Rebels, misfits and innovators: 50over50 – Sean Singleton

We think it’s time to recognise and celebrate the true talent in our industry, the creatives, technologists, founders and leaders that are really driving our industry and shaping society, who just happen to be over 50.

Sean, a creative and commercial force in the digital industry for the last twenty years, is the Publisher of the recently-launched Unofficial Partner, a sports publishing and consultancy business. With over 16 years running digital agencies, he was most recently MD of Your Favourite Story.

What is the biggest mistake companies are making in their attitude to age today?

Many industries seemed to value experienced people, but I don’t  think the agency/digital world does, if I am honest.  Its partly driven by the understandable need to reduce costs as clients drive to have “more for less” and also because digital is disrupting the foundations of the industry.   

However essentially  its a false economy as experience counts for so much, and in all walks of life, especially the workplace.

I was honoured to be asked to do this series as I think its a fantastic idea.  So well done NDA!  

What one thing are you proudest of in your career?

Founding and running digital agency Skive for over 10 years.  We hired some amazing people, did some great award-winning work in our own unique “Skive” style.  We also had a lot of fun along the way and gave some great people a chance at the start their digital careers. 

What creative heights are you now capable of that you wouldn’t have been able to achieve at the early or mid-point of your career?

Obviously I have a greater of degree of knowledge and experience to call upon which means I probably make better decisions and provide more effective insight than when I was younger. 

Also over a long career you make many mistakes, which you never want to experience again, and that definitely helps improve judgement.  I have made tons of mistakes, which hopefully helped me develop some wisdom along the way.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role today?

Well I have started a new business with a friend called Unofficial Partner.  We are sports business publishing company and aim to bring a new fresh approach to a fairly traditional, corporate space. 

So I am just really excited about opportunities in the market place, plus its great to be back in sports publishing as that’s where I started my career.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?

It’s not what happens to you but how you respond that matters.   That is the one thing that is definitely in your control.

What advice would you give your 25-year old self?

Stop  worrying, everything usually works out fine.  Also talk less, smile more.  

What are you most excited about in your industry over the next 10 years?

I think more people when they get to a certain stage in their career (like me!) will have to invent their own job as their career opportunities shrink. 

Ultimately, this will be good for the individuals, the industry and the economy as a whole.  The more entrepreneurs in a society and economy the better in my opinion.

What is your biggest regret about the industry today? 

People, brands and the industry talk the talk but do not always walk the walk. 

We all talk about being brave and innovative, delivering best practice, taking a long term and joined up approach but often in reality most campaigns are safe, the opposite of best practice, disjointed and focused on the short term.  Usually driven by corporate disfunctionality and politics.  

Plus I hate old gits going on about how digital was so much better back in the day!!  

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