What I've Learnt: Stephen Knight, Founder & CEO at Pimento

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

Stephen Knight is the CEO and Founder of virtual agency network, Pimento. It comprises 200 agencies and consultants across the UK from PR, marketing, web design, PR, social media and more. 

Pimento was launched in 2004 with the intention of supporting clients with a wide range of expertise from the collection of agencies which make up Pimento, as well as offering members new business opportunities, nationwide reach, comprehensive support and more.

Pimento now boasts more than 200 independent agencies and consultants among its ranks, who work together to create bespoke solutions for clients.

We heard from Stephen about the lessons he's learnt.

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

Checking in on social media - in particular LinkedIn and sometimes a sneaky peek at Facebook and Instagram.

What's been your luckiest break?

It has to be being hired by the Walt Disney Co. as their very first head of brand in EMEA. 

What's your best failure?

There have been a few, but if you’re not prepared to have a go, you’ll never enjoy the learnings from failure - and the excitement on the rare occasions you have success.

A few years ago, I invested in a publication within the chauffeur industry. We pivoted the business and launched an online magazine and a series of brand experiences with track days and shows. The company did well for two years - driven by the popularity of stretched limousines at the time - but it was under-capitalised and we sold it back to the founders to focus on Pimento.

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

When it comes to investing, I place my trust in the professionals and have been well served by St. James’s Place over the years. On a more personal level, I love cars - particularly classics - and wine. Neither of which have made me any money so far, but there’s always the opportunity to enjoy both (not together, of course).

How would you describe your work/life balance?

I work from home which makes getting to the office easy, but it does mean it’s difficult to maintain a true work-life balance. Anyone who runs their own business will testify to the fact that you have to be available for both your clients and your team - and this doesn’t naturally fit into a standard working week.

Likewise, I’m not very good at lying in the sun when it comes to holidays - and I’m happy to answer my emails from a sunbed.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

It has to be ‘50 places to bike before you die’, by Chris Santella. I get my true inspiration from the people I meet and work with.

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

Pace yourself and grab every opportunity - it might be your last! Also, be kind, try to listen as much as you speak, and finally, hire people that are better than yourself.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some brilliant men and women. In advertising, I was mentored by Robin Wight - founder of agency WCRS - and Frank Lowe, chairman and chief executive of Lowe Howard-Spink.

At Disney, I met some of the most inspirational leaders - including Bob Iger and Michael Eisner - and more recently still, I am fortunate enough to work with some of the leading figures in marketing and consultancy. They are all inspiring and I continue to learn from each of them.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I’m dyslexic and I’m known for wearing loud socks - the more colourful the better.

What does success look like to you?

It’s definitely helping people and companies to achieve their full potential - and having some fun while doing it!