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In conversation with Nicola Ramsey - Episode 14 - Inspiring the Next CMO series

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Join Lou in conversation with the excellent Nicola Ramsey, senior publishing executive in the industry. Nicola talks with us about:

  • her favourite word ‘serendipity’

  • her childhood dream of becoming an author and where her career path took her

  • ensuring authors’ work receives the impact it deserves

  • challenges of balancing work life with home life

  • the best advice she has been given

  • her favourite reads and podcasts

Links from the session

#IntBunchWordOfTheDay - Serendipity


Lou: Welcome, everybody, to our Behind the Fluff: Inspiring the Next CMO podcast series. Now, you can find lots of great resources to help raise your game in marketing at Now, today, I would like to welcome Nicola Ramsey. Nicola is an excellent industry Senior Executive in the academic publishing industry. Hello, Nicola.

Nicola: Hi, Lou. How are you?

Lou: Very, very well. How are you?

Nicola: Good. I'm really well, thank you.

Lou: Now it looks like you are in the library there or is that just a...

Nicola: It's the meeting room in the office, which doubles as, I mean, part of a library. Honestly, you should see the place. There are books everywhere, which there should, we are a publisher, but we ran out of space a long time ago. But here, yes, are our books from authors with names, I don't know, D to F or something.

Lou: Amazing! Okay. So, now, before we get started, I have one question for you. We have something that we do called #IntBunch-- Oh, dear. #IntBunchWordOfTheDay, and that is where we ask you for your favourite word and what does it mean? And then we share it on social. So, tell me, what is your favourite word and what does it mean?

Nicola: Okay. So, my favourite word is serendipity. I know, and I love the way it sounds when I can say it, because sometimes I trip over it, but I think it has got this kind of lovely kind of musical sound to it. And I love even more what it means, which is a happy accident. Something that happens by chance, the planets align and things just work out in a way that perhaps you didn't expect. I think we spend a lot of time thinking about unintended consequences in a negative way, but sometimes there are positive unintended consequences and I think we have to grasp those when they come. And it's funny, I have lots of conversations with my Mum about fate because she believes in fate and I do not. And because I'm saying you can't just sort of sit there in your house and expect that things will happen. Oh, there's no point in me making any effort or trying because it's going to happen anyway.

Lou: Hey, it's fate.

Nicola: Yes, exactly. Let's just let it roll. I think you have to work hard and shape things and what have you. But I also really like the idea that if every so often then also serendipity comes along and something works out as this sort of happy accident, then that's beautiful. Then that's kind of best of both worlds having cake and eating it.

Lou: I love that. I absolutely love that. And I love the explanation. I agree with your Mum. I'm a fate is fate, but then I agree with you that if you don't do things, yes, sure fate is fate, but it's going to be a very different fate than if you actually did things, so. Oh, brilliant. There's a lot of things that I don't know about you as you've got older, but I certainly found that my Mother, I think I can admit that my Mother is probably right 95% of the time. Whereas before when I was younger, I was like, "My Mother's never right".

Nicola: Yes, no, there's definitely that realization, isn't there, or realizing that your experiences are really quite similar. And then also that I'm turning into my Mum bit which is a bit [laughs].

Lou: Exactly. Okay, so first things first, we want to know a bit more about you. So, what is the best thing that you have discovered in the last year?

Nicola: Yes. This time frame is actually really good because I became chief exec just over a year ago. So, it's quite easy for me to sort of think back over that period of time. And it's about the generosity of the people in this industry, which I was sort of slightly, I want to move on from my previous role. I was head of editorial, so my engagement was really with our authors perhaps more than the industry, whether that was right wrong. That's just how it was. But yes, I sort of started in this new role and knew that I had loads to learn. So I was kind of tasked with developing a business plan for the next five years and sketching out the strategic development of the business. And I had so much to learn. There was so much I didn't know. And so I just asked a bunch of people a bunch of questions. And everybody was amazing and so generous with their time. There was no sense of, "Oh, you are my competitor, so I'm not going to share this with you". And so, I was asking about platforms and publishing management systems and how to help your staff when they're kind of reaching burnout. I mean, there's just such a wide range of questions. And every single person I asked, whether it was sending an email or asking for a call or meeting at a conference, gave up their time in just this really generous way. And I didn't know that that's how it was, I suppose, and that that's just this brilliant thing to learn. So that was amazing.

Lou: You are right. We do work in an incredible industry and it's about the individuals that are in the industry and the knowledge that there is and the shared learning and the best practices. I mean, the approach that you've done is absolutely fantastic because you don't want to keep making the same mistakes that others have already made. You want to learn by what they've already done and also you forge really good relationships and friendships. And so we've got some conferences coming up soon. We've got the ALPSP Conference next week. We've got Frankfurt Book Fair. And I think the STM conferences at the beginning of that, and it's just an amazing opportunity to catch up with people and find out what's going on and what they're all doing.

Nicola: Yes. And I think that's obviously what we missed in that kind of horrible two years where we couldn't do that, and you can connect in enough ways but being able to get in person with someone and have those conversations. Yes. There's no substitute for that, I don't think.

Lou: I'm very much looking forward to two weeks’ time when there's that ALPSP Conference and we're going to get together and I'm going to find out all the juicy gossip.

Nicola: Exactly. There's that too. The stuff that people won't put in an email.

Lou: I did. Yes, exactly. And after a few drinks, they might tell you. I do, yes, I do remember that during the pandemic I remember just having a meeting with a couple of people and I was just like, what's going on? What's the gossip because I just feel like no one knows anyone. Then they told me some things and I was like, and I left it thinking, well, that's me for the next year. That's really good gossip just for me in my head for nobody else, just for my own pleasure. So who inspires you?

Nicola: Yes, that's hard. I mean, it's hard to get it down to an individual. So, from that I was thinking about what inspires me and that is, I guess, people who have strong values that are authentic, honest work hard, have strong sense of purpose, generosity of spirit. And when I thought about all of those things, I then kind of came to, there is one person in the industry who I think absolutely kind of embodies all of that. And that's Ali Shaw from Bristol University Press. Who has been a tremendous support to me over the last year, but also seeing how she took policy press from a very small publisher 25 years ago now I think and built that up and then created Bristol University Press and that's growing and it's so incredibly successful that has such a strong identity. Yes. I just think she kind of encapsulates all of that. And I also think, and I've been thinking a lot about leading teams over the last year. And I think there you look at kind of sports coaches because I think they're the best ones are so good at that. When you get this kind of disparate group of people with different talents and different abilities, and you pull them together so that they can work towards a common goal. And so, whilst I'm not really a football fan at all,

Lou: Uh oh!

