What I've Learnt: Glenn Matchett, MD at Grammatik Agency

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by Charlie Spargo

Glenn leads Grammatik, a PR and marketing agency for the tech, creative and VFX sectors.

He has experience which spans leading film, television, retail, online and entertainment brands including Sky, UKTV and Virgin Media - and helped MPC become the world’s largest volume recruiter of VFX talent.

We heard about the lessons Glenn has learnt.

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

Music. Lots of music. I can’t bear travelling to work without my headphones on - I’m cocooned in a Spotify playlist. 

What's been your luckiest break?

I’m originally from Bangor in Northern Ireland. My first boss in London spent a couple of years as a child living just outside the same town. 

She had such fond memories of the Emerald Isle that it got my foot in the door to the initial job interview. We spent most of that chatting (amongst other things) about how beautiful Northern Ireland was. 

I got offered the role a couple of days later. 

Without that local connection, I might never have come over to London, got together with my wife, had three kids, bought a tortoise and put roots down in the East End.

What's your best failure?

I spent a couple of years running my own business called Kidspoints. It was an online reward chart for kids to help instil behaviour and discipline in a fun, motivating way. 

Was a pretty decent idea but, launched in the face of a recession, it totally tanked when it came to making any money from it. So eventually we burnt through all the investment cash and had to mothball it.

It was a valuable failure for me though as I learnt loads from the experience - both personally and professionally. I was a one-man-band and responsible for everything from web development, accounts, PR, advertising and making the tea. 

I came out the other side a well-rounded person, albeit with kids that didn't behave themselves quite as well.

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

It may sound a bit corny but I’ve managed to carve out quite a lot of time for my three kids whilst they were growing up. Thanks to that, I feel we’ve got a pretty solid bond and loads of common ground. 

Hopefully, the investment will pay back when I’m old and infirm and need to go live with one of them. Preferably under a tartan blanket in the corner of their living room watching Homes Under the Hammer.

How would you describe your work/life balance?

It’s pretty healthy. At Grammatik, we try to work smart for our clients rather than burn out as ‘busy fools’. 

It also helps that our office is a 20-minute stroll across London’s Victoria Park so I get home at a decent hour.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

I loved ‘Live At the Brixton Academy: A riotous life in the music business’ by Simon Parkes. I go to lots of gigs and Brixton is my favourite venue.

It’s a rollicking tale of how he bought the venue for £1 (when the area was a virtual warzone) and turned it into an iconic music venue.

I think anyone who reads it would be inspired by his passion as well as taking away lessons in how to be open enough to approach risk as an opportunity. 

Fortune favours the bold and all that.  

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

Exactly when to buy and sell Bitcoin.

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

During the early part of my career, I spent a fair bit of time working with Ashley Faull at various TV and retail businesses. Ashley was a great mentor to learn from - driven, focused but always personable and fun to be around. 

I was always most impressed at how he would properly listen to people to actually understand what they were saying. As opposed to just waiting for the opportunity to respond with an already-formed opinion. That’s a rare talent and one that I try to stick by in my own working life.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people

During university, I had a job interview to join MI5. It was wonderfully cloak-and-dagger stuff - receiving letters referring cryptically to ‘an admin role in the civil service'. In the end it never went anywhere, and I ended up taking a very different professional path. (Or did I?)

What does success look like for you.

My favourite quote is Tennesee Williams, “Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.”

Success for me is to enjoy and be present in the moment rather than worrying about all the stuff that might never happen further down the line.