have a new Creative on the team this week, so I discuss the origins of Born Social as an agency, what we do and where we’re going.
Today is ‘Tasty Tuesday’, a social initiative aimed at bringing the team together over food. We order lunch for everyone and invite a guest speaker to talk about pressing topics. This week we hear about Unconscious Bias and intersectionality in the workplace. As with a lot of companies in our industry, we’ve not done enough historically to strive for greater diversity, but it’s something we’re working hard on this year. One of our first steps is educating ourselves and finding a common language that allows our team - and especially team leads - to talk about it without it feeling like a minefield.
Post-lunch, I’m working closely with the New Business team to deliver a well-executed, killer pitch. The first couple of months of the year – when brands and agencies review their budgets - are all important for winning new clients.
When I get home, I unwind by pickling vegetables (my second favourite thing after coffee). Top three vegetables to pickle?
- Cucumbers - ideally cornichons
- Carrots - try it, you’ll be surprised
- Onions - a classic
Starts with our monthly leadership team meeting. We review everything that's gone on in the last month, what went well and what could have gone better. Our growth as a company is strong, but it could always be better.
Next, I try and catch up with a team member, from any department, to have a chat and a walk around the block. Fresh air and a great way to better understand how the team feels about the business and their roles.
At 6pm we down tools. The teams gather for ‘Forced Fun’. Irony intended. Every quarter we do something fun outside of the office, whether it’s bowling, ice-skating or watching a show. Top 3 team socials in London:
- A Murder Mystery dinner party in the office
- Treasure Hunt across East London with pizza at the finish line
- Secret Cinema’s Blade Runner, two years ago, was awesome
Tonight’s social is laid back: we’re headed to Brick Lane for a beer and a curry.
I wake up and head downstairs to survey the damage my two cats have done in the night. My fiancée and I re-homed them as kittens in 2018 and fair to say they’ve taken over our lives (and killed almost all our houseplants in the process).
A 9am monthly ‘Social Briefing’ hosted by our Strategy team gets the day started. They present the most recent platform updates from across social (we sometimes write these up as blogs). This month’s focus was on how brands are starting to get to grips with Tik Tok.
Next, I join in on a few client meetings and calls. We worked with 60 businesses in 2019, and although it’s impossible to know them all I try and keep in touch with as many as possible. With a handful of them based outside of London I spend a lot of time on trains either catching up on emails or listening to Podcasts. Top three podcasts?
- The Guardian’s Today in Focus for current affairs
- Tailenders for sport (and silliness)
- Desert Island Discs for entertainment. The Jo Malone and Nigel Owens episodes from the archive remain the best and most inspiring.
The day ends with a drink with my mentee. Having been at Born Social since I was 21, I’ve benefitted from guidance, advice and mentoring. This is my way of giving back.
Every other Friday we can choose where we work. It allows us time for life admin, be it at home, in a cafe or somewhere a bit different. Today, I’ve trekked to King’s Cross to work in the British Library. It is super inspiring with lots of good energy.
Being surrounded by books all day it would be wrong not to read on the way home. Top 3 “marketing” books I’ve read:
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
- Eating the Big Fish by Adam Morgan.