Nicola: I remain very aware of Jürgen Klopp. I don't know whether I'm going to alienate half of the people listening now, But it seems like Jürgen Klopp really kind of, it seems to me like someone from the outside looking in kind of has all of those characteristics and abundance and has kind of got the team coming on leaps and bounds. So, half my cousins will love me for saying that. And then the other half here inside of Manchester will not, so.

Lou: Well, they may never see this this footage so that's fine.

Nicola: It's unlikely actually to be fair.

Lou: Cut that out. So, when you were young, what did you want to be?

Nicola: I wanted to be an author. So here we are. It wasn't, really... Yes. I mean that's really, really all I wanted to be from a very young age. I mean I read all the time. I was an only child and there's not violins and poor me, but there was a lot of times when I was on my own. So, I was just in my bedroom reading a lot and then writing a lot and it was all completely derivative. So, it was whatever age I was or whatever I was reading at that time. What I was writing was basically a rip off of that. And I was thinking last night back to, and this had kind of gone from my mind for so many years, but I don't know whether you remember "Sweet Dreams" romances.

Lou: Yes.

Nicola: Yes. Those awful American high school works. So, I used to read at least two or three of those a week and then everything that I was writing at that time when I was probably about 12 was essentially.

Lou: Love it.

Nicola: A rip off of these Sweet Dreams romances. I mean, I never finished anything. I would start strong, and I'd have my first chapter. And I would feel really pleased then I would realize I had no idea where the story was going.

Lou: think that's a positive, right? Because that's actually, you recognized that it wasn't going the right way. So, you just stopped doing it.

Nicola: Yes, just stopped.

Lou: Why waste your time?

Nicola: Yes. And then I was thinking about that horrible adage, which I don't agree with at all, which is that those who can do and those who can't teach, I mean, good grief. I mean particularly I think anyone who didn't have respect for teachers before, what was wrong with you, but will have had it now, an amazing profession. But I kind of think similarly is there that those who can write and those who don't publish and again, no, because we're all kind of critical to this particular industry. So yes, I think I found my right place within the industry, which was on the publishing side and not the creating of the content.

Lou: Nothing to stop you, Nicola, from doing like...

Nicola: Oh, well, ability, skill, talent.

Lou: Guest blog posts, or, you know, an article with Allison about university presses or something.

Nicola: Yes, yes.

Lou: You know, fulfil your dreams while you have the chance.

Nicola: That's true, actually, I still like writing and I like writing about what I know. I just...

Lou: There we are.

Nicola: Yes. I thought I was going to be a multimillion copy selling fiction author. I don't think that's on the cards.

Lou: Who knows? Who knows? They say now that actually you can change your career in your lifetime two or three times.

Nicola: Yes. True. And I haven't done it once yet, so... Maybe this is it.

Lou: I don't think it's written in stone. You don't have to, but you could. So, if you were to have dinner tonight with anybody in the world, alive or dead, who would it be? And you can have more than one person it's up to you. It's your dinner.

Nicola: It's my dinner. What I realized when I was thinking about this is that if it were dinner with anybody famous or really significant, I would be really nervous. So, I could imagine it might be Michelle Obama or Nelson Mandela, but I would be completely tongue tied and I wouldn't be relaxed. And I would probably go in with a set of questions and I would just be under the table. And so, it would be amazing, but I don't know how much I'd enjoy it, but what I would enjoy, and I think I would be relaxed, would be to have dinner with my Dad. And he died 25 years ago when I was 25. And so, we had obviously the parent-child relationship and then teenage and all of that. And then I left home, went to university, and then didn't really come back very often. I moved to Scotland, and they were down in the East Midlands. And so, I didn't spend as much time. And because then at that age you think you've got all the time in the world, and then you haven't. And so, yes, I'd love just to sit and have bottle of wine with him in a meal and I'm sure we would disagree and argue because that's all we did. I think 50-year-old me would handle that a lot better than 20-year-old me did, which would be standard.

Lou: Yes.

Nicola: Puff, walk out because I didn't really know then how to have conversations, the way you might have differences of opinion, but you could still kind of have that conversation continue. So, I think, and we would shoot the breeze about all the brilliant telly that there is now. He loved things like Hill Street Blues, and L.A. Law and all that kind of stuff. I think of all these dramas now that he, oh my goodness. I mean, he would have all the subscriptions.

Lou: What would he be-- yes, exactly

Nicola: Yes. He would have been all over The Wire and Breaking Bad. And so, we could talk about all that. So yes, that's who I'd be having my dinner with tonight.

Lou: So how old was he when he passed away?

Nicola: He was quite old actually. He was in his seventies because my Mum was a second marriage for him, and he had grown up kids. So, he was an old dad second time around with me. So, yes, he was getting to do it all again.

Lou: Because I was going to say if you had dinner with him and he was the age that he was when he passed, I was thinking, oh, maybe he would be younger than you or the same age as you. No, but no. He would still be the older Father.

Nicola: Yes, he would. So, yes, that would be amazing.

Lou: That's very, very precious. And I love that, and I love that you would still remember the things that he would love about things now, but also just the things that you'd be having discussions about, things would carry on as they always were. So, okay. Tell me about your career and how you got to where you are today.

Nicola: Right. So, connecting back, I suppose, to the wanting to be an author and what have you, I did an English literature degree, surprise, down in the south of England and I got really close to my finals, and hadn't decided what I was doing next and then sort of had a bit of a light bulb moment and thought maybe publishing. But I wasn't sure. And also I didn't really want to start work yet. So, I looked for a master's course and I was really, really fortunate that my Grandfather agreed to fund that because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do it.

Lou: Amazing.

Nicola: But I was his first Granddaughter to go to university, so I think he was really supporting that. So I went to Stirling University to do an MPhil in Publishing Studies, and the intention was to be there for the year of the course and then to head to London or Oxford or whatever, and get a job in publishing, but fell in love with Scotland, which I had to expect it, but my Mum, back to Mum's being wise and always right, when I moved up to Scotland, she said, "You'll move to Scotland and you'll never leave". I was like, what a ridiculous thing to say. Here we are...

Lou: "Of course, I'll come back to England!"

Nicola: …years later. I'm like, oh, yes, she was right. So, I basically wrote to every publisher in Edinburgh and there were a lot at that point asking for work and landed on my feet with a job as an Editorial Assistant at Edinburgh University Press. So that was 28 years ago. So, I worked up through the editorial department. I did sort of a few different things. I did some sort of rights and translations work. I looked after our complications programme. I was an Assistant Editor. Then I became sort of halftime rights person, halftime Commissioning Editor. So I was told to go and start a politics list. Go and find some rights and politics books. And it kind of just built from there. And I worked across Scottish studies, American studies, some literary studies and then settled within Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, which is the list that I worked on for the longest period of time. And that was the list that we'd had for a long time, but I sort of built and grew that. And so I was doing that up until 10 years ago, I became Head of Editorial and sort of ran the team. And then as I say, last year became Chief Exec. So, a whole career at Edinburgh University Press. And I quite like that. I've sort of seen all the stages along the way. So, I still have connections with people wherever they are within the business. It's like, I mean, I know it was very different when I was doing that job, but I have held that job.

Lou: I think it's also really important because as a CEO, when you know what the different roles go through, even though those roles change in respect of what they do, you still have an understanding of what it means to be at that level and the things that you have to take on. So, it just gives you that extra experience where when you think, oh, we've got to get this done. You may be a little bit more realistic in terms of thinking, I know how much work has got to go into that from different individuals and different teams. And it's not going to be like that.

Nicola: Exactly.

Lou: It is going to take time and it is going to take a lot of effort. I think because that from my perspective has been really important and in the role I do now, I still do content stuff, copywriting, working with designers on some projects because of some of the clients I have, and it keeps me grounded. It gives you a very different perspective, doesn't it?

Nicola: Yes.

Lou: It's very important. So, what have you been most proud of then in your career?

Nicola: I think it's, well, it's the publishing piece, which sounds really general, but what I mean by that is, think of all the books that I've commissioned and developed and published over the years. I don't know how many that is, but it's in the hundreds, if not, it might be in the thousands and that's, every book there's an author there who it's mattered to them for their book to be published for academics that publish or perish is absolutely true. That it's part of your career progression as well as the importance of the content that we're publishing that that's helping other people learn and it's progressing research in particular areas. So, I think what we publish is really important, but it's particularly that impact. I think that it has on our authors. And so, I'm proud of that and I'm proud of the way we all, I think at EUP work with our authors, which is about how to make this particular book be the very best that it can be. And that's a hugely collaborative process involving a lot of people with the author, of course at the centre. But you have, if it's in a series, there are series editors, series advisors, you have external readers. We have our press committee, that's academics from the University of Edinburgh who engage with every single project that we want to publish and look at it and say, "How could this be better?" "How can we make this even better than it already is?" And then you, as a Commissioning Editor, you are kind of the conduit between all of that and you're pulling it all together and bringing through on that process so that what is published at the other end is of excellent quality and can have the impact that it deserves. So, I'm really proud just generally to have been part of that whole process for the last 20 odd years.

Lou: I love what you say there, Nicola, because I did an interview recently with an author, and we were talking about them publishing with books. And I just love the way that you talked about that because it really shows how much you really care about each of the authors. And they're not just another author and it's not just another book. There was real sentiment there and resonance and you can see how much you value each and each of those individuals and the book that they're writing.

Nicola: Yes.

Lou: And that's very special.

Nicola: Yes. And that's what slightly frustrates me in some of the conversations within academic publishing that we have around open access, which I support completely. But I think we still grapple with the 'who pays' part of that and that there is sometimes the sense that the bit that we as editors bring to that is maybe the bit that could go because then it would be cheaper. And I think that's to miss the investment that we have in every book and the role we play in shaping it and developing it so that what comes out is of a really high quality. So that does just sort of frustrate me. I wonder whether it's because we are not good enough at telling that story, I think our authors understand the value, but whether wider people within the policy world, perhaps don't see it and we are perhaps not as effective as we should be in communicating that to make that value better understood.

Lou: After two years of being in a pandemic situation, we've all become a lot more empathetic. And we want that more honest conversation. And I think that it's really important that authors recognize how important they are to you. And probably like you said, some new authors or potential authors may not, but there's so many things that we could be doing so many ways that we can position ourselves. But the testament is when you have people that come back, and they publish with you again. But then of course, writing a book for some authors can take, could be a five, seven-year investment, even a 10 year investment. So, you're not going to get a huge series of books out of one person like you you would do if you were... like my, uh, a friend of the family, she publishes, she started writing crime novels and she's just publishing every year. She's publishing a new book and I'm just thinking, cor, it's not like that in this industry. That's a lot of books you're putting out there every year.

Nicola: I know. Yes, yes. It's funny we were sort of talk about KPIs and what have you and that whole thing within commissioning is so hard to measure. We'd be saying, obviously not in the role I'm in now, but previously I could be at a conference one year having a conversation with an author and it could be another two or three years before the proposal comes in.

Lou: Oh yes. And then it could be another three or four years before the transcript comes in and linking that back and saying it was worthwhile attending that conference because, yes, in seven years’ time there was a book.

Nicola: Yes, absolutely. Your return on investment is for the long game, isn't it?

Lou: Oh, completely. It's not for, "How many authors because I met people at this event?" "How many authors have actually we been able to commission in the last 12 months?" Don't even look at that as your time scale. That's the joy of books though, isn't it? So, what have you found the most challenging in your career?

Nicola: The juggle between being good at my job and being good at my home life I think is the thing. So, I have two now teenage kids and…

Lou: Enjoy!

Nicola: I mean, yes actually yes, but it's really hard work. And, you know, that idea of the mental load, which is that women tend to, I don't want to kind of generalize wildly, but for the purpose of this, we tend to be the ones who are carrying that whole thinking about work and children and family and what's going on and relationships. And I was thinking about that this morning. I got up and I sort cleared the, well, I got myself ready. Then I kind of cleared the draining board and the dishes from the night before. And I made sure that the kids'--

Lou: You are good.

Nicola: snacks were out because even though they're teenagers, if I don't put them out, they won't take them to school and then they won't have any water or anything to eat and I've put a load of washing on so that they've got rugby kit for tomorrow. And I got some food out the freezer for dinner and did all of this. And then I got my train to go to work. And my husband, who is a brilliant person, got up, got ready, went to work.

Lou: Went to work, yes, yes. Yes. I think many of us can completely, that completely resonates with many of us. You know, Nicola, something that I watched a comedy the other day or it was some comedian, and they said women are always, generally, our brains are like "woo". And so, if we were sat there together and you and I, and I was just looking vacantly, you would be like, "What's wrong? Are you okay?" So, when we do that to guys, if I do that to my husband, if he's just looking like a vacant expression, I'm like, "Are you OK? What are you thinking about?" And he'll go, "Nothing". And actually, the comedian was right. Because my husband said to me, "This is so right". And I'm like, "What are you thinking about?" And he's like, "Nothing". And he is literally thinking about nothing. They go into standby mode.

Nicola: Yes.

Lou: And they're not thinking. Our heads are like this. Yes. Yes. So when you asked your friend, she's going to tell you, "Oh my God, I'm thinking [makes Noises] but then I had these random thoughts about this and led me into here".

Nicola: It's like waking up, isn't it? And your brain's already into, and it's the to-do list for the day.

Lou: And my husband's just like, "I don't think about, I'm not thinking about anything. I'm just watching TV. I'm just, I'm off".

Nicola: Yes. Amazing.

Lou: That would be nice!

Nicola: What a skill.

Lou: So, I don't ask him anymore, if he has that vacant expression. I'm not worried, like "Oh my god, he's going to leave me or something". That's not even coming, I'm just like, oh standby mode.

Nicola: Yes, yes. That's a brilliant phrase as well. And then because on top of that yes, then I want to be really good at my job. And I think the responsibility that I sort of feel for leading the business and leading the team and all the rest of it. And it's like, that's quite a lot too. And I love it. I love all of it, but it's just quite a lot. So that's the challenge, is just, I don't know, sometimes taking a breath and stepping back and also, I wondered about saying this, but I will. Because I think we have to be more open about these things is that I'm perimenopausal. And so, on top of all that, I also just get really hot.

Lou: Oh my God, you poor thing.

Nicola: And that's horrible. And then there's the anxiety that comes. And so that sort of started around the same time as I started my new job. And that was awful because I kind of thought I was going a bit mad and now I'm managing that and it's a bit more under control, but it's still there all the time.

Lou: Yes. Oh, yes.

Nicola: That whole picture is - it's a lot.

Lou: Yes. People, it's funny because people don't know what's going on inside you. They just see the outside and what you are projecting. My best friend is going through the same, and her husband was saying to me the other day he was because there's a supply issue with the hormonal treatment in the UK. He, it's one of his little jobs to go and pick up any medications and things, and he hadn't. And it had been a couple of weeks. Anyway, he went to go and do it and there wasn't any.

Nicola: Oh, gosh.

Lou: And he was going back and forth to doctors, to the pharmacy. He was going all over the place and he's like, "There's not going to be any hormonal treatments soon for my wife. Please, you must help me". "She's like a different person at the moment". So, I could see the desperation in his face.

Nicola: Completely. Yes. The happy patches as we call them in my house. Another happy patch slapped on.

Lou: So, if your husband was ever thinking, "Oh my gosh, there's not going to be any happy patches". I bet he'd be like, It would be like, as we talked about just before here, toilet paper, not being around in the pandemic, it would be like, "Must find them somewhere!"

Nicola: Yes! Track it down.

Lou: "They must be somewhere! I'll drive to England to get some, it doesn't matter". So, now this is an interesting question for you being a CEO. What is your ultimate career goal?

Nicola: Yes, that is, yes, it is. That is interesting. Because I thought, oh gosh, what should I say? I mean.

Lou: Whatever you want it to be.

Nicola: In my head, yes, I was sort of then thinking, what were my career goals prior to this? Has it always, have things gone to plan? And I suppose that they have, but I haven't necessarily always articulated it. Maybe even to myself that this is where I would like to be. I must have been thinking of it. Because sometimes, when our previous CEO was still in post, every so often I would go, "I would never want that job". So, I think that must have been set against my default of thinking I would want that job. Then there would just be something, for instance, where I think, "Oh, that will be awful to have that job. I would hate to have that job." So, I think yes, things probably have gone very much to plan to date. And I hope it doesn't sound unambitious to say, I think that this, maybe this is it, but I feel like I've got tons to do in this role.

Lou: Yes.

Nicola: I only started a year ago. We had our five-year plans signed off in June this year.

Lou: Well done.

Nicola: Oh, yes. Thank you. That, and that, oh my goodness.

Lou: Yes. I can imagine.

Nicola: It's such an effort, such a team effort. Everybody played a massive part in this.

Lou: You have an amazing team.

Nicola: I do.

Lou: You have an amazing team.

Nicola: Yes. And really pulled together and did it on top of the kind of business-as-usual stuff. So, it was a lot. So, I kind of see the next five years planned out and then there might be another five years and then I could maybe retire. And what, so really my career goal I suppose, is to get EUP to its future version of itself that we have decided collectively is where we want EUP to be. So, I think that is the purpose of my career now is to make sure that I lead everybody in that direction so that we get to the point that we've sort identified as where we want EUP to be and to do that kind of well and sensitively and really bringing everybody along so that we're all kind of coalescing around that goal. And that's every member of staff from the press management team, but everybody else as well. So, it's around that, I think, that I think, you know, if at the end of that five and then 10-year time I've achieved that I think I'll be, yes, that's me. I did what I wanted to do.

Lou: And then you'll become a published author.

Nicola: And then I'll start writing my novels, yes. My Sweet Dreams romances.

Lou: You could become the next Jilly Cooper or Jackie Collins or who knows?

Nicola: Who knows?

Lou: I can't even remember the name of the person that wrote 50 Shades of Grey.

Nicola: 50 Shades, that's what I was thinking of... Elizabeth?

Lou: I can't remember. I remember, just, I remember her and her husband. I remember visually seeing them when they first published, but yes, I haven't even watched the film yet.

Nicola: No, honestly, I haven't even thought to watch the films, but despite that, obviously very familiar with the whole thing, and she came to that a little bit later in life, didn't she? So maybe this time.

Lou: Oh, now listen, my Mother, in her forties, she was an interior designer and she retrained with The Open University and did a degree in Law. She went up against those who just came out of university, those in their early careers and that were in their twenties. And she ended up getting a contract with an agricultural law firm because my family has an agricultural background, and she became a qualified solicitor and retired. So absolutely you can do whatever it is that you want to do. Because you retire doesn't mean that you can't decide to change your career or whatever. Why not?

Nicola: Yes. Why not?

Lou: Okay. So, if money was no object, oh god, with the rising fuel prices and cost of living and stuff. Very much on people's minds here in the UK. So, if money was no object, what would you be?

Nicola: I would be a... I would have my own business. And it would be as a holiday planner because I do think, and I said this to my boss the other day, and then I thought, I don't know if I should have said this, but I feel like holidays are my superpower. And that's partly because of what they do for me. So, I am a massive believer in taking breaks and taking your full holiday allowance and using it and switching off. And I'm really against the idea of people being on their email when they are on their holiday, all of that. So, there's that part of it. But I also, I love planning holidays. I love doing research. I love finding where we're going to go, where we're going to stay, how we're going to get there, what we're going to do when we get there. I mean, my kids hate this. The beginning of every holiday, it's like, "How many walks do we have to do this holiday?" I'm like, "Oh, I was thinking five and they were going, "Could it be one?" and, you know, we sort of meet in the middle. But all of that, I just get such a buzz off of all of that. Even before I actually go on the holiday, which I then I really. So, imagine if that was your job where you getting to plan and book and arrange holidays for other people. I mean, there'd probably have to be people that like the kind of holidays I like, because I'm not sure.

Lou: Yes, of course.

Nicola: Extreme sport holidays. That would be horrifying. But yes. So, if money were no object, so I only had one or two clients a year and obviously I would have to go and sample the holidays for them first and yes was all OK

Lou: Or, I mean, you could permanently spend your time on holiday, or part of your fee is that you go, not on the holiday with them, but you are in the country that they're in experiencing things. So, if anything goes wrong, you're on hand. And that's part of the experience that they paid for.

Nicola: That's quite a good value as well. I mean, I don't know that many companies would do that. So that would be a good USP. So yes, I like that.

Lou: Exactly. Love it. That sounds amazing. And I really love your ethos as well when you talk about when you're on holiday, you are on holiday, and I'm like that with my team, but I myself am terrible.

Nicola: Oh, are you?

Lou: Oh, I'm terrible. I just, I mean, I just had a baby nearly six months ago and I took two weeks off. I know. And I still did a little bit of work in it, you know? And I took, we took a week off in July and went on holiday to North Wales, Because we live in South Wales and went up north and it was the first proper holiday we'd had because, you know, the pandemic kind of messed things up as well. But it was the first proper holiday we had. And I did a tiny bit of work, but mostly I just, I could feel myself starting to relax, and unfortunately it got to the end of the holiday and I was like, "Oh no!" But I completely appreciate, and I want to be at the position where I can just shut off because it's so important for your mental health as well. And you come back refreshed and you are raring, ready to go, and you're...

Nicola: Exactly, what a difference it makes.

Lou: So, do not do what I do. That's what I say to the team.

Nicola: Yes, I've always... And I remember in my previous role and my then boss saying to me, he said, "You just don't check your email whilst you're on holiday, do you?"

Lou: Yes, how dare you!

Nicola: He wasn't saying it in a bad, he was just like noticing. And I was like, so this is what I say to all my team now is when they go on holiday, I'm like, if I see emails from you, I'm going to be really annoyed. I mean, I can't stop them looking and then making sure that they're, but I ask them not to do it. And obviously if I'm needed, then I'm available. I'm on the end of the phone.

Lou: Yes, exactly. As an emergency, they can call you. But yes, I think it's, I think that's a really, really important way to work. You could have like a little swear jar. If someone checks their email, just go, "IT flagged to me that you went on and checked your email, and five pounds please".

Nicola: Five pounds in the cake.

Lou: Exactly.

Nicola: But it was funny, I was, we were away at Easter, down in the Peak District and went to Alton Towers for the day because, you know,

Lou: Amazing.

Nicola: Children, and yes, I was standing in a queue-

Lou: Nothing wrong with Alton Towers. It's a theme park for those not in the UK, but nothing wrong with going to Alton Towers.

Nicola: But the rides are so scary. I can't go on anything that goes round and round and I can't go on anything that goes upside down. So, it limits what, I can go on things that are really fast, and I like that, and up and down, but.

Lou: Like the Log Flume, you can go on then.

Nicola: Yes, the Log Flume, what's the Log Flume even? I can't remember. Anyway, I'm standing in a line waiting to get on one of these really fast rides, and yes, and did get a phone call about something that was a bit of a situation that needed. It was a, "Do any of us even know about this?" kind of question, but that did make me laugh, I was imagining being on the ride, like "Uhh!" Dealing with this situation. That was fun.

Lou: Oh, that's fantastic. Was that your excuse of, "Sorry, sorry guys. I'm just going to take this." Can't go on this ride. What a shame!

Nicola: Yes, no, sadly the queue was so long that I'd long dealt with it by the time we got the front.

Lou: Yes, I'm like, I have not been to Alton Towers for years, but I just I can't go on teacup things that spin. I love rollercoasters, but I can't do those type of things. And I remember going into this ride and thinking, "Oh, this is interesting". And you walk in, with all these school children as well, and then they like, you sit down in this thing and I was like, "Oh, is this, is this right?" It's all black and things. And then I realized that I don't really know if you looked at it, what exactly happened. But this is certainly what it felt like happened. That I was a hamster in a wheel being spun round, like a washing machine. And it was like my worst nightmare, and I couldn't get out because it was a black room. So, I didn't know what was going on. It's just like, you've just got to grin and bear this.

Nicola: You just have to go through it don't you? You just, yes, it will be over. Yes, just breathe.

Lou: "Oh my god, it's taking forever, oh my god, oh my god" Oh the things we do, so funny. So, which inspiring three books professional or not, doesn't matter, would you say are a must-read and why?

Nicola: Yes, so I didn't read that many sort of professional books pre-last year and I had some really good recommendations and one of them, well there's actually two books, but it's sort of in two versions is by John Kotter, I'm sure you'd be familiar. So, it's his eight-step process for managing change. And so the proper book, if you like, is called Leading Change, and that's great, but what it was recommended to me that I read as an introduction is what looks like a children's book. It's beautiful. And it's got quite big print and nice pictures of penguins throughout, and it is called "Our Iceberg is Melting". And it's basically a really nice summary of this other book, Leading Change, working through this eight-step process. But it's using the story of a bunch of penguins who are…

Lou: I love that kind of stuff.

Nicola: …on an iceberg and realize one of them goes out swimming and realizes that the iceberg is melting. So that's like the first step, which is about creating that sense of urgency. Because if people don't think that there's anything wrong, then why will they want to change? So you have this, so that was the iceberg is melting. And then it's like you create this guiding coalition. So this is where he was bringing together some sort of like-minded penguins, including some that sort had some influence within the wider group so that they understand the problem and decide what to do next. So, it takes you all the way through the stages. But using this, I don't ever know, is it a parable or a fable? One of those to kind of just communicate really effectively, and not in a patronising way at all, ideas. So, then you go on and read the main book and it all just falls into place. And you can kind of dig in more to the detail of those concepts because your understanding has been really grounded in this group of penguins who are still with me now really. And you start to go, oh, that penguin that's X person in the team. And, that that's definitely.

Lou: Yes, yes.

Nicola: So that was just such an effective way of communicating those ideas. So that was great. And then on the fiction side it's probably Kate Atkinson's book, "A God in Ruins". I don't know if-?

Lou: Oh, right. No, I don't know that.

Nicola: So, she published a novel called Life After Life, which was dramatized on the BBC earlier this year. And that was amazing. And I love Kate Atkinson and all her stuff. But then A God in Ruins is the sequel. And so, the first book is about the protagonist is Ursula Todd. And this second book is about her brother Teddy, and it tells the story with life and it kind of plays around with the timeline. So, you sort of dock back forwards across his life, but it kind centres around his experiences as a fighter pilot in the Second World War. And it's just, as all of Kate Atkinson's novels are, it's beautifully written it's got such, kind of, heart, and then, and I will not spoil it, but the way it ends just left me [laughs] And again, it's one of those things, and I read it years ago and it's still sort of, I carry it. But on holiday this year, I read Meg Mason's Sorrow and Bliss, which I just recommend that to anyone. And it's funny and it's sad and it's moving and it's hopeful. And so, I cried many times whilst reading that book, my husband kept, "Are you alright?" Are you hormonal? Where's the patch? And you know one of those books, you know you finish it and you put it down, you're just like, "I just need some time". And I feel like it's still settling with me. So, I don't know whether that's going to sort of push Kate off the top or whether Kate will remain. If I still feel about this in a few years’ time, maybe, but yes, just such kind of emotional heart.

Lou: I love that, stories or books that really resonate and really capture your imagination and things. I mean, books can be incredibly powerful when they're written in such a way that really catches your attention. We all have our different authors. I don't read a lot because, I'm dyslexic. And sometimes, I find it's funny because I do a lot of proofreading. I seem to be fine with proofreading. But when it comes to reading fictional stuff, it has to have a very specific style for my attention to stay with it. Otherwise, I've got books all over the place that on my Kindle, for example, that I've just, I'm halfway through and I've got bored and walked off.

Nicola: Yes. See, I'm a complete finisher. So, I can't not finish a book. But it's funny, I was having a chat with somebody like that a little while ago and I can't remember what I was reading, but I just wasn't getting on with it. And they were saying, "Just stop reading it, just give up." And I was like, "I will not give up". And you know what? It got better. The first part of it was quite sort of flights of fancy. I don't know, it's not my thing. And then it became more kind of grounded in reality. And then I enjoyed it. So, I was glad I stuck with it, but yes, I have to finish it. Even if it means it takes me months to read book. Because I don't get to read anything else. So, I just don't read and then I'm missing reading, but I should just stop. And I know that about myself, but I find it very difficult.

Lou: I'm like you, my ethos in my head is that I will finish that book someday. That's why they sit there. I'm very, very like that when it comes to films. When I start watching a film, it is highly unlikely, even if it's terrible, and I mean terrible, it's highly unlikely that I'm going to not turn it off. Because I'm dedicated. I'm like, I've started watching, I'm committed, I'll finish. You can play on your phone or whatever while it's still on. But what a waste of time.

Nicola: I know, I know exactly. This is the thing where we think of how precious time is and how little of it, we're probably all thinking about how we don't have enough time. And then yes, we're spending on stuff that we probably shouldn't, yes.

Lou: Maybe you could have a list of books to finish reading when you're retired.

Nicola: That's a good idea. So, when I'm not writing, I'll be reading more.

Lou: Exactly. You'll be reading these books and then maybe by then, because it'll be like so many years on, maybe you'll be slightly different as a person and actually you'll start enjoying them. Who knows?

Nicola: Yes. Yes. That is true. I could try that, yes. Next book I'm not enjoying, I should commit to setting to one side.

Lou: So apart from what you mentioned, and you can choose any type really here, what's your favourite book, or podcast, or blog, and why?

Nicola: Yes, podcasts. I tend to, again, I'm back to holidays. I tend to listen podcasts on holiday that are true crime podcasts. And that actually connects in with my reads so I tell you about all these lovely high-brow books that I've love and I genuinely do, but actually my staple diet is kind of dark, gruesome, crime thrillers. And so I love listening to those, and it's a few years back now, but I listened to the podcast from Chris Warburton about the Netflix documentary, The Staircase, which I think has just become, it's been dramatized now about the woman who died at the bottom of her stairs and her husband was accused of pushing her down it.

Lou: Oh, yes. I haven't watched that yet. That's on my list.

Nicola: Well, so I hadn't watched the documentary. I listened to the podcast first, which I think was an interesting way around, because I think documentary slightly leaves you thinking, "Well, did he or didn't he?" The podcast is a little bit more he almost certainly did. So, I love that. And I love listening to the stuff that the BBC does about, "Obsessed With", so Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders, Killing Eve. But what I listen to regularly is the Kermode and Mayo Film Review podcast, which was on BBC, but they've now moved to Apple, I think. I'm always so far behind. So as far as I'm concerned, they're still the on BBC.

Lou: Yes, exactly.

Nicola: By the time I sort of get to the point where they've moved, I'll move over to a different platform. So yes, whether you've heard that it was based off of their, they did a radio show on Radio 5. And so, it's ostensibly talking about films for a couple of hours, but actually they talk about, I mean everything. They talk about music and life and they talk about politics even though they're not meant to. So, it kind of gets edited out, and they just kind of bicker with each other. So, they obviously are two people that have known each other a long time and they get on and they're just really easy in each other's company and they have all these little regular features and they've sort of created this community, I think. So, the people who listen are [inaudible], and there's all this kind of shorthand you know where you get, like we get in our industry where we're probably worse than any other I think, all the acronyms, but there's a bunch of acronyms. So, you really...

Lou: We love an acronym.

Nicola: So yes, you'd have LTL, which means long term list, and those kinds of things. So it creates this really nice community, or the "churches" they call it and yes, it's good fun. And for the longest time when my kids were little and all I saw at the cinema was Shrek, I heard about films that I couldn't see, but somehow it kind of scratched the itch for me. So I felt like I kept on top of films, even though I hadn't seen them.

Lou: How far back have you gone in this podcast?

Nicola: Well, I've been listening since I discovered it when I was on maternity leave with my eldest who is now 16.

Lou: Oh, I see.

Nicola: It's been with me a long time.

Lou: You're a committed listener.

Nicola: And now I can go to the cinema and see the films they talk about, so that's that's a bonus.

Lou: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So, if you could travel back in time to tell your early career self anything what would you tell your early career self?

Nicola: I think it would be to believe in myself a bit more and I don't know whether that's a bit cliched, but honestly, I was quite timid and shy and nervous and I don't whether that's the vibe I gave off, but there was a lot of self-doubt for a long period of time. And I always kind of thought, oh, I'm making this up as I go along and I'm going to that imposter syndrome, but I'm going to get to some point, people are going to realize that I don't really know what I'm talking about. And so just being confident in myself sooner, I think I'm more confident in myself now, but when I was interviewing for the Chief Exec role and I was talking about all these ideas of things that I'd like to do with the press and the direction I'd like to take it and what have you, I know you've got that bit where you're the internal candidate, so people the people who are interviewing you, they know you well. And so, on that, you can't make anything up. "I did all these things! It was amazing!" It's like, you have to be honest. So anyway, afterwards, one of them was saying to me, "I didn't know, you had that way of thinking that you were kind of so strategic and you've got all these ideas and how have we not been hearing about them before?" Basically, I think that they just sort of saw me in a different way and I realized that I could have been saying all this stuff. I could have been putting it out there, and why didn't I? Was it because I've worried that it might get knocked back? It might not be liked? And so I suppose to tell myself, "It's okay, it might get knocked back, but that's not a disaster. It's not the end of the world". And you pick up and you go again. And so just that, just a bit more confidence. I think in realizing that what I had to say had value and therefore getting out ahead. That being said, I still feel like things have happened in a good way. And things have happened at the right time.

Lou: Fate is fate!

Nicola: Fate is fate, except it isn't, but if it was, you know?

Lou: Oh, that's brilliant. So, it's funny because we hear that a lot. When I ask that question, that's probably one of the most common answers. And I think that that demonstrates that actually those that you have in your team who are in that early career, and it does happen throughout your career. So it's not just early career, but it is interesting to know how much confidence can really affect people. And creating and fostering an environment that is open and collaborative where people feel like they can, if they want to, because they shouldn't feel like they have to, but if they want to provide input and they want to come up with ideas and things, then they should. Sometimes throughout my career, when I've been looking for ideas about something, rather than going to a specific team, I actually have opened it up to the organization and said, "Does anyone have any ideas?" Whatever it is, because you find someone that's in the mail room or someone that's in accounts or something has this idea. And you're like, "Yes! Yes, that's what we need". Because they're, like you said, in terms of talking about people that are a penguin that's away from and sees they're removed from certain situations. So, they have a different perspective. Everyone has their own different perspectives. You and me having a conversation, we will both in this conversation, but we'll both take something both different away from this in terms of our experience. So, I think it's, that I think is really important, is recognizing that in people.

Nicola: Yes.

Lou: So, what is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

Nicola: I think, and I did get this when I was quite early on in my career. It is, it's to say, "Sorry” if you get something wrong. And I think to sort of flesh that out a bit, I think it's about owning your mistakes, putting your hands up, if you've screwed up or you've made a bad call or whatever it is, you've missed something then owning it, fixing it if you can. But crucially saying, "I'm sorry" to the person that you need to apologize to is really, is such a simple thing, but it can take the heat out of the majority of situations, not every time, but just, just that simple thing. So, at that point, it was about an author who was cross about something that, I don't know whether I'd forgotten to, I can't remember, it's a long time ago, but I apply that now. And it's not about over-apologizing because then it's not sincere and it's not authentic. You have to mean it. And you have to be able to do something about it. But I think instead of just blustering or pushing it to one side or just fixing it or whatever it is, the "I'm sorry", it goes a long way.

Lou: Absolutely, absolutely. A hundred percent agree with that. It's something that I find frustrating is when people don't take ownership for their mistakes. And for me, it's sort of like, say sorry and move on and learn from your mistakes. Don't keep making the same mistakes because if you acknowledge it and you say, "Sorry", and then you keep making the same mistake. You're not really, are you really? You're probably not really sorry. Like you were talking about sincerity. So yes, I think it's just being honest and transparent, isn't it? And it goes a long way in customer service when you are dealing with people who have feelings and that could be team members, authors, those that you work with, you have touch points with and recognizing. It's funny, I thought about something the other day that still lives within me now. I remember saying sorry to a client about something that had happened. That wasn't actually my fault. That was something that a team member had done. But I felt that because I was part of the process, I felt sorry for it. And I felt that because I was the person dealing with the client that I was the person that should say sorry. And I took real ownership for that. And that's really lived with me because I think to myself, that client, I mean, this was when I worked with someone else, but that client might look at me now and still think, "Oh, she made that mistake". So that still, I'm not going to say who it is, but that still lives with me and bothers me. I'm like, I wonder if that person is still at that company and they'd be like, "Oh my god, I'm not going anywhere near Lou". So, what is your number one tip for anyone working in marketing now?

Nicola: I feel a bit of a fraud with this because I don't work in marketing.

Lou: But you're coming from your perspective as a CEO. And that's, you're one of the stakeholders that marketers work with. So, actually, your point of view is very valuable.

Nicola: Thank you. So, in that context, I guess, but I still feel like... It's about the community peace, and I think we've, we've touched a little bit on this that I think it's about understanding who you are engaging with and understanding their motivations and what their problems are, what their situation is, and therefore, so that you can speak to them in a way that they will hear. And that is most effective. And I think therefore, if you can create a community of whether it be your authors, your customers, librarians, whoever it might be, that you're engaging with, those stakeholders so that they feel that they're a part of something that they want to be a part of what it is that you are, I guess, ultimately selling, but so that they don't feel like you're selling it to them. That is something that they just have an investment in and that they're interested in. So, I think it's making those connections with your customers, and you do that by understanding them and knowing them.

Lou: People forget that these stakeholders, these customers, these users, whatever segment name that they're given, they are human beings at the end of the day. And I think people forget that, you know, that person, like when we do persona work for example, when you create personas and you give a name to someone, and then they are an early career researcher and they haven't published with you yet, and they're living China. And so there are things you need to be culturally aware of, et cetera. When you create a specific persona, it creates that resonance because, and you name them, which is incredibly important, when you name them, they become a person to you. And so often in those situations, when we talk to marketers, either it's personas or it's like, who have you met that you think of when you're thinking about sending this stuff out? Because people just often just, they're just sending out, they're just churning out marketing because that's what they've always done. And they're not really thinking about it, but there's just so much pressure in this industry. And I'm sure all of your team feel this because practically everybody feels this, regardless of what department you're in, there is so much pressure and this industry is forever changing and there's always new initiatives coming up. There's changes that are coming up, funders change things. There's new policies that come out. It's just relentless. And most people want to just do a really good job at the end of the day, but don't find the time to step back.

Nicola: Yes, yes. No, that persona idea is great. That that sense of there being an actual.

Lou: Person, yes.

Nicola: At the receiving end.

Lou: And I think that's helpful in the respect that also, because it's not just a marketing department or it's not just development in terms of when they're doing their user stories and things, it goes across the organization. So editorial are like, "Oh, that's", I don't know... That's Lei Xing, for example. And Lei Xing is the early career researcher, and this is how they're thinking. And of course, you are being very specific to a person, but you are not coming up with a generic blanket approach, but you have to be specific to say this represents a part of our community. You can't represent everybody, and you can't please everybody either. So obviously we've had a couple of years of a pandemic. My goodness, two and a half years, I think, if my calculations are correct.

Nicola: I think we're still out there, aren't we?

Lou: And we're not out of it. I think we are going to forever be in this pandemic. I don't think I've heard that there's like a cut-off. Winter's coming. So, what have you learned the most from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Nicola: I think it's probably about how adaptable we are and as are everybody, I think at every stage in their lives, because it impacted everybody obviously. So, whether you were really young or really old or somewhere in between that we all changed overnight and managed to continue on and do what we were doing, but in a completely different way. And I think that's just remarkable. And I don't know whether many people would've thought that we would've had that in us, so that's tremendous. But also, the other part of that is just the connections with people. And that was obviously what we missed. I was coming out of work yesterday and heading down to the train station and there were a bunch of people coming out of the Edinburgh council offices all at the same time and just sort chatting and waving goodbye and a few of them going off together. And I was like, oh, that. We didn't have that. So, you wouldn't finish work and leave and go back to a different space, but also you didn't have your colleagues. And it's all that really kind of intangible stuff that is hard to nail down, but that was the stuff that we missed. And I suppose my worry now is that there were some people who probably were never comfortable being in that office environment. So being at home has just suited them much better because maybe they're introverted or they have whatever kind of needs that are not being met within an office environment, or they find it challenging for whatever reason. And so that's amazing that they can now work in a space that is better suited for them, but I feel like maybe they're missing those connections. And those people who are back in the office are missing the connections with those people and all that they bring and how we learn from each other. And I don't know what the answer is to that, but it troubles me that, yes, I think we've seen how important connecting is. And therefore, if there are some people who don't have that, how we make that work. And I don't know what the answer is.

Lou: Well, it's finding a balance, isn't it? Because if you've got people who prefer the environment of being at home, they may prefer that for a reason. And they may feel that they can just get on and work. And actually being in an office environment was annoying to them because there's noise and clutter and stuff going on and they maybe they couldn't focus as well, but now they can, but you can certainly find a balance in terms of having optional social events or come into the office on this day so we all catch up as a team, but things like going for lunch together or just popping out and getting a sandwich together, it's the friendships that a lot of people miss, isn't it? But with some people, maybe what they thought was a friendship, wasn't really a friendship. It was just that person thinking, "Oh god, have I got to talk to you? Okay, I'll talk to you".

Nicola: Yes, no, I know. I completely get that.

Lou: Pining for something gone.

Nicola: But I definitely missed the people and all of that. So I'm very happy to be back. And I mean, I'm past the excited stage now. Because it was a period of time where every day I'd come in like, "Oh!"

Lou: Like me. Two weeks, we've got a conference, I am beyond excited. Here I am in South Wales, working in my office and all of my team are remote workers and we have recruited people. I've never met personally face to face and I'm going to see them next week. I haven't seen Megan who I work with really closely. And I haven't seen her for two... well, just before the pandemic started, so two and a half years. So, I am beyond excited.

Nicola: Bring it on.

Lou: Yes. Everyone's just like, "Oh, you'll be down the bar then at the conference". I'm like, "Yes, yes. I'm going to be there finding out all the goss". That'll be me sorted. Is there anything you want to ask me?

Nicola: Yes. I wonder what motivates you.

Lou: In the respect of?

Nicola: Well in your...

Lou: Just in general?

Nicola: Yes, yes, what is it that kind of drives you each day?

Lou: Bills. Nursery fees. I actually, I think... So, I have a four-year-old. Who's about to be five and a five-month-old. Who's about to be six months old. So, in the last few years, certainly my children. I never realized what a huge impact that they would have on my drive, but I feel very passionate about helping people do better together, getting marketers to do better marketing for, ultimately, whoever the target audience is and learning from each other. It's something that's really important to me. So, I just think it's probably, if I boiled it down to simplified terms and I think about it in terms of my family and I think about it in terms of my work, I think it's probably wanting... people to feel that I'm helping them. It's a really strange thing, but I guess that's when I do really distil it down in my head, I think it is just wanting to, and maybe that's self-satisfying for me and maybe that's, but that's fine if that I'm helping people. And sometimes I get paid and sometimes I don't because sometimes it's voluntary, but if I'm helping people and that brings me joy and that brings me peace, then we both win at the end of the day.

Nicola: Absolutely

Lou: But I sure do need to, like what you talked about earlier, I sure do need to look after myself a bit more. And I absolutely am terrible at doing that. I don't, if like, "Louise, what makes you happy?" I don't know. Maybe put some really loud, heavy metal on or house music and listen to Spotify, on Spotify, for example, when I'm working maybe makes me happy, What else? I don't know.

Nicola: Yes.

Lou: Who am I?

Nicola: I think. Yes. Well, that's the thing, isn't it? Because we get so caught up in that is back to what we were saying earlier about if you're, you're trying to do a job really well and you're trying to do your home bit really well. It doesn't leave a massive amount of time, and yes, I'm sure we could all be better at carving that out. But take your holidays and switch your email off.

Lou: Yes. I know. Yes, boss.

Nicola: Number one tip.

Lou: You see, I'm accountable to no one, really. So, it's like, yes, don't do what I do. I'm the really bad example to the team. And then like if they do it, I'm like, "Naughty!" They're like, "But you do it!" And I'm like, "Doesn't matter. I'm the bad example". It has been so good speaking with you. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. I've really, really enjoyed this. I've learned so much about you as well.

Nicola: Most of it, good.

Lou: Yes, absolutely. And one of the most lovely things that you did in this interview is when we talked about who inspires you, I think you are possibly the only person that talked about someone from the industry. And I thought that was really lovely. That especially because of how impactful that has been for you this last year in terms of forging those connections and how powerful that can be to helping you progressing them, which ultimately has a positive impact on EUP. That's something that we forget, and people, I think I remember seeing some experiment once and it was like they said to the parents, if you were to have dinner tonight with someone who would it be and they would be like, oh, Kevin Costner. I don't even know why I thought about Kevin Costner. Because I think I've just seen that Yellowstone new series is out and my brother loves it and I'm just like, oh, so maybe that's why he popped into my head. Who knows? But a lot of people talk about celebrities or authors and things like that. And then they ask the children, who do you want to have to dinner tonight, and they go, "Mummy and Daddy", or "Granny". And you go, "Oh!" But it's what you are thinking specifically at the time. And it's what's important to you at the time. And I think we take for granted and say, Of course I'm going to sit down and have dinner with my children. That's absolutely a given, but to have the opportunity. And like you said, being nervous. I mean, yes. I think there's some people that I'd love to have dinner with, but then I'd be like shell shocked. I'd just be like, oh dear. I'm not really at that age though where I'd be like, "Surfing!"

Nicola: Oh, I know. Can you imagine?

Lou: That's not me. I mean, in the pandemic I went on TikTok and you know all the, I don't know, Generation Z's or the Zoomers they call them. They're like, "Oh my god, all these old people are on TikTok. Get them off!" We're all on there going, "Wow, this is amazing!" With our content.

Nicola: Yes, I haven't indulged, I have to say, I think primarily because I think my kids would be just horrified.

Lou: I think about 90% of the content on there is very funny and that's I think helped me get through some of the pandemic, was just flicking through, flick up, flick up, flick up and I'm like, "Hahaha! Hahaha! Hahaha!" But you get lost in social media, don't you?

Nicola: Yes. Yes. I mean I'm kind of there with Twitter a bit, really is that, it's all the work stuff, but I do quite like the cat videos as well and pandas rolling around.

Lou: Amazing. I love it. So, I'm going to let you go now, but I'd like to, love to say thank you so much. It's been brilliant. Anything that you've talked about we have a link to, and this is going to be available as a transcribed version, a video version with captions and also a podcast. And then we have some content that goes with it, which links to everything that you talked about so people can easily click through. So, thank you so much.

Nicola: Thank you, Lou.

